Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Posted by admin at 28 November 2014

Category: Uncategorized

DALITS/SCHEDULED CASTES

1. Dalit triple murder: court nod for polygraph tests (2)

Pune: With Dalit groups in Maharashtra seething over alleged police inaction in the unsolved triple murder of a Dalit family in Ahmednagar district, the District and Sessions court on Monday gave the green signal for polygraph tests on five witnesses. “We had submitted an application to the court to conduct the tests as there was strong discrepancy in the versions of these witnesses,” said Inspector General of Police (Nashik Range), Pravin Salunkhe, speaking to The Hindu. Mr. Salunkhe, however, refused to divulge any names. Even after 18 days, the police have not detained any suspect.The dismembered bodies of Sanjay Jadhav, his wife Jayashree and their teenage son, Sunil, were discovered on October 22 by their relatives in the village of Javkhede Khalasa in Pathardi taluk. According to sources, the tests are to be conducted on members of the upper-caste Wagh family, who lived on land adjacent to the Jadhavs, and some of their relatives. There is speculation that the murders are ‘honour killings’ by the Wagh household. “We demand narco-analysis tests on suspects, if any. It is high time the police discover the motive for the murders,” said Republican Party of India (A) leader Sunil Salve. The slaughter of the Jadhav family, which has sent shockwaves across Maharashtra, mirrors the murder of three Dalit youths in Ahmednagar’s Sonai village in January 2013, in which the trio were hacked to death and their mutilated body parts scattered in a septic tank. Almost a year-and-a-half after the crime, the trial of the accused in the Sonai killings began in the Nashik Sessions Court on Monday. The hearings are to last four days with a verdict expected by the end of the week, said special public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam. Mr. Nikam is also likely to take over the Javkhede murder case, said government sources. (The Hindu 11/11/14)

2. Dalits stage march against Javkhed killings (2)

CHANDRAPUR: Thousands of members of dalit community staged a protest march to district collectorate to flay the killing of three members of a dalit family in Javkhed village in Ahmadnagar district. Stressing on immediate arrest of the accused involved in brutal killing, protesters submitted a memorandum to the district collector. The march was held under the banner of Republican Sangharsh Samiti, the action committee of dalit leaders in city. Protesters gathered at Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar’s statue in the afternoon and then marched under the leadership of Ankush Waghmare, Gopal Deogade, Chikte, Siddarth Waghmare, Sankar Sagore, Rameshchandra Raut, Satyajeet Urade and Rajesh Wankar. Protesters shouted slogans, flaying rising incidents of atrocities on dalits and demanding immediate arrest of murderers of Jadhav family. They also flayed the BJP government in the state for overlooking the case. Later, a delegation met district collector Deepak Mhaisekar and submitted a memorandum. (Times of India 12/11/14)

3. Maha Dalit killings: NGO to stage protest in Maharashtra tomorrow (2)

Mumbai: A city-based NGO will stage a protest here on Saturday against the recent killings of Dalits at a village in Maharashtra. Noted personalities like Nana Patekar, Amol Palekar, theatre and film director Jabbar Patel, film producer N Chandra and singer Faiyyaz are likely to participate in the protest which will be organised at the Shivaji Park here. “Atrocities against Dalits and tribals have increased over a period of time. The conviction rate is only 5.5 per cent and many of them are living under tremendous fear. The protest is to show solidarity towards the society and the backward class people who are still not getting justice,” Congress MP Husain Dalwai, who runs the NGO, told reporters here late last evening. Describing the Indian society as a multi-cultured fabric, Dalwai said efforts should be made to keep all the communities united. “However, the dalits, women and tribals are deprived of their constitutional rights on several occasions and they are facing a lot of challenges even after 65 years of independence,” he lamented. Dalwai condemned the brutal murder of three members of a Dalit family at Javkheda village in Maharashtra’s Ahmednagar district last month and also the earlier killings of people from the community at Khairlanji, Sonai and Kharda villages in the state. He demanded that the government should take immediate steps to arrest the culprits in all these cases. The Congress leader also demanded appointment of a panel to probe such matters and a separate committee under a judge for the protection of the victims. (Zee News 14/11/14)

4. Government official booked for humiliating Dalit woman in Kendrapada (2)

KENDRAPARA (Odisha): A case has been registered against a senior government official for allegedly making caste-based derogatory remarks against a Dalit woman here, police said on Saturday. The case was registered against district education officer Markat Keshari Ray following a complaint lodged by Tuni Mallik. The incident took place on Wednesday when Mallik had gone to meet the official to file a grievance petition, said Santanu Kumar Padhi, sub-divisional police officer, human rights protection cell. A case under section 3 of the prevention of atrocity against scheduled caste and scheduled tribes Act was registered against the DEO on Friday, he said. (Times of India 15/11/14)

5. Villagers lock heads over amenities (2)

RAMANATHAPURAM: Villagers of Kizhakku Kudiyiruppu in Kozhindurai Panchayat in Mudukulathur block staged a sit-in dharna in the Collectorate complex, demanding basic amenities even as villagers of Vadakku and Therkku Kudiyiruppu of the same panchayat thronged the Collectorate to complain against them for disconnecting water supply and putting up road blockades. About 200 men and women of Kizhakku Kudiyiruppu, dominated by Dalits staged the dharna on public grievance day on Monday and offered to surrender the ration cards protesting against denial of basic amenities such as road, drinking water and lighting facilities for the past three years. Even as they were agitating, a large number of people of other communities from Vadakku and Therkku Kudiyiruppu complained that the Dalits had indulged in highhandedness by disconnecting water supply and put up road blockades preventing vehicle movement. In a petition to the Collector, the Dalits said they have been fighting for basic amenities for the last three years, but the Panchayat President, T. Gajendran, though a Dalit, never bothered to provide the facilities. Seeking his intervention, they said if the Collector failed to intervene, they would be forced to surrender the ration cards and vacate the village, they said. Meanwhile, villagers of Vadakku and Therkku Kudiyiruppu of the same panchayat complained that the Dalits, alleging that they were discriminated, took law into their hands and disconnected water supply. They also put road blockades causing a lot of inconvenience. School students were the worst-affected as school buses could not enter the village for the past two weeks, they said. Vehicles carrying ration items also could not come into the village due to the road blocks, they said. N Aravindan, vice president of Kozhundurai Panchayat found fault with the style of functioning of Mr. Gajendran. After he was dismissed by the Collector on charges of forgery, he managed to get favourable orders from higher officials and continued as President. He had lost the confidence of all the nine members, including three scheduled caste members, but continued as President, Mr. Aravindan said. (The Hindu 18/11/14)

TRIBALS

6. Assam MLAs press for ST status (6)

New Delhi, Nov. 10: Assam legislators across political lines joined hands today to press Union home minister Rajnath Singh to recognise six communities of the state as Scheduled Tribes. A 12-member delegation, led by Speaker Pranab Gogoi, called on Singh at North Block and submitted a memorandum seeking ST status for the Koch-Rajbongshi, Tai Ahom, Moran, Muttock, Chutia and tea tribe communities, whose demand has been rejected for years because they do not “fulfil certain criteria”. The home and tribal affairs ministries are understood to have thought a way out of the problem. The rationale of the urgent need for ST status is to counter alleged Bangladeshi illegal immigrants’ claim over land and resources, sources said. “It is very important for us to prevent conflict. It is a crisis of identity against question of survival of illegal immigrants,” Gogoi told The Telegraph after meeting Singh. The Speaker said they had conveyed to the home minister that it was possible for the Centre to do it. Recognition of these communities as Scheduled Tribes is imperative not only for them but also for the entire state, he added. The legislators’ demand coincided with that of Ulfa chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa, who was participating in a discussion at the North East Festival here. Rajkhowa said Assam was facing a threat from illegal migration from Bangladesh. Ulfa has been demanding ST status for the six communities ever since the outfit’s leadership returned from Bangladesh. “The proposal will be cleared by early next year, we hope,” Rajkhowa told The Telegraph. Gogoi hoped the proposal would be cleared before the 2016 Assembly election. The delegation had tribal MLAs from the BJP and the AGP and the memorandum was signed even by an All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) legislator. The Speaker said they did not see any politics happening over the issue. Over 60 Assembly constituencies in Assam could have Scheduled Tribe majority if the Centre recognises six major communities as ST. For recognition of communities as ST, the initial proposal comes from the state government. It is examined by the registrar-general and census commissioner, the tribal affairs ministry and the National Scheduled Tribes Commission. The final call is taken by the tribal affairs ministry, which will have to draft an amendment bill to include the communities in the ST list. (The Telegraph 11/11/14)

7. Two tribals sterilised against law; 1 dead, other critical (6)

Raipur: One of the two women belonging to Baiga community a primitive tribe adopted by President of India for their conservation on Wednesday succumbed to reported infections following botch-up surgery in a government-sponsored free health camp set up at Gauerila in Chhattisgarh’s Bilashpur district. Officials were tight-lipped over the incident. “I am not aware of any such incident”, state health minister Amar Agrawal said. According reports reaching from Bilashpur, two Baiga tribe women on whom tubectomy surgeries were conducted in a separate camp at Gauerila in Bilashpur district on Monday developed nausea and were admitted to a hospital in the town. “One Baiga woman, identified as Chaital Bail of Dhanauli village in Bilashpur district, died following botch-up sterilisation in Gauerila camp. Another Baiga woman, identified as Mangli Bai of Malia Kachha village in the same district, was in a critical condition,” Chhattisgarh Pradesh Congress Committee said. PCC president Bhupesh Baghel has written a letter to the President demanding action against the state for violating Constitutional provisions which prohibited sterilisation of Baiga tribal people as they are categorised as an endangered community. (Asian Age 13/11/14)

8. Cases of rising infant deaths in tribal hamlets worry officials (6)

A.KONDURU (KRISHNA DT.): Efforts to counsel Lambada tribal women on the importance of protecting girl child notwithstanding, the Women and Child Welfare Department is worried over the increasing incidents of death of infants in the tribal hamlets in the district. Krishna District Women Development and Child Welfare Department Project Director K. Krishna Kumari admitted that instances of killing of infants were reported from some areas. “Instructions have been given to the ICDS staff, Anganwadi teachers and workers to keep a watch on pregnant women before and after the delivery,” she said. According to senior officials, with the department stepping up vigil on the hamlets, tribal women are resorting to steps like exposing the just-born babies to direct sunlight and not feeding them properly. This, according to them, was a deliberate bid to avoid complications like registration of medico legal cases. Tribal women, it is said, were neglecting female babies suffering from diarrhoea, fever and other chronic diseases. The situation is alarming in some tribal hamlets, said Tiruvuru Child Development Project Officer M. Ankamamba. “It is a fact that girl child is neglected in many Lambada families in A. Konduru, Gampalagudem and parts of Vissannapeta mandals. The problem is more in Repudi Thanda, Kummariguntla Thanda and other tribal hamlets,” said an Anganwadi teacher working in Tiruvur division. (The Hindu 14/11/14)

9. Tribals protest move to amend FRA (6)

Berhampur: The tribal people, including primitive tribal groups (PTG) in southern Odisha, along with their associate activities have strongly protested the Union government’s decision to amend the Forest Rights Act (FRA). The rights of the gram sabha would be taken away for giving consent for an industrial project if the amendments in the act are carried out. “The change will facilitate the industrial houses like Vedanta and Posco to set up their plants and mine in the green belts,” said the tribal leaders. The tribal people including Dongaria Kandhas from southern Odisha districts-Ganjam, Gajapati, Kandhamal, Rayagada and Kalahandi staged demonstration in Bhubaneswar on Saturday in protest against the Central government’s decision to change FRA. The proposed mining project in Niyamagiri hill to feed bauxite to the Vedanta Aluminium’s Langigarh refinery was denied by the Central government when almost all gram sabhas on the foothills of Niyamgiri, straddling Kalahandi and Rayagada districts, rejected the proposal last year. “The change in FRA will facilitate mining in the hill. We will oppose any change of the FRA,” they said. “The move of the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) is aimed at facilitating the major industrial houses,” said Prafulla Samantara. It would be easy to get approval for projects coming up near green areas not recorded as forests by the erstwhile British government and not having tribal population since 2001. However, it fails to recognise rights of other forest dwellers,” added Bhala Chandra Sarangi, another activist. The change notified by MoEF through a circular recently, gives powers to the district collectors to notify whether FRA is applicable to the project site or not, sources said. They will have to certify that the green area was not a notified forest in 1930 and no tribals lived in the villages as per the last two census. It would be enough for the ministry’s forest advisory committee (FAC) to exempt FRA compliance for the project, sources said. “It means that the mandatory consent of the gram sabha-the village body in and around the project site will not be required,” said Samantara. “It also dilutes the objective of FRA,” the activists said. The Ministry’s order violates the FRA in its interpretation of the Act which is meant to undo the historical injustice suffered by forest dwelling tribal and non-tribal communities, they added. (Business Standard 16/11/14)

10. Panel to probe atrocities against Kuravans (6)

VILLUPURAM: The National Commission for Scheduled Castes has constituted a committee headed by its assistant director (Chennai) P Ramasamy to study the problems faced by the Kuravan community with specific reference to the police atrocities against the community in Tamil Nadu. The commission has also nominated Chennai-based advocate P V P Ajeetha and a Villupuram-based social worker V A Rameshnathan as the members and directed the committee to submit its report before December 15. The committee will study the alleged bias and subjective handling of cases involving Kuravan community by the police and suggest remedial measures including relief and rehabilitation. It will also focus on the violations committed against children and women of the community and ensure educational facilities for them. The commission directed the committee to gather sufficient secondary data on atrocities and to undertake random inquiries into the reported incidents. It also insisted that the committee members record the statements of the victims before finalizing the report. The commission in September this year summoned the director general of police, Tamil Nadu to appear before commission’s member P M Kamalamma for discussions regarding complaints of police atrocities on scheduled caste people at its headquarters in New Delhi following a complaint from the Tamil Nadu Kuravar Makkal Sangam (TNKMS). TNKMS submitted a representation highlighting 28 cases of police atrocities on Kuravan community people since 1993 including rape, custodial torture, illegal arrest and detention, custodial deaths, deaths in judicial custody and fake encounters to the commission’s member during a camp at Chennai in September 2. The cases include illegal detention of a 14-year-old boy and brutal assault by Thiruthangal policemen in Virudhunagar district in which the boy lost his right eye in 2014 and rape of a minor girl by policemen in Tiruvarur, Ariyalur, Pudukottai and Thanjavur districts, in 2009 and 2010. Kuravans, an underprivileged community with 10 lakh members, form the sixth largest scheduled caste population in Tamil Nadu. They are also living in Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. But the community has been demanding that the Union government notify them as Scheduled Tribes (ST). Basically hunters, they of late started eking out an living by making articles of household out of bamboo and palm leaves following a ban on hunting. They are also involved in rearing pigs. Their traditional professions also include tattooing and fortune telling using parrots. (Times of India 18/11/14)

WOMEN

11. 6 in 10 Indian men admit violence on wives: UN study  (8)

New Delhi: Six out of 10 Indian men, especially those experiencing economic stress or those who faced discrimination as children, have admitted acting violently against their wives or partners at some point of time, according to a study released here on Monday. The study, Masculinity, Intimate Partner Violence and Son Preference in India, highlights unequal balance of power between men and women in India, prevalence of intimate partner abuse, and high preference for a male child. “What we found is that in India, rigid forms of masculinity where men exhibit controlling behaviours and inequitable gender attitudes, strongly determines their preference of sons over daughters as well as their tendency to perpetuate violence against an intimate partner,” revealed the study launched at the four-day Second MenEngage Global Symposium. The research for the study was conducted in seven states Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Punjab, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh — and involved 9,205 men and 3,158 women, aged between 18 and 49 years. Most of these states show a strong boy preference and have an adverse sex ratio at birth, ranging between 832 and 938 girls for every 1,000 boys. A staggering 75 per cent or three-fourths of men in Odisha and Uttar Pradesh admitted inflicting violence on their intimate partners, followed by 66.1 per cent in Rajasthan and 61.9 in Madhya Pradesh. The figures were much lower in Maharashtra (37 per cent) and Punjab/Haryana (43 per cent). Around two out of five men in these seven states are so rigid in their masculinity that they believe “women should neither be seen or heard.” The men characterised their masculinity by exercising control and admitted controlling to women to the extent that one in three did not allow their wives to wear clothes of their choice and 66 per cent believed that they had greater say than their wife/partner in the important decision that affect them. Seventy-five per cent expected their partners agree to sex at all times and over 50 per cent did not expect their partners to use contraceptives without permission. The study, by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the Washington-headquartered International Centre for Research on Women, said only 52 per cent women said they had experienced some form of violence during their lifetime. But, according to the study, the reason was that women were reluctant to report intimate partner violence due to a feeling of shame or fear of social stigma. They may have also believed such acts were normal in a relationship and expected men to exert some control on their lives. Nearly 38 per cent women have experiences of physical abuse such as being kicked, slapped, choked and burned. This was followed by emotional, sexual and economic violence. “Central to the problem of gender-based violence in India is that Indian men and women have been socialised to believe that men’s dominance over women is normal and acts of violence against women are justified,” the study explained, adding that women were expected to be “tolerant” and “accepting.” (Asian Age 11/11/14)

12. 61 women killed, 40 raped this year : UNMM (8)

Imphal, November 11 2014: Altogether 61 women have been murdered and 40 raped till November 10 this year, according to data compiled by the United NGOs Mission Manipur (UNMM) . Speaking to media persons at Manipur Press Club here today, UNMM women committee convenor Sobita Mangshatabam said that 61 women have been murdered and 40 raped in the State in the past 10 months and 10 days. Of the 61 women killed, 24 were murdered in the most ghastly manner. Out of them, four were below 10 years and they were murdered after being raped. One 18 year old girl was also murdered after being raped. 16 women including 13 housewives were found dead under controversial circumstances. Of the 13 housewives, four were pregnant. 16 other women died by allegedly committing suicide. Two women were killed in bomb blasts. Three other women died during or after child delivery. Sobita pointed out that procreation is impossible without women. Of the 61 women who have died or have been murdered this year, reproductive system of 57 were active. These 57 women had the capacity to bear 558 children at the rate of nine children per woman. If Manipuri women are killed continuously in such manner, migrants would definitely outgrow the indigenous population shortly. Of the 40 women raped this year, 26 were below 18 years of age and 13 below 10 years. In case these victims, shaken by their harrowing experiences, decide to stay unmarried throughout their lives, who would make up their reproductive capacity, Sobita asked. Even as rape and killing of civilians by security forces have come down considerably in the State, rape and killing of civilians by civilians have been rising at an alarming rate. Abuse of drugs and other intoxicating substances are closely related to many criminal activities including rape and murder. As such, the Government need to step up its counter measures against smuggling and peddling of drugs in the State, Sobita said. Till November 10 this year, there are reports of 287 cases of violence against women including rape and murder. These figures are based on what were reported in the newspapers. If the crime rate is so high, one would like to ask the 60 MLAs what they have been doing all these days, she said. Police investigation is either too slow or ineffective and the justice delivery system is not at all satisfactory, she alleged. Sobita further called upon all sections of the society to come out for an open revolt against repeated rape and murder of women in the society. (E-Pao 12/11/14)

13. Event held to spread awareness against female foeticide (8)

Gurgaon: Aimed at creating awareness against female foeticide by engaging school students, an event was held here Thursday. The event titled ‘She – The Girl Child!’ was an initiative of Paras Hospitals. The event drew nearly 40 Gurgaon school students who spoke on the topic of female foeticide in India, its causes and also suggested measures to stop the practice. In this context, Rakhee Gogoi, head of radiology department at Paras Hospitals, said doctors, especially sonologists, “have a major role to play”.”No doubt the government has developed strong measures against sex determination, but the gap still remains. It is because most of the radiologists still allow sex determination tests and such professionals should be severely punished,” she said. Poornima Savargoankar, a former scientist now associated with NGO Uthaan, told IANS that such events can help lend a voice to the cause. “As the students who participated today (Thursday) are our future, they can propagate the message at school, at their homes and everywhere they go,” she said. On the occasion, a short film themed “Let the girl child blossom” was screened. (Business Standard 13/11/14)

14. Domestic violence: Elite women most vulnerable (8)

BHOPAL: United Nation’s damning report this week about 6 out of 10 Indian men admitting to domestic violence unearths the horrific reality in society’s underbelly. While Odisha and Uttar Pradesh hog the hall of shame, the situation in Madhya Pradesh is no better. According to one-stop crisis centre in Bhopal, India’s first centre aimed at protecting women from violence, it’s educated, urban women who face the brunt of abuse in Madhya Pradesh. And, all this in the cloak of marriage and within four walls of home. The centre received more than 500 cases of domestic violence in five months, most of which are lodged by the women from elite and middle class families. This fact is corroborated by the UN report which states more than 35% men in Madhya Pradesh expressed “rigid masculinity with highly negative gender attitudes”.While the major reason of domestic violence amid rural women still continues to be dowry, urban women are subjected to violence for being “independent”, according to the OSCC. Rekha Sharma 28 was battered by her husband for not quitting her job and becoming a full-time homemaker. Her husband, who was earlier comfortable with Rekha working in a MNC soon grew insecure of her high salary package. When Rekha arrived at OSCC looking for help, the centre called her husband and his parents. Surprisingly, instead of accepting his mistake, he accused Rekha of being mentally unstable. But what was more disappointing was the fact that Rekha’s parents still wanted her to go back to her husband despite the torture. Similarly, when Lata Dubey, 31, an IT professional from Bhopal wanted to continue with her career after becoming a mother, sparks flew. Not only was she given an ultimatum to choose between her child and job, she was also accused of infidelity. The daily arguments and her husband’s fury would end up leaving Lata with bruises. She filed for a divorce for domestic violence and mental harassment.”People think an educated urban woman leads a happy life, but no one knows what’s going on behind closed doors. These women from decent backgrounds are treated with brutality by their husband and in-laws for trying to create their own identity. Major reasons for violence faced by woman in marriage are triggered by jealousy, insecurity and ego. In many cases, parents of women are not supportive. They want them to endure the violence and call it a personal matter or a passing phase,” said Sarika Sinha of Action Aid that volunteers activities of OSCC. OSCC received more than 500 cases of domestic violence in five months, most of which are lodged by women from elite and middle class families (Times of India 15/11/14)

15. 14,570 Plaints, Just 416 cases Get Registered (8)

MADURAI: In a stunning revelation by a reply to a Right to Information Act (RTI) query, the City Police and the Madurai Rural Police have registered only 416 cases out of a total of 14,570 complaints on crimes against women and children during the past three years. The RTI information obtained by Madurai-based advocate R Vignesh from the Madurai Commissioner of Police and Superintendent of Police, Madurai (Rural) shows that while crime against women and children has steadily increased from 2011 to 2014, both police forces seem to have been reluctant to register such crimes. The advocate also sought details on cases such as dowry, harassment, rape, eve teasing and other atrocities against women and children. The Madurai Commissioner of Police stated that during the three-year period, 5,393 complaints were received by Tallakulam, Town and South all women police stations (AWPS) but only 95 cases were registered. The reply also said that 3,435 cases were dropped and the rest were referred to the District Social Welfare Officer. Rural Superintendent of Police (SP) said that Tiruparankundram, Melur, Thirumangalam, Samayapuram and Tirumangalam police stations have received 9,177 complaints but registered only 321 cases. City-based lawyer Anand said that the police were least bothered about a Supreme Court order in the Lalitha Kumari case making first information report (FIR) mandatory for all cases. (New Indian Express 17/11/14)

16. Rs 100cr-plus corpus likely for women survivors of crime (8)

LUCKNOW : Inaugurating the state’s most modernised control room on Wednesday, Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav is likely to announce a corpus fund for women, apparently on the initiative of his wife and MP of the ruling party Dimple Yadav. The corpus fund of around Rs 100-150 crore is to be earmarked for protection and rehabilitation of women who are survivors of violence and crime. Dimple has been raising the issue of crime against women from different platforms and personally too has asked her chief minister husband to strengthen protection of women in the state. At the party’s national convention of women on Monday, Dimple Yadav had also expressed her concern over the alarming rate of foeticide in the country and appealed to check it at the earliest. It is learnt that Dimple Yadav has been pursuing the government to earmark some funds for rehabilitation of women survivors of violence within the family and outside too. “At times it has been seen that a woman becomes an outcaste once she is assaulted or molested. The state has decided to intervene in such cases too,” informed a senior government official, adding that part of the fund would be extracted from the labour cess while remaining would be borne by the state. In the previous BSP regime, then chief minister Mayawati had asked for Scheduled Caste survivors of rape be given compensation. Senior police officers were seen doling out compensation to the rape survivors in many places, but the BSP scheme created resentment as non-Dalit survivors were denied compensation Samajwadi Party government has planned the survivors of violence of any caste be compensated adequately so that they live respectably and also contest the case in court. Under the scheme, the government would set up counseling centres allover the state in every district to guide the survivors in legal matters and also to help them lead a respectable life. The counseling centres would also provide skill training to women survivors to make them self-reliant. (Times of India 19/11/14)

CHILDREN/ CHILD LABOUR

17. 25 schools form panel to raise awareness on child rights (14)

Mangaluru: Children from Ranipura School while highlighting rights of children through a song and dance, at Prajna Counselling centre as a part of its programme on “Prajna’s step towards women and child empowerment,” said that 25 schools in Mangalore and Bantwal have formed a committee to raise awareness on child rights. The committee meets and discusses on activities to increase awareness. The problems faced by the children in their schools are brought to the notice of the Gram Panchayat President, said the kids. The event is aimed at creating awareness through songs, dance, skits and street-plays about child rights. It was a part of the activities conducted by Prajna’s Empowerment and Participation of Women and Children Projects. Explaining computer training programme imparted at the Centre, co-ordinator Geetha Pandith said that the destitute poor kids and unemployed women are imparted training in animation. For a cartoon story which she has written entitled ‘Druthi and Drutali,’ destitute Mubeena has drawn illustrations. Elaborating Mubeena’s experience, she said that she wanted to pursue her studies after fourth standard. However, owing to poverty, her mother pushed her to work in a house. I was ill treated by the employees in Chikkamagaluru. Later, I came to Mangalore to work in a house, from where I escaped and landed in Prajna centre. Looking at my drawings, Geetha madam taught me animation, illustrations using computer.” Beneficiary of CFI programme, Pathunhi said, “we women spend majority of our time sitting inside four walls of the house. After I became member of SHG, I started saving money and preparing phenol, soaps and pearl necklaces and imitation jewellery. With the money I earned, I was strong enough to educate my daughter who is a lawyer now. My grand daughter is pursuing MBBS.” Chinnara Tangudhama, an initiative of SSA and Prajna Counselling Centre,  teacher Veena said that 270 kids were enrolled to the Thangudhama. At present, 30 kids are pursuing their studies. A total of 177 students have already been brought to the mainstream schools through Thangudhama. Deputy Commissioner A B Ibrahim said that NGOs play a pivotal role in implementing various welfare schemes of the government. The Prajna Counselling centre should spread its wings and open its centre in other districts. The district administration will provide all the helping hand to the activities of the Prajna counselling centre. Senior civil judge Ganesh B also spoke. (Deccan Herald 12/11/14)

18. Nobel Laureate Satyarthi appeals to ‘save childhood’ on Children’s Day (14)

New Delhi: Calling child trafficking the “worst form” of human rights violation, Nobel Peace Prize winner Kailash Satyarthi on Thursday made a strong appeal to “save the childhood” of every child. On the eve of the 125th birth anniversary of the first Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru, celebrated nationwide as Children’s Day, Satyarthi said it is imperative that the society takes care of the right to education, health and freedom of every child. “Child trafficking is the worst form of human rights violation. It makes me cry when children are taken away and sold cheaper than cattle,” he said. NHRC Chairperson Justice K G Balakrishnan, who also spoke during the interaction organised by NHRC during its two-day National Seminar on Prison Reforms, said that the society is in “complete denial” on the issue of child labour. “The fact that large number of child labourers continue to work in factories and elsewhere do not seem to affect us. All these we completely deny,” he said. Noting that it was only in the beginning of the 1990s that the concept of child rights came to exist, Satyarthi said that it was otherwise couched in the package of “charity”.”When I started working during the initial eighties the concept of child right didn’t even exist. There was no child labour law in India until 1986. Although it was only after the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) came into effect that the concept made a shift from charity to rights,” the Nobel Peace Prize winner said. Terming it as a period of “paradigm shift”, he said that it was then that the discourse on child labour and rights were beginning to be viewed from the “human rights prospective”.60-year-old Satyarthi, was on October 10 named for this year’s Nobel Peace prize along with Pakistani teenager Malala Yousafzai. He has been working for child rights for over 30 years through Bachpan Bachao Andolan, the NGO which is credited with freeing over 80,000 child labourers across India. (Zee News 14/11/14)

19. Govt plans law for complete ban on child labour (14)

NEW DELHI: The government is likely to introduce a key legislation that proposes a complete ban on child labour in all sectors in the coming winter session of Parliament. The legislation aims to amend the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act to bring it in tune with the Right To Education (RTE) Act, which makes education compulsory for all children up to the age of 14. Though the proposal for complete ban on child labour up to 14 years of age was once cleared by the Cabinet, it could not get parliamentary approval. Under existing laws, child labour is not a punishable offence in some “non-hazardous” sectors such as farming. It was argued that there should not be any discrimination on working in hazardous or non-hazardous industry in terms of the ban. The proposal aims to ban all work for children under the age of 14 and restrict non-hazardous work to adolescents between the age of 14 and 18. Employing a child under 14 for any work — hazardous or non-hazardous — will be a cognizable offence punishable with imprisonment up to two years or a fine up to Rs 50,000 or both, an increase from the current one-year jail or Rs 20,000 punishment. Repeat offenders can be imprisoned for up to three years. Nobel laureate and child rights activist Kailash Satyarthi has urged Parliament to pass a strong anti-child labour law in the upcoming session. He has demand complete ban on all forms of child labour and bringing the law in sync with RTE Act. He sought prohibition of employment of children between 14-18 years in hazardous occupations and processes. (Times of India 17/11/14)

20. Kailash Satyarthi calls for global action to end child slavery (14)

LONDON: Nobel peace laureate Kailash Satyarthi called on Monday for global support for a campaign to end child slavery that will be launched this week as new figures estimated almost 36 million people are living as slaves today. Satyarthi, who was the surprise co-recipient of this year’s Nobel peace prize for his work fighting child slavery and exploitation in India, said not enough was being done to protect children from lives of servitude. His comments came as the second global slavery index by the Walk Free Foundation, an Australia-based human rights group, estimated 35.8 million are born into servitude, trafficked for sex work, trapped in debt bondage or exploited in forced labour. The International Labour Organisation estimates that there are 21 million people in forced labour worldwide, of which 5.5 million, or 26 percent, are aged under 18. Satyarthi, 60, whose non-government organisation Bachpan Bachao Andolan (BBA) has been credited with freeing over 80,000 child labourers in India over the past 30 years, urged global backing for an “End Child Slavery Week” campaign that will be launched at the Trust Women conference in London this week. “(We must) build new alliances and partnerships that help us march towards the goal of creating a society free from child slavery,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation on the eve of the conference on trafficking and other women’s rights issues. “The fight against child slavery is the fight against traditional mindset, policy deficit and lack of accountability and urgency for children across the globe.” The campaign is an initiative involving various groups including the Global March against Child Labour, Anti-Slavery International, Education International, International Trade Union Confederation, Kids Rights Foundation and the Thomson Reuters Foundation. Satyarthi was little known when he was awarded this year’s Nobel prize along with Pakistani teenager Malala Yousafzai who has become a global icon for girls’ education after surviving an assassination attempt by the Taliban. When the prize was announced on Oct. 10 he only had 100 followers on Twitter. Now he has over 45,000. In India, however, Delhi-based BBA is known for staging often dramatic rescues of child labourers, many sold into servitude by poor families, and rehabilitating them in residential homes. Aware that 70 percent of child labourers come from villages, BBA has also created nearly 400 “model villages” in India which are free from child exploitation and promote children’s education and address traditions such as child marriage. Satyarthi, who founded BBA in 1980 after quitting his job as an electrical engineer, said winning the Nobel Prize had created unprecedented attention for all forms of economic exploitation, violence, denial of education and other child rights. Satyarthi, who will address the Trust Women’s conference organised by the Thomson Reuters Foundation on Wednesday and help launch the End Child Slavery campaign, said a major challenge was to maintain attention on this issue. As part of the End Child Slavery Week campaign, the Thomson Reuters Foundation on Monday launched #Choosetosee, a strategic initiative with a video and petition to fight child slavery. “As the anti-slavery community, we must together ensure that this attention is transferred into concrete action and results,” Satyarthi said. (Times of India 19/11/14)

MINORITIES – GENERAL

21. Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi vows security to minorities (7)

New Delhi: Newly-inducted Union minister of state for minority affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, who took charge on Tuesday, said the government will work towards providing “security and prosperity” to various minority communities of the country. He said the Narendra Modi government, through its principles of good governance, will work in this regard. He said one of his priority areas would be to provide opportunities of development for the last man in queue without any discrimination. According to him, the role of the minority affairs ministry has become crucial at a time when a “political effort” is on to create a sense of mistrust among minorities. “The minority affairs ministry has an important role to play. Its role becomes all the more crucial at a time when a political effort is being made to create a sense of mistrust among minorities,” said the minister after taking charge of his office. He, however, did not name any political party. “We have to keep away brokers and middlemen. People say much of the schemes have remained on paper and nothing is reflected on ground. I want the ministry to reach the people with its schemes… People are feeling secluded. That has to go,” he said. Mr Naqvi said he would choose areas where he would focus and ensure a proper ground assessment of the works done by the ministry. Before taking over, Mr Naqvi, who was inducted into the Union council of ministers on Sunday, met his senior minister Najma Heptulla. (Asian Age 12/11/14)

22. Minorities under attack in Bengal: BJP MLA (7)

KOLKATA: Shamik Bhattacharya, the lone BJP MLA in West Bengal Assembly, today alleged that minorities and the poor were under attack in the state and the government was refraining from taking any step. “Minorities, marginal farmers and the poor are being attacked by ruling Trinamool Congress in the state for which they are joining our party,” Bhattacharya told reporters after staging a walk-out from the house. Referring to Birbhum, where four persons were injured in a clash between BJP and ruling TMC activists at troubled Parui in Birbhum district during a visit by BJP state president Rahul Sinha to a nearby village, said the government was frequently changing the officer-in-charge of the police station but was ‘not doing what needed to be done’. The law and order situation in Birbhum was ‘very alarming’ and BJP’s minority supporters were subject to attacks and torture by Trinamool Congress activists, he alleged. BJP state president Rahul Sinha’s car was attacked at Imadpur in Birbhum district yesterday when he was going to address a meeting at troubled Parui village, he said. “The Birbhum district Trinamool president is virtually playing the role of the district SP,” he alleged and added that BJP had wanted a statement from Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on the law and order situation in Birbhum. “If not the CM, the parliamentary affairs minister could have given the statement”, he said. He criticised West Bengal Minorities Commission for keeping its ‘eyes closed’. “Where are they? The panel members are not to seen around even the minorities are being attacked.” (Times of India 13/11/4)

23. 90 Per Cent of Poor in India, South Africa Are Minorities: Former Justice Yacoob (7)

HYDERABAD: Achieving equality in society is the only solution to eliminate poverty in this world, said Justice Zakeria ‘Zac’ Yacoob, Retired Justice of Constitutional Court of South Africa at the 13th CD Deshmukh memorial lecture here on Saturday. His lecture was on the topic ‘Equality, Non-discrimination, Religion and Disability: South Africa and India’. “Once everybody in the society treats everyone equally, poverty will automatically be eliminated,” he said. He reminded that more than 90 percent of the poor in South Africa and India are from the minority classes. Yacoob, who has been working in the field of Socio-economic Rights for a long time, said he strongly believes that discrimination is based on various factors such as race and religion. It has become one of the biggest hurdles in the path towards development across the world. He said both India and South Africa stand on the same position when it comes to inequality and discrimination against the vulnerable groups. However, Yacoob felt that ‘race’ has been the most common factor for discrimination in both the countries. “Perhaps that is the reason, constitutions of both the countries chose to give reservations based on race,” he said. From his research on the social development of both the countries for past few decades, he said minorities have always been oppressed, while the majority section continues to dominate. In the context of formation of Telangana state, Yacoob felt the new state is the result of discrimination that Telangana people faced for years. And now the state has manyopportunities to achieve social and economic development. “Every time a new state is formed, there is a great desire for development,” he said. He said he finds hope in the fact that oppressed communities such as the Dalits in India and Black Africans in South Africa are now doing well in various fields like education and business. “The change is happening, but it is at a slow pace,” he added. Organised by the Council for Social Development, the memorial lecture was attended by the research scholars and students from Maulana Azad National Urdu University (MANUU), University of Hyderabad (UoH) and Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS). (New Indian Express 16/11/14)

MINORITIES – MUSLIMS

24. Shiv Sena presents Muslim skull cap to Eknath Khadse (7)

Mumbai: The Shiv Sena has claimed to have presented a green cap to revenue and minority affairs minister Eknath Khadse on the first day of special session of the Assembly for his alleged “soft corner” for Muslims. However, Mr Khadse has denied the incident. Opposing the proposal by Mr Khadse to introduce Urdu as an optional subject for students studying in Marathi-medium schools in the state, Shiv Sena MLC Diwakar Raote brought a green skull cap to the Assembly on Monday. “Nobody has demanded this. Even if one student opts for Urdu, a teacher will have to be appointed, arrangements made for namaz and other requirements. What is the need for this?” Mr Raote asked. However, Mr Khadse denied the claim he was given a skull cap. “I received appreciation from Muslims, including MIM MLAs. Even a representative of Shahi Imam called to inquire about the decision,” said Mr Khadse. “My intention is very clear. The Muslims should be brought into mainstream; they should get education like other students studying in Marathi medium schools,” he said. He further added, “There are only 0.25 per cent Muslim officials in government jobs due to lack of proper education. We want to change the situation.” (Asian Age 11/11/14)

25.  ‘Court stay will impede Muslim integration into mainstream’ (7)

MUMBAI: The Bombay High Court has observed that an interim stay on reservation in education for the 50 sub-castes of Muslims specified by Maharashtra government “will certainly impede the process of drawing the Muslim youths into the mainstream of secular education.” In its judgment on Friday, the court refused to grant interim stay on Maharashtra government’s ordinance giving five per cent reservation to Muslims in education. But the court granted interim stay to reservation for specified Muslims sub-castes in government jobs on the grounds that “the State has no power to breach the ceiling limit of 50 per cent.” It also said that five per cent additional educational reservation could not be imposed on private and unaided educational institutes as it would be an unreasonable restriction on their fundamental right. While relying on Sachar Committee report, Justice Ranganath Mishra Committee report, report of the Maharashtra State Minority Commission and Dr. Mehmood-ur-Rehman Study Group report, the court said there was quantifiable data for the formation of the ‘Special Backward Category’ consisting of the 50 sub-castes of the Muslim community. “In the present case, the material relied upon by the State government for determining the backwardness of the Specified Communities of Muslims, at least prima facie, spells out a case for the existence of an extraordinary situation, in which the State government was justified in exceeding the ceiling limit of 50 per cent by another 5 per cent insofar as reservations in educational institutions is concerned,” the court said in its order.The court denied the petitioners’ contention that reservation was granted to Muslims only on the basis of their religion, and was thus against the spirit of the Constitution. “In the first place, the impugned Ordinance is clear, inasmuch as the reservation is for certain specified communities from out of Muslims and not for members of the Muslim community in general or in entirety. Secondly, both Articles 15(1) and 16(2) prohibit discrimination against any citizen on grounds only of religion. Since the State Government has relied upon the relevant indicators for the purposes of determining backwardness of 50 sub-castes of Muslim community, we see no infringement of Articles 15(1) and 16(2) of the Constitution of India,” the court said. (The Hindu 16/11/14)

26. West Bengal turf war as TMC loses ground to BJP (7)

New Delhi: In BJP’s “Mission Bengal”, the saffron forces have begun matching the Trinamul Congress’ muscle power. In the last few months, there have been over 400 clashes between the TMC and the BJP in Bengal, with the maximum being reported from Birbhum district. What is worrying the Trinamul is that Muslims are also shifting towards the BJP. The state BJP leadership has claimed that over 1.75 lakh Muslims have joined the party. Over the last few months, Birbhum has emerged as the epicentre of clashes between BJP and Trinamul Congress workers. While three people have been killed so far, scores of others have been injured in clashes which have now become a regular feature in various villages in Birbhum district. The BJP, some feel, was being able to “stand up to the Trinamul’s muscle power” as a large number of CPI(M) and Congress workers are moving towards saffron forces. Sources revealed that some villages in Birbhum district have become BJP strongholds and Trinamul workers were trying to take back lost territories. For instance, a major clash happened on October 27 in a village under Panrui police station in Birbhum district. After the Lok Sabha polls, the saffron forces had moved in to take control of the village. Interestingly, Birbhum district is a Muslim-dominated region. Alarm bells have begun to ring as the Muslims in these areas have started moving towards the BJP. The party’s state unit president, Mr Rahul Sinha, has claimed that 1.75 lakh Muslims have joined the saffron party after Mr Modi became Prime Minister. If Mr Sinha’s claim is to be believed, another major shift is taking place in Bengal’s Muslim votebank. The minority community, which was the traditional votebank of the Left, shifted to the Trinamul during the last Assembly elections in the state. The BJP is hopeful and repeatedly claiming that the majority of this votebank, which amounts to nearly 33 per cent in the state, was shifting rapidly towards the saffron camp. The BJP, which is eyeing Bengal, is preparing to contest at least 150 of the 294 seats during the Assembly polls in the state in 2016. However, Bengal watchers even in the BJP feel that this could be a “Herculean task”. Trinamul Congress leaders, while talking about the BJP, secretly acknowledge that “Modi magic is working in Bengal”. But how much of it will translate into votes remains to be seen, he said. (Asian Age 17/11/14)

27. In poll-bound Kashmir, BJP banks on Muslim clerics (7)

Srinagar: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has deployed Islamic clerics from other states for canvassing in the Muslim-majority Kashmir Valley to boost its chances in the five-phase state election that begins this month. A key campaigner for the party is Deoband-based Maulana Suhaib Qasmi who heads the Jamaat Ulema-e-Hind that reportedly has about 16,000 clerics as its members. Qasmi’s endorsement of the BJP hasn’t surprised analysts since he openly supported Narendra Modi ahead of the Lok Sabha polls this year. “They (the clerics) are here to clear misconceptions about the party. They are here to tell people that BJP is not anti-Muslim,” said Altaf Thakur, the party’s media in-charge in Jammu and Kashmir. Confident of its chances in the core Hindu belt of Jammu, the BJP is going all out in the Valley with the target of winning 44 of the state’s 87 assembly seats. The Lok Sabha elections gave the party a head start as it won three of the six seats in the state with Modi’s popularity pulling Hindu votes towards the BJP. Qasmi, who said during the parliamentary polls that Muslims should barter support for development, says Kashmir is craving for growth and Modi is the only leader who can accomplish this. “We are here to listen to problems of the people and help find solutions,” he said. The cleric said those judging Modi must go beyond the 2002 Gujarat riots narrative as the country also witnessed several instances of communal violence under Congress-led regimes. Qasmi said the PM’s “Sab ka saath, sab ka vikas” slogan is in the right spirit and “there is hardly any rally where he (Modi) has not mentioned Muslims.” Apart from Muslims, the BJP is trying to woo social media users in a big way. The party has called in seven IT experts from Mumbai, setting up a media war room in Srinagar’s Raj Bagh area. Shakeel-ul-Rehman, who heads the party’s social media cell in Jammu and Kashmir, said his team will be sending out constant updates on Twitter, Facebook and WhatsApp to inform and engage voters. “We will be telling people about the party’s aim, promises and also give updates about rallies, interactions across the state,” he said. (Hindustan Times 19/11/14)

MINORITIES – CHRISTIANS

28. Nine Pak Christian families forced to leave their homes (7)

Lahore: Nine Pakistani Christian families have reportedly been forced to leave their houses after a man of their community married a Muslim woman in Sahiwal district of Punjab, the third such incident in the province. Shahab Masih, a young man of the Christian community, married a Muslim woman Rukhsana Kausar, who is in her early 20s last month, Abid Masih said. “Last month the couple contracted a court marriage. The Muslims of the village warned us to produce the girl or face serious consequences. We told them that Shahab lived in Khanewal and they should better visit his place to settle the issue but to no avail,” he said. Shahab from Khanewal district of Punjab, some 400 kilometers from Lahore, often visited his relatives in Sahiwal where he developed friendship with the girl. Jamil Husain, the girl’s father, has filed an abduction case in Shahkot police against Shahab, his two family members. “It was not only the FIR against my two family members, but the whole Muslim community of the village turned against the Christians and started hurling death threats at us. The Christian elders of the locality then finally decided to leave their village and sought refuge?somewhere else to save their lives,” Abid said. This was the third such incident in recent times in Punjab when the Christians families have been forced by Muslims to leave their residences. The other two incidents took place in Sargodha and Narowal districts. The police have registered a case against Shahab Masih and others for kidnapping a Muslim girl, Sub-Inspector Muhammad Riaz said. He said the police also received an application from the Christians of the village that they had been receiving threats related to the case. “We have arrested no one as yet. Knowing the sensitivity of the case we will lay hand on anyone after a thorough probe,” Riaz said. “We have brought the matter to the knowledge of the Punjab home secretary. The 25 members of?nine families have to leave their residences and shops in Sahiwal because they had serious threats from the Muslims of area,” said Aslam Sahotra, Christian leader and head of Human Liberation Front Pakistan. Sahotra requested Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif to provide security to the affected Christians and ensure their resettlement. Last week, a Muslim mob burnt alive a young Christian couple after throwing them in the brick kiln furnace on the charges of allegedly desecrating the Quran. (Zee News 13/11/14)

29. Catholic Church in State All Set to Celebrate Canonisation (7)

KOCHI: The Catholic Church in Kerala is all set to celebrate the canonisation of Fr Kuriakose Elias Chavara and Sr Euphrasia Eluvathingal. Various functions are being organised in Kochi, Ollur and Mannanam. In Kochi, functions are being held at Kakkanad and Koonammavu, where Fr Chavara was laid to rest, first. Fr Chavara  and Sr Euphrasia  will be elevated to sainthood by Pope Francis at a ceremony to be held in Vatican on November 23.  On November 24, a thanksgiving Holy Mass in Syro Malabar Rite will be celebrated at the main altar of the St Peters Basilica in Vatican. “Special prayers will be held at Mannanam, Koonammavu and Ollur on the day of canonisation. A thanksgiving Holy Mass will be celebrated at Kakkanad on November 29,” said Syro Malankatra Catholic Church Cardinal Baselius Cleemis. Cardinal Baselius Cleemis will deliver a speech on the occasion. Priests and  bishops of the Latin Church and the Malankara Catholic Church will attend the function. A procession carrying holy relics from Mannanam and Ollur will reach Kakkanad on the day. Syro Malabar Church head Cardinal Mar George Alencherry will be the main celebrant at the Holy Mass. “Prior to the Mass, Pope Francis will address the faithful from Kerala. Around 1 lakh people, in different groups, are expected to attend the ceremonies in Vatican,” Cardinal Alencherry said at a press conference in Kochi on Thursday. “Delegations representing the Central and State governments will attend the ceremonies in Vatican. Ministers K C Joseph and P J Joseph are expected to represent the State Government,” he said. The official celebration of the Kerala Catholic Church will be held On November 29.  There will be a thanksgiving Holy Mass at Rajagiri Valley (on the ground of Rajagiri College of Engineering), followed by a public meeting. “Apostolic Nuncio to India Archbishop Salvatore Pennacchio will inaugurate the public meeting, which will be presided over by Chief Minister Oommen Chandy. Heads of various Christian denominations, SC Judge Justice Krian Joseph and representatives of various religions and political parties  will attend. Around 50,000 people are expected to take part in the  celebration,” the cardinal said. CMI former General Fr Paul Achandi said that  social welfare projects worth `1 crore will be launched to mark the historic event. The projects include housing scheme, treatment aid for cancer patients and  financial aid for students. Replying to a query, Cardinal Alencherry said that there was no dispute over the final resting place of Fr Chavara. Nobody ever disputed the importance Konnammavu holds in the life of Fr Chavara. Though Vatican recognises Mannanam as his resting place, it does not belittle the importance of Koonammavu, where Fr Chavara spent the last years of his life and died. Also, at first, he was buried at Koonammavu. The mortal remains were taken to Mannanam with the consent of the then religious and civil authorities, and there are documents to prove it. When Vatican initiated the proceedings for the canonisation, the tomb at Mannanam was opened for exhuming. Thus, Vatican recognises Mannanam as his resting place,” the Cardinal said. (New Indian Express 14/11/14)

30. Priests conduct mass for Dalit Christians near RS Mangalam (7)

RAMANATHAPURAM: The raging controversy over the expulsion of Dalit seminarian G. Michael Raja of Diocese of Sivaganga, allegedly for indiscipline, took a new turn on Friday with priests from other dioceses in the State conducting a mass for Dalit Christians in connection with ‘All Souls Day’ near RS Mangalam in this district. Ever since the Dalit seminarian was suspended from the seminary three years ago after he had completed the theology course, Dalit Christians have raised a banner of revolt against the Diocese of Sivaganga, comprising churches in Sivaganga and Ramanathapuram districts and ‘restrained’ priests from visiting the Dalit villages. After violence broke out in Oriyur Church over the issue two years ago, the Diocese of Sivaganga withdrew residential parish priests in at least 10 parishes, comprising Dalit villages in Devakottai, RS Mangalam, Tiruvadanai and Thondi blocks for security reasons and appointed administrators for each parish to help the devotees in conducting services. As parish priests refrained from visiting the parish and sub station churches in Dalit villages, masses could not be organised in these villages during festivals and important occasions. On All Souls Day on November 2, the Dalit Christians could just visit the cemeteries and offer prayers as parish priests were not available to conduct the mass. Against this backdrop, about 13 priests from the Dioceses of Chengalpattu, Chennai, Thanjavur, Puducherry, Kumbakonam and Tirunelveli visited Saveriyar Nagar near RS Mangalam in this district and conducted mass for Dalit Christians for All Souls Day. They visited the village at the request of local Dalit Christians. “We could not say no when people call us for prayers and conduct masses,” A Aruldoss, President of the Tamil Nadu Dalit Christian Makkal Kootaimuppu said quoting a priest. Parish priests were not visiting more than 100 sub station churches in Dalit villages, he said. Meanwhile, Rev. S. Michael Raj, spokesman of the Diocese of Sivaganga took objection to priests from other dioceses conducting the mass without the permission of the Bishop of Sivaganga Diocese. “This is not only indiscipline, but amounted to promoting divisions,” he said. The diocese was ready to conduct prayers in churches in Dalit villages provided they gave up the demand for the ordination of Raja and cooperated with the diocese, he added. (The Hindu 15/11/14)

31. Modi Government’s Decision Ruffles Catholic Feathers (7)

NEW DELHI: Two Indian Catholics are about to attain ‘sainthood’ in Vatican and Narendra Modi Government has decided to send a three-member delegation to Vatican for the canonisation ceremony as a mark of respect. The story should have ended on a happy note there. But it has not, thanks to the ‘secular’ nature of the delegation. The canonisation ceremony-where two revered Catholic figures — Fr Kuriakose Elias Chavara and Sr Euphrasia Eluvathinkal, will be declared as ‘saints’ by Pope Francis – will be held on November 23. The Modi Government’s decision has stirred up factional feelings within the Christian community as the delegation has no Catholics in it. As of now, the delegation is being led by Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman P J Kurien and two other MPs. Kurien is a Marthomite and he owes no allegiance to the Pope or Rome. The other two members are TDP MP P Raveendra Babu and Nagaland Peoples Front MP Neiphiu Rio. While the former is a Hindu, Neiphiu, a three-time Nagaland Chief Minister, is a Protestant Christian. “All delegations till date had included Catholics. It is for the first time that an official Indian delegation is going to Vatican with no Catholics in it,” said Catholic Bishops Conference of India (CBCI) spokesperson Fr K C Joseph. “We don’t know whether it is deliberate. But why should the Centre send non-Catholics, who do not look up to Rome or the Pope, to this sacred function,” asked another priest with the CBCI. He said that the previous 13-member delegation for the canonisation of St Alphonsa during the UPA Government in 2008, comprised entirely of Catholics. The delegation was headed by the then Union Labour and Employment Minister Oscar Fernandes and he was accompanied by K M Mani, K V Thomas, P C Thomas and others. The CBCI is planning to take up the matter with the PM, said the priest. But sources in the government said there will not be any change in the members of the delegation. “The government decided to send a delegation as the CBCI had written to both the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) requesting the same. And when the Centre sends a delegation, it has to be secular in nature,” said the official. He further said that two of the members are Christians. When the intricate variations in denominations was pointed out, the official said that a secular government need not think about all these intricacies in a hair splitting manner. “It is an official delegation and whoever goes, he or she is representing the country,’’ he said. He pointed out that it was Vice-President Hamid Ansari who had represented the country when Pope Francis was anointed. “But that was an official function as Pope is also the Head of the Vatican. But this is purely a religious function,’’ said a priest. (New Indian Express 16/11/14)

32. Christian organisations protest against ‘The Lost Gospel’ (7)

ONGOLE: Members of three Christian organisations staged a demonstration at the busy Church Centre here on Monday taking strong objection to the contents of ‘The Lost Gospel’ book by Simcha Jacobovici and Barrie A. Wilson. Leading the protest, members of the All India Trust Christian Council, College Of Bible Technology and Church of Christian said the duo had hurt the sentiments of believers by making unwarranted references to Jesus. According to Bible, Jesus did not marry, maintained AITCC Ongole unit president Ch.Venkateswarulu and Br. E.Babu Rao and Br. N. Lucas and, principals of College of Bible Technology at Ongole and Kanigiri respectively. (The Hindu 19/11/14)

REFUGEES/ MIGRANTS

33. U.N. says 13.6 million displaced by wars in Iraq and Syria (13)

Geneva: About 13.6 million people, equivalent to the population of London, have been displaced by conflicts in Syria and Iraq, and many are without food or shelter as winter starts, the U.N. refugee agency UNHCR said on Tuesday. Amin Awad, UNHCR`s director for the Middle East and North Africa, said the world was becoming numb to the refugees` needs. “Now when we talk about a million people displaced over two months, or 500,000 overnight, the world is just not responding,” he told reporters in Geneva. The 13.6 million include 7.2 million displaced within Syria – an increase from a long-held U.N. estimate of 6.5 million – as well as 3.3 million Syrian refugees abroad. In Iraq, 1.9 million have been displaced this year by tribal fighting and the advance of Islamic State, adding to 1 million previously displaced, and 190,000 have left the country to seek safety. The vast majority of Syrian refugees have gone to Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq or Turkey, which Awad said “are putting us all to shame” with their support for homeless Syrian families. “Other countries in the world, especially the Europeans and beyond, should open their borders and share the burden.” The U.N. World Food Programme has cut rations for 4.25 million people and lack of funds could force a break in its supplies next month for refugees, spokeswoman Elisabeth Byrs told Reuters. WFP recently received new pledges that may have averted immediate cuts, Byrs said, although it still needs $325 million to cover its operations for Syria and the region for the rest of 2014. “Until these pledges are confirmed, WFP`s actual funding situation remains dire, with cuts in assistance anticipated during the upcoming winter,” she said. UNHCR says it is short of $58.5 million in donations to prepare 990,000 people for winter, forcing it to prioritise help for people at higher, colder altitudes and for more vulnerable cases, such as newborn babies. U.N. figures show that leading donors include the European Union, United States, Japan, Norway and some Gulf Arab countries. The data show Russia and China have each provided just 0.1 percent of the total humanitarian funding raised by donors this year for Syria. “Politically they cannot really be indifferent, therefore humanitarian (aid) is an imperative and it has to be put first and foremost if there is no (political) settlement … They need to contribute one way or the other, like the others do,” he said. (Zee News 12/11/14)

34. Concessions for Af-Pak Hindu, Sikh refugees (13)

New Delhi: The government on Thursday announced a number of concessions for Hindu and Sikh refugees from Pakistan and Afghanistan, which includes relaxation in the procedure for granting them Indian citizenship. Home minister Rajnath Singh has approved a proposal for manual acceptance of applications for granting of Indian citizenship to minority community nationals of Pakistan and Afghanistan who entered India prior to December 31, 2009. There are about one lakh minority community refugees from Pakistan and Afghanistan living in India. The home ministry has said that eligible applicants who were facing difficulties in submitting online applications can now submit the same manually along with their passports. However, the long term visa of the applicant should be valid at the time of submitting the citizenship application at the office of the district magistrate, collector or deputy commissioner, an MHA statement said. An affidavit filed before the authority prescribed under Rule 38 of the Citizenship Rules, 2009, will be considered in lieu of renunciation certificate, it said. In a significant move, the home ministry also said that the children of such refugees, who entered India on the basis of their parents’ passport, can also apply without passport for the grant of Indian citizenship after the regularisation of their stay in India. Similar relaxation has been provided to children of such persons born in India and they will also be able to apply without passport for grant of Indian citizenship after regularisation of their stay in the country. These children will have to register with the foreigners registration office in the district concerned for the regularisation. The decision came after the home minister took into consideration the difficulties being faced by minority community nationals of Pakistan and Afghanistan in submitting their applications for grant of Indian citizenship. There are about 400 Pakistani Hindu refugee settlements in cities such as Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, Bikaner and Jaipur. Many Sikh refugees live in Punjab, Delhi, Haryana and UP. (Asian Age 14/11/14)

35. Sri Lankan refugees begin fast (13)

TIRUCHI: Twenty-six, including 25 Sri Lankan refugees, who have been quarantined at a special camp at the Central Prison here, started a fast on Saturday, demanding the early completion of the cases against them. They are facing charges, including illegal entry and suspected association with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). Many of them were recently transferred to the special camp here from different camps in the State. A Malaysian citizen is among them. Sources said the 26 persons did not have breakfast and lunch. They told the authorities that they would not take food unless there was an assurance that the cases against them were settled soon. It was unfair to conduct the trial of the cases for so long when peace prevailed in Sri Lanka, they said. (The Hindu 16/11/14)

36. ‘Thousands of Rohingya migrants missing’ (13)

Bankok: Thousands of Rohingya boat people who have left Myanmar in the past month have yet to reach their destinations, say relatives and an advocacy group for the persecuted minority, raising fears their boats have been prevented from reaching shore. About 12,000 Rohingya, a mostly stateless Muslim people, have left the western Myanmar state of Rakhine since October 15, said Chris Lewa of the Arakan Project, which plots migration across the Bay of Bengal. Another 4,000 boat people, both Rohingya and Bangladeshis, left neighbouring Bangladesh during the same period, said Lewa. The boat people are headed for Malaysia, but most transit through Thailand, where smugglers and traffickers hold them at jungle camps near the Malaysian border until relatives pay ransoms to secure their release. About 460 boat people were found and detained by the Thai authorities in November, but thousands more have not made landfall or contacted relatives after what is usually a five-day voyage. “Where are they?” said Lewa. “We have become very concerned.” The last time so many boat people went missing was in 2008, said Lewa. Hundreds of Rohingya, many of them starving and dehydrated, were later rescued from Indonesian and Indian waters, while others were feared lost at sea. Thailand’s PM later said there were “some instances” in which Rohingya boats had been pushed out to sea to “let these people drift to other shores”, but that they had adequate food and water. Tens of thousands of Rohingya Muslims were displaced in 2012 after deadly clashes with Buddhists in Myanmar’s Rakhine state. Many Rohingya now live in squalid camps with little or no access to jobs, healthcare or education. (Asian Age 17/11/14)

RIGHT TO INFORMATION

37. No need for model format for replying to RTI query: Govt panel (1)

New Delhi: A government-appointed committee has rejected the need for having a standard format for replying to applications filed under the Right to Information (RTI) Act. It also suggested that Central Public Information Officers (CPIOs), who replies to RTI queries, should mention email ID and telephone numbers among others mandatorily while answering the applications. A three-member committee was recently formed by the government to evolve model format for RTI replies, comprising one representatives each from Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT), nodal department to see implementation of the transparency law, Ministry of Home Affairs and Central Information Commission. During its meeting held late last month, the Committee observed that there is neither any provision in the RTI Act or rules for a model or standard format of filing application or replies. “There should not be a model or standard format for reply to the RTI application, as there is no such provision in the RTI Act or the RTI rules,” the panel said in its report submitted to the DoPT. However, the panel suggested certain mandatory points for adherence by the CPIOs. “The name, designation, official telephone no and email ID of the CPIOs should be clearly mentioned (in the RTI replies). In case the information requested for is denied, reasons for denial quoting the relevant sections of the RTI Act should be clearly mentioned,” it suggested. In case the information pertains to other public authority and the application is transferred, details of the public authority to whom the application is transferred should be given, the panel said. In the concluding para of the reply, there should be clearly mentioned that the First Appeal, if any, against the reply of the CPIO may be made to the First Appellate Authority within 30 days of receipt of reply of CPIO. “The name, designation, address, official telephone no and e-mail ID of the First Appellate Authority should also be clearly mentioned,” it said. Wherever the applicant has requested for certified copies of the documents or records, the CPIO should certify the documents or records by putting a seal of his name, designation and signing with date. “Above the seal, the remarks that ‘documents/records provided under the RTI Act’ should be endorsed,” the panel has suggested. The DoPT will issue necessary guidelines on the basis of the committee’s recommendation. (Zee News 11/11/14)

38. Don’t decide RTI appeals without hearing applicants: CIC (1)

New Delhi: Deciding first appeals against RTI replies without hearing the appellant by a public authority is illegal, the Central Information Commission has said in its order against the Law Ministry. Under the Right to Information Act, an appellant gets a chance to appeal twice against the order of the Central Public Information Officer who receives and answers the application. The First Appeal is filed before an officer, senior to CPIO, within the department where application is filed. The Second appeal is filed before the Central Information Commission. It is a common practice that at the First Appeal stage, public authorities do not invite applicants for hearing and decide the case on the basis of appeal filed by them. The order of Information Commissioner Sridhar Acharyulu may help in curbing the practice of deciding the first appeals without giving a chance to the applicant to explain himself during the hearing. The case relates to number of RTI applications filed by activist R K Jain from the Law Ministry. “Passing orders in first appeal without hearing or sending hearing notice is illegal and will render the order invalid. The Commission sets aside the order of First Appellate Authority for violating RTI Act and breach of natural justice by denying the appellant a chance of presenting his case and by raising entirely a new defence which was never claimed,” Acharyulu said in the order. He said, “It deserves action though the concerned officer retired from service and recommends Public Authority to initiate disciplinary action against the concerned FAO for acting totally against the RTI Act in this case”. (Zee News 13/11/14)

39. UP officers fined for not providing information under RTI (1)

Lucknow: A fine of Rs 25,000 each was imposed on 50 officers of various departments on charges of not providing information sought under the Right to Information Act. Taking serious note of not providing information sought under RTI, the Uttar Pradesh State Information Commission has imposed a fine of Rs 25,000 each on 50 officers of various departments, an official release said here. During the meeting chaired by Information Commissioner Hafiz Usman, directives were also issued to take departmental action against some officers, it said. The commission issued notice of disciplinary action against Divisional Commissioner of Faizabad Vishal Chauhan and issued order of personal appearance on January 30. (Zee News 15/11/14)

40. Tihar averse to sharing Guru info, to move High Court (1)

New Delhi: The Tihar prison authority decided to challenge the Central Information Commission order before the Delhi high court to disclose the document related to Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru’s hanging. The prison authority decision to challenge the CIC records of Guru’s hanging are unlikely to be made public soon. A communication in this regard has been sent to Aligarh-based RTI applicant Paras Nath Singh by director general of prisons at Tihar. “It is informed that prison department is going to file an appeal before the high court of Delhi against the decision of CIC,” said law officer (Prisons), Sunil Kumar. On September 26, information commissioner Sridhar Acharyulu had directed the Tihar authorities to make public specific records related to the execution of Guru. The commissioner had given 10 days to the authorities to comply with the order. According to the legal position, Tihar authorities should have either procured a stay from the high court through a writ petition or provided the information. The CIC had directed the country’s largest prison to make public Guru’s death warrant along with copies of communication sent to his family informing about the date of execution. (Asian Age 17/11/14)

41. 74% accounts in Jan Dhan Yojana are with zero balance (1)

New Delhi: Around Rs 5,400 crore have been deposited in banks in over seven crore bank accounts opened under Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana of which 74% accounts are with zero balance, according to an RTI reply. The data provided by Department of Financial Services says that as on November 7, 2014 a total of 7.1 crore bank accounts have been opened of which 5.3 crore were accounts with ‘Zero balance’. The reply provided to activist Subhash Agrawal said as on November 7, the total balance in these accounts was Rs 5,482 crore. Majority of these accounts, over 4.2 crore, have been opened in rural areas, whereas in urban areas 2.9 crore have been opened. The highest number of accounts, under the scheme, have been opened by State Bank of India which started over 1.2 crore new accounts followed by Bank of Baroda which opened 38 lakh accounts and Canara Bank 37 lakh accounts, it said. PMJDY is national mission for financial inclusion to ensure access to financial services, namely, banking and savings and deposit accounts, remittance, credit, insurance, pension in an affordable manner. It focuses on coverage of households as against the earlier plan which focused on coverage of villages. An overdraft facility upto Rs 5,000 would be available to one account holder of PMJDY per household after six months of satisfactory conduct of the account. (Business Standard 18/11/14)

RIGHT TO EDUCATION

42. ‘Women Teachers Only’ Idea is Against Constitution: Lawyer (11)

BENGALURU: Teachers, ma-nagements and educationists are slamming the Home Department’s suggestion that schools hire only women to teach children up to Class 5. The department has made the suggestion, among others, in the wake of campus crimes against children.“Why do you give it a gender colour instead of tightening the guidelines?“ said Shashi Kumar D, General Secretary of the Karnataka Private Schools Association. Many managements feel male teachers are facing harsh scrutiny because of the recent spate of rapes. Both girls and boys are vulnerable to child sexual abuse, they said.  “There are two sides to a coin. On what grounds are the police doing background checks of only male staff? Do they have any evidence that women don’t commit crimes?” said Rangalakshmi Srinivasa, principal, Basaveshwara School. If schools are packed with women staff and men are completely removed from primary education, that amounts to discrimination which is illegal, said Madhusudan R Naik, senior advocate. The Constitution decrees there should be no discrimination on the basis of gender. So, no male teacher can be removed from his job just because he is male, he explained. “But if the government feels hiring women is more conducive for learning, it is acceptable as long it doesn’t deprive men of opportunities,” he said. He said in the long haul, background verification of all staff, irrespective of gender, should be done. Dr C Gayathri Devi, principal of Little Flower Public School and secretary of the Karnataka ICSE Schools Association, offers a different view. “While I believe everyone needs to get a fair chance at employment, women teachers can better understand the needs of young children,” she said. Mohammad Mohsin, Commissioner for Public Instruction, said, “The suggestion is not feasible. We don’t have any proposal of this nature.” (New Indian Express 12/11/14)

43. Citizens’ forum lobbies for change in education system (11)

NASHIK: The nationwide campaign by the Akhil Bharat Shiksha Adhikar Manch (All India Forum for Right to Education) for total transformation of the education system that began from November 2 reached the city on Wednesday to create awareness about the Right to Education and protest against the commercialisation of education. The western zone of the forum that began from Goa and travelled through Kolhapur, Konkan, Pune and Sangamner, reached the city at 9 am near the Shivaji statue at Nashik Road. It was joined by the Forum Against Commercialisation of Education (FACE), the coordinator of the programme in North Maharashtra, and other like-minded organisations. From there the activists then proceeded to the office of the deputy director of education and handed over a memorandum of their demands. Rallies, a human chain, seminars, meetings, a street play and discussions against commercialisation of education and other related issues were carried out throughout the day in the city. Contentious issues of private schools and the NMC’s B D Bhalekar High School were also discussed with various education institutes and parents. The forum, which comprises of 40 organisations, along with other like-minded associations, began the campaign from five different places in the country. A total of 200 organisations are participating in it The activists staged a dharna in front of St Francis High School, Tidke Colony, which came to the limelight recently for alleged fee hike. “We have been fighting against the escalating fee hike by the school for a year now,” said Chhaya Deo of FACE. Later, during an open discussion at B D Bhalekar High School, a parent, Sanjay Patil, said the school has been hiking the fees every year by 15% in the last four years and this year, it increased the fees by 25%, following which, the parents protested. “There is a limit to how much the parents can tolerate. Ashoka Universal School and Rasbihari International School have also hiked their fees illegally. Parents of all these schools should come together and fight against this fee hike,” Patil said. Bhalekar School, which was closed last year due to the dwindling number of students, was restarted this year following the persistence of the activists and the civic body. The activists took a rally to the NMC headquarters and demanded the removal of NMC’s education officer Gotise. They also enacted a street play related to all the issues crippling education. Gotise was unavailable for comment. (Times of India 13/11/14)

44. Yatra focus: prevention of commercialisation of education (11)

Mandya: The All-India Forum for Right to Education (AIFRTE) Yatra against commercialisation and communalisation of education, which was flagged off at Kanyakumari on November 2, arrived at Mandya on Thursday. Students from a few educational institutions and members of non-governmental organisations offered a warm reception to the Yatra on its arrival at Sri Nalwadi Krishnaraja Wadiyar Cirlce on Bangalore-Mysore highway. It had reached Srirangapatna on Wednesday. The Yatra, which is meant to create public awareness about the need to avert commercialisation and communalisation of education, later went to Pandavapura and K.R. Pet, members of the AIFRTE told presspersons here. After halting for a while at the circle, the Yatra reached Gandhi Bhavan, where a symposium on education was held. In his address, AIFRTE member G. Haragopal said that the objective of the Yatra was to mobilise public opinion for protesting commercialisation and communalisation of education. “We should fight against all forms of discrimination in education. Free and common education system across the nation is the need of the hour,” he said. Kannada Kriya Samiti member S.R. Sudarshan, advocate B.T. Vishvanath, Venkatagiriaiah, Prashanth Babu, writer H.L. Kehsva Murthy, Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha leader Rajegowda, Guruprasad Keregodu, Muthu, C. Lakshman and AIFRTE members were present. The yatra will culminate at Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh on December 4, after covering various States and Union Territories, the AIFRTE members said. A booklet on education was released on the occasion. (The Hindu 15/11/14)

45. Students want board exams back (11)

NEW DELHI: Students on Monday asked the government to scrap the continuous and comprehensive evaluation (CCE) system in schools and bring back the board examinations. The students felt that the present system was having an adverse impact on academic growth as several of them were not taking studies seriously. In a first-of-its-kind interaction with Minister for Human Resource Development (HRD) Smriti Irani here, students told her that the no-detention policy stipulated under the Right to Education Act should also be scrapped. “The CCE is not doing any good to school students. As there is no system of board examinations now, most of the students take their studies for granted. Those faring well feel demotivated because the grading system does not reflect their actual performance. There must be a fear of examination among students so that they work hard,” a student of Delhi’s Modern School suggested. A small delegation of students from more than 12 schools, both private and government, from Delhi, Maharashtra and Jammu and Kashmir were invited by the HRD Ministry to interact with the minister and suggest changes in the school education system that can improve the quality of education. Students highlighted several loopholes in the implementation of the CCE in schools and rejected its relevance, saying many complete their project work by lifting contents from Internet. Though, the minister did not express her views on their suggestions, many officials in the ministry felt that some “course correction” was urgently required to prevent further “damage” that CCE was causing on student’s academic growth.  Students also suggested that arrangements should be made at the school for career counselling right from the Class XI, saying most of the children remain clueless about their future even when they reach Class XI or XII. Most of the students of class XI and XII complained that they had to look for coaching institutes for preparation of joint entrance test (JEE)  conducted for admissions to Indian Institutes of Technology and other technical institutes because what they are taught at their schools were inadequate to meet the standard of the test. “The standard of JEE is not at par with what we are taught in schools. Why don’t we have an education system where students do not require to look for costly coaching institutes for preparation of competitive examination?” a student of DPS RK Puram said. The students vehemently criticised the text books of the National Council of Education Research and Training, saying books on science, mathematics and other subjects are not updated andare not up to the standards. Students suggested that some changes should be brought both in the school syllabus and the JEE pattern to fill the gap in the system. On this, Irani suggested that central board of secondary education and IITs should “sit together” and find a solution. Eva Sharma, a class XI student of Delhi’s Kamal Model School, told the minister to introduce counselling for parents also.  “I am studying biology and other science subjects because my mother wants me to become a doctor but I am interested in History. There should be counselling for parents also,” she said. (Deccan Herald 18/11/14)

RIGHT TO FOOD/ HUNGER

46. Poverty forces 16-year-old girl to commit suicide in UP (21)

Mathura: Abject poverty forced a teenaged girl to commit suicide Tuesday evening in village Hola of Mathura district, police said. Dolly, 16, left a suicide note behind in which she said she was taking the extreme step due to poverty. The villagers wanted to cremate her body but the police took it away for post-mortem examination. Her father had died some years ago leaving behind her along with two sisters and two brothers. Her mother grazes goats for others. Villagers said Dolly was about to be married in December but arranging dowry was proving to be a huge burden. (New Kerala 12/11/14)

47. Malnutrition due to lack of awareness: World Bank (21)

New Delhi: India’s woes with malnutrition is little to do with poverty or food insecurity, but is exasperated by inadequacies in child care, feeding information and awareness, the latest World Bank report has said. “Appropriate infant and young child feeding practices even in the highest wealth quintile are extremely poor. Effective interventions, which cover the three critical determinants, when provided at scale during the first 1,000 days of life, can reduce stunting and improve under-nutrition significantly,” said Onno Ruhl, World Bank Country Director in India while releasing the Nutrition in India report on Thursday. The report says stunting in children from households in middle and upper wealth quintiles is also quite high – about 50 and 25 per cent respectively. It reveals that even amongst the wealthiest Indians, the top third of the wealth distribution, only about 7 percent children between 6 and 24 months receive adequate feeding, health care and environmental health. “While nearly 70 percent of them have adequate environmental health (water and sanitation), only 36 percent receive appropriate health care and an even lower about 18 percent are fed recommended quality and quantity of food for their age,” the report says. (Deccan Herald 14/11/14)

48. Maharashtra Government Plans to Link Ration Cards With Aadhaar (21)

MUMBAI: The Maharashtra government is mulling a proposal to link ration cards with Aadhaar numbers so as  to enhance the Public Distribution System (PDS) in the state. The move is being planned with a view to ensuring that the benefits provided by the government reach the beneficiaries and the process remains transparent. “The Narendra Modi government at the Centre has been very enthusiastic about the food security scheme. In keeping with that, the state government, too, has shown its keenness in continuing with the scheme in Maharashtra minus the loopholes in the PDS,” Deepak Kapoor, Food and Civil Supplies Secretary told PTI. The senior officer said that the state Cabinet has asked the administration to be ready with a presentation on the food security scheme, initiated by the previous UPA government at the Centre, following which a final decision to link the two will be taken. “We will be dividing our presentation into three parts. First, we have to present the current scenario to the government, which would help them gauge the situation on ground. We will also be presenting a financial picture which would help assess the cost structure. “We will finally be putting in our suggestions, after considering which, the Cabinet will take a final call,” he said. “It is here that we will suggest to the government to link ration cards with Aadhaar numbers so that the right beneficiary gets benefits and the role of middlemen can be contained,” Kapoor said. At present, the number of people below poverty line (BPL) in Maharashtra is around 7 crore, while 1.8 crore are registered as Above Poverty Line (APL) beneficiaries. A total of 2.32 crore ration cards are already digitised with the state administration. The Director of the Information and Technology department, Virendra Singh, said that the administration is ready to link Aadhaar numbers of ration cardholders at any given point of time. (New Indian Express 15/11/14)

49. Bihar govt to bring all SC, ST, EBC people under BPL ambit (21)

PATNA: No FIR would be registered against any of the Vikas Mitras (VMs) across the state without prior permission from the SC/ST welfare department, said chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi at a skill development workshop for them on Tuesday. He said there were people who were branding the VMs as Left-wing extremists as they have to organize meetings in nondescript areas as part of their assignment. Manjhi was responding to the request made by Patna divisional commissioner Narmadeshwar Lal who urged him to ensure better treatment for the VMs. Lal was all praise for the VMs working in the area of his jurisdiction and said they were did a commendable job during the preparations for Chhath festival. Regarding the anomalies in the list of below poverty line (BPL) people in the state, he said a rule will be formulated after the cabinet nod in the current calendar to include people from the scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and extremely backward castes (EBCs) in the list provided they aren’t eligible for paying income tax and don’t own a four-wheeler or a large residential premises or land more than five acres. Speaking further, the CM said those possessing tractors or houses with less than five rooms would also be included in the BPL list. In another important announcement, the CM said tola sevaks, VMs and homeguard jawans would also be incorporated in the list because they were not regular government employees provided they comply with the said norms. He said the persons in the above three categories can also take the benefits of Indira Awas Yojana. The CM said the government is planning to open the state unit of Ambedkar Foundation and Dashrath Manjhi Research Institute in Bihar. Evoking the VMs to give their best for the uplift of the members of the marginalized sections of the society, Manjhi said the state government would reward the best of the lot at state, district, subdivision and block levels. Elaborating on the bounty, he said the awards would fetch Rs 10 lakh, Rs 1 lakh, Rs 50,000 and Rs 25,000, respectively. He also promised Rs 50,000 medical insurance cover to the Tola Sevaks and VMs. The CM said the 500 vacant posts of VMs would be filled soon. (Times of India 19/11/14)

LABOUR/ MGNREGA

50. NHRC Direction to State on NREGA (14)

BHUBANESWAR: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on Monday directed the State Government to take immediate steps for payment of wages to people who have availed work under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA). Protestations of State Government citing non-release of funds from Centre notwithstanding, the single member bench of SC Sinha said it was the Government’s responsibility to make the payments. The poor people who take up labour under the scheme do not know who is going to pay their wages. Their due wages should be paid on time, Sinha observed at the start of the two-day camp sitting of the Commission here on Monday. The Commission took up the petition, filed by rights activist Akhand, regarding non-payment of the wages as the first case of the sitting. Appearing before the bench, Panchayati Raj Secretary DK Singh submitted that payments were affected as Centre has not released funds for over two months. Wage overdue on the Government under MGNREGA has accumulated to over `200 crore. Funds available with the State Government exhausted 15 days back, bringing wage payments to complete standstill. Compensation in lieu of delayed payments has also not been released since 2013-14. Further, the works under the programme cannot be stopped as the law mandates provisioning of job to any one who applies for it, Singh stated. The Commission had earlier sought an action taken report from State Chief Secretary in the matter. Akhand had appealed for directions to Government to strictly adhere to the rules in terms of timely payment and compensation. In another case, the bench also took up the problem of bonded labour and the plight and suffering of such people and directed the Government to initiate comprehensive steps for their rehabilitation. Sinha asked Collectors of Bargarh and Balangir, which are beset with the problem, to ensure that the labourers rescued from other States are covered under different welfare and social security schemes of both the Centre and State Government. The Commission is set to take up over 55 cases pertaining to the State in its two-day sitting. Open house discussion with common people and NGOs will be held on November 12. Sinha is also scheduled to conduct meeting with Chief Secretary GC Pati and senior Government officials on the day. (New Indian Express 11/11/14Z)

51. Centre not ready to amend labour Acts (14)

New Delhi: The Centre is not yet ready to amend labour laws on the lines of the Rajasthan government’s changes, according to sources. “It is still early to make any move towards bringing such amendments,” said a senior labour ministry official, who did not wish to be named. President Pranab Mukherjee had on Friday given his assent to Rajasthan’s amendment to three laws – the Factories Act, Industrial Dispute Act and Contract Labour Act. Since labour is on the concurrent list of the Constitution, both the Centre and states can frame their own laws. While industry has termed it a move to attract investments, central trade unions are viewing it as a pro-industry and anti-labour move. The official cited above said the Union government wants to examine how the changes in these rules work out in Rajasthan before taking any decision. “Right now, tripartite consultation is going on,” said the official. After Rajasthan, the Madhya Pradesh Cabinet, too, approved amendments on similar lines. Among the major steps taken by the Rajasthan government are the one allowing companies employing up to 300 people to lay off workers or close down the company without taking the government’s prior approval. Earlier, only those with less than 100 employees were allowed to do so. The ministry official also raised the contention that the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government doesn’t have a clear majority in the Rajya Sabha, which could be seen as a hurdle in passing any labour law. Notably, the Opposition had created an uproar in the Lok Sabha when the Centre introduced amendment Bills for the Factories Act and Apprentices Act in the Budget session in August. The opposition parties demanded the Bill be sent to a Parliamentary Standing Committee. While the Apprentices Act was cleared by the Lok Sabha, it has to be passed in the Rajya Sabha as well. Apart from these two bills, the Labour Laws (Exemption from Furnishing Returns and Maintaining Registers by Certain Establishments) Act, which was cleared by the Cabinet in July this year, is awaiting introduction in both the Houses. The Centre is planning to introduce a Bill, which seeks a blanket ban on child labour, in the upcoming winter session. The Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Amendment Bill will bring the law in consistency with the Right to Education Act by banning employment of children below 14 years of age in any occupation. The Winter Session of Parliament will begin on November 24. (Business Standard 12/11/14)

52. Unorganised sector labourers demand fair pay (14)

KOLKATA: : Even the daima (midwife) at district health centre get a better pay than us even though we serve as helpers to doctors, said Sarma Rajak who works as a ‘link person’ at a health centre at Nasipur village in Malda district of West Bengal. Several people like Ms. Rajak assembled here on Tuesday to participate in a rally demanding their rights; they have prepared a charter of demands on fixing of a minimum wage for all types of labourers. With the State witnessing the shutdown of several tea estates, the charter also demanded that the government immediately open the tea estates, declare minimum wage for tea workers and provide for land or a house for tea workers. “I started working as a link person from 2005 and have been paid Rs. 100 per month ever since then. Now we realise that our wage should have been Rs. 6,600,” Ms. Rajak said. She was accompanied by 50 other link persons from Malda. As a link person, she is expected to accompany doctors during their visits and administer vaccines to pregnant ladies and infants. Writing letters and meeting officials at the local Block Development Office has been of no help as their pleas have fallen on deaf ears, she said. Majority of India’s working force is employed in the unorganised sector, which denies them the benefits of government-regulated welfare schemes like minimum wages, public provident fund, pension, etc. “No one from our village (Hasnabad in North 24 Parganas district) was employed under the 100-day scheme in the past one year. Wages of many people, who had earlier worked under the scheme, have still not been cleared. The situation has worsened ever since the ruling All India Trinamool Congress came to power,” Utpal Sarkar, who heads a union of unorganised sector labourers in the village, said. (The Hindu 13/11/14)

52. Union Government Limits MGNREGA to 69 Taluks (14)

BENGALURU: The Narendra Modi government, which has recently cut the funds to the state for the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), has now limited the scheme to cover just 69 most backward taluks. According to an official source, the Union Ministry of Rural Development has sent a communication to the state government asking it to focus on the most backward taluks, instead of all the 176 taluks, while preparing the labour budget for 2015-16. Under MGNREGA guidelines, the district programme coordinator of the scheme prepares the labour budget in December every year, anticipating the demand for employment. The most backward taluks were identified after considering the percentage of the population coming under below poverty line  as per the 2013 Planning Commission estimates. The Union Government had shortlisted 2,500 most backward taluks in the country after excluding 4,076 taluks following the intensive participatory planning exercise. For Gujarat, 77 of the 223 taluks have been retained under the scheme, while for Goa it’s one taluk, Andhra Pradesh 539 (655) and Uttar Pradesh 403 (823). Confirming the restriction in the number of taluks under the scheme, an official in the state Rural Development and Panchayat Raj said, “The state government has appealed to the Union Rural Development Ministry to increase the number of backward taluks to 100.” Reacting to the revised guidelines, former Yadgir Zilla Panchayat member Naganagouda Patil said, “It is nothing but a body blow to the world’s largest rural job guarantee scheme.” He added that the Union Government has also stipulated stringent guidelines for Gram Panchayats to utilise the funds, including holding four gram sabhas in a year to monitor the scheme, which is practically impossible. (New Indian Express 17/11/14)

54. 44 p.c. of rescued bonded labourers are from north India (14)

MADURAI: Periodic intervention by voluntary agencies to rescue bonded workers not withstanding, bonded labour is prevalent in many districts of Tamil Nadu in rice mills, brick kilns and other places. Details of prevalence of bonded labour, obtained by Evidence, a Madurai-based non-governmental organisation, using the Right to Information Act, for the period from January 2010 to June 2014 reveal that 44 per cent of rescued workers were from Orissa and other northern States. Most of the released workers belonged to Scheduled Castes and many employers had engaged children in their units. But no arrest had been made during the period even after registration of cases. According to the RTI data, 864 bonded workers were rescued from nine districts during the period. They included 52 children (below 14 years) and 420 women. Tiruvallur district accounted for the highest number of 509 bonded labourers, and 379 among them were from North India. Interestingly, there are no bonded workers in The Nilgiris, Theni, Tiruchi, Tiruvarur, Tuticorin, Karur and Dindigul districts as per the data. According to the applicant, data could not be obtained for Cuddalore, Madurai, Nagapattinam, Sivaganga, Tiruvannamalai, Villupuram, Ramanathapuram and Krishnagiri districts. Though the laws are clear that a rescued bonded labour shall get Rs.20,000 and 2.5 cents of land, a survey conducted by Evidence indicates that only six persons among the 864 had received Rs.20,000. As many as 165 rescued labourers got Rs.19,000; three of them were given Rs.2000 each; 690 labourers received just Rs.1,000 and three could get 2.5 cents of land each. The replies under the RTI Act also showed that 551 persons were engaged in rice mills, 106 in brick kilns, 78 in sugarcane cutting and other menial jobs. According to A. Kadir, executive director, Evidence, 131 cases had been booked against the employers but not a single person had been arrested. (The Hindu 19/11/14)

RESERVATION

55. ‘Recruitment of sweepers subject to final verdict’ (25)

JAIPUR: The Rajasthan High Court on Monday said the appointment of safai karmacharis in the state would be subject to the final disposal of a writ petition challenging the recruitment process initiated by the department of local bodies as it has not followed the reservation policy in these appointments. Justice Mohammad Rafiq issued the order on a petition filed by one Bhajanlal Saini. The director of local bodies had announced the recruitment of 30,000 safai karmacharis in May last year and it has initiated the selection process. However, mid way through the recruitment process, the director, via a corrigendum, said the recruitment would be held in two phases. In the first phase, vacancy of 20,000 candidates would be filled from general category and Scheduled Castes only. In the second phase, vacancy of 10,000 candidates would be filled from the remaining castes (ST and OBC). The petitioner’s counsel R K Gautam argued that his client, who neither belonged to the general nor the Scheduled Caste category, had been ousted from the competition in the first phase due to the directive. He said the action of the director of local bodies in changing the pattern and criteria of the exam after initiating of the selection process is apparently bad, illegal and unreasonable. (Times of India 11/11/14)

56. HC ‘no’ to quota in state judicial services (25)

PATNA: The Patna high court has quashed the government notification that provided for reservation to backward classes in judicial services in the state. Passing the order, a division bench of Justice Rekha M Doshit and Justice Ashwini Kumar Singh on Monday opined reservation system gives an opening to “substandard candidates” in the administration. “Reservation in public services is more a political manifesto than a necessity, and the effort is to appease the masses by including more and more castes and communities in one or another reserved category without reference to necessary criteria such as normal profession of the community concerned or educational level,” observed the bench and added the impact of reservation on the efficiency of administration is one factor that is totally overlooked. In June 2009, the state government had amended the ‘Bihar Civil Service (Judicial Branch) (Recruitment) Rules, 1955′. The amendment introduced ‘rule 3A’ according to which “‘The Bihar Reservation of Vacancies in Post and Services (for SCs, STs and OBCs) Act 1991′ (as amended from time to time) shall also apply to direct recruitment to the post of Civil Judge (Junior Division).” This led to 50% reservation in the service. A similar amendment was made to the ‘Bihar Superior Judicial Service Rules, 1951′ by introducing rule 4A. This was applicable in case of direct recruitment to the post of additional district and sessions judge. The HC order came on a writ petition filed by one Dayanand Singh and others. The order reads, “Although the state is empowered to provide reservation to SCs, STs and OBCs, the Constitution does not compel the state to provide such reservation nor does it restrict the extent to which such reservation can be provided. Probably, the Constitution makers relied on the wisdom of the state to provide reservation only to the extent it is necessary, maintaining efficiency in the administration.” As provided under the 1991 Act, if candidates in reserved categories are able to secure general standard of selection, they are accommodated on general category posts. Commenting on the quality of reserved category candidates, the court observed, “Those reserved category candidates who are appointed on reserved posts are necessarily candidates of below general standard of selection. In other words, they are necessarily below average or below par, though it sounds derogatory, substandard candidates.” The number of sanctioned judicial posts is not more than 1,500 in Bihar. If 50% officers of such a small cadre are selected on the basis of reservation, who are below general standard of selection, it would certainly impair the dispensation of justice, the court said and added it was satisfied with adequate representation of backward classes at all levels in the state judiciary and, as such, reservation for them was not required. Principal additional advocate general Lalit Kishore told TOI the state government would soon challenge the high court’s judgment in the apex court. “I personally don’t agree with the notion that reservation would adversely affect quality of judicial services.” (Times of India 13/11/14)

57. ‘Reservation decision taken in hurry’ (25)

Mumvai: After making an entry into the Maharashtra state Assembly for the first time with two MLAs, All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) chief Asaduddin Owaisi has alleged that the erstwhile Congress-NCP government took the decision of providing reservation to the Maratha and Muslim communities in haste ahead of the elections. He added that the reservation issue wasn’t properly advocated in the Bombay high court that led the court into giving a ruling against the reservation decision. Mr Owaisi was in Ahmednagar to meet the family of the Dalits killed in Javkheda. “Reservation to Maratha and Muslim communities was given keeping the polls in mind and thus haste was shown in taking the decision by the previous government,” Mr Owaisi told reporters. Commenting on the issue of Dalit killings, he blamed Congress for failing to provide justice in similar cases. “If the Congress government would have punished the convicts of the previous cases, then such incidents would not have been repeated,” he stressed. He also protested against the statement of Solapur Congress MLA Praniti Shinde for terming AIMIM anti-national. He said that at the time of taking support to save its government at the Centre AIMIM wasn’t anti-national. Alleging it was anti-national, Ms Shinde had recently asked for a ban on AIMIM for which a defamation notice has also been served to her. Mr Owaisi also indicated that his party would field its candidate in the next Lok Sabha elections against Sushilkumar Shinde, former Union home minister in Solapur. “The secular ‘burkha’ of Congress has been torn apart. Is Congress a stamp paper to certify people as secular?” he asked. Taking potshots at another Congress and former minister MLA Abdul Sattar, Mr Owaisi called him a ‘joker’. “We are determined towards developmental works and to provide basic facilities to the people,” he said. (Asian Age 17/11/14)

58. Government Promises 12 pc Quota for STs (25)

HYDERABAD: The State government proposes to provide 12 per cent reservation to Scheduled Tribes. Replying to a question raised by T Venkateshwarlu and others, Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao said the government has constituted the Telangana State Tribal Advisory Council by issuing a GO in August this year and is in the process of constituing a Telangana State Commission for STs. On implementation of the quota, the Chief Minister said it is under the active consideration of the government and the proposed enhancement of reservation would  be implemented at the earliest. For the benefit of farmers, the government is implementing the Rythu Bandhu scheme. Orders were issued in July for enhancement of pledge loan from Rs  1 lakh to Rs  2 lakh or 75 per cent of value of the pledge stock. Replying to a question raised by Divakar Rao and others, Minister for Irrigation T Harish Rao said that as many as 10,416 farmers have been benefited. They include Warangal (344), Khammam (2,522), Nalgonda (4,481),  Adilabad (41), Karimanagar (81), Mahbubnagar (74), Nizamabad (2,971), Rangareddy (49), Medak (4) and Hyderabad  (29). The government will constitute a special tribunal with judicial powers to protect and safeguard Wakf properties.  In reply to a question, the Chief Minister said thousands of acres of Wakf land worth crores of rupees had been encroached in the last several years. The government proposes to develop a garden on the lines of Brindavan Gardens in Mysuru near Lower Manair Dam in Karimnagar district. The Chief Minister said based on a request from the State government, the Union Ministry of Tourism has prioritised a project in 2014-15 to develop Karimnagar and surrounding places as a tourism destination. Under phase-1 of the project, a detailed project report with an outlay of Rs  502.36 lakh was submitted to the Central government. Work will begin after the release of funds from the Central government.(New Indian Express 19/11/14)

HUMAN RIGHTS/ CIVIL SOCIETY/ NHRC

59. NHRC asks Odisha government to take action against absentee doctors (1)

Bhubaneswar: NHRC on Tuesday asked Odisha government to take stern action against doctors found abstaining from duty. The directions were issued by NHRC member S C Sinha to the secretary to the health and family welfare department while hearing a petition on the plight of poor patients due to lack of doctors in rural pockets. The state government has so far identified 423 doctors who regularly abstain from their places of posting. “We are taking actions against such doctors. This apart, the state government haS already started taking steps to fill up vacant posts by appointing ad hoc doctors. The government has also hiked the remmuneration of contractual doctors in order to encorage them,” health and family welfare secretary Arati Ahuja said. NHRC also criticised the government for the plight of the tribal and dalit students in state-run school hostels and sought to know why a single agency was not formed to look after the students in tribal schools and hostels. While the school and mass education department was in-charge of the schools, the scheduled tribe and scheduled caste welfare department look into the affairs of the school hostels. The commission also asked the government to include migrant labourers under different social security schemes like MGNREGA, pension scheme and others, besides taking tough steps against liquor shops if they sell to persons below 21 years of age. In Odisha the legal age of drinking is 21, official sources said. (DNA 11/11/14)

60. Amnesty welcomes Machael verdict (1)

Srinagar: Amnesty International said on Thursday that it welcomes recent measures taken by the Indian Army “indicating a commitment to deliver justice for victims of human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir.” The Amnesty Interna-tional’s optimism is based on November 12 conviction by an Army court martial of five soldiers for shooting and killing three men in a “fake encounter” and, earlier on November 7, the Army’s accepting responsibility for the killing of two Kashmiri teenagers by soldiers in Budgam district on 3 November and that it was willing to cooperate with a state police investigation into the incident, . “The military court verdict in the Machael case should be followed by justice for the many other cases of human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir,” said Shailesh Rai, programmes director at Amnesty International India. He added: “Too often, military authorities dismiss the complaints they receive about human rights violations.” The official also said the Indian government has told UN bodies that nine out of ten complaints about human rights violations by armed forces were found to be false, but refuses to disclose more details. “The Pathribal case where soldiers charged by the CBI with murder were let off by the Army was also a reminder that the military justice system do not always lead to justice… For justice to be the rule and not the exception, all cases of human rights violations should be investigated and prosecuted by independent civilian authorities.” (Asian Age 14/11/14)

61. NHRC favours replacing of “very old” Prison Act (1)

New Delhi: Terming the 1894 Prison Act as “very old”, National Human Rights Commission on Friday recommended today that it be replaced to ensure basic human rights for prisoners. NHRC Chairperson, Justice KG Balakrishnan, also pitched for uniformity in prison manuals so that prisoners get the same privileges. “The Union Ministry of Home Affairs can also suggest some model rules for amendment in the 1894 Prison Act”, he said. He said action taken reports of different states presented some good picture of reforms in prisons but a lot was required to be done. States need to spend more on prison reforms, Justice Balakrishnan said at the end of a two-day national seminar on prison reforms. Highlighting some of the key recommendations of the seminar, NHRC Member Justice Cyriac Joseph said there was near unanimity that governments should provide sufficient funds to prisons. One important recommendation was that the 1894 Prison Act, being very old, is needed to be replaced with a new one and NHRC should prepare a draft Bill, said Joseph. Justice Balakrishnan said a large number of courts were required to be set up to clear the backlog of cases so that the undertrial prisoners do not stay in jails beyond one year to avoid overcrowding which may lead to violation of basic human rights of inmates. He also mentioned that prison should be perceived as a “home for corrective and reformative custody and care” and that prisoners were also entitled to basic human rights within the limitations of imprisonment. Another important recommendation of the conference is that prison manuals also require amendments with a human rights perspective.  (Zee News 15/11/14)

62. NHRC notice to TN govt on manual scavenging (1)

NEW DELHI: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has issued notice to Tamil Nadu government for workers cleaning manholes without protective gear in Chennai on October 25 after the city received heavy rainfall. The commission observed that manual scavenging violated the fundamental right guaranteed by the Constitution against discrimination on the basis of caste. It said it was inhuman and was considered one of the worst surviving symbols of untouchability. A group of workers was reportedly spotted going down the manholes to clean them despite a legislation that prohibits the employment of manual scavengers. According to a media report on October 27, the abhorrent practice continued unchecked in many parts of the city. Considering it a serious violation of human rights, NHRC issued a notice to the Tamil Nadu government, through its chief secretary, and sought a report on the steps taken to implement the provisions of Prohibition of Employment of Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013, within eight weeks. The commission also said it viewed the prevalence of manual scavenging as a serious intrusion on human dignity and abolition of this practice should be taken up as a national mission. (Times of India 19/11/14)

JUDICIARY/ LAW

63. Decision to amend Lokpal Act for appointment of CBI director deferred (19)

NEW DELHI: The Cabinet on Monday deferred a decision on its proposal to amend the Lokpal Act to allow leader of the single largest opposition party in Lok Sabha to be on the three-member panel to select the CBI director. This has been necessitated as there is no recognized leader of opposition in the current Lok Sabha. As per the new selection process for CBI director laid down by the Lokpal Act (through amendments made to the Delhi Police Special Establishment Act), he must be selected by a panel comprising the Prime Minister, LoP and Chief Justice of India or a Supreme Court judge to be appointed by the CJI. The proposed amendment seeks to add an explanation to the part in the Lokpal Act dealing with amendments to the DPSE relating to appointment of CBI director, stating that where there is no recognized LoP, the leader of the single largest party in the opposition may be part of the selection panel. Congress, with 44 MPs in the Lok Sabha, is the largest opposition party in the House. However, this number being less than one-tenth of total strength of the Lok Sabha, the Speaker has ruled it ineligible to claim stake to post of LoP. Mallikarjun Kharge is the Congress leader in the Lok Sabha. Sources indicated that further discussion will take place on the proposal ahead of winter session of Parliament. The amendments are likely to be moved during the session.  CBI director Ranjit Sinha’s tenure ends on December 2. The decision to give the leader of the single largest opposition in the Lok Sabha a say in appointment of CBI director is based on the opinion given by the law ministry which said it would technically not be possible to appoint a CBI chief unless leader of the opposition was present on the panel. (Times of India 11/11/14)

64. Judiciary can’t challenge Rampal’s divine powers: Mahender Das (19)

BARWALA (HISAR): Satlok Ashram head Rampal’s brother on Wednesday claimed the controversial preacher has “divine powers and is like god for lakhs of disciples” while asserting the judiciary has challenged his supremacy, “which would not be tolerated”.Mahender Das told TOI their fight was against the “atrocities” of the judiciary, and this time, it would be a “do-or-die”.Rampal has been evading the Punjab and Haryana high court’s summons. His stance had angered the court and forced it to issue fresh non-bailable warrants against him on Monday. Police were ordered to bring him to court even if he was hiding in a bunker to stand trial in a contempt case. Das clamed his brother was not well. “Don’t judges fall ill? Judges are under the wrong impression that they are lords.” He said Haryana is governed by two powers — democratically-elected government and the judiciary. “Our main grouse is against the judiciary, which has pledged to eliminate us through the draconian weapons like contempt of court.” Satlok Ashram has been turned into a fortress by Rampal’s followers. Das said the judiciary started targeting them after their ashram published three books including ‘Corrupt Judges on Wrong Path’ and ‘Nayayalaya ki Girti Garima’. He said they would not let the judiciary behave in a dictatorial way. “We are ready to die but will not bow to the judiciary’s pressure. Our protest would continue till all the cases against Rampal, including the murder charges registered in 2006, are re-investigated or withdrawn.” He said the armed youth, who formed a human chain to protect their guru, belong to the Rashtriya Samaj Sewa Samiti, which is associated with their ashram. “It is like RSS, which is a wing of the BJP. RSS also holds processions with weapons on several occasions. Why are they not being questioned or restrained? These armed volunteers are here out of their faith in Rampal Maharaj.” He said non-bailable warrants were issued against imam of Delhi’s Jama Masjid last year, but the court had not taken such stern view like in their case. “We are followers of Kabirpanth, set up by Rampal Ji Maharaj, and the judiciary is deliberately attacking our rights of being a minority group.” He said no recovery of objectionable matter was shown during the trial. “That alleged recovery was made following pressure from then chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, who had acted on behalf of a special group of persons.” (Times of India 13/11/14)

65. Marriage law change (19)

New Delhi, Nov. 16 (PTI): The Centre plans to bring a bill to make marriage laws more women-friendly and allow both parties to file for divorce on the ground of “irretrievable breakdown” of marriage. The law ministry has circulated a draft note on a Marriage Laws (Amendment) Bill for consultations. Once it gets feedback, it will go to the cabinet, an official said. Among the key proposals is one to provide the wife and children sufficient compensation from the husband’s immovable property in case of a divorce. Another is to allow courts the discretion to grant divorce after three years if one partner does not move a “joint application” for divorce with mutual consent. (The Telegraph 16/11/14)

66. No need for lawyers in consumer forum cases up to Rs 2 lakh (19)

NEW DELHI: In a move to encourage more people to approach consumer forums, the government has proposed to bar both consumers and sellers or service providers from hiring lawyers to fight a case if the value is less than Rs 2 lakh. This has been proposed in the Consumer Protection Law that will be amended soon. “This will mean a consumer can fight his own case and he does not have to face a legal expert from the other side. However, there are exceptions only in cases where it needs experts,” said an official of the consumer affairs department. For the first time, a provision for mediation between both the parties during the entire course of legal proceedings has also been proposed to reduce the number of pending cases in such forums. In another provision, the draft bill proposes that consumer forums have to either admit or reject a case within 21 days. If no decision is taken and the consumer is not informed during this stipulated time frame, the complaint would be deemed to be accepted after three weeks. Concerned over the pending cases in consumer forums, the department has proposed that there would be only one stage for appeal in higher forum. (Times of India 17/11/14)

67. Modi govt queues up 19 bills for passage during winter session (19)

NEW DELHI: The government has lined up 19 bills for passage during the upcoming winter session of Parliament, including the legislation to raise foreign direct investment (FDI) in the insurance sector to 49% from 26% and to appoint a regulator for the real estate sector. At least 18 more bills are likely to be introduced including the one to curb the growing menace of ponzi schemes which have robbed citizens of their savings in states like West Bengal and Odisha. The Prize Chits and Money Circulation Schemes (Banning) Amendment Bill will facilitate effective regulation of such companies and entities. The list also includes the Coal Mines (Special Provisions) Bill to get the stamp of Parliament for the ordinance which allowed government companies and private players to carry on coal mining operations in any form either for own consumption, sale or for any other purpose in accordance with the prospecting licence or mining lease. This is seen as one of the measures to clean up the mess in the coal sector. Sources said the bills were shortlisted on Tuesday at a meeting, chaired by finance minister Arun Jaitley, where representatives from all ministries submitted their plans. The government is keen to accelerate the legislative business in Parliament after a successful first session in July. It is also expected to step up the pace of reforms and the governance process through legislations. A couple of major legislations to be introduced include the Lok Pal and Lokayuktas (Amendment) Bill and Marriage Laws (Amendment Bill). The first one seeks to replace the leader of opposition clause in the existing Act with the leader of the single largest opposition party as a member of the panel that selects the Lok Pal and Lokayuktas. The second bill seeks to introduce irretrievable breakdown as ground for divorce and will provide a woman share in the moveable and immoveable property of her husband. The amendments were passed under UPA. The government also aims to introduce two bills to protect consumers and ensure that they get quality product and services. Similarly, the Press and Registration of Books Bill seeks to define paid news and introduces penalties like cancellation of registration if a media house is found guilty of indulging in paid news. Another key legislation likely to be taken up for consideration and passage is Drugs and Cosmetics (Amendment Bill) dealing with regulation of clinical trials and the medical equipment sector having separate chapters on clinical trials and medical devices. The Bill also seeks to establish the Central Drugs Authority (CDA) to regulate pharmaceuticals. The other bills include Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which provisions to ensure the rights of differently-abled persons and Prevention of Corruption that makes the act of bribing a public servant a criminal offence and creates provisions to cover all aspects of bribery, including definition of various elements of bribery. (Times of India 19/11/14)

POLICE/ AFSPA/ CUSTODIAL DEATHS

68. Step up confidence-building measures in J&K (1)

Srinagar: The inexplicable killing of two young boys by the men in uniform in Srinagar suburb last week has created ripples across Kashmir and beyond with people in unison throughout the country condemning this barbaric act. The army personnel shot the two boys dead from point blank range when it could well have shot at the windows or tyres, if the aim was to stop the vehicle, they were travelling in. There is no denying the fact that the bullets that pierced the tender bodies of the two children were intended to kill. The army apart from killing 14-year old Faisal Bhat and 20-year-old Mehraj Dar, also critically injured two of their friends travelling with them in the ill fated car. The dreadful act  is a feature of an ongoing cycle of violence people of Kashmir are facing with a feeling of nemesis descending on a population already bruised from September devastating floods. The killings are a glaring example how unsafe life of a Kashmiri is and it has once again put the question mark on the claims of army that it is the saviour of people of Jammu and Kashmir. In the latest incident, the conduct of the army was no better than that of an occupying force. For the people of Kashmir, the reality of the army being in their face and often trigger-happy, has not changed. The injured boys have clearly stated they were not warned or asked to surrender before the troops pumped bullets into the car. Unfortunately, army as an institution has always tried to justify the acts of ‘rouge’ individuals when innocents were gunned down in Kashmir. If the institution tries to defend or justify the act of violence, the whole process becomes institutionalised. Even after nearly 15 years, the army personnel involved in Pathribal fake encounter are yet to be punished despite the fact CBI investigation finding the officials guilty but the army’s own investigation gave them a clean chit. Though in the latest incident, the army, for a change, has admitted its mistake and its Northern Commander, based in Udhampur in Jammu specially flew to Srinagar to accept the mistake before the media, it is to be seen whether the promise he made that the inquiry will be completed in 10 days was aimed at calming tempers or the Government of India means business at least this time. People in Kashmir have a reason to doubt the outcome of inquiries ordered by the authorities after every such incident. They treat it as a joke and don’t believe in the results of such probes. The state government and the armed forces have ordered 63 inquiries since January 2009, to look into the circumstances leading to different incidents of human rights violations and killings by armed forces. However, only one probe was taken to a logical conclusion, which led to the arrest of a few BSF men for killing Zahid Farooq, a teenage Srinagar youth, on February 5, 2010… (Deccan Herald 11/11/14)

69. Manorama ‘mercilessly tortured’ (1)

NEW DELHI: She was found dead with multiple gun shot injuries on her private parts and thighs at Ngariyan Yairipok Road, hardly two km away from a police station, states the report. The judicial inquiry report on the murder of Thangjam Manorama, a Manipuri girl, in 2004, handed over to the Supreme Court recently after being kept under wraps for over a decade, reveals the “brutal and merciless torture” by a 17 Assam Rifles team. The murder gave renewed impetus to calls for withdrawal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act. After a decade of remaining under wraps, the report by the Judicial Inquiry Commission graphically reveals the last hours of “brutal and merciless torture” Manipuri village girl, Thangjam Manorama, suffered at the hands of a team from the 17th Assam Rifles before she was shot dead. The Manorama case led to widespread protests against the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) and spurred calls for a review of the law, especially by the Justice J.S. Verma Committee in 2013. The report, submitted to the State government way back in December 2004, was never made public. This week, the government handed it over to the Supreme Court. The court had demanded it as part of a hearing on a PIL seeking probe into custodial deaths in the north-east States. “This is one of the most shocking custodial killing of a Manipuri village girl,” C. Upendra Singh, retired District and Sessions Judge, Manipur, who was Chairman of the Commission, wrote. He describes how Manorama was picked up by “a strong-armed troops of 17th Assam Rifles” in the night between July 10-11, 2004 from her home in Imphal East District. She was found dead with multiple gun shot injuries on her private parts and thighs at Ngariyan Yairipok Road, hardly two km away from a police station. The report details how the incidents of the night started with her younger brother, Thangjam Basu, watching the Hindi film Raju Chacha half past midnight, heard some noise outside. Within the next few minutes, the Assam Rifles party crashed into the house. The report said that Manorama, who was “clutching on to her mother Khumaleima”, was dragged out screaming “Ima Ima Khamu (mother, mother please stop them)”. The report said she was tortured on her front porch, as the family watched. It said how Basu remembers hearing his sister’s “muffled and dimmed voice saying Ie Khangde (do not know)” to the troops’ questions. It said the men then took her away to “places”. The report said that the two FIRs filed by the 17th Assam Rifles claimed she led them to recover Kenwood and Chinese grenades and an AK 47 rifle. It said she tried to escape and was shot in the legs. The FIRs claimed she had bled and died. The Commission report blamed the police for leaving the investigation to the “discretion and mercy” of the Assam Rifles. It narrated how the Assam Rifles had invoked the AFSPA with the Enquiry Commission. Mr. Singh said he countered that his enquiry was only a fact-finding exercise, and sanction under Section 6 of AFSPA would only come later when the personnel is found to have done wrong. The Commission said not a single one of the 16 bullets fired at Manorama hit her legs. The report called the escape story a “naked lie.” The report said most of the injuries would reveal that she was shot when “helpless”. It said some injuries suggest sexual assault too. The Commission had examined 37 witnesses. (The Hindu 14/11/14)

70. Rights activists ridicule Chidambaram for AFSPA remark (1)

IMPHAL : Human rights activists of Manipur on Saturday ridiculed former Union minister P Chidambaram for his statement that the controversial Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) was ‘obnoxious’. They said Chidambaram should have expressed his views when he was in power. “We appreciate the former Union minister’s statement against AFSPA, but it is quite surprising that he had maintained a long silence when he was in power. The erstwhile UPA government under Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had failed to scrap the Act,” said Babloo Loitongbam, executive director of Human Rights Alert (HRA). If at all he (Chidambaram) is against AFSPA, he should have taken some steps to repeal the Act when he was the Union minister, added Babloo. Another Imphal-based rights activist, while belittling Chidambaram’s statement, demanded the Centre to honour and comply with the people’s growing campaign and Irom Sharmila Chanu’s epic protest against the oppressive Act. On Friday, Chidambaram had welcomed the Army’s decision to grant life sentence to five personnel in the Machil fake encounter case in Jammu and Kashmir and termed AFSPA an ‘obnoxious law’ which had no place in a modern and civilized country. There are reports that Union minister for state for home affairs Kiren Rijiju and BJP leader Subramanian Swamy had criticized Chidambaram for making such remarks when polls are round the corner. Rijiju had termed Chidambaram’s statement ‘opportunistic and unfortunate’ and stated that while the latter was the home minister, he knew what was the situation and under what condition this law had been implemented. (Times of India 16/11/14)

71. Time for AFSPA to go (1)

The Indian army needs to be commended for having meted out exemplary punishment to the officers and jawans involved in the fake encounter at Machil. As a former armyman, one can understand the anguish and soul-searching behind this necessary and hard decision. The Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), which provides protection to soldiers in such circumstances, has come under scrutiny once again and calls for its repeal have reached a crescendo. There is merit in the argument that AFSPA has outlived its utility, and must go. It is worth recalling that while AFSPA was introduced in 1958, the Assam Disturbed Areas Act was enacted in 1955 to provide a legal framework for security forces to deal with the Naga insurgency. When the army was inducted soon thereafter, the then army chief in a Special Order of the Day exhorted his troops, “…you are not to fight the people of the area but to protect them (from disruptive elements)… you must therefore do everything possible to win their confidence and respect…” It is a sad commentary that half a century later, AFSPA still remains in force in the Northeast and the clamour for its revocation has come from events in Kashmir, where it was imposed in 1990. It is sadder still that despite untold sacrifices, the army seems to have lost the “confidence and respect” of the people. If that is the case, then it is time that AFSPA went. If the act is revoked, how will it affect the security of the country? First, the basics. Every Indian will agree that there can be no compromise on the territorial integrity of the country. It is the Constitution that provides that India will be a Union of States (Article 1) and it has no provision to cede territory (sub-Clause 3). Article 51 enjoins all citizens “to uphold and protect the sovereignty, unity and integrity of India”. So any demand for separation is to be resisted. Look now at the security aspects. Our executive machinery at the district level has always had the authority to use force, requisitioning troops if necessary, to restore law and order. So, whenever the armed forces operate, they are acting in aid of the civil authority. It follows that once the situation is brought under control, the civil administration re-assumes responsibility. If the government machinery in Kashmir is prepared to assume responsibility, the army would only be happy to go back to their task of protecting the Line of Control (LoC)… (Indian Express 19/11/14)

MEDIA/ FREEDOM OF SPEECH

72. Aligarh Muslim University students slam media for ‘biased’ reports on library row (1)

ALIGARH: Aligarh Muslim University Women’s College Students’ Union (AMUWCSU) and AMU Students’ Union (AMUSU) on Wednesday organized a joint protest against alleged “biased media reports” over the issue of access to girls to the university’s central Maulana Azad Library. More than 2000 girls took out a procession culminating at the Sir Syed crossing here. “We are deeply outraged by the manner in which the media has distorted our demands for access to Maulana Azad library and has presented it in a highly biased manner,” newly-elected president of the AMUWCSU Gulfiza Khan said while addressing the protesters. She said that some misguided individuals in the media were trying to project a highly distorted version of their demand which is very painful. The protesters later burnt an effigy of a leading English news daily, which, they alleged, was spreading malicious news. The procession was being followed by a separate similar protest led by the office bearers of newly-elected students union. In a press release issued jointly by the AMUSU and AMUWCSU, the protesters said, “the AMU at present already provides an unrestricted entry to all girls from undergraduate, postgraduate and research courses”.”We demand that the HRD ministry should provide additional funds so that the Women’s College library, which is away from the main University campus, should become suitably equipped to cater to the demands of the undergraduate girls of the women’s college” they said. Referring to the reported notice issued by the HRD minister to the AMU vice-chancellor Zameer Uddin Shah, the statement said,”if the HRD minister is so concerned about the girls students at AMU, she should immediately sanction funds for upgrading the Women’s College library”.”We are deeply concerned over the manner in which communal forces in the country are distorting the entire incident and giving it a biased colour. We strongly oppose the politics of hate and division which is very harmful for the nation,” the statement further said. The joint press release also criticised the AMU VC for making “careless remarks” in this connection which led to the confusion in the entire matter. (Times of India 12/11/14)

73. Manipur journalist browbeat by MHA official (1)

IMPHAL: One ranking official of the Ministry of Home Affairs posted in Imphal is reported to have browbeat Rameshchandra Mutum, a reporter of the Hueiyen Lanpao group which brings out three newspapers on Wednesday. Rameshchandra Mutum, is reported to have taken some photographs of the official’s car which had a red beacon, on Wednesday. By a recent government order only top ranking Ministers are permitted to use red beacon. Irked over this, the MHA official asked his body guards to ask the reporter to delete the photographs. They also tried to snatch the camera. When the reporter refused to budge, they threatened to arrest him citing security reasons for taking the photographs. The issue was sorted out after a meeting between the All Manipur Working Journalists’ Union and the official. (The Hindu 13/11/14)

74. Journalists Trying to Talk to Kunal Ghosh Assaulted (1)

KOLKATA: Several journalists sustained injuries when they were assaulted by the police who tried to prevent them from interacting with suspended Trinamool Congress MP and Saradha scam accused Kunal Ghosh outside a premier state government hospital. Photojournalists who tried to take Ghosh’s pictures, as he was being taken out from an ambulance at the gates of the SSKM Hopsital, also bore the brunt of a cane-charge by the police. Ghosh, admitted to the critical care unit of the hospital since early Friday after he claimed to have taken 30-40 sedatives to “commit suicide’ in the high security Presidency Jail, had been taken to the Bangur Institute of Neurology during the day for some medical tests. Earlier while being taken out from SSKM and once he reached Bangur, the journos had managed to get Ghosh’s bytes where he demanded arrest of the “main culprits” who were “roaming outside freely. “Those (who are) guilty, must be arrested immediately. They are roaming outside freely . They are using all their might to influence the probe. They are delaying it. They are wasting time,” Ghosh said from his stretcher during those brief interactions. The Rajya Sabha member, who headed Saradha media arm before being arrested in November last year, has been for over one and half years alleging the involvement of several leaders of the ruling Trinamool Congress, including its top brass in the chit fund scandal. But Saturday, after television channels aired his comments, police deployment was intensified outside the gate of the SSKM, where Ghosh was brought back after the tests. As Ghosh was being brought out from the ambulance, the journalists tried to move near him, but were stopped by the police, leading to an argument and then a scuffle with the security personnel. It was then that the police resorted to a baton charge that left some journalists and photojournalists with minor injuries. A police officer was seen using his cap to hide Ghosh’s face so that the media was unable to speak to him. Though Ghosh protested, but a police officer almost pushed him on to a stretcher. Deputy Commissioner of city police (South) Murlidhar Sharma promised action if he was shown a footage of any assault on journalists. However, he claimed that the problem lay with media management . “There was a need for proper media management here. But that was not in place. Probably we were not informed that so many mediapersons will assemble.” When a scribe pointed out that he himself was at the spot when the trouble broke out, Murlidhar said: “I cannot see everywhere.” Ghosh, now in judicial custody, had Monday threatened to to commit suicide if others involved in the scandal were not arrested within three days. He, was rushed to the hospital around 3 a.m. Friday in a partially drowsy condition and admitted to the critical care unit. Hospital director Pradip Mitra said Ghosh claimed that he had taken 30-40 Alprazolam tablets from the evening upto night time Friday “to take his own life”.Ghosh’s purported suicide attempt has landed West Bengal’s Trinamool Congress government in the eye of a storm, with the opposition and legal luminaries questioning the administration’s lack of vigil in a high-security jail on an MP who had openly declared four days back that he would attempt suicide if those involved in the swindle were not rounded up within three days. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has reacted by suspending jail officials and the on-duty hospital staff, while an FIR was filed against Ghosh in a city police station for attempting suicide. (New Indian Express 15/11/14)

75. Haryana DGP downplays attack on media personnel (1)

CHANDIGARH: Haryana Director General of Police S.N. Vashisht on Tuesday sought to downplay the completely unwanted and unprovoked attack on scores of  media personnel covering the police action at Satlok Ashram in Barwala, Hisar. Some of the journalists injured in the police action, like Siddharth Pandey of NDTV, claimed that they were attacked despite being hundreds of metres away from the scene of violence. He said the attack began after some camerapersons began shooting the injured who were being dragged out from the ashram. While all through the day the electronic media showed footage of how it was attacked, Mr. Vashisht chose to play with words saying while the operation was on, “everyone’s life was in danger and the first duty of the police, which is a trained force, was to keep the media at a safe distance while bullets were being fired from the ashram.” Mr, Vashisht admitted that Times Now and Aaj Tak had called him in the morning saying their reporters were being stopped. “I gave entry to 86 media personnel and told the IG Range about it. I also sent a DSP with them. I treat media as my ally. You show the truth.” On what provoked the brutal attack on the media persons, he said “possibly some personnel treated the media badly while trying to keep them away from harm and if any one is at fault, we will investigate.” He also claimed that there were no orders to damage the cameras of the television crews.  (The Hindu 19/11/14)

COMMUNAL RIOTS

76. Why is Delhi communally restive? (7)

New Delhi: Cramped living, fierce competition, limited resources and an ever-increasing population have given Delhi its famous short fuse. But as a city, it was never communally overwrought. But the past one month has changed that. With elections set to be declared any given day, the city has seen a full-blown riot and four other instances of religion being at the centre of conflict. How this has become the city’s reality is something its residents have failed to understand. Trilokpuri, where the riots broke out on Diwali, is a place inured to violence. People from all parts of the country and religions live here. And clashes break out every other week. The 1984 anti-Sikh riots had ravaged the settlement but since then, there was never a full-blown riot. In the recent years, fights have been contained with the help of local leaders and the police. But how did a riot as severe as the one on Diwali that shut the area for five continuous days could break out in an area like this has left residents with several burning questions. And there are no clear answers. Bawana, Babarpur and Okhla, too are areas where periodic violence is common. Communal tension, however, is contained and usually resolved at the local level. Is it then a mere coincidence that polarisation has knocked on Delhi’s doors just before elections are to be announced? According to Harsh Mander, a noted social activist who has studied communal clashes extensively, riots and communal tensions follow a set template. “If left to themselves, people from different areas and communities tend to live together largely peacefully. It is political interference that causes stress and this is done in three stages,” he said. He went on specify the three stages. “The first,” he said, “is when hatred for another community is generated around a sensitive issue. These issues are usually related to places of worship, love affairs, or instances like cow slaughter. Further deterioration of the situation is achieved by organising people in a collective on the basis of this hatred. Weapons, in many cases bricks and stones, are distributed. The third important thing is allowing it to fester for some time. Strict action is not taken at the first instance.” “A riot is a carefully manufactured product. With elections round the corner, this template is being followed. But we won’t see violence that will result in loss of life as that leads to sympathy. The violence should be just enough to let people forget other problems,” he added. The role of local politicians in flaring tensions has been highlighted by the police in their report to the ministry of home affairs. Members of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) have also alleged that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has been instrumental in igniting communal tensions. “If it was one isolated incident, one would not have read into the motivations. But there are a number of other cases as well and there is a pattern to it. You are forced to look at the timing and context in which these things are happening. It doesn’t take too much to understand who is behind these things and who stands to gain from this polarisation,” said Yogendra Yadav, a senior leader of AAP. “It happened in Uttar Pradesh and Haryana before the election and now it is happening here. The aim is to polarise voters. I don’t have any concrete proof, which I can hand over to the police,” he added. The BJP too agrees that the clashes have been engineered to cause polarisation and blamed AAP for it. “The incident at Trilokpuri was not communal to start with. It was given a communal colour. The other incidents are also part of a larger conspiracy by people who want to create fear psychosis in the minority community. AAP is provoking such incidents to keep its voter base intact,” said Ashish Sood, general secretary, Delhi BJP. The police points out how a society which is densely populated by poor, multi-lingual, multi-regional and multi-religious people falls easy prey to communal tension. According to senior police officials, each group has its own priorities, sensibilities and response to social situations. Lack of resources, especially space, further accentuate the fight for limited resources for their community. (Hindustan Times 12/11/14)

77. Tension in Palwal: Union home ministry asks for a report.. (7)

NEW DELHI: The Union home ministry has sought a report from the new BJP government in Haryana on the communal tension that erupted in Palwal district on Tuesday night. The ministry has noted the first such incident under the new government with concern and asked Chief Minister Jagdish Khattar-led government to furnish a detailed report, officials said. Indefinite curfew has been clamped in Hathin town of Palwal district since midnight after protestors set ablaze the official vehicle of the district commissioner as well as a motorcycle showroom and a medical store. As per a preliminary intelligence report available with the home ministry, trouble started on November 11 evening when a group of Muslims offered namaz in a mosque, which is said to be a disputed structure, and the Hindu community raised objections. “Activists of Ram Sena Sangathan set ablaze some kiosks, cow dung and wooden heaps belonging to the Muslims,” the report says. Later in the night, “unidentified miscreants” set ablaze two vehicles including those belonging to the deputy commissioner of Palwal along with two stores, according to the report. “As a precautionary measure, the district administration had imposed an indefinite curfew in the town since midnight,” it adds. (Economic Times 13/11/14)

78. Dalit-Muslim clashes rattle western Uttar Pradesh again (7)

Lucknow: A village in Shamli district after the communal riotThree incidents of communal violence were reported from the volatile western part of Uttar Pradesh in the last 24 hours. On Tuesday night, Dalits and Muslims clashed at Sonata village in Shamli district over sharing water from a hand-pump. At least six houses of both the communities were set on fire by the rioters. Half-a-dozen people also sustained injuries. The Dalits alleged that they were prevented from using the hand-pump in the village. “We were not being allowed to use the hand-pump for the last one year. We used to avail the service of another hand-pump. But now we have no option because it is not working,” villager Ram Babu told the police. A large police force has been deployed to prevent further violence in the village. In another incident on Tuesday evening, a Muslim youth died of bullet injury sustained in a communal clash at Datiyana village in Muzaffarnagar district. Eyewitnesses told the police that trouble broke out when the youth tried to stop a villager from thrashing a labourer. “This led to a clash between the two communities. Both the sides fired at each other. The youth was hit by a bullet and died on his way to the hospital,” an eyewitness said. One person has been arrested in connection with the murder. Matkota area in Hathras district witnessed communal clashes on Wednesday when some people objected to dumping of construction material on the road. The construction material was meant to build a house in the locality. The clash left two people injured. (India Today 14/11/14)

79. Six communal violence incidents in UP in April-August period (7)

LUCKNOW: Uttar Pradesh government on Monday said that between April to August this year, six incidents of communal tension took place in the state. “In UP, six incidents of communal tension were reported between April to Aug 25, 2014″, parliamentary affairs minister Mohd Azam Khan said in Vidhan Sabha. Khan said this while replying to BJP member Satish Mahana in Vidhan Sabha during question hour. Accusing BJP for flaring up communal incidents, Khan claimed that he, “witnessed shame on the face of the BJP member when he was asking the question”.Alleging that the BJP was taking advantage of communal tension for political gains, he said, ” they took benefit of Muzaffarnagar riots. The person, who said ‘leave to Pakistan’ (for those not supporting Narendra Modi) is a central minister, those having criminal cases against them are MPs.” On controlling such incidents, Khan said that detailed directives have been issued to district police chiefs and district magistrates to check such incidents and act timely to control them. “Continued dialogue and meetings should be held with locals to counter rumours, if any and holding regular meetings of peace committees have been issued”, he said. (Times of India 18/11/14)

COMMUNALISM

80. RSS men may fill gaps in BJP left by new mantris (26)

NewDelhi: Om Mathur and Kailash Vijayvargiya, who headed party in Maha, Haryana polls, will be added to ‘Team Shah’As vacancies have been created in BJP chief Amit Shah’s team, speculation is rife that Om Mathur and Kailash Vijayvargiya, who were party’s election in-charge in Maharashtra and Haryana respectively could be accommodated. National vice presidents Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and Bandaru Dattatreya along with general secretaries J.P. Nadda, Rajiv Pratap Rudy and Ram Shankar Katheriya are now part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Council of Ministers. Another vice-president Kiran Maheshwari is also part of the Vasundhara Raje’s government. Speculation is rife that leaders having proximity to the RSS have a better chance in being accommodated. Also, the party could bring down the number of its various cells to almost one-third. There were more than 40 different cells in the BJP which were recently dissolved by Mr Shah. BJP leader Mahendra Pandey, has been giving the task to trim down the number of cells and merge some of the cells. To pacify Himachal Pradesh former chief minister P.K. Dhumal’s camp, his son and party’s youth wing chief Anurag Thakur could be promoted, while Bhadhoi MP Virendra Singh could also be brought at the central level. Uttarakhand, which failed to get its representative in the Modi government, is unlikely to get any other representative than Anil Baluni in Team Shah. Mr Baluni is one of the national spokespersons of the party. Sources disclosed party wants more representations from the northeastern states and also West Bengal in Team Shah but the party faces a leadership crisis in these states. (Asian Age 11/11/14)

81. To corner BJP, Sena to fall back on Hindutva (26)

Mumbai: Shiv Sena, which has been forced to sit in the Opposition after failing to get an equitable formula to partner the BJP in the Maharashtra government, has declared its plan to revive the hardline Hindutva ideology to corner its former saffrom ally. “Hindutva is the core of our existence which has got us to where we are. It is a constituency which is being targeted by the BJP as well. We will do all that is possible from now to ensure that we dent the BJP’s hold on this electorate,” a senior Sena leader said. The party has already started attacking the BJP on some decisions taken by the state Minority Development Ministry headed by Eknath Khadse. Till late Tuesday night, the Sena leadership was hopeful of a face-saving deal with the BJP. “Consultations between the two parties went on till 1 am. The BJP was, however, unwilling to relent or even give concrete assurances that we would get desired ministries like Home and Revenue. We realised they were not interested in associating with us,” a senior Sena leader said. Till Wednesday morning, the Sena leadership harboured hopes and even cleared an editorial in the party mouthpiece Saamana where it almost pleaded the BJP not to join hands with the NCP and instead take the Sena on board. With no calls from the BJP, Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray decided to ask his MLAs to vote against the BJP during the confidence motion in the Assembly. Interestingly, the BJP leadership made two calls to Uddhav only after which Sena announced that it was sitting in the Opposition in the Assembly. “Such calls have no meaning. They took us for a ride all along,” a Sena leader said. Uddhav, who went into a huddle with senior party leaders to formulate the party’s strategy on Wednesday, will start a tour of Maharashtra starting November 17 in which he hopes to reach out to party workers. (Indian Express 13/11/14)

82. VHP to use ‘full energy’ to build Ram temple  (26)

Patna: The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) will use all its resources and energy to construct a grand Ram temple at Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh, its leader Pravin Togadia said on Sunday. “The VHP will use its full resources and energy to construct a Ram temple at Ayodhya,” Togadia told the media here. He said the Ram temple was the VHP`s main agenda. “The VHP has never forgotten the agenda of Ram temple nor will it forget it. We will construct the temple at any cost.” Togadia said the temple in Ayodhya won`t be built due to anyone`s benevolence. “It will come up thanks to the powerful unity of the Hindus.” He said the VHP would raise the temple issue before the Bharatiya Janata Party at the “right time”.VHP supporters razed the 16th century Babri Masjid in Ayodhya Dec 6, 1992, triggering widespread riots. They then built a small Ram temple at the site that is now heavily protected. The VHP has repeatedly declared its intention to construct a grand Ram temple on the ruins of the Babri mosque. Togadia also expressed serious concern over the illegal entry into India of Bangladeshis and urged the central government to stop it. He said the World Hindu Congress would be held in Delhi Nov 21-23 to mark the the 50th anniversary of VHP. It will be attended by 1,500 delegates from around the world. (Zee News 16/11/14)

83. HC declines to stay order on RSS march (26)

CHENNAI: The State government has moved appeals before the Madras High Court challenging a single judge’s order allowing the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) to take out a procession as part of its founder’s day celebrations. The government submitted that issuing permission was solely within the domain of the executive. As per decisions of the High Court, the court should not have issued a positive direction to grant permission to hold meetings/processions. However, a Division Bench comprising Justices Satish K. Agnihotri and K.K. Sasidharan on Tuesday declined to stay the single judge’s order of November 7. After the court granted permission, the RSS tried to take out processions at seven places, including Chennai and Coimbatore on November 9, but the police detained them. The government appealed that the judge had erred in arriving at a finding that Section 41-A (1) of the Chennai City Police Act did not apply to processions. The legal provision should be read as a whole. The sweep of the provision was very broad and included within its scope movement of an assembly, i.e. a procession. The RSS members wore uniforms resembling that of the police force. For this reason, Section 41-A was applicable. When the matter came up, counsel B. Rabu Manohar took notice on behalf of the RSS office-bearers, who had earlier filed the petitions. (The Hindu 19/11/14)

TERRORISM

84. Govt bans militant outfit Kamatapur Liberation Organisation (12)

NEW DELHI: Having found to be involved in several recent blasts in West Bengal and the northeast, militant outfit Kamatapur Liberation Organisation (KLO), which operates in West Bengal and Assam and is fighting for a sovereign state, has been declared a banned terrorist group by the government. In a gazette notification, the Home Ministry said that exercising the powers conferred under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, the central government proposes to add Kamatapur Liberation Organisation and all its formation and front organizations as a terrorist organization. KLO, which came into existence in 1993 has been consolidating its position in the fourteen districts in Assam and six districts in West Bengal both organisationally and in terms of weapons and cadres and to achieve the objective of a separate “sovereign Kamatapur state”.The outfit is also resorting to terrorism in the form of killing of innocent civilians and security forces and engaging in other violent activities including looting, kidnapping, landmine and bomb blasts, the notification said. The central government “believes that the Kamatapur Liberation Organisation is involved in terrorism,” it said. KLO was formed to address problems of the Koch Rajbongshi community and perceived neglect of Kamtapuri language, identity and grievances of economic deprivation of the community. It is alleged that the outfit is connected to militant groups such Ulfa and NDFB. (Times of India 12/11/14)

85. Wagah suicide bomber was 25-year-old: militants (12)

Islamabad: The Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan’s (TTP) Jamaat-ul-Ahrar faction Thursday released details of a man it said carried out the deadly suicide bombing near the Pakistan-India border crossing killing 60 people. A spokesman for the group, Ehsanullah Ehsan, said Hanifullah alias Hamza, 25, detonated himself Nov 2 targeting people returning from the flag-lowering ceremony at the Wagah border gate, Dawn online reported. The militants also released a photo of the alleged bomber. According to officials, Hanifullah belonged to a bordering town in Mohmand tribal agency. Ehsan said the banned outfit would release a video of the attack, which it added was carried out to avenge a military operation against the Taliban and tribesmen in the FATA region bordering Afghanistan. (Business Standard 13/11/14)

86. UAE lists Muslim Brotherhood as terrorist group (12)

DUBAI: The United Arab Emirates has formally designated the Muslim Brotherhood and local affiliates as terrorist groups, state news agency WAM reported on Saturday citing a cabinet decree. The Gulf Arab state has also designated Nusra Front and the Islamic State, whose fighters are battling Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, as terrorist organisations, along with other Shi’ite militant groups such as the Houthi movement in Yemen. Saturday’s move echoes a similar move by Saudi Arabia in March and could increase pressure on Qatar whose backing for the group has sparked a row with fellow Gulf monarchies. It also underscores concern in the US-allied oil producer about political Islam and the influence of the Brotherhood, whose Sunni Islamist doctrines challenge the principle of dynastic rule. The UAE has designated al-Islah group, which is a local Islamist group banned in the UAE for its alleged link to Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, as a terrorist group. UAE authorities have cracked down on members of al-Islah and jailed scores of Islamists convicted of forming an illegal branch of the Brotherhood. Al-Islah denies any such link, but says it shares some of the Brotherhood’s Islamist ideology. In an unprecedented public move, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates recalled their ambassadors to Qatar in March, accusing Doha of failing to abide by an agreement not to interfere in one another’s internal affairs. So far efforts by members of the GCC, an alliance that also includes Oman and Kuwait, to resolve the dispute have failed. The three states mainly fell out with Qatar over the role of Islamists, including the Muslim Brotherhood. Gulf officials say the three want Qatar to end any support for the Brotherhood. Qatar says it backs all Arabs, not just Brotherhood members. Qatar’s emir on Tuesday publicly invited fellow Gulf rulers to a Doha summit, apparently seeking to forestall what diplomats say is an attempt by some peers to move it elsewhere in protest at what they see as an Islamist tilt in his foreign policy. (Times of India 16/11/14)

87. Militant attack deaths soar to all-time high (12)

Washington: The number of people killed in militant attacks worldwide jumped more than 60 per cent in 2013 to a record high of nearly 18,000 and the figure could rise further in 2014 due to an escalation of conflict in the Middle East and Nigeria, a report showed on Tuesday. Four Islamist groups operating in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria were responsible for two thirds of the 2013 attacks and the vast majority of the deaths occurred in those countries, the Australia and US-based Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) said in its Global Terrorism Index. However, militant attacks are on the rise more broadly, with two dozen countries seeing more than 50 deaths in 2013, it said. The four most active militant groupings are Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (now renamed Islamic State), Nigeria’s Boko Haram, the Afghan and Pakistani Taliban and transnational al Qaeda-affiliated networks. “There is no doubt it is a growing problem. The causes are complex but the four groups responsible for most of the deaths all have their roots in fundamentalist Islam,” said IEP founder Steve Killelea. “They are particularly angry about the spread of Western education. That makes any attempt at the kind of social mobilising you need to stop them particularly difficult it can just antagonise them more,” he said. The number of attacks themselves rose 44 per cent in 2013 from the previous year to almost 10,000. Deaths in such attacks are now five times higher than in 2000, the report showed, citing analysis of data in the University of Maryland’s Global Terrorism Database. Most but not all militant attacks were religiously motivated. Attacks in India the sixth most affected country rose 70 per cent in 2013 largely due to attacks by communist insurgents. The majority remained non-lethal. Increased targeting of police by the militant groups makes managing the problem even harder, Mr Killelea said, sometimes fuelling rights abuses that compound existing grievances. The report showed 60 per cent of attacks involved explosives, 20 per cent firearms and 10 per cent other actions such as arson, knives or attacks with motor vehicles. Only five per cent of all incidents since 2000 have involved suicide bombings. (Asian Age 19/11/14)

NAXALS/ MAOISTS

88. Six Maoists, including a woman, surrender before cops in Chhattisgarh (12)

Raipur: Six Maoists, including a woman cadre, on Tuesday surrendered in Chhattisgarh’s Kondagaon district, police said. “The Maoist cadres turned themselves in before senior police officials citing disappointment with exploitation of lower rung cadres by senior leaders of the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist) and getting impressed with the surrender policy of the Chhattisgarh state government,” Kondagaon Additional Superintendent of Police (ASP) Surjit Atri told PTI. Among those who surrendered, Agnu alias Sagnu (30), who was Kiskodo Janmilitia commander of the banned CPI (Maoist), is the most dreaded one, Atri said. He was trained in making bombs, laying booby traps and using emergency medical aid in the forests of Karimnagar district of then undivided Andhra Pradesh state, the ASP said adding, he worked there from 2008 to 2013. He was involved in several Maoist incidents in both Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh and carried a reward of Rs 1 lakh on his head, he said. Other Maoists cadres who surrendered were identified as Pankaram Gond, 47, Sukhdev Marai 48, Sukhram 25, Lakru Ram, 28 and a woman cadre Ramo Bai, 32. All of them were working as Maoist squad members, Atri said. They would be provided?assistance?as per the Chhattisgarh government’s policy, he said. According to Chhattisgarh government statistics, the total number of Maoist rebels laying down their arms this year has crossed 340 in the insurgency-hit state. (Zee News 11/11/14)

89. Anti-Naxal ops: CRPF finds Chattisgarh, Jharkhand most tough (12)

New Delhi: CRPF, the lead anti-Naxal force, considers Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand as the most challenging states when it comes to tackling the menace of left-wing extremism (LWE) in the country. It also feels said that states are “under utilising” the paramilitary force’s potential in security-related tasks. “Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand remain to be the most challenging states for us given the high density of forests and difficult terrain in these states,” Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) Director General Dilip Trivedi told reporters on the eve of the forces’ 75th Raising Day. “There is some truth in the whole situation,” he said when asked if state police forces were not taking a lead role in anti-Naxal operations. “I did feel that there was some underutilisation of our capabilities (by the states) but these issues can be solved through mutual interactions and we have done so on many occasions,” he said. The DG said the force’s largest area of concern, when it came to violence perpetrated by armed Maoist cadres, was the use of “explosives” and various kinds of improvised devices. “The major concern is explosives. There has been an improvement in the type of explosives being used by them (Naxals) like pressure bombs and command wires for triggering them. They are obtaining capabilities to detonate a mine from a large distance. We are not bothered about the weaponary that they use but explosives that they possess,” Trivedi said when asked about the biggest challenge for the force in this theatre of operations. The DG said Naxals are getting explosives “easily”. It has been found by security and intelligence agencies and through seized Naxal literature that the ultras are running short of weapons, he said. “Explosive and mine attacks are also very demoralising for our troops as in such an ambush CRPF men do not even get an opportunity to fight back,” he said. (Zee News 12/11/14)

90. Naxals appeal for ‘caste eradication organizations’ across state (12)

Nagpur: The banned Communist party of India (Maoist) has called for setting up of ‘caste eradication organizations’ across state in the backdrop of killings of three of a Dalit family in Javkheda village in Pathardi taluka of Ahmednagar district last month. The rebel outfit, comparing the brutality of the incident with that of Khairlanji murders, has also appealed before the cross-sections of the society for intensifying struggle at grass-root level against the Fascism of Brahman-driven BJP’s central government under Prime minister Narendra Modi. The reds have appealed to the masses on behalf of their Peoples’ liberation guerilla warfare (PLGA) and ‘Jantana sarkar’ to shun democratic means of protest and resort to violence for protest on the lines of agitations following Khairlanji and Ramabai Ambedkar incidents in the past against Modi sarkar or government. Maharashtra state committee and Dandakaranya special zonal committee, issuing press releases and pamphlets, have strongly criticized the killings blaming the Hindu fascism for the brutalities. The reds have also claimed that RSS and such organizations are fast trying to spread its influences which required to be challenged at every level of the society. They have also highlighted that national broadcaster preferred beaming RSS’s programme rather than focusing on the congregation at the Deekshabhoomi on Dussera. The Naxals have also held the communal forces to target Muslims apart from Dalits in different pockets of the country. The fascist Hindu, the reds claimed, has been also trying to stifle the voice of the other weaker sections like women in their press communication. The reds have also hit out at the majority radical system for engaging in conversing tribal population and usurping their native places for gains of the corporate world. The so-called political prisoners lodged in Nagpur central jail, nabbed for their alleged involvement in Naxal involvement, also have observed a day long hunger strike protesting the Javkheda killings. The naxals have put up their trademark red banners at different places in Gadchiroli protesting the Javkheda incident. A banner at a place like Solapur, which far away from the affected districts of Gadchiroli, Gondia and Chandrapur, have raised the concern of the security and intelligence wings. A section of the security forces feel that Naxals are trying to provoke the Dalit to initiate mass struggle against the government and target its establishments and forces which is part of their national agenda. A senior security and intelligence advisor stated that Naxals’ ‘Strategy and Tactics of the Indian Revolution’ of 2007 already has laid down elaborate agenda for the banned outfit to capitalize on Dalit section and try to draw them into mass struggle and resistance movements. The Naxal literature, in possession of TOI, stresses on the need to ‘initiate and lead the struggles against violence on Dalits from our own class organization. There is also urgent need to build organisations to fight against caste discrimination and in eradicayion of the caste system as a part of the new democratic transformation of the society’. (Times of India 14/11/14)

91. Compensation sought for kin of civilians slain by Naxals (12)

KARIMNAGAR: The district administration has decided to write to the government recommending compensation of Rs. 5 lakh each to 43 bereaved family members of civilians, who were killed by the naxalites in Karimnagar district. At a meeting here on Saturday, Collector M Veerabrahmaiah said that “the government order says that if there is no eligible family members in the family at the time of death of civilian to provide compassionate appointment, the ex-gratia can be sanctioned in addition”. (The Hindu 16/11/14)

92. Maoist vs Maoist in Daltonganj and Tamar (12)

RANCHI: It is Maoist versus Maoist in Daltonganj and Tamar. Girija Singh alias Giriji, a former sub-zonal commander of the Tritiya Prastuti Committee (a Maoist breakaway faction), is set to fight it out with Vinod Sharma, an exMaoist zonal commander, in Daltonganj. Girija has been fielded by Nawjawan Sangarh Morcha led by former minister Bhanu Pratap Shahi. Tamar will witness a contest between former Maoist Marshal Turi’s wife, Salomi Turi, and Mahadev Ravinath Pahan, brother of Maoist zonal commander Kundan Pahan. Salomi is fighting on a JMM ticket while Mahadev is a JVM-P candidate. Considering their past, police are keeping a close watch on them so that they do not take support from their former organizations. Dissatisfied with extremisim, Giriji has decided to join mainstream politics to help the poor. “He is a popular candidate and should win from Daltonganj. The sitting MLA, KN Tripathi does not stand a chance against him. In fact, Tripathi has not done anything for the people in the last five years,” said his aide Shambhu Chaurasia. He also added that Giriji is campaigning in forested areas. Vinod Sharma, Giriji’s opponent, is sure of winning from Daltonganj. “I have lived the life of both a Maoist and civilian. I know what problems people face. I can represent them better,” said Sharma on Tuesday. Sharma was earlier arrested in 2008 and spent four years in jail. “There are pending cases against me in court but I am sure of being acquitted in all of them,” said Sharma, who is contesting as an independent. Salomi Turi and Kundan claim they have a better chance of victory. “We are keeping a watch in Tamar. No reports of covert support have been extended to the candidates by Maoists. However, if they do come out in support, it will help us arrest them,” said Ranchi IG, M S Bhatia. (Times of India 19/11/14)

TRAFFICKING

93. Kids Brought to State Not Trafficked, Bihar Tells HC (1)

KOCHI: The Bihar Government on Monday submitted before the Kerala High Court that the children who were brought from Bihar to orphanages in Kerala were not victims of child trafficking. In a counter affidavit, Bihar Social Welfare Department deputy director Jagjit Kaur Ghai submitted that the interstate transportation of children was done primarily for providing them free education, food and clothing, which were available in Kerala.   “The children were brought to Kerala with the consent of their parents or guardians,” he said. The Bihar Government made the submission in response to petitions seeking a CBI probe into allegations of trafficking of children to orphanages in the State.   Officials from Bihar had visited the Mukkam Muslin Orphanage and the Palakkad Orphanage, and had revealed that many of the children were already studying in institutions, after due inquiry allowed them to go back and continue their studies. It was found that no child had complained of ill-treatment or abuse by the staff of the orphanages. The officials had interacted with the apprehended children. All of whom belonged to a single community and hailed from certain particular areas in Bihar. The majority of the children came from the districts of Banka, Bhagalpur and  Madhepura in Bihar. The remaining children were brought from the Godda district of Jharkhand. According to the children, they had valid train tickets. It also submitted that based on an order issued by the Child Welfare Committees of Palakkad and Thrissur, 41 children were taken to Patna by a special coach on June 19. As per the reports from the district child protection units, all the children were restored to their families. Meanwhile, the State Government submitted that there are 1,172 orphanages and other charitable homes in Kerala, which are recognised by the Board of Control of Orphanages. Government has set special regulations for the admission of children from other states to care-homes in Kerala, with a view to ensure their protection, and to eliminate any possibility of trafficking.  “Providing free education and care to children belonging to poor families, by institutions registered under the Board of Control of Orphanages, is a well-accepted proactive step. From the humanitarian point of view, it is not fair on the part of a state to deny services to children who do not come under the purview of Juvenile Justice Act,” State submitted. A state-level monitoring committee headed by the Chief Minister, and district-level monitoring committees headed by the district collectors were formed to monitor the charitable institutions. Meanwhile, a Division Bench comprising Acting Chief Justice Ashok Bhushan and Justice A M Shaffique directed the Advocate General to produce the order of the Supreme Court on child trafficking, and to file a counter affidavit bringing on record the relevant directives of the State pertaining to the issue. (New Indian Express 11/11/14)

94. Cops bust child trafficking network (1)

TRICHY: The Trichy police busted a child trafficking network with the arrest of a 40-year-old woman and her 30-year-old boyfriend in the city on Tuesday. According to the Thillai Nagar police, Arjath Khan, 2, went missing while playing in front of his house on November 4. His parents Shahinsha, 30, an auto rickshaw driver, and Anees Fatima, 28, of Dargah Colony in Thennur lodged a complaint with the Thillai Nagar police, who registered a case of child missing. As the child trafficking cases were reported from across the state of late, the police suspected that Arjath Khan too might have been kidnapped by a gang involved in trafficking of children. The needle suspicion pointed to Jenifer, who was a neighbour to Arjath Khan’s house. On investigation, the police found that Jenifer’s house was locked for a few days since the boy went missing. However, the police managed to pick Jenifer, who spilled the beans. On interrogation, Jenifer confessed that she abducted the child in connivance with her friend, an employee of a hotel in the city. According to Jenifer, she took the boy and handed him over to her boyfriend, who took him to Karur, where the child was kept in a lodge. Later, Jenifer joined with her friend. However, her friend came back to Trichy while Jenifer took the child to her brother in-law in Mangalore to sell him off. Based on Jenifer’s information, her friend was also taken into custody. A police team has rushed to Mangalore to rescue the child from Jenifer’s brother-in-law. Arjath Khan, 2, went missing while playing in front of his house on November 4. His parents Shahinsha, 30, an auto rickshaw driver, and Anees Fatima, 28, lodged a complaint with police. (Times of India 13/11/14)

95. Delhi emerges as hub of human trafficking (1)

New Delhi: The horror narrated by the minor girl again shows that the capital has turned out to be a hub of trafficking of girls and women from different parts of the country. According to the National Crime Records Bureau, 368 girls and women were kidnapped across the country last year for prostitution. They are sold to brothels or made to end up in massage parlours, social activists say. Rakesh Senger, National Secretary of NGO Bachpan Bachao Andolan, says that most children who go missing end up in traffickers’ hands. “Organised gangs kidnap minors and transport them to other cities for prostitution. Children below eight years are forced into begging, while the older ones are pushed into child labour,” said Rakesh Senger, National Secretary of NGO Bachpan Bachao Andolan. Trafficking of young girls from countries like Nepal and Bangladesh for forced prostitution also shows no signs of abatement, claims a study conducted by Global March Against Child Labour. The study titled ‘Economics Behind Forced Labour Trafficking’ was spearheaded by Nobel Peace Prize winner and child rights activist Kailash Satyarthi. In a similar case last month, after 13 years of repeated assault, a 25-year-old woman from Assam had succeeded in escaping from the clutches of traffickers who kept her in confinement in Haryana’s Rohtak district. She had escaped from the house to reach Delhi and approached Rajouri Garden police station with the help of a well-wisher. The issue of human trafficking and missing children was also discussed during an inter-state coordination meeting held between senior officers of Delhi Police and their counterparts from Haryana, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Uttrakhand, Rajasthan, Bihar and Jammu and Kashmir on Wednesday. They have decided to share technology in policing and upload details of missing persons on Zonal Integrated Police Network (ZIPNET) without loss of time. “Delhi Police Commissioner Bhim Sain Bassi has also told district police to revive the anti-human trafficking cell, while the special cell and crime branch have also been asked to form such cells,” said a police officer. (Deccan Herald 15/11/14)

96. Garhwal registers 330 cases of missing persons in 2014 (1)

Dehradun: The annual report on human trafficking happening in various police stations of the State, especially in Garhwal Range, revealed that there has been a rapid increase in cases related to missing of persons and trafficking of women and teen-aged girls for the past many years. Around 330 cases of missing persons were reported in various police stations of Garhwal region in 2014 so far. However, only five cases of human trafficking in 2013 and four cases in 2014 have been reported in anti-human trafficking cell of Garhwal Range established by the State Government at Kotdwar and Haridwar. Statistics revealed that women and teenage girls are being transported in other States, including Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Punjab, with the traffickers luring them with the offer of jobs or arranging marriages. In the past, some cases of trafficking of women and teenage girls had come up from two or three villages of Chamoli, Uttar Kashi and Rudraprayag districts of Uttarakhand. In order to train the police personnels on how to solve the registered cases of missing persons in the anti-human traffic cell, a one- day long refresher course on human trafficking was hosted for police personnel held at Garhwal Range office on Monday, said Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG) Sanjay Gunjyal. He reviewed cases related to human trafficking with the police officers and policemen. He expressed disappointment with the slow pace of works involving the police personnel deputed at the Cell and directed them to take measures for swift redressal of registered cases of human trafficking. In the reviewing meeting, it was revealed that cases of human trafficking were reported from two or three villages of Chamoli, Uttar Kashi, Rudraprayag districts. In these villages, women and teen-aged girl were transported in other States. These women are not in contact with their parents or there is no information of their location since their marriage. In the training programme, the policemen were acquainted with the Centre’s guidelines on how to deal with human trafficking cases and the victims’ rehabilitation. He further said that the police men will be assigned with the tasks and their performance at the cell they are deployed will be reviewed every week. Teams will be deployed in the villages where human trafficking cases were reported in the past. They will interact with the Pradhan and chowkidar to get the details of the missing persons and action will be taken accordingly. Teams will perform pre- rescue protocol, rescue operation and post- rescue protocol. With the help of non- government organisations, the victims will be rehabilitated. (Pioneer 18/11/14)

CORRUPTION

97. Panel proposes CBI probe in Food and Drug Administration (5)

Mumbai: An inquiry committee formed by a former food and drug administration (FDA) minister of Maharashtra found the conduct of officials questionable and has recommended a CBI investigation to look into the matter. The committee was formed by the government of Maharashtra on January 21, 2013 to curb the corruption and malpractices in the FDA and submitted its detailed report on April 17, 2014. As per the report, which was obtained through an RTI query, the findings made by any committee that has to do with basic necessities or relating to endangering public life has to be inquired into by a central agency. The report also recommended that the controller would be responsible for any situation arising due to negligence that directly or indirectly endangers the life of a common man. In the 159-page report, the committee has said that it would be better for the CBI to investigate into the matter for the benefit of the common people. The report also found that the government had never intervened with the working of FDA, directly or indirectly, thus resulting in negligence in duty and responsibility by the state exchequer. Then FDA commissioner Mahesh Zagade was the head of the committee along with two other members. RTI activist Anil Galgali, who procured the data, has demanded that the government make the report public. Mr Galgali has also appealed to chief minister Devendra Fadanvis to hand over the commission report to the CBI for investigation. “The report is a nothing, but a sordid story of how the lives of people are put at a larger risk by FDA. The department is full of corruption,” said Mr Galgali, adding, “The 17-point recommendations made by the committee must be strictly followed by the government.” When contacted, Manisha Mhaiskar, medical education and drugs department secretary said, “Yes, the report has been submitted and the department is in process of taking further action.” (Asian Age 11/11/14)

98. Second arrest in Rs 2.5cr PUNSUP scam (5)

MOHALI: Punjab Vigilance Bureau arrested a public distribution clerk of Punjab State Civil Supplies Corporation Limited (PUNSUP) for his alleged involvement in the embezzlement of wheat bags and other objects worth Rs 2.57 crore from a godown in Mohali last year. The accused has been identified as Gurmeet Singh, who was working as a clerk in PUNSUP, Mohali, and was absconding ever since a case was lodged against him in March. This is the second arrest in the scam. In October, a clerk named Sunil Kumar was arrested from Dera Bassi. Two other accused in the scam are PUNSUP district manager Inder Mohan Singh and clerk Rajiv Sood, who are still on the run. Gurmeet was arrested from his village Baroli on Thursday and was produced before the court, which sent him to two days’ police remand. The scam was unearthed in 2013 when a vigilance team raided a godown in Daon Majra village and carried out an inspection of wheat stock, in which 28,065 wheat bags worth Rs 2.37 crore were missing. Other articles worth Rs 19.82 lakh were also found missing. Inder Mohan was working as district manager during this period. When the FIR was lodged, an inquiry was conducted by additional managing director of PUNSUP. It concluded that Inder Mohan had failed to do his duty while being part of the fraud that caused loss of crores of rupees to the government. A corruption case was registered under sections 409 (criminal breach of trust by public servant) and 120 B (criminal conspiracy) of the IPC and section 13 (1) read with 13 (2) of the Prevention of Corruption (PC) Act at the VB Flying Squad I police station in Sector 68. The accused in the case applied for bail earlier this year, but the court rejected anticipatory bail. (Times of India 14/11/14)

99. G20 leaders vow to fight corruption (5)

Brisbane: G20 leaders, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on Sunday vowed to implement an anti-corruption action plan as part of a drive against the use of shell companies and trusts to engage in tax evasion and money laundering. “We endorse the 2015-16 G20 Anti-Corruption plan that will support growth and resilience,” the leaders said in a communiqué released at the end of the two-day summit. A set of principles for governments to follow that aims to make it easier to find out who is the beneficial owner of entities which are stated to facilitate hundreds of billions of dollars in illicit financial flows was unveiled by the G20 and contained in annexures to the communiqué. “Our actions are building cooperation and networks, including to enhance mutual legal assistance, recovery of the proceeds of corruption and denial of safe haven to corrupt officials,” the communiqué said. “We commit to improve the transparency of the public and private sectors, and of beneficial ownership by implementing the G20 High-Level Principles on Beneficial Ownership Transparency,” it said. The anti-corruption plan seeks to ensure investments by corporates or individuals and the details of it are shared between developing and developed countries. G20 host and Australia’s Prime Minister Tony Abbott said the initiative will be operational in the next three years. “My understanding is, it starts now and we will build up over the next couple of years,” he told reporters. “In 2014, corruption remains a very significant threat to global growth and financial stability,” said a G20 2014 — Brisbane anti-Corruption update, adding that “there is a clear link between illicit financial flows and company structures.” The G20 countries recognised that bribery imposes a heavy price on the public and private sectors with the annual cost of bribery estimated by the World Bank to be $1 trillion. The principles state that countries should ensure that legal persons maintain beneficial-ownership information onshore and that information is adequate, accurate and current. “Countries could implement this, for example, through central registries of beneficial ownership of legal persons or other appropriate mechanisms,” says the statement of principles. It also calls on countries to ensure that information is shared between domestic and international agencies, including law-enforcement bodies. (The Hindu 16/11/14)

100. Srinivasan cleared in IPL scam; Meiyappan, Kundra indicted (5)

New Delhi: In charges that could affect cricket tournament Indian Premier League (IPL)’s teams Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and Rajasthan Royals (RR), the Mukul Mudgal committee indicted the teams’ respective officials Gurunath Meiyappan and Raj Kundra of betting and confirmed their roles in their teams but it cleared N Srinivasan of match-fixing and scuttling the probe. The three-member committee, in its report to the Supreme Court, however, indicted Srinivasan, the International Cricket Council (ICC) chairman, for not taking action against a cricketer, whom it did not name, for violating the players’ code of conduct despite being aware of it. It confirmed Meiyappan was a team official (team principal) of CSK while RR’s owner Kundra’s “infractions violated BCCI/IPL anti-corruption code”.A provision in the IPL code of conduct says any team official found guilty of “bringing the game into disrepute” by betting or match-fixing could see his/her team expelled. The committee held Srinivasan’s son-in-law Meiyappan was involved in betting but not match-fixing. It questioned why the Rajasthan police had stopped a probe into Kundra’s alleged betting activities abruptly, after the case was transferred from the Delhi police. Further, the committee found IPL Chief Operating Officer Sundar Raman had known a contact detail of a bookie and had contacted him eight times in a season. “Raman accepted he had received information about Meiyappan and Kundra taking part in betting activities but was informed by the ICC’s anti-corruption and security unit chief this was not actionable information. He accepted this information was not conveyed to any other individual,” the committee said. (Business Standard 18/11/14)

ENVIRONMENT/ CLIMATE CHANGE

101. Focus on alternatives for coal-based power: Jairam (9)

Bengaluru: India needs to develop radical thinking in terms of renewable energy resources, former union minister Jairam Ramesh has said. Climate change has added a whole new dimension to our energy policy, the Rajya Sabha member said. He was delivering a lecture on ‘The Changing Climate for India’s Energy Policy,’ organised by National Institute of Advanced Studies and The Hindu Centre for Politics and Public Policy here on Monday. On the impact of coal use, he pointed out that over half of India’s greenhouse gas emissions (expressed in carbon dioxide equivalent terms) is from the power generation sector alone. With coal-based power generating sector increasing rapidly, these emissions are likely to increase further, he said. “We use about 500 million tonnes of coal to generate electricity and we have plans of doubling this by the end of this decade. It will be imperative for us to think of alternative forms of energy,” Ramesh said. Discussing alternatives, he said one option could be nuclear power, since atomic power plants emit no carbon dioxide or sulphur dioxide. “However, our performance on the nuclear power front has been disappointing. Forty five years after the first atomic power plant at Tarapur became operational, nuclear power still accounts for just about 3.5 per cent of the supply,” he said. When it comes to wind and solar energies, they account for 13 per cent of the total generating capacity. As far as hydel projects are concerned, even though they are non-polluting, they pose ecological challenges, especially when they involve storage dams and large-scale displacement of people becomes inevitable. So, a sensitive approach to hydel power was needed, he said, concluding that the country had to plan for much cleaner coal, while focusing on other aspects of energy policy such as use of biogas. India must play a significant role in the global climate change agreement in Paris in December 2015. (Deccan erald 11/11/14)

102. Rs1700cr OK’d for cleanliness drive (9)

Patna: The state urban development department has decided to launch door-to-door collection of garbage in the city from next month as a part of its cleanliness drive. The state government has OK’d a sum of Rs 1,700 crore for initiating cleanliness drive in the state. On October 2, CM Jitan Ram Manjhi had launched the ‘Swachh Bharat’ mission from Gandhi Maidan by administering oath to people to keep the city clean. Manjhi had praised PM Narendra Modi for launching the nationwide cleanliness campaign and appealed to all to make at least 100 people aware of the importance of cleanliness and devote 100 hours every year for this work. Talking to reporters here, state urban development minister Samrat Choudhary said the solid waste management treatment plant would be inaugurated here at Bairiya, on the outskirts of the city, on November 19. (Times of India 13/11/14)

103. Massive clearing of green cover seen in Aravalis (9)

NEW DELHI: Amid reports of increasing cases of leopards entering human habitats in and around Aravalis in Gurgaon and Faridabad, a fresh instance of massive clearing of green cover close to Ansals Retreat in Raisina area has now been reported. This has exposed how the local forest department has failed to detect and stop deforestation. Huge patches of land that had trees have become bald in the past two months and boundary walls have come up. These land parcels fall under the gair mumkin pahar (common hill land) and gair mumkin rad where no non-forest activity is allowed. As per Aravali notification of 1992, any non-forest activity including cutting of trees, construction of any clusters of dwelling units, farmhouses and any other activity connected with such construction in prohibited in such areas. “This area is frequented by wildlife and particularly leopard because of good forest cover. If the forest department fails to stop this, we won’t see these wild animals. There have been cases of animals straying out of the hills due to deforestation and getting killed,” said a local resident. A forest department official said they have received complaints of this major irregularity. “We have asked the local forest employees to give a detailed report on this. Prima facie it seems there has been deforestation in the locality,” the official said. In fact, even Google Earth images show certain patches of land around Raisina have been cleared of vegetation between March and August. Local residents said tree cutting has happened in the past two months. TOI has learnt that while the rate of farmhouse land in Aravalis – which still faces legal hurdles – is around Rs 80 lakh per acre. While Haryana laws do not prohibit buying gair mumkin pahar land or any other land in Aravalis, the rules are clear that such land in Gurgaon cannot be used for any other purpose other than maintaining the area as forest. (Times of India 16/11/14)

104. Drowning kills 372,000 people each year: UN (9)

A newly-released World Health Organisation (WHO) report shows that drowning claims the lives of 372,000 people each year, UN deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq said Monday. The WHO Monday released the global report on drowning: Preventing a leading killer, which reveals that drowning kills more than 40 people every hour and is among the 10 leading causes of death for children and young people in every region, Xinhua reported. Haq said at a daily briefing that the report calls for a substantial scaling-up of efforts and resources to prevent drowning and outlines several actions to be taken by both national policy-makers and local communities. “It also draws attention to the need to make drowning prevention an integral part of a number of current debates, such as climate change which leads to increased flooding; mass migrations, including of asylum seekers travelling by boat; and issues such as rural development and water and sanitation,” he added. (Business Standard 18/11/14)

AGRICULTURE/ FARMERS SUICIDES

105. How Met forecasts saved crops (20)

More than 200 agro-meteorologists from various parts of the country attending an IMD review meeting at Birsa Agricultural University (BAU) maintained that accurate weather and climate information passed on by the Met department had helped farmers in a big way. Addressing the 8th annual review meeting of India Meteorological Department, BAU vice chancellor George John said weather forecast-based agro-advisory services of IMD and Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) had made significant contributions to minimising crop loss due to adverse weather conditions, even while maximising agricultural output under favourable weather conditions. “Sometimes these services are under evaluated. We can just imagine the extent of damage to agriculture and human and animal wealth if such services were not available,” the VC said and asked agro-meteorologists to make such services available to all stakeholders at the shortest possible time. V.U.M. Rao, project coordinator, all India coordinated research project on agro-meteorology, Central Research Institute for Dryland Agriculture, Hyderabad, pointed out that although the shortfall in rainfall this year was 12 per cent with 50 to 60 per cent deficiency in agriculture-rich states of Punjab and Haryana, the yield was expected to be normal or near normal. The credit, he said, would go to weather forecasts and agro-advisories. S.C. Bhan, scientist, IMD, Pune, stressed that IMD was devising strategies for providing advisories to line departments and its managers at least 15 days in advance to ensure availability of required seeds and fertilisers to farmers. “Our services are aimed at meeting the challenges of food security, water security, climate change and variability in the country. We are also sharing our expertise with SAARC countries,” N. Chattopadhyay, deputy director general (Agrimet), IMD said. Shilpa Mehta, consultant, New Delhi, presented details of mKisan, a portal that provides information on availability of seeds, fertilisers, their prices, local dealers and other services to registered farmers through sms. Mehta pointed out that the farmers’ portal provided a one-stop shop for meeting all information on agriculture, animal husbandry and fisheries. Share on email Share on print Share on facebook Share on twitter More Sharing Services (The Telegraph 11/11/14)

106. For the first time, Pakistan to attend India’s biggest farm fair (20)

NEW DELHI: A farmer and industry delegation from Pakistan will attend this year’s biennial ‘Agro Tech and Business Fair’ which is to be organized by the CII in coordination with agriculture and food processing ministries from November 22-25 at Chandigarh. Though the delegation from Islamabad will comprise of only private individuals and industry representatives, it is the first time that such a group from Pakistan will attend the Agro Tech where they will attend country specific sessions and exchange notes with their counterparts from India, South Africa and Germany. This year’s Agro Tech is to be organized in the backdrop of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s strong pitch for improving productivity through “more crop per drop” (optimum utilization of water resources in agriculture) and use of scientific innovation in farm practices. Representatives from 10 other countries, including South Africa and Germany, will also participate in the fair. Ways and means to increase farm productivity, methods of water conservation and propagation of climate smart agriculture practices will be discussed among other issues concerning agriculture and farmers’ welfare. Pawan Goenka, chairman, CII Agro Tech 2014 and executive director, Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd said, “We aim to showcase the latest technological innovations which have potential to take Indian agriculture to the next level”.The fair will focus on policy issues by bringing all key stakeholders – governments, research institutions, scientists, associations, farmers and the industry – on a single platform and thereby helping in attracting higher investments in agriculture and related sectors. Asked to identify the areas which, he thinks, should be the priority of policy-makers to improve farm productivity in India, Goenka pitched for mechanization of farm practices, irrigation facilities to all farmers across the country and efforts to bring innovations in the field of agriculture from research institutions to farmers. The Agro Tech will also feature special ‘Kisan Goshthees’, a value added platform for farmers where scientists and experts will share with them the best practices in areas like protected agriculture & precision farming, climate change, water & soil management, use of solar energy for agriculture, organic farming and reducing pesticide usage among others. (Times of India 14/11/14)

107. Hike compensation for farmers’ suicides: MP (20)

AURANGABAD: Shiv Sena MP from Aurangabad Chandrakant Khaire on Sunday said the government should increase compensation paid to families of farmers’ who commit suicide from Rs 1 lakh to Rs 5 lakh. Shiv Sena leaders, including leader of opposition in state assembly Eknath Shinde and Khaire, recently visited villages, where farmers have committed suicide. Addressing a press conference here in the city, Khaire said the families are passing through a tough phase. “We have seen that the family members of the farmers are struggling for their daily needs. Most of them have lost the entire agriculture crop and are reeling under heavy debt. In such circumstances, the compensation of Rs 1 lakh is not enough,” he said. The Sena is also demanding a lumpsump payment of Rs 25,000 per acre for farmers who lost standing crops due to natural calamities. At present, the government offers compensation based on ‘paisewari’, which varies from place to place. Khaie said the Sena MLAs would raise the issue during the winter session of the state assembly. “We will also raise the issue in Parliament and compel the central government to provide additional aid to the farmers’ families. All Sena MPs will soon meet union agriculture minister in New Delhi and make him aware of the situation of the farmers in Marathwada,” he said. Shinde is likely to brief Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray on Monday about the condition of farmers in Marathwada region. Khaire said Sena MLAs would also meet chief minister Devendra Fadnavis and urged him to increase the compensation. Khaire said about 360 farmers’ suicide cases have been reported in Marathwada region since January 2014. “Many parts of the region had witnessed drought-like situation in 2012-13. The unseasonal rain and hailstorm this year further destroyed crops in many parts pushing the farmers in deep crisis,” he said. When asked, Khaire said the Sena is committed to fight for the cause of farmers irrespective of whether it is in government or opposition. “We have been constantly raising the issues of farmers and will continue to do so in the future,” he said. (Times of India 17/11/14)

108. TDP Lambasts TRS Govt on Ryots’ Suicides (20)

HYDERABAD: The Telangana TDP on Tuesday came down heavily on the TRS government, holding it responsible for the death of more than 500 farmers across the State since the government was formed five months ago. Members of the TDP staged a dharna at the Indira Park along with families of the farmers from Medak and Mahbubnagar who ended their lives due to crop loss. MLA A Revanth Reddy launched a broadside at Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao and his Cabinet colleagues over lopsided policies and poor governance. “I do not want or intend to talk much about the CM. But, I am forced to talk due to his announcements and policies,” he said. He asked as to how the government is proposing to construct a highrise in Sanjeevaiah Park abutting Hussainsagar as it violates the court guidelines. “KCR is a nincompoop and a fool,” Revanth thundered. Turning his ire on the ministers, Revanth asked as to why none of them has bothered to visit the families of the farmers who committed suicide. “There can be no better nincompoops than our ministers. While several families are suffering with agony of losing their loved ones, these ministers do not have time to visit and console the families,” the TDP MLA lambasted. Alleging that the government is paying scant attention to the human rights, he said it has not bothered to announce the number of drought-affected mandals. He appealed to the farmers not to resort to suicides and vowed to force the government to release the amounts to clear their debts. TTDP floor leader Erraballi Dayakar Rao said, “It is because of his(KCR’s) incompetence the State is reeling under severe power crisis. While he is enjoying 24-hour uninterrupted power supply at his farm house, the farmers are left in the lurch without power.” Meanwhile, TTDP president L Ramana said they would raise the issue of farmers’ suicides once the suspension is lifted on 10 TDP MLAs who were suspended from the Assembly for 10 days. The leaders demanded an ex-gratia of Rs 10 lakh to the families of farmers. (New Indian Express 19/11/14)

LAND ACQUISITION/ DISPLACEMENT

109. SEZ: HC issues notice to Centre (4)

HYDERABAD: A Division Bench of Hyderbad High Court comprising Chief Justice Kalyan Jyothi Sen Gupta and Justice P.V. Sanjay Kumar on Monday issued notice to Central government in a writ petition filed by a resident of Kakinada I. Satyanarayana, whocomplained that the lands in Kakinada SEZ were being mortgaged. He said the SEZ has to be denotified. The complainant said thousands of acres of fertile lands have been alienated in favour of the promoter who is using these lands to raise funds for other commercial projects and no activity has yet been initiated here. The bench directed the Centre to respond to the issues raised in the writ petition. (The Hindu 11/11/14)

110.  ‘Land pooling’ to appease land mafia: Madhu (4)

THULLUR (GUNTUR DT), :Communist Party of India (Marxist) State secretary P. Madhu has said the proposed land pooling policy to acquire vast tracts of farm land was being done to encourage the ‘land mafia’, who were hell bent on destroying fertile lands and displacing hundreds of farmers. Taking strong exception to the land pooling policy, he said that it was evident that Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu was keen on giving away fertile land to the corporate sector at the cost of farmers’ interest. “What is the legal sanctity for land pooling? Is there any law on it? What is the justification to acquire 30,000 acres of farm land to build a capital?” Mr. Madhu threw a volley of questions at a farmers’ meeting on Wednesday, after touring the villages in Mandhadam, Malkapuram and Thullur mandals. Mr. Madhu demanded that land acquisition should be based on Land Acquisition Act 2013 which had mandated that land owners would be the major stakeholders and that they should be provided compensation equal to 1,000 man days and Rs.5 lakh compensation and etc. “ We will certainly fight to safeguard the interests of farmers and will go to any extent and even file cases in courts,’’ said Mr. Madhu. Meanwhile, Tadikonda MLA Tenali Sravan Kumar on Wednesday visited the villages of Dondapadu and Neerupadu to pacify the irked farmers. (The Hindu 13/11/14)

111. Protest against smart city plan (4)

Imphal, Nov. 12: The Manipur government’s decision to acquire land at Haollenphai village — in Moreh town bordering Tamu of Myanmar — to set up International Township, a “smart city”, is facing stiff opposition from Thadou students. A “smart city’s” core infrastructure is information technology where networks of sensors, cameras, wireless devices and data centres form the key infrastructure-providing essential services. The Thadou students have urged the government to revoke the plan to acquire land for construction of such a city at the border. They have issued an ultimatum to meet the demand by or before November 18, failing which a 48-hour strike will be imposed on all national highways in the state. The Thadou Students’ Association (TSA) today organised a news conference at Manipur Press Club here on acquisition of 3,000 acres land at Haollenphai of Moreh, a border town in Chandel district of Manipur, for construction of a “smart city”. The vice-president of the students’ association, P.C. Doungel, said: “We have submitted a memorandum to chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh on October 21 demanding revocation of the land requisition plan immediately. However, we have not received any reply till today.” Saying that industries minister Govindas Konthoujam in a press statement had stated about acquisition of 3,000 acres of land at Haollenphai, the association sought a public clarification from the government. Doungel said if the report is false, the government must retract to the statement and offer a public apology. “If the report is true, the government must provide detailed information on the process of land acquisition and whether all the guidelines and rules of land acquisition have been complied with,” he said. The general secretary of the association, James Hao-kip, said if the government failed to meet the demand, the agitation will be intensified. The press statement of the union said if the government has acquired the land, the students’ association and the indigenous community would consider it null and void. “We will also consider it as a direct assault on tribal rights and the people. Together with like-minded organisations and public, the TSA will vigorously pursue remedial steps.” The students stated that they neither want nor need a “smart city” in their area. They said they want development, but it should not be imposed on them. (The Telegraph 14/11/14)

112. Land-losers remember Sister Valsa crusade (4)

Activism outfit Rajmahal Pahad Bachao Andolan members commemorated the death anniversary of Sister Valsa John, killed on November 15, 2011, with a people’s tribunal at XISS on Sunday to assess how the MoU signed by them and Panem Coal Mines Ltd in November 2006 over mining coal in Pachuwara, Pakur, is being implemented now.  Sister Valsa, a nun from Kerala, had been leading an anti-displacement movement against Panem in Pachuwara. Her murder was believed to be linked to her crusade. Roped in by Andolan members, The Research Collective, a New Delhi-based outfit shared with the people’s tribunal at XISS all the documents and testimonials it had collated to narrate the untold saga of Pachuwara on Sunday. Chandmuni Murmu (55) of Alubera panchayat, a land-loser, said how she had suffered. “My family got Rs 2.19 lakh as compensation for 77 bighas with 242 fruit trees. Women were supposed to get another Rs 2,500 a month according to the MoU. Now, the company gives us Rs 200 a month. We got peanuts.” Francis Murmu of Alubera added: “The company kept none of its promises. There are no schools and hospitals. More importantly, the mined land has not been given back to us in cultivable condition, promised in the MoU.” Sixty people from panchayats around mining areas in Pachuwara apart, panellists in the tribunal included New Delhi academic Bela Bhatia, Supreme Court advocate Prashant Bhusan, senior journalist Ventakesh Ramakrishnan, XISS academic Alex Ekka and economist Ramesh Sharan. The panel observed land acquisition in Pachuwara showed how Santhal Pargana Tenancy Act was disregarded. (The Telegraph 17/11/14)

113. Centre, Odisha committed to Posco project’ (4)

BHUBANESWAR: Union Steel Secretary Rakesh Singh on Monday said the Centre and the Odisha government were keen to see the South Korean major Posco‘s proposed mega steel project in coastal Jagatsinghpur district through. “Both the Centre and the Odisha government are committed to implement the Posco project. The land acquisition and other activities for the project are going on. We are very keen and confident that the project will be implemented”, Singh told reporters after a meeting here to review ongoing steel projects in the state, including Posco. The secretary’s comments on the controversial multi-crore mega steel project which has already been delayed by almost nine years has assumed significance in view of recent developments on the project front, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s assurance to South Korean President Park Geun-hey to extend all his support to the project. Modi assured Geun-hey when the two leaders recently met in Myanmar on the sidelines of Asean. The development prompted Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik to say that “all hurdles for the project would come to an end soon”. “I hope the prime minister’s assurance to the South Korean president would put the Posco project on the track once again,” Patnaik had said here recently. Just a few days before the Myanmar meeting between Modi and Geun-hey, Posco India managing director had also visited the state and held discussions with officials, including Chief Secretary G C Pati about the progress. Pati was also present at the Monday’s high-level official meeting chaired by Singh.  The state government has already acquired 2,700 acres of land for the eight million tonne per annum steel project in Jagatsinghpur despite opposition from a section of the villagers. The state government had also a few days ago sent its recommendation to the Centre to grant prospective licence in favour of Posco to mine iron ore at Khandadhar hills in tribal- dominated Sundergarh district which will be used as raw material for the proposed big ticket steel project. (Deccan Herald 18/11/14)

RIGHT TO HEALTH

114. Additional funds for tribal healthcare (3)

Attappady (Palakkad): The State government has decided to allocate an additional fund of Rs.2 crore from the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) for improving the efficacy of healthcare facilities in the backward Attappady in the face of alarming rate of infant mortality reported from the tribal families of the region. Talking to media persons after a consultative meeting with people’s representatives and officials here on Monday, Health Minister V.S. Sivakumar said the additional funds would be utilised for improving the health condition of pregnant and lactating mothers and newborns. Minister for Welfare of Scheduled Tribes P.K. Jayalakshmi and Social Welfare Minister M.K. Muneer attended the meeting organised in the backdrop of indefinite hunger strikes launched by CPI(M) Lok Sabha member M.B. Rajesh and CPI leader Easwary Resan. The NRHM allocation hitherto for Palakkad district was Rs.20 crore. The meeting was critical of the State government’s handling of the tribal cause at Attappady. It decided to enhance proper coordination among people’s representatives with regard to various welfare measures undertaken by the government. According to Mr. Sivakumar, Deputy District Medical Officer R. Prabhudas would be divested of his other charges to focus exclusively on Attappady. He said the Cabinet sub-committee would recommend to Chief Minister Oommen Chandy to depute two IAS officers for coordinating various Central and State government projects meant for welfare of the people of Attappady. Technicians would be posted at government tribal specialty hospital at Kottathara for operating scanning machines. There was criticism that lack of operators made scanning machines non-functional resulting in lack of proper care for pregnant women. A sum of Rs.50 lakh would be allocated to Kudumbasree Poverty Eradication Mission to take over community kitchen initiative started to prevent malnutrition and poverty in tribal areas. Two new vehicles would be made available for improving outreach of health workers during crisis hours. Under the Jathak Janani Programme, health condition of newborn babies and their mothers would be digitally compiled and analysed every hour. The Ministers urged the fasting Left leaders to end their strike as the government was ready to consider their demands favourably. (The Hindu 11/11/14)

115. Sterilisation deaths: Arrested doc pins blame on ‘sub-standard drugs’ (3)

Bilaspur: Chhattisgarh police on Thursday arrested the surgeon whose botched sterilisations claimed the lives of 13 women in Bilaspur earlier this week and will produce him in court. A woman (R), who underwent a botched sterilisation surgery at a government mass sterilisation ‘camp’, is moved to Chhattisgarh Institute of Medical Sciences hospital from a district hospital in Bilaspur, Chhattisgarh. (Reuters) Dr RK Gupta was on the run since the first deaths were reported and an FIR was lodged against him on Tuesday. The 59-year old surgeon, who was honoured by the Chhattisgarh government on January 26 this year for accomplishing a massive target on mass sterilisation in the state-run campaign, was detained at Baloda Bazar, about 70 km from Bilaspur. “He has been arrested today after he was detained in Baloda Bazar district. He will be produced before the court soon,” the Bilaspur inspector general of police Pawan Deo told HT, adding more arrests are likely to follow. Following his arrest the surgeon told reporters he has been made a scapegoat. “I am innocent. The health of the women deteriorated owing to the sub-standard drugs prescribed to them following the sterilisation surgery,” he claimed. Gupta, who had operated upon 83 women in six hours last Saturday at the Sakri health camp in Bilaspur, which would mean that he spent just two minutes per tubectomy, was suspended on Tuesday by the state government. While eight women died on Monday, three on Tuesday and one on Wednesday and at least two dozen others are being treated in various hospitals. During the campaign even women of primitive tribes, whose sterilisation is banned by government, were reportedly “coerced” to attend such camps. Twenty-four-year old Chaiti Bai, a member of Baiga community, died late on Wednesday evening following the botched laparoscopic tubectomy in the camp at Guarela-Pendra in Bilaspur. Bilaspur commissioner Sonmoni Borah confirmed to Hindustan Times there were two Baiga women among the 16 who were rushed to Bilaspur from Guarela-Pendra for immediate medical treatment after they underwent sterilisation operation. Amid reports that rusted equipment were used in the surgeries, a team of doctors from Delhi’s premier AIIMS hospital is in Bilaspur to investigate into the incident. The state government also banned the sale of four medicines which were given to the women after the sterilisation at different camps in Bilaspur on Wednesday. The drugs have been sent to a Kolkata laboratary for tests and analysis. The Indian Express reported that even after the botched Bilaspur surgeries, 26 more tubectomies were done in one hour at another camp.This happened at the Gaurela camp where  one woman died and 20 others reported post-surgery complications. (Hindustan Times 13/11/14)

116. Chhattisgarh sterilization deaths: Another drug company’s director arrested (3)

BILASPUR: Continuing its crackdown on suppliers of the suspected spurious drugs, the Bilapsur Police arrested the Director of Kavita pharmaceuticals in Bilaspur, Rakesh Khare, late Friday night. Khare is second pharmaceutical manufacturer and supplier to be arrested in connection with the botched sterilizations that have claimed 13 lives and left another 100 odd women ailing. The police has earlier arrested the directors of Mahavar Pharma Pvt Ltd, Ramesh Mahawa and his son, Sumit Mahawar. They all have been booked under Section 420 of the IPC. Both the companies are suspected to have supplied the antibiotic, Ciprocin 500mg, which were distributed to the women, post sterilization procedure. Traces of rodenticide, Zinc Phosphide, have been found in the medicines and are suspected to be the cause behind the tragedy. The state health department, which banned the sale of drugs of Mahawar pharma pvt ltd on Tuesday, has so far seized 46 lakh tablets including Ciprocin 500, manufactured by them from raids across the state. (Times of India 15/11/14)

117. Chhattisgarh government to adopt children of 14 women who died in Bilaspur (3)

Bilaspur: After the sterilisation tragedy in Bilaspur claimed the lives of 14 women, the Chhattisgarh government has decided to adopt the children of the women who died after the surgeries. The government has assured that it will make fixed deposits of Rs 2 lakh for all the children, fund their education and provide them health care till the age of 18 years. The decisions were taken at a high-level meeting chaired by Chief Minister Raman Singh at his official residence on Sunday. Each of these children would get a health card, which will enable him or her to avail of services at Apollo Hospital, Bilaspur till the age of 18. Meanwhile, an official of the Food and Drug Controller Administration has been suspended for issuing a compliance certificate to the firm that supplied the substandard medicines used in the surgeries. The move comes after the state authorities had said that medicines contaminated with zinc phosphide – which is used as rat poison – was used in the drugs which could have led to the deaths.

Chhattisgarh government to adopt children of 14 women who died in Bilaspur sterilisation tragedy.  Raids were also conducted by the state government authorities at the manufacturing unit of company that supplied the medicines where rat poison was found. The company has been banned and samples of the medicine have been sent to Kolkata, Delhi and Nagpur labs for testing. Raids were also conducted in medical shops across the state. Fourteen women died after undergoing surgeries on November 8 and 10. As many as 122 women are still undergoing treatment at the hospitals. (CNN IBN 17/11/14)

118. Infant mortality: Rural lag a worry (3)

AHMEDABAD: There’s good news for Gujarat on the Human Development Index ( HDI) front as the state’s Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) declined by about 25% from 2009. The state’s IMR, which was 48 in 2009, has dropped to 36 in 2013. IMR is defined as deaths of infants below one year of age per 1,000 live births. Official data released by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare revealed that IMR in 2013 was 36, which had dropped from 38 in 2012. However, the worry factor was that the IMR in rural areas is 43, while in urban areas it is 22. The decline in IMR in Gujarat in the last three years (2009 to 2013) is substantial. The reduction in 2010, 2012 was four units each, while it was two units in each of the 2013 and 2011, according to the Sample Registration System (SRS) adopted by the Union government. However, IMR in neighbouring Maharashtra was far better. Maharashtra in 2013 had an IMR of just 24. Dileep Mavlankar, director of Indian Institute of Public Health said: “The high IMR in rural areas as compared to urban areas is because health services in the state are still not reaching villages. There is poverty and malnutrition in rural areas hence one can see the difference. This is not the case in Maharashtra or Kerala. There may be rural hospitals now but the government is finding it tough to get doctors. However, in urban areas easy availability of medical services including doctors has resulted in low IMR.” Mavlankar further said that there is a need to strengthen neonatal services in the state in rural areas so that newborns are attended to when required. J P Gupta, commissioner of Health, Medical Services and Medical Education said: “The success is attributed to a series of actions. The most important of these is that institutional deliveries have gone up. Also, there has been regular follow-up on newborns’ health through e-Mamta workers. The government is also strengthening neonatal care at the district and taluka levels and special emphasis will now be laid on neonatal care. The 108 service has also helped bring down MMR as the patient is rushed to a hospital immediately. There are several other measures, including the Chiranjeevi project, which helped the government bring down IMR.” (Times of Inda 18/11/14)

HIV/AIDS

119. HIV+ man bites 8-year-old niece after failed rape bid (3)

MUMBAI: An HIV positive man has bitten his eight-year-old niece who put up a fight when he sexually assaulted her. The girl’s family is now spending sleepless nights, worried if the virus has been transmitted to the girl as well. The incident took place in Andheri on November 2, when the child was sent to the house of the 45-year-old accused to collect rent. The man, a distant uncle of the child, has known the family for over 15 years and has been living in the same neighbourhood; he had recently rented one of the rooms owned by the survivor’s family. As she entered the room around 11am, the accused locked the door and allegedly attacked the girl. But the child fought back, screaming loudly, which apparently angered the accused. “Enraged, he bit her when she tried to get away from him,” the child’s aunt said. “She still managed to free herself from his clutches and ran back home in tears and told us about her ordeal. She had bruises that were clearly visible.” The family turned even more distraught after the child’s mother pointed out that the accused was HIV positive and his first wife had died of HIV-TB. “A chill ran down my spine. We rushed to the DN Nagar police station where we were told to visit RN Cooper Hospital in Vile Parle without delay,” said the aunt, adding they went there, racing against time. “We worried that even a single minute wasted would take her close to the infection,” she said, adding Cooper doctors gave the child the first dose of anti-retroviral at 2.30pm and the medicine was continued for three days. “Luckily, the treatment was started immediately,” the girl’s father said. Cooper Hospital doctors first performed the mandatory baseline HIV rapid test to check for infection. The girl’s father said his wife and he could barely breathe till the report came negative. “This report is of little consequence though. We have been told the virus has a window period of three months to manifest itself. We never thought we would ever cross paths with HIV,” said the father, an auto driver. A senior Cooper Hospital doctor told TOI the child was immediately started on a post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) treatment for three days. “We have referred the child to Sion Hospital that has a full-fledged peadiatric HIV care facility,” the doctor said. At Sion, she will be put on a 28-day PEP regime. “The wound can be classified as mild to moderate.” Head of paediatrics at Sion Hospital Dr Mamata Manglani said chances of transmission in such cases are usually negligible. “But a lot depends on the wound, its depth and if there was any fluid exchange such as blood,” she said. Manglani added a PCR test could be carried out after a month to check the status, but an ELISA test after three months is mostly considered conclusive. The accused has been sent to the DN Nagar police’s custody. The police have also approached the KEM Hospital forensic department to examine the bite marks. The child started going to school from Monday. (Times of India 12/11/14)

120. Biggest recall in UK medical history as 22,000 dental patients face tests for HIV (3)

LONDON: In what is the biggest patient recall in UK’s medical history, over 22,000 people have been asked to return to a clinic for tests to see if they have been infected with blood-borne viruses, including HIV and Hepatitis C. NHS England said the “significant patient recall” has resulted from concerns over a dentist who treated patients in the Nottingham area. The dentist Desmond D’Mello used to work for the Daybrook Dental Surgery. The recall was sparked by concerns that D’Mello, who treated patients over a 32-year period, did not follow proper procedures. NHS England said that since June 2014, it has been working with Public Health England to investigate apparent breaches of infection control procedures by a single dentist, who was contracted to provide NHS dental services at the former Daybrook Dental Practice in Nottinghamshire. It said, “Our investigation demonstrates that acceptable infection control standards do not appear to have been followed by Mr Desmond D’Mello whilst he was treating patients at the former Daybrook Dental Practice. Immediate actions were taken to protect current patients once these apparent lapses were identified. However, this alleged drop in clinical standards may have put people at a low risk of blood born viruses like Hepatitis B, C and HIV. Therefore, as a precautionary measure, we are advising all patients who have seen Mr D’Mello to seek further advice on what action they may need to take”.The investigation team has also consulted with clinical experts in Public Health England, who undertook a clinical analysis of the potential risk to patients. Mr D’Mello has recently been tested by our Occupational Health Team and found to be clear of blood borne viruses. NHS said, “Based on this clinical advice, Public Health England has recommended screening for all patients who have been treated by Mr D’Mello. It is understood the number of patients affected who have been seen and treated by Mr D’Mello during his time at the former Daybrook Dental Practice is about 22,000, as he had worked at the practice for over 32 years”. (Times of India 13/11/14)

121. 4,600 people suffering from AIDS in city: Expert (3)

KANPUR: Deadly HIV/AIDS is considered as a stigma in the society but not many know that people of all sections are suffering from this deadly disease. Dr Ishwar Gilada, president, AIDS Society of India, told students during a seminar at Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi Memorial Medical College on Saturday. “People carrying this virus are from all sections of the society, be it Bollywood, doctors, advocates or engineers. It is wrong to stereotype one particular section. If you talk about the city, there are approximately 4,600 people suffering from the disease,” he said. The doctor said that the disease is common in youngsters between 20-30 years, with 50% suffering from it. And about 5% of the kids are suffering from it in the country. The main causes are sexual intercourse 96%, blood transmission 2%, mother to child 1% and other factors 1%.”More than 2.5 million Indians are in its grip with Andhra Pradesh leading the list. This is followed by Karnataka, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Manipur and Nagaland, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Bihar and Orissa. Government had come up with schemes to the sufferers. The affordable treatment options are anti-HIV drugs called Anti-retrovirals (ARVs) and low-cost patient care in Anti Retroviral Treatment (ART) centres. Awareness campaigns by the government and NGOs have also yielded good results,” Dr Gilada, who has been treating such patients from the past 25 years, said. Talking about the latest measures to control the disease, Dr Gilada said that a condom with a disposable cover had been discovered. “People throw condoms on roads or in open drains. This ups the risk of the disease in sweepers. Therefore, a team of researchers had developed a condom that comes with a disposable cover/wrapper. One can wrap the used condom and then dispose it of. This will help in controlling its spread,” he said. (Times of India 16/11/14)

122. Unique AIDS awareness feat (3)

LUCKNOW: In a unique feat, the Uttar Pradesh State Aids Control Society (UPSACS) and Indian Institute of Management-Lucknow (IIM-L) on Sunday made an AIDS awareness red ribbon out of condom packets. Touted as world’s largest mosaic with 20 x 9 feet in size, the organisers used over 5,000 packets of condoms to make it. Displayed at the IIM-L’s annual fest ‘INDEX’, the organisers have contacted the Guinness World Record authorities to get the attempt listed. The current record is held by the AIDS Control Society of Hong Kong which used 685 condoms packets to create the largest red ribbon. As per the Guinness World Records guidelines, the ribbon has to be in red colour on a blue background. “The idea is to generate awareness regarding AIDS and safe sex. That is why we have chosen condom packets to encourage its use…Inviting the Guinness World Records officials would have cost us much, so we have recorded the entire event and sent it to them for final judgement whether the record has been made or not,” said UPSACS Joint Director Sangeeta Pandey. In its Facebook post, IIM-L said: “The total number of people living with HIV/AIDS (PLHIV) in India is estimated at around 20.9 lakh in 2011, 86 per cent are in the age-group of 15-49 years…INDEX attracts crowds through various innovative and interactive entertainment forums and provides a right platform for such a targeted campaign can to take place.” (The Hindu 18/11/14)

123. Harsh laws stifling India’s HIV response: Experts (3)

New Delhi: There is increasing evidence to prove that harsh laws and policies against drug use in India stifle the country’s HIV response, experts said Tuesday. “Unsafe injection practices along with low condom use are putting people who inject drugs at dual risk for HIV. We can only successfully intervene and reach those vulnerable and most at risk if we proactively address existing legal and policy barriers,” James Robertson, executive director, India HIV/AIDS Alliance, said at a national consultation on the disease here. The national consultation was organized by the India HIV/AIDS Alliance and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime to discuss the emerging challenges faced by India’s drug-using communities. Oscar Fernandes, convener, forum of parliamentarians on HIV/AIDS, said: “Enhanced collaboration between government, civil society and affected communities can ensure rights and health for people who use drugs, and we are committed for it”.Urging the government to meaningfully involve the community and protect their rights, Abou Mere, president, Indian Drug Users’ Forum and a leading activist, said: “Drug users are dying due to lack of treatment and care for Hepatitis C and overdose. Families are burdened with expensive de-addiction and rehabilitation options”.Worldwide 16 million people are estimated to inject drugs, and three million of them are living in HIV. In India, HIV prevalence in this group is 24-times that of the general population. Though progress has been made, the HIV epidemic continues to be fueled by the stigma and discrimination often experienced by drug users. Susie Maclean of international HIV/AIDS Alliance, said that the Indian government has to ensure that drug users are not end of the line as far as interventions are concerned.  In India, the lack of access to services can effectively be a death sentence for people who inject drugs. While some parts of the country, especially the northeast, have developed a range of services for this vulnerable population, most other states have few if any such services. (Business Standard 19/11/14)

 

 

Posted by admin at 19 November 2014

Category: Uncategorized

DALITS/SCHEDULED CASTES

1. Dalit killings: CM Fadnavis announces probe in Dalit murders (2)

Mumbai: Newly-anointed Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis on Saturday asked state DGP to probe the gruesome murder of three members of a Dalit family in Ahmednagar district last month. Fadnavis told a delegation, which met him in Mumbai on Saturday, that his government will ensure that the case is tried in a fast track court. The chief minister asked the DGP to probe the matter and submit a report, an official told PTI after the state cabinet meeting. The CM also directed cabinet minister Pankaja Munde to visit the village in Ahmednagar on Sunday and meet the members of the family. Incidentally, the government’s response comes amidst protests by various parties. Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray visited the family on Saturday along with senior leaders of the party. On Saturday, Raj Thackeray announced a monetary help of Rs. 1 lakh for the family and also said that he would raise the issue with Fadnavis. Former state minister for EGS, Nitin Raut, had requested governor Vidyasagar Rao to ensure immediate arrest of the culprits responsible for the brutal killing of three persons from a Dalit family at Javkheda in Pathardi taluka of Ahmednagar district. He had also demanded the setting of a fast track court to run the trial in the case and called for long-term measures to avoid recurrence of such incidents. On October 22, in a suspected case of caste-based violence, three members of a Dalit family were killed and their bodies were chopped into pieces and thrown into a well in Javkheda. The three members, Sanjay Jadhav, his wife Jayshree and their 19-year-old son Sunil were found to be missing. An intense search operation was launched and the bodies were found in a mutilated condition. The incident led to widespread protests in the state and brought back memories of the horrific Khairlanji massacre where four members of a Dalit family were brutually murdered. (Hindustan Times 1/11/14)

2. Burglars rape newly-married Dalit woman near Pune (2)

Pune: A newly married 19-year-old Dalit woman was raped by two burglars in Hadapsar, 20 km from Pune, evoking strong condemnation by parties across Maharashtra’s political spectrum. The incident took place on Saturday evening in Wadki near the city’s Hadapsar area when the victim chanced upon the men attempting to break into her brother-in-law’s house. “The girl was married barely a year and was celebrating her first Diwali at her husband’s house. On Saturday, around 7 p.m., she had gone to light a lamp outside the house when she noticed that the door of her brother-in-law’s house right next door was ajar,” said Deputy Superintendent of Police (Pune Rural), Dr. Vaishali Kadukar. According to her, the victim chanced upon men wearing masks inside the house and raised an alarm. “The girl said she was first threatened at knife-point. Later, one of the men apparently banged her head against the wall and she fell unconscious. She was then raped during a power outage and later discovered by her husband, who works as an electrician, almost five hours later,” said Dr. Kadukar, adding that prima facie investigations revealed intent of burglary on part of the duo. Preliminary assessment of the police is that the crime may not necessarily be a caste-related atrocity. “We are not ruling out any possibility. At present, we are trying our best to trace the identity of the criminals and have launched a manhunt to nab the duo. We are confident the case will be solved soon,” said Manoj Lohiya, Superintendent of Police (Pune rural). The Loni Kalbhor police have booked a case against unidentified men under sections 376 (g) (gang rape) and section 392 (robbery) of the Indian Penal Code. On Monday, Shiv Sena leader Neelam Gorhe and Nationalist Congress Party MP Supriya Sule visited the girl’s house in Hadapsar. “I am appalled by this despicable act. The victim, naturally, is in a traumatic state. But she has passed her 9th standard and was able to read and understand the FIR lodged in her case. I hope the government brings pressure on the police to crack the case soon,” said Ms. Gorhe, speaking to reporters here. Demanding a speedy resolution to the case, Ms. Sule called for a fast-track trial of the accused. “The erstwhile NCP government in Maharashtra had fast-tracked the trial in the shocking gang rape of a photojournalist in Mumbai’s Shakti Mills compound. We likewise that demand stern justice be meted out by the newly-elected Bharatiya Janata Party and that the perpetrators be hanged,” said Ms. Sule. (The Hindu 3/11/14)

3. Dalits in India are poorer than Muslims: Government report (2)

Marginalisation of Muslims may have been the biggest political issue in the past decade, but the community is not at the bottom of the socio-economic ladder. According to a government report, Hindu Scheduled Castes (SC) and Scheduled Tribes (ST) are the most downtrodden lot in India. Worse, rural Dalits are facing more hardships, says the report. Over 44.8% of ST and 33.8% of SC populations in rural India were below poverty line in 2011-12 as against 30.8% of Muslims. In urban areas, 27.3% of ST and 21.8% of SC were poor, whereas economically backward Muslims stood at 26.5%. Even decline in poverty among rural ST population was the slowest. These statistics are the findings of the Prof Amitabh Kundu report which was submitted to the Union Ministry of Minority Affairs last month. The Kundu committee had been formed under the UPA regime last year to study the implementation of the Sachar recommendations which were aimed at betterment of the Muslim community. Dalits comprise 24.4 percent (16.6 % SC, 8.6% ST) of India’s population, while Muslims constitute 14%, as per the 2011 census. The difference in monthly average per capita expenditure (MPCE at the constant price), another indicator of social well-being, also shows that STs are no better than the Muslims. “The ST Hindus are at the bottom of the ladder in rural areas, followed by SC and then by the Muslims, their ranking remaining unchanged over the past two decades. In urban areas, Muslims figure in the bottom, and then comes the SC and ST population”, states the Kundu report. Dalit scholars blame the situation on flawed policies, reservation, and failed Dalit leadership. PL Punia, an ex-IAS and former MP and chairman of National Commission of Schedule Caste and Tribes, said, “The poor Dalits have no other option but to study in government schools which doesn’t take them anywhere. The government must scale up its efforts to improve education.” According to Prof PG Jogdand, social scientist and dean faculty of arts, Mumbai University, it’s the creamy layer that has been enjoying all the benefits of reservation since generations. “Hence, despite significant improvements in the past few decades, the disparity in the community is rising, which is alarming.” He also underlined the need of more income-generating efforts, especially in rural areas. “Government must start awarding projects in the rural areas to only those who have never got the benefit of reservation,” says Prof Jogdand who backs a revision in reservation policy that sieves out people on the basis of number of family members already availed the benefits. Prakash Ambedkar, grandson of Dalit icon Babasaheb Ambedkar, too is opposed to the continuation of the reservation policy. Punia however rejects the idea, “Even creamy layer has to compete to get into quota and jobs. Reservation policy must be continued.” While Ambedkerites like Dr Tushar Jagtap and Jogdand feel that the so-called Dalits leaders in India don’t actually represent the community and they hardly did anything for their people, Dalit leaders deny the charge. Punia claims, “Dalit leaders are doing their best. But definitely, best is not enough.”..  (DNA 7/11/14)

4. Activists block roads, highway to protest against dalit murders (2)

AURANGABAD: Strongly protesting the gruesome killing of three members of a Dalit family in Ahmednagar district in October, thousands of agitators resorted to a ‘rasta roko’ andolan in various parts of Aurangabad district on Friday. The agitators, under the banner of Panthers Republican Party, paralysed traffic movement at the city’s busiest square – Baba Petrol pump Chowk – for about an hour. They raised slogans against the police and the state government, alleging the administration of “going slow” on the matter. At Waluj, the Dalit Athyachar Virodhi Kruti Samiti members blocked the Aurangabad-Ahmednagar highway for over an hour. Various Dalit parties and social organisations extended their support to the agitation. The protestors here demanded the police “bring justice” to the family members of the deceased. Similar agitations were reported from Gangapur, where members of Dalit parties extended support to the agitation. On October 21, Sanjay Jadhav (42), his wife Jayashree (38) and their son Sunil (19) were brutally killed in Javkheda Khalasa village in Ahmednagar’s Pathardi tahesil. Their dismembered bodies were later found floating in a well. Sunil was decapitated and his body parts were thrown across a land plot owned by him. The Ahmednagar police remains is yet to crack the murders. Addressing a gathering here in the city, former Maharashtra minister of transport and prominent Dalit leader Gangadhar Gade raised doubt over the police functioning. “Three persons of a family were killed brutally but the investigating agencies are yet to crack the case. This is creating a sense of fear in the community,” he said. Gade alleged that “influential” persons in Ahmednagar were involved in the incident and that the police was trying to shield them. He threatened to intensify the agitation in the coming days if the state government fails to take concrete steps to prevent such cases against Dalits. “This is not the first incident when Dalits had been targeted. Ahmednagar district has witnessed many such incidents over the past few months, which reflect the casual approach of the state machinery Dalit matters. We have decided to continue our protest till we get justice. We are also planning to held demonstrations in Mumbai next week,” Gade said. (Times of India 8/11/14)

5. Two more Dalit MPs inducted in Modi’s Govt (2)

Chandigarh: Two of the MPs inducted in the Union Cabinet on Sunday, in its first expansion, are Dalits with strong Punjab connection, indicating the Bharatiya Janata Party’s move to strengthen the party base by wooing the community in the State. The development is significant as 30 per cent of the voters in Punjab are dalits.BJP MP from Hoshiarpur Vijay Sampla, and newly-appointed party’s State affairs in-charge and Agra MP Ram Shankar Katheria — the two Dalit leaders — have been given Cabinet berths as the Ministers of State. With them, the total number of Dalit faces in Narendra Modi Cabinet has reached five. The development has also given credence to the theory that the saffron party may go ‘solo’ to the next State Assembly polls in Punjab, scheduled to be held in 2017. First-time MP Sampla’s induction in the Union Cabinet has been hailed by the party leadership in Punjab as “good news for the State’s Dalit community”. In fact, party’s State affairs in-charge Katheria, during his first visit to the State after assuming the charge of new responsibility, has made clear the party’s intentions that it wanted to focus on the Scheduled Caste community in the State — which forms the major section. BJP high command’s move to appoint Katheria as State prabhari has been interpreted as its move to woo the dalit voters of the State. Sampla’s promotion to Cabinet has strengthened the speculations that all was not well between BJP and its ally, the Shiromani Akali Dal. The move came at a time when the BJP recently achieved clear majority in Haryana, with the help of Dera Sacha Sauda which enjoyed huge support in Punjab also.The political analysts believed that the inclusion of the two leaders in the Union Cabinet by the BJP national leadership would pay rich dividends and help the party in Punjab, especially if it wanted to go “on its own”. Already, the party leaders, including Katheria, had given enough indications that the BJP might go alone for 2017 polls if “Haryana like situation emerges in Punjab”.Sampla’s elevation, a dalit leader hailing from Ravidasia community, is also being interpreted as the BJP’s long-term strategy to cut away from SAD panthic politics. Fifty-three-year-old Sampla is not a major name in the State politics. His elevation is being attributed to his close association with the Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and the strong RSS background. Sampla, a businessman, was picked up by the BJP for the Hoshiarpur seat in the recent Lok Sabha polls though he had not contested any election earlier. He began his political journey after being elected Sarpanch of his village and has also held several important positions in the State BJP unit including having been its vice-president. He also has been the chairman of Punjab State Forest Development Corporation and also the Chairman of Punjab State Khadi and Village Industries Board.Sampla is the second Minister in Union Cabinet after SAD’s Harsimrat Kaur Badal, wife of Punjab Deputy Chief Minister and SAD president Sukhbir Badal. Fifty-year-old Katheria, a PhD holder and a writer with books on social issues and Dalit upliftment, is in his second stint in the House of the People from Agra reserve constituency. In his first term as a Lok Sabha MP, Katheria was a member of several committees. He was a part of the Committee on Urban Development, Committee on Papers Laid on the Table, Committee on Petitions and also the Consultative Committee on Rural Development. (Pioneer 10/11/14)

TRIBALS

6. Tribals allege high handedness by ANF personnel in naxal affected areas (6)

MANGALURU: Concerns about alleged high handedness of Anti-Naxal Force in naxal affected areas of DakshinaKannada district came to the fore at the monthly SC/ST meeting organised by DakshinaKannada district police here on Sunday. AdivasiRakshanaSamanvayaSamiti, and DalitaHakkugalaHorataSamiti, Belthangady drew attention of Superintendent of Police Sharanappa SD to what they termed are outright atrocities by ANF on tribal settlers. Vittal Malekudiya of Adivasi Rakshana Samanvaya Samiti said ANF personnel visit tribal hamlets in Belthangady and put pressure on them to leave the forest and seek rehabilitation outside. Specifically pointing that ANF team lead by Mahesh was involving in such acts; Vittal said ANF personnel recently had entered Malekudiya hamlets when all the men there had come to the district headquarters to take part in a protest on forest rights. ANF personnel are also demanding keys to the only anganwadi at Kuriyadi, he said, adding that it is surprising to see the force don the role of NGO and carry out acts that a NGO headed by Ramachandra Bhat is doing in the area. ANF personnel also harass shopkeepers whenever youths from Malekudiya hamlets come to Belthangady for provisions keeping tabs on the quantity of items that the tribals are purchasing for their sustenance in forest. Shekar said while the tribals have no issues about ANF doing their duty, tribals and others who are spearheading their cause will not take it lying down if the force continued with their persecution of the tribals. “ANF is putting pressure on the tribals not to participate in any democratic agitations organised to highlight their plight,” he said adding such acts of ANF will only succeed in driving the tribals in to the welcome arms of the naxalites. (Times of India 2/11/14)

7. SH College Students Express Solidarity with Tribal Agitation (6)

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM : A group of journalism students from Sacred Heart College, Thevara, on Sunday came forward to declare solidarity with ‘Nilpu Samaram’ being staged by tribals in front of the Secretariat raising various demands. The students’ move comes in the backdrop of other protests like ‘Kiss of Love’ staged in Kochi. Flaying the double standards of the government in identifying pressing civil issues and also condemning the approach of the media which often failed to give deserving importance to the tribal movement, the students’ group came forward to highlight the 118-day-long ‘Nilpu Samaram’ of the tribals. “It is imperative to garner public support for ‘Nilpu Samaram’ as the government has terribly failed in doing anything substantial to resolve the crisis. “The media too is to be blamed because it has been highlighting other issues to create hype. So we found it necessary to stand up for the rights of the tribals whose woes are going unheard,” said Jibin, a student of Sacred Heart College and a member of the group. Meanwhile, the students’ group also declared solidarity with the ‘Kiss of Love’ protest against moral policing in the state. “We are not against ‘Kiss of Love’ protest. We have declared solidarity with the tribal agitation on the same lines as with the ‘Kiss of Love’ protest, as both of these struggles highlight social issues,” Jibin went on to say. Adivasi Gothra Mahasabha president C K Janu welcomed the step taken by the visiting students. (New Indian Express 3/11/14)

8. Activists express concern over Forest Rights Act dilutions (6)

NEW DELHI: Over 40 groups wrote to the Prime Minister and the Union Minister of State for Environment, on Tuesday, expressing concern over “consistent efforts of the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) to bring out resolutions and executive orders in violation of the Scheduled Tribes and other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act 2006 (or the Forest Rights Act (FRA))”. In separate letters to the Prime Minister and the Environment Minister, activists, academics and members from organisations working on environment, human rights, Adivasi rights, forest worker rights, and women’s rights objected to latest order issued by the Environment Ministry on October 28, 2014 which takes away rights of other traditional forest dwellers. The letter says the Ministry of Tribal Affairs (MoTA) is the nodal agency for the implementation of the FRA and has the mandate to issue any clarifications regarding the Act. The Tribal Affairs Ministry had clarified in October on guidelines for diversion of forest lands for non-forest purposes, “that no agency of the government has been vested with powers to exempt application of the act (meaning FRA) in portion or in full. It is further advised that any action or process in consistent with due process laid under the Act would not be legally tenable and is likely to be struck down by the courts of law.” The letter said in keeping with the commitment towards inclusive and sustainable development and pro-people good governance, the NDA government will uphold the spirit and letter of the FRA. The FRA provides the opportunities for inclusive governance by giving the forest dwelling communities their democratic right to own, access and take decisions regarding their forest lands and resources, the letter pointed out. All the orders, resolutions and letters (including the one referred above) by the MoEFCC which dilute, violate, provide exemptions or in other ways weaken the FRA need to be withdrawn with immediate effect, the letter demanded. The Ministry’s order of October 28, 2014 violates the FRA in its interpretation of the Act which is meant to undo the historical injustice suffered by forest dwelling tribal and non tribal communities. (The Hindu 6/11/14)

9. Priority is to provide title deeds to the poor: DC (6)

Udupi: R. Vishal, who took charge as the Deputy Commissioner of Udupi district on Wednesday, said he would give priority to the issues of providing title deeds to the poor and ensuring the rights of tribal communities in the forests. Speaking to presspersons here, Dr. Vishal said that Revenue Adalats were being held in different parts of the district for this purpose. This will help to dentify and provide land to the poor. The poor were being given two to two-and-a-half cents of land to construct houses. Rs. 9 crore had been released to the district, two years ago, to develop villages affected by left-wing extremism. Already, Rs. 5.63 crore from this package has been spent for various projects like constructing roads and community halls. The remaining amount too would be utilised effectively, he said. As far as sand extraction and operation of stone crushers were concerned, the district was following directions of the government. “We want to ensure the protection of environment and also promote development. We want a balance between the two,” he said. An IAS officer of the 2004 batch, Dr. Vishal hails from Hubballi. He did his MBBS from Karnataka Institute of Medical Sciences (KIMS), Hubballi. He has served in many positions — Deputy Commissioner of Chikkabalapur and Kalaburagi districts as well Additional Election Commissioner of BBMP. Dr. Vishal took charge from the outgoing Deputy Commissioner S.S. Pattanashetti. (The Hindu 6/11/14)

10. Kodandaram for strong movement to protect displaced Adivasis (6)

HYDERABAD: Chairman of Telangana Joint Action Committee (TJAC), which spearheaded the movement for statehood to Telangana, along with the TRS, M. Kodandaram, has called for building a movement stronger than the one taken up for Telangana to protect the tribal communities being displaced by Polavaram project. Speaking at the 30 death anniversary of Communist leader Chandra Pulla Reddy, organised by the CPI (M-L) New Democracy here on Sunday, Prof. Kodandaram said Polavaram project was the best example of the collusion of corporate and political powers to exploit natural resources even at the cost of destruction of forests and displacement of tribal communities. Stating that exploitation of tribal areas was on in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana by suppressing adivasis, he said the communities needed the support of the entire society as they were not a position to protect themselves. He explained that the corporate interests had prevailed over the interests of farmers in Coastal Andhra in case of Polavaram project as it was designed to be the major component of proposed water way till Chennai and generation of hydro-electric power throughout the year at low cost. Had irrigation been the sole objective of Polavaram project its design would have been different and capacity small, the TJAC chairman said, adding that the system of EPC (engineering, procurement and construction) was introduced for the purpose of dictating all major projects by corporate powers and contractors with the help of political powers. “That’s the reason why we see corporate-politicians switching to parties in power regularly,” Prof. Kodandaram said. (The Hindu 9/11/14)

WOMEN

11. Discriminatory adjectives too amount to harassment (8)

Mysore: Using discriminatory adjectives, referring to a woman’s colour, size or any other features also amounts to harassment, as it psychologically affects a woman, said Sridevi, Family Court Judge, here, on Saturday. She was speaking during the inaugural session of a workshop held as part of the launch of a Special Treatment Unit for Women, at Cheluvamba Hospital. Besides such remarks, invading the privacy of a woman by checking the logs and messages in a women’s phone, even if it is done by her husband, would amount to a form of harassment, she said. “Women are subject to various forms of harassment, both at home and workplace. In a few cases, peers at workplace demand sexual favours, which remain in the closet. Women should come forward and report such issues, so that exploitation can be prevented in the future,” she said. She said, Karnataka was placed 13th in the country in terms of women harassment cases. Stating that the number of such cases were on a rise, she said, awareness should increase in the society, regarding womens rights. Women should come forth and raise their voice against injustice, she added. Speaking at the meeting, Revenue Minister V Sreenivas Prasad said, death penalty would be appropriate for persons guilty of sexual violence. “If a few people, who are guilty of rape, are hanged, people will fear doing such acts,” he said. Referring to the Nirbhaya incident, he said, even though the guilty have been convicted of the crime, death penalty is yet to be executed. The provision for appeal against a verdict is being misused in such cases, he added. (Deccan Herald 2/11/14)

12. State-wide agitation today to protest against sexual assault on girls, women (8)

HUBBALLI: Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad will stage a State-wide agitation on Monday to protest against the continuing sexual assaults on girls and women in Karnataka and to seek remedial measures. Addressing presspersons here on Sunday, national secretary of the parishad Vinay Bidare said that cases of sexual harassment, rape and murder of girls and women in the State had increased and the government had not acted to prevent their recurrence. Mr. Bidare alleged that the State Home Minister K.J. George had failed to control the situation and there were more attacks on women with each passing day. He said that the State government and the police were mute spectators in such incidents and there was no progress into the investigation of these cases. The parishad objected to the police using lathis against protestors seeking justice for the victims and said that the police should rather nab and punish the culprits. Mr. Bidare urged the State government to set up a ‘girl protection committee’ in schools and colleges and amend the law to ensure strict punishment to the rapists. (The Hindu 3/11/14)

13. Muslim cleric in Bihar opposes dowry (8)

Patna: A Muslim cleric in Bihar has opposed a demand for dowry and issued a fatwa against organising dinner or lunch with the money received from bride’s family. Qazi Maulana Mansur Alam, chief Imarat-e Sharia of Bihar Sharif in Nalanda district, has said it is illegal and forbidden in Islam to use money received as dowry in organising dinner or lunch in a reception ceremony after marriage. He said the reception party is a sunnah (sunnah is the way of life prescribed as normative for Muslims on the basis of the teachings of Prophet Muhammad) but for the past few years, people are following a trend of organising reception known as ‘dawate-walima’ after marriage, contrary to Islam. It has become an occasion to display wealth, he said. “Such receptions, organised from the money received as dowry, are totally forbidden and sinful in Islam,” Alam told a news agency on Monday. “Issuing a fatwa is a part of our fight against social evils like dowry and create awareness. It is a kind of social boycott to warn dowry takers,” he said. Alam said dowry is not allowed in Islam and Muslims are bound to follow it. Reception is a simple way for getting blessings from Allah but it has been turned into a worldly show, which is improper. “In Islam, credit or loan on interest is also illegal and forbidden,” he said. Early this year, Alam has declared that Muslim clerics would not conduct marriages of those who give or take dowry. “We have decided not to conduct nikah (marriage) for those who take and give dowry,” he said. It is only in Islam that at the time of marriages, a groom hands over to his bride a sum of money called ‘Mehr’, which is a token of his willingness to accept the responsibility of bearing all expenses of his wife. According to the Islamic jurisprudence, a woman married to a Muslim man has a right to get property or money which is called ‘Mehr’. (Zee News 3/11/14)

14. New Delhi 4th most dangerous city in world for women on public transport: Survey (8)

New Delhi: New Delhi has been named the fourth most dangerous city in the world for women travelling on public transport, a new survey has revealed. The survey was carried out by Thomson Reuters Foundation and focused on sexual harassment on public transportation systems in the world’s largest cities. Women were required to answer six questions relating to their safety: how safe they felt travelling alone at night; the risk of being verbally harassed by men; the risk of being groped or subjected to other forms of physical harassment; trust that other passengers would assist a woman being physically or verbally abused; and trust in authorities to investigate reports of sexual harassment or violence. (New Kerala 5/11/14)

15. Telangana to launch 24×7 helpdesk for women (8)

Hyderabad: As part of its efforts to ensure women’s safety, the Telangana government has decided to start round-the-clock helpdesk with toll free number 181 to address all complaints. Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao Thursday directed officials to start the helpline so that concerned departments can swiftly act on the women’s complaints. At a high-level meeting, he reviewed the measures being taken for women’s protection in the state as recommended by a panel constituted by the government. Voicing concern over use of social media for harassing women, the chief minister asked officials to explore possibilities of controlling social media as China and Gulf countries do. KCR, as the chief minister is popularly known, asked the officials to install CCTV cameras in crowded public places in Hyderabad to keep an eye on eve-teasers. The city police officials briefed him on the activity of ‘she’ teams and other measures being taken to tackle eve-teasing. The chief minister directed the police authorities to implement 33 percent reservation for women in the police force. He wanted the authorities to extend to the entire state the measures being taken for women’s safety in Hyderabad. A senior officer in every district will be given the task of implementing these measures. KCR said fast-track courts will be set up in all districts for expeditious disposal of cases relating to crime against women. Director Genaral of Police Anurag Sharma, police commissioners of Hyderabad and Cyberabad and some senior women police and civil officials attended the meeting. (Business Standard 6/11/14)

16. 40 cases of crime against women registered every day in Delhi (8)

New Delhi: Forty cases of crimes against women are registered every day in the national capital with offences of rape, molestation and sexual harassment in public topping the list. According to Delhi Police data, there has been 16 per cent increase in registration of crimes against women in the city with 11,683 such cases being lodged between January 1 and October 20 against 10,064 cases registered during the same period last year. Police attributed the rise in crime statistics to effective registration of cases after the December 16, 2012 gangrape incident. Recording of such incidents saw an almost 500 per cent rise.

40 cases of crime against women registered every day in Delhi There has also been a rise in number of abductions and dowry deaths with 311 and 131 cases registered this year respectively. Also, gender sensitisation programmes organised for the police personnel have played a vital role, they said. One of the key takeaways from the December 16 incident was that cases were earlier not registered due to reluctance on part of the victim and also at times on part of policemen. “It was mandated by an amendment in the year 2013 and also after a lot of debate that if a woman comes to a police station, she will not be denied registration of an FIR if she reports a cognisable offence,” Delhi Police Commissioner BS Bassi had said. Apart from that, there has been an increased awareness among women as previously fewer women would turn up at the police stations to file complaints. Till October 20 this year, Delhi has recorded over 3,450 cases of molestation, 1,024 cases of eve-teasing and 2,563 cases as against 2,544, 793 and 2,553 cases last year. There has also been a rise in number of abductions and dowry deaths with 311 and 131 cases registered this year respectively against 253 and 123 cases last year. However, registration of domestic violence cases has shown a slide with 2,370 recorded this year compared to 2,457 last year. According to police, almost 90 per cent of the cases registered in the last nine months had been solved and the culprits have been arrested. (IBN Live 9/11/14)

CHILDREN/ CHILD LABOUR

17. ‘Angels of Hell’ focuses on the dirty truth (14)

BENGALURU: “Do you know why your father used to drink? Because he used to have shit on his hands. To forget that, he drank.” That’s how Kiran, 12, son of a manual scavenger and a pourakarmika, consoles his girlfriend, Prema, when her father, also a manual scavenger, dies while cleaning a manhole. Angels of Hell, a 71-minute feature film, zooms in on the squalid lives of manual scavengers in our country. Through the eyes of Kiran, the film takes a sharp look at the exclusion – social and political – of dalits from society. Conceptualized, directed and produced by artist and social activist John Devaraj, the movie captures the true story of Kiran and his parents. It highlights the stark realities of sewer-cleaning and the problems faced by dalits who are forced to take up this job. In one scene, a scavenger enters a manhole to remove the muck after condoms thrown into drains block sewage flow and surface in front of a house. In the film, Kiran, a rebel, dreams of becoming an educated man so that he can liberate the dalit community from the menial job. Prema introduces him to dalit leader B R Ambedkar and his struggles to liberate the community. Leaving his gunny bag behind, Kiran joins Bornfree Art School meant exclusively for street, working and bonded-labour children. “In real life, John Devaraj is my Ambedkar. In the film too, it’s he who gives me education,” says Kiran, 21, who lost his father, a manual scavenger, to TB. He speaks in fluent English taught to him by an Irish girl who volunteered years ago at Bornfree Art School. John Devaraj plans to write to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the issue of manual scavenging. “Swacch Bharat shouldn’t just be about sweeping our streets. Stop the evil practice of manual scavenging. There are at least 3 lakh toilet cleaners in Bangalore’s top hotels and companies who are bound not to step out of the washrooms for eight hours a day. This is ridiculous. Modi has to understand this,” says John. (Times of India 1/11/14)

18. Nearly 700 missing children still untraced by Mumbai police in three years (14)

MUMBAI: George Vincent’s brother went missing in Mumbai in 1991, but he and his family are yet to find closure. “It has been almost 25 years since my brother ran away after he was scolded for not going to church on a Sunday,” said Vincent, who now lives in Kerala. “The police never traced him.” On October 28, Siddhant Sudhakar (19), the first student with autism to clear SSC exams in 2011, goes missing from Kandivli’s Thakur Village. On November 1, he walks into his aunt’s Andheri home The city police are yet to trace 439 of the 2,892 boys and 240 of the 2,060 girls (below 15 years of age) who went missing between 2011 and 2013, revealed an RTI query. Worse, 0.6% boys and 0.2% girls, who had gone missing during this period, were either found dead or were killed later. The “still missing” figures, according to the RTI reply, have been increasing every year. In 2011, the police failed to trace 101 boys and 60 girls; the number rose to 153 and 72 respectively in 2012 and to 185 and 108 respectively in 2013, said activist Chetan Kothari, whose RTI query to the Mumbai crime branch’s missing persons bureau elicited the statistics (see box). Such cases are usually accorded low priority by the police who have to focus on maintaining law and order. “In most states, police do not even register an FIR; they just put the name on their missing people’s list,” said a former IPS officer. Former Thane police commissioner S P S Yadav said, “That’s why the Bombay HC has given elaborate guidelines, including publishing a missing person’s photograph and the declaration of reward, for tracing missing persons.” Kothari suggested, “Cops should react immediately when a missing case is registered and also set up a tracking system.” But Mumbai police spokesperson DCP Dhananjay Kulkarni clarified, “Missing complaints are seriously dealt with on priority. Every police station has a separate three-member team that gets updates and works on tracing missing kids.” According to the police, kidnapped children are forced into human trafficking, illegal organ transplant, begging and child labour; very few are abducted for ransom. Former IPS officer-turned-lawyer Y P Singh said, “Strife at home, parental pressure over studies and career advancement are the major reasons for kids to run from home.” Psychiatrist Harish Shetty said, “Families do seek help during such crisis, but they should first allow a counsellor to speak to their child if they think he or she is facing problems at home.” A study by NGO Childline conducted last year pegged the yearly average of missing kids in India at 44,475. It found that Maharashtra, with an annual average of 13,881, has the largest number of missing kids in the country. Among cities, Mumbai is the worst and Kolkata next. (Times of India 3/11/14)

19. Satyarthi proposes global policy institute for child rights (14)

NEW DELHI: Call it the Nobel effect. Nobel laureate Kailash Satyarthi on Tuesday mooted the idea of a global policy institute focused on addressing child rights to corporate honchos who expressed unequivocal support for it. The institute is envisaged to bring about international best practices and minds to address the issue of violence against children, whether it is trafficking, sexual exploitation, abuse, access to education and health or right to life. “We need a strong global policy think tank, an institution for children. A centre where we gather success stories and best practices from across the world and use them not just in India but everywhere,” Satyarthi said while addressing industry leaders at a CII felicitation function. He plans to enlist the support of PM Narendra Modi and other world leaders for the Delhi-based institute. The International Labour Organization estimates that 218 million children aged between 5-17 are engaged in child labour the world over. An estimated 13% children in India between the ages of 5 and 14 are engaged in child labour activities. Describing child slavery as the “cruelest form of violence”, Satyarthi said collective efforts were needed to improve society. Satyarthi spoke about the need for 4 Es: education, employability, entrepreneurship and efficiency, saying that creating an environment for entrepreneurship would give purpose to the youth. Captains of industry appeared floored by the child labour activist with Bajaj Auto chief Rahul Bajaj offering a blank cheque for the initiative. “I am willing to pledge whatever money is required… but the institute should be truly international,” he said. DCM Shriram CMD and CII president Ajay Shriram described the initiative as a great idea whose time had come. “This is the need of the hour. Mr Satyarthi has brought focus to the issue of children through his work and awareness and I think corporate India is ready to support it. It is important that work is done in the sectors of education and welfare to bring children to the mainstream,” he said. (Times of India 5/11/14)

20. Bachpan Bachao’s plan workable, told court (14)

New Delhi: The city government on Wednesday informed the Delhi high court that NGO Bachpan Bachao Andolan’s suggestions for eliminating child labour from the national capital were “acceptable and workable”. In view of the statement made by the additional labour commissioner of Delhi government, a bench of Chief Justice G. Rohini and Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw disposed of the NGO’s application seeking rescue and rehabilitation of child workers in the city. The court said that it would be passing a detailed order soon by also taking into consideration the suggestions which include that when a complaint of child labour is filed, immediate action be taken in 24 hours and maximum within three days if the number of workers is large (above 100). The NGO said, “Currently, complaints are pending for weeks and months, giving ample opportunity to the employers to move the child labour, making the chances of their rescue even more remote.” Advocate Prabhsahay Kaur, representing the NGO, also suggested that investigation should be completed within 45 days from rescue of a child so that necessary formalities for rehabilitation and compensation can be complied with within 45 days of rescue of victim. “Intensive investigation be conducted by the investigating officer throughout the chain of trafficking as the data submitted by the labour department suggests that 99 per cent of child labour in Delhi is brought from other states,” it suggested. The other suggestions include formulation of schemes “for providing incentives/scholarships; identification, rescue and withdrawal of all child labourers engaged or employed in begging or selling. (Asian Age 6/11/14)

21. New Forum to Fight Violence against kids (14)

PUDUCHERRY: The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Countries have formed the South Asian Initiative to End Violence Against Children (SAIVEC). As an added measure to this initiative, each country is forming a National Action and Coordination Group (NACG). The Puducherry UT Group Formation Meeting was organised by Pondicherry Multipurpose Social Service Society (PMSSS) and Holistic approach for People’s Empowerment (HOPE) in PMSSS on Sunday. Prof. Sibnath Deb, Head, Department of Applied Psychology, Pondicherry University, Fr. Albert Thambidurai and Executive Director, PMSSS spoke on the Urgency of ending violence against children.Andal Damodaran, President, Indian Council for Child Welfare-TN explained the formation and structure of NACG. Fr. Albert Thambidurai and P. Joseph Victor Raj, were nominated as Programmatic Representative and Thematic Representative (Child Labour) respectively. Karthik, Sristi Village India and Chitra Shah, Sathya Special School were nominated as Programmatic Representative and Thematic Representative (Children with Disability) respectively. (New Indian Express 10/11/14)

MINORITIES – GENERAL

22. Uttarakhand govt plans to set up committee for minorities (7)

Dehradun: Uttarakhand Chief Minister Harish Rawat said the state government is planning to set up a committee to coordinate between different minority communities in the state so that their problems could be addressed in a better way. Addressing a mixed delegation of minority communities here yesterday, Rawat said Urdu and Punjabi academies in the state will be activated and their members will soon be appointed. He said the state government will offer all possible help if an NGO working for minorities comes forward to set up coaching institutes to prepare students from the minority communities for competitive examinations. Officials have been asked to implement schemes meant for the minorities with sensitivity, the chief minister said. Later, at a function Rawat said the goals of social justice can be achieved only if we work with the vision of inclusive development and help the deprived sections of the society join the process. “15 crore people across the country were dragged out of poverty under the UPA regime but still vast sections of our population have to struggle hard to fulfill their basic needs,” he said. Rawat said resourceful sections of the society have to come forward to help the minorities fulfill their basic needs. “So long as economic disparity prevails in society, the country cannot grow in the true sense of the term,” he said.  (Zee news 3/11/14)

23. Amnesty asks Pakistan to protect minority communities (7)

LONDON : Global rights watchdog Amnesty International has asked Pakistan to bring those responsible for the killing of a Christian couple, accused of blasphemy, to justice. “Those responsible must be brought to justice and the Pakistani authorities have to ensure at-risk communities are proactively given the protection they need. “This vicious mob killing is just the latest manifestation of the threat of vigilante violence which anyone can face in Pakistan after a blasphemy accusation, although religious minorities are disproportionately vulnerable,” David Griffiths, Amnesty International’s Deputy Asia Pacific said yesterday. The Christian couple was yesterday thrashed and burnt alive by a group of angry Muslims in Pakistan’s Punjab province for allegedly desecrating the Quran. The horrific crime was reported from the villages of Kot Radha Kishan of Kasur district, some 50 kilometres from Lahore. “This type of violence is fuelled by Pakistan’s repressive blasphemy laws, which add to the climate of fear for religious minorities. A mere accusation of blasphemy is often enough to put a person and their wider community in danger. “In this case, a mob appears to have played judge, jury and executioner. The blasphemy laws violate international human rights law and standards and should be reformed as a matter of urgency to provide effective safeguards against their abuse, with a view to their eventual repeal,” Griffiths said. Amnesty said that consistent failure by the government to tackle violence in the name of religion has effectively sent the message that anyone can commit outrageous abuses and excuse them as defence of religious sentiments. The Punjab provincial government has reportedly set up a committee to fast track the investigation into the killings and ordered additional police protection to Christian neighbourhoods in the province. “The local government’s response is encouraging but it remains to be seen what comes of the investigation. “The climate of impunity around violence against religious minorities in Pakistan is pervasive, and it is all too rare that those behind attacks are held to account,” said David Griffiths. (Times of India 5/11/14)

24. Major hike for minorities in budget, says government (7)

HYDERABAD: The state government in its maiden budget on Wednesday announced an allocation of Rs 1,030 crore for minorities’ development, which it said is twice of that made in 2013-14 in undivided Andhra Pradesh. “In an unprecedented manner, we propose to provide an amount of Rs 1,030 crore in this year’s plan budget for the welfare of minorities. This is a substantial jump from the notional provision for Telangana amounting to Rs 501.38 crore made in the Vote on Account Budget of the combined state for the full year,” said finance minister E Rajender. The allocations indicated the government’s emphasis on education with Rs 400 crore being earmarked for the Financial Assistance to Students of Telangana (FAST) and another Rs 100 crore for pre-matric and post matric scholarships. While Rs 6 crore was allocated for “providing coaching to students in Telangana study circles”, the government, for the first time, launched Best Available School Scheme for students belonging to minority communities. The scheme, with an allocation of Rs 2.8 crore, seeks to sponsor education of students in the city’s leading private schools. Minority Girls’ Residential Schools were allotted Rs 5.7 crore. The Centre for Education and Development of Minorities, with its nodal agency at Osmania University, was allocated Rs 3 crore. While the Minorities Finance Corporation, an agency of the minorities’ welfare department, was allocated Rs 9.2 crore, Rs 95 crore was earmarked for bankable schemes and Rs 12 crore for the Urdu Academy (UA). Unlike in united Andhra Pradesh, the new government chose to separate the allocation of Urdu Ghar cum Shadi Khanas from the UA even as it earmarked Rs 10 crore for the scheme. While the allocation made for the Telangana State Wakf Board was Rs 53 crore, the office of the Survey Commissioner of Wakfs (SCW) was allocated Rs 11 crore. The Telangana State Haj Committee was allocated Rs 2 crore. The Diaratul Maarif, a repository of books and other documents, has been given Rs 2 crore. Keeping with its earlier announcement, the government has earmarked Rs 100 crore for Shaadi Mubarak. (Times of India 6/11/14)

25. Minorities Panel to Launch Survey (7)

KOCHI: The Kerala State Commission for Minorities will start a survey to identify the problems being faced by Christian minorities in the state to begin welfare programmes and bring them to the mainstream. The Commission members said that neither the state government nor the Centre had tried to identify the problems being faced by backward sections within the minority communities. “Although they form a small group in North India, Christians constitute about 65 lakh of people in the state. The backward communities who are oppressed by the religious and government authorities are the ones we are targeting through the survey,” said  Commission chairman Veerankutty. The survey will include financial, social and educational situation of the marginalised sections under various Church groups. The members also denied allegations that the commission had spent around `12 crore and settled only 400 cases so far.  “We had spent only `1.21 crore as salary expense and `54 lakh for infrastructure and maintenance during the 19 months. We have heard around 2,000 petitions. some of them were sorted out on the spot and the others are being reviewed in order to be solved,” said Commission member Mariyumma. V V Joshy and Premachandran were also present during the press conference. (New Indian Express 10/11/14)

MINORITIES – MUSLIMS

26. Muslims in NE come under scanner over terror links (7)

IMPHAL:  In the wake of reports that some Muslim activists in North-east India are linked to some Islamic militant groups, security measures in most of the region was beefed up. Notwithstanding denials, most of the Muslim activists are under the scanner. Manipur Home Minister Gaikhangam Gangmei ordered an inquiry into the reports that some Muslim youths from the State had been taken away for indoctrination and training in terrorism. Though some Muslim activists in Assam vehemently denied it, some top cops said that Muslim youths from Assam are engaged in these activties. Over the decades, Bangladeshi nationals have sneaked into North-east India. Some of them are feared to be fundamentalists. Apart from blending themselves in Muslim-dominated areas they are settling in ghettos mostly along the Assam Nagaland border. Whenever there is an anti-foreigners’ movement in Manipur, the police raid specific places to arrest foreigners. Some of them have been sent to prison, while trials are going on in the law court in case of others. Sleuths of the National Investigation Agency have been visiting certain areas in Assam, Shillong and Garo Hills in Meghalaya since they suspect that some Islamic militants are hiding in the North-east after terrorist activities were reported in Bardhaman district of West Bengal. The NIA, local police and BSF personnel have been conducting raids in areas whenever they get tip offs. Khagen Sarma, the Director General of Police, Assam told reporters on October 21 that several Muslim youths of Assam had undergone training in terrorism in Bangladesh. There is support from the local populace, and the foreign funding has aggravated the situation. (The Hindu 1/11/14)

27. Bawana’s Muslims obey diktat, reroute march (7)

NEW DELHI: An alert Delhi Police on Tuesday managed to avert violence in communally sensitive Bawana in northwest Delhi where a mahapanchayat had resolved to not allow the Muharram procession to pass through the market. Residents of the JJ colony where most Muslims live rerouted their procession, thus avoiding any confrontation with Hindus. Nearly a dozen tazias—representations of the tomb of Hussein, martyred grandson of Prophet Mohammad—were carried through the colony’s streets amid heavy security. No weapons, including swords, were allowed although some in the procession were carrying iron bars. “The Muharram procession is a little subdued this year, but it is much better than confronting our neighbours. We are ready to make any sacrifice to buy peace with them,” said Mohammad Miyaz, imam of the colony mosque. The procession started around 2pm with tazias from different blocks assembling at the colony’s crossroads. Initially, women and children stayed away, but as the day progressed more people joined the procession. “There is an environment of fear, no doubt, but we have taken it upon ourselves to not allow any hooliganism and avoid any mistake that can trigger riots,” said Muzahir Mohammad, one of the Muslim leaders. On Sunday, a village mahapanchayat in Bawana had decided to not allow the procession to pass through their area alleging that the participants are violent and misbehave with women. The area MLA, Ghuggan Singh of BJP, and councillor Devinder Poni from Congress had supported the move. Columns of policemen had been deployed in the area ever since to avert communal violence of the type seen in east Delhi’s Trilokpuri after Diwali. “We never wanted to disrupt their religious ritual. Our opposition was only to the violent means used in it and the hooliganism involved. It is good that they understood and heeded our demands,” said a jat leader who did not want to be named. (Times of India 5/11/14)

28. Trilokpuri riots: Police were violent with Muslim women (7)

New Delhi: A complaint filed before the Delhi Minorities Commission has alleged that the action taken by Delhi during the communal riots in Trilokpuri was partisan and that male police officers had used force against Muslim women. The complaint was filed by the Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) on October 30. It has urged the commission “to conduct an inquiry into the role and conduct of the local police of Kalyanpuri and Mayur Vihar Phase I, in light of the serious allegations and complaints of indiscriminate arrests, torture, beatings, high-handedness, abuse of power, discrimination and hostility towards the Muslim community.” Police had registered three FIRs in connection with the riots and arrested 32 Muslims and 12 Hindus. However, SDPI state secretary Azim Khan claimed, “We spoke to several residents from different blocks in the area. Muslim men were picked up not only from streets where violence took place but also their homes.” The four-page complaint consists of ‘testimonies’ of victims from Trilokpuri, like that of a Muslim woman from Block 27. The woman said that around 3.30 pm on October 25, around 20-25 policemen broke open their house and assaulted her husband and brother-in-law — a tuberculosis patient — and picked them up.” “Police also physically assaulted and abused the women and children in the house before dragging these men out…There are numerous testimonies of Muslim women being beaten and verbally abused by male police officers,” Khan alleged. Claiming that Muslim women continue to feel unsafe, the complaint stated, “It has also been reported in eyewitness accounts that Muslim women are especially vulnerable at this point and fear for their safety. This feeling of insecurity or apprehension of sexual violence is exacerbated in those blocks of Trilokpuri where there are fewer Muslim houses.” Chairman of the commission Qamar Ahmad said the commission is examining the complaint and has asked residents of Trilokpuri to share their experiences with its members. The three-member commission had also visited the riot-ridden area for restoration of peace. “We have not received the police version yet. We will carry out preliminary work and forward the complaint to police,” Ahmad said. However, a senior police officer who was part of the investigation denied the claims made by SDPI. “There has been no discrimination on the part of police while conducting searches or making arrests during the clashes. Also, there was not a single spot where female police officers were not deployed to quell the violence and disperse the rioters,” he said. (Indian Express 9/11/14)

MINORITIES – CHRISTIANS

29. Avoid polls during Pope visit: Church to Sri Lanka (7)

COLOMBO: The Roman Catholic Church in Sri Lanka said Monday that it has asked the government to ensure that the country’s presidential election does not conflict with Pope Francis’ visit to the country early next year. While a date has not been set, the government has said it wants to hold an election sometime in January. Pope Francis is scheduled to arrive in the island nation Jan. 13. The Rev. Cyril Gamini Fernando, the spokesman for the Pope’s visit, said the church has told the government that Francis won’t visit a country during an election campaign, and that there should be enough time between an election and the visit. The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said questions about the election were raised at the local church level, but not by the Vatican. “Here no one has said anything about doubts about the pope’s trip,” Lombardi said in an email to The Associated Press. “We’re going ahead.” During his visit, the Pope is scheduled to lead the canonisation Mass for Sri Lanka’s first saint, the Rev. Joseph Vaz, a 17th century priest. (The Hindu 3/11/14)

30. 43 held for murder of Christians in Pakistan (7)

Islamabad: Police have detained 43 people involved in the murder of a Christian couple by a Muslim mob for allegedly desecrating the Koran in Pakistan, a police source told Efe news agency Wednesday. The detainees were residents of Kot Rasha Kishan town in Punjab province where the couple was killed in a bricks factory and their bodies burnt in an oven Tuesday, police spokesperson Bin Yameen said. The police are searching for the factory manager for his alleged involvement in the killings. Pakistan’s controversial and ambiguous anti-blasphemy legislation punishes any disrespect towards sacred Islamic symbols, but it is often applied arbitrarily and on the basis of third-party testimony. The norm came into force during the British colonial period to curb religious clashes, but the reforms introduced in the 1980s by Zia-ul-Haq encouraged the extremists to abuse the law. The continuous strengthening of legislation and radicalisation of the country since the 1980s has sparked accusations of blasphemy and extrajudicial executions of alleged blasphemers, usually belonging to religious minorities. (New Indian Express 6/11/14)

31. Humanity humiliated by Pakistan lynching: Vatican (7)

Rome: A top Vatican official has described the lynching of a Christian couple in Pakistan as a humiliation for all of humanity. Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, the chair of the Roman Catholic church’s council for interfaith dialogue, said he had been profoundly shocked by accounts of the horrific death of Shehzad Masih and Shama Bibi. Shehzad, a bonded labourer, and his pregnant wife were beaten by a mob of 1,500 people then thrown on top of a lit furnace on Tuesday in a crazed reaction to rumours they had thrown pages of the Koran into the garbage. “How can we remain impassive before such crimes, justified in the name of religion?,” Tauran said on Vatican Radio, urging Muslim leaders in Pakistan to vigorously condemn the killings. “It is all of humanity that is humiliated,” he said, adding: “The first victims are in fact Muslims because these misdeeds give an image of Islam that is terrible.” (Zee News 7/11/14)

32. Catholic CM will end communal tag: BJP MLAs to Parrikar (7)

PANAJI: Some BJP legislators have strongly pitched for deputy chief minister Francis D’Souza’s candidature for the chief minister’s post as a Catholic face of the party during the one-to-one discussion with chief minister Manohar Parrikar over the selection of candidates for the top post. Parrikar said the party will decide on who will be CM based on the feedback. During the two-hour-long discussion with Parrikar to select the new leader of the party’s legislative wing, some Catholic and Hindu MLAs strongly supported D’Souza’s name for the top post. Of 21 BJP MLAs, six are from the minority community. The most vocal BJP MLA was Calangute legislator Michael Lobo, who told Parrikar that he feels BJP can set an example in national politics by appointing its first minority CM in Goa. He also said that this would send a clear signal that BJP cares for the minority community and can take along the minority community. Lobo also pointed out that Congress has always accused BJP of being communal and this would be a good opportunity to get rid of the communal tag by appointing a CM from the minority community as a natural progression. Agreeing with Lobo’s view, St Andre MLA Vishnu Surya Wagh said it is a good opportunity for the party to send out the right message. Senior minister in the state cabinet, civil supplies minister Dayanand Mandrekar, who recently said he wants to see D’Souza as Goa CM, said he will convey his sentiment to Parrikar that D’Souza should be made CM. Aldona MLA Glenn Ticlo said the deputy CM is very close to becoming CM. He said, “If D’Souza is made CM then we will be very happy, but if someone else becomes (CM) we have to support him.” Vasco MLA Carlos Almeida said he sees the no. 2 in government automatically becoming no. 1, “as it is a natural progression”.Asked about the Catholic MLAs’ demand to have a minority CM, Parrikar said, “The party will decide, based on all feedback.” (Times of India 9/11/14)

REFUGEES/ MIGRANTS

33. Cong did nothing for Jammu refugees for 10 yrs: PDP (13)

Jammu: PDP patron Mufti Mohmmad Sayeed today said the Congress-NC alliance government’s decision to approve a package for the refugees just ahead of the assembly polls was “ridiculous”, alleging that the parties did nothing for them in the past 10 years. Addressing a rally in support of party candidate from R S Pura seat Bhushan Dogra at Miran Sahib of the district, Mufti alleged that the Congress, during its 10-year rule at the Centre, had done nothing for the refugees, but just ahead of the elections it has approved a package for the refugees. “The decision is ridiculous,” he said. The Congress-NC government had on October 16 approved a Rs 9,000-crore financial package to be submitted to the Centre for the settlement of refugees from Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (PoK) and Chhamb. The proposal includes providing funds to the tune of Rs 9,096 crore for payment of compensation as one-time settlement in favour of 36,384 families who were displaced from PoK and Chhamb areas. Taking a dig at Congress, he said “new administrative units were created at the fag end of the present regime just to hoodwink the innocent people”.Urging people of R S Pura to lead the ongoing movement for change in Jammu and Kashmir, Mufti said it was his desire to establish a system where every section of the society would get justice and equal opportunities for development and socio-economic growth. Asking the people to compare the three-year tenure of PDP with the six-year NC-Congress rule, Mufti said during the last six years system of governance has been totally collapsed due to misdeeds of those who are at the helm of the affairs. Mufti reminded that during its tenure the PDP-led regime had proved its capability of changing life of the common masses by treating all individual equally and providing equal opportunities to all sections of the society. “Although we had just 16 members in the Assembly, we had provided good governance to the people by streamlining functioning of all the wings of the government,” he said. “It was only during the PDP-led regime that governance consciousness was generated in the people of the state and the common masses had a taste of good governance,” he said. He said the PDP-led regime had brought transparency and accountability in the governance by strengthening democratic institutions in the state. He mentioned that during the PDP-led regime more than 80,000 youths were appointed as teachers under Rebar-e-Talim (ReT) scheme and more than 30,000 Anganwari workers were also appointed. “Not a single case of favouritism or nepotism was reported during our tenure because appointments were made with complete transparency and accountability to ensure that only deserving people would get jobs,” he said. He, however, regretted that the present regime has been brazenly indulged into backdoor appointments in government jobs. “The present regime has miserable failed to do justice with the people as it has not fulfil any of the promises made to the people during 2008 elections,” he said. “Corruption has crossed all limits during the last six years because there is no transparency and accountability in the governance,” he said, urging people to vote for his party in the upcoming assembly elections. (Deccan Herald 3/11/14)

34. UN refugee agency launches campaign to eliminate statelessness within 10 years (13)

The United Nations refugee agency on Tuesday launched a global campaign aimed at ending within a decade the problem of statelessness – a legal limbo for the more than 10 million people worldwide who lack a nationality and the human rights protections that go with it. The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) partnered with the United Colors of Benetton to create the I Belong, campaign which aims to draw global attention to the life-long consequences of statelessness. In a press release detailing the initiative, UNHCR underscored that every 10 minutes, a baby is born stateless. Since they are not allowed a nationality, these children are often denied the rights and services that countries normally offer their citizens. Moreover, 27 countries currently deny women the right to pass their nationality onto their children on an equal basis as men, which can create chains of statelessness spanning generations, according to the statement. Statelessness makes people feel like their very existence is a crime, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Antnio Guterres, said in the statement, which noted that most situations of statelessness are due to discrimination based on ethnicity, religion or gender. We have a historic opportunity to end the scourge of statelessness within 10 years, and give back hope to millions of people. We cannot afford to fail this challenge, he added. In conjunction with the launch, Guterres, along with UNHCR Special Envoy Angelina Jolie and more than 20 celebrities and world opinion-leaders, stressed in an open letter published on Tuesday that 60 years after the UN first agreed to protect stateless people, now its time to end statelessness itself. Statelessness can mean a life without education, without medical care, or legal employment, the letter states. It can mean a life without the ability to move freely, without prospects, or hope. Statelessness is The open letter will become an online petition on the campaigns website, which, along with the creative content, was developed by Benetton. The aim is to collect 10 million signatures in support of ending statelessness within 10 years. UNHCR Special Envoy Angelina Jolie was among the first to sign the open letter. Being stateless means you and your children having no legal identity, no passport, no vote, and few or no opportunities to get an education, Jolie said in the press release. Ending statelessness would right these terrible wrongs. But it would also strengthen society in countries where stateless people are found, by making it possible to draw on their energy and talents. It is both an obligation and an opportunity for governments everywhere to put an end to this exclusion, she added. Additional signatories to the open letter include, among others, Zeid Raad Al Hussein, High Commissioner for Human Rights; Anthony Lake, Executive Director of the UN Childrens Fund (UNICEF); Helen Clark, Administrator of the UN Development Programme (UNDP); and Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu. UNHCR also released on Tuesday a Special Report on Ending Statelessness within 10 Years, which highlights the human impact of the phenomenon, and a 10-point Global Action Plan to End Statelessness that aims to resolve major existing crises and to ensure that no child is born stateless in the future. Despite some progress, the report notes, new risks of statelessness have emerged as a result of growing numbers of major conflicts worldwide. The wars in the Central African Republic and Syria, for example, have forced millions of people into internal displacement or into becoming refugees. In addition, tens of thousands of children have been born in exile, and UNHCR is working closely with the governments and partners in countries receiving refugees on prioritizing birth registration for those children. While issues of statelessness remain politically contentious in some countries, in others ending it can be as simple as changing a few words in a countrys citizenship law, the press release notes. Over the past decade, 4 million stateless people have been able to acquire a national or have their nationality confirmed as a result of legislative and policy changes. This year marks the 60th anniversary of the 1954 UN Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons, which, along with the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness, provides the international legal basis for ending statelessness. As of 4 November, there were 83 state parties to the 1954 Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons, and 61 to the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness. Just three years ago, there were barely 100 States parties to the two statelessness treaties, the press release noted. (Sify News 5/11/14)

35. OHRC Directs Govt to Check Distress Migration (13)

BHUBANESWAR: The Odisha Human Rights Commission (OHRC) has asked the State Government to frame a detailed project report (DPR) indicating measures to arrest distress migration from Balangir district. Hearing the case of physical torture of a child labourer in Karnataka, the panel awarded compensation to the victim and asked the Government to conduct a study to find out the underlying reasons behind forced migration. The study must be held by a reputed agency, it said. “We suggest that a project report be drawn up for four blocks of Balangir to prevent distress migration. The project report should elaborate the steps to be taken for irrigation, skill upgradation and other livelihood initiatives of the migrant workers,” the commission said in its order. The Labour and Employees’ State Insurance department had submitted before the commission two weeks back that 52,047 labourers migrate every year from Balangir alone. Of them, 32 per cent are women. In 11 KBK districts except Malkangiri, migration is an annual affair. The rights panel said the study must be conducted in 10 villages of the worst affected blocks of Balangir while the sample-size should be 100 families. The OHRC recommendations said the study must dig out the socio-economic status of habitually migrating families and factors inducing them to do so. The study has to examine if the families have availed social security measures during 2012-13 and 2013-14. It should also find out if the children of the sampled families were accommodated in the seasonal hostels during the period. Human rights activist Biswapriya Kanungo, who had filed the petition before the Commission in connection with the child labourer torture, said the Commission’s intervention will go a long way in helping address the situation. The problem of migration has been compounded by illegal contractors exploiting the labourers. The department has acknowledged that at least 40 per cent of contractors in the State are unauthorised. In 2014, at least 3,044 licences were issued by the department and officially, 1,19,001 labourers were engaged by the contractors. Unofficial figures say over three lakh people, mostly from Western Odisha districts, head to Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka in search of work. (New Indian Express 7/11/14)

36. Myanmar is aiding trafficking of Rohingyas (13)

Myin Hlut (Myanmar): The small wooden boats leave the shores of western Myanmar nearly every day, overloaded with desperate Rohingya Muslims who are part of one the largest boat exoduses in Asia since the Vietnam War. Helping them on their way: Myanmar’s own security forces, who are profiting off the mass departure of one of the world’s most persecuted minorities by extracting payments from those fleeing. A report to be released Friday by the Bangkok-based advocacy group Fortify Rights, and reporting by the Associated Press, indicate the practice is more widespread than thought, with Myanmar naval boats going so far as to escort asylum seekers out sea, where larger ships operated by transnational criminal networks wait to pick them up. “Myanmar authorities are not only making life so intolerable for Rohingya that they have to flee, but they’re also complicit in the process they’re taking payments and profiting off their exodus,” said Matthew Smith, director of Fortify Rights. Rakhine state spokesman Win Myaing dismissed the allegations as “rumours,” saying he has not “heard of anything happening like that.” Over 100,000 Rohing-ya have fled Myanmar’s western shores by boat. (Asian Age 7/11/14)

37. Migration leaves behind ‘ghost villages’ in Uttarakhand (13)

Dehradun: After issues related to rebuilding the State in the wake of the June 2013 natural calamity, migration from villages due to lack of development has emerged as a major concern. Chief Minister Harish Rawat, speaking at a function to mark the 14th foundation day on Sunday, said people were migrating in search of work, leaving in their wake “ghost villages.” Endorsing this view, Governor Aziz Qureshi said: “The villages in the State, where 70 percent of the [1.01 crore] population resides, are devoid of basic necessities like healthcare and education. This is causing large-scale migration.” Dr. Qureshi said job opportunities must be created to stop this. Considering this trend, the State’s 12th Five Year Plan document says: ‘This [migration] reflects the absence of livelihood opportunities in the hills and yearning for a better quality of life. Dissatisfaction with jobs/lack of opportunities [is] creating demographic substitution in the hill region.’ Speaking to the media, recently, Mr. Rawat had said that the State had formulated new policies to address the issue of healthcare and education in the remote areas. These measures would stem migration from the hill districts and encourage migrants to return, he had said. Reviving agricultural practices, fencing villages, and development of meadows would be done, Mr. Rawat had said. “[In the years to come] there will be a drastic change in the agronomy of the hill areas. This is the Congress government’s action plan against migration and it will be executed on a war footing.” (The Hindu 10/11/14)

RIGHT TO INFORMATION

38.  ‘Poor using RTI to get things done’ (1)

NELLORE: In the findings of a field-level research, two Yale University scholars reported that a poor person in a Delhi slum had to make use of the Right to Information Act, 2005, to get a ration card without paying any bribe. At the same time, he was not the person to get this service faster as his fellow resident got it more quickly just because he paid a bribe to the authorities concerned. Thus it came to the notice of the Central Information Commission (CIC) that there were countless instances in which the common man was receiving deserving services by making a simple Rs. 10 worth query under the RTI Act. “Asking questions is an art. One should do thorough research before posing the question as any small mistake would lead to denial of right sort of information,” said Central Information Commissioner Madabhushi Sridhar. He addressed a gathering of UNESCO clubs representatives who arrived from different parts of the country to attend a training programme organised at the Vikrama Simhapuri University (VSU). Referring to the instance of Yale University scholars, Mr. Sridhar said that the applications made for issue of ration cards in the normal process were completely ignored by the authorities. When such genuine attempts failed in getting a government benefit, people could effectively use the RTI Act to mount pressure on the issuing authorities and resolve their problem accordingly, he added. Stating that questions concerning emotions and policy matters would not come under the purview of RTI Act, Mr. Sridhar clarified that public interest should remain the sole objective of an RTI query or else the information being sought could be made public without causing harm to personal safety of the people concerned. He informed that a woman, who was kept in the dark by her husband about his place of new posting in a public sector undertaking, could get the details by making use of RTI provisions. At first, the officials ignored her plea for giving details but they quickly fell in line after the RTI query was made. Mr. Sridhar said that in a recent instance, the CIC had made it clear that information about salary of an employee could be shared. This came as a big relief to the management of the APSRTC as they were receiving many submissions from wives seeking to know salary of their spouses who, on the other hand, were insisting on keeping it a secret. (The Hindu 2/11/14)

39. Panchayat members looted Rs 1.90cr, reveals RTI (1)

COIMBATORE: The panchayat authorities in Nilambur were not only looting the government exchequer by producing forged bills and unnecessary expenditure, but were also siphoning off panchayat funds under the name of fake contractors. RTI replies obtained by a social activist has revealed that five contractors were granted contract to carry out non-existent projects by Nilambur panchayat. By claiming Rs 9.09 lakh just for repair work of street lights to claiming salaries for bogus workers, the panchayat president, vice-president and another staff have allegedly siphoned off funds to the tune of Rs 1.90 crore. According to panchayat records, the civic body had paid money to Sri Ram Engineering Works, Charu Engineering from Tirupur, Sri Palani Andavar Earth Movers and Suganthi Traders in Coimbatore. But these contractors are not officially authorized to carry out projects in the panchayat. K Ramamoorthy, the RTI activist, who brought out the irregularities alleged that these companies don’t exist at all as there was no TIN number in the bills, which is mandatory. ”The authorities were also supposed to issue crossed cheques for payment to the contractors. But the panchayat had issued ordinary cheques. Bank records also reveal that the cheques were encashed in Nilambur instead of Tirupur ot Coimbatore where they said to be registered,” Ramamoorthy said. The RTI reply by a block development officer, Sulur, has revealed that there are 30 registered contractors authorized to carry out projects in Nilambur. ”But none of these contractors were granted contract,” Ramamoorthy said citing RTI replies. Yet another glaring example of irregularities in the panchayat was awarding contract much after the work was completed. An inspection by the district administration revealed that tenders for a storm water drain project were invited on July 16, 2012 and the last date for bidding was July 20. But the report by the inspection team submitted to the district administration found out that work orders were issued on July 10 itself. The RTI replies revealed that the panchayat had spent Rs 85,000 every month for purchasing bleaching powder and labour salaries that were claimed for 20 people when actually only 10 were employed. Insecticides worth 67 thousand was bought from three different companies in Gandhipuram, R S Puram and Thudiyalur but the cheque was issued to just one company. Collector Archana Patnaik said she would take action against the accused. ”We have issued a show cause notice to the panchayat president under Tamilnadu Panchayat Act. We will initiate action soon,” she said. (Times of India 6/11/14)

40. CBI probes Air India’s 68 Boeing aircraft order (1)

Mumbai: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is probing Air India’s purchase of 68 Boeing planes, the civil aviation ministry has said in a Right to Information (RTI) Act response. Air India had placed an order for 68 aircraft, including Boeing 737s, 777s and 787s, all valued at $11 billion in December 2005. While the then-civil aviation minister Praful Patel has denied any wrongdoing and said the decision to order 68 planes was approved by an empowered group of ministers and later by the Union Cabinet, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) in its 2011 report faulted the purchase as it had a significant impact on the airline’s financial health. The CBI probe into the purchase of aircraft has come to light after Air India’s former executive director Jitender Bhargava wrote to the civil aviation ministry seeking files on the aircraft order. In a response to Bhargava’s RTI request, the civil aviation ministry on October 31 replied that the case was under CBI investigation and the CBI had informed that the disclosure of information may impede the process of investigation. Initially the Air India board had proposed the acquisition of 28 planes but the decision was revised and the order size increased. CAG had also questioned the hurry in placing the order for 68 planes. In its report, CAG said Air India was advised to revisit its proposal by the ministry into expanding its requirement of aircraft. Whilst the earlier proposal for 28 aircraft had taken two years (January 2002 to January 2004) to prepare and submit, the revised long-term fleet for the 50-aircraft plan was completed in four months (from August to November 2004)… (Business Standard 8/11/14)

41. Initiative to give more power to RTI (1)

Mumbai: A national-level initiative has been undertaken to impart more teeth to the RTI Act and provide legal assistance to RTI users and activists. Twenty-four units have been set up across the country, including two in Maharashtra (one in Mumbai and one in Nagpur) by Supreme Court lawyer and head of Human Rights Law Networks (HRLN), Colin Gonsalves, to offer services to RTI users free of charge. Advocate Kranti L.C. in Mumbai and Advocate Nihalsingh Rathod in Nagpur have been roped in to offer free services as part of this initiative. According to the former Central Information Commissioner, who pioneered setting up of the Mumbai unit, legal help available to RTI users and activists will address two major problems — threats and attacks while trying to challenge corruption and illegalities and the staying of significant orders from information commissions by courts. An RTI activist said, “Most RTI users do not have the resources to fight the stays that continue and information never gets revealed, or cases are lost since arguments for disclosure and upholding the decisions of the information commission are never made before the courts.” Another said, “This is a great step and opportunity for everyone in the country. This can help us strengthen the Right to Information Act and our democracy.” (Asian Age 9/11/14)

RIGHT TO EDUCATION

42. Notice to govt. on expenditure on poor students (11)

NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court has issued notice to the Directorate of Education on an application by an association of private schools challenging a rule under the Right to Education Act relating to reimbursement of expenditure incurred on providing education to students belonging to economically weaker sections. The court was hearing a public interest litigation filed by a non-government organisation, Social Jurist, seeking grant of free books and uniforms to poor children admitted to private unaided schools. The association, which had earlier challenged the rule requiring the supply of free books and uniforms, amended its application while contending that the schools should get reimbursement of actual expenditure incurred on these articles, rather than the amount spent by the State government on the students in its schools. The application said while the expenditure on each student in private unaided schools comes between Rs. 26,000 and Rs. 34,000 annually, the State government had assessed it as Rs. 15,480 a year. A Division Bench comprising Justice B.D. Ahmed and Justice Siddharth Mridul asked the Directorate of Education over the weekend to file its reply to the extent of the amendment made by the association in its application and posted the matter for further hearing on November 18. (The Hindu 2/11/14)

43. ‘Angels of Hell’ focuses on the dirty truth (11)

BENGALURU: “Do you know why your father used to drink? Because he used to have shit on his hands. To forget that, he drank.” That’s how Kiran, 12, son of a manual scavenger and a pourakarmika, consoles his girlfriend, Prema, when her father, also a manual scavenger, dies while cleaning a manhole. Angels of Hell, a 71-minute feature film, zooms in on the squalid lives of manual scavengers in our country. Through the eyes of Kiran, the film takes a sharp look at the exclusion – social and political – of dalits from society. Conceptualized, directed and produced by artist and social activist John Devaraj, the movie captures the true story of Kiran and his parents. It highlights the stark realities of sewer-cleaning and the problems faced by dalits who are forced to take up this job. In one scene, a scavenger enters a manhole to remove the muck after condoms thrown into drains block sewage flow and surface in front of a house. In the film, Kiran, a rebel, dreams of becoming an educated man so that he can liberate the dalit community from the menial job. Prema introduces him to dalit leader B R Ambedkar and his struggles to liberate the community. Leaving his gunny bag behind, Kiran joins Bornfree Art School meant exclusively for street, working and bonded-labour children. “In real life, John Devaraj is my Ambedkar. In the film too, it’s he who gives me education,” says Kiran, 21, who lost his father, a manual scavenger, to TB. He speaks in fluent English taught to him by an Irish girl who volunteered years ago at Bornfree Art School. John Devaraj plans to write to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the issue of manual scavenging. “Swacch Bharat shouldn’t just be about sweeping our streets. Stop the evil practice of manual scavenging. There are at least 3 lakh toilet cleaners in Bangalore’s top hotels and companies who are bound not to step out of the washrooms for eight hours a day. This is ridiculous. Modi has to understand this,” says John. (Times of India 1/11/14)

44. Child will now have to be six for Std I admission (11)

Your child will have to be six-years-old at the time of admission to Std I in schools across Maharashtra from the academic year 2016-17, once a proposal is approved by the Maharashtra government. The state commissioner of education is optimistic about the proposal being cleared in view of the confusion during admissions for 25% reserved seats under the Right to Education Act this year. For the 2015-16 academic year, the limit will be relaxed to five-and-a-half years. Commissioner of education S Chockalingam said in Pune that the move was to bring uniformity in schools, including those affiliated to other boards, for Std I admission. “In the first year of implementation, we will relax the age limit as schools and parents should not be inconvenienced. But, from the following academic year, the rule will be strictly adhered to,” he said. The lack of uniformity in admission age starts at the pre-primary level. This creates chaos during RTE admissions as some schools have two years as minimum age for pre-primary, while for others it is two-and-a-half to three years. Many schools rejected applications if the student did not meet the minimum age limit criteria. Educationist Heramb Kulkarni said the government had woken up late. “Strong implementation of the rule must be ensured so that the ultimate aim is achieved,” he said. Education activist Matin Mujawar said, “All schools must follow the policy so that parents are not inconvenienced.” (Times of India 3/11/14)

45. Panels to check ground realities in schools (11)

Bengaluru: Waking up to cases of sexual assaults reported in schools and other irregularities, the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) has directed Deputy Directors of Public Instruction (DDPI) and the Block Education Officers (BEO) to form three-member committees to check safety measures implemented in schools in their jurisdiction. The committees will be accompanied by two parents during inspection of schools. The department has listed out 19 aspects that the panels will have check in schools. Among those listed are school infrastructure, implementation of RTE Act and safety guidelines, and whether documents pertaining school affiliation are in place besides fee charged. Panel reports will have to be submitted online to the DPI by November 29, said a release. In another circular, the DPI directed the authorities concerned to initiate action against illegal schools under the Karnataka Prohibition of Admission of Students to Unrecognised and Unaffiliated Educational Institutions Act, Karnataka Education Act and the RTE Act. The department has urged the BEOs and DDPIs to furnish a report on this by November 10. In another development, the DPI has sent a Rs. 60-crore proposal to the government for installing CCTV cameras in 600 girls’ school and 6,000 co-educational institutions that have more than 200 girl students. There are 49,055 government schools across the State. “We have decided to install CCTV cameras in all girls’ government schools as well selected co-educational government schools in the first phase,” Commissioner for Public Instruction Mohammad Mohsin said. (The Hindu 7/11/14)

RIGHT TO FOOD/ HUNGER

46. NHRC Rejects Report on Starvation Death (21)

BHUBANESWAR: In a significant ruling, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has rejected the reports of Odisha Government on a starvation death in Brahmagiri area of Puri district  and directed the district administration to initiate action against guilty officials. The direction came after a complaint was filed by rights activist Akhand last year, alleging death of one Sagar Gochhayat (57) of Khandualpu village in Brahmagiri block on October 8 last year. His wife Simula is also allegedly ‘waiting to die’ in the same manner as she has been deprived of BPL ration card, old age pension and other benefits which they were entitled to. The death has been caused by the callousness of the district administration, which did not take any action, Akhand had alleged. Acting on the notices issued by NHRC, Puri Collector in September this year had submitted reports on the case. It stated that the victim was suffering from paralysis for about one month prior to his death. He was given benefits of Indira Awas Yojana (IAY) during 1998-99 and he availed rice under Antyodaya Anna Yojana. While no information was given in the report about the wife of the deceased, it was also silent on various aspects like medical treatment of Gochhayat and widow pension to his wife. “The grant of house under IAY or providing rice under Antyodaya Anna Yojana indicate that the victim was poor. The records of medical treatment of the deceased have not been placed on record. Consequently, the report does not inspire confidence,”  it observed. It directed Puri Collector to submit his detailed report in the matter within four weeks. The report shall inter-alia indicate the status of welfare schemes given to Gochhayat before his death and the status of welfare schemes given to his widow. “Appropriate action should be initiated against the delinquent officer, if any, in the matter,” NHRC ruled. (New Indian Express 4/11/14)

47. Bring more women farmers on board to eliminate hunger, M S Swaminathan says (21)

COIMBATORE: Father of the Green Revolution in India M S Swaminathan on Thursday said hunger and malnutrition could be eliminated by bringing more women farmers on board and creating more cooperative societies. Speaking at the inauguration of India Cares forum here on Thursday, Swaminathan said, “We have to increase our food production and ensure that it gives us all the nutrients we need. One important way to do that is by bringing women in farm areas on board because they are great biodiversity conservers.” “They intellectually contribute to farming by eliminating risks and creating variety,” he said. He also spoke about the importance of creating co-operatives in a country like India where there exist many small pieces of farmland. “The many milk co-operatives like Aavin and Amul are the reason the milk production in the country rose from 20 million tonne in the 60s to 140 million tonnes now,” he said. He said smaller farms need more organization and need to get together to afford scientific advances and implement new technologies that can increase its production. Wastage of food was also a major concern while trying to achieve the zero hunger challenge, he said. “The rich waste so much food because we don’t know good management,” he said. “In fact, the poorer a family, the more they spend on food. It is almost as high as 70% to 75% of their income,” he said. Malnutrition due to hidden hunger was also an issue, he said. “Hidden hunger is one variant of hunger which arises from lack of micronutrients. So there should be more awareness on vegetables like sweet potato and drumsticks which are rich in nutrients like beta carotene, vitamin A and other nutrients due to years of genetic modification and can easily be cultivated,” he said. Role of fisheries in food security also should be formulated and ensured by the government, he added. India Cares is a forum to listen, reflect and engage in action to serve the best interests of children. The forum has been created by the Mahatma Gandhi Institute for Leadership and Development. (Times of India 6/11/14)

48. Dalits in India are poorer than Muslims: Government report (21)

Marginalisation of Muslims may have been the biggest political issue in the past decade, but the community is not at the bottom of the socio-economic ladder. According to a government report, Hindu Scheduled Castes (SC) and Scheduled Tribes (ST) are the most downtrodden lot in India. Worse, rural Dalits are facing more hardships, says the report. Over 44.8% of ST and 33.8% of SC populations in rural India were below poverty line in 2011-12 as against 30.8% of Muslims. In urban areas, 27.3% of ST and 21.8% of SC were poor, whereas economically backward Muslims stood at 26.5%. Even decline in poverty among rural ST population was the slowest. These statistics are the findings of the Prof Amitabh Kundu report which was submitted to the Union Ministry of Minority Affairs last month. The Kundu committee had been formed under the UPA regime last year to study the implementation of the Sachar recommendations which were aimed at betterment of the Muslim community. Dalits comprise 24.4 percent (16.6 % SC, 8.6% ST) of India’s population, while Muslims constitute 14%, as per the 2011 census. The difference in monthly average per capita expenditure (MPCE at the constant price), another indicator of social well-being, also shows that STs are no better than the Muslims. “The ST Hindus are at the bottom of the ladder in rural areas, followed by SC and then by the Muslims, their ranking remaining unchanged over the past two decades. In urban areas, Muslims figure in the bottom, and then comes the SC and ST population”, states the Kundu report. Dalit scholars blame the situation on flawed policies, reservation, and failed Dalit leadership. PL Punia, an ex-IAS and former MP and chairman of National Commission of Schedule Caste and Tribes, said, “The poor Dalits have no other option but to study in government schools which doesn’t take them anywhere. The government must scale up its efforts to improve education.” According to Prof PG Jogdand, social scientist and dean faculty of arts, Mumbai University, it’s the creamy layer that has been enjoying all the benefits of reservation since generations. “Hence, despite significant improvements in the past few decades, the disparity in the community is rising, which is alarming.” He also underlined the need of more income-generating efforts, especially in rural areas. “Government must start awarding projects in the rural areas to only those who have never got the benefit of reservation,” says Prof Jogdand who backs a revision in reservation policy that sieves out people on the basis of number of family members already availed the benefits. Prakash Ambedkar, grandson of Dalit icon Babasaheb Ambedkar, too is opposed to the continuation of the reservation policy. Punia however rejects the idea, “Even creamy layer has to compete to get into quota and jobs. Reservation policy must be continued.” While Ambedkerites like Dr Tushar Jagtap and Jogdand feel that the so-called Dalits leaders in India don’t actually represent the community and they hardly did anything for their people, Dalit leaders deny the charge. Punia claims, “Dalit leaders are doing their best. But definitely, best is not enough.”..  (DNA 7/11/14)

49. Deprived of BPL Cards, 700 Families Languish in Poverty (21)

JAGATSINGHPUR: Despite several poverty alleviation schemes of both State and Central Governments, around 700 impoverished families of five coastal villages of Ersama block in the district are living in acute poverty after being left out of Below Poverty Line (BPL) list due to faulty enumeration for the last 17 years. According to sources, about 350 families of Dhobeijungle and 70 of Kochilabedi villages under Japa panchayat, 200 of Mahimadeipur and Mallipur under Nuadihi panchayat and 60 of Kanpada under Sompur panchayat are yet to get BPL cards. Besides, five revenue villages have not been included in BPL list. Sarpanch of Japa panchayat Anjulata Nayak said two revenue villages including four hamlets are yet to be covered under BPL list. Though the families have ration cards and voter identity cards, they are not able to avail various benefits due to lack of BPL cards, she added. Moreover, villagers of Dahibar, Jhatipari, Dasmath and Kholap, who bore the brunt of Super Cyclone  in 1999, are yet to be covered under housing schemes. Most of them are living in thatched houses and polythene sheds for the last 15 years, she added. Sources said though enumeration of the BPL beneficiaries was done in 2011, the list is yet to be finalised. Damodar Gayan (48) of Dahibar village said, “While poor families of neighbouring villages are getting 35 kgs of rice at `one per kg, we are purchasing it at `20 to `25 per kg from the open market.” Zilla Parishad member Sarada Prasad Jena claimed that several persons hailing from impoverished families have died due to starvation and malnourishment. “Officials have been constantly denying that they died due to starvation,” he alleged. Sarpanch of Sompur panchyat Henarani Swain said despite not having BPL cards, poor families are provided rice and old age pension to avoid starvation death. When contacted, Ersama BDO Subodha Acharya admitted that some families have been excluded from the BPL list and are living in acute poverty. He, however, refuted the allegation of starvation deaths. “But the district administration does not have the power to include their names in BPL list,” he added. (New Indian Express 10/11/14)

LABOUR/ MGNREGA

50. Govt may downsize MGNREGA to boost scheme impact on the poor (14)

New Delhi: Finance minister Arun Jaitley had allocated about Rs. 33,351 crore for Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGA) in his budget this July but many believe that the huge expenditure was not resulting in the desired outcome because of its expansive spread. The MGNREGA covers entire rural India spread over 6,600 blocks irrespective of whether there was demand for work or not. The government wants to change this and is looking at focusing on implementing the job guarantee scheme in about 2,500 blocks, where India’s poorest live. “It is one of the proposals being discussed for the next Union budget as a measure to improve impact of public expenditure,” a senior government official told HT, adding that it would be discussed with the rural development ministry officials soon. This was also an idea pushed by the Planning Commission when MGNREGA was conceived. The scheme was initially implemented in the 200 poorest districts in 2006 but within the next few years it was expanded to entire rural India. The panel’s call to make it more outcome-oriented failed to cut ice with the UPA government even though the work provided to a household in a year reduced from about 70 days to 31.6 days in 2014-15. The law provided for maximum of 100 days of work for a household at a rate prescribed by the Centre, which was not met even in the poorest of the districts. Sources say PM Modi is keen to ensure that MGNREGA turns into a poverty alleviation scheme by creating assets that can improve agriculture productivity rather than only being a social security mechanism. “Data has shown that the scheme is not of much use in the rich states of Punjab or Haryana. But, it can do wonders in poorer states such as Jharkhand or Odisha if its implementation is improved,” an official said. For that, the government wants to adopt more micro block-level approach instead of the present district-level implementation. (Hindustan Times 1/11/14)

51. More contract workers to gain EPFO benefits (14)

NEW DELHI: The labour ministry plans to extend the coverage of social security benefits under the Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) to a larger number of construction and contract workers, a move that is in line with the series of labour reforms initiated by the government. EPFO, a statutory body under the labour ministry, recently set up two sub-committees to study the gaps in coverage of construction and contract workers in the country under the EPFO net and suggest ways to extend its coverage. According to a senior government official, the two committees will identify all the eligible workers, who are not yet covered, and suggest ways to provide them benefits under the EPFO. There are 45 million construction workers in the country, which makes the sector the third largest employer in the unorgansied or informal sector. Most of these workers are migrants. Contract or temporary workers account for 28.8 million people in the formal/organsied sector. They are deprived of benefits like provident fund, minimum wages, gratuity and pension. Besides, out of the total 397.4 million Indian workforce, 49.7 million are employed in the formal sector while 347.7 million are in the informal sector, thus deprived of all social security benefits that they would have been entitled to had they been under the EPFO umbrella. A recent study by the Indian Staffing Federation showed that hiring of temporary workers is on the rise in government with 43% or 12.3 million of the total workforce in the government sector engaged in temporary jobs. “At least 6.9 million of this are engaged in flagship programmes of the government and are deprived of minimum wages with limited to nil social security cover,” ISF had found. “Most short-term contract holders primarily receive a consolidated wage/salary with no additional contribution,” the report had said. (The Economic Times 4/11/14)

52. CPI-M to protest against MGNREGA fund cuts (14)

Agartala: The CPI-M will organise demonstrations across the country, including at parliament house in New Delhi Nov 26, to protest against the curtailment of MGNREGA rural job scheme by the central government, a party leader said here Thursday. Tripura Chief Minister and CPI-M politburo member Manik Sarkar said he will lead the protests in front of the parliament in New Delhi. “The CPI-M members will organise mass demonstrations in front of the central government offices across the country to protest against the steps taken by the union government to curtail and dilute MGNREGA,” CPI-M central committee member Bijan Dhar said. He said curtailing MGNREGA (Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act) and its impact on the rural population is a “burning issue in the country now” In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently, Sarkar urged him to restore the funds cut under MGNREGA for Tripura. He said although MGNREGA was implemented most successfully in Tripura, with 87 days of work per household in the 2013-14 fiscal against the national average of 45 days, the state’s allocation had been sharply reduced for the current fiscal (2014-15). “The unemployed and uneducated rural people, including tribals, minorities, scheduled caste, other backward communities and women, would be affected due to the reduction of funds under MGNREGA,” Sarkar said in his letter. (Business Standard 6/11/14)

53. 30 Per Cent Office Heads in Cuttack Not Aware of Women Laws (14)

CUTTACK: A large number of institutions here having more than 10 employees are not aware of the laws protecting women at workforce, according to a recent study by a social organisation. About 30 per cent heads of offices both in organised and unorganised sectors are not aware of the Visakha Guidelines-1997 of the Supreme Court or the subsequent Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplaces (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act of 2013. Among them who were aware of such laws, only 32 per cent have formed the mandatory Internal Complaint Committee (ICC) in their offices to look into the complaints of sexual harassment of women employees. These upsetting statistics are shown in a survey conducted in about hundred institutions located in the city by social organisation ‘Project Swarajya’ to study the condition of women employees and the status of complaint committees. Project Swarajya Secretary Dolly Dash said the survey showed many offices even headed by women employees were neither aware of existence of such laws nor had taken the mandatory step to form the ICCs in their offices. “Lack of legal consciousness and not properly understanding the laws which protect them, the women workforce in our society are suffering a lot,” Dash said, adding, due to absence of favourable workplaces, women productivity was not encouraging in our country. Out of the 24 institutions, which have formed the ICC in the city, only four have registered sexual harassment cases over these years and investigated all of them. These four institutions together had registered 26 cases, of which 23 were settled amicably while the remaining three were referred to police. Of the 68 per cent of the institutions which have not formed ICC, a whopping 45 per cent of them said they were not aware of it and 30 per cent insincere. Six per cent said they had not formed ICC because they did not have any women employees and for eight per cent it had not been necessitated as no complaint was made yet, as per the study. (New Indian Express 9/11/14)

RESERVATION

54. Political reservation demanded for Muslims (25)

Bangalore: The All India Sunni Jameyatul Ulema general secretary Sheikh Aboobacker Ahmed Musliyar has demanded political reservation for Muslims in Karnataka. Musliyar told reporters here on Friday that he would submit a memorandum in this regard to Chief Minister Siddaramaiah in Mangalore on Sunday. Siddaramaiah and Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy are said to attend a mega rally being organised by the Sunni Management Association (SMA) and the Sunni Students’ Federation (SSF) in the port city. Congress leader and deputy chairman of the State Planning Board C M Ibrahim, who also spoke to the media on the occasion, said that providing reservation to Muslims was yet to be discussed within the government. “If the government agrees to the demand, we will never say no,” he said. SSF leaders assert that Muslims are underrepresented in the political sphere and hence should be granted reservation. According to Ibrahim, SMA will also submit a memorandum to the chief minister demanding a ban on the sale of liquor in Karnataka, on the lines of Kerala. (Deccan Herald 1/11/14)

55. RTE quota mooted for transgender persons (25)

BENGALURU: If all goes as per the Department of Public Instruction’s (DPI) plan, from the next academic year, transgender persons can avail themselves of seats under the RTE reservation quota in private schools. The DPI will send a proposal to the government to include transgender persons under the disadvantaged group so that they can be granted admission under the 25 per cent reservation quota at the first instance. At present, only orphans, children living with HIV, special-needs children, and migrant or street children can avail themselves of the benefit. The move has been mooted by the department after the Supreme Court judgment in April 2014 recognised transgender as the third gender and directed the Centre and States to initiate steps to treat transgender persons as socially and educationally backward classes, and extend reservation for admission in educational institutions and for public appointments. Commissioner for Public Instruction Mohammad Mohsin said the department would also amend the Karnataka Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Rules to make sure that transgender persons between the ages of 6 and 14 can avail themselves of education in all schools. “We do not want to restrict the rights of transgenders to just the 25 per cent reservation quota. We want to extend it in all schools,” Mr. Mohsin said. However, sources in the department said that as the amendment of rules may take time, the department was planning to modify the Government Order which specifies who are eligible to avail themselves of reservation under the quota. (The Hindu 3/11/14)

56. 69% quota: SC notice to Tamil Nadu (25)

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Wednesday issued notice to the Tamil Nadu government on a petition filed by two aspiring medical students challenging the State’s 69 per cent reservation policy in educational institutions and government jobs, saying it violated their fundamental right to education. The petition questioned the State legislature’s competence to pass the Tamil Nadu Backward Classes, Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes (Reservation of seats in educational institutions and appointments or posts in the service under the state) Act, 1993 (Act 45 of 1994). The students, Sahitya K and Ganapathinarayanan L, told the Supreme Court that, had it not been for the 69 per cent reservation, they would have secured seats in a medical college in Chennai with their high marks. “It is a question of the lives and careers of two young students,” G. Sivabalamurugan, their counsel, submitted before a Bench led by Justice Dipak Misra. The Bench listed the case for hearing on November 14. In their petition, the students questioned the competence of the Tamil Nadu legislature to venture beyond the 50 per cent reservation prescribed by the Supreme Court in the Indira Sawhney majority judgment of 1992. “The petitioners had secured very high marks. They could have been selected and admitted to the Government Medical College if the State had followed 50 per cent reservation,” the petition said. It said that the State legislature went on to increase the reservation quota to 69 per cent though there was no preceding constitutional amendment. The petition said the 1994 statute has been amended twice — in the year 2007 to provide exclusive reservation for backward class Muslims and in 2009 for the Arunthathiyar community. The petition further contended that the Tamil Nadu Backward Classes Commission’s report dated July 8, 2011 justifying 69 per cent reservation on the basis of data of the year 1985, provided in the report of the previous backward class commission, (Amba Shankar), is “unsustainable and a constitutional fraud.” “In any event, a meritorious candidate coming within the cut-off mark of 50 per cent reservation cannot be denied her right of admission under Articles 14 and 15,” the petition contended. (The Hindu 6/11/14)

57. Supreme Court junks HC order on caste-based census (25)

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Friday rescued the Centre from the prospect of carrying out a caste-based census — an exercise that could have led to a controversial reworking of quotas for other backward classes ( OBCs). The HC had two years ago in a service matter ordered fresh caste-based census, more than 80 years after it was last conducted in 1931. The SC set aside that order, terming it “exceptionally cryptic” and a “colossal transgression of power of judicial review”. Given the potential for social strife in a caste-based census, the Centre had rushed to the SC challenging the HC order. A bench of Justices Dipak Misra, R F Nariman and U U Lalit upheld its contention and said the central census notification mandated collection of information only relating to SCs and STs and not other castes. Appearing for the Centre, senior advocate R S Suri had argued that “policy stipulates for carrying out the census which includes SC and ST, but not other castes”. He had said other HCs had dismissed similar petitions and that even the SC had declined to interfere in census modalities. As of now, the census quantifies the population of only SC and ST communities. Justice Misra, writing the judgment for the bench, said, “In such a situation, it is extremely difficult to visualize that the high court, without having a ‘lis’ (subject matter) before it, could even have thought of issuing a command to the census department to take all such measures towards conducting caste-wise census in the country so that social justice in its true sense…could be achieved,” This was clearly beyond the HC’s jurisdiction, the SC ruled. “The HC had not only travelled beyond the list in the first round of litigation, but had really yielded to some kind of emotional perspective, possibly paving the adventurous path to innovate. It is legally impermissible,” it said… (Times of India 8/11/14)

58. SC categorisation: Naidu, KCR urged to write to PM (25)

VIJAYAWADA: Madiga Reservation Porata Samiti (MRPS) founder president Manda Krishna Madiga said on Sunday that the Chief Ministers of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana should write separate letters to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, seeking introduction of a Bill in the Parliament on the Scheduled Caste categorisation. “We request the two Chief Ministers to look into the issue seriously as they have already gave their consent over the issue,” he said while participating in the national conference organised by the Madiga Employees Federation (MEF) here, adding that MRPS was organising a State-level meeting on November 14 and 15 in Eluru to discuss its future course of action, he said. He reminded that the BJP had already extended its support for SC categorization. Social Welfare Minister Ravela Kishore Babu said the employees should play a key role to fight in support of the community, adding that the TDP government would work for the welfare of the people in the State. Hundreds of employees from Andhra Pradesh and Telangana participated in the meeting. (The Hindu 9/11/14)

HUMAN RIGHTS/ CIVIL SOCIETY/ NHRC

59. High court fines NGO for misusing PIL process (1)

NEW DELHI: An NGO, which filed a PIL seeking action against Delhi Police officials for allegedly shielding a rape accused, has been fined by the Delhi high court for misuse of the public interest litigation process. A division bench comprising Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw dismissed a PIL filed by NGO Centre for Human Rights, observing that the alleged survivor herself filed the PIL, along with the NGO, and a specific criminal case is being portrayed as a public interest cause. “The petitioner, even if society incorporated to fight for protection of civil and fundamental rights of citizens of India, cannot on its own take up cudgels on behalf of any particular citizen, in a personal matter concerning that citizen alone. It is well nigh possible that the writ petitioner is working at someone else’s behest and for ulterior motives,” the bench observed, slapping a fine of Rs 5,000 on the NGO. The court also observed “that the complainant was interested in redressal of her grievances but instead of taking appropriate remedy on her behalf, the colour of PIL is given.” The court told the NGO that the money must be deposited with Delhi Legal Services Authority (DLSA), failing which action will be taken. The court was irked that the NGO made unverified allegations against the SHO of Ambedkar Nagar through a PIL and despite being cautioned by the bench. In its petition, the NGO had questioned the “sincerity” of Delhi Police in investigating crime against women alleging that the SHO granted bail to a rape accused. The PIL, filed through advocate Gaurav Kumar Bansal, claimed the woman was raped on September 5 by her sister-in-law’s husband who fled after the incident. The woman’s in-laws and husband put pressure on her not to lodge a complaint and kept her confined for 15 days, the petition stated. It further said the woman managed to escape and contacted her brother, who took her to the police. In her plea, the woman claimed the cops initially refused to file a complaint and an FIR was registered on September 27, only after they approached senior officials. (Times of India 3/11/14)

60. Rights panel summons social security director (1)

PATNA: The Bihar Human Rights Commission (BHRC) on Monday summoned state social security director on December 3 with an action taken report (ATR) pertaining to the state government’s plan for effective rehabilitation and care of persons with disability. Peeved over the district authorities’ “utter disregard shown to the issue of human rights of persons with disabilities (PwD)”, the BHRC had taken suo motu cognizance of the matter on September 1 and sought a report from the social security director by October 15 on action taken so far against recalcitrant district officials and executing agencies in the districts which have shown persistent apathy so far. According to Constitution, the prime responsibility for rehabilitation and care of PwD lies with the state government, BHRC member Neelmani said, adding, “At present, many districts of Bihar have virtually non-functional district disability rehabilitation centres (DDRCs). A DDRC is established for creation of infrastructure and capacity building, awareness generation, rehabilitation of PwDs and training of rehabilitation professionals etc at the grassroots for providing comprehensive services to persons with disabilities.” The districts with dysfunctional DDRCs are: Aurangabad, Katihar, East Champaran, Gaya, Muzaffarpur, Jehanabad, Nawada, Araria, Vaishali, Kaimur, Samastipur and Kishanganj. “According to information available with BHRC, even repeated communications by the Union ministry of social justice and empowerment and the state social security directorate to the district authorities concerned have failed to evoke suitable response so far,” he said. Since no response from the state social security director apprising the commission of its plans or time-bound proposals has been received by the commission yet, he has been summoned in person with the ATR before the commission. However, if the report is received before December 1, the personal appearance shall not be required. (Times of India 4/11/14)

61. Budgam firing incident: NHRC notice to Defence Ministry, SP over youths killing (1)

New Delhi: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has issued notices to the Union Ministry of Defence and SP of Budgam over killing of two youths in firing by Army in Kashmir. They have called for reports within two weeks on the incident of firing by Army personnel resulting in killing of two youths and injury to two others in Chattergam area on the November 3. The youths were travelling in a car and as claimed by the Army, they did not pay heed to signals to stop at the barriers set up by the security forces. Meanwhile, defying curfew restrictions, people, mostly youths, took to streets and clashed with the security forces at Nowgam in Srinagar, protesting against the killing. A complete bandh was observed in Srinagar and other parts of Kashmir Valley yesterday. (Zee News 6/11/14)

62. Delhi and NE states do not have human right bodies, SC told (1)

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Wednesday reserved its verdict on a complaint that Delhi and northeastern states, which saw large number of human rights violations, had not set up state human rights commissions despite a central law enacted 21 years ago. Amicus curiae and senior advocate A M Singhvi informed a bench of Justices T S Thakur and R Banumathi that although the Protection of Human Rights Act was enacted in 1993, till date Delhi, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Meghalaya, Tripura and Nagaland have not set up state human rights commissions (SHRCs). “Delhi has the second highest number of human rights violation cases reported to National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) during October 1, 2010 and September 30, 2012. Even though NHRC is located in Delhi, it is necessary that the national capital should have its own SHRC as NHRC does not have enough time to deal with Delhi cases, being saddled with cases reported from entire country,” Singhvi said. “Mizoram, Meghalaya, Tripura and Nagaland are all disturbed states with problems of insurgency, foreign immigration, tribal warfare and ethnic violence. There are several custodial death cases reported from Arunachal Pradesh. It is necessary that all these states have full-fledged SHRCs to keep check on and redress human rights violations,” Singhvi said in his note, which had several other suggestions, submitted to the court. (Times of India 6/11/14)

63. US human rights official to visit India, meet Satyarthi (1)

Washington: A top American diplomat on human rights will travel to India next week to meet Indian Nobel Laureate Kailash Satyarthi and announce a USD 3.2 million grant for health services to Tibetan refugees. On a week-long South Asia travel, Under Secretary of State for Civilian Security, Democracy and Human Rights Sarah Sewall would travel to Nepal and India from November 9, the State Department said, adding that Kathmandu would be her first destination. While in India, Sewall will meet with senior government officials to discuss advancing common global interests, including improved citizen engagement and governance through shared democratic values. US human rights official to visit India, meet Satyarthi Satyarthi won the Nobel along with Pakistani teenage rights activist Malala Yousufzai. She will deliver a policy speech, “Human Rights, Challenges and Opportunities in the 21st Century,” at the American Center in New Delhi. She will meet Kailash Satyarthi, the co-winner of the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize and a 2007 TIP (trafficking in persons) Report Hero for his efforts to end child labour and trafficking. Satyarthi won the Nobel along with Pakistani teenage rights activist Malala Yousufzai. Sewall, during her India trip, will also discuss combating extremism with interfaith leaders, the State Department said. In her capacity as the US Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues, Sewall will travel to Dharamsala to discuss Tibetan refugee issues. She will announce a new award of USD 3.2 million for a Tibetan Health System Strengthening Project to universalise access to quality health services and especially to end preventable child and maternal deaths and create tuberculosis free communities for Tibetan refugee communities in India and Nepal. While in Nepal, Sewall will meet with the Prime Minister, the Foreign Minister, and other senior government officials to discuss bilateral coordination on key issues, including Nepal’s progress toward adopting a Constitution and completing its democratic transition. She will meet with civil society leaders, including Judge Tek Narayan Kunwar, recognised as a 2014 TIP Report Hero for efforts within the criminal justice system to combat human trafficking. She will also visit Tibetan refugee settlements in Kathmandu and Pokhara, the State Department said. (CNN IBN 9/11/14)

JUDICIARY/ LAW

64. High court fines NGO for misusing PIL process (19)

NEW DELHI: An NGO, which filed a PIL seeking action against Delhi Police officials for allegedly shielding a rape accused, has been fined by the Delhi high court for misuse of the public interest litigation process. A division bench comprising Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw dismissed a PIL filed by NGO Centre for Human Rights, observing that the alleged survivor herself filed the PIL, along with the NGO, and a specific criminal case is being portrayed as a public interest cause. “The petitioner, even if society incorporated to fight for protection of civil and fundamental rights of citizens of India, cannot on its own take up cudgels on behalf of any particular citizen, in a personal matter concerning that citizen alone. It is well nigh possible that the writ petitioner is working at someone else’s behest and for ulterior motives,” the bench observed, slapping a fine of Rs 5,000 on the NGO. The court also observed “that the complainant was interested in redressal of her grievances but instead of taking appropriate remedy on her behalf, the colour of PIL is given.” The court told the NGO that the money must be deposited with Delhi Legal Services Authority (DLSA), failing which action will be taken. The court was irked that the NGO made unverified allegations against the SHO of Ambedkar Nagar through a PIL and despite being cautioned by the bench. In its petition, the NGO had questioned the “sincerity” of Delhi Police in investigating crime against women alleging that the SHO granted bail to a rape accused. The PIL, filed through advocate Gaurav Kumar Bansal, claimed the woman was raped on September 5 by her sister-in-law’s husband who fled after the incident. The woman’s in-laws and husband put pressure on her not to lodge a complaint and kept her confined for 15 days, the petition stated. It further said the woman managed to escape and contacted her brother, who took her to the police. In her plea, the woman claimed the cops initially refused to file a complaint and an FIR was registered on September 27, only after they approached senior officials. (Times of India 3/10/14)

65. Panel proposes axing 73 more obsolete laws (19)

NEW DELHI: The law commission has submitted its third report to the government recommending repeal of 73 outdated laws. This takes the total to 258 laws that the panel has advised the government either fully or partially repeal. In its earlier two reports, the law panel had recommended repeal of 160 outdated laws. In its first report, the panel proposed repeal of 72 laws, in its second it recommended complete repeal of 88 laws and 25 for partial repeal. The government had asked the law panel to study all the laws and recommend what could be deleted from the statute books and suggest simplification and streamlining of others. The panel’s reports would be used by the government to prepare a comprehensive bill which it wishes to table in the forthcoming session of Parliament seeking their repeal. In the latest report, the commission has suggested, among others, repeal of the Hindu Inheritance (Removal of Disabilities) Act, 1928. The act provides that no person governed by Hindu law would be excluded from any right or share in joint family property by reason only of any disease, deformity, or physical or mental defect. However, the act excluded a person who had been from “birth a lunatic or an idiot”.”The purpose of the act has now been subsumed by Section 28 of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956 which provides that no person shall be disqualified from succeeding to any property on the ground of any disease, defect or deformity…The 1928 Act is now redundant,” the report said. One of the recommendations for repeal is for the Mussalman Wakf Validating Act 1913 & 1930 that declared the rights of Mussalmans to make settlements of property by way of ‘wakf’ in favour of their families and descendants. Wakfs of a private nature created any time before 1995 are valid under the Wakf Act, 1995. The panel recommended repeal of the Bengal Criminal Law (Amendment) Supplementary Act, 1925. The Act provided that any person convicted on a trial held by commissioners under the Bengal Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1925 may appeal to the High Court of Judicature at Fort William in Bengal, and such appeal was to be disposed of by the high court in the manner provided by the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898. The 1898 Code has been repealed by the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 but corresponding amendments have not been made to this supplementary act.The Punjab Disturbed Areas Act, 1983, recommended for repeal, provides for suppression of disorder and for the restoration and maintenance of public order in the disturbed areas of Punjab. The act empowered the state government to declare the whole or any part of any district of Punjab as a disturbed area. This act was enacted as a direct response to the rise of militancy in Punjab during the 1980s and gives extensive powers to police officers to use force in order to maintain peace and order. By virtue of a notification dated 16th November 1996, the whole of Punjab was declared a disturbed area for a period of six months, i.e., from 18th November 1996 to 17th May 1997. Also, by a notification dated 9th March 1989, Amritsar, Gurdaspur and Ferozepur were declared as disturbed areas. However, this notification was withdrawn on 28th July 2008. Prima facie, there are no areas declared as disturbed in Punjab and the need for this act has been dispensed with. For repeal of this act, the Centre has to write to the state government to ascertain the status of the act and also, if any places are still labeled as disturbed areas within the state. This act was earlier recommended for repeal by the PC Jain Commission but it was never axed. (Times of India 4/11/14)

66. Indian Medical Association  opposes Pregnancy bill amendments (19)

New Delhi: The Indian Medical Association has opposed government’s proposed amendments to the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act. The new bill proposes to replace the term “Registered Medical Practitioners” by “Registered Health Care Providers”. The IMA has said that MTP is a procedure meant to be conducted by a registered allopathic doctor and cannot be conducted by the paramedical staff on their own or by any other pathies as they are not well equipped to handle critical medical conditions arising out of excessive bleeding in some cases. The IMA has also noted that it will lead to a high level of quackery and also put women in the hands of unqualified doctors. Experts say that the amendment allows ayurveds, homeopaths, nurses and auxiliary nurses to carry out the procedure of termination of pregnancy by medical or surgical manner. This will compromise the safety of our patients drastically and also promote quackery. Pointing to the draft of the amendment has changed the earlier term of ‘medical practitioner’ to ‘healthcare provider’ the persons who can conduct an abortion. Chairman of Delhi Medical Association (DMA), Dr Anil Goyal expressed his concerns over the issue that it will to the quackery in the country and also will play with the safety of the nation. A delegation of six doctors from the IMA met the Union Health minister Dr Harsh Vardhan who assured that he would look into the matter. The IMA pointed that the amendment draft made by the union Health Ministry was incorrectly based on an unscientific study done by Population Council in 2012 which showed that trained nurses and ayurved physicians provide medical abortions as safely as MBBS doctors. “The earlier MTP Act 1971 stated that no one other than MBBS doctors registered under the Act can conduct abortions. How could the ayurved doctors and nurses carry out MTPs as per the study conducted. This smells of mal-practices in the medical field,” Dr Saini asked. (Asian Age 7/11/14)

67. President nod to Rajasthan labour law amendments (19)

JAIPUR: President Pranab Mukherjee has approved amendments to the labour laws passed by the Rajasthan government, officials said on Saturday, a move which opens up the possibility of deeper changes in archaic labour laws across states. After winning a decisive mandate in state polls chief minister Vasundhara Raje had brought in changes to the Industrial Disputes Act, the Contract Labour Act, the Factories Act and Apprenticeship to enhance the ease of doing business, encourage industrial activity and generate new jobs. “The state government has received the President of India’s assent to the amendments in the labour laws governing Industrial Disputes Act-1947, Contract Labour Act-1970 and Factories Act-1948 on Friday. The amendments to Apprenticeship Act-1961 are still in the process,” said Rajat Kumar Mishra, principal secretary (labour and employment) in Rajasthan government. The state government will notify the amended laws in the coming weeks. Industry experts said the changes in labour laws will trigger similar effort in other states as well as the Centre and help the government to attract investors. “It’s an innovation which opens a window of opportunities for every state to follow suit. Its brings us back to the debate on how 29 chief ministers in India can have more impact on India’s job creation than one Prime Minister,” said Rituparna Chakarborty, CO-founder and senior Vice President, TeamLease President, Indian Staffing Federation. The Narendra Modi government at the Centre has taken steps to revamp archaic labour laws to boost manufacturing and create jobs. Trade unions slammed the move saying the changes will hurt workers. “The government was already on the industry’s side. It was the laws that were protecting the poor labourers. With the support system now gone, India will degenerate into a country of contract labourers and regular workers will be few, to be kept on rolls only for strategic purposes,” said Rajbehari Sharma, state general secretary of Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh, After the amendment to the Industrial Disputes Act companies employing up to 300 workers will not need the approval of the state government if they want to retrench staff. Previously, the limit was capped at 100 employees. This is expected to provide relief to a large number of companies to realign their businesses. Because of the old norms, even though the promoters wanted to exit loss-making businesses or lay off workers due to tough market conditions, the lengthy process to get permission only added to their woes. Under the new laws, forming labour unions will also be difficult as it would require a membership of 30% of the workforce against the 15% earlier. The lower limit allowed many unions to emerge often increasing inter-union conflicts and multiplicity. Similarly, there was no time limit for raising disputes. But the amendments have stipulated a period of three years within which such disputes can be raised. The move is aimed at reducing the volume of litigations. Changes in the Contract Labour Act will now apply to establishments in which fifty or more workmen are employed against twenty earlier. “Because of threshold limit, employers while hiring personnel or procuring commodities from small entrepreneurs and petty contractors found it difficult to execute contracts, as the small units faced hardship in ensuring formalities under the Act. The lower limit also encouraged non-compliance,” said Nitin Gupta, head CII-Rajasthan. In the Factories Act, amendments were made in the definition of ‘factory’ which will now apply to those companies (run with aid of power) where 20 people are employed instead of 10. For companies running without power, the number has been increased to 40 from 20. The state government reasoned that because of the limit, small units were also covered under the definition of ‘factory’ requiring several compliances while hurting their expansion and growth. For speedy disposal of offences and minimizing number of litigations, a new provision has been added for compounding of offences which was absent in the previous Act. Moreover, amendments have been made to ensure that no inspector can initiative any proceedings against any company without the prior permission of the government. (Times of India 9/11/14)

POLICE/ AFSPA/ CUSTODIAL DEATHS

68. Trilokpuri riots: Students protest against police (1)

NEW DELHI: The Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union on Saturday staged a demonstration at Delhi Police headquarters raising concerns over the role of Delhi Police in the Trilokpuri riots. The protesters alleged that even after riots broke out cops failed to take action for hours and, in the days that followed, arbitrary arrests have only intensified the atmosphere of fear and tension in the area. The ‘citizens’ protest’ was attended by JNUSU as well as several student organizations, including the All India Students’ Association, Democratic Students Federation and Democratic Students’ Union as well as representatives of Delhi Forum and Krantikari Yuva Sabha. “On October 24, the riots continued for some hours and spread to parts of Trilokpuri even while the police failed to take necessary action. In the days that followed, there were arbitrary arrests, mostly of Muslims, who were charged with serious offences. This has only increased the atmosphere of fear,” said Ashutosh, president, JNUSU. “There have been reports of how police brutally beat up people, including women. The arbitrary arrests continue, even as we get reports of beatings and torture in police custody. Muslims form a completely disproportionate number on the list of accused,” said Sucheta, AISA national president. Various speakers criticized the role of former BJP MLA Sunil Vaidya and local RSS leader Ramcharan Gujarati and demanded immediate probe into it. (Times of India 2/11/14)

69. Protest march against AFSPA (1)

GUWAHATI, Nov 2 – Coinciding with the date of beginning of the historic anti-Armed Forces (Special Power) Act (AFSPA) protest, 14 years back by iron lady of Manipur Iram Sharmila, the All India Shiksha Sangharsh Yatra today marked its beginning all over the country to highlight its demand for an education system that can lead to a democratic, socialist, secular and enlightened India. In the city, the ceremonial beginning of the Yatra from the north-eastern region of the country was initiated through a meeting held on the bank of the Dighalipukhuri tank this morning. The Yatra will formally be flagged off at Imphal by Irom Sharmila tomorrow. Addressing the Dighalipukhuripar meeting, noted educationist and a leading organiser of the march Prof Anil Sadgopal apprised the gathering that the participants of the NE zonal march will cover Kohima, Dimapur, Golaghat, Jorhat, Sivasagar, Dergaon, Bokakhat, Nagaon, Jagiroad, Khetri. On November 14, they will take part in a big rally proposed to be held in Guwahati. Many tribal students’ organisations of this part of the country are expected to take part in the rally. Then the participants of the Yatra will move to Goalpara and then they will cover Bongaigaon, Kokrajhar, Dhubri on their way to Barabaisa near Alipurduar in West Bengal. On December 4, 2014, they will reach Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh, said Prof Sadgopal. Prof Sadgopal described the AFSPA as unconstitutional arguing that it is an affront to the provision of the country’s Constitution which has granted equal rights and equal status to all citizens of the country. The function, which was presided over by Assam Pradesh Bank Employees’ Association general secretary Dilip Sarma, was also addressed by Dr Dinesh Baishya, NE Zonal Convenor of the All India Shiksha Sangharsh Yatra, among others. (The Assam Tribune 3/11/14)

70. J&K Polls 2014: Youths killing in Badgam could bring AFSPA back to campaign plank (1)

SRINAGAR: J&K was on the brink as protesters took the streets on Tuesday despite curfew like restrictions after two civilians were killed and two seriously injured by Army, just weeks before state goes to the polls. The Army was quick to initiate a probe and police registered a murder case against Army, but the incident is sure to bring the controversial issue of Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) as a political issue in the coming days. Currently, all the parties are focusing on rebuilding flooddevastated Kashmir but now security-related issues could take over. Police had already rounded up senior separatist leaders and restricted some of them to their homes to halt their anti-poll campaign. Now they will rule the roads even from custody. Kashmir will be on a protest strike on Wednesday on their call. Soldiers manning three drop gates, which had emerged overnight, on a busy road link to south Kashmir, opened fire on a car near Chattergam. Instead of immobilizing the car, that allegedly avoided responding to a halt sign, by bursting its tyres, soldiers targeted four teenagers travelling in it. Later, they drove them to the army hospital: two were declared ‘brought dead’; two others are still battling for their lives. Now army says they are stable. Regretting the killings, Lt Gen Subrata Saha commander of the 15 corps explained the soldiers had laid an ambush following reports that a car and a motorcycle had disappeared. He said a court of inquiry was initiated and the soldiers involved in the incident were shifted out. Asserting that the incident has “vitiated” the atmosphere in Kashmir already confronted with the post-flood reconstruction challenge, CM Omar Abdullah has already talked to Arun Jaitely and protested over the incident. The shooting, first major incident involving army and civilians, after the September floods, has the potential of flaring up. Floods had witnessed soldiers roaming around without any guard, perhaps for the first time since 1990. Regardless of the alleged pick-and-choose during rescue, commoners were admitting the army help in September. (The Economic Times 5/11/14)

71. Rights panel to keep track on custodial torture (1)

BHUBANESWAR: The Odisha State Human Rights Commission (OSHRC) has constituted a sub-committee to oversee the implementation of guidelines spelt out by Supreme Court on prevention of custodial violence. The committee headed by B. K. Patnaik, former Chief Secretary of the State and now a member of the Commission, will comprise S. K. Upadhyay, Director (Investigation) of OSHRC, and Benudhar Behera, Secretary. “Custodial torture cases reported in Odisha may be less compared to other States. But since people in Odisha lack confrontational approach and are peace-loving, the custodial torture perpetrated by police can be considered worrisome,” said Biswapriya Kanungo, human rights activist. Recently, the investigation wing of OSHRC has found police guilty in Bolangir district where a person died due to injuries he received during his detention in police custody. The investigation wing had recommended compensation by the State for the poor family, which had suffered because of ‘illegalities’ of police. (The Hindu 8/11/14)

MEDIA/ FREEDOM OF SPEECH

72. Imam’s association asks media to be unbiased (1)

KOLKATA: While the media is covering every aspect of the blast in Khagragar in Bardhaman district, it totally ignored the assault on a Madrasa student in Purba Medinipur, alleged the Bengal Imam’s Association, an organisation of Muslim clerics here on Saturday. Addressing a press conference here on Saturday, the chairman of Bengal Imam’s Association Md. Yahya used this as an example to claim that the media was being “partial”. Amiruddin Khan (16), a student of Madrasa Hafiz-e-Quran at Bhagwanpur Madrasa Darul Uloom was set on fire by unidentified men on October 25. He succumbed to his injuries on Tuesday. Recently, the case has been handed over the State’s Criminal Investigation Department. Accusing the media of spreading “false information” on the Bardhaman blast case, Mr. Yahya urged the journalists to provide unbiased coverage of the incident. “I urge the media to bring out the truth in the case, irrespective of religion and politics,” he said, demanding that those involved in the burning of the madrasa student be brought to justice. (The Hindu 2/11/14)

73. Attack on Scribe: Congress Bats for Vadra (1)

NEW DELHI: At a time when faultlines have emerged in the Congress over Rahul Gandhi’s leadership, the party’s first family became the focal point of deepening schisms within the party. The man at the centre of it all this time is his controversial brother-in-law Robert Vadra. Vadra had on Saturday lost his cool and reportedly pushed aside the microphone of an ANI reporter at a five-star Ashoka Hotel gym when he was quizzed about his controversial land deals in Haryana. A livid Vadra was seen on a video footage shown repeatedly on TV channels counter questioning the ANI reporter four times, “Are you serious?” and then shoving hismicrophone away. Not talking as a Congress member but an individual public figure, former MP party spokesperson Sandeep Dikshit took critical view of Vadra’s behaviour. He called Vadra’s reactions ‘inappropriate’, even if he had been hounded by ‘overbearing’ media. Incidentally, Sandeep’s mother and former Delhi chief minister, who recently quit as Kerala Governor Sheila Dikshit, has spoken in an ambivalently favourable tone on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his vision for India. The Vadra episode could not have happened at a worse time. The Congress is battling a controversy in Kerala, vis-a-vis the corruption charges against its UDF ally KCM leader/Finance Minister K M Mani, and is also staring at a split in neighbouring Tamil Nadu, where it has been an ‘also-ran’ for decades. In both states, simultaneously the BJP is making inroads. The ouster of the Congress regime in Haryana has also witnessed an eruption of fresh charges against Vadra’s controversial deals, some of which has come in the purview of the CAG. However, by the end of day, the Congress mounted a grim defense of Vadra on the grounds that he’s a private citizen and aggressive media hounding is unfair. The party’s self-appointed Gandhi family loyalist, Digvijay Singh, did not wait for an official response. He tweeted in Vadra’s favour early in the day, much before Congress president Sonia Gandhi paid a visit to her son-in-law at his residence, in a highly visible move probably to underline the fact that she was in no way distancing herself from his daughter’s family. Though she left wordlessly, it proved to be a good enough signal for party spokesman Randeep Singh Surjewala, who’s a Haryana leader, to issue a formal defence. This ran along the same line as Digvijay’s. Taking it a step further, the party also highlighted Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s brush with the media and said the entire episode is being propagated as a “political agenda for obvious reasons” which cannot be considered either fair or proper.    (New Indian Express 3/11/14)

74. Karnataka home minister under fire over remarks on media (1)

BENGALURU: Karnataka home minister K J George came under attack from opposition for his controversial remarks that the media highlighted sexual assaults for TRP ratings, even as chief minister Siddaramaiah sidestepped the issue. As George waded into controversy, HP slammed his remarks for shifting the blame on the media and accused him of being “irresponsible” and “reacting out of frustration” and said he should quit if he can’t perform. “According to me, he is just trying to cover himself up by blaming media. If at all these incidents are coming out it is because of the media reports and their support,” BPS National Vice-President B S Trapper told reporters. Asked about George’s remarks, Dioramas said “I don’t know. I will discuss with Mr George. I don’t know in what context he made the statement. I will discuss with him.” Facing heat over increasing sexual assaults of minor girls in schools, George had yesterday landed in a controversy as he blamed the media for highlighting “only such news” and projecting Bengaluru as “a rape city” to increase TRP ratings. “What has happened to the media is you want only such news, you are showing only such news to increase your TRP. Show good news, it will be good,” he had said. Observing that the media has its own role to play, Yeddyurappa said George’s response attacking media shows that the government “is helpless and is in panic mode. Home Minister of Karnataka can’t react out of frustration when he has utterly failed to perform its duty.” The ruling Congress is not fit to govern properly, Yeddyurappa said, adding, “I request Home Minister not to utter such things in future. Do your duty, if not possible, quit Home Ministership and give it to some other person.” Former Chief Minister and state senior BJP leader Jagadish Shettar said shifting blame on the media was “completely wrong and irresponsible.” He also flayed the Chief Minister for his comments on George’s remarks, calling it “irresponsible”. Shettar described Siddaramaiah as the “most irresponsible Chief Minister I have ever seen.” George had made the controversial remarks when questioned about a spate of sexual assault incidents in schools here grabbing national headlines with four cases involving minor girls occurring in as many months, evoking public outrage and protests. (Times of India 7/11/14)

75. Panel to draft agenda on media’s portrayal of gender (1)

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Kerala Women’s Commission (KWC) plans to set an agenda on how media should handle gender sensitive issues. It will conduct a series of interactive sessions and seminars at the district level, across the state involving media personnel and social activists. The state level seminar will be inaugurated by chief minister Oommen Chandy and it will be presided over by social justice minister Dr M K Muneer, here on November 11. “When there is widespread criticism on the representation of women in the media, KWC plans to create a women-friendly approach by media on handling gender issues and the aim is to ensure the safety of women by enhancing the status of the women,” KWC chairperson KC Rosakutty said. A series of seminars are planned in association with the Press Clubs to enhance the participation of women in drafting an action plan, in order to set an agenda on representation of women in media, she said. The first two rounds of discussions with social activists and media monitoring cell of the KWC was held already. Certain recommendations have come up during the discussions, in terms of need for handling gender issues by the media. The commission will work towards drafting a set of recommendations for the decent representation of women by media. (Times of India 9/11.14)

COMMUNAL RIOTS

76. Over 300 died in 9 years in communal incidents in UP: RTI (7)

New Delhi, Nov 2: Over 300 people lost their lives and 3,000 were injured in incidents of communal violence in Uttar Pradesh in last nine years, according to a RTI reply. According to information received through the RTI for the period of 2005-2014, 1,271 communal incidents have taken place in Uttar Pradesh in the last nine years, out of which 56 were recorded in 2014 in which 10 persons died and 144 were injured. In the 1,271 incidents, 336 people lost their lives and 3,107 were injured. The highest number of communal violence incidents was recorded in 2013 at 247 in which 77 people died and 360 were injured, the Ministry of Home Affairs said in the reply. It said that public law and order and police administration are state subjects and information about loss of property, number of displaced or arrested persons, is not kept with the Centre. Year 2005 saw 121 such incidents in the state in which 47 people died while 42 lost their lives in 113 incidents of communal violence in 2006. 138 such incidents were recorded in 2007 in which 37 people died and 397 were injured. Similarly, 2008 saw 114 incidents of communal violence, the RTI reply said, adding, 18 people died and 408 were injured. The number of incidents rose to 159 in 2009. 32 people lost their lives and 525 were injured. The years 2010, 2011, and 2012 121, 121, 84, and 118 such incidents respectively. 22 people lost their lives in 2010, where as 12 and 39 people died in 2011 and 2012 respectively. (Oneindia.in 2/11/14)

77. 1984 riots: Accused in only 7 of 255 cases convicted (7)

New Delhi: An RTI query has revealed that accused in only seven cases out of the 255 lodged in connection with the 1984 anti-Sikh riots have been convicted by September this year. Twenty-seven accused in the seven cases were convicted while 591 accused in as many as 121 cases were acquitted, according to the RTI reply. Delhi-based RTI activist Gopal Prasad had filed a query with the anti-riots cell of the Delhi police, which was constituted in 1990, asking for details about the 1984 anti-Sikh riots. A total of 255 cases pertaining to 326 deceased victims had been registered, in which 622 accused had been arrested. As per the anti-riots cell, four of the accused are under trial. In the seven cases, the trial of one is pending while investigation is pending in another. The case in which investigation is pending has been registered at the Nangloi police station and it has been transferred to the CBI on the direction of Union home ministry. The government had on October 30 decided to give Rs 5 lakh each to the next of kin of 3,325 victims of the 1984 anti-Sikh riots triggered after assassination of the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. In 2006, the UPA government led by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had announced a package of Rs 717 crores, which included monetary compensation of Rs 3.5 lakhs to each killed in the riots besides financial assistance to injured and those who had lost their property. Out of this, only Rs 517 crore had been spent and the remaining Rs 200 crore could not be distributed because of dispute over claimants. (Asian Age 3/11/14)

78. 14 injured in communal clashes in 2 Madhya Pradesh districts (7)

INDORE: At least 14 people were injured, five of them critically, in communal clashes in Madhya Pradesh’s Barwani and Khargone districts on Monday night, just before Muharram, prompting the administration to enforce prohibitory orders in the trouble-torn parts. In Nimrani village in Khargone district, trouble started when some people hurled crackers at a religious procession. Those part of the procession set ablaze three shops. The first group then damaged some shops owned by those belonging to the second group. The clash developed into a free-for-all, with the groups attacking each other with swords. Seven people were injured. Five of them, who were seriously injured, were referred for treatment to Indore. Their condition remained critical on Tuesday. One of them, Shailendra Rajput, lost his right thumb in the sword attack. “The situation was brought under control by Monday late night and additional police force from neighbouring districts has been deployed in Nimrani,” Khargone superintendent of police Amit Kumar Singh told TOI on Tuesday. “Twelve people have been arrested for violence and 20 others have been booked in criminal cases.” In Barwani, violence started after a group of people allegedly threw crackers at a religious procession near a place of worship in the sensitive Pala Bazaar area of the town around 10pm. Trouble makers from both groups then pelted stones at each other. Soon, at least two shops were set ablaze and six motorcycles were damaged. The police cane-charged the rioters and lobbed tear-gas shells to bring the situation under control. Seven people were injured, including Barwani superintendent of police Tilak Singh, assistant sub-inspector S P Mehta, a trainee woman sub-inspector and a constable. Tilak Singh received minor injuries in the stone-pelting. “At least 15 people have been booked for rioting and arson in three criminal cases and efforts are being made to arrest them,” Tilak Singh said on Tuesday. “Prohibitory orders were clamped in Pala Bazaar on Monday night.” On Tuesday, saffron outfits forced commercial establishments across Barwani town to shut down in protest against the violence, while the police and local administration carried out a peace march. (Times of India 5/11/14)

79. Over 100 Muslim residents from Trilokpuri may be relocated to Seelampur (7)

NEW DELHI: Communal tensions in Trilokpuri that erupted into riots two weeks ago have also been simmering at a Delhi Metro construction site. And at the centre of the controversy is a piece of land over which the metro plans to relocate over 100 families living in Muslim-dominated Block 15. The move is being opposed by Hindu residents of Blocks 16, 17 and 18, which is located opposite the relocation site. They claim they are against construction of a new block as it is the only ‘green belt’ in the neighbourhood. The under-construction Mukundpur-Shiv Vihar corridor of Delhi Metro Phase-III cuts across Block 15 and the construction of viaducts will displace 108 families. Through an RTI query with the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation, residents of Block 15 found that they will be rehabilitated in the plot that falls in front of Blocks 16, 17 and 18 in Trilokpuri. According to residents awaiting relocation, East Delhi BJP MP Maheish Girri and former MLA Sunil Vaid held consultations in mid-October and assured residents of the Hindu-dominated blocks that their Muslim neighbours will not be relocated to the “green belt”. In response to a query on the exact location of their rehabilitation, the DMRC told RTI applicant S. Khurram that “the land has been allotted by the Delhi Urban Shelter Development Board (DUSIB)”. This was the position before the BJP MP intervened in the matter. Afzal Hussain (63), whose family will be among the displaced, said “former BJP MLA Sunil Vaid had interacted with residents of Blocks 16, 17 and 18 and there was a propaganda to not allow Muslims to be relocated to the allotted land.” Mr. Hussain, who has lived in the area for four decades, said: “At the meeting that took place last month, East Delhi MP Maheish Girri was also present and assured the gathering that these houses will not be built here”. A member of the Delhi Police-appointed Aman Committee, C. Adhikesavan, confirmed this. (The Hindu 8/11/14)

80. Delhi underground: Communal tension in Babarpur (7)

New Delhi: The Babarpur Assembly segment in Northeast Delhi is simmering with communal tension after the carcass of a cow was allegedly found in the area, police said. While police officially denied any violence in the area, sources confirmed that senior officers were present at the spot. Police sources said the incident took place a little after 10 pm on Sunday in Babarpur’s Noor-e-Ilahi area, a Muslim-dominated neighbourhood. Residents said that near the spot, a wedding was taking place in a community centre. “When it (the cow) was discovered, a Hindu wedding was taking place in the area. The people at the wedding got agitated and the situation has since been tense. People in the area are scared and are indoors,” Ovais Sultan Khan, a social worker, said. A senior police officer, on the condition of anonymity, said that after the carcass was found, “local shopkeepers reacted very angrily and the situation was brought under control only after deployment of police force was increased”. AAP leader Gopal Rai tweeted, alleging that certain “anti-social elements” were attempting to spread communal tension in the area. Joint Commissioner of Police (eastern range) Sanjay Beniwal, while stressing that there had been no instance of communal violence, said, “The situation is now normal. Persons who were out on the streets have gone back to their houses. The roads are clear.” (Inian Express 10/11/14)

COMMUNALISM

81. VHP holds blood donation drive (26)

Mangaluru: Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) celebrated their golden jubilee with a blood donation camp here on Sunday. Organised at Sharada Vidyalaya, the VHP intends to collect over 1 lakh units of blood from across the country, to commemorate the 24th anniversary of firing on Karasevaks who had gathered around Babri Masjid at Ayodhya. D. Veerendra Heggade, Dharmadhikari of Shri Kshetra Dharmastala, inaugurated the drive. He said the donation of blood was for the needy without discrimination of religion, caste, class. Calling VHP the voice of Hindus, MP Nalin Kumar Kateel condemned the State government for what he said attempting to crackdown on activists of the organisation. Referring to the arrest of Manoj Thokur, a member of the Hindu Jagrana Vedike, under the Goonda Act, Mr. Nalin said, “There is politics of hate here. Hindu activists who are working to save our culture are being arrested. If this continues we will initiate protests.” (The Hindu 3/11/14)

82. Lesson on Hindutva at RSS’ youth camp (26)

LUCKNOW: In an effort to make more and more people join the Rashtriya Swayemsewak Sangh (RSS), its chief Mohan Bhagwat presented a more ‘secular’ definition of Hindutva, saying it was the pivot of the unity-in-diversity religion and culture in the country. “Irrespective of diversified cultural practices, languages, castes and religion, it is Hindutva that unifies Bharat,” Bhagwat said addressing a gathering of over 5,000 people at the organisation’s three-day ‘Yuva Sankalp Shivir’ of Braj prant in Agra on its last day on Monday. Swayemsewaks had mobilised over 5,000 under graduates for a session on Sangh ideology during the camp. Presence of RSS chief in the programme indicated its high priority. Though several sangh members attended the camp, RSS focus was mainly on students who had recently passed Class XII. Whether Bhagwat’s definition of Hindutva was departure from his earlier explanation or not is arguable but he made a bid to elaborate what RSS means by it. “There was a time when all Indian kingdoms were separate, yet no visa or passport was required to travel from one place to another. Such was people’s faith in Hindutva,” Bhagwat said. Bhagwat added that Hindutva should not be seen as ideology of a religion or as subject of one language. It is the identity of Bharat. He cited examples of Lord Ram and Sikh gurus as role models. Before defining Hindutva, Bhagwat, in an indirect attack on RSS critics, said to understand what RSS is all about one should witness its working and activities by getting involved with it. “Nursing different notions about RSS was like blind people fearing and describing an elephant by touching only its trunk, legs or tail,” said Bhagwat. Urging people to contribute in a small way for the country’s better, Bhagwat said Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Swachchh Bharat Mission campaign was a small which could go a long way. (Times of India 4/11/14)

83. PM Narendra Modi adopts Varanasi village already under RSS care (26)

New Delhi: As part of a government initiative under which each Member of Parliament would “adopt” a village, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Lok Sabha MP from Varanasi, has adopted Jayapur village for its all-round development. Interestingly, the RSS had selected the same village in 2002 to develop it under its “ideal village scheme”. Moreover, the Sangh, during internal discussions in the past, has expressed that it would be ideal if villages being looked after by it are not adopted by MPs. Jayapur, located in Raja Talaab tehsil nearly 25 km from Varanasi, has a population of 4,000. Of them, 2,700 are voters. The village is dominated by Bhumihars and Patels. Modi will visit the village on November 7 and is likely to announce some new schemes for its development. Arvind Singh, a native of the village and RSS district co-general secretary, said, “We had adopted the village in 2002 and focused on planting trees, promoting animal husbandry and forming committees to take care of children. We are preparing for the PM’s visit. Let us see what more he does for the village.” Singh also claimed there is not a single Muslim family in the village. Other BJP MPs have also tried to adopt villages already under RSS care. The Sangh has coined three categories for villages — Uday (where work has just been initiated), Kiran (where work is ongoing) and Prabhat (where significant work has been done). Chief of the RSS Samagra Gram Vikas project, Dinesh Kumar, who was in Adilabad for the past three days to discuss the progress in these villages, told The Indian Express, “We have 175 villages in the Prabhat category and nearly 700 villages in Uday and Kiran categories.” Since the Saansad Adarsh Gram Yojana was launched by Modi for MPs last month, the RSS has been discussing the fate of its villages, it is learnt. Sources said that the issue was raised at the Lucknow meeting of the Akhil Bhartiya Karyakari Mandal of the RSS last month, where several delegates said that there may be clashes and conflict if MPs adopt villages already being looked after by the RSS. Sources added that the RSS is likely to encourage BJP MPs not to adopt the same villages. A senior RSS functionary, who did not wish to be named, said, “We are not too keen on MPs adopting our villages. Even if they adopt some of them, we will not let them use our workers.” (Indian Express 6/11/14)

84. Ban Chinese products in Indian market: VHP (26)

Kolkata: Alleging that the flooding of Chinese products in the market has emerged as a threat to Indian companies Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader Pravin Togadia on Wednesday demanded the Bharatiya Janata Party-led NDA government’s intervention to counter China’s “economic aggression”. Addressing a press conference in Kolkata Mr. Togadia said that the dumping of Chinese products has put Indian industries especially the steel and small scale industries on the verge of closure. “Centre should take serious note of Chinese economic aggression,” the VHP leader said, adding that if immediate steps are not taken to counter this Chinese “economic aggression” these industries will collapse and lakhs will be rendered unemployed. “The Centre should ban the Chinese products,” Mr. Togadia said pointing out that dumping of Chinese products has created problems for Indian steel and small scale Industries. Asked whether the government should impose a higher import duty on Chinese products, the VHP leader said that it is for the Centre to decide how to stop the influx of Chinese goods. Raising the issue of “illegal migration” from Bangladesh Mr Togadia said that there are three crore “ infiltrators” from Bangladesh settled in different parts of the country whose presence is creating pressure on the country’s resources. Despite raising the issue of “ illegal migration” the VHP was soft on State’s ruling All India Trinamool Congress and said that Bengal should not be “singled out” as foreign influx is happening in other states in the country like Assam. Mr Togadia has in the past being critical of the AITC but chose to remain silent when the BJP is accusing the State’s ruling party of creating a safe haven of terrorist in the State after the October 2 blasts at Burdwan town. “The need is to rise against political concerns and take steps in the nation’s interest and expel these infiltrators,” he added. (The Hindu 6/11/14)

85. RSS workers arrested across Tamil Nadu (26)

CHENNAI: Thousands of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh workers were arrested across Tamil Nadu on Sunday when they defied police orders and tried to take out processions to mark the founder’s day. RSS counsel served “contempt notice” on the authorities because the Madras High Court had allowed the procession. The police said that at least 21,000 persons were taken into custody and released a couple of hours later. Though permission was granted for the procession in all districts, the police prevented the workers from taking out the march. The action was based on the amendment to the Chennai City Police Act, 1888, which empowered the police to prohibit training or assembly by groups with arms or in uniform that resembles that of the armed forces or the police. Most of the RSS workers were in the ‘khaki’ uniform. Under Section 41(A) of the Act, to ensure public peace and safety, the police may prohibit any drill with arms by five or more persons at any place or carrying of arms in any procession. The word ‘arms’ meant any type of offensive weapon and included ‘lathi’ or stick. However, the High Court, while directing the police to grant permission for the procession with certain restrictions, had said the initial orders by the police, rejecting the request for the procession, did not comply with Section 41 (A) of the Act. The court had held that the provision did not apply to processions but only to drill, training, assembly with arms or in uniform. The aspect of uniform appeared to have been “raised as a bogey,” it had said, as no member of the police force wore short pants today. B. Rabu Manohar, counsel for the RSS who moved the High Court for permission, said notice was served on the DGP, the Home Secretary and the Chennai Police Commissioner on Sunday. “We got information that the police were going to stop the processions. Hence, the notice was served,” he said. (The Hindu 10/11/14)

TERRORISM

86. ISIS militants kills 85 more members of Iraqi tribe (12)

BAGHDAD: Islamic State militants have executed 85 more members of the AlbuNimr tribe in Iraq in a mass killing campaign launched last week in retaliation for resistance to the group’s territorial advances, a tribal leader and security official said on Saturday. Sheikh Naeem al-Ga’oud, one of the tribe’s leaders, told Reuters that Islamic State killed 50 displaced members of Albu Nimr on Friday. In a separate incident, a security official said 35 bodies were found in a mass grave. The sustained bloodshed shows how the al Qaeda offshoot has proven resilient despite US airstrikes against militant targets in parts of Iraq and Syria it controls. It has been killing at will, with no signs that Iraq’s armed forces will come to the tribe’s rescue anytime soon. Members of the Albu Nimr tribe had held out for weeks under siege by Islamic State fighters in Anbar Province to the west of Baghdad, but finally ran low on ammunition, fuel and food. Hundreds of tribal fighters withdrew and hundreds of members of the tribe fled their village. Islamic State rounded many up and shot them at close range. Over 300 people have been executed since the killing began in the middle of last week. (Times of India 2/11/14)

87. Suspected suicide bomber, 20 others held; more bombs found at Wagah (12)

LAHORE: Amid heart-wrenching scenes in Lahore’s hospitals, where bodies of Wagah blast victims were handed over to their families after postmortem, Pakistani authorities announced the arrest of at least 20 people, including a suspected suicide bomber, for Sunday’s attack. The death toll rose to 62 on Monday. Authorities said they recovered 8kg explosive and a suicide vest from area flanking the blast site, even as entire Pakistan was on red alert on Muharram eve to deter any possible attack on Shias who’ve been targeted by the Taliban and its offshoots in the past. Cops in Lahore told news agencies that residential areas in Wagah were being searched and 20 people were arrested, including a 17-year-old suspected suicide-bomber, Abdul Rehman, a resident of Multan district, 350km away. Rehman had gone missing from a seminary in the old city of Lahore a month ago. “Police along with an intelligence agency raided a house in Multan and arrested Rehman,” a cop said, adding Rehman is now at an unknown place being questioned. Sunday’s attack was the first major retaliatory strike by the militants since Pakistan’s launched Operation Zarb-i-Azab, a military offensive against the Taliban in North Waziristan along the border with Afghanistan four months ago. Unlike in the past, the militants this time struck on the eastern border sparking speculation that they might be looking at a strategic shift. While banned outfits Jundullah and Al Qaeda-affiliate Jamaat-ul-Ahrar were the first to claim responsibility for the attack, a third group, Mahar Mehsud, joined the assertion. Jundullah has claimed most of the past attacks on Christians, Hindus, Shias and Ahmedis, and the spokesman of newly formed Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, Ehsanullah Ehsan, had recently vowed to establish his outfit’s presence throughout the broader South Asian region, including India, Bangladesh and Myanmar. The strike at Wagah suggests the militants have expanded their reach from western Af-Pak border to the eastern front between Pakistan and India. The explosion has led to questions about whether it was a security lapse or due to engagement and concentration of the political administration and police force in Lahore to avoid sectarian violence during Muharram. Punjab government sources said a warning was issued four days ago, indicating a suicide strike at security personnel without more details. After initial reports that flag lowering ceremony was suspended for three days, India and Pakistan went ahead with the military ritual on the border crossing. Lauding the bravery of the crowd that turned up to watch the ceremony, Lahore Corps commander Lt Gen Naveed Zaman, said these attacks can’t diminish the zeal and enthusiasm of the Pakistanis. The Punjab government is revising the security plan for Muharram processions. “The Muharram security is the top-most priority at this time of the year and everybody in the government is combat-ready. We have devised best possible security arrangements,” a senior official said… (Times of India 4/11/14)

88. Rajnath calls for combined efforts to tackle terrorism (12)

MONACO: Union home minister Rajnath Singh on Wednesday called on governments across the world to collectively address the issue of safe havens for organised criminal and terrorist groups. “Governments across the world have to collectively address the issue of safe havens for organized criminal and terrorist groups and their tainted money,” said Rajnath Singh at the third Interpol ministerial meeting and general assembly here. Addressing the meet in Hindi, Singh also called on evolving a strategy to tackle cybercrime. “In the recent years, the internet and social media are being increasingly used to instigate communal riots to destabilize the state. We need to strengthen our strategy relating to cyber-crime on this momentous occasion of the centenary year of the Interpol,” he said. The home minister also pointed out that the 21st century has seen a significant increase in international criminal activity. “In the 21st century, there has been a significant increase in the range and scope of international criminal activity. The dynamics of globalisation and financial transactions across borders have enabled international crime groups to expand their global reach. “The world is also witnessing some cataclysmic changes as lethal non-state actors fired by toxic ideology turning into state themselves,” said Singh. Calling on the need for the police and judicial systems to evolve continuously to meet new challenges, the minister said: “Outdated laws have to be weeded out with effective legislations that can address corruption, recovery and confiscation of ill-gotten wealth.” He congratulated Interpol on completing its centenary and lauded its contribution to international cooperation in law enforcement. “We want to see Interpol even more powerful, effective and result oriented.” (Times of India 6/11/14)

89. Burdwan blast case mastermind remanded to 12 days NIA custody (12)

Kolkata: A city court today remanded the alleged mastermind of Burdwan blast case, Sajid, to NIA custody till November 20. Chief Judge of City Sessions Court Md Mumtaz Khan remanded Sajid, a Bangladeshi national who is stated to be a Chief Commander of Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) terror group, to 12 days custody of NIA after its counsel prayed for a 14-day remand for interrogating him to unearth the activities of the terror group. The NIA counsel submitted that he was involved in conspiring against India and other countries. Sajid, when asked by the judge whether he had to say anything, told the court from the dock, “I committed crime in Bangladesh, I fled to save myself. I want to stay in India.” He told the court that his name was Sk Rahmatullah, alias Shakil, alias Borhan and that his father’s name was Siddique Ali. The NIA counsel submitted that Sajid, who was arrested by sleuths of Bidhannagar Police and handed over to NIA, was the mastermind and kingpin of the terror network. They submitted that Rs one lakh in cash, fake voter identity cards and driving licence were found from his possession and the seized articles were produced before the court. Sajid was arrested by sleuths of Bidhannagar Police Commissionerate yesterday afternoon from the Airport area of North 24-Parganas district, situated in the northern outskirts of the metropolis. Bidhannagar Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar had told reporters that they had arrested a person named Sheikh Rahamatullah who is a Bangaldeshi and that after interrogation, it was revealed that he is Sajid who is allegedly involved in the Burdwan blast case and is the chief of Burdwan module. NIA had declared a cash award of Rs 10 lakh for Sajid’s arrest. Sajid, alias Sheikh Rahmatullah, is a member of Jamat-ul-Mujahadeen Bangladesh and is a member of Majlis-e-Sura which is the central committee of Jamat, according to Kumar. Kumar also said that Sajid had spent a few years in a jail in Bangladesh. (Deccan Herald 9/11/14)

NAXALS/ MAOISTS

90. New Naxal strategy to protect arms (12)

Raipur: A sudden spurt in cases of Naxal surrenders in Chhattisgarh’s conflict zone of Bastar has forced the Maoist leadership to evolve strategies to secure their weapons. The rebel leadership appeared so worried about the prospect of its arsenal falling into the hands of security forces owing to a growing number of their cadre joining the mainsteam in the past few months that it resorted to superstitious practices to protect their arms and ammunitions, intelligence sources told this newspaper Friday. “They are painting the small weapons, such as countrymade guns available to the jan militia members (foot soldiers), in green colour to invoke the fear of god among the lower-rung cadre, who mostly comprise tribals. The tribal cadre have been given the impression that the weapon has been anointed and any attempt to steal it will invite the wrath of the forest goddess,” a senior police officer posted in Bastar division, comprising seven Maoist-infested districts, said on condition of anonymity. A surrendered Naxal has brought to light the superstitious practice, which, incidentally, is banned in the Maoist ideology pursued by the ultras currently. “This clearly indicates how the surrender spree of the Naxals has caused the panic button to be pressed in the Maoist camp. The rebel leadership is now more concerned about protecting their armoury,” an intelligence officer said. The development has also led Maoists to prohibit their cadre from carrying weapons while leaving camp, apparently to ensure that the arms do not fall into the hands of the security forces. When contacted, Bastar district SP Ajey Yadav said, “All I can say is that the Maoists have become extra-cautious about securing their weapons.” (Asian Age 1/11/14)

91. Top Maoist leader accused in 2010 Dantewada attack arrested (12)

NEW DELHI: In a major success for the counter-Naxal forces, top Maoist leader and an accused in the April 2010 Dantewada attack that killed 75 CRPF personnel, Hemant Mandavi alias Bijja, was arrested in Dantewada on Sunday. The Chhattisgarh police, which made the arrest, claimed that he was involved in the murder of 136 civilians and security personnel and was leading Platoon no 1 of a CPI(Maoist) military company. The Chhattisgarh police picked up Bijja after he was spotted and identified by some surrendered Naxal cadres during a procession in Dantewada. Though he initially claimed that he was only an ordinary tribal and a case of mistaken identity, the video of the attack at Tadmetla, Dantewada, seized earlier from Naxalites, nailed his lie. He is clearly visible in the video, according to an intelligence source. When confronted with the video, Bijja is said to have confessed to his being part of the armed Maoist group that killed 76 security personnel in a single ambush. Bijja’s arrest comes days after a top tribal leader from Odisha with alleged Maoist links, Nachika Linga, surrendered in Koraput district of the state. Linga, leader of the Chasi Mulia Adivasi Sangha (CMAS), was wanted by the Odisha police after as many as 43 cases were registered against him. There was non-bailable warrants (NBW) against Nachika Linga’s name in 23 cases. The Odisha police had been hunting for Linga since 2009, after he led an attack on a police station at Narayanpatna. He is said to have carried a Rs 25 lakh reward. Linga had set up CMAS with the alleged help of left wing extremists, with the aim of demanding land settlement in Narayanpatna and Badhugaon blocks of Koraput district. (Times of India 3/11/14)

92. Naxals gun down seven in Gumla (12)

Ranchi: In yet another attack by Maoists ahead of the Jharkhand Assembly elections, members of the banned People’s Liberation Front of India (PLFI) on Monday ambushed seven people between Redwa and Hapu village under Kamdara police station in Gumla district. All the seven victims were  reportedly former members of Shanti Sena, an outfit comprising reformed Naxals supported by the Jharkhand Government. According to the police, the Naxals were waiting for a car near Rewada jungle under Kamdara police station. When the vehicle approached the forest the ultras started indiscriminate firing in which all the seven occupants were killed. The four-wheeler was then burnt by the extremists, a splinter group of the CPI-Maoist. According to sources, three of the deceased have been  identified by the local villagers. Jharkhand has been on high alert ahead of the Assembly polls this month. (Pioneer 4/11/14)

93. Naxals set vehicles afire, block roads during Bastar bandh (12)

Raipur: Naxals resorted to looting and arson besides uprooting a railway track in restive Bastar region in Chhattisgarh during the one-day ‘Dandkaranya bandh’ called by them, police said. Maoists set on fire three vehicles at Nareli Ghati between Bhansi and Bacheli areas under Bhansi police station limits in Dantewada district in early hours, police said. In another incident in Bastar district, rebels looted a walkie-talkie handset, a mobile phone and a computer terminal from the office of station master of Kaknoor railway station, senior police officials told PTI/Bhasha on condition of anonymity. The call for bandh in Dandkaranya, a stretch of forest that runs through the states of Chattisgarh, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra was given in protest against government policies and Operation Green Hunt, police said. The anti-naxal operation is an “all-out offensive” believed to have been launched by government in November 2009 along five states in the “Red Corridor”.When contacted, Additional DGP (Naxal Affairs) R K Vij said, “Naxal leaders have organised the bandh as they are incensed by a spate in naxal cadres surrendering before police. The purpose of bandh is to show their relevance.” He said barring interior areas in Bastar range, traffic is smooth in other areas. Naxals uprooted a railway track near Tudparas village in Dantewada district, affecting services on Kirandul- Vishakhapatnam route. They also blocked traffic on Sukma Road near Katekalyan village by felling a tree. In Narayanpur district, ultras felled a tree on Ravghat road blocking the stretch. Similarly traffic in Kondagaon, Orchha and Antagadh roads remained shut. Similar blockades were placed in Sukma district as well, with naxals damaging a stretch on the National Highway-30 near Rokel and Keratong villages. Flow of traffic was also blocked by felling trees and digging up roads in Kanker district of Bastar region and at many places in Bijapur district. Police teams have already been fanned out to prevent any violence and to help agencies in restoring normalcy. Meanwhile, a naxal, identified as Sondhar, was arrested from Kondagaon district in Bastar region today while his accomplices escaped after spotting police. (Zee News 8/11/14)

TRAFFICKING

94. SC Concerned over Arrest of Trafficked Girls (1)

NEW DELHI: Expressing concern over the trafficking of girls for prostitution, the Supreme Court on Thursday said the practice of arresting them on the charge of indulging in flesh trade should stop, as many of them were the victims of the social malady themselves.  A three-judge Bench, headed by Justice Anil R Dave, asked the Centre to file an affidavit, giving details of the actions taken by it and all the state governments in pursuance of directions issued by the court in 1990, on curbing the menace of child trafficking and prostitution. “We would like to know what actions have been taken in pursuance of the directions issued in the judgement in 1990. The Union of India shall file an affidavit, giving complete details with regard to actions taken. We direct all the state governments to cooperate, so that an appropriate Affidavit could be filed,” the Bench said. During the hearing, senior advocate Dushyant Dave, appearing for petitioner Prajwala, said such girls were being arrested and kept in police lock-ups, which usually lacked facilities like separate toilets for women. “The way they are treated by police during and after the raid or rescue operations is tortuous and they should not be arrested, as many of them are victims,” the Bench observed. Dave argued that certain provisions of the Immoral Traffic Prevention Act needed to be amended and that the court should hear and pass directions on the PIL filed in 2004. The Bench then said that instead of focusing on the rescue and post-rescue actions, measures should be initiated to prevent trafficking. “Please go one step back. We should have anti-trafficking measures in place,” the court said and asked the Centre to apprise it of the steps taken to curb the menace, as directed by the apex court. The court had, in 1990, directed all the states to form Advisory Committees for making suggestions to eradicate prostitution. It had asked the state governments and the Union Territories to direct their law-enforcing authorities to take appropriate and speedy action under the existing laws to eradicate child prostitution, without giving room for any complaint. The PIL has sought implementation of Victim Protection Protocol in the country. (New Indian Express 1/11/14)

 

95. Anti-trafficking cell to come up in Garhwal region (1)

DEHRADUN: The state police are planning to form a specialized cell to check human trafficking in Garhwal region. The cell will closely monitor gangs involved in this trade at both micro and macro levels, DIG Sanjay Gunjyal said on Sunday. The need for setting up the cell was felt after several cases of missing persons, suspected to be preys of trafficking gangs, were reported from the region. “The cell will have retired policemen, psychiatrists, media persons, social workers and informers who will handle the cases of rescued people and will also help in tracking the gangs,” said the DIG. Gunjyal was in Pauri district to have a review meeting with the police officers where he explained the concept of the cell. “It will also provide legal counseling to rescued people who have returned home and want to start a fresh life. The psychiatrists will help them in regaining confidence and start afresh,” Gunjyal said. As per the police, the young boys and girls in remote areas of the state are lured by the traffickers. They are promised lucrative jobs and comfortable stay in big cities. That is how they fall prey to such gangs and are eventually forced into crimes like flesh trade. “In cases of girls involved in flesh trade, they face a huge problem even after being rescued. The social stigma and rejection from their own parents makes life difficult for them. All this needs to be addressed with utmost care, something the new cell intends to do,” the DIG said. As per the tentative plan, each district in Garhwal region would have a cell where members will share information with their counterparts in other places. After it gets functional, the local police stations will start referring the missing complaints here. “We will be covering districts like Chamoli, Uttarkashi, Rudraprayag and areas close to the border,” said a senior police officer. (Times of India 2/11/14)

96. Give us our rights, children to MLA hopefuls (1)

Ranchi: As many as 1,500 children, who are members of NGO Bachpan Bachao Andolan’s Bal Mitra Gram (Child Friendly Village) programme, will join a statewide campaign from November 14 to December 20 to seek their rights from politicians contesting the Assembly polls. Called Chune Neta Jo Bachpan Bachaye, the campaign will see the young crusaders, most of whom are victims of child trafficking, child labour and other forms of abuse, touring districts like Ranchi, Pakur, Khunti, Koderma, Dhanbad and Palamau to spread the word about their manifesto that highlight issues concerning them. Apart from taking part in demonstrations, rallies and nukkad nataks to draw the attention of the state administration, politicians and commoners, the children will also obtain signatures of nominees of various political parties on the manifesto. Some of the demands featuring in the manifesto are eradication of child marriage and child labour, proper implementation of RTE Act, provision of girls’ toilets and water facilities in government schools, improvement in quality of midday meal and curbing absenteeism among teachers. “With the Assembly elections round the corner, we want the voices of children, who have been victims of bonded labour and trafficking, to be heard. These children have gained confidence as they are receiving education in a friendly environment and are enjoying all kinds of facilities. They are empowered and strong enough to take part in the decision-making process,” said state coordinator of Bachpan Bachao Andolan Sanjay Mishra. Shedding more light on the campaign, Mishra said they would be rolling out four Bal Adhikar Mukti Caravans comprising 25 children each. These vehicles will move in various districts, raising awareness about the basic rights of children.They will ask questions like what the MLA hopefuls are doing to stop child trafficking, child labour and other forms of abuses. The candidates have to sign the manifesto, promising to take up the issues after winning the polls. “We had undertaken a similar initiative in the Lok Sabha polls early this year. Congress candidate Subodh Kant Sahay, minister of state for social justice and empowerment in the Narendra Modi government Sudarshan Bhagat and JMM chief Shibu Soren had signed the children’s manifesto. As promised, they raised their voice for the cause of children and helped improve quality of midday meal and ensure appointment of para-teachers in government schools,” Mishra claimed. Gangotri Kujur, BJP candidate from Mandar constituency, welcomed the initiative. “The children are raising pertinent issues like child labour and trafficking. I have decided to sign their manifesto and will definitely take up the cudgels for them if voted to power,” Kujur promised. (The Telegraph 9/11/14)

CORRUPTION

97. NHRC directs DGP to probe govt role in influencing MPPEB cases (5)

BHOPAL: National Human Rights commission (NHRC) has asked director general of police Surendra Sinh to conduct an inquiry into allegations that chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and some bureaucrats were trying to influence investigations into the Madhya Pradesh Professional Examination Board (MPPEB) scam. DGP has been asked to probe and appraise the complainant about finding within eight weeks. A whistleblower in MPPEB scam, Ashish Chaturvedi, 24, has informed NHRC there was a threat to his life from those involved in the scam. He has filed more than 100 complaints of corruption in PMT entrance exam in last three years. Gwalior police have registered FIRs in 10 cases so far. “I have evidence against people who I have named in the complaint. It has been more than four months since FIR has been lodged against CM’s close aide Dr Gulab Singh and others, but nothing has happened so far. Police is under pressure to hush up case,” Chaturvedi told TOI. Gwalior-based social activist Chaturvedi has already suffered three attacks on his life, including an abduction bid. Chaturvedi also petitioned CBI to probe admissions of 5,000 doctors in MBBS and pre-medical courses between 2003 and 2013 in all state colleges. He lodged a similar complaint against the CM to the prime minister’s office (PMO). PMO responded by forwarding his complaint to the state home secretary for ‘appropriate’ action. Chaturvedi, who blew the whistle on chief minister’s relative and seven others for their role in MPPEB scam, also accused additional advocate-general of Madhya Pradesh M P S Raghuvanshi of issuing veiled threats. (Times of India 3/11/14)

98. Bar Scam: VS Urges RSP, SJD to Quit UDF (5)

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM : In the wake of the bar scam, RSP and SJD should come out of the United Democratic Front, urged Opposition leader V S Achuthanandan. In a statement here on Monday, Achuthanandan urged both parties to make their stand clear on various issues including the bribery charges levelled against Finance Minister K M Mani. “The Oommen Chandy Government has become an insult for Kerala. Each day there are new reports of corruption allegations against ministers coming out. “The latest allegations of bribery charges levelled against Finance Minister K M Mani has made it more clear. The Government Chief Whip himself had alleged that the Chief Minister and a section within the Congress are behind the allegations. Soon, names of more ministers would come out in the bar scam,” he said. The RSP and the SJD should seriously consider whether they should continue in  such a government, which is fully immersed in corruption, V S Achuthanandan said, adding that the government’s attempt was to play down the corruption charges. (New Indian Express 4/11/14)

99. Government Has Nothing to Hide in Bar Scam: CM (5)

KANNUR:  Taking advantage of the discord in the Opposition over the allegations of bribery involving senior minister K M Mani, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and Home Minister Ramesh Chenithala attacked the Left Democratic Front (LDF) on Tuesday and asked the Opposition to spell out their demand clearly. Speaking to mediapersons here on Tuesday morning, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy claimed that the government had nothing to hide in the bar scam. The government is not afraid of any investigation. The Home Minister asked the Vigilance to make a preliminary enquiry about the allegations when the Leader Of Opposition V S Achuthanandan raised the demand in writing. VS gave a letter to the Vigilance Director to probe the allegations and the Home Minister directed the vigilance to make an inquiry. V S Achuthanandan now dismisses his earlier letter and wants a CBI inquiry. Why he did not demand a CBI probe in writing, Oommen Chandy quipped. The Chief Minister also criticised Achuthandan’s invitation to RSP and SJD back into the LDF camp. The invitation extended to SJD and RSP was the result of political disappointment, he ridiculed. “Since the UDF gained power, the Opposition has been trying out various tricks to topple the government. And all those stratagy fell flat. Now, out of desperation, they are trying to wean off some of the UDF constituents,” the chief minister criticised. Interacting with the press here, Ramesh Chennithala said that Vigilance would probe the political conspiracy behind the allegations against K M Mani in the bar scam. The minister also slammed the opposition for the discord in the front. Let the LDF first reach a common decision on what kind of investigation should be ordered in the bar scam. The government cannot change its decisions as per the whims of the Opposition, he added. (New Indian Express 5/11/14)

100. Demand for CBI probe into Health Dept scam (5)

JORHAT, Nov 6 – Demanding a CBI probe into the alleged scam in the appointment of some Health Department officials in Jorhat, Sivasagar, Golaghat, Dhemaji, Dibrugarh and two other districts of the State, senior BJP members and advocates said that the Government must do it in public interest as several crores of rupees from the public exchequer have already been disbursed by Treasury officials illegally to pay the salaries of those employees. At a press conference here on Monday, State BJP secretary Santanu Pujari alleged that the ongoing investigation by the Chief Minister’s Vigilance Cell may not find out the corrupt doctors and employees of both the Health and Finance departments as some influential persons are trying to mislead the probe. According to Pujari, rampant corruption took place in Jorhat during 2010-2013 and a Joint Director of Health Services resorted to unfair practices in the appointment of more than 100 Grade III and Grade IV employees in different hospitals and offices. “The then Joint Director of Health Services refused to give us details about the recruitment process and the job details of the employees by citing a Bombay High Court decision on maintaining secrecy. The senior doctor tried a lot to cover up the scam even when we sought the details under the RTI Act,” said Pujari. He claimed that later they could access some government documents which substantiated the fact that some employees availed of the chance to join their offices under the aegis of the Joint Director of Health Services in Jorhat by showing some “fake transfer orders from some other districts.” “The nexus between Health Department and Treasury officials helped all the illegally-appointed employees to get their monthly salaries from the District Treasury Office. They were not appointed earlier in any district. It is mysterious how they could join service at the offices in Jorhat by showing fake transfer orders. A sum of about Rs 15 crore was disbursed illegally from the Jorhat Treasury itself for their salaries,” Pujari maintained. Expressing concern over the alleged violation of the legal procedure by some senior Finance Department officials, advocate Rintu Goswami said that the Deputy Commissioner of Jorhat did not heed their request for a probe earlier though the case was reported months ago. “We demand a CBI probe. Several senior officers of the both the Health and Finance departments are suspected to be involved in the case. The State Government’s investigation may not bring them to book for political reasons,” said Goswami. Though the Deputy Commissioner has constituted a committee for probe, the recent transfer of a senior Health officer has cast doubt on the Government’s will for a fair investigation, he added. Advocate Gautam Bora also said that only the CBI should be entrusted with the probe as some powerful officers and political personalities are allegedly involved in the case. “Documents revealed that such cases took place not only in Jorhat. Sivasagar, Golaghat, Dibrugarh, Dhemaji and two other districts also witnessed such violation of government rules. Public money has been disbursed from the Treasuries illegally. The Government must confiscate the disproportionate assets of the officers and employees involved in the case through a legal process,” added advocate Bora. (The Assam Tribune 7/11/14)

ENVIRONMENT/ CLIMATE CHANGE

101. Environmentalists appeal India to take lead role in global climate negotiations (9)

NEW DELHI: A day after scientists of the UN-backed panel appealed the world to take urgent actions to save the globe from disastrous consequences of climate change, environmentalists on Monday asked Indian government to take a leadership role in global climate negotiations for an ambitious action saying “the rich nations have failed to take the lead” in solving the problem. Ahead of crucial climate talks in Peru next month, they also said the world can only come together if the global negotiations are based on the principles of fairness and equity. Referring to the findings of the IPCC synthesis report, Chandra Bhushan, deputy director general of the Delhi-based Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) said, “The actions currently being taken by countries are not sufficient to limit temperature increase. Developed countries have failed to take lead in resolving this evolving crisis. Instead of reducing emissions, the developed countries have in fact increased their consumption-based emissions over the past 20 years”.The IPCC synthesis report, released in Copenhagen on Sunday, noted that the inaction from the governments across the world had not only led to increase of average surface temperature by 0.85 degree celsius over the period from 1880 to 2012 but also resulted in warming and acidifying of oceans, contributing to extreme weather events across the all continents in the past few years. Commenting on the report, the CSE chief Sunita Narain said, “The IPCC report is a clear warning against inaction. However, it also says that the world can come together and take on this challenge. But the world can only come together if the global negotiations are based on the principles of fairness and equity.” The CSE’s analysis shows that a fair deal would require developed countries to reduce their emissions substantially by 2030. However, no developed country has announced an ambitious emission cut targets. “The 40% emissions cuts announced by the EU are just not sufficient. The US has done even worse. It has not announced any targets, but the boom in fossil fuel use in that country — especially in the use of shale gas and oil — is going to be a major obstacle for the US to put forth an ambition target”, it said. Seeking actions from nations to face the challenges climate change, the IPCC, in fact, wants the world to completely phase out fossil fuels (oil, coals and natural gas) in electricity generation by the end of this century and reduce their use to 20% by 2050. Scientists have clearly noted that if disastrous consequences of climate change are to be avoided, all nations will have to collectively bring emissions of greenhouse gases to nearly zero by year 2100. It is expected that the representatives of over 190 countries would deliberate on the issue while discussing finer points of desired actions at the Lima climate talks next month. The negotiations in Peruvian capital and expected commitment from countries will hopefully be the basis of the global climate deal which is expected to be arrived at in Paris summit next year. Bhushan said, “India must take the lead in negotiations and push for an ambitious global goal. It also must take ambitious action itself.” Director of the Climate Action Network South Asia (CANSA), coalition of 120 civil society organizations, Sanjay Vashist, too emphasized on ambitious action from India saying the country needs to increase its ambition post-2020 riding on success of renewable energy initiatives. He said, “For success of 2015 climate deal, formula for equitable effort sharing is must”.Other global groups too have similar concerns. Referring to the IPCC report, which warned adverse consequences of inaction, the head of the ACT Alliance climate change advisory group, Mattias Soderberg, said, “Politicians around the world must act on these predictions and there is no time to waste. We need to do whatever we can to reduce our emissions, help people to adapt, and where this is not possible, help displaced people to settle and move on with their lives somewhere else”.The ACT Alliance is a coalition of more than 140 organizations working together across the globe to create positive and sustainable change in the lives of poor and marginalized people. Soderberg said, “Governments must adhere to the report, and base their positions and commitments on the recent science. The UN climate talks are in a critical phase, where parties will present their intended contributions to the future agreement. As such the IPCC report is extremely timely. Governments should now reconsider their targets in light of the new findings.” (Times of India 3/11/14)

102. IPCC dropped key chart ‘inconvenient’ to developed world: CSE (9)

NEW DELHI: Four days after the UN-backed Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) brought out its detailed findings predicting a gloomy future for the world if it fails to cut emissions drastically, the Delhi-based research and advocacy group Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) on Thursday claimed the global body had dropped a key ‘graph’ from its synthesis report which was “inconvenient” to rich nations. The dropped ‘graph’ shows how developed countries shy away from focusing on their fast growing consumption-based emissions. They instead, prefer to project their success in reducing production-based emissions over the past few years. CSE said, the chart indicates that the production-based emissions of these countries have decreased because they shifted the manufacturing base to the developing countries and have been fulfilling their domestic requirements through imports Although the CSE has consistently been in full agreement with the IPCC over its findings and analysis, in this instance, they believe, the climate panel succumbed to the politics of climate change. IPCC chairman R K Pachauri, however, rejected the claim, saying “this is completely wrong”. In a text message to TOI, he said, “There was not a single figure which was dropped from the synthesis report. Every figure from the draft submitted for approval was retained intact”.The IPCC later tweeted that “the chart CSE refers to is on page 16 of the Working Group III Technical Summary. It was not dropped.” Though the important chart was there in the WGIII summary, it could not find place in the final synthesis report. Flagging the matter in its annual media briefing on climate change, the CSE’s deputy chief and the group’s climate expert Chandra Bhushan on Thursday highlighted that the ‘graph’ was in the draft report of working group-III of the IPCC but it was finally dropped from the synthesis report. The synthesis report, released in Copenhagen on Sunday, distilled and combined all the three working group reports of the panel which were brought out by it in the past 13 months. Claiming that he could access the ‘graph’ from a key member of the IPCC, Bhushan said, “The chart actually shows how consumption in developed countries is increasing rapidly and that consumption is being supported by developing countries”.He noted that had this ‘graph’ been part of the report, it would have been a “big embarrassment” for developed nations, which are historically the top emitters. Bhushan, at the same time, also blamed India and China for letting rich nations drop such an important eye-opener, saying both these countries are supporting the consumption of the developed world by turning themselves to the west’s manufacturing base in the name of economic growth. Elaborating further, CSE chief Sunita Narain said, “They (developed countries) are still consuming. Actually the rich have not reduced (emissions) at all. They exported it (emissions) to developing world including China and India. They pretend to be reducing emissions but are not actually reducing it. This is the dirty politics.” She later also tweeted the ‘graph’, saying the chart that went missing in the IPCC final report shows how rich countries have not reduced emissions. Urging developing countries, including India, not to miss these points while negotiating for a global climate deal, Bhushan said rich nations should not escape from their responsibilities of drastic emission cuts by presenting different data to the world. (Times of India 7/11/14)

103. Smog scare: Patients told to stay indoors (9)

NEW DELHI: Air quality in the city is deteriorating every day as agricultural waste burning continues unabated in Punjab and Haryana. Doctors, too, are seeing a jump in cases of acute bronchitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases (COPD) and asthma. They are advising those who are vulnerable or already suffering from respiratory disorders to avoid going out during peak traffic hours, keeping inhalers handy and, if smog is severe, recommending a few weeks stay outside Delhi. The PM2.5 (fine respirable particles) levels have increased from 180 microgram per cubic metre on November 4 to about 205 microgram per cubic metre on November 9, about 3.5 times the safe standard of 60 microgram per cubic metre according to data with System of Air Quality Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR) under Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM). PM10 (coarse particles) increased from 289 microgram per cubic metre to 315 microgram per cubic metre on Sunday. At 6.45pm, the PM2.5 level at Mandir Marg was 303 microgram per cubic metre, five times the standard and at RK Puram it was 343 microgram per cubic metre, almost six times the standard. According to IGI airport’s met department, smog formed and reduced visibility on November 8 midnight to late morning of November 9. For about eight hours, the visibility remained at 400 to 500 metres. More smog is expected in the next few days. Due to western disturbances (WD) the wind speed had increased slightly, to about 15 kmph in some areas. But the WD has now moved away and the winds are calm now. “The smog has suddenly increased with longer low visibility periods for the first time this season. In view of smog favouring circulation pattern now likely to continue for another 3-4 days the airport will be affected,” said a statement issued by IGI Met. Meanwhile, doctors are seeing a sudden jump in complaints of acute respiratory conditions and associated complications. Dr Randeep Guleria, professor and head of pulmonary medicine at AIIMS, said, “Due to the PM2.5 level being very high, there is a 10-15% increase in complaints of asthma and COPD. We are suggesting that those who are vulnerable should keep relief medication and inhalers. They should avoid travel during peak hours and around mid-day. If smog is severe we suggest they go out of Delhi for a few weeks till pollution levels come down.” The link between lung cancer and air pollution is not directly established, but Guleria said some studies do link lung cancer. His department is planning to conduct a study linking hospital admissions with air pollution in Delhi. SAFAR’s AQI states that children and elderly are most likely to experience health impacts during “poor” air quality, even the healthy will experience discomfort. The air pollution levels on Monday for PM2.5 and PM10 is likely to be 215 microgram per cubic metre and 350 microgram per cubic metre, respectively, according to a forecast by SAFAR, IITM. (Times of India 9/11/14)

AGRICULTURE/ FARMERS SUICIDES

104. Suicide by farmers confined to rain-fed areas: Pocharam (20)

HYDERABAD: Agriculture Minister Pocharam Srinivas Reddy has said that suicide by farmers in Telangana was confined to rain-fed areas after September 20 due to scanty rainfall which resulted in crop damage. Reacting to reports that 325 distressed farmers had committed suicide in the five-month-old TRS government, Mr. Srinivas Reddy told media persons that most of the deaths were exaggerated by newspapers. It was true that some farmers had committed suicide but district-level committees were verifying specific reasons for their rash act. A revolving fund was also kept at the disposal of Collectors to address the distress of farmers. He also said the problem of suicide did not arise where irrigation was by borewells, covering 50 lakh acres. Suicide by farmers was nothing new to Telangana as 3,915 of them ended their lives from 1998 to 2014. The government was gathering details about farmers who committed suicide during TRS rule. To mitigate the shortage of power for borewells, Mr. Srinivas Reddy said the government proposed to energise 20,000 agricultural pump sets by harnessing solar power this year. An allocation of Rs. 200 crore would be made for the purpose in the coming budget. The Telangana government would launch on Saturday a programme to extend Rs. 4 a litre incentive to dairy farmers supplying milk to the government-owned Vijaya Dairy. Mr. Reddy himself will symbolically receive milk on behalf of the dairy at Takrajguda of Tallakondapalli mandal in Mahbubnagar district. He will also participate in another programme at Yerrapad of Tadvai mandal in his native Nizamabad district. (The Hindu 1/11/14)

105. Farming community loses all hope (20)

Nalgonda: Nearly 330 ryots end lives since September 20. Already in debts, the delayed monsoon forced the 28-year-old  Janganaboina Paramesh to sow cotton seed twice but they did not sprout due to extended dry spell. As the tragedy of farmers committing suicide due to crop failure stares the five-month-old Telangana government, the gruesome tales continue to haunt villages across the State. Nearly 330 farmers were said to have ended their lives since September 20 when the rains receded and led to a severe demand for power to energise the 20 lakh pumpsets to save the standing crop. The government did not deny the distress death of farmers but it was confined to rain-fed areas. Already in debts, the delayed monsoon forced the 28-year-old  Janganaboina Paramesh to sow cotton seed twice but they did not sprout due to extended dry spell. Losing hope if he would get back what he had invested on his 14-acre cotton crop back, Paramesh committed suicide by consuming pesticide on July 4 this year — leaving his three below 6-year-old children in the care of his 22-year-old wife, Padma. A neighbour Vanam Venkataiah said that Paramesh had been cultivating cotton since eight years but never reaped good harvest due to either dry spell or excess rainfall. He also said Paramesh had borrowed money from private money lenders to a tune of Rs 5 lakh and he also got Rs. 1 lakh from banks excluding the interest amount. Human Rights Forum (HRF) visited Paramesh’s house recently and concluded that the district administration never made any attempts to compensate the family. (The Hindu 2/11/14)

106. Amid Telangana Farmer Suicides, Lawmakers Seek A Raise (20)

Hyderabad:  New state Telangana has recorded some bleak statistics in its first five months of existence – 348 farmers have committed suicide. While that will be a big issue in the state’s first Budget session that began today, legislators are also pushing for a salary hike. The bigger pay package did not find mention in the budget presented by Finance Minister Etala Rajender today, but legislators from the ruling party Telangana Rashtriya Samiti or TRS say the government plans a Bill in this session to increase the salary of legislators from Rs. 1.2 lakh to Rs. 2 lakh a month. Such a hike will mean an additional expense of over Rs. 38 crore per annum in a state that is reeling under a massive agriculture crisis brought on by an acute water and power shortage. While delayed and deficit rains have played havoc, social activists say no fresh bank loans and poor power supply this season have pushed debt-ridden farmers further into despair. Uttam Kumar Reddy a Congress legislator said it would be embarrassing to get a hike at a time when the entire state is reeling under drought. But Jupally Krishna Rao of the TRS said a salary hike for legislators hike was very justified and the Telugu Desam’s Revanth Reddy said the increase should be even more. He said spending a little over Rs. 3 crore on legislators salary was nothing at all, considering they had so many responsibilities and obligations as elected representatives. The BJP’s Ramachandra Reddy said his party has not demanded the hike so they “are not responsible.” Across parties, legislators however justified the hike in private, saying they need the extra money to function effectively. Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao had also justified his proposal for a hike, saying that when they were presenting a one lakh crore budget, Rs. 38 crore was not a big spending on legislators with many duties, responsibilities and obligations. Within the budget, a hike in Constituency Development Fund has been mentioned, from Rs. 1 crore to Rs. 1.5 crore that will cost the exchequer Rs. 234 crores. (NDTV 5/11/14)

107. All farmer suicides not due to crop loss: Harish (20)

SANGAREDDY: Irrigation Minister T. Harish Rao said that all farmers’ suicides are not due to crop loss and the opposition parties were trying to blame the government by making such a claim. He said that they would refute the charges of the opposition on the floor of Assembly. Participating in various programmes held at Siddipet and other areas of Medak district on Thursday, Mr. Harish Rao alleged that even the deaths of farmers due to ill health and suicides for other reasons were being termed as “farmers’ suicides”. Stating that the government was very much committed for the welfare of farmers, the Minister said that according priority for farming in the budget by the government shows the true spirit. Referring to belt shops and country made arrack, he said that the women should lead the fight against this practice. He said that the government would ensure that there would be no cases against women who fight against belt shops.(The Hindu 7/11/14)

108. CJI calls for more compensation to farmers (20)

AHMEDABAD: As the Centre plans to make amendments in the Land Acquisition Bill, the Chief Justice of India Justice HL Dattu has cautioned the in power to make minimum use of agriculture land for the corporate sector and if at all the land was to be given to the farmers they should be given more compensation than the existing rate. The Chief Justice was speaking on “Strengthening Climate Justice Initiatives: Livelihood Challenges at Local Level with a Focus on Farmers,” at a conference organized in the city. The Chief Justice said that apart from discussing the impact of climatic change on agriculture and farmers, the party in power should discuss on how they can help the farmers. “In my opinion the agricultural land being acquired by the state governments for the purpose of handing over to corporate sector, if it could be minimized it could help the agricultural community to a large extent,” he said. He said that his statement was in the context that the land was the bread and butter for the agriculturists. He said, “When you take the land of the farmer, not only give him compensation but it should be more than the compensation he deserves.” He further said that as a Supreme Court judge when he was hearing such land compensation cases, he always asked the question to the advocate appearing for the states as to why they were fussy when it came to giving compensation to the farmers for whom the land was the sole means to earn his livelihood. Looking at state Minister Bhupendrasinh Chudasma he asked him to pass it on the at the centre that the farmers should be given good compensation. The Chief Justice even said that the family of the farmer who committed suicide has to give bribe to the officer to get a ceritificate that the farmer has committed suicide. (Times of India 9/11/14)

LAND ACQUISITION/ DISPLACEMENT

109. ‘POSCO will not be shelved’ (4)

BHUBANESWAR: Nearly a decade after the mega steel project proposed by South Korean company POSCO failed to take off in Jagatsinghpur district of Odisha, the steel major here on Friday said the project would not be shelved. “We have been waiting here for 10 years. We would never quit,” said Gee Woong Sung, Chairman and Managing Director of POSCO, India, who met Chief Secretary G.C. Pati here. POSCO India is said to have discussed issues from the physical handing over of the required land for the proposed steel plant in Jagatsinghpur to providing mining linkage to the project. POSCO India had proposed to establish a 12 million tonne per annum capacity steel plant and a captive port at Rs. 52,000 crore of investment — the biggest Foreign Direct Investment — in Jagatsinghpur district on June 22, 2005. When local resistance grew against acquisition of land, the company reshaped the project into 8 mtpa capacity. It also brought down the land requirement from over 4000 acres of land to 2700 acres. Industrial Infrastructure Development Corporation of Odihsa (IDCO) with the help of Jagatsinghpur district administration acquired about 2700 acres of land. But it was yet to give physical possession of land to the company. When IDCO attempted to construct a boundary wall, it was resisted by local people under the banner of Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti. The land acquisition process has not been completed, even in a decade. Mr. Sung was said to have requested the State government to expedite the process of land acquisition and develop road linkage to the project area. The meeting which lasted about four hours was attended by IDCO CMD Vishal Dev and Steel and Mines Secretary G Srinivasan here on Friday. “The meeting was successful,” said the POSCO CMD while coming out of the meeting hall. The POSCO top executive, sources said, wanted to know the fate of Khandadhar iron ore mine. The South Korean company also got a shot in arm after Union Ministry of Environment and Forest on October 28 clarified that in case of plantations which were notified as ‘Forest’ on a day less than 75 years prior to the December 13, 2005 and are located in the villages having no recorded population of Scheduled Tribes, as per the Census-2001 and Census 2011, then no forest rights are likely to be recognized, even if the process of stipulation in Forest Rights Act and the rules framed under for recognition and vesting of forest rights is initiated and completed. Government sources said the MOEF circular would help POSCO India overcome the forest right hurdle in Jagatsinghpur district. (The Hindu 1/11/14)

110. Tata files revised proposal for relief to displaced in Orissa (4)

Berhampur: Leading steel producer Tata Steel has submitted a proposal to the Orissa government on revision of compensation. The company will announce its revised package after the state government approves the proposal, said Arun Mishra, vice-president of the project here on Monday. The people of Sindhigaon, Badapaur, Patrapur, Kalipalli and Paikapada villages near Gopalpur were displaced after the company acquired 2,970 acres for the then proposed shore-based mega steel plant in 1996. However, the company later shelved the project and decided to set up an industrial park and multi-product special economic zone (SEZ) for which the foundation stone for the proposed project was laid by chief minister Naveen Patnaik in August 2010. Expressing resentment over the inordinate delay in the execution of the project, the displaced families, in a memorandum to the Tata Rehabilitation Village Development Committee, had demanded a special resettlement and rehabilitation (R&R) package and a permanent job to one member of each affected family. (Asian Age 4/11/14)

111. Illogicalities in land acquisition law need to go: Jaitley (4)

New Delhi: Finance Minister Arun Jaitley Wednesday said the government is considering changes to some “illogical provisions” of the Land Acquisition Act. “There are some illogical provisions like land cannot be used or acquired under this law for private educational institutions, private hospitals and hotels. There are some factors in it, which certainly require a relook,” Jaitley said at the India Economic Summit here. “By this, a new capital of Andhra Pradesh, or the 100 smart cities proposed cannot have private universities and schools, private hospitals or hotels,” he added. Speaking at a question and answer session at the summit inauguration, Jaitley said the new law lays down extremely complicated procedures, making it almost impossible to acquire land. The act now makes it mandatory to take the consent of 80 percent of the people whose land is taken for private projects. In the case of public-private-partnership projects, the consent of 70 percent of people is required. “As defence minister, I face difficulties every day, even defence is not exempt,” Jaitley, who holds this additional charge, said. Important infrastructure projects like industrial corridors and housing, especially for the poor, were being held up by such illogicalities in the law, he added. (Business tandard 5/11/14)

112. Andhra Pradesh government planning ‘land bank’ to promote industries (4)

Rajahmundry: Andhra Pradesh Government is mulling over to constitute a “land bank” of two lakh acres to promote industries, state Finance Minister Yanamala Ramakrishnudu said here on Thursday. “Many countries are interested in establishing industries in our state and we need to show them that land is available in our state,” the minister told a press conference at Pithapuram in East Godavari district. He said the state government was making sincere efforts for promotion of industries and state Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu is visiting Singapore for this purpose. “The decision of Central government to declare special status for AP would be of help as more industries will come here to set up their shops. A special package has also been proposed for seven coastal districts under the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Bill,” Ramakrishnudu said. Observing that Andhra Pradesh has 49 SEZs, he said the state possesses valuable mineral resources as well as 14 ports in coastal districts which would help in development of the state. Responding to a query on global players evincing interest in setting up units in AP, Ramakrishnudu said an Australian firm has come forward to establish a ship building unit at Kakinada. “The state is in favour of ship building units, but not for ship-breaking units as they cause pollution,” he added. On an industrial corridor announced by Centre, the minister said industries without pollution are essential and Centre has already proposed to establish hardware industry in the district. (DNA 6/11/14)

113. Jaitley vows to amend Land Act, promises non-aggressive tax policy (4)

NEW DELHI : Finance Minister ArunJaitley today said the government will amend the tough land acquisition law even if the opposition does not support as it looks to restore confidence in the economy. On a day when Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expanding his Cabinet, Jaitley promised a rational, non ultra-aggressive tax policy and make India a global manufacturing hub. “Some changes may be necessary (to the Land Acquisition Act). We will first try to reach a consensus and if that is not possible we will go ahead and take the decision,” he said addressing India Global Forum meeting here. The Land Acquisition Bill, which was passed during the previous UPA regime with then opposition BJP supporting it, seeks to set a fair compensation for farm land being taken over for industrial projects. But the law has made land acquisition very difficult, slowing projects. States too have come out openly against the law saying it had hurt the process of acquiring land for infrastructure projects. Jaitley said that the “obstacles” to the land laws would have to be first removed in order to implement the concept of smart cities in India. In Budget 2014-15, Jaitley had proposed an allocation of Rs 7,060 crore for developing 100 ‘smart cities’ in the country. The Rural Development Ministry has already suggested a number of amendments to the Land Acquisition Act that will water down provisions such as mandatory consent of at least 70 per cent locals for acquiring land for PPP projects, and 80 per cent for private projects. Jaitley also said that the government’s disinvestment programme will “unfold” in the next couple of days. He added that the government aims to bring down its equity in public sector banks to 52 per cent. “Economy was and is in a challenging situation and one of the principal challenges before us is to restore the confidence in the Indian economy, to expand economic activity and move towards increasing the growth rate,” he said. Stating that growth rate next year will be “a little better”, he said if the trend continues, India can be on high growth trajectory soon. “We have seen the challenges before the economy. So, a reasonable and rational tax policy (is needed). It can’t be ultra aggressive with the tax payers,” the Minister said. (Times of India 9/11/14)

114. DDA policy to provide relief to 5 lakh displaced people (4)

NEW DELHI: Over five lakh displaced people staying in DDA properties without official authorisation or on lease by paying damages will soon be benefitted with the land agency working on formulating a policy to regularise such properties. DDA vice-chairman Balvinder Kumar has initiated the process of formulating a policy for thousands of properties occupied by displaced persons and others from 1940 onwards on the basis of “paying damages” or “leases” in 23 nazul estates of Delhi in areas like Karol Bagh, Paharganj, Anand Parbat, Chuna Mandi, etc. The DDA said government land falling under these 23 nazul estates, after partition, was mainly occupied by refugees, who settled in these open spaces without official authorisation. These occupants were issued slips known as “damages slips” for using the government land. On constitution of the DDA in 1957, these lands were transferred to the land agency. The number of such properties in 1959 was approximately 18,179. Over a period of time, these plots were either inherited, subdivided or sold and “damages slips” became the basis of various transactions, i.e., sale mutation etc. and in many cases the transactions were registered also. The “damages”, as per the slips issued, were being collected through Damages Collectors. The DDA said the number of these properties have now multiplied many times and there are around one lakh families, i.e., about five lakh occupants who are staying in these properties after paying damages and many even without paying any damages. Some of the land in these areas was on leasehold basis and continues to be occupied by such occupants even though the leases have either expired or have been cancelled /determined. “In order to provide relief to such thousands of unauthorised occupants who have been continuing to occupy government land either without official authorisation or through leases for more than 60 years, a policy is being formulated to regularise such occupancy. For working out the basic guideline, details of the households, their occupants are being collected from the Census House Listing Schedules of 2010-2011, where each structure has been listed along with the status of the owner or the tenant. Help of the National Population Register-2011 and various socio-economic surveys are also being taken to get the exact details,” the DDA said. (The Hindu 10/11/14)

RIGHT TO HEALTH

115. It’s never been so good for pregnant women here (3)

ADILABAD: Pregnant women in the agency area of Adilabad now have good reason to be happy about. A specialised initiative to improve institutional deliveries has not only resulted in better access to hospitals but also succeeded in significant reduction of infant and maternal mortality rates (IMR and MMR) among tribal people of nine mandals in the district. The initiative was launched in February to eventually cover the mandals of Narnoor, Jainoor, Sirpur (U), Kerameri, Wankidi, Asifabad, Tamsi, Sirpur (T) and Kutala under a centralised mechanism to track each and every case of pregnancy aimed, among other things, to facilitate transport of pregnant women to hospitals. A 24×7 call centre at the ITDA sends SMS alerts to everyone concerned – including the ITDA Project Officer, the Additional District Medical and Health Officer in Agency, the ANM and even the driver of the ambulance on the time of the delivery in a given case. The ITDA has purchased six vehicles used exclusively for the purpose in the mandals in question. The facilitation has drastically reduced home deliveries from 1,768 in 2013 to 322 so far, said R.K. Anantha Krishnan, Prime Minister’s Rural Development Fellow with the ITDA, who is also the nodal person looking after implementation of the programme. Adilabad district has one of the highest rates of IMR at 56 (deaths per 1,000) against the State’s average of 47 and country’s average of 41. The MMR rate of 222 (deaths per 1 lakh population) is also among the highest in the State and the country. “In the last six months since the initiative was launched, the IMR has come down by over half to 20, and the MMR is just 2 in the mandals where the initiative has been taken up,” Mr. Krishnan reveals. “Against the 681 institutional deliveries in these mandals recorded last year, we have already achieved 1,018 during the eight months in question,” he adds to underscore the success of the specialised initiative. The programme has also helped the ITDA tackle the perilous problem of anaemia, the haemoglobin percentage being less than 8 in a majority of pregnant tribal women. “The help of Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) is enlisted to provide proper food to weak mothers through the tracking system in operation,” Mr. Krishnan says. (The Hindu 1/11/14)

116. MP in hall of shame, tops chart in infant deaths (3)

INDORE: Despite relentless efforts of the government to curb infant deaths, Madhya Pradesh along with Assam has earned the dubious distinction of recording highest infant mortality rate (IMR). Though the IMR has witnessed a dip by two points this year, the number of infant deaths in MP exceeds national average and is relatively higher as compared to other 18 states. According to the recently released sample registration survey (SRS) conducted by Census, Union government, the IMR was 56 deaths per 1000 live births last year, which has reduced to 54 deaths per 1000 live births this year. However, the figure is still large among the 19 bigger states of the country. The other four states in top IMR list are Assam (54), Odisha (51), Uttar Pradesh (50) and Rajasthan (47 deaths per 1000 live births). Overall, IMR of the country is 40 deaths per 1000 live births, which is quite low in comparison to the IMR in the state. According to the health department sources, they have a target to bring down the IMR to 28 by the end of 2015. At present, the state health department has 53 functional special new born care units (SNCU) while there are over 100 newborn stabilization units. Moreover, the auxiliary nurse midwives (ANM) are monitoring the health of the newborn till 42 days since birth. The ANM visits the house of the newborn and monitors the health of the newborn. If the infant is found to be suffering from any disease, she refers the child to hospital for treatment. Moreover, the health department has put up radiant warmers at the health centres which have facility of child birth (delivery). It prevents the newborn from hypothermia, which is one of the major causes of infant mortality. Also, the state government has identified 40 districts in the state, which are tagged as ‘high focused areas’. In these districts, the health indicators are not good in terms of IMR and maternal mortality ratio. The health department, which aims at achieving the target by the end of 2015, is taking steps to strengthen facilities and improve health indicators in high focus districts. The targets are known as millennium development goals. (Times of India 5/11/14)

117. Birth Defects in Attappadi Stun Health Experts (3)

PALAKKAD:  The medical fraternity here has been found divided over the causes related to the issue of the death of two infants in Attappadi due to anencephaly in the course of one week. Anencephaly is the congenital absence of part or all of the brain, skull and scalp in an infant. While a section connected the outbreak with the overuse of endosulphan and other pesticides on the crops, others clung to the deficiency of folic acid in pregnant mothers. During the last 17 months of monitoring the pregnant mothers, only two cases of anencephaly deaths were reported, and, therefore, it cannot be attributed completely to pesticides, said Dr Sreehari, the district programme manager of the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM), adding that folic acid deficiency could be deemed as the main cause, though in stray cases pesticides might have acted. Folic acid is usually administered on women during their initial stages of pregnancy, but in Attappadi and surrounding areas, social compulsions come in the way, and the women disclose it only after three to four months, said Dr Sreehari. Folic acid is generated from fruits and vegetables with sour tastes. But according to Dr Sreehari, the tribal women shy away from consuming them as they couldn’t tolerate the sour tastes. Their teeth are mostly ruined with the habit of chewing tobacco, and they refrain from it. But according to District medical officer K Venugopal, two cases of anencephaly reported from Cheerakadavu and Bommiampadi in Pudur panchayat were of congenital defects. The settler farmers as well as adivasis here cultivate banana and they use pesticides such as furidan in large scale, which must have caused the outbreak in the children, said the DMO. A survey made in the panchayat has confirmed excessive use of pesticides, he said. As a counter measure, the women have been asked to boil the drinking water before they consumed it, he added. Dr Seema Bhaskar, mission manager of the National Rural Livelihood Mission (NRLM) in Attappadi, said that a vital reason for such abnormal child births might be the lack of nutrition in pregnant women. They also use untreated water from Siruvani and Bhavani rivers, where the water is mixed with feacal wastes, which carry infecting worms, said Dr Seema. Janani Suraksha Yojana, a government programme for the safety of motherhood, in one of their findings has reported the pregnant women in various oorus (abodes) are still anaemic. The report has also said that overuse of pesticides could be the reason. The Mahila Kisan Shakthikar Pariyojana of the NRLM had educated the people in the adivasi camps in the area to avoid pesticides when they undertake cultivations. But such endeavours were rendered futile as the nearby settler farmers had been antagonistic about it, said Dr Seema. The one way out to resist such anomalies, according to Dr Sreehari (NRHM), is to encourage the tribals to cultivate ragi, jowar and other millets which are considered nutritional enhancers to women in pregnancy period. A study undertaken by NRHM, with the support of UNICEF, indicated that 154 cases of child malnutrition in the area in last January has come down to 77 in October. (New Indian Express 7/11/14)

118. Patients probably contracted Hepatitis C at Stanley Hospital: report (3)

The report of an inquiry committee formed to look into cases of patients who allegedly tested positive for Hepatitis C virus (HCV) at Government Stanley Hospital has determined that most of the patients are “likely to have acquired HCV infection in Stanley hospital only.” In August, 16 patients who were awaiting kidney transplants alleged that they had contracted Hepatitis C from a dialysis machine at the hospital. They also said that the hospital had then asked them to go elsewhere for dialysis, as it did not have dedicated machines to dialyse HCV patients only. Following protests by the patients and members of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), the government formed a three-member inquiry committee to probe the issue. N. Gopalakrishnan, head, nephrology department, Mohammed Ali, head, medical gastroenterology, and G. Jayalakshmi, director, Microbiology, all from MMC formed the committee. The report says that of the 16 patients who tested positive for HCV, only six had undergone dialysis at hospitals before coming to Stanley. “Though it is theoretically possible that some patients could have been harbouring HCV – but not detected by tests, it is unlikely that all the 16 patients could have had HCV infection at entry into Stanley hospital itself….it is quite possible that many, if not all patients could have acquired the infection at Stanley hospital,” it observes. It also says that the patients could have been dialysed at Stanley itself, with 2 or 3 dedicated machines – a step that was subsequently taken. Also, “Breaking the news of HCV infection and subsequent counselling could have been done with more professionalism,” it says. Following the protests in August, the hospital set up a special ward to treat the patients with HCV. “We have a total of 13 dialysis machines, of which three have been set aside for the HCV patients,” said hospital dean AL. Meenakshisundaram. The wife of a patient, who is being treated at Stanley now, said that her husband was receiving regular injections for HCV treatment and was on dialysis. “But the delay has cost us. We came here in June, expecting the transplant to happen in July. Now though, it may take several more months. Many of the patients are sicker now, and several are very hard up financially,” she said. AAP members had also demanded that all patients who had undergone dialysis at the hospital over the last six months be recalled, tested and treated if found HCV positive. The report states that 234 patients had received haemodialysis at Stanley for varying periods in the last six months. They hail from different parts of the State and PCR testing (a highly sensitive but expensive test) would cost between Rs 3-3.2 lakh. However, hospital officials said they had already begun sending letters to the patients and some of them had already arrived for testing. “All deans and joint directors of government hospitals across the State have been informed, so that patients can go to the nearest facility and get tested. Those who test positive will be treated, and if required, kidney transplants performed,” Dr. Meenakshisundaram said. The AAP however alleges that one patient, Rajini, passed away. “The hospital contacted her very late. Her family had not been able to afford her dialysis, and the government hospitals at Thoothukudi and Tirunelveli had turned her away as she had Hepatitis C. She died on October 21, a day after the hospital contacted her family,” a party member said. However, the committee’s report states that Rajini did not have HCV on leaving Stanley. On hygiene and sterilisation procedures followed, the committee found that the procedure followed – dialysers washed with saline, hydrogen peroxide and then filled with formaline – was appropriate. “Dialyser reuse is scientifically accepted,” the report states, but in its recommendations, it says minimising the number of reuses or not reusing at all, would mitigate the spread of HCV. “This would cost more; but, still, it is worthy,” it says. The report also calls for strict adherence to universal precautions and strict infection control policies. Having PCR machines available at government hospitals for testing would also help, it says. In conclusion, the report says “there is no wilful negligence on the part of the nephrology department, but, certainly, there is a lack of a robust and foolproof mechanism to vigilantly monitor for inadequacies in infection control measures.” At a press meet on Friday, AAP members had demanded that Rajini’s family be given Rs, 10 lakh, the families of the 16 patients be compensated financially and action be taken against the doctors and staff who were negligent. (The Hindu 8/11/14)

HIV/AIDS

119. HIV-positive women forcibly sterilised in Namibia, says court (3)

Windhoek: Namibia`s Supreme Court on Monday found that HIV-positive women were forcibly sterilised after giving birth — a decision hailed by activists as a victory for women throughout Africa. The southern African nation`s highest court dismissed a government appeal against a judgement holding it liable for sterilising three HIV-positive women in state hospitals without their informed consent. Chief Justice Peter Shivute ruled that the doctors should not have sterilised the women and ordered consideration of damages for the victims, who each claimed one million rand (about $90,000). The director of the Namibian Women`s Health Network, Jennifer Gatsi Mallet, applauded the decision, saying the cases were only the tip of the iceberg. “We have documented dozens of cases of other HIV-positive women who have been forcibly sterilised. The government needs to take active steps to ensure all women subjected to this unlawful practice get redress,” she said. Mallet said the decision proves that “public hospitals in Namibia have been coercively sterilising HIV-positive women without their consent.” The Southern Africa Litigation Centre, which backed the women in their legal challenge, said the decision had far-reaching consequences for HIV-positive women throughout Africa who have been forcibly sterilised. “This decision sends a clear message that governments throughout Africa must take concrete actions to end this practice,” said deputy director Priti Patel. The judge said the women should have been allowed to make an informed decision and been given an opportunity to return to the hospital later to undergo sterilisation if they wanted. “None of the respondents gave informed consent because they were in varying degrees of labour and may not have fully and rationally comprehended the consequences of giving consent for the sterilisation procedure,” he said. “There can be no place in this day and age for medical paternalism when it comes to the important moment of deciding whether or not to undergo a sterilisation procedure.” (Zee News 3/11/14)

120. 35 infants face key HIV test (3)

Jharkhand State AIDS Control Society (JSACS) is eagerly awaiting the results of what could be one of the biggest breakthroughs in preventing HIV transmission. The JSACS, which decided on September 19 to adopt the national policy of multi-drug anti-retroviral therapy (ART) to prevent parent to child transmission of the virus, rolled out the initiative from September 22 onwards. The JSACS put 39 HIV-positive pregnant women on the multi-drug regimen of which 35 women delivered new-borns in due course. These new-borns were put on medication for six weeks. JSACS sources said virologic tests have started for infants who turned six-weeks-old. Results of this test will determine if they are HIV-positive or not. If the infants are found completely healthy, it would mean a thumping success for the newly introduced multi-drug ART regimen in the state. As there is no medical cure for HIV, the virus that leads to full-blown AIDS, controlling its spread is the only remedy. In this, preventing viral transmission from an HIV-positive mother to her newborn is a challenge that the JSACS is taking head on. In the run-up to the multi-drug ART regimen, the state AIDS control society tested 1,23,209 people, including 74,743 pregnant women, for HIV. Of the pregnant women, 39 were found to be HIV positive. These expecting women were put on multi-drug therapy under the National AIDS Control Programme-IV (2012-17), an ambitious initiative that aims to eliminate new parent-to-child HIV transmissions in India by 2015. B.P. Chaurasia, additional project director of JSACS, said they were looking at protecting both new mothers and infants under the ambit of the multi-drug regimen. “Our aim is to prevent fresh cases of mother-to-child transmission. “Our paramedics and doctors were trained in September on multi-drug ART. After this, we started the multi-drug regimen. We are administering Naropin (a vaccine) for six weeks to infants and mothers,” he pointed out. This aside, 1,019 people who were tested HIV-positive are being treated at seven ART centres at state-run healthcare hubs, RIMS (Ranchi), MGM (Jamshedpur), PMCH (Dhanbad) and Sadar hospitals (Hazaribagh, Giridih, Deoghar and Daltonganj). The state also has 64 Integrated Counselling and Testing Centres (ICTC) with multi-drug regimen. (The Telegraph 4/11/14)

121. Blood banks in MP ill-equipped to detect HIV among donors (3)

INDORE: Blood banks in the state are ill-equipped to detect HIV among donors, who are carriers of the virus and are in a window period of six months, posing high risk to patients that require blood, said doctors. The window period is phase between contracting HIV and detection of virus in patients. According to doctors, blood banks rely heavily on ELISA test to screen HIV-carrier patients. “ELISA test is not a confirmatory test for detecting HIV in its window period among blood donors. It poses high risk even though blood banks screen patients on different parameters. Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) method is the only confirmatory test to detect HIV in its window period. The test is hardly done in any of the blood banks. It should be introduced in tertiary care centres,” said MYH blood bank in charge Ashok Yadav. Choithram Hospital, head of pathology department, Dr DS Chitnis, said, “We opt for fourth generation Elisa test, which enhances chances of detection of HIV at an early stage. It is the latest available test.” However, experts do not suggest the test as it does not confirm chances of the virus among patients. Medical education department Dr SS Kushwah said, “As per government policies, currently, Elisa test is being used to screen blood for HIV though it is not a confirmatory test.” Indore has highest number of HIV/ AIDS-infected patients in state and most blood banks rely on professional donors. (Times of India 5/11/14)

122. Isolated patient takes fatal leap (3)

A 30-year-old HIV-positive man, admitted to a private hospital in Ranchi with pneumonia and kept in isolation, took a fatal leap from its second-floor balcony on Wednesday midnight. Manjeet Kumar Singh, a resident of Hazaribagh, succumbed to his injuries at state-run Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS) on Thursday morning. Police have registered a case under Section 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) of the IPC against Alam Hospital and Research Centre in Bariatu. According to Hazaribagh resident Birendra Rana, who had accompanied Manjeet and his elderly father Parashuram Singh on Wednesday, lax security and medical negligence at the private heal hub led to the youth’s untimely death. “Manjeet had been undergoing treatment for pneumonia at RIMS since Sunday (November 2). Yesterday, someone advised his father to get him private medical attention. We shifted the boy to Alam hospital, half a kilometre away,” Rana told The Telegraph. Around noon, Manjeet was admitted to the private hospital, and past midnight, his father received a call saying he had jumped off the balcony and was critical. “At 11pm, the guard had driven out Parashuram, saying no one was allowed to stay on campus at night. The elderly man had begged with folded hands, but the guard was adamant. He asked him to stay at a lodge instead. An hour later, Parashuram received the bad news. If a private hospital cannot take care of its patients, it should at least allow relatives to do so,” Rana contended. Alam hospital administrator Dr Gaurav Roy denied the allegations of medical negligence and security lapse, but at the same time could not explain why a pneumonia patient, even if he was HIV-positive, was kept in isolation. “The patient was suffering from HIV/AIDS and was kept in isolation. At night, when he was alone, we believe he developed suicidal tendency and jumped from the second floor. His family members took him to RIMS, where he died this morning while undergoing treatment,” Roy said. Officer-in-charge of Bariatu police station Vinod Kumar said that the matter would be probed. “A case under Section 304 has been registered against Alam hospital based on the statement of the father of the deceased man. We will investigate the case.” (The Telegraph 6/11/14)

123. Chhattisgarh HIV patient denied treatment in private, government hospitals (3)

RAIPUR: In a blatant case of discrimination, government and private hospitals in Chhattisgarh seem to be denying treatment to a 35-year old patient suffering from HIV. The 35-year old youth patient, a resident of Rajnandgaon, the home constituency of chief minister Dr Raman Singh, who reportedly needs dialysis, has been denied treatment not only by private hospitals but also the state run premier institutes, Dr BR Ambedkar Memorial Hospital. The denial of treatment to the youth is a contravention of the apex court’s orders and the HIV AIDS bill 2007 that prohibits discrimination of a HIV/AIDS patient in several matters, including healthcare. According to sources, the youth was recently diagnosed with HIV at a private hospital in Raipur. Since his condition was deteriorating, he was advised to undergo dialysis and initially approached Dr BR Ambedkar Memorial hospital, which denied treatment to him. He subsequently approached Dr BR Ambedkar Memorial Hospital, which too denied treatment to him and asked him to approach private hospitals. Sources said with no hospital was willing to undertake his treatment, the youth has gone back to his hometown. According to Dr Puneet Gupta, nephrologist at Ambedkar hospital, the youth was initially undergoing treatment for some ailments at a private hospital where he was diagnosed with HIV. “Once the doctors there learnt about his condition, they washed their hands off and advised him to move to other hospitals or a government run institute,” said Dr Gupta. Dr Gupta admitted that the patient had approached dialysis unit but the same was denied to him, as there is a risk of transmission of HIV through machines if they are used on patients suffering from the disease. He said though they manage treatment of such patients through drugs, they couldn’t use dialysis machines on them, as it can put other patients to risk. “If a dialysis machine is used on a patient suffering from HIV, it not only affect the other machine due to same pipes interconnected but needs sterilized again, which isn’t a very simple procedure”, explained Dr Gupta. He said there are presently 60 patients admitted in the hospital and 35 of them are on dialysis. “We cannot use the machines on HIV patients at the cost of treatment to other patients”, he said while attempting to justify the hospital’s decision to deny treatment to the HIV infected person. Interestingly, Dr Gupta said that if more dialysis machines were available with the hospital, they could think of earmarking one for such patients. (Times of India 9/11/14)

 

Posted by admin at 10 November 2014

Category: Uncategorized

DALITS/SCHEDULED CASTES

1. Dalit boy burnt to death: NHRC issues notices to Bihar Chief Secretary, DGP (2)

Mumbai: Taking suo motu cognizance of a media report that a 15-year-old boy was allegedly burnt to death after his goats ate the paddy crop of an upper caste man at Mohanpur village under Karakat police station in Rohtas district, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has issued notices to Bihar’s Chief Secretary and Director General of Police and sought a report on this matter within four weeks. Taking cognizance of the press report, the Commission has observed that it amounts to serious violation of human rights if the contents of the report are true. Reportedly, one Kumkum Singh and his three associates forcibly entered the house of Juit Ram and set his son Sai Ram afire after pouring kerosene on him. The boy sustained 90 percent burns and was rushed to Bikram Ganj Government Hospital for treatment but he succumbed to his injuries. (DNA 22/10/14)

2. Triple murder of Dalit family rocks Maharashtra (2)

Pune: Three people were murdered and their mutilated body parts dispersed on a farm in Maharashtra’s Ahmednagar district. In what appears to be a case of caste violence, a Dalit family of three was savagely murdered and their mutilated body parts dispersed on a farm in Maharashtra’s Ahmednagar district, around 180 km from Pune. According to sources, the gruesome murders of Sanjay Jadhav (42), his wife Jayashree (38) and their teenage son Sunil (19) took place after midnight on October 21 in the sparsely populated village of Javkhede Khalasa-Kasarwadi in Pathardi Taluk. Relatives strongly suspect the incident to be a case of ‘honour killing’. “Rumours of an illicit affair between a married lady in an upper-caste household, who lived adjacent to the Jadhav’s farm, and a member in the Jadhav family, had been festering for more than a year. This may have led to such a savage retribution,” said a relative of the family. At the time of the crime, Mr. Jadhav, a mason by profession, was staying in his makeshift home on his acre-and-a-half farm plot with his wife and his son. Sunil, pursuing his Diploma in Dairy Science from Goregaon in Mumbai, had come over for Diwali holidays.  “We rushed to their home on Tuesday after some farm labourers informed us of their absence. We found blood spattered and household items strewn everywhere,” Dilip Jadhav, his elder brother, told The Hindu, recounting the horrific incident. Mr. Jadhav’s relatives mounted a frantic search for the trio at the Ahmednagar district hospital, but drew a blank when they reached there. “On returning to my brother’s field, we decided to search the well. We found some body parts floating in the water,” says Suresh Jadhav, another of Mr. Jadhav’s brothers. An ominous silence has descended on the village and the Dalit hamlet of Jadhavwadi in the aftermath of the triple murder, with tight police security in place for the funeral. The Pathardi police said they had dispatched teams to several places to locate the murderers. The homicide has traumatised Mr. Jadhav’s aged parents, Jagannath (75) and Sakharbai (70), who haven’t spoken a word since the crime. The incident has drawn sharp condemnations from the Dalit community. “There were no previous incidents of caste tension in Pathardi earlier. The sheer ferocity of the murders has profoundly disturbed the sentiments of the community,” said Sunil Salve, a local Dalit activist. “Sunil’s torso was found only on Wednesday evening, before which the family’s last rites could not be conducted. The murders simply beggar description,” said a stunned Anandraj Ambedkar, chief of the Republican Sena. Alleging that the police and district administration was corrupt, Mr. Ambedkar said that the Ahmednagar police did not do act when a Dalit youth was beaten to death earlier this year. When contacted, Ahmednagar Superintendent of Police Lakhmi Gautam said no arrests had been made so far.“We have not picked anybody as yet. Various angles are being explored,” he told The Hindu, refusing to comment on the possible motives of the killers. Ahmednagar has been a hotbed of atrocities against Dalits in the recent past, with a similarly gory precedent found in the January 2013 Sonai murder case. There, the mutilated bodies of three Dalit youths, who worked as sweepers, were found in a septic tank in Sonai village, hacked to death. Dalit leader and president of the Republican Party of India (A) Ramdas Athawale, while demanding a CID probe into the incident, has urged that Ahmednagar be declared as an ‘atrocity-prone area’. (The  Hindu 23/10/14)

3. He allegedly assaulted a seven-year-old Dalit boy at a temple in Nelamangala (2)

Bangalore: An atrocity case has been booked against the priest of Rudreshwara temple in Nelamangala who had allegedly assaulted a seven-year-old Dalit boy in the temple on Monday. The priest, Vijay Kumar, allegedly banged the head of Santosh against the wall when he went into the temple to collect ‘prasada’ which was being distributed. The priest, however, claimed the boy was caught stealing in the temple and had slipped and injured himself when they tried to chase him, according to the Nelamangala police. Initially, the boy’s parents and the temple administration had a meeting and decided not to file a complaint. The parents, however, filed a complaint later since the boy was admitted to the Nelamangala government hospital and the doctors registered it as medico-legal case. According to a senior police official, the boy’s father, a cobbler residing in Jayanagar (a Dalit colony) in Nelamangala, in his complaint said that though the priest had beaten up Santosh, he did not know about his caste background. The police, however, have registered an atrocity case against Vijay Kumar along with the charge of assault. The police are on the lookout for Vijay Kumar. (The Hindu 23/10/14)

4. Dalits have tough time in Panampatti (2)

COIMBATORE: For all its proximity to an industrial city, Panampatti, about 25 km from here in Kinathukadavu taluk, still witnesses discrimination of Dalits, allegedly by Caste Hindus. A casual visit to a small eatery revealed two entrances to it. While the main door was meant for the Caste Hindus, the other was a small gap on a broken wall a few feet away for the Dalits. There were separate enclosures for the Dalits to wash hands and dispose of used banana leaves. Enquiries revealed that the Dalits worked in farm lands of Caste Hindus or went to construction work in nearby towns and lived on Arunthathiyar and Maduraiveeran Streets. They also claimed that they cut each others hair or went to other saloons in nearby places. A construction worker said that though the Caste Hindus or eatery owners did not stop the Dalits from using the main entrance, the other entrance remained open. “We don’t go there because we don’t want to create trouble,” he said. Others said they avoided frequenting the eateries to avert humiliation. A Dalit youth said that when he questioned some Caste Hindus about the discrimination, they reportedly told him not to use the facility if he did not like the practice there. “Dalits are afraid to raise these issues as they lack unity and also because they work in the farm lands owned by Caste Hindus,” said S. Manikandan, of Thanthai Periyar Dravida Kazhagam . The party’s general secretary, K. Ramakrishnan, said that they would organise a demonstration in front of the Kinathukkadavu taluk office on October 31.  The Tamilar Viduthalai Iyakkam has planned to gherao the Collectorate here on Monday .When contacted, Coimbatore Superintendent of Police M. Sudhakar said there was no complaint from the villagers.  Collector Archana Patnaik said that special teams were trying to gather evidence on the allegation.  (The Hindu 26/10/14)

5. Two Dalits murdered; 3 injured in lathicharge (2)

Tirunelveli: Two Dalits, one a district secretary of a Dalit outfit, were allegedly murdered in different areas today, leading to violence by protesters and a police lathicharge to disperse them, injuring three persons. Mahesh, District Secretary of Mallar Meetpu Kazhagam was allegedly murdered by a gang at Purkidmal Nagar in the city while he was talking to his friends, while N Marimuthu was murdered at nearby Kottaram, police said. Mahesh had complained to the District Collector yesterday to initiate action under Protection of Civil Rights Act over a recent incident in which another Dalit youth was allegedly hacked and injured at Seevalaperi Pottal after a skirmish between him and caste Hindus, they said. They had also prevented the youth from being taken to a hospital for treatment. However, police intervened and and got him admitted. Police said that Dalits in Purkidmal Nagar blocked the road, demanding the arrest of the culprits responsible for Mahesh’s murder and pelted stones at buses, damaging two of them. Attempts to get them to disperse failed after which police lathicharged them, injuring three persons. Marimuthu, hailing from Kottaram near Melpakkam, 14 km from here, had demanded money from illegal sand miners operating in the area and might have been done away by them, they said. Armed reserve Police has been deployed in sensitive areas to monitor the situation, they added. (Business Standard 29/10/14)

TRIBALS

6. Tribal backlash severe blow to Maoist activity in Andhra-Odisha border area (6)

VISAKHAPATNAM: The incident in which angry tribals lashed out against Maoist atrocities and killed three of their Korukonda area committee members in the Maoist stronghold of Korukonda block on Sunday night has dealt a severe blow to the attempts of the Reds to regain their lost glory in the Andhra Odisha Border (AOB) area, said sources. According to sources, Sunday’s incident in the Korukonda block of Visakha agency would give enough room for the security forces to run a negative campaign against the Reds, who had only recently swung back into action following the decision of the Andhra Pradesh government to start bauxite mining in the Visakha Agency. Over the past few years the large scale arrests and surrenders of the Maoist rank and file had led to a lull in Maoist activities in the AOB. In fact, sources said that it is for the first time in the history of the Naxalite movement since the late 60s, that Maoist supporters attacked and killed Naxalites for their brutality. People first started revolting against their erstwhile heroes in the Visakha Agency after the Lakkavaram and Sagulu incident in GK Veedhi on February 19, 2013, where Naxalites opened fire and beat to death two tribals and severely injured five others. Two days after that incident one more tribal had succumbed to his injuries. According to a senior police official involved in anti-Maoist operations, ever since the Sagulu incident, the Maoists have been losing the faith and sympathy of the people in some of their stronghold pockets in Visakha Agency and the Sunday incident only added fuel to this fire. “They have already witnessed the people’s resistance in Sagulu. To revive relations with the tribals they used all kinds of strategies and were slowly increasing their presence in the Visakha Agency recently. But this incident will have wider repercussions for the Maoist movement not only in AOB, but also other stronghold areas across the country,” he said. “Such brutal tactics are only eroding their support base and taking them away from the people. No movement can sustain without people’s support,” said a former Naxalite on condition of anonymity. He said the cops would now cash in on the incident by pasting photographs and posters in every interior pocket to take up an extensive campaign against the Maoists. “People used to share their food and give us shelter when we were part of the movement in early 80s and 90s. They used to help us escape from police squads and protect us by shielding us during our journey from one area to other area. Now, the lack of ideology and affection towards the very people they claim to be taking up arms for, in addition to a dearth of able and knowledgeable leadership has been giving the movement a bad name,” he said. According to police officials, tribals were vexed with the dictatorial attitude of the Reds as well as the merciless killings of innocent tribals by branding them as police informers. “People have realized the destructive attitude of the Reds and have begun revolting against them because of their cruelty,” OSD naxal operations Vishal Gunni told TOI. “Once upon a time the movement was led by knowledgeable and committed leaders, who fought for the rights of tribals and were concerned only with their betterment. But the present movement is ridden with barbaric acts, showing the people the true colours of the Reds,” Gunni alleged. (Times of India 21/10/14)

7. Tribals kill three Maoists (6)

VISAKHAPATNAM: Tribals killed three Maoists in retaliation to the killing of a villager in the Agency area of Visakhapatnam district on Sunday night. The Maoists had abducted Sanjeeva Rao, a native of Veeravaram village and spiritual leader Jagganna Dora Simhachalam. They killed Sanjeeva Rao, after branding him as a police informer, near Balapam village. As the news of Sanjeeva Rao’s killing spread, about 300 villagers reached the spot. They surrounded the Maoists and questioned them for the killing. The villagers also demanded the release of Simhachalam. Surprised at the reaction, the Maoists pointed their weapons against the villagers and asked them to proceed to Korukonda village, where they intended to organise a ‘praja court’ and execute Simhachalam. At this juncture, the crowd, apprehending more killings, pounced on the Maoists and snatched their weapons. In the melee, three Maoists were stoned to death. The police recovered the AK -47 rifle of Sharat that was snatched by the Girijans in a damaged condition. Staff Reporter from Vijayawada reports: Director General of Police (DGP) J.V. Ramudu told mediapersons that the police were in no way involved in the incident and they reached the spot on receipt morning on receipt of information. Sanjeeva Rao, who joined in the mainstream, was not named in any incident since 2001. Last night, a group of Maoists cordoned Mr. Rao and another local, Simhachalam, and tried to abduct them branding them as police informers. The Maoist whose body was reportedly washed away in the stream was yet to be identified, said Mr. Ramudu. (The Hindu 21/10/14)

8. Forest dwellers agree to move out of Similipal (6)

Baripada, Oct. 22: Similipal authorities have taken an initiative to shift a tribal settlement from its core area — a major step for conferring the national park status on the wildlife sanctuary. A palli sabha (village council meeting) was held last week at Jamuna village in the core area of the sanctuary, which was the first tiger reserve of the state. The majority of the inhabitants agreed to leave the area. The consent for shifting was given by 56 of the 62 tribal families that attended the meeting presided by the local ward member. The block development officer (BDO) and Jashipur tehsildar, apart from forest officials, were also present. Jashipur BDO Dharmendra Mallick said: “Fifty-six of the 62 families had attended the palli sabha, and they agreed to shift. A resolution to this effect has been passed, and we will hand over a copy of the resolution to the wildlife authorities.” The buffer area of the sanctuary is home to 60 villages, but they need not be relocated. The shifting is required in the case of the four tribal settlements at Jenabil, Jamuna, Kabatkhai and Bakua located in the core area since 1973. While Jenabil residents have already relocated, three other settlements remain. “Though Similipal had been considered for the status of a national park earlier, there hasn’t been any formal notification because of the presence of three human settlements in the core area,” said field director of the Similipal Tiger Reserve Anup Nayak. The forest department has been trying since long to shift them, but the efforts suffered a setback when Maoists attacked the sanctuary in 2009 and again in 2010. “Following the Maoist attacks, the forest department employees were afraid to enter the core area. Some voluntary organisations also tried to mislead the tribal people staying there,” said a wildlife activist, adding that the tribal people had now begun to realise that the shifting would be in their own interest. “After sustained efforts, a palli sabha could be held successfully at Jamuna village, and the outcome was positive,” said Nayak. “According to the Wildlife (Protection) Act and guidelines of the National Tiger Conservation Authority, the core area of a tiger reserve should be free from human habitation and such habitations, if any, should be relocated through the consent of the residents,” deputy director of the tiger reserve Ajit Satpathy said. “After a series of visits to the village, the inhabitants were convinced about the forest department’s proposal of shifting. They have agreed to shift. A place has been identified for relocating them,” said honorary wildlife warden Bhanoomitra Acharya, adding that following relocation, the villagers could get the benefits of several government schemes. “Besides a compensation of Rs 10 lakh to each family, as approved by the National Tiger Conservation Authority, the district collector will provide 10 decimal homestead land and a house under the Mo Kudia scheme to each family at the relocation site,” said a district official. Sanjukta Basha, another wildlife warden of Mayurbhanj, said: “The tribal residents of Jamuna village are encouraged by seeing the Janabil residents, who have been resettled in Udala. They have realised that their brethren are leading a better life now. Therefore, they have agreed to vacate the core area.” After the palli sabha’s success, the forest department’s next move will be to convince the inhabitants of Kabatghai and Bakua to move out of the core area. The department has started issuing identity cards to those staying in the buffer zone. The mission’s aim is to identify the genuine residents and prevent unlawful activities, mainly poaching and smuggling of timber and forest produce. Each identified individual above the age of five would be issued with an identity card. Nayak said: “The department has undertaken the drive to identify the genuine residents. After the identification process is over, the settlers will be issued with identity cards following approval of the gram sabhas.” The exercise will give forest officials a fair idea of the exact population in the buffer zone. The sanctuary authorities have, for the first time, introduced package tours for visitors. The cost of each package depends on the areas and the facilities. While the package costing Rs 4,000 includes visits to Ramtirtha, Gudugudia, Uski, Bareipani and Joronda waterfalls apart from Chahala and Brundaban, the one that comes for Rs 5,000 takes tourists to some more places. There are two other packages worth Rs 10,000 and Rs 12,000. (The Telegraph 23/10/14)

9. Seven tribal villages now open defecation free (6)

UDAIPUR: South Rajasthan may be a tribal dominant and a socio-economically backward area in the state but great things are happening here. Seven villages of Chittorgarh, Udaipur and Bhilwara districts have become Open Defecation Free (ODF) as 10,000 households have broken off from the traditional practice of defecating in the open after constructing pucca toilets at their homes. Project ‘Maryadaa’ is being championed by the state government and Vedanta group’s Hindustan Zinc, one of the global largest producer of zinc, silver and lead, with a mission to make Rajasthan an Open Defecation Free state. The project operates with an innovative methodology for mobilizing communities to progressively work towards stopping open defecation. “Vedanta ‘Maryadaa’ campaign joined the Prime Minister call for Swachh Bharat, we carried a special drive at Vedanta premises, colony and within community,” Anil Agarwal, chairman of the group, tweeted recently. Vedanta business locations carried out cleanliness drive and employees too joined the campaign in its townships. “Taking forward the Swachh Bharat campaign, Hindustan Zinc is constructing 30,000 toilets out of which 10,000 have already been constructed. Once we complete our initial target, 80 villages will become ODF in Rajasthan within two years,” Pavan Kaushik, the spokesperson informed. “I learnt about the negative effects of open defecation, and I did not want to be the one contributing to the pollution of the environment and exposing other people to risks,” said Kaisi Bai a poor tribal woman at Karget village, near Debari in Udaipur, who was among the first people to dig a pit. All the members of her family now use toilet and do not go in open for defecation. “My grandchildren do not suffer from stomach problems now after we started using toilet,” she said. Kaisi Bai had to spend only 900 rupees from her pocket, the rest of the expenditure, about Rs 8000 was met by Hindustan Zinc and the state government. Similarly, many households of Maton village at Maton mines, Rela, Nevatalai and Chanawda villages at Zawar Mines, Dabok, at Zinc Smelter Debari are the villages in Udaipur while Bansen at Chittorgarh Parasrampura village at Agucha Mines in Bhilwara have been facilitated by the project partners to become ODF. “I am very happy to have a lavatory. I find it very convenient using it instead of going to the bush. This gives me privacy to do my business with dignity” said Kanku Bai, another beneficiary. The project also emphasis on behaviour change as a more sustainable way to sanitation improvement. It triggers a realization in the community on the harmful consequences of open defecation and a desire to take immediate action. “The villagers required a great amount of persuasion and counseling for construction and use of toilets and importantly to maintain them amicably. Initially, no one was ready as they obviously preferred the easy way, open defecation. But women and children played important role and so the elderly people. It’s a collective effort to live a life of dignity” Kaushik added. Now all the households at the seven villages are are proud of their achievements. It is not easy for poor earning tribal families to spare money required to build their individual toilets when it can be had for free in the fields. Certainly there are going to be many more success stories on the lines of these villages, which has already taken a lead. (Times of India 26/10/14)

10. Tribal blocks to get Rs.10 crore each for development (6)

New Delhi: The government Tuesday launched a programme under which Rs.10 crore will be provided to each block for the development of various facilities for Scheduled Tribes.  The “Vanbandhu Kalyan Yojana” (VKY) was launched by Tribal Welfare Minister Jual Oram at a meeting of the tribal welfare ministers of states and union territories. The scheme was launched on a pilot basis in one block each in Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Telangana, Orissa, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Gujarat. Under the scheme, the Centre will provide Rs.10 crore to each block for the development of various facilities for tribals. The blocks have been selected on the recommendations of the concerned states and have very low literacy rate. “The scheme mainly focuses on bridging infrastructural gaps and gaps in human development indices between Scheduled Tribes and other social groups,” Oram said. The minister said blocks having at least 33 percent of tribal population will be chosen for the programme. (New Kerala 28/10/14)

11. Maoist victims stage protest (6)

VISAKHAPATNAM: A group of tribals staged a protest in front of the houses of three civil rights activists in the city on Wednesday to protest the alleged support to Maoists by civil rights activists. Around 20 to 30 tribals belonging to Veeravaram village and other parts of GK Veedhi mandal, one of the most Maoist-infested mandal, raised their voice against civil rights activists. The protesters included family members and relatives of Gemmeli Sanjeeva Rao, who was brutally killed by Maoists a week ago in the Korukonda block. It may be recalled that soon after Sanjeeva Rao’s brutal killing, enraged tribals had killed three Maoists, including a commander, Sindri Chinna Ranga Rao alias Sarat. The activists staged protests outside Andhra Pradesh Civil Liberties Council (APCLC) Visakha unit president T Srirammurthy’s house at Gajuwaka, as well as APCLC members G Raghuram’s house at Mangapuram Colony near Kalabharathi Auditorium and A Annapoorna’s house at Arilova. They questioned the civil rights activists on their reasons for supporting Maoists who have been killing innocent tribals and urged the civil liberties leaders to protect them from Reds. But the civil rights leaders alleged that the tribals were brought from Visakha agency by cops, who influenced them to conduct the protest. Interestingly, the presence of many Visakha Rural police cops involved in anti-naxal operations was visible in the protest areas. Speaking to media persons, one of the tribals Sanjeeva Rao asked why the civil rights leaders were not questioning the Maoist menace against tribals. “APCLC leaders have been raising their voice whenever any Maoist is killed or arrested, but never in support of tribals being killed at the hands of Naxalites,” he said. On the other hand, APCLC leader Raghuram accused the police department of creating another Salwa Judum in the Visakha Agency against Maoists and alleged that it was the cops who had brought the tribals to his house. “APCLC does not have any link with the killings of tribals by Naxalites or the killing of Naxalites by tribals. APCLC will send a fact finding committee to the Korukonda incident area,” he said, pointing out that APCLC has never told people or Naxalites to kill anyone and its only endeavour was to protect the democratic rights of the people. (Times of India 30/10/14)

WOMEN

12. ‘Marital and other rapes grossly under-reported’ (8)

New Delhi: Two of every three women in the study reported sexual violence by husband. Husbands commit a majority of acts of sexual violence in India, and just one per cent of marital rapes and six per cent of rapes by men other than husbands are reported to the police, new estimates show. In keeping with the widely held belief among women’s rights activists in India that sexual violence is grossly under-reported, social scientist Aashish Gupta with the Research Institute for Compassionate Economics compared National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) statistics on officially reported cases of violence against women with data from the National Family Health Survey (NFHS), which asked women respondents whether they had faced any sexual or physical violence. Since the most recent round of the NFHS was conducted in 2005, Mr. Gupta compared the NCRB statistics for that year with the extent of violence that women had admitted to in the NFHS survey. Mr. Gupta found that while 157 per 1,00,000 women reported to NFHS surveyors that they had experienced rape by men other than their husbands in the past 12 years, 6,590 — or nearly two of every three women — said their husbands had physically forced them to have sexual intercourse against their will. This meant that just 2.3 per cent of all rapes experienced by women were by men other than their husbands. For both marital and non-marital rapes, however, the officially reported figures were extremely low, Mr. Gupta said in a working paper he shared with The Hindu. Comparing the NCRB and NFHS data in 2005, just 5.8 per cent of rapes by men other than the woman’s husband were reported to the police, and just 0.6 per cent of rapes by the husband. Since marital rape was not recognised as a crime in India, it was probably reported as “cruelty,” Mr. Gupta found. While India lacks a “crime victimisation survey,” which in countries such as England has largely replaced police statistics as official crime data, Mr. Gupta’s findings are confirmed by other sources. The NFHS itself asks women who experienced violence if they reported it to the police; just 0.6 per cent said that they had. The Delhi-based women’s rights organisation Jagori made similar findings in a sample survey in Delhi in 2011 — just 0.8 per cent of women who had been sexually assaulted, stalked or harassed reported it to the police. “There have been some area-specific studies like ours, but the NFHS is really the only victimisation study that India has,” Kalpana Viswanath, researcher and executive committee member of Jagori, told The Hindu. “Our recommendation has been for the NFHS to expand their questions on violence and look at sexual violence other than rape too,” she said. Severe physical violence was equally under-reported, Mr. Gupta found. At the State level, Mr. Gupta looked at physical violence and marital rape, since the numbers on rape by men other than the husband were too small at the State level for statistical analysis. Delhi has the lowest actual incidence of violence against women and highest rates of reporting in the country. In general, States associated with gender equality — the North-Eastern States, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka — had both lower levels of actual incidence of violence and higher levels of reporting, but no State reached double digits in its extent of reporting. (The Hindu 22/10/14)

13. Sex determination cases: HRC suggests fast-track courts (8)

BHOPAL: Madhya Pradesh Human rights Commission (MPHRC) has recommended to state government to form special fast-track courts to speed up trial in female foeticide and sex determination cases to curb illegal sex determination cases being carried out on the sly in some hospitals in the state. The commission has asked state to supervise 19 districts of the state to prevent the obnoxious practice. The commission also recommended that collectors of all districts be directed to take strong action against the crime. In 21 districts, sex ratio is skewed and number of female is less than 900 per 1000 compared to male. Gwalior, Sagar, Betul, Guna, Morena, Indore, Khargone, Khandwa, Bhind, Ratlam, Shivpuri, Bhuranpur, Chhindwara are among districts where the skewed sex ratio is more pronounced. In Tincha village of Indore, male to female ratio is 1000:571. All sonography centers, genetic and ultra-sonic clinic should be connected to main server of the district through satellite observation system, ultra-sound tracking technology and active tracker to monitor sonography, the commission said. To sensitize people about repercussions of sex determination, workshops should be conducted by hospitals and district committees after looking into reasons for anomaly. “Some hospitals in state are still indulging in illegal practice of sex determination. Illegal practice of female foeticide continues to take place in cities and districts. Strict vigilance and tough action are only way to curb the practice” said Rohit Mehta, spokesperson, MPHRC.  (Times of India 23/10/14)

14. Women draw up charter against sexual violence (8)

Kozhikode: A discussion on the women’s protection Bill here saw women demanding sterner action against the guilty in cases of sexual abuse of minors and the elderly. They said these were not normal sexual harassment cases and the guilty should be chemically castrated in addition to the usual punishment under the law. The discussion was organised by the Kerala Women’s Commission and Awass, a cultural organisation, at Thiruvambadi here on Wednesday. Hundreds of women who took part in the discussion felt that the guilty in sexual harassment cases should be sentenced to life imprisonment along with a fine up to Rs.50 lakh. They demanded that moral education be included in the curriculum from kindergarten to post-graduation. Those trying to rescue the accused in such cases should be listed as convicts and sentenced to a minimum of three years in prison with a fine of Rs.5 lakh. These were part of a 52-point guideline drawn up at the discussion that would be submitted to the Assembly subject committee at a sitting at the Kozhikode Collectorate soon. Earlier, chairperson of the Kerala State Women’s Commission Rosakutty inaugurated the discussion as well as a women empowerment seminar. In her address, Ms. Rosakutty demanded fast-track courts at the taluk level for dealing with cases relating to violence against women, especially sexual harassment cases. President of the Thiruvambadi grama panchayat Eliyamma George presided over the programme. Around 400 women representing the 12 grama panchayats in the district attended the programme under the leadership of the respective grama panchayat presidents and vice presidents. (The Hindu 26/10/14)

15. Anti-dowry law caution to states (8)

New Delhi, Oct. 26 (PTI): The Union home ministry has asked all state governments and Union territories to be judicious in slapping the penal code’s stringent anti-dowry section in cases of matrimonial disputes as the provision might be used as “weapons rather than shields by disgruntled wives”. In an advisory to the states and Union territories, the ministry has asked them to instruct police officers not to automatically arrest a person when a case under Section 498A is registered but to first satisfy themselves if arrest is necessary under Section 41 of the Criminal Procedure Code. Section 41 of the CrPC gives the police powers to arrest any person without an order from a magistrate and without a warrant in case of a cognisable offence. Under Section 498A of the IPC, the husband of a woman or his relatives accused of subjecting her to cruelty can be jailed for up to three years and also fined. The home ministry advisory quoted a Supreme Court observation that said there has been a phenomenal increase in matrimonial disputes in recent years. That the offences under Section 498A were cognisable and non-bailable had lent it a dubious place of pride among the provisions that are used as weapons rather than shields by disgruntled wives, the ministry said. “All the state governments/Union territory administrations are requested to take effective measures to scrupulously enforce the directions/order of the Hon’ble Supreme Court as also advisories issued by the government of India from time to time,” the ministry said. The state governments have been asked to provide all police officers with a check list, including the reasons and materials that necessitated the arrest, while forwarding or producing an accused before a magistrate for further detention. The magistrate, the advisory said, shall peruse the report furnished by the police officer concerned and authorise detention only after recording his or her satisfaction. The advisory said the decision not to arrest an accused should also be forwarded to the magistrate concerned within two weeks of the date of the institution of the case. The ministry said failure to comply with the above-mentioned directions would, apart from rendering the police officers concerned liable for departmental action, also make the officers liable to be punished for contempt of court in proceedings to be instituted before the high court that has territorial jurisdiction over the case. The judicial magistrate concerned shall also be liable for departmental action by the appropriate high court if he authorises detention without recording the reasons, the ministry said, quoting from the Supreme Court order. (The Telegraph 28/10/14)

16. Man gets 5 years RI for abetting wife to suicide (8)

PANCHKULA: A local district court on Wednesday sentenced a man, Pardeep Singh, to five years rigorous imprisonment and a fine of Rs20,000 on charges of abetting his wife to commit suicide. Additional district and sessions judge AK Sharma pronounced the verdict after finding Pardeep (34), a resident of Morni, guilty of the crime. Reena was found hanging from the ceiling of her house on December 23, 2013, when she was eight weeks pregnant. Her husband, the accused in the case, told police that he had a fight with her a night earlier, and they did not sleep together. Police booked him after a complaint from Sunil, brother of the deceased, who alleged that Singh used to beat his sister regularly for dowry. A case of dowry death was registered at the Chandimandir police station, but the police did not recover any suicide note from the spot. Pardeep was arrested the next day on December 24, 2013. He was later released from dowry allegations, but witnesses in the case confirmed that Reena used to be beaten up regularly by her husband. Reena had locked the room from inside, and no signs of struggle were found by the police. After the trial, Pardeep was convicted and sentenced to five years rigorous imprisonment. (Times of India 30/10/14)

CHILDREN/ CHILD LABOUR

17. Scared of abuse, life is not easy for street children (14)

New Delhi: Even though facts and figures are the essence of the issue of child labour in India, it is important to get in touch with the ground reality to understand the apathy that street children face. Studies have found that one out of five children, employed illegally, is a rag picker. The same studies indicate that two out of five children are roped in by placement agencies as domestic labour. Another avenues which involve child labour are segregation and dismantling of e-waste. This newspaper explored the lives of three children who battle for survival every day in Delhi. Ragi, a nine-year-old boy lives with his best friends close to the dumps in South Delhi’s Nizamuddin area. He works for more than 12 hours a day. Life is not easy for Ragi and his friends. They spend most of the day on heaps of waste material dumped by the city. Ragi and his friends say that working as rag pickers has taught them a lot. “Yahan sab se darna padta hai, bade ladke nasha karke hume pareshaan karte hai,” says Karmi. While these children have to struggle for their livelihood they also have safeguard themselves from the elder boys who bully them for money and at times also molest them. The risk of survival is manifold as the garbage heaps mostly have toxic waste which exposes them to diseases. Ragi said they all fear for their lives as they recently lost a friend. “We do not know how Lucky died, he had started coughing blood and then he stopped coming to dumps regularly. Rest is history.” The matter of fact tone of Ragi gives away the fact that all these children know that they might have similar fate. Ragi ran away from his house in Uttar Pradesh when he was seven. Since then he has been living with two of his friends. Each of them have a unique story Sukku, a 12-year-old, works for a chaiwala in Lajpat Nagar. He was sold by his family to someone who introduced himself as an agent for placement service in Delhi. “My family sold me for Rs 500, from Jharkhand to Delhi, it was a journey I thought I would never survive. That man had sold me to another person who seemed very suspicious. I ran away. Then I came to Delhi. Its has been three years since then,” said Sukku. Interestingly, he feels safe with the owner of the tea stall. “He beats me when I break a glass, but that is fine. He also gives me food and I know he will not harm me. I don’t want to go back.” The owner of the tea stall said that the boy came to him for work and help. “He came to me on his own, he works during the day and is free to study at night. But he says he wants to have enough money to run his own tea stall when he grows up. How can I stop him from pursuing his dream.” One thing that is common between these children is that they all are aware of the consequences of the lives they are leading. Not all of them feel that they being ill-treated as for most of them it is the way of life. (Asian Age 21/10/14)

18. Child Rights Panel Moots Compensation (14)

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM : State Commission for Protection of Child Rights on Tuesday recommended the Additional Chief Secretary, Home Affairs, to grant Rs 25,000 each as compensation to two tribal children of Wayanad who were beaten up by the police for their alleged role in a burglary. The Division Bench of the Commission comprising acting chairperson Nazeer Chaliyam and member Glory George has directed the Additional Chief Secretary to handover the compensation to the parents of the children within one month. The children and their parents had given  statements before the Commission that the policemen manhandled them accusing them of stealing a laptop and camera from the school in which they have been studying. (New Indian Express 22/10/14)

19. Half a lakh children out of school in Tamil Nadu (14)

CHENNAI : Nobel laureate Kailash Satyarthi’s call to end child labour should be taken up in earnest by the state if it has to ensure that all its children are enrolled in schools. A door-to-door survey conducted by the Sarva Siksha Abhiyan wing of the school education department this year has revealed that 43,448 children are out of school in the state, and experts says prevalence of child labour is big stumbling in achieving 100% enrolment. Villupuram tops the list of districts with the most number of out-of-school children. As many as 3,085 children are not enrolled in schools in the district. It was not among the top five four years ago, but has overtaken Coimbatore, which held the number one position in 2010, this time. Coimbatore, Tiruvallur, Kancheepuram and Salem complete the top five. Chennai comes ninth with 1,945 out-of-school children. Tamil Nadu is ahead of most states when it comes to enrolment of children. The state is known to have achieved more than 99% enrolment. Child rights activists said Villupuram, a predominantly agricultural district, is plagued by high prevalence of child labour. Tribals in the area tend to migrate across the district in search of work and take their families along. This prevents the children from joining regular school, and they eventually join their parents at work. “Poorly run government schools that do not have separate toilets for girls and boys, lack of a compound wall or even a teacher for every classroom do not encourage parents to send their children to such schools. They prefer to send them to low-cost private schools, but when finances run dry they pull them out,” said P B Prince Gajendra Babu, child rights activist and general secretary of State Platform for Common School System. Around 12.5% of the population in Villupuram belongs to scheduled castes. Frequent incidents of caste-related violence also make sending children to school unsafe. Alcoholism is rampant and unemployment high as the district ranks low in terms of industrialisation, activists said. R Vidyasagar, child protection specialist at Unicef, said in TN there is access to education, but some communities are not empowered to access it. “It is time the state looked beyond general schemes for bringing children to school. This is the last mile population and enrolling them in schools is the big challenge,” he said. The other districts with a high number of out-of-school children also have a large population of migrant labourers. The lack of identity proof makes them ineligible for social security, which ultimately results in parents sending their children to work to add to the family income. (Times of India 24/10/14)

20. Kids missing from city being sold as bonded farm labour (14)

New Delhi: Seventeen-year-old Aman has spent his teenage so far rearing cattle and toiling at a farm in Gurdaspur, Punjab. He would have joined college this year had he stayed home that morning six years ago. Aman was abducted from near Shalimar Bagh in Delhi when he was going for tuition. He woke up at a farmhouse hundreds of kilometres away and was forced into agricultural labour. He worked for 16 hours a day till he managed to run away last month. He is among hundreds of boys kidnapped from Delhi every year to be sold off to rich landlords by traffickers. The sad part is that families buying these boys believe they are giving them a better life. “I was forced to learn Punjabi and they hardly gave me any food or money. They woke me up at 5am daily and then locked me in a room again at 11pm without a ten-minute break during the day,” Aman told counsellors after his rescue. After several attempts to flee, the owners of the farm had let dogs loose on him. But he succeeded in breaching the fence one day and got help from army personnel to reach Delhi. The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights had estimated in 2007 that two-third of the country’s child labour force was engaged in agriculture. That number has only increased since then. Children are stolen from the city and sold for anything between Rs. 10,000 and a lakh mainly in villages of Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Punjab. “There were two children who reached the Old Delhi Railway Station from Ballia in Bihar two years ago. They were caught by traffickers and put to work at a dhabha nearby. They ran from there but were caught again and taken to Meerut to work in sugarcane fields,” said Rakesh Senger, who heads the rescue team at Bachpan Bachao Andolan. According to Senger, it’s a growing racket whose existence and enormity becomes known only when a child is rescued. Thousands of children go missing from Delhi every year. Those trafficked land up in sex trade, begging and now at farms in neighbouring states. “Often children do not understand they are being exploited. Ask them if they were ever taken for an outing. They share how the owner once let them sit in a jeep and be driven around the farm,” said Senger. A decline in the number of agricultural labourers due to migration to cities and the convenience of employing a child has led landlords to get in touch with traffickers. “Children are silent workers. They can work for long hours at less pay. Their dexterity and nimble fingers are particularly used in fields of Bt Cotton,” said Soha Moitra, Director, Child Rights and You. She blamed the loopholes in the Child Labour Act, which does not ban employing children aged between 14 and 18 years in non-hazardous activity, for increase in such cases. “Agriculture is not considered hazardous. So children above 14 years can be engaged on farms. Also, there is a lack of regulation. The ministries of agriculture and labour should work together on this issue,” she said. Often such cases end with the rescue of a child. The employers seldom face action due to a lack of will and coordination among the police in different states. (Hindustan Times 26/10/14)

21. Push for child law review (14)

New Delhi, Oct. 28: The country’s apex child rights body has acknowledged that the laws on children are contradictory and initiated the process of a review. The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) has decided to set up a three-member working group to harmonise the laws and remove conflicting provisions. “The commission has observed that there are many gaps and discrepancies in various laws concerning the rights of children. The commission is, therefore, of the view that the provisions of these laws need harmonisation for better understanding and applicability,” Asheem Srivastav, member-secretary of the NCPCR, said in a letter to rights activists. The letter, dated October 24, invites them to be part of the proposed group. The aim of the group, likely to be given two months for the job, is to examine and review existing laws, identify gaps, discrepancies and contradictions, and prepare a “concept note” on how they can be harmonised. The discrepancies have long been a sore point between governments and child rights groups. According to them, the only time the problem was addressed was almost 30 years ago during the tenure of Rajiv Gandhi as Prime Minister, who had formed a committee under eminent activist Padma Seth to look into the issue. The matter has been on the backburner since. “This (review of the laws) has been our long-standing demand. Instead of amending the Indian Penal Code (IPC), the government has created special laws like POCSO (Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act) and the JJ (Juvenile Justice) Act, which not only contradict each other but also create unnecessary confusion, harming children in the process. The recommendations of this (proposed) group will open the doors for repeal of redundant and contradictory laws,” said Enakshi Ganguly, a child rights activist. Others cited examples. Under POCSO, having sexual relations with a minor is statutory rape, but under the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, child marriage is not invalid unless either party seeks annulment. While the IPC gives criminal immunity to children below seven — they cannot be arrested or prosecuted — no such provision exists under the JJ Act. This, activists say, keeps them out of the care and protection of the JJ Act that aims to reform minors. “Several laws in India regarding children contradict each other, particularly over the question of age. The sentence under each law is different, leading to confusion. In fact, there are laws dating back to 1933 and they should be repealed immediately,” said Bharti Ali, co-director of HAQ: Centre for Child Rights. Ali pointed to some discrepancies in rape laws. On the one hand, POCSO makes consent immaterial in the case of rape victims below 18. On the other hand, married girls between 15 and 18 cannot claim rape by their husbands because of lack of laws on marital rape, Ali said. Lawyer and activist Ananth Asthana, who has been approached by the child rights panel to be part of the review group, believes multiple laws have led to “chaos”. “The legislative exercise on matters related to children has been so multi-dimensional and multi-pronged that it has resulted in chaos. High time this is resolved. I am thankful to the National Child Rights Commission for having taken note of this.” (The Telegraph 29/10/14)

MINORITIES – GENERAL

22. HC poser on minority schools, EWS (7)

NEW DELHI: The Delhi high court has asked the state government to answer why unaided minority schools are exempted from providing free admission and tuition to students belonging to the economically weaker sections. HC’s notice came in response to a petition by an NGO challenging a single judge’s order upholding the government policy. In September this year, the court had held that irrespective of the lease deed, a minority school has no liability to admit students for free even if the lease deed of the government mentions that the land was allotted to the school at concessional rates. Civil rights organization Social Jurist, in its plea before a bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw sought reversal of the order. While issuing notice to Delhi government, Delhi Development Authority, Land and Development Office and a private school, HC has given them time till November 3, the next date of hearing. Advocate Ashok Aggarwal, appearing for the NGO, submitted “all schools including unaided minority schools which are on public land allotted to them at concessional rates are obliged to provide admission to EWS students to the extent of 20% and to grant free-ship to them”. (Times of India 21/10/14)

23. Minority status sought for Zakir Husain college (7)

New Delhi: A city-based NGO for minority rights has sought minority status for the Zakir Husain Delhi College (ZHDC) in view of its historical background and its significant role as in imparting education to the Muslim community. The NGO, Nawa-e-Haque Welfare Association, has approached the Zakir Husain Delhi College authorities and its board of trustees, including former Union minister Salman Khurshid, and Delhi Congress MLA Harun Yusuf, to seek and push for minority status considering that about 70 per cent of the members of the institution’s governing body and staff administration belong to the minority Muslim community. “I request all concerned authorities of the ZHDC to initiate the process of getting minority status certificate from the concerned authorities so that 50 per cent seats can be reserved for minorities as per our constitutional laws,” the NGO said in its memorandum to the college authorities and its trustees. The letter emphasised that the ZHDC was a Muslim minority institution since its origin as its history could be traced with the founding of a madrasa, where the complex containing a tomb, a mosque and a madrasa could be visited even today outside the Ajmeri Gate near the Dargah of Hazrat Hafiz Sadullah. “Not without any specific reason, even today more than 70 per cent members of the ZHDC governing body and administrative staff belong to Muslim minority community including the top key posts,” it asserted. The memorandum added: “Let’s not ignore the fact that the administrative bodies of four Sikh and two Christian colleges affiliated to the University of Delhi struggled for their rights and today they enjoy their religious minority status.” The organisation said that it was a matter of “serious” concern that the governing body of the Zakir Husain Delhi College had never taken up the matter for grant of minority status certification with the concerned authorities besides the fact that a special commission was established by the Central government for this purpose which has awarded 9,973 minority status certificates since 2005 till date. (Asian Age 23/10/14)

24. Trilokpuri clashes: Hotbed of discontent since ’84 riots (7)

New Delhi: This is not the first time that Trilokpuri has been at the epicentre of communal violence. Thirty years ago, during the 1984 massacre, 350 Sikhs were mercilessly slaughtered here. Trilokpuri never quite recovered from it. The area has been reeling under tension since then, with locals claiming that clashes during festivities have become a recurrent feature over the years. On November 1, 1984, a mob came ripping through the neighbourhood of Block 32 in Trilokpuri. Nearly 350 Sikhs were dragged out their homes and killed; some burnt alive, others beaten to death. As violence broke out here again on Friday, a day after Diwali, locals residents claim that such an incident was only waiting to happen. Friday’s clash is also the biggest in the area in the last 30 years. Locals said the clashes so far have been restricted to bylanes and have never spread beyond. “This is the first time after the 1984 riots that an issue has flared up to this degree. Local fights over parking and use of speakers during namaaz and jagrans are daily affairs,” a resident said. “Such violence doesn’t require the excuse of a trigger. On August 15, there was a clash between two groups over kite-flying. Earlier this month, during Eid, there was a clash. Every time there is a festival, it is an excuse for people to instigate a clash,” Javed, a local resident said. Sunil Kumar Vaid, former MLA of Trilokpuri, said, “The area has been declared a sensitive zone by the Election Commission and Delhi Police. I have spoken out against the issue of bootlegging and gambling in the area. As a result, I got shot at and the Delhi Police assigned a personal security officer to me. The area requires maintenance of proper law and order.” “The area is predominantly a Dalit constituency. Muslims occupy about 20 per cent of the area. They are mostly concentrated in and around Block 20. During the Kanwariya procession, the Hindus go through the Muslim-dominated areas. This triggers an issue with Muslims protesting against the noisy procession. During Eid, the Hindus ask Muslims not to slaughter goats and this leads to clashes,” a source said. (Indian Express 26/10/14)

25. ‘Minorities now prefer BJP’ (7)

Kolkata: : A day after the attack on people from the minority community at Makra village in Birbhum district of West Bengal, State BJP president Rahul Sinha said on Tuesday that minorities in the State are shifting their allegiance from the All India Trinamool Congress (AITC) to the BJP. “There are 28 per cent Muslim voters in West Bengal, of which 24 per cent support Trinamool Congress. The BJP is eating into the minority votes and this is resulting in attacks by the Trinamool Congress,” Mr Sinha said. State BJP leader said that after the Lok Sabha polls, two BJP activists were killed in Birbhum district on June 7 and October 9. He pointed out that Tausheer Sheikh, a BJP supporter was killed in a violent incident on October 27. While the AITC leadership said that the BJP is intimidating minorities to enter into its fold, the Congress leadership is of the opinion that the minorities joining BJP is a “temporary phenomenon”. “There are disgruntled elements in every party who change their allegiance, but what the BJP is trying is malign a particular committee so that it feels threatened and joins them,” AITC MP Sultan Ahmed told The Hindu . (The Hindu 29/10/14)

MINORITIES – MUSLIMS

26. Muslim representation in Maharashtra assembly declines further (7)

MUMBAI: In an election where the hawkish All India Majlise Ittihadul Muslimeen (MIM) made an impressive debut, signalling a possible shift in Maharashtra’s Muslim politics, the number of Muslims voted into the assembly declined further. Both developments worried a section of community leaders. Before the Hyderabad-based Owaisi brothers successfully brought their party here, some Muslims had identified with the Samajwadi Party (SP) and some with the “secular” Congress and NCP. Now though, political observers say, the picture has changed. Many Muslims have deserted SP, while some have sided with Shiv Sena and BJP. Does MIM’s debut threaten Samajwadi Party? “MIM is like MNS, which came in with a bang in 2009, winning 13 seats, but has been reduced to one seat this year. MIM too will meet the same fate since it relies on its leaders’ rhetorical speeches. Muslims will tire of the rhetoric just as Maharashtrians lost faith in MNS,” said SP leader Abu Asim Azmi, who was the party’s sole winning candidate. Many see MIM’s victory as a result of Congress and NCP’s failure to address the issues faced by the Muslim community. “MIM fielded candidates in some areas with strong Muslim presence and tapped into the community’s anger. In several constituencies where Muslims make up a sizeable portion of the population, like Bandra (West), Kurla and Anushakti Nagar, a section of the community backed BJP or Sena candidates. It shows that saffron parties are no longer untouchables for Muslims,” said senior community leader Ghulam Peshimam. “A consolidation of votes along religious lines,” many believe, paved the victory of MIM’s Waris Pathan in Byculla and Imtiaz Jaleel in Aurangabad Central. “Congress and NCP wouldn’t field Muslim candidates from Muslim-dominated constituencies Byculla and Aurangabad Central, believing that these candidates would not get non-Muslim votes. MIM candidates’ victory proved that consolidated Muslim votes can be enough to secure a win,” said All India Milli Council’s M A Khalid. Khalid maintained that SP in Maharashtra was never Muslims’ preferred choice; it received support in a few constituencies with high concentration of north Indian Muslims. “If it was the first choice of most Muslims, Azmi’s son Farhan wouldn’t have lost in Muslim-dominated Bhiwandi East,” he said. (Times of India 21/10/14)

27. After Maharashtra show, MIM eyes UP Muslims (7)

LUCKNOW: After tasting blood in Maharashtra, where the Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) won two seats, MIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi is all set to turn his attention to Uttar Pradesh. Not ruling out a formal launch of the party in UP ahead of the 2017 Assembly elections, the MIM-projecting itself as the next ” Muslim league” with a pan-India presence -will also launch its office in Lucknow in November. Other stops are West Bengal and Bihar, where elections are due soon. Speaking to TOI over phone from London, Hyderabad MP and MIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi, said, “We have been building our base in Uttar Pradesh. In Maharashtra, we realized we could have done better if we had started sooner and changed our electoral a strategy. In UP, we have time to s strengthen our presence.” Owaisi’s UP dreams were fired by MIM’s show in Maharashtra where it bagged two seats, lost three by a narrow margin and finished third in nine constituencies. Overall, MIM polled over 5.13 lakh votes, even though it fielded, in many cases, political novices. The party also cut into the traditional vote banks of the Congress, the NCP and managed to wrest control of some areas where the BJP was believed to be strong. They also appear to have dented the Samajwadi Party in some places. And, the party’s dalit candidates also did well. Owaisi said he would visit Lucknow to inaugurate the MIM office in November, adding that he will also visit Azamgarh, Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav’s parliamentary constituency, where he wants to address mass gatherings. Ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, the Azamgarh district administration had blocked Owaisi’s repeated attempts to enter the district citing law and order concerns. The two-time Lok Sabha MP, however, said, “I am a free citizen of the country and I intend to go to Azamgarh, come what-may.” The MIM strategy pivots on “sharp decline of Muslim representation in Parliament and the failure of secular parties to represent the community adequately”. “The absence of a credible Muslim voice in the party has lead to the social, economic and political marginalisation of Muslims. For this, we are asking the community to vote for us, instead of allowing their vote, and voice, to be splintered between the parties that they have traditionally voted for,” said Owaisi. Over the past months, in a series of speeches emphasizing the need for a pan-India Muslim party, Owaisi has talked about the “failure of the 25 crore Indian Muslims to make their presence felt in the LS elections.” For UP, he cited examples of how, despite being nearly 3 crore in number – about 19% of the state’s population – the community has failed to send a single Muslim to Parliament. They feel that Moradabad, Bijnor, Sambhal, Sharanpur, Muzaffarnagar and Meerut went to the BJP owing to a divided Muslim vote. Apart from the sharp oratory by the Owaisi brothers, the formal pan-India launch of the MIM, experts say, is expected to dent the Congress party the most. In UP, MIM is expected to eat into the vote share of regional parties that banked on Muslim votes; the SP and the BSP. (Times of India 23/10/14)

28. RSS body seeks to prove Indian Muslims are Hindus (7)

Jaipur: An RSS-backed organisation of genealogists is undertaking an ambitious academic exercise to prove that most Muslims in India are converts from Hinduism, a move that has met with robust scepticism from some social scientists and Islamic scholars. The Akhil Bharatiya Vanshawali Sanrakshan evum Samvardhan Sansthan (ABVSSS) says it will use oral interviews, historical records, genetic analysis and other genealogical documents to prove its theory which, in turn, can help bridge social divides. Genealogy is the study of families and tracing of ancestries to prove kinship and pedigrees and is considered by many as an inexact science. In India, genealogical records are legally tenable. The effort was agreed upon at a one-day national conference of genealogists held in the city on Monday. It is being patronised by Ram Prasad, the founder of ABVSSS, who says all Muslims and Christians in India are converts. “Ask any one of them about their lineage and their ancestors would be Hindu at some point of time,” he said. “I interacted with a number of Meo Muslims and they accepted facts about their conversion. And it was on the basis of their vanshawalis (genealogical records).” If the ancestral roots of Indian Muslims and Christians were dug deeper, claims Prasad, their exact origin and lineage could be found in some Hindu caste or community. But many believe such efforts are part of a wider ideological shift being pushed by Hindutva groups seeking to rewrite Indian history and social narratives. One such sceptic of Prasad’s genealogical proposal is Rajiv Gupta, ex-head of sociology department at University of Rajasthan who believes the information could be misused by “right wing forces” to create division. “It is an important danger. It can be used to rewrite history which may disturb (the) secular and social fabric of the country,” cautioned Gupta, while maintaining that gaining unbiased ancestral knowledge is good. Prasad, a Jaipur based RSS pracharak, said he first came across the possibility that all Indian Muslims are converts when he visited a mosque at Gulpada area of Bharatpur district in 2007. “There I asked Meos about their ancestry and many of them accepted their ancestors were Meenas (a Hindu community in eastern Rajasthan). Now Meos and Meenas have developed more social acceptance in that region,” he said. Prasad founded the ABVSSS in 2009 to further study genealogy and the organisation has been expanding ever since. Dr Sukhdev Rao, a genealogy writer and general secretary of the organisation, says a majority of Muslims in Rajasthan and its neighbouring states have started accepting their roots and it is leading to social bonding. Prasad’s organisation has already started the process to digitise genealogy records of a cross section of the population to preserve them for future generations. The organisation has formed units in 11 states and has even established a youth wing to carry forward its work on the origins of Muslims and Christians in India. For now, the reaction from the Muslim community appears to be mixed. “It is a fact that majority of Muslims are converted in India. Knowing history generates awareness but intention of the organisation (ABVSSS) should be clear,” said Mohd Iqbal Siddiqui, the media secretary of Jamat-e-Islami-Hind. “We welcome them if they want to create social harmony through genealogy.” (Hindustan Times 28/10/14)

MINORITIES – CHRISTIANS

29. Canon Law Society Meet Begins at Pala (7)

KOCHI: The Annual conference of the Canon Law Society of India began at the Alphonsian Pastoral Institute, Pala, on Monday. The meet, which was inaugurated by Finance Minister K M Mani, will conclude on October 24. Founded in Mumbai in 1985, for conducting studies and holding discussions on legal administration in the Church, the Canon Law Society of India gives membership to canon law experts in the three Catholic Rites in India -  Latin, Syro-Malabar, and Syro- Malankara. Oswald Cardinal Gracias of Mumbai and Rayappan Arulselvan of the St Peter Pontifical Institute, Bangalore, are patron and president of the Society, respectively. Over 200 delegates from all the dioceses in India are expected to participate in the conference. The opening session was presided over by Bishop of Pala Mar Joseph Kallarangatt.  National Minority Commission member Cyriac Thomas and Archbishop of Thrissur Mar Andrews Thazhath were also present. The sessions will be led by experts in canon law from various parts of the country. (New Indian Express 21/10/14)

30. Catholic Church demands ban on surrogacy in India (7)

MUMBAI: The Catholic Church in India is leading an appeal to the Central government to ban surrogacy in India along with a demand to not legalize euthanasia or mercy killing. Around 400 professionals including doctors, lawyers, nurses, social workers and priests had gathered at a national symposium on the subject of ‘Protecting, Preserving and Promoting the Gift of Human Life’ at St Pius X College, Goregaon. The conference from October 17-19 was organised by the Catholic Conference of Bishops of India (CCBI) Commission for Theology and Doctrine. The participants later issued a unanimous statement signed by Bishop Agnelo Gracias, who is chairperson of this commission. “Deeply saddened by the growing, dehumanising, alarming practice of surrogacy in India, we appeal to the government to uphold the dignity of Indian women and ban surrogacy in India as is done in several countries of the world. Surrogacy commercialises and demeans motherhood.” The delegates questioned the loss of dignity that surrogate mothers are subject to. TOI has reported that women who hire their wombs nearly always come from impoverished homes and live in slum colonies and are drawn by the promise of a few lakh rupees and a better future. Doctors make them live apart from their families in specialised surrogate hostels until the child is born. Fertility clinics do not allow the mother to see the newborn or breastfeed it lest she develop a bond with the child and refuse to part with him or her. The Church’s statement adds, “Vulnerable and marginalized women lured to rent their wombs are treated like commodities. This disregards their dignity as human beings, women, wives and mothers. The prolonged separation and confinement to surrogate hostels wrenches women away from their own biological families. The commissioning parents, agents and concerned medical centers control the delivery process through their monetary power invariably forcing unwarranted caesarian sections increasing maternal morbidity and mortality.” The panelists said, “The Indian government has banned the commercialisation of blood donation and organ transplantation, so the question arises as to why surrogacy has not been treated similarly. We strongly appeal to the Supreme Court, the Legislature and the Executive to ban surrogacy in India.” The community is also apprehensive of the reported move to legalise euthanasia. “We strongly condemn euthanasia which is a deliberate act of taking away a person’s life. We are opposed to it even when a person asks for his or her life to be terminated. Healthcare providers have a duty to ensure treatment which is necessary and appropriate,” the statement says. (Times of India 23/10/14)

31. Bastar Christians attacked by right-wing activists (7)

RAIPUR: After the controversial gram sabha resolutions banning non-Hindu religious activity in villages in tribal Bastar, there was fresh tension in Madota village after local Christians were assaulted allegedly by right-wing activists, leaving 12 people injured late on Saturday. Eleven of the injured are still undergoing treatment at a hospital in Jagdalpur, where they were brought in a truck. While the police recorded their statement, senior civil and police officials are tight-lipped about the clash. Chhattisgarh Christian Forum (CCF) president Arun Pannalal told TOI that the manner in which the attack was orchestrated raises suspicion that local officials were hand in glove with attackers. “An announcement was made through drum beats that residents of Kotwar village should assemble at 9am on Saturday to meet the sub-divisional magistrate, deputy superintendent of police and town inspector to discuss ways to douse tension between the two communities. They waited till evening, but nobody turned up. By evening, right-wing activists came in a truck and attacked Christians, accusing them of promoting religious conversion,” he said. Quoting local Christians, Pannalal said, a week ago BJP MP Dinesh Kashyap had visited Bhanpuri village and me gram sabha t local Christians. The MP washed their feet and then made a public announcement that they had completed the process of “ghar wapsi” or home-coming to the Hindu fold. Since then tension has been brewing between Hindus and Christians over prayer meetings at the local church. Pannalal said that Christian organisations have already moved high court challenging the resolutions adopted by the gram sabhas. “Now our writ is pending in the high court. We see this latest attack as a pressure tactic,” he said. Tribal Bastar was in focus in May this year after a number of gram sabhas, powerful bodies under the provisions of Panchayati Raj Act, adopted resolutions under section 129 (G) of State Panchayati Raj Act, banning “non-Hindu religious propaganda, prayers and speeches in villages”. (Times of India 27/10/14)

REFUGEES/ MIGRANTS

32. CPI (M) plans to agitate on refugee issue (13)

KOLKATA: The issue of refugees has once again become a topic of political debate in West Bengal with the Communist Party of India (Marxist) planning agitations demanding citizenship rights in the coming months. Senior CPI (M) leader and secretary of the North 24 Parganas district committee Goutam Deb said that the party will stage demonstrations outside the office of North 24 Parganas District Magistrate in which more than 20,000 refugees will participate. Commenting on the development, State President of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Rahul Sinha accused the CPI (M) of trying to gain political mileage. The All India Trinamool Congress (AITC) has also described it as a futile attempt of indulging in vote bank politics as none of the refuges seeking permanent status support the party. It is interesting that the issue of refugees particularly for those belonging to the Matua community, a socio-religious sect, which crossed over from Bangladesh, has come up after the death of AITC Kapil Krishna Thakur MP representing the Bongaon Lok Sabha constituency. Addressing a press conference here on Monday Mr. Sinha said, “Prior to the Lok Sabha by-poll, the CPI (M) has suddenly waked up to the Mautua issue.” Mr. Sinha also accused the CPI (M) of indulging in “narrow minded communal politics.” He claimed that having lost public support in Bengal, the CPI (M) is trying to capitalise on the refugee issue to regain political relevance. “In 34 years of its rule, the CPI(M) completely ignored the matuas. Mr Deb is not aware of the political realities of Bongaon area where the CPI(M) was close to getting its deposit forfeited in the Lok Sabha polls,” senior AITC leader and State’s Minister Jyotipriya Mullick said. On Friday, Mr. Deb declared that in December the CPI (M) will organise a gathering of “20,000 refugees” and submit a memorandum to the concerned District Magistrate demanding citizenship for them. He asked if the Centre can spend Rs.500 crore for those who came from Kashmir to Delhi, then why do refugees of North 24 Parganas have to live beside rail tracks. Earlier during the campaign for Lok Sabha polls, AITC chairperson and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee was locked in in a war of words with BJP leader and Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the refugee issue. (Th Hindu 21/10/14)

33. Now, Tibetans in exile can start enterprises (13)

Dharamsala: After getting the right to exercise their franchise in the Indian political system, Tibetans in exile can now start their own enterprises. A decision to this effect was finalised following the approval of the “Tibetan Rehabilitation Policy 2014″ by the government of India this week, an official said here Wednesday. According to the policy dated Oct 20, any Tibetan can undertake any economic activity, the official from the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) told IANS. For this, they are entitled to get a trade licence and permit. Matter concerning land lease and extending central and states benefits are also specified in the policy. Besides, it has clear-cut guidelines about the welfare of Tibetans in India. It also says Tibetan refugees may also be permitted to pursue and take jobs in any field for which they are professionally qualified. These fields could be nursing, teaching, chartered accountancy, medicine and engineering. The guideline is significant since the Indian government has tried to set a uniform policy in all states in dealing with the rehabilitation and welfare of Tibetan refugees, the official said. The CTA’s home minister Dolma Gyari thanked the Indian government for the “clear and positive” policy guidelines.

For the first time in Indian history, the Election Commission allowed India-born Tibetans to register as voters and participate in the general elections this year. Dharamsala and its nearby areas support 16,000-18,000 exiled Tibetans. Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama has lived in India since fleeing his homeland in 1959. The Tibetan administration-in-exile, which is not recognised by any country, is based in this town in Himachal Pradesh. India is home to around 100,000 Tibetans. (Deccan Herald 23/10/14)

34. Number of Rohingya Muslims fleeing Myanmar tops 100,000 (13)

YANGON: A growing sense of desperation is fueling a mass exodus of Rohingya Muslims from western Myanmar, with the number fleeing by boat since communal violence broke out two years ago now topping 100,000, a leading expert said on Saturday. Chris Lewa, director of the nonprofit advocacy group Arakan Project, said there has been a huge surge since October 15, with an average of 900 people per day piling into cargo ships parked off Rakhine state. That’s nearly 10,000 in less than two weeks, one of the biggest upticks yet. Myanmar, a predominantly Buddhist nation of 50 million that only recently emerged from half a century of military rule, has an estimated 1.3 million Rohingya. Though many of their families arrived from neighboring Bangladesh generations ago, almost all have been denied citizenship. In the last two years, attacks by Buddhist mobs have left hundreds dead and 140,000 trapped in camps, where they live without access to adequate health care, education or jobs. Lewa said some Rohingya families have been told new ships have started arriving in neighboring Thailand, where passengers often are brought to jungle camps, facing extortion and beatings until relatives come up with enough money to win their release From there they usually travel to Malaysia or other countries, but, still stateless, their futures remain bleak. In Myanmar, the vast majority live in the northern tip of Rakhine state, where an aggressive campaign by authorities in recent months to register family members and officially categorize them as “Bengalis”, implying they are illegal migrants from neighboring Bangladesh, has aggravated their situation. According to villagers contacted by Associated Press, some were confined to their villages for weeks at a time for refusing to take part in the “verification” process, while others were beaten or arrested. But there seems to be a growing sense of desperation this year, with numbers nearly double from the same period in 2013. Lewa said a number of Rohingya also were moving overland to Bangladesh and on to India and Nepal. More recently, dozens of men were detained for having alleged ties to the militant Rohingya Solidarity Organization, or RSO, said Khin Maung Win, a resident from Maungdaw township, adding that several reportedly were beaten or tortured during their arrests or while in detention. Lewa said three of the men died. “Our team is becoming more and more convinced that this campaign of arbitrary arrests is aimed at triggering departures,” she said. (Times of India 25/10/14)

35. ‘Most Tamil refugees want to remain in India’ (13)

NEW DELHI: A survey by the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai, among the one-lakh-odd Sri Lankan Tamil refugees in India has found that 67 per cent of them want to remain in India. Only 23 per cent of the 520 families surveyed wanted to return to the island nation, while four per cent wanted to migrate to a third country where they had relations, said the TISS survey. The study titled ‘Exploring Durable Solutions for Sri Lankan Tamil Refugees in India’ was released by Rafael Garcia, Country-Director of Adventist Development and Research Agency, India, at the India International Centre here on Monday. The most preferred destinations for those who want to go back are Mannar and Vavuniya. Their top three priorities are basic amenities and livelihood opportunities followed by safety. Although 48.2 per cent of those who wish to return said they needed assistance from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), only 12 per cent of them have approached the agency. K.M. Parivelan, who led the study, said this was because the UNHCR puts them on a flight home and does not provide the logistics for them to take their belongings back. (The Hindu 28/10/14)

RIGHT TO INFORMATION

36. Ministries to put up RTI replies online from Oct 31 (1)

NEW DELHI: Taking transparency to another level, the government on Tuesday directed all its ministries and departments to suo motu display RTI applications and responses thereof, on their respective websites from October 31. However, the DoPT instructions in this regard do leave scope for withholding RTI replies that contain personal information relating to an individual. “It may be noted that RTI applications and appeals received and their responses relating to the personal information of an individual may not be disclosed if they do not serve any public interest,” said the DoPT note circulated to all Union ministries and departments on Tuesday. To facilitate uploading of RTI applications and appeals received and their responses on the website, a new feature has been added to the CPIO/FAA module on the ‘RTI Online’ portal on pilot basis for DoPT. Through this feature, an option is given to the central public information officers (CPIO) and first appellate authority (FAA) to upload the reply to RTI query and the first appeal respectively on to the department’s website. This particular feature will now be extended to other ministries and departments as well. To display the RTI applications received in the ministry/department and the reply given using this feature, web services will be provided through a URL to each ministry or department by NIC or DoPT. “The concerned ministry/department needs to consume this web service (by writing a program) to display the desired contest on its respective website,” the DoPT note said while asking the ministries and departments to take the help of NIC or DoPT experts in this regard. “An immediate action is requested so that the facility to upload the reply to RTI application and first appeal respectively on the website of the respective ministry/department may be started with effect from October 31, 2014,” directed the DoPT. (Times of India 22/10/14)

37. From Oct 31, get RTI replies online (1)

New Delhi: The Centre, in an attempt to achieve better transparency in governance, has directed all its ministries and departments to post responses to RTI applications on their websites. So far, only the RTI applicant seeking information from a ministry or any other office used to get the reply through post. The Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) has issued an official memorandum recently directing all ministries and departments to take immediate action to ensure uploading of responses to RTI applications and first appeal on their websites starting on October 31. The DoPT,which issued the guidelines in April last year, has reminded the departments that the public authorities are obliged to proactively disclose RTI applications and appeals received by them and their responses on their websites. However, it added, the RTI applications and appeals received and their responses relating to the personal information of an individual may not be disclosed, if they do not serve any public interest. The DoPT has already initiated the process of uploading RTI responses on the RTI online portal through a new feature  which is being extended to other ministries and departments. For displaying the RTI applications and replies, an option is provided to the Central Public Information Officers (CPIO) and First Appellate Authority (FAA) to upload these information. (Deccan Herald 24/10/14)

38. 401 LS members yet to declare assets details (1)

New Delhi: Over 400 incumbent Lok Sabha members, including Rahul Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi, Lal Krishna Advani and Rajnath Singh, have not yet declared their assets and liability details, according to an RTI reply. Lok Sabha Secretariat said in an RTI query said the assets details of 401 members of Lok Sabha are still awaited. According to the Members of the Lok Sabha Declaration of Assets Rules 2004, a member is supposed to declare his assets within 90 days of taking oath. The Lok Sabha MPs who have not yet submitted the assets and liability details include Union ministers Sushma Swaraj, Uma Bharti, Nitin Gadkari, and SP supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav. Lok Sabha Secretariat said no communication in this regard was sent to the members until September 26, when the RTI was received. According to the RTI reply, there are 209 BJP MPs who have not yet submitted their details. There are 31 members from Congress, 27 from TMC, 18 frm BJD, 15 from Shiv Sena, 14 from TDP, nine from AIADMK and eight from TRS. Seven members are from YSR Congress, six from Lok Janshakti Party and four from NCP, CPI(M) and SP each, three members from Akali Dal, RJD, and AAP each, and two each from JD(U) and Apna Dal. Action against the members who have not submitted their asset details are taken under the Assets and Liability Declaration Rules 2004, Provisions 5 and 6, and the Representation of the People Act 1951, Section 75(A). Other MPs who have not yet submitted their details include Union minister Harsh Vardhan, Radha Mohan Singh, Anant Geete, Anant Kumar, Ramvilas Paswan, Capt Amarinder Singh, Veerappa Moily, Mehbooba Mufti, Upendra Kushwaha, Kiren Rijiju and Supriya Sule. (Hindustan Times 26/10/14)

39. Women make up just 9% of RTI applicants (1)

Mumbai: A compilation of the data of RTI applications filed online has found that it is a male-dominated area as 91 per cent applicants were men and only nine per cent were women. Experts said as it involved writing and paperwork, women were not turning up in large numbers. The facility of filing RTI applications online was started in August 2013 for only central government establishments. Figures obtained from Department of Personnel and Training through an RTI application shows that numbers of applicants are dwindling. In August 2013, when the online facility was launched, 7,734 men and 489 women filed online applications. In August 2014, 6,993 men and 676 women filed online applications. In last 14 months, since online facility has been launched, a total of 1,08,306 men (91 per cent) and 10,353 (nine per cent) women have filed applications online. C.J. Karira, an activist, said, “Women have always been shy of those fields that involves interactions especially with government bodies. The nine per cent women are those who have filed application in ration card offices or hospitals and it may be personal.” Mr Karira said he was trying to encourage women to file RTI applications. A recent study had shown that there were only seven per cent women applicants in the country. Hence, women have bettered in online filed at least. Aftab Siddiqui, a city based woman RTI activist, said, “Women are genuine RTI applicants while I know of men who file 25 queries, most not related directly to them. I would say such men are defeating the purpose of RTI, while women applicants are choosy and focused. That is why women are in fewer number in this field.” Maharashtra is at third position in filing RTI applications (11,776) online while Delhi (21,528) and Uttar Pradesh (14,354) occupy first and second position. ..  (Asian Age 28/10/14)

RIGHT TO EDUCATION

40. Petition seeks effective implementation of RTE Act (11)

CHENNAI: Under the RTE rules, the Tamil Nadu Director of School Education is the competent authority to grant recognition to CBSE schools in the State. A notification to this effect issued by the School Education Department of September 19 was filed before the First Bench of the Madras High Court, comprising Chief Justice S.K. Kaul and Justice M. Sathyanarayanan, in response to a public interest litigation petition. The petitioner, A.V. Pandian of Thirumullaivoyal here, said there was a lapse on the part of the State government in implementing the Act for CBSE schools with reference to granting recognition. After the RTE Act came into force on April 1, 2010, all schools should obtain recognition from the competent authority. But the government failed to prescribe the authority to grant recognition to CBSE schools. In view of the notification of September 19, G. Sankaran, counsel for the petitioner, said no further direction was required other than effective implementation. The Bench disposed of the petition. (The Hindu 21/10/14)

41. Pvt group to conduct safety surveys in schools (11)

Bangalore: Alarmed by back-to-back incidents of sexual abuse and assault on children in schools, the RTE (Right to Education Act) Task Force, a group of  various organisations working for children and parents rights, will on its own conduct a drive to observe safety measures in schools. A team comprising parents—three women and two men will be formed, who will visit schools in their respective areas and inspect issues like whether staff details have been verified by schools, are they aware of POCSO (Protection of Children from Sexual Offences) Act, 2012 and other measures. “We will be carrying permission letters from Commissioner of Public Instruction and Child Rights Commission. If they (schools) do not allow us inside in spite of this, then we will stage a protest in front of the school. Parents in each locality will have to organise themselves into groups and talk to children about safety measures in their schools. At times like these the community needs to step in and do its part in ensuring safety for children,” said G Nagasimha Rao, convener, RTE Task Force. (Deccan Herald 25/10/14)

42. Urdu teachers seek more posts (7)

KADAPA: Urdu teachers on Friday took out a rally from Koti Reddy statue and staged a demonstration in front of the Kadapa Collectorate, demanding that the government sanction more Urdu teaching posts. They alleged that not even a single post was sanctioned at as many as 12 Urdu schools in the Kadapa Municipal Corporation limits in the last 12 years. The protesters demanded that the government sanction posts of 26 secondary grade teacher, 21 school assistant and one headmaster at nine Urdu primary schools, two higher secondary and one high school in Kadapa and make recruitments through the District Selection Committee – 2014 in accordance with the Right to Education Act. They added that the government should recruit only eligible general category applicants. Kadapa MLA S.B. Amzath Basha, Mayor K. Suresh Babu, TDP State minority cell president Ameer Babu and District Congress Committee president Shaik Nazeer Basha expressed solidarity with the protesting teachers. State Teachers Union (STU) leaders L. Jamal Reddy, Iliyas and Sattar Faizi participated in the protest. The STU leaders said the foundation stone for the proposed Urdu University near Kadapa should be laid by November 11, the National Education Day. They demanded that the government set up Urdu anganwadi centres, adding that Urdu schools should be exempted from rationalisation. They also wanted an Urdu Special Officer to be appointed in each district. In a memorandum to Collector K.V. Ramana, the protesters called for the setting up of an Urdu Academy in the State and an Urdu junior college and a degree college for every four mandals. (The Hindu 25/10/14)

43. Experts demand RTE’s proper implementation (11)

New Delhi: Highlighting the lacuna in the implementation of the RTE Act, 2009, experts Tuesday launched a national campaign demanding the fulfillment of the “constitutional obligation of the government with regards to education within the stipulated time”.The campaign, Claiming Education for Every Child, beginning Nov 1, will run till March 2015 – the deadline for the act’s implementation. It was launched by Right to Education Forum, a civil society coalition of 10,000 grassroot organisations, educationists, national networks and teacher’s organisations. “The government is implementing the RTE like a scheme and not like a fundamental right. In 2014, The government admitted that even the minimalist norms it set for itself had been implemented in only 10 percent of the 1.3 million schools in this country. This being so, we do not perceive any sense of urgency or anxiety in the governments to make amends in haste,” Ambarish Rai, national convenor, RTE forum said at the launch. The Right To Education (RTE) Act, 2009, enforced with effect from April 1, 2010, secures the right of children to free and compulsory education till completion of elementary education in a neighbourhood school. It also lays down the norms and standards relating to pupil teacher ratios, buildings and infrastructure, school working days and teacher working hours. Rai pointed out that India lacks 1.2 million regular, trained and qualified teachers in government schools, adding that 10 percent schools are single-teacher schools. “Despite the Act strictly prohibiting the appointment of contract teachers, states are continuing the recruitment of lowly-paid contract teachers in gross violation of the RTE norms,” Rai said. He also highlighted the process of merger and closure of schools in different states to surrender assets to private players. Social activist Annie Namala emphasised the proper focus and inclusion of disadvantaged and marginalized groups in the implementation of the Act. “We need comprehensive thinking, and should consider it as a basic fundamental right,” she said. As a part of the campaign, 10 lakh grievances would be collected from different parts of the country highlighting the violation of different provisions of RTE Act. These grievances will then be submitted to the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) and State Commission for Protection of Child Rights(SCPCRs) for immediate action. A memorandum will also be submitted to Prime Minister Narendra Modi with a charter of demands highlighting some quick action points for the implementation of the Act. (Business Standard 28/10/14)

44. Govt’s confusion: To shut school or not (11)

BANGALORE: The future of 567 students of a private school in North Bangalore where a three-year-old girl was allegedly raped last week hangs in balance as the state government is in confusion whether to let it function or not. Primary and secondary education minister Kimmane Rathnakar said on Wednesday there is no provision to let the school offer nursery classes, and standard 6 and 7 either under the Right to Education Act or the Karnataka Education Act. So, 567 students of these classes may have to seek admission in other schools in the middle of the academic year. The school has total 962 students. The school had permission to run classes 1 to 5 in Kannada medium, but ran English medium classes from nursery to class 7 and offered CBSE syllabus. Rathnakar said he is trying to take a decision that will not affect the future of the students. “We will observe the Supreme Court’s judgment on the language policy (medium of instruction) to find out is there’s any option to let if function after violating the rules,” he said. Asked how the school’s TC will be valid for joining other schools, the minister said: “We will discuss this at a meeting tomorrow (Thursday).” According to a source in the education department, the government has identified eight nearby schools for admitting the students in the eventuality of the institution closing down. As of now, the government has given permission to the school to run classes 1 to 5. Kimmane said he will hold a meeting with the parents on Thursday and take a final decision regarding the functioning of school. However, anxious parents said they cannot afford to send their kids to another school. “We came to know that Rathnakar is talking tough on the irregularities. We agree that the school has committed a big blunder. But our children should not be made scapegoat for the school’s mistake,” a parent told TOI. The school worked for the third consecutive day on Wednesday, but only a few students turned up for internal exams. “The school management never informs us about the developments. Instead, they are trying to divide us. We are going to meet Rathnakar at 4 pm Thursday,” another parent said, adding “We will contact all other parents and ask them to attend the meeting. The core committee members will attend the meeting at Vidhana Soudha.” (Times of India 30/10/14)

RIGHT TO FOOD/ HUNGER/POVERTY

45. Food Security Act rollout may be delayed (21)

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The differences in opinion between the Central and State governments over fixing the number of Below the Poverty Line (BPL) cardholders are likely to delay the implementation of the Food Security Act in the State. The State government’s plan to implement the Act from November 1 is likely to be deferred at least by a month. While the State government had sought grain allotment for 14 lakh BPL families or the priority sector, the Centre had fixed it at 10.25 lakh families. Which means, about 3.75 lakh families will have to opt out of the public distribution system. The State government had earlier fixed the number of BPL families at 25 lakh. Official sources told The Hindu here that the Centre had offered to continue grain allotment for the 3.75 lakh families even after enforcing the Act but it would be given only at the rates fixed for the Above Poverty Line (APL) or non-priority sector families. Once the families moved out of the purview of the Act, the Centre could scrap the allotment without prior notice. “Kerala and Tamil Nadu have an efficient public distribution system which covers almost 58 per cent families. Whether the Centre will be able to honour its commitment on retaining the system is a matter of concern. Since the Centre is rapidly switching over to a mode of restricting subsidies to target groups, the commitment may be repealed any time,” the sources said. ‘Door delivery’ being one of the highlights of the Act, grain silos will have to be provided to store at least three months’ stock of around 2.98 lakh tonnes. Warehouses will have to be constructed in all districts and taluks for smooth grain distribution. The Food Corporation of India had said the storage capacity in three districts had already been enhanced to 15,000 and proposed to further increase it to 25,000 tonnes soon. But the Food and Civil Supplies Department was reported to be going slow on the process. But for the stamping of the BPL and APL cards into priority and non-priority cards, end-to-end computerisation and modernisation of the PDS had not made any palpable progress so far. It was unlikely to be completed before the year-end, the sources said. (The Hindu 22/10/14)

46. 6,000-crore worth project for migrant shelters (21)

NEW DELHI: The Union Housing and Poverty Alleviation Ministry has earmarked a special component for providing rental accommodation to the homeless and migrant workers in urban areas. Under its flagship Rs. 35,810-crore Housing for All by 2022 project, the Ministry will offer them a place to stay for a stipulated period and monthly rent. The Ministry, which has earmarked Rs. 6,000 crore for rental housing, has proposed different types of dwellings for families and individuals. “Rental housing has been proposed as in the absence of affordable spaces in urban areas, the migrant workforce is forced to stay in slums. The scheme envisages a house up to 30 sq.m. for families and a single room or dormitory for individuals. The Centre will fund up to 75 per cent of the construction cost of these dwellings,” said a Ministry official. The corporate sector can partner in the initiative as part of its corporate social responsibility activity. Urban local bodies (ULB) will be mandated to identify the beneficiaries, work out the specifications of the rental agreements and decide the rent. “The houses can be given on rent for a period of up to five years in case of migrant workers; the time stipulation will not be followed for the destitute and the homeless,” said the official. The ULBs will also be responsible for planning, execution and management of these rental accommodations; they will have to carry out city-wide surveys, GIS mapping of the city and available land. As per the government data, the housing shortage in the country is expected to go up from the current 18.78 million to 30 million by 2022, which means a shortage of one million houses in urban areas every year. “A consequence of rapid urbanisation has been an increasing number of people being forced to live in slums and squatter settlements,” said the official. (The Hindu 24/10/14)

47. Poverty reduction schemes implemented (21)

VELLORE: Poverty reduction schemes worth Rs.2108.15 lakhs have been implemented under Pudhu Vazhvu Thittam (PVT) in Vellore district, in the five selected blocks of Gudiyatham, Alangayam, Madhanur, Pernambut and Thimiri in Vellore district, according to R. Nanthagopal, Collector of Vellore district. Talking to newspersons at Madhanur during a press tour to Gudiyatham and Madhanur panchayat unions to see the progress of PVT on Friday, Mr. Nanthagopal said that under PVT, credit link has been provided to 5790 women’s self-help groups and economic loan-cum-direct loan to the tune of Rs.100 crores. Besides the village poverty reduction committees (VPRCs) established in the 207 selected villages, 638 special poverty reduction groups for differently-abled and vulnerable persons, and 11 special VPRCs for tribals have also been established to provide livelihood support to these special groups through credit link to the tune of Rs.56 crores. A total of 272 `Poocharams’ or Common Livelihood Groups (CLGs), which are groups comprising persons engaged in the same profession have been formed . A district level livelihood group has been formed to market the products made by the self-help groups which are members of the panchayat-level federations and the PVT. Padmamani, Project Manager, PVT said that the district-level group participated in all state-level and district-level exhibitions of SHG products and marketed the products made by the SHGs created under PVT. The Collector later presented a cheque for Rs.9.90 lakhs towards scholarship to the children of the SHG members. (The Hindu 25/10/14)

48. Permanent solution on food security in WTO rules is must: India (21)

UNITED NATIONS: In a stern message, India has told the UN general assembly that developing countries must have the freedom to use food reserves to feed the poor “without the threat of sanctions” and a permanent solution on food security with necessary changes in WTO rules is a must. “The issue of food security is central to the pursuit of poverty eradication and sustainable development in developing countries and must be treated with the same urgency as other issues, if not more,” counsellor in the Indian mission to the UN Amit Narang said in a UN general assembly session on ‘Macroeconomic Policy Questions: International Trade and Development’. He termed as “paradoxical” that just as the international community is assigning a high priority to food security as part of the Post-2015 Development Agenda there seems reluctance in addressing the important issue as part of global trade rules. “A permanent solution on food security with necessary changes in WTO rules, if required, is a must and cannot be kicked down the road,” Narang said. He said that India had participated actively and “in good faith” in the ninth ministerial conference of the WTO in Bali in December 2013 and the country remains committed to the Bali decisions, including the one on trade facilitation. “India is a signatory to all the Bali decisions and has no intention of going back on them. The concern that India has been constrained to flag, arises from the uneven progress on the Bali decisions,” Narang said. “While all focus seems to be on the agreement on trade facilitation, the same sort of commitment is not evident on other Bali decisions, in particular the agreement on food security,” he said. Narang stressed that the issue of food security must be taken forward in the WTO in the same time frame as other decisions taken in Bali such as trade facilitation. “Overall balance is important even in a limited package of outcomes. The Bali outcomes were negotiated as a package and must be concluded as such,” he said, adding that “developing countries such as India must have the freedom to use food reserves to feed their poor without the threat of sanctions.” He expressed hope that the international community will join hands for the implementation of the Bali decisions in a balanced manner and as a single undertaking. He said that India has stressed that trade and investment and an open, rules-based, transparent and non-discriminatory WTO-based trading system can play an important role in restoring global growth. (Times of India 25/10/14)

49. Scheme helped in transforming lives of beneficiaries (21)

AMANATHAPURAM: Pudhu Vazhvu Thittam, an empowerment and poverty alleviation project implemented in five blocks in the district since 2006, has helped the poor households and most vulnerable sections improve their standard of living if interaction with cross section of the beneficiaries was any indication. The project, implemented by the Rural Development and Panchayat Raj department was first introduced in Bogalur block in 2006 and later extended to Mudukulathur, Paramakudi, Kamudhi and Kadaladi blocks, covered target population of poor, very poor, differently abled and marginalised sections in 244 villages. Talking to reporters during a press tour on Monday, D Jerome, District Project Manager and S Assan, Assistant Project Manager said the project implemented under the Community Driven Development (CCD) approach has benefitted a number of poor and very poor families to earn additional income and provided livelihood to the differently abled and marginalised communities. S Sonia of Paramakudi block could not pursue her studies after she passed plus two due to poor family background. But with the help of the project, she completed a nursing course and was working in a private nursing home. In the last three years since April 2011, the targeted population were given financial assistance of Rs. 2.18 crore under the Village Poverty Reduction Committee (VPRC) scheme and Rs. 12.22 crore under Panchayat Level Federation (PLF) scheme. In addition, the beneficiaries were given special fund of Rs. 96.22 lakh, they said. As the project was implemented under CCD approach, the village people themselves implement and monitor the project after identifying different categories of beneficiaries, Mr. Jerome said. “The department played only the facilitator role,” he said. Under the VPRC scheme, each committee was given an assistance of Rs. 6 lakh to Rs. 15 lakh mainly for training and self employment. Under the PLF, each Self Help Group was given Rs. 10 lakh to Rs. 20 lakh loan, he said adding 80 per cent of the loan was given only for livelihood purpose. C Kannithai, a beneficiary in Kamudhi block said she got Rs. 3 lakh subsidised loan and had helped her husband, a carpenter, to set up his own unit. “The daily income has increased by three times and we are living happily thanks to Pudhu Vazhvu Thittam,” she said. B. Indira Gandhi in Kamudhi block was a farm worker and she has now owned a poultry farm. She had set up the farm availing subsidised loan from the bank and from PLF. She had repaid the loan and was making regular monthly income from the farm. (The Hindu 29/10/14)

50. One-third of Indian women and children under 5 are underweight: Report (21)

NEW DELHI: Global thinktank IFPRI on Wednesday said that one-third of Indian women and children under-five are underweight, though the country has made progress in combating malnutrition. International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) has also suggested India’s central and state governments coordinate and accelerate efforts to tackle hunger and the causes of malnutrition to combat these grim statistics, and ensure that poor nutrition does not hold back human and economic development. “India is making progress against under-nutrition as seen in the 2014 Global Hunger Index recently released by IFPRI. Yet one-third of Indian women and children under five remain underweight,” IFPRI said in the statement. In the backdrop of these statistics, IFPRI is organising a two day conference ‘Together for Nutrition 2014′. Over 200 researchers, government officials and other delegates are expected to attend the conference and discuss ways to improve nutrition in Indian children and women. “India is home to a third of the world’s stunted children. There is a significant opportunity for us to help our children reach their full potential not only through direct feeding programmes but also through improved access to toilets and empowerment of their mothers,” Public Health Foundation of India Vice-President for Research and Policy Ramanan Laxminarayan said. Sessions at the conference will highlight research and programme experiences and moving the nutrition agenda forward through convergence, collaboration, and cooperation at the state, district, block, and community levels, the organisation said in a statement. Evidence and experiences will be shared from states as diverse as Bihar, Maharashtra, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh and others, it added. (Times of India 30/10/14)

LABOUR/ MGNREGA

51. App to monitor rural job scheme (14)

NEW DELHI: Amid row over moves to tweak MGNREGS to stop doling out easy money, the Centre is to provide smart phones at half price to Gram Panchayat officials monitoring the rural job scheme. GP officers overseeing implementation of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme can now own a subsidised smart phone, with the Union Government paying half its price. Rural Development Minister Nitin Gadkari seems all set to brush aside protests by civil society activists and a section of development economists and go ahead to tweak the UPA regime’s pet programme and stop “doling out easy money” to beneficiaries. His ministry has of late reworked and revived a proposal to provide smart phones or tablets to all Gram Panchayat functionaries as well as members of the technical and supervisory staff involved with implementation of the scheme across the country. The government will pay up to Rs 10,000 to each Gram Panchayat functionary or member of the technical or supervisory staff to purchase a smart phone or a tablet, which will at least have an Android Jellybean 4.1 operating system. Half of the cost of the phone will then be recovered from the functionary in 10 equal interest-free instalments. When the recipient pays back half the amount, he or she will own the device, according to a note the Ministry of Rural Development sent out to all the states. The Bharat Nirman volunteers who have been identified in various blocks will work as Local Level Monitors for rural development programme, it added. A Ministry of Rural Development (MoRD) note says, the government is keen to launch the Mobile Monitoring System to improve supervision in implementation of the MGNREGS and provide for real-time data upload from the worksite to the scheme website. The scheme is intended to empower Gram Panchayats and other implementing agencies with live data from the MGNREGS worksites, allow online and real-time updating of database, provide for real-time visibility of data for complete transparency and facilitate easy verification of location of assets created with the help of geo-tagging. (Deccan Herald 21/10/14)

52. Unemployed seeking jobs reduce in October (14)

NASHIK: The number of man-days generated through the Mahatma Gandhi National Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) fell by 8,000 in first week of October 2014, compared to the corresponding period last year, which had witnessed 24,036 employees. The man-days generated for the period this year was 16,806. While officials claim better water levels in fields was one reason, the assembly elections could also be a reason for labourers being diverted from MGNREGA. “The total man-days generated in the first week of the October shows a fall of 30 per cent when compared with 2013. This is huge and the major reasons for the fall are the availability of water in the fields and farms this year, compared to last year, and also because of the closure of nurseries that were included under the 100 crore plantation programme in 2013,” an official from the MGNREGA cell at the Nashik collectorate told TOI. Observers claimed that other factors, like the election period, could account for the difference in employment. “Last year, people were allowed to dig wells for personal use under the scheme. This ensured that an individual who wanted to dig a well for personal use would receive payment of labour for the same. Such activities in 2013 saw generation of employment for over 8,000 employees. This year, the number of beneficiaries is very low,” the official said. A similar trend can be observed for the nurseries under the 100-crore plantation programme. “The nurseries were the biggest source of employment in 2013. This year, the number has dropped – largely because of the government deciding to stop all the nurseries in the village development department. This actually benefitted villagers aged over 50 years and women, who could earn by undertaking such work in the villages, rather than toiling it out in the sun,” the official said. Digging up pits and the carrying out plantation has been the largest employment provider to people in the rural areas this year. “There are lesser labourers out in the field; plantation accounts for a large number of people being employed,” the officer said. He dismissed speculations that there were no works for the labourers. “The labour budget prepared by villages every year is readied at least a year in advance and hence there is no dearth of work. But labourers failed to turn out in large numbers, probably because they get more money in other areas – including agriculture,” the officer said. The chart shows that the biggest beneficiary for MGNREGA work in the current year was Peth taluka, where 3,286 labourers had benefitted from 62 works being undertaken. Of these, 32 works are related to forestation. Similarly, the highest number of works is being carried out in the Igatpuri taluka, where 2,320 labourers are beneficiaries. The total man-days generated in the first week of the October shows a fall of 30% when compared with 2013. This is huge and the major reasons for the fall are the availability of water in the fields and farms this year (Times of India 23/10/14)

53. MGNREGS works hit after Centre withholds salaries (14)

COIMBATORE: The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS), the flag ship rural job scheme of the erstwhile United Progressive Alliance Government, has almost ground to a halt in the district. Despite assurances of continuing the scheme, the Central Government has not disbursed the salaries for workers in this scheme since the beginning of this financial year, sources in the District Rural Development Agency (DRDA), which implements the scheme, told The Hindu here on Sunday. While the agency had sought Rs. 100.20 crore to pay for an estimated 60 lakh man days in Coimbatore during 2014-15, only Rs. 1.20 crore had been allocated towards the administrative expense such as paying the salaries of staff overseeing the MGREGS implementation. Even this was below the required Rs. 3 crore. No explanation has been given so far by the Union Ministry of Rural Development despite queries, a senior DRDA official added. This seems to be the case not only in rest of the State but in other parts of the country as well. A source in the State Rural Development Department said that enquires had revealed that Centre had not provided salaries in many States. While revamping the rural job scheme towards productive asset creation linked to agriculture and allied activities, the new Bharatiya Janata Party Government had increased the annual outlay by Rs. 1,000 crore to Rs. 34,000 crore in the Union Budget. As a result, from a peak of 24,000 labourers, the district now recorded just around 1,500 workers who were turning up with the hope that their wages would be credited in the future. The payments were usually made every week on Tuesdays. The official said that while allocation for the entire State was in the region of Rs. 5,000 crore for the scheme, the figure for Coimbatore district would be in the range of Rs. 90 crore. As a pilot project, the rural job scheme was used in Coimbatore for agricultural activities since last financial year. A farmer was chosen in each of the 12 blocks under this project. The labourers carried out farm work such as removing weeds, spraying pesticides and harvesting besides dairy, poultry and rearing sheep, goats and pigs. As many as 1,324 farm ponds were created under this scheme. This resulted in a substantial reduction in cost of operations for farmers. However, all of this has now been halted, sources said. A greening campaign under which the labourers took up plantations of saplings alongside national and State highways besides at panchayat and Government land was also taken up under MGNREGS in Coimbatore. Nearly 7,500 saplings of mango, neem and other native species were planted in Sarcarsamakulam block alone, of which 87 per cent survived due to the maintenance done under this scheme. The State Government was considering continuing this initiative with local funds, sources added. (The Hindu 25/10/14)

54. Rajasthan labour law awaits President’s nod (14)

New Delhi: Big labour reforms across the country are just a signature away. The central government has cleared the various changes made to its laws by the Rajasthan government, and these were sent to President Pranab Mukherjee for his signature on Tuesday. He is expected to sign on within a few days. Once this is done, other states are expected to follow suit. Madhya Pradesh has already started the process of making similar changes along the lines that Rajasthan has. While Rajasthan had sent its labour law changes to the Centre some months ago, a mandatory process of consultation with various

ministries is required. Once this was over, the home ministry sent the Rajasthan law to the President. Rajasthan has made three sets of changes to the Factories Act, the Industrial Disputes Act and the Contract Labour Act. Under the changes, government permission will not be required for retrenchment of workers if the factory has 300 workers — this is 100 right now. Similarly, trade unions will need to represent at least 30% of workers in order to be recognised — this is 15% right now. And in the case of the Factories Act, it is to be applicable only to firms that have more than 20 workers as opposed to 10 right now. Under Article 252(2), even if the state law runs counter to the central law, the President’s assent ensures the state law prevails. So, once President Mukherjee signs on to Rajasthan’s laws, other states like Madhya Pradesh are expected to rush in their laws as well. (Financial Express 30/10/14)

RESERVATION

55. Reservation in urban bodies to clear air over mayoral candidates (25)

INDORE : Reservation for post of mayors in municipal corporations of state is scheduled to take place in the state capital on Tuesday. With this suspense over possible candidates for mayor in Indore will be clear. State has 14 municipal corporations and as per rule 50% seats of mayors seat will be reserved for women and 5% for SC, ST and OBCs. For last three terms Indore is having a mayor from general category. Only after reservation process will it be clear as to who would be among front runners for the post. Last three mayors of Indore were from general category. They were Kailash Vijayvargia (1999-2004), Umashashi Sharma (2004-2009) and incumbent Krishanmurari Moghe (2009-2014). BJP MLA from Indore II, who had won assembly election by record margin of votes is said to be front runner for mayor candidate of BJP if Indore’s mayor will be from general category, while Congress may field former MLA Satnarayan Patel. In case Indore’s mayor is reserved for OBC then former IDA chairman Madhu Verma may get BJP ticket for mayor post. “There are many strong candidates in the party, picture will be clear after reservation process is complete,” said a BJP leader. Similarly, reservation process for panch and sarpanch of Indore district would be conducted on Wednesday at respective panchayats. Indore district has 309 gram panchayats with 4360 panch and 309 sarpanch. Along with district will elect 100 janpad members and 17 jila panchayat members and 4 janpad president in the ensuing civic election. Reservation of seats for janpad members, jila panchayat members and janpad president would be held on October 24 at collectorate. (Times of India 21/10/14)

56. Caste Quotas Soon for All Outsourced Government Jobs (25)

BANGALORE: The state government will insist on caste quotas for private agency workers who provide services for its departments. Social Welfare Minister H Anjaneya told reporters on Tuesday that the decision was taken at a Cabinet sub-committee meeting earlier in the day. More than a lakh jobs are outsourced by government departments and state-owned boards and corporations. “An amendment will be brought in to enforce reservation,” the minister said. He said an amendment to the SC/ST and OBC Recruitment Act of 1990 will be tabled in the next Assembly session. He also said he would insist on the roster system in the Social Welfare Department without waiting for the legislation. The roster stipulates 18 per cent of all jobs for the SC and ST categories, 32 per cent for OBCs, including 5 per cent for minorities. The remaining is open for general merit. Anjaneya said the sub-committee has also decided to conduct a survey to identify post-2001 backlog posts reserved for SC and ST candidates. The last survey was done for 1984-2001 and more than 19,115 posts had been identified. It has come to light that 3,220 such posts are yet to be filled, he said. “This time, the survey will also cover backlog promotions from 1978 to date.” (New Indian Express 22/10/14)

57. College union, DUTA lock horns over appointments (25)

New Delhi: The DUTA’s opposition to the ongoing interviews for filling up 73 permanent teaching positions at Deshbandhu College on Friday infuriated the college teachers’ association. While the Delhi University Teachers’ Association claimed that the college is conducting interviews on the basis of a public advertisement, which is opposed to the government’s reservation policy, the college association accused the former of disrupting the selection process for three hours. “Out of the 73 posts advertised, only nine are reserved for SC and four for ST categories. This amounts to only 12.3 per cent of posts reserved for Scheduled Castes, and 5.5 per cent for Scheduled Tribes, which fall far short of the mandated requirement of 15 per cent and 7.5 per cent respectively,” the teachers’ body said in a statement. “Further, the two posts reserved for persons with disabilities have not been earmarked for specific subjects, which is in violation of the standing court order,” it said. The college association, however, said the recruitment process has the university’s approval. While slamming the DUTA leadership for holding up appointments, Ashwini Shankar of Deshbandhu College said, “Instead of working tirelessly for regularisation of teachers, she (DUTA president Nandita Narain) sought to perpetuate ad hocism in Delhi University and play havoc with the career of thousands.” As per the directions of the Delhi High Court to fill up 4,500 teaching positions in the university, Shankar said the interviews for 13 teaching positions, six of them unreserved and seven reserved ones, were conducted by the Department of Chemistry on Friday. DUTA said their intervention came after two other groups of the same college – Deshbandu College Teachers’ Welfare Association and the SC/ST Teachers’ Forum – approached them. “Responding to the teachers’ appeal, a DUTA delegation went to the college today and tried to meet the principal. But the principal refused to meet the delegation,” said the teachers’ group, adding the reservation roster was not placed for approval before the staff council or the college governing body. A complaint has been lodged with the SC/ST Commission, the group said. (Deccan Herald 25/10/14)

58. Petition against quota benefits for Arunthathiars (25)

CHENNAI : Legality of a quota within quota, providing 3% reservation for Arunthathiars within the 16% reserved for scheduled caste members, has been questioned by an advocate who says the sub-quota has robbed educational and job opportunities of many SC communities. Advocate G Saravana Kumar, an SC member, said the opportunities of other SCs are being taken away by Arunthathiars who enjoy 3% exclusive reservation and then compete for remaining posts within the remaining 13% meant for other SCs. A division bench of Justice Satish K Agnihotri and Justice K K Sasidharan, before which the matter came up on Monday, have issued notices to the state and the TNPSC, besides the registrar-general of the Madras high court. Tnn (Times of India 28/10/14)

59. ‘Respond positively to grievances’ (25)

Mandya: State SC/ST Commission Chairman E Ashwath Narayan said, action will be initiated against officials who do not help solve problems of people belonging to Scheduled Caste and Tribes. He was chairing a meeting, held to discuss the problems faced by people belonging to Scheduled Caste and Tribes, in the city, at the ZP Hall, on Wednesday. “All officials have been asked to respond positively to the grievances of the people of the communities. So, the people should make use of the benefits extended by the governments, shedding differences either as sub-castes or separate groups,” he said. Dalit leaders, who attended the meeting, aired several problems faced by the communities. They demanded filling of backlog job vacancies in the governments, severe punishment for those availing benefits by producing fake caste certificates, reservation in issuing contracts in government departments, regularisation of services of civic workers (pourakarmikas), and speedy issuance of compensation to atrocity victims. Venkatagiriaiah said, people belonging to backward castes should not be included under Scheduled Castes. “An authority should be constituted to protect Buddist places of worship. Steps should be taken to check atrocity against Dalits,” he said. M B Sreenivas said, at least 25 per cent of the works issued on contract by various government departments should be earmarked for Dalits. “Contract civic workers should be made permanent. Reservation should be provided in promotions in government institutions. Job reservation should be provided to Dalits in APMC and other cooperative organisations,” he said. Guruprasad Keragodu said, reservations had not been provided for Dalits in the recruitment for Mandya Institute of Medical Science. M Krishnamurthy said, the change in rules for provision of compensation to atrocity victims was not proper. “Earlier relief was provided as soon as a case was filed, now, it is paid only after the charge sheet is filed,” he pointed out. (Deccan Herald 30/10/14)

HUMAN RIGHTS/ CIVIL SOCIETY/ NHRC

60. India wins re-election to UN human rights body (1)

United Nations: India on Tuesday got re-elected to the UN’s main human rights body for the period of 2015-17. India is currently a member of the 47-nation UN Human Rights Council and its term will end on December 31, 2014. It was seeking re-election to the UN body, the elections for which were held on Tuesday during the ongoing 69th session of the UN General Assembly. India was competing in the Asia group in which four seats were up for election. The other countries in the Asia group competing in the election were Bangladesh, Qatar, Thailand and Indonesia. “The support of member states for India’s candidature in the Human Rights Council elections would be greatly appreciated,” a note from the Indian mission had said last month. The Council members are elected for a period of three years by the majority of members of the General Assembly through direct and secret ballot. (Asian Age 22/10/14)

61. Migrant Workers in UAE Exploited, Abused: Report (1)

MANILA: Migrant domestic workers in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are beaten, exploited and trapped in forced labour situations, Human Rights Watch said in a report released Thursday. The UAE government, about to take up an influential new role in the International Labour Organization (ILO), has failed to adequately protect female domestic workers – many of them from the Philippines – from abuse by employers and recruiters, it said. The 79-page report documents how the UAE visa sponsorship system, known as kafala, and the lack of labour law protections leave migrant domestic workers exposed to abuse. Domestic workers, mostly from Asia and Africa, cannot move to a new job before their contracts end without the employer’s consent, trapping many in abusive conditions, the US-based rights body said. Labour-sending countries don’t fully protect the workers against deceptive recruitment practices or provide adequate assistance to abused nationals abroad, it said. “The UAE’s sponsorship system chains domestic workers to their employers and then leaves them isolated and at risk of abuse behind the closed doors of private homes,” said Rothna Begum at Human Rights Watch. “With no labour law protections for domestic workers, employers can, and many do, overwork, underpay, and abuse these women.” Human Rights Watch interviewed 99 female domestic workers in the UAE as well as recruitment agencies, lawyers and others. Human Rights Watch sent letters to 15 UAE ministries and bodies in January, April and August to seek information, request meetings and present its findings but received no response. The UAE government did have a short meeting with Human Rights Watch representatives in September but did not address any domestic worker issues. Domestic workers told Human Rights Watch about not being paid, not having rest periods or time off, being confined in the employer’s homes, and of excessive workloads, with working days of up to 21 hours. They described being deprived of food and reported psychological, physical and sexual abuse. Many said their employers treated them like animals or as if they were dirty and physical contact with them would be contaminating. In some cases the abuses amounted to forced labour or trafficking. “My boss started hitting me after two weeks of being there,” one worker said. “She hit me with her fist to my chest. She scraped her fingernails to my neck, and slapped my face. I was bruised on my neck. She sometimes pulled out tufts of my hair.” The worker said she remained there, hoping to be paid, but never was. At least 146,000 female migrant domestic workers – possibly many more – from countries such as the Philippines, Indonesia, India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Ethiopia work in the UAE. Some embassies or consulates in the UAE do not have shelters or adequate staffing to deal with abused domestic workers. In June 2014, the UAE authorities revised the standard domestic worker labour contract to require a weekly day off and eight hours of rest in any 24-hour period. However, the contract does not address other issues such as limits on working hours and is weaker than labour law protections for other workers that are enforceable by judicial authorities. (New Indian Express 23/10/14)

62. Shillong groups condemn ‘assault’ on woman (1)

Shillong, Oct. 24: Civil society groups today unanimously condemned the alleged assault on and arrest of a woman while expressing solidarity to the safety and freedom of sexually marginalised and oppressed groups in Meghalaya. The meeting, attended by various social organisations, activist groups and individuals condemned the recent brutal assault on Angelbeth Lyngdoh Nongpiur and her “unjust arrest” by Meghalaya police. According to the police, on October 11, one Mohan Pegu was allegedly abducted in a Maruti Zen Estilo car supposedly driven by Angelbeth from Lumparing here, near the Buddhist Temple. The police arrested Angelbeth from Jumar Lane, Laban, on October 15, based on an FIR lodged by Pegu’s wife Saralin Marbaniang. On October 22, Angelbeth’s father lodged a complaint at Laban police station that on October 15 he came to know through social media that unidentified persons had assaulted and molested Angelbeth at a public place in Shillong. Those who participated in the meeting included members of Thma U Rangli-Juki (TUR), Lympung Ki Seng Kynthei, CSWO, Seng Kynthei Laban-Lumparing, North East Network, Meghalaya State Network of Positive People, Samkami, WISE, Bethany Society and other individuals, including family members of Angelbeth. The participants were also dismayed at the “one-sided, insensitive and prurient reporting” of this incident in the local press and called upon the media to be sensitive towards marginalised and prosecuted groups like the LGBT community. “People expressed their revulsion towards the lynch mob, which not only grievously assaulted Angelbeth, but also voyeuristically recorded the assault on their mobiles and criminally circulated the clip. The meeting also expressed its concern at the arrest of Angelbeth on false charges,” Thma U Rangli-Juki (TUR) leader Angela Rangad said in a statement. “The police, rather than acting to defend human rights of the citizens and protecting individuals from moral policing and lynch mobs and voyeurs, have instead defended those who have violated human rights. The meeting urged the police to invoke the recent criminal law amendment act to book the culprits involved in the assault and circulation of the video clip,” Rangad added. She said the organisations have decided to fight to free Angelbeth from her “unjust arrest”, and bring the perpetrators of this “brutal and heinous assault” to justice. (The Telegraph 25/10/14)

63. NHRC asks UP govt to pay Rs 5 lakh to victim of alleged torture (1)

NEW DELHI: National Human Rights Commission today directed the Uttar Pradesh government to pay Rs five lakh to a victim of alleged police torture due to which he became permanently disabled. According to an official statement today, the state government, through its Chief Secretary, has been given six weeks time to submit proof of payment to the victim. “The case is related to a student, Ashish Kumar Madheshiya (17), who was picked up by police personnel of Pipraich Police Station of Gorakhpur district on January 23, 2010,” it said. During the course of inquiry, the Commission found that Ashish was illegally detained and severely tortured allegedly by the Station Officer (SO) and two Constables, which caused serious injury to his spine making him permanently crippled. As a result, the victim would not be able to walk in his lifetime without help from others. The Commission has observed that this is a case of grave violation of human rights allegedly committed by the police officials for which the State is liable and recommended monetary relief. NHRC has also asked the Senior Superintendent of Police, Gorakhpur to respond within four weeks with the status of the departmental action and charge sheet against the erring police officials in the court. (The Economic Times 27/10/14)

64. NE consultation on human rights held in Agartala (1)

Imphal, October 29 2014: North East Students’ Organisation (NESO) with support from Twipra Students’ Federation(TSF) organized a ‘North East Consultation on Human Rights: Soliciting People’s Opinion on Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958′ at the Conference Hall of Hotel Rajarshi in Agartala (Tripura) today. Biswajit Koloi, General Secretary of TSF welcomed the hundred strong delegation, consisting of student leaders, researchers, teachers, civil society leaders etc. Sinam Prakash, Secretary NESO, in the keynote address, pointed out the need for the whole north east to come together to fight against the draconian act. Anthony Debbarma of Borok People Human Rights Organisation, speaking as a resource person, detailed the atrocities committed under the shadow of AFSPA in Tripura. Babloo Loitongbam of Human Rights Alert, also speaking as the resource person, called upon the people of Tripura to stand in solidarity with Irom Sharmila in her unprecedented struggle. After a thread bare discussion, the consultation unanimously resolved to strongly condemn the discriminatory and racist nature of AFSPA particularly in its implementation in Tripura; demand the repeal of AFSPA and to call upon all the people of the North East to be united in this call; sensitize the student community of the North East on the human rights consequences of the prolonged imposition of AFSPA in the region; pressure the Members of Parliament from the North East region to raise the issue to repeal AFSPA in the Parliament during the forthcoming winter session; and ensure that the issue of repeal of AFSPA in the list of priorities of NESO. (Manipur: E-Pao)

JUDICIARY/ LAW

65. HC Directive to Implement SC Order on Plaints Against Judicial Officers (19)

KOCHI: The Kerala High Court has decided to implement the Supreme Court directive not to accept any anonymous complaints against judicial officers in Magistrate, Sessions and Munsiff courts in the state. A Supreme Court circular in this regard was forwarded by the Registrar of Subordinate Judiciary to all the courts in the state on Tuesday. As per the circular, the anonymous complaints against any member of the subordinate judiciary should not be accepted from now. Instead, the complaints have to be filed in the form of an affidavit with proper details against the officers, at the HC. Once such affidavits are received, the HC would appoint an officer who will look into the complaints and file a report in the court. Only on the basis of the report should action be recommended against the judicial officers. The court officials said that the SC came out with the circular after a large number of anonymous complaints were received at the HCs. Most of the anonymous complaints were found to be baseless. Some complaints would be sent owing to the enmity with the officials of the court. Often investigating such allegations is a wastage of time and serious consideration could not be given to complaints of genuine nature. (New Indian Express 22/10/14)

66. New law proposed for small factories (19)

New Delhi: The Labour Ministry has proposed the Small Factories (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Services) Bill to govern wages and conditions of work in small and medium enterprises (SMEs). The Bill envisages rules for wages, overtime hours, social security and appointment of factory inspectors in units employing fewer than 40 workers. While the government introduced the Factories Act (Amendment) Bill, 2014 in the Lok Sabha in August, the new Bill has been proposed to align the work conditions in the SMEs with the Factories Act amendments and allow enterprises to file compliance forms online as the government announced earlier this month. “There was a demand from the SME sector for a separate Act to govern them. In line with that, this Act will reduce the number of forms required for compliance with rules. It will allow the SMEs to employ women in night shifts based on the fulfilment of certain conditions. It will change the inspection system to one based on self-certification and inspections based on computer lots as announced by the government earlier this month,” a senior Labour Ministry official says. The Bill builds on the Labour Laws (Exemption from Furnishing Returns and Maintaining Registers by Certain Establishments) Amendment Bill, 2011, which increases the number of laws under which units will be exempt from maintaining registers and filings returns, he adds. The Factories Act (Amendment) Bill is for allowing the States to raise the minimum number of workers employed to 20 where power was used and 40 for others, from 10 and 20, respectively. Based on the suggestions in a June 2011 report by an expert committee under former Planning Commission member Narendra Jadhav, the Bill removes prohibitions on women working on certain machines in motion and near cotton openers and allows the State governments to make rules allowing women to work night shifts in factories upon fulfilling certain conditions. It doubled the permissible overtime hours from 50 hours in one quarter to 100 hours and from 75 hours to 125 hours in certain cases. “The Small Factories Bill will bring the SMEs, which account for over 30 per cent of industrial production, in line with the amendments to the Factories Act,” an official says. The Ministry has invited public comments over the next 30 days. After the finalisation of the Bill, it will be sent to the Union Cabinet before being introduced in Parliament. Keywords: Labour Ministry, small and medium enterprises, Factories Act (Amendment) Bill 2014, Labour Laws (Exemption from Furnishing Returns and Maintaining Registers by Certain Establishments) Amendment Bill 2011 (The Hindu 27/10/14)

67. Judicial officers visit schools to ‘teach’ law to children (19)

New Delhi: In a first, serving and retired officers of the Delhi Judicial Services visited various city schools on Tuesday and interacted with children, explaining to them the importance of law in society. The sessions were organised by the Delhi State Legal Services Authority (DSLSA), which has launched legal literacy clubs in schools to educate students on the legal aspects of various issues. Students from Class 9 to 12 will be made part of the clubs. The judge who took the session at the Government Girls Senior Secondary School at Roopnagar focused on crimes against women. Girls spoke about harassment and how laws can help.  “The children have to be made aware that certain kinds of behaviour are crimes, but there is no point in telling them about the IPC, so we have to figure out how to say the relevant things without complicating them,” the judge, who conducted the session at the girls school, said. At a similar session at a boys school, students raised issues of “protection” against “false cases” and how it was the duty of all citizens to stop crimes against women. “What you see as ‘fun’ is actually eve-teasing that can get you jailed. Mistakes like these affect your life and that of everyone around you,” the judge, who conducted the session at the boys school, said. The judge and the principal asked the students to follow traffic rules, not ride motorcycles without licences and never overspeed. The DSLSA, along with the Education department, launched the legal literacy campaign on Monday, which was attended by school principals, lawyers and judges from district courts, the Delhi High Court and the Supreme Court. The legal literacy clubs have been launched in Delhi government schools for now. Similar sessions are planned at central government schools, private schools and schools run by the New Delhi Municipal Council from November. The students who are part of the clubs would then act as “peer counsellors”, spreading awareness about laws and civic duties among other students. “The challenge before legal aid today is to convey to the children that they have a legitimate stake in local, national and international governance, that we are all equal citizens and we all have an equal say in how our lives and communities should be run,” Chief Justice of India HL Dattu said at the inaugural session on Monday. Principals said for the initiative to succeed, constant monitoring and several sessions should be held. “Also, police have to enforce laws. Boys ride bikes on roads, but no action is taken against them,” one principal said. (Indian Express 29/10/14)

68. Proposal to legalize prostitution to be placed before SC panel: NCW (19)

NEW DELHI: The proposal for legalizing prostitution in India will be placed before the Supreme Court constituted panel on Nov 8, National Commission for Women (NCW) chief Lalitha Kumaramangalam said on Wednesday. “The proposal for legalizing prostitution will be put forth in the National Consultation scheduled to be held on Nov 8 by Supreme Court panel …,” Kumaramangalam said in a statement. The apex court had constituted the panel after a public interest litigation was filed 2010 on rehabilitation of sex workers. In its order dated Aug 24, 2011, the court had directed NCW to attend the panel’s meetings. “The panel has to make certain recommendations for the possible amendments in Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956 (ITPA) in the light of conditions conducive for sex workers to live with dignity in accordance with the provision of article 21 of the constitution,” added the statement. The Supreme Court-constituted panel would deliberate on the existing provisions of ITPA, loopholes, implementation of the law and the impact of such implementation on the sex workers and their lives.  Kumaramangalam meanwhile denied media reports that she was planning to put forward the proposal of legalizing prostitution at the cabinet meet. However, activists expressed concern and discontentment over the NCW’s proposal. “Legalization of prostitution goes against the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) definition of ‘decent work’ and is considered as selling sex under distress. Instead of criminalizing the buying and selling of sex, we are giving more power to those who exploit sex workers and treat them as commodities that can be sold in a market,” Ranjana Kumari, director, Centre for Social Research said in a statement. (Times of India 30/10/14)

POLICE/ AFSPA/ CUSTODIAL DEATHS

69. Report on custodial death wants SC fiat followed (1)

CHENNAI: The Campaign for Custodial Justice and Abolition of Torture has prepared a report on the death of Syed Mohammed in the S.Pattinam police station, Ramanathapuram, which it proposes to hand over to the Chief Justice of India and the Chief Justice of Madras High Court besides the National Human Rights Commission. The NGO’s fact-finding committee, which conducted a two-day inquiry with the local shop owners, police, relative of the victim and the local MLA, has stated that Syed Mohammed was taken into custody, tortured and killed before being shot at in the police station on October 14. The inquiry found that the police picked him up following a verbal complaint on that date from mechanic Aruldass who ran a shop near the police station. Around 4 p.m. the shopkeepers near the police station heard loud screams from within and then three gun shots. The committee, which interviewed witnesses, has recommended that all suspended or transferred police personnel be arrested and tried on murder charges. It also sought an additional compensation of Rs.10 lakh for the family and a government job for a family member. The report has demanded that the directions of the Supreme Court on encounter death be followed. These include filing an FIR, conducting a magisterial inquiry, submission of report to the judicial magistrate and conduct of trial after a full investigation. (The Hindu 21/10/14)

70. Government won’t dilute or partially lift AFSPA (1)

New Delhi: The Centre’s new policy on Jammu and Kashmir will clearly spell out the government’s firm stand on the contentious issue of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act in the state as it will categorically rule out any possibility of either diluting the contentious Act or even partially lifting it from some parts of the state. Sources said the government may wait for the Assembly elections in the state, which are due by the end of 2014, before making public its comprehensive policy on J&K. The previous UPA government was said to be favourably inclined to withdrawing the AFSPA from some parts of the state despite stiff opposition from the armed forces. But the new dispensation at the Centre seems to be on the same page with the security forces even though the state chief minister Omar Abdullah again made a strong pitch two days ago for lifting the Act from some areas in the Valley. Mr Abdullah, sources added, also raised the issue of AFSPA during his meeting with home minister Rajnath Singh a few days ago. The state government’s view is that militancy in the Valley is at an all time low and the timing is perfect for partial rollback of the AFSPA. However, the move also has a strong political under current since Mr Abdullah’s National Conference will get a major electoral boost in the Assembly polls if the Centre does agree to his demand. But the BJP-led government at the Centre seems to be in no hurry to announce its policy yet as it is completely against any kind of changes in the present format of the AFSPA. “At a time when the situation along the international border and the Line of Control is so volatile particularly in wake of consistent ceasefire violations by Pakistan we need to strengthen the hands of our security forces. And the government is clear that any dilution in the AFSPA at this stage will only weaken our fight against terror in the Valley,’’ an official said. Intelligence reports already suggest that Pakistan wants to disrupt the Assembly elections in the state by engineering more terror strikes. Close to 2,000 militants are said to be waiting at launch pads and terror training camps along the border to sneak into India. It is also suspected that having suffered serious reverses in wake of India’s retaliation during the ceasefire violation Pakistan was waiting for an opportunity to strike again. Thus given the present security and political scenario in the Valley there is a firm view within the Centre that the AFSPA should in no way be tweaked. Consultations have already been held among the national security advisor and ministries of defence and home on the issue. (Asian Age 23/10/14)

71. Villagers Seek Head of Karnataka Official in ‘Encounter’ Death (1)

SALEM: Mild tension prevailed around midnight on Saturday, when the body of Palani, the vicitim of the Karnataka Forest Department’s firing, arrived at his native village, Chettipatti. A large crowd from neighbouring villages had assembled to witness the last rites. Around 11.35 pm, when the body was brought by the Tamil Nadu Police, the angry crowd raised slogans against the Karnataka Forest Department personnel. They demanded the arrest of Vasudeva Moorthy, assistant conservator of M M Hills. The people said they would not allow the body to be cremated till Vasudeva Moorthy was arrested. Local representatives of political parties such as VCK, DK and PMK engaged in a heated argument with the police. Police told the people that the Karnataka Police had booked cases on Tamil villagers for ransacking their check post and the forest range office. They said about fifty people figured in the FIR, and if police was to discharge its duty, those named in the FIR would have to be arrested. Salem DIG V Kulkarni, Salem SP R Sakthivel, and Mettur RDO Anish Shekar were present and interacted with the people. Talks was held with the community elders and local leaders, who in turn pacified the people. Around 12.20 am the body was finally taken into the village and the cremation ended around 3 am on Sunday. An uneasy calm enveloped the village even as police maintained vigil. Bus services to M M Hills and Mysore resumed on Sunday morning. In the evening, the focus shifted to Mettur where Nam Tamilar Party chief organiser Seeman was scheduled to hold a public meeting. Earlier, he addressed the press at Salem, where he said, Karnataka officials have expressed their bitterness against the Tamils. For even minor reasons Tamils in Karnataka are attacked and theatres screening Tamil films are vandalised. Tamils will not suffer for long and the Karnataka government and the people of the State should maintain patience. (New Indian Express 27/10/14)

72. ‘Pay woman Rs 2 lakh in custodial rape case’ (1)

CHENNAI: A woman who was allegedly raped and tortured by the Udumalpet police a couple of months ago is set to get an interim compensation of 2 lakh in two weeks, as a division bench of the Madras high court on Tuesday refused to interfere with a single judge order to that effect. On September 24, Justice V Ramasubramanian, besides awarding interim compensation and ensuring medical assistance to the woman, had directed the CBI to probe the grave allegations against police. He also made it clear that the state government could place all the seven police personnel connected with the incident under suspension. The government chose to challenge the order. On Tuesday, when the appeal came up before a bench of Justice Satish K Agnihotri and Justice K K Sasidharan, the judges declined to interfere with the order. After CBI informed that more than 50% of the investigation had already been completed, the judges permitted the agency to proceed with its investigation. They then adjourned the matter to November 28 for further hearing. During arguments, the bench said the mighty state should not fight against a poor family, and added that while 3 lakh each was being given to people who committed suicide there need not be any hesitation to pay 2 lakh interim compensation to a victim of custodial violence. The issue relates to a petition filed by Girija (name changed) saying that her mother was picked up by Udumalpet police on August 11 in connection with a murder case. During the interregnum period, seven policemen subjected her to torture and they even inserted lathis into her private parts, she said. After summoning the woman to court, Justice Ramasubramanian referred her to the hospital, before awarding interim compensation. (Times of India 29/10/14)

MEDIA/ FREEDOM OF SPEECH

73. State likely to unveil new e-governance policy today (1)

Gandhinagar: The new e-governance policy of the Anandiben Patel government is expected to be unveiled on Monday. Under this policy, all government departments will be connected with the public on social media and at least one member per family will be made e-literate . Taking forward Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ambitious agenda, the final draft says that the government also targets extending the scope of e-governance to the remotest area by 2019. The Gujarat government officials maintain that the project started by Modi when he was chief minister, has been given final shape as the eGovernance Policy 2014-2019, wherein all the departments will be encouraged to have a dedicated page on social media to ensure interactive communication with people. “The state government aims at suitably promoting the social media services to further improve citizen reach and feedback mechanism on the government services. An active presence of all the government departments on social media is recommended,” reads the draft policy, accessed exclusively by The Indian Express. As of now, all the departments have dedicated websites, but they are not yet live. The 2014-15 budget has already mandated all departments to earmark three per cent of their budgetary allocations towards e-governance. And, departments will be expected to prepare their respective Information Technology roadmaps. The sources maintained that the policy, to be formally announced on October 20, also aims to spread e-literacy among citizens. The government has proposed setting up of IT training centres through public-private partnerships which will offer short-term courses, to create the e-literates. Further, the government will ensure that children completing elementary education get an exposure to basic computer skills in school. The policy also proposes to strengthen e-governance by delivering 500 services through portals by way of various channels. For the same, it suggests to add more 20,000 civic centres to existing 15,000 in rural as well as urban areas. The state government plans to make available Government to Citizen (G2C) services within 2 kms and waiting period at service counters to be less than 30 minutes during this five-year period. (Indian Express 21/10/14)

74. Modi lauds media for turning ‘pen into broom’ (1)

New Delhi: In a bid to change the notion that he avoided the media, Modi sought to send out the message that he wants to rebuild his relationship with it. The occasion was “Diwali Milan”, organised by the BJP’s media cell at the party headquarters in Delhi. Recalling his days as a BJP functionary in Delhi, when he used to stay at the party headquarters as an office-bearer before becoming chief minister of Gujarat, Modi said, “I used to put chairs here for you people. Those were different days, when we used to interact freely. I had a beautiful relationship with you and it helped me in Gujarat.” He added, “Even though times have changed, I look for ways to deepen these old ties with the media. I will see to it that, time constraints notwithstanding, we interact with each other better.” Modi, who has had stormy ties with the national media since the 2002 Gujarat riots, said: “When I interact with the media, I get not only information, but also a different perspective. By interacting directly, one gets to know things which mediapersons cannot report. Not only does one get information but also vision, which is very valuable.” Modi praised the media for the coverage and reporting of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan. “You have turned your pen into a broom for my Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan. I have read many articles on Clean India. Electronic and social media are doing a comprehensive debate on it. This is a service to the nation. This is a good example of how the media can play a constructive role.” He added, “Many governments are being forced to wake up. Writing about the Clean India drive is a big service to the nation. I thank you for it. Since Independence, it was believed that the government would do everything. But the media is encouraging people to work for the nation. There is now an environment where citizens are realising that they have to work together.” After his barely-10-minute-long statement, Modi moved into the crowd, mingling freely with journalists. Some of them jostled to take “selfies” with him, and Modi happily obliged. Union ministers Rajnath Singh, Sushma Swaraj, Piyush Goel, Dharmendra Pradhan, Prakash Javadekar and BJP president Amit Shah were also present at the venue. Finance and Defence Minister Arun Jaitley had to leave midway to chair a meeting. (Deccan Herald 26/10/14)

75. UN condemns attack on journalist in DRC (1)

Head of UN Mission for Stabilisation of Congo (MONUSCO) Martin Kobler has strongly condemned the attack on a journalist working for the Congolese National Radio Television (RTNC). “The attack is a serious threat to media freedom and I want to strongly condemn it. I express my support to the Congolese press which should be allowed to operate freely,” the head of the UN mission said in a statement Monday. Philemon Gira, an RTNC cameraman based in Goma, the North Kivu provincial headquarters in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) was last Saturday shot by unknown armed men who stole his camera. “It’s an unacceptable act that should never be repeated. Media freedom is governed by international and African conventions and such acts constitute serious violations of human rights,” Xinhua quoted Kobler as saying in the statement. According to Journalists In Danger, an organisation involved in promotion of media freedom in Central Africa, Gira was the object of a targeted attack. (Business Standard 28/10/14)

76. Decision to not give information to media on probe won’t protect victims:.. (1)

MumbaI: Dissatisfied with state government’s decision to not disclose information to media during the course of investigations in cases, the Bombay High Court Wednesday said the government’s stand is restricted to protecting the accused and that the decision will in no way protect the victim. The HC was acting on a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking restraint on trial by media, arguing it infringed on the right of an accused to have a fair trial. A bench headed by Justice A S Oka had earlier asked the government to consider issuing a circular that imposes restrictions on the police from giving media interviews or disclosing information acquired during an investigation. While acting on the PIL filed by advocate Rahul Thakur, the HC remarked, “The public prosecutor, police should not tell who’s the next witness; what witnesses disclosed in court or whether they are having a good case, and accused will be punished for so and so years.” After perusing the circular submitted by the state government, the judges said it was not protecting the victims and called a couple of clauses in the circular “vague”. According to the court, during the stage of investigation and trial, disclosing information about the victims, accused and their relatives, in addition to witnesses, might hamper the case. The court had earlier said the quality of investigation would suffer if a case is constantly under “media trial”. It had also said there was need for the police to refrain from disclosing the identity and photograph of an accused. The state government had earlier informed the HC that the central government had already issued a circular that prohibited publishing photographs. “Overzealous sections of the media had a tendency to infringe upon fundamental rights like privacy, fair trial and dignity of the citizens,” the PIL says. The petitioner contested the media portraying an accused as a convict even before the trial. Relying on judgments of the Supreme Court, Thakur said the right to freedom of speech was not an absolute right, but was subject to certain restrictions, and that the state could impose certain restrictions on liberties granted to the media. The petitioner also objected to police parading an accused before camerapersons from the media using gory pictures and revealing the names of accused and their kin. The HC, while asking the state to come out with a new circular, posted the hearing for October 31. (Indian Express 30/10/14)

COMMUNAL RIOTS

77. HC seeks response of Centre, J&K in Chattisinghpora Sikhs massacre (7)

Srinagar: The Jammu and Kashmir high court on Monday sought response of the Centre and the state government on a petition seeking a probe into the killing of 35 Sikhs in Chattisinghpora area in March 2000.A division bench of the high court comprising justices Mohammad Yaqoob Mir and MH Attar issued notices to respondents including the Centre and the state government to reply to the petition within two weeks. The Public Interest Litigation (PIL) has been filed by one Sardar Avtar Singh Sodhi, a resident of Mehjoor Nagar area here. The Lashkar-e-Toiba militants massacred 35 Sikhs at Chttisinghpora village of Anantnag district on March 20, 2000 — a day before then US President Bill Clinton was to arrive on his maiden visit to India. In 2010, an LeT associate David Headley, who was arrested in connection with the 2008 Mumbai attacks, reportedly confessed to the National Investigation Agency that the outfit carried out the Chattisinghpora massacre. Headley is said to have identified an LeT militant named Muzzamil as part of the group which carried out the killings apparently to create communal tension just before Clinton’s visit. The other major relief sought by the petitioner is reservation for Sikhs of J&K in all state departments and all other state institutions including the legislature, judiciary and executive. The petitioner has also pleaded for directions to the respondents for welfare of the Sikh community living in the state which included appointment of a board for welfare of the community, appointment of a commission to investigate the problems of Sikhs and to suggest appropriate measures for their improvement in social and economic sectors. He has also sought setting up of the Punjabi language department in the University of Kashmir and financial assistance to deserving students from the community for higher studies abroad. The petitioner has also sought directions for providing similar benefits to Sikhs to which other minorities are entitled to in rest of India under the National Commission for Minorities. (Hindustan Times 20/10/14)

78. Love affair sparks riots in Vadodra, 9 injured (7)

VADODARA: An alleged love affair between a girl and a boy belonging to different communities sparked communal clashes at Dhaniyavi village in Varnama on Monday morning. Nine persons including four policemen were injured in the rioting that broke out at about 11am. Police fired three rounds in the air to disperse the rioting mob. Over 24 persons have been detained and many more are likely to be rounded up in coming days. Over 32 weapons including swords and a licensed gun were recovered from the spot. According to the police, the two communities were at loggerheads over last few days after the allegations of an affair between a boy and a girl surfaced. “The communities had settled their differences earlier and father of the girl had even refused to register a complaint. However, on Monday morning they fought again,” said district superintendent of police (rural), Sandip Singh. Locals claimed that a similar attack happened on Sunday night in the village. “To ensure peace, we tried to strike a compromise. But we were attacked without any provocation in the presence of the police. Even women were present when the attack happened,” said an injured person. Another local said that the boy was accused of sending text messages to the girl and someone from the girl’s family informed her father. The injured persons were admitted to Makarpura hospital. Four cops including police sub-inspector, P V Solanki suffered head injuries. Security has been beefed up in the village to avoid any escalation. An injured person claimed that one of the reasons behind the clash was political rivalry between the two communities and that the affair was just a pretext to attack them. (Times of India 21/10/14)

79. Delhi’s Trilokpuri colony tense after communal clashes, one in critical condition (7)

New Delhi: Delhi’s Trilokpuri colony tense Ads by Google Used Cars at Low Price Get best deal in 2nd hand cars. Shop for the right used car today! cartrade.com/Used-Cars Free Trading Seminar Learn and Earn in Financial Markets Register for Seminar in Gurgaon www.mtrading.in/free-seminars New Delhi, Oct 26: Delhi’s Trilokpuri area remained tense on Sunday, Oct 26, though no violence was reported, police said, a day after five people were shot at during a communal clash, leaving one in critical condition. But police denied the area was curfew-bound. “The situation is tense but under control. No fresh violence or clashes have been reported,” Deputy Commissioner of Police Ajay Kumar told IANS. Police had detained around 70 people till Saturday night after two groups of Hindus and Muslims pelted stones at each other Friday. After a brief lull, clashes erupted again and five people were shot at Saturday evening. Three of the wounded were identified as 16-year-old Ajit, who has a back injury, 15-year-old Arjun, who is in critical condition with a head wound, and Praveen, whose age is not known. Following Thursday’s clash over Diwali celebrations, the authorities imposed prohibitory orders banning illegal gatherings. Trilokpuri residents said there was “a curfew like situation”. Delhi Police denied this. “There is no curfew like situation, but section 144 of CrPC (prohibiting unlawful assembly of people) is imposed in the area,” spokesman Rajan Bhagat told IANS. The whole of Trilokpuri, divided into 36 blocks, were being manned by more than 1,000 security personnel – from Delhi Police, Rapid Action Force and Central Reserve Police Force. Over 30 police vans, water cannons and riot control vehicles have also been deployed. Some of the roads where street clashes took places were strewn with stones and broken bottles Sunday. Though police said the five were injured in mob firing, their families blamed the police. “Arjun was shot by police when he was returning from a nearby block. He had gone for tuition and was returning around 1 p.m. Saturday,” his mother Malar told IANS. Ajit’s mother Anjali also claimed that her son was shot by police. Police said 14 people, including 13 police personnel, were injured in the stone-pelting. They were admitted to hospitals. Trilokpuri residents expressed anger over the police action, and accused officials of not apprehending the real culprits. “Most of the people staying in block 27 were nabbed from their houses. They were badly beaten up and dragged out of their houses. All of them are innocent,” Trilokpuri resident Md. Fahim told IANS. (One India 26/10/14)

80. Six held as VHP, Christians trade charges over Bastar clash (7)

Raipur: The VHP and Christians have accused each other for the violence in Madhota village of Bastar district when nearly two dozen people were injured in a clash between the communities Saturday night. Four members of right-wing groups and two Christians have been arrested. The present controversy is rooted in an attempt by the right-wing groups to take these converted tribals to the Hindu fold. A fortnight ago, Bastar BJP MP Dinesh Kashyap had visited the area and initiated “ghar vapasi” of neo-Christians. Since then, the area has been simmering and the Bastar administration had called a meeting of both communities on Saturday when the clash took place. “We were sitting outside our church when Dinesh Kashyap came with several persons and attacked us,” said Deva Madia, a converted Christian who is recovering at a hospital. Kashyap admitted he led the event but denied he was present on the spot Saturday. “I am in Raipur. I am still to get details about the incident,” he told The Indian Express. However, locals claimed his presence at the village. (Indian Express 28/10/14)

81. Drone helps police scan Trilokpuri locality (7)

NEW DELHI: Even as curfew remained in force in Trilokpuri on Day 5, the police carried out massive door-to-door search operations and recovered a huge amount of weapons and bottles of acid. For the first time, Delhi Police used a drone during the riot investigations. The search operation started on Monday evening after procuring warrants. Cops formed several teams comprising a senior officer, women personnel and constables, who were supported by Rapid Action Force sleuths. By Tuesday evening, the cops had searched 609 houses in eight blocks. Most recoveries were made from blocks 15, 20, 26, 27 and 28. Sources said intelligence officials were also present in plainclothes. A police officer said around 70 bags containing around 1,000 bricks and stones were seized from the rooms and terraces of the houses. Besides, cops seized five bags of acid bottles, around a dozen swords and meat cleavers and two dozen knives. Five people were arrested. Cops said the drive will continue till all suspects are arrested. The drone was a huge help as it could hover around multiple terraces and scan them within minutes. Delhi Police have procured two more drones with night vision after its use helped nab suspects and scan the area. The curfew was lifted between 2pm and 5pm during which essential supplies were distributed to people. Cops will also lift the curfew from 11am onwards for Chhath Puja. However, this will only be allowed if nothing sensitive is observed, an officer said. Police are sanitizing the entire area so that tensions don’t escalate again. Cops have also asked for the mobile and CCTV footages and appealed people to maintain peace through loudspeakers. Special commissioner (law & order) Deepak Mishra said he was monitoring the situation closely and appealed to people to not indulge in rumour mongering. “We have been getting hoax calls and a team is probing them. Those found to be creating panic and mischief will not be spared,” Mishra said. Joint commissioner of police Sanjay Baniwal said they hope to restore normalcy in the area in the next few days. (Times of India 29/10/14)

COMMUNALISM

82. Shiv Sena laments: NCP insulted Hindutva, mocked RSS and BJP wants its support (26)

Mumbai: Hitting out at NCP’s decision to extend outside support to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Maharashtra, the Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena today charged that the offer made by the Sharad Pawar-led outfit is to ensure that its “scam-tainted” leaders enjoy full protection. “Until yesterday, BJP was a communal force and was mocked to be a party full of half pant wearing individuals by the NCP. They insulted Hindutva by mocking the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s (RSS) diktat of wearing half pants. Are they now really concerned about providing stability to Maharashtra? They only want to ensure that their corruption is not brought out in front of people,” the Sena said in an editorial in its mouthpiece ‘Saamana’. Terming NCP leader Praful Patel as an opportunist, Sena said his party doesn’t even qualify to have an opposition leader. “PM (Narendra) Modi had campaigned extensively against the NCP and called it a ‘naturally corrupt’ party that has looted Maharashtra. Vinod Tawde (BJP leader) had even threatened to unearth the scams of the Congress-NCP and send corrupt leaders to jail. And so, a party which does not even qualify to have an Opposition leader is resorting to such opportunism,” the mouthpiece said. Reminding the BJP of Sena’s firm commitment towards a unified Maharashtra, it said that a massive mandate for the BJP in Vidarbha does not mean that people in that region have voted for a separate statehood. “BJP has got a huge mandate in the Vidarbha region which has increased their tally substantially. But we cannot believe that this mandate is for a separate statehood for Vidarbha. BJP may have MLAs there but the Sena has MPs from the region who are committed to having a unified Maharashtra. Their stand remains firm and will never change,” the Sena said. (Financial Express 21/10/14)

83. BJP has a majority, should fulfil commitment to Ayodhya: VHP (26)

ALLAHABAD: Vishwa Hindu Parishad today demanded that the BJP, having achieved a majority on its own in the Parliament under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, fulfil its commitment to the Ayodhya issue by facilitating the construction of a Ram temple at the disputed site. “When the BJP was in power during 1999-2004, the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee used to cite coalition compulsions while explaining his inability to facilitate the construction of a Ram temple. “Narendra Modi has no such compulsions. He may be having people from other parties in his government but the fact remains that BJP got a complete majority under his leadership,” VHP patriarch Ashok Singhal told reporters here. He said that the Modi government should now exercise its powers to resolve the issue which has been inordinately delayed due to judicial intervention. “The VHP has always held that courts cannot settle matters of faith and the government should facilitate construction of temple at the Sri Ramjanmabhoomi by getting passed an act of Parliament to this effect,” he said. Singhal’s statement comes a couple of days after Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), considered to be the apex body of the ‘Sangh Parivar’” of which the VHP is a part and the BJP is the political offshoot, had expressed hope that the Centre will “take the Ram temple issue seriously”.Although Modi has in the recent past refrained from making any statement on the Ayodhya issue, which had figured prominently in the BJP’s election manifesto, a number of party leaders including former national president and Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh have gone on record to state that the party was committed to building a Ram temple at the site referred to as Sri Ramjanmabhoomi. The former VHP president, a staunch supporter of Modi since the days when he was the Chief Minister of Gujarat whom he has been fondly referring to as “Hindu Hriday Samrat” (emperor ruling the hearts of Hindus), also appealed to the Muslim community to “come forward and cooperate with the majority community”.”The Muslims should understand that the Hindus have no issues with them except Ayodhya, Kashi and Mathura. They would do the country a great service if they themselves renounce the wrongful claim on Hindus’ places of worship in these holy cities and acknowledge the majority community’s right to carry out its religious activities at these disputed sites”, the octogenarian said. (The Economic Times 22/10/14)

84. 5 Bajrang Dal men booked for abducting woman (26)

Mangalore: The Konaje police here have registered cases of abduction and attempt to outrage the modesty of a woman against five Bajrang Dal activists and a youth, based on a complaint filed by a woman from Elyarpadav near here.  The woman, a Catholic Christian, had married Roshan Shetty at Arya Samaj here on October 16 in the presence of some Bajrang Dal activists. The girl’s parents too had visited the wedding venue where a tiff occurred between both the parties and the girl had stood firm on her decision to marry Shetty. She had told reporters that she was marrying him by her own volition. She escaped from a hotel where she was staying with Shetty for three days and returned to her parents. On Wednesday, however, she filed a complaint at the Konaje police station, alleging that five Bajrang Dal activists and Shetty had drugged, abducted and forced her to marry the latter. She said in her complaint that she knew him and she had gone to meet him in the market to give some money. It was then that he forced her to drink some juice laced with a sedative. She also stated that the activists had threatened to harm her parents if she refused to marry Shetty. She has named Bajrang Dal leader Jagadish Shenava for forcing her to sign a few papers at the deputy commissioner’s office on October 17.  The police have registered cases against Shetty, Shenava, Dinesh Kadri, Sharath Amblamogaru, Ganesh Kumpala and Praveen. Mangalore City Police Commissioner R Hitendra said the investigation was on. (Deccan Herald 25/10/14)

85. Congress slams BJP, RSS condemns article (26)

NEW DELHI: The Congress on Saturday slammed RSS and BJP for their alleged “distasteful, malicious distortion of history” and demanded a statement from Prime Minister Narendra Modi over an article in an RSS mouthpiece, which suggested that Nathuram Godse should have targeted Jawaharlal Nehru instead of Mahatma Gandhi. Distancing itself from the article that appeared in the Malayalam edition of its mouthpiece ‘Kesari’, the RSS, meanwhile, said it did not endorse the views expressed by the writer, B Gopalakrishnan. “RSS strongly condemns the controversial article published in ‘Kesari’ Malayalam journal in Kerala on October 17, 2014. The views published therein are exclusively that of the writer and the RSS has nothing to do with it,” RSS’s national prachar pramukh Manmohan Vaidya said in a statement. Terming the article, “barbaric and illegal”, Congress general secretary Ajay Maken asked Modi and BJP to immediately make their stand clear in this regard. “Silence on their part would only point towards their complicity. The argument by the BJP leader that Godse should have killed Nehru instead of Mahatma Gandhi reaffirms that the basic tenets of their ideology are hatred and violence,” he said adding that it was difficult to find such perverse discourse anywhere except the darkest corner of a bankrupt mind that the RSS and BJP have been thriving upon. Writer Gopalakrishnan, who was a BJP candidate in the recent Lok Sabha elections, also claimed that Nehru never had any genuine attachment with the father of the nation. Congress spokesperson Anand Sharma said Modi, BJP chief Amit Shah and RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat should come out with a statement to clarify their stand on it or “expel” its author and sack the editor of the journal. Further, Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh said in a tweet: “Is it the beginning of rewriting Indian History? BJP/RSS and Modi must come out with a categorical statement on this. I know they won’t.”… (Times of India 27/10/14)

TERRORISM

86. Security Agencies Monitoring Al Qaeda, ISIS Developments: NSA (12)

NEW DELHI: There is no threat from either al Qaeda or ISIS of a magnitude which the country cannot deal with, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval today said but asserted that security agencies were keeping a “very close watch”.His comments came in response to a question at the Munich Security Conference (MSC) here on whether there was any major threat to India from al Qaeda and ISIS. “There is nothing as big or small terrorism. It is not on the basis of geography, but on the basis of groups, it is on the basis of capabilities and tactics. Any group, about whom we have information, that has the capability and intention to strike against would be our biggest targets,” he said. “I don’t think threats are of magnitude from either one of them which we are not in a position to cope,” he said. The NSA’s statement comes in the backdrop of al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri’s video message about the creation of an Indian branch of his militant group to “raise the flag of jihad” across South Asia. There have been reports, some of which have been confirmed, of Indian youths, especially from Kalyan in Maharashtra, joining the ISIS. Concerns were raised after ISIS flags were recently raised in Kashmir. Doval, however, added that security agencies were keeping a close watch on the developments of both these terror groups. “But, we have to watch very very closely in case any of  these relationships develop and in case they start targeting India or interest of India, we will have to take a very serious view,” he said. (New Indian Express 21/10/14)

87. National security adviser set to visit Burdwan Monday (12)

New Delhi: One of the masterminds in the blast, Mufazzal Hussain, is the man who had set up two madarsas in Murshidabad which were primarily acting as a front for terror camps and some of the Jamaat cadres were being trained here for making the IEDs. Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen (JuM) is a banned terror outfit in Bangladesh and is suspected to have links with other bigger terror groups like HuJI and even Al Qaeda. NIA chief Sharad Kumar reached Kolkatta on Friday morning and went to Burdwan where he met the investigating team. Sources said the NIA D-G was given a detailed account of the probe and also what the accused persons, Hasem Molla, alias Badru Alam, Molla, Razia Bibi and Alima Bibi, have disclosed during interrogation so far. The NIA took over investigations into the case following directions from the MHA even as the TMC-led state government was reluctant for the Central anti-terror agency to conduct the investigations. The NIA is now closely investigating another aspect into the case as a large amount of cash recovered from the house in Burdwan has apparently been traced to a bank robbery in Telangana a few months ago. “We are trying to find out if there is a link between this terror module and the bank robbery as some of the cash from that incident has been recovered from the house,’’ an official said. (Asian Age 25/10/14)

88. NIA files chargesheet in ISI spy case (12)

Chennai: A preliminary charge sheet was filed by the National Investigation Agency in a court here in a case of alleged attempts to spy for Pakistan’s intelligence agency, ISI, and carry out sabotage activities in South India. The charge sheet was filed against Zahir Hussain, Siva Balan and Mohammed Saleem before a designated NIA court yesterday. The charges against them include offences under the IPC and the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act. Over 40 persons have been cited as witnesses and out of them the identity of 20 have not been disclosed. Totally, there are nine accused in the case including an official of the Pakistan High Commission in Colombo. “The investigation against others including the fourth man in the case Rafiq, who is also in jail is continuing,” Public Prosecutor for NIA cases, CSS Pillai told. Counterfeit currency and an unlicensed gun were recovered from Rafiq. Cases under Arms Act were also booked against him. “We are probing if Rafiq has connection with arms dealers,” the prosecutor added. On April 29 this year, Zahir Hussain, a Lankan national, was arrested by the Tamil Nadu police here. Documents including maps of Chennai city, photos of vital installations, and counterfeit currency were allegedly seized from him. The case was taken up later by the NIA. Subsequently, a Sri Lankan national Siva Balan, Mohammed Saleem and Rafiq were arrested. Last month, with the arrest of Arun Selvarajan, another suspected ISI operative here, the probe into the Pakistan- commissioned espionage ring came a full circle, the agency said. After his arrest, NIA said it was probing Selvarajan as part of the Thameem Ansari case. Ansari, another suspected ISI spy module, was arrested in September 2012. “A request to extradite Mohammed Hossaini, a Sri Lankan, is pending with Malaysian authorities. He is also an accused in the Zahir Hussain case,” the prosecutor said. (Zee News 25/10/14)

89. 8 LeT militants arrested in Kashmir Valley (12)

SRINAGAR: Eight Lashker-e-Toiba militants were today arrested by the security forces in North Kashmir, weeks before the first phase of Assembly polls in Jammu and Kashmir. With the arrest, the security forces claimed to have busted a module of the terror outfit and “averted a major terror plan of the militants”.A huge cache of arms and ammunition was also seized. “Police in Sopore (in Baramulla district), with the help of 30 Rashtriya Rifles(RR), have busted a recruitment module of militant outfit Laskhar-e-Toiba, thus averting a major terror and subversion plan of the militants. “Eight members of the module were arrested from different parts of Sopore town and adjoining areas,” a police spokesman said here. He said the militants, all local, were recruited into the outfit which was trying to execute militant activities. “The local boys were recruited into the outfit, which is building a network of LeT operatives. “They were bent upon executing various militant actions in and around the township in conspiracy with one foreign terrorist of LeT, Umer Khitab, a Pakistani national, who is operating in Sopore. Khitab has been taking directions from another LeT man Hanzulla, also a Pakistani national,” he said. Three of them Rayees Ahmad Bhat, Sajad Ahmad Bhat and Shabir Ahmad Kumar are residents of Harwan, Sopore. While remaining five, Lateef Ahmad Gujar, Zubair Ahmad Gujar, Mohammad Qasim Gujar, Mohammad Iqbal Gujar and Hakim Din Gujar are residents of Gujarpatti Zaloora village, the spokesman said. He said eight UBGL, five Chinese grenades and 100 AK-47 rounds have been seized from them, adding involvement of these militants in “other actions of terrorism and subversive actions is being probed”. (Times of India 27/10/14)

NAXALS/ MAOISTS

90. BJP woos Chhattisgarh Naxals who surrendered (12)

Raipur: A latest move by ruling BJP in Chhattisgarh to woo Naxals who surrendered to join the party has baffled not only the Opposition but also a section of saffron party leaders. After Chhattisgarh home minister Ramsevak Paikre “welcomed surrendered Naxals” to join his party last week, AICC general secretary Digvijay Singh accused BJP of creating base in tribal-dominated Bastar, a Maoist stronghold, with the help of left wing radicals. “BJP’s move to draft surrendered Naxals has clearly established the party’s nexus with Maoists that helped the saffron outfit win elections after elections in the conflict zone of Bastar in Chhattisgarh,” Mr Singh said. However, criticism by Congress has not deterred the saffron outfit from maintaining its stand, taking a strong section in BJP by surprise. On Tuesday, BJP MP from Bastar Dinesh Kashyap restated that his party would welcome to surrendered Maoists. (Deccan Chronicles 22/10/14)

91. National Investigation Agency report reveals chilling details of Naxal planning (12)

NEW DELHI: A three-month long conspiracy culminated into the meticulously planned Naxal attack, which was rehearsed over six days, on the convoy of senior Congress leaders in Chhattisgarh last year, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) has concluded after conducting a probe for nearly 16 months. “Presence of Salwa Judum founder and Congress leader Mahendra Karma in the convoy was one of tempting and lucrative reason for CPI (Maoist) in taking decision to attack the convoy of Congress. The previous and post conduct of the accused persons establish their intention, conspiracy, preparation, and execution to lay ambush on the Congress Parivartan yatra to avenge against Mahendra Karma,” says the 36-page NIA chargesheet, that was accessed by ET. It was submitted in a court in Bilaspur on September 23 and says Naxals celebrated with a “macabre dance of death” on the spot after killing Karma. About 24 persons, including senior Congress leaders like the state congress president Nand Kumar Patel, his son Dinesh Patel, former union minister VC Shukla, Mahendra Karma, Uday Mudaliyar and a dozen police personnel were killed. The NIA says over 150 Naxals armed with AK-47 and INSAS rifles, hand grenades and huge quantity of explosives for making landmines trapped the Congress convoy and the mayhem carried on for two hours. It says a big attack was planned for over three months and after concrete information of Karma’s movement in Darbha was received a week before the actual attack, detailed rehearsals were carried out by the Maoists for six days on how to execute it. “A decision to carry out a big attack in Darbha region was hatched in the meeting of South Regional Unified Command (SRUC) of CPI (Maoist) held from February 16-25, 2013, somewhere in forest area near village Pidia of Bijapur district and various Maoist formations were asked to assemble in Darbha”, the chargesheet says. A week before the attack, Naxals got “information” of possible movement of Karma and other Congress leaders in Darbha to participate in Parivartan Yatra and decided to target it, the NIA says. “In pursuant to the conspiracy to attack Parivartan Yatra, Maoist commanders conducted recce of Sukma – Jagdalpur Highway (NH221, now NH-31) and identified a suitable spot in Jheeram valley for ambush. The rehearsal / mock drills for the attack was carried out for fivesix days in the forest area near Ekkum-Chikpal. During mock drills, cadres were divided into various teams/groups like Assault group, Stop Group, Signal Group, Blast Squad, Seizing party and Senior Commanders briefed them about the terrain, possible situation, their individual role, snatching tactics & escape routes,” the NIA says. The NIA Investigation has also brought out that Maoists planted a landmine (IED) under the NH- 221 near the culvert as well as at different places for defensive measures as well as to inflict causality on probable reinforcement/ rescue team. (The Economic Times 24/10/14)

92. Maoists losing ground in tribal hamlets: DGP (12)

VIJAYAWADA: The Maoists are losing ground in their stronghold areas in tribal hamlets along the Andhra-Odisha Border (AOB), Director General of Police (DGP) J.V. Ramudu has said. To substantiate his statement, the DGP recently told the media that villagers of Korukonda in A. Annavaram police station limits in Visakhapatnam district thrashed four CPI-ML Maoists to death to avenge the killing of an ex-militia member and a local tribal person, Gemini Sanjeeva Rao, on October 20. “The revolt of tribals against the naxalites, when a big number of armed militants were gathered was a rare incident. The inhuman act of the Maoists prompted the attack,” said Mr. Ramudu. Asked whether naxals were still active in the State, the police chief said except for remote villages, the Maoist movement was very much under control. When police are chasing naxalites, they are escaping into forests in the neighbouring States, he said. “The attack on naxalites by tribals is an example on how villagers are opposing the Maoist activities. Earlier, the extremists had damaged a pipeline and were involved in some other anti-development activities in the same village, which was strongly opposed by the locals,” said the DGP. However, the dalam headed by Maoist district committee member Sindri Chinna Ranga Rao alias Sharat (who was killed by the locals) shot dead one Sanjeeva Rao, branding him as a police informer. They had alleged that the ex-Maoist was campaigning against the Maoists in the area, thereby damaging the movement. The DGP denied the allegations that Sanjeeva Rao was a police informer, and made it clear that he had not been involved in any Maoist activities for the past 13 years. Sanjeeva Rao had not passed any information on the Maoists to the police, he added. (The Hindu 26/10/14)

93. Orissa Maoist who helped abduct BJD MLA ‘surrenders’ (12)

Bhubaneswar: Prominent Maoist leader Nachika Linga, who in 2006 formed Maoist frontal organisation Chasi Mulia Adivasi Sangh (CMAS), surrendered before the police on Tuesday in his native village Bhaliaput in Koraput district. Linga (42), a tribal leader from Narayanpatna block of rebel-hit Koraput district with 49 cases of violence including abduction and murder against him, shot to prominence in April 2012 when he helped the Maoists abduct BJD MLA Jhina Hikaka two years ago. He had gone  underground after allegedly leading an attack on police in 2009. Inspector general of police (south-western range) Y K Jethwa said the police had persuaded Linga through intermediaries to surrender. “During negotiation, we had told him he would be produced before court as he has 33 non-bailable warrants pending against him,” said Jethwa. Of the 49 cases against him, Linga has been chargesheeted in 43. Social activist Prafulla Samantara, however, claimed that Linga was arrested from Bhaliaput and police’s story of surrender is false. He urged the state government to withdraw “false” cases against Linga as he was not a member of any banned organisation. In March this year, Linga was supposed to surrender in Narayanpatna block in presence of social activists, but he did not surface due to presence of police and paramilitary officials in large numbers. Sources said that though Linga helped the Maoists in Hikaka’s abduction, differences between him and the rebels cropped up soon over his plans of joining electoral politics. In March, the Srikakulam-Koraput Divisional Committee and Narayanpatna Anchalika Committee of the Maoists had publicly denounced him. The Maoists then had termed Nachika’s surrender move as “drama” that would serve his own interests at the cost of interests of the tribals. Maoists had also accused Linga of weakening the tribal agitation by joining hands with BJD. (Indian Express 29/10/14)

TRAFFICKING

94. Jharkhand couple held for trafficking (1)

New Delhi: A couple accused of trafficking minor girls and several others from Jharkhand has been arrested by the Delhi Police Crime Branch. It is alleged that Panna Lal Mahto (31) and his wife Sunita Kumari (37) supplied about 5,000 minors from Jharkhand for working as domestic helps in the Delhi-NCR region for the past eight years. It was from the arrested couple’s house in Shakurpur that Jharkhand MLA Yogendra Saw was held earlier this month. Mr. Saw, an accused in over a dozen cases of murder and other crimes, was allegedly harboured by his close aides Mahto and Sunita while on the run. Mahto and his wife had floated several placement companies, including illegal ones, the police said while adding that Sunita’s sister too had been arrested on October 13 for her involvement in trafficking activities. “The Jharkhand Police had approached the Crime Branch for the arrest of these most wanted human traffickers – Panna Lal Mahto and his wife Sunita Kumari – who were running a racket of supplying children. Non-bailable warrants had also been issued against them. Finally, on Sunday a trap was laid by the police team and both were successfully held from their hideout in J.J. Colony, Shakurpur, where both of them had come to collect their belongings,” said Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime) Ravindra Yadav. The two were also wanted in two separate cases. “It has been revealed that Mahto was running several sub-units to expand the human trafficking network in Delhi in order to make quick money,” said Mr. Yadav. Mahto was earlier arrested in 2006 by the Jharkhand Police for human trafficking and was in jail for about five months. While Mahto studied till Class XII, Kumari is a graduate and has also in the past worked with NGO Nehru Yuva Kendra, the police said. The arrested duo would be produced before a court here on Monday where the Jharkhand Police will seek their transit remand. (The Hindu 21/10/14)

95. Traffickers use abductions, prison ships to feed Asian slave trade (1)

Some 21 million people are victims of forced labour across the world, according to the International Labour Organisation. — AFP It’s unclear exactly how many people are being coerced onto the boats. But seven men who said they were taken by force described being held until the boats filled up with hundreds of people in what are effectively floating prisons. When Afsar Miae left his home near Teknaf in southern Bangladesh to look for work last month, he told his mother, “I’ll see you soon.” He said he expected to return that evening. He never did. When he reported for work at a house on the outskirts of Teknaf, a man there gave him a drink of water. Soon, his eyelids sagged and his head started spinning. When he awoke, it was dark. He had lost all sense of time. Two Bangladeshi men then forced him and seven others onto a small boat and bound them. “My hands were tied. My eyes were blindfolded,” said Miae, 20. The boat sailed through the night until it reached a larger ship moored far offshore. Miae was thrown into its dark, crowded hold by armed guards. He and his fellow captives survived on scraps of food and dirty water, some of them for weeks. The ship eventually sailed toward Thailand where, as Reuters reported last year, human-trafficking gangs hold thousands of boat people in brutal jungle camps until relatives pay ransoms to secure their release. Testimonies from Bangladeshi and Rohingya survivors provide evidence of a shift in tactics in one of Asia’s busiest human-trafficking routes. In the past, evidence showed most people boarded smuggling boats voluntarily. Now people are being abducted or tricked and then taken to larger ships anchored in international waters just outside Bangladesh’s maritime boundary. It’s unclear exactly how many people are being coerced onto the boats. But seven men interviewed by Reuters who said they were taken by force described being held until the boats filled up with hundreds of people in what are effectively floating prisons. Two of the men were taken to trafficking camps in Thailand. The experiences of these men recall the trans-Atlantic slave trade of centuries ago. Miae and four other men who were held on the same ship as him described being kept in near total darkness and being regularly whipped by guards. Two men from another boat said they were forced to sit in a squatting position and that the hatch to the hold was only opened to remove dead bodies. Miae and 80 other men were abandoned, starving and dehydrated, on a remote island by their captors, who appear to have fled for fear their operation had been exposed, according to two local Thai officials who were involved in rescuing the men in Phang Nga, located just north of the popular tourist island of Phuket. “Their conditions were beyond what a human should have to go through,” said Jadsada Thitimuta, an official in Phang Nga. “Some were sick and many were like skeletons. They were eating leaves.” More than 130 suspected trafficking victims, mostly Bangladeshis but also stateless Rohingya Muslims from western Myanmar, have been found in Phang Nga since Oct. 11, according to Thailand’s ministry of social development and human security. Prayoon Rattanasenee, the acting governor of Phang Nga province, said that interviews conducted by the police, rights groups and his own people revealed that the victims were “brought by force. Many were drugged but we don’t know the exact number,” he told Reuters. . … (Asian Age 23/10/14)

96. NCW chief for legalising sex trade (1)

NEW DELHI: The chairperson of the National Commission for Women (NCW), Lalitha Kumaramangalam, has advocated legalising sex work to regulate the trade and ensure better living conditions for women engaged in commercial sex work. Legalising the trade, she says, will also bring down trafficking in women and lower the incidence of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. Ms. Kumaramangalam said she would put forth the proposal at the empowered committee meeting of the Cabinet on November 8. “It [legalisation] is meant to regulate the trade. A vast majority of women in sex trade are trafficked; if it is legalised then commercial trafficking can be dealt with stringently,” she told The Hindu. In the absence of regulation, she said sex workers were forced to serve clients in unhygienic and unhealthy conditions and without condoms, which led to the spread of HIV and other STDs. “For instance in Sonagachi [red-light area] in Kolkata, which is the best organised cooperative of sex workers, there is no security for the children; clients are reluctant to use condoms and become carriers of disease. All this can be changed, if we regulate the profession,” she said. The NCW chief said legalisation would cover various aspects — from working hours, remuneration and health care of sex workers to education and economic alternatives for their families. “There is a need to offer employment alternatives to the women in the sex trade,” she said. While she asserts that legalisation will also help weed out middlemen and brothel owners who exploit the women, activists campaigning for a ban on the trade disagree. “Legalisation of prostitution will only embolden the traffickers. Based on our experience, we know that women are abused, coerced and tricked into commercial sex trade. These women are not working by themselves, they are part of a brothel and there are pimps involved. And it is these people who make profit from the sex work; by legalising the trade, we will end up serving them,” said Tinku Khanna, of Apne Aap Women Worldwide, a grassroots movement to end sex trafficking. Supreme Court lawyer and president of NGO Shakti Vahini Ravi Kant not only demanded an end to the profession, but also strict punishment for those who force women into the trade. “The sad part is that in spite of the various recommendations from the Supreme Court, no genuine efforts have been made by any government to see that this social malice is eradicated,” he said. (The Hindu 28/10/14)

97. Orphanages using trafficked kids to get foreign aid, SC told (1)

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court was informed on Wednesday about an organized child trafficking racket which supplied children from impoverished regions of north and northeast to orphanages and schools in southern states to enable them to receive foreign donations. Giving instances of child trafficking and sexual abuse of trafficked children in orphanages, amicus curiae Aparna Bhat focused on the state of affairs in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh to request the Supreme Court to order a CBI inquiry. She said National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) had found that “states of Manipur, Assam, Meghalaya, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh were the source states in the northeast from where children as young as five-years-old were trafficked for education. The destination states of these children were TN, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala”. Bhat said recently, Rajasthan Commission for Protection of Child Rights rescued 28 girls and a boy aged between 5 and 17 years from an illegal child home called ‘Grace Home’ in Mansarovar area of Jaipur. “Another 20 boys were rescued from another child home, a pastor who was running these homes was arrested. FIRs were lodged in Nagaland and Manipur and trial is pending,” she said. “Of the rescued girls, 23 were from Manipur’s Ukhrul district and the rest from Nagaland, Assam, Punjab, Jharkhand and Andhra Pradesh while all the boys were from northeastern states. Fourteen children were found to be sexually abused. Only one girl has given a statement before a magistrate while others were too traumatized to record their statements,” Bhat said. She also referred to four schools in Mangalore and Mysore in Karnataka – Vivekanand English Medium School, Shri Ram Vidya Mandir, JSS Institution and Pejawar Sarvajanik Uchitha Vidyarthi Nilaya – indulging in similar practice. Quoting the NCPCR report, Bhat said, “Most such orphanages/homes raised donations against the photographs of children sent to donors. There is no regulation on the activities of middlemen who arrange and transport children from the northeastern states on the pretext of providing them better education. “In these circumstances, investigations should be handed over to a central agency like CBI which should file reports before the Supreme Court. There is also a need for parallel rehabilitation process for displaced or trafficked children to avoid their further harassment during investigation.” (Times of India 30/10/14)

CORRUPTION

98. CBI files revised closure report in Birla coal block case (5)

New Delhi: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Tuesday filed a detailed and comprehensive revised closure report in a coal block allocation case involving industrialist Kumar Mangalam Birla and others in a Delhi court. The report was filed before Special Judge Bharat Parashar who posted the matter for Nov 10. After filing the report, the CBI said that the closure report contains a detailed account of the investigation being carried out in the case. It also told the court that the final closure report deals with everything collected by the agency during its investigation. The court, during the last hearing, had sought clarifications from the investigating agency whether an element of criminality was involved while allocating the coal blocks to the Birla-promoted Hindalco. The CBI had booked Birla, former coal secretary P.C. Parakh and others on charges of criminal conspiracy and corruption in the allocation of coal blocks in October 2013. But it filed a closure report in the case Aug 28, saying: “The evidence collected during investigations did not substantiate the allegations levelled against the people named in the FIR (First Information Report).” The court earlier also sought to know on what basis did the CBI  draw such a conclusion to close the case and what kind of investigation it has conducted. (Deccan Herald 21/10/14)

99. Four-time increase in graft cases in most state depts. (5)

MUMBAI : There has been a nearly four-time rise in corruption cases in most state departments, compared to last year. The state revenue department continues with the dubious distinction of being the most corrupt, followed by the state police. According to the last 10 months’ statistics, there has been a 123% rise in corruption cases in the state this year, and it is higher in Mumbai. At least 270 offences of corruption were registered against revenue department officials, compared to 148 last year; 246 cases of corruption were recorded against police officials in the state, compared to 155 last year. The gram panchayat samiti department’s figures doubled, from 31 to 72 this year. Fifty-five Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation officials and 10 private persons were trapped this year accepting bribes, compared to 37 last year. The latest among them were four civic engineers caught accepting a bribe of Rs 15 lakh from a builder in Byculla. Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) director-general of police Pravin Dixit claimed the increase in corruption cases was due to awareness programmes. “Initially, people were apprehensive if action would be taken against a public servant. Now, people’s faith in us has increased due to swift action on complaints, registration, verification and successful traps. A man walked in at 3pm on Monday, with a complaint, and by 7pm we trapped two Thane Municipal Corporation officials,” Dixit said. The ACB registered 1,005 offences of bribery, compared to 583 last year. The case of superintendent of police (Arthur Road jail) Vasudev Barkule and his deputy Pradeep Pathrikar being trapped in a bribery was one of the biggest blots on the state police. The duo was demanding Rs40,000 to clear a candidate in the jailer’s exam. ACB officials expressed surprise over the rise in cases involving the health and education departments. While 34 officials of the health department were caught, there was an equal number in the education department. The most prominent case this year was the arrest of Khalsa college principal Ajit Singh and his personal secretary Nikhita Vaid, for accepting illegal donations. (Times of India 27/10/14)

100. Give us names of foreign bank account holders by Wednesday: SC (5)

New Delhi: The Supreme Court Tuesday directed the central government to furnish, in a sealed cover by Wednesday, the names of all Indian foreign account holders given by the German, French and Swiss authorities. A bench of Chief Justice H.L. Dattu, Justice Ranjana Prakash Desai and Justice Madan B. Lokur told Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi that the government need not do anything but just disclose the names to the court and it will decide whether the matter should be investigated by the income tax authorities or by the Central Bureau of Investigation. As Rohatgi said that the veracity of the disclosed accounts is being investigated by the income tax authorities, Chief Justice Dattu said: “Why do you want to have the trouble of investigating. You give it to us. We will direct the CBI or the income tax authorities to undertake investigation in a month’s time.” “We don’t want the money that belongs to this country to go outside,” he added. “I have the list of 500 names, some of them are very sketchy,” Rohtagi told the court trying to hold his ground. The government had told that court Monday that it could not disclose the names to the apex court even in the proceedings under the constitution’s article 32 under which the apex court could be moved for upholding fundamental rights. “First give us the names, we will get them investigated. Not just one, two or three (names), give us in a sealed cover what you have got from French, German and Swiss governments,” the court told Rohatgi, wondering why the government was having “protective umbrella” for the account holders. The attorney general was told to give the names by Wednesday. “It will never happen during our time,” the court said expressing its misgivings on government’s assertion that under the SIT’s supervision, the income tax department will issue statutory notice to the people with foreign bank accounts whose names were disclosed by the foreign government. “We will never know that,” the court observed as Rohatgi said the government would come to the court after concluding the investigations. The court refused to modify its earlier order saying: “By this application you want to re-argue the entire case.” It said that it too had the same concern as petitioner Ram Jethmalani, while noting Rohatgi’s submission that the government was “not interested in holding back any name. We have disclosed all the names and details to the SIT headed by two former judges of the apex court. Once we get their (accounts) veracity checked, the process would be set into motion”.Faced with a situation where he was unable to persuade the court on the government’s intention to unearth black money and reveal the names of those who stashed it in tax havens, Rohatgi told the court: “Tell me that what can I do to allay your impression that we want to hide something.” Finding that the court was unrelenting on its insistence to get the names, he said: “The court will have to take the responsibility that that I will not be able to enter the treaty” scheduled to be signed with US in December wherein confidentiality of information is integral. “We are not that helpless. We will deal with the problem when it comes,” Chief Justice Dattu said brushing aside the contention. (Business Standard 28/10/14)

101. Centre submits black money list to Supreme Court (5)

New Delhi: As revealed to it by the French government, the Centre on Wednesday submitted to the Supreme Court names of the 627 Indians who are holding accounts in foreign banks. Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi handed over two sealed envelopes to the apex court bench headed by Chief Justice H.L. Dattu. Mr. Rohatgi said that half of these account holders are Indian residents and these accounts concern till 2006. He said that action has been initiated into the matter. Some of them have paid taxes while others are under investigation. The court directed that the sealed envelopes containing 627 names, including correspondence with the French government, be given to Special Investigation Team (SIT) chairman Justice M.B. Shah and vice chairman Justice Arijit Pasayat. The SIT was set up by the apex court July 4, 2011. The court said the SIT will move into the matter in accordance with the law. On Tuesday, the central government was directed by the Supreme Court to furnish in a sealed envelope the list of all individuals and entities in its possession who have accounts in overseas banks, legitimate or otherwise. The directive to this effect came a day after the government gave the court the names of seven individuals and one company, alleging they had funds in bank accounts abroad over which proceedings had been initiated for tax evasion. (The Hindu 30/10/14)

ENVIRONMENT/ CLIMATE CHANGE

102. Green policies can curb unbridled urbanisation: expert (9)

Thiruvananthapuram: The Indian ruling classes had instigated environmental disasters, ignoring the warnings about the dire effects of climate change, said political economist Amiya Kumar Bagchi Indian policymakers will have to try and develop renewable energy sources and promote bio-fuels and small hydel projects to put the brakes on the process of urbanisation that is responsible for the creation of slums and the displacement of people, eminent political economist Amiya Kumar Bagchi has said. Delivering the third Foundation Day lecture at the Centre for Development Studies here on Monday, he said investing in the abundant solar and other sources of renewable energy such as wind power and tidal power could help minimise the impact of unsustainable extraction of non-renewable resources and slow down the process of urbanisation. “Properly implemented, this strategy can generate decent jobs for the majority, long before we can foresee the end of market-driven, in equalising economics and politics.” Such moves would also be in consonance with the advice of climate scientists who have warned of the dangers of playing havoc with Nature, he said. Unlike China, Prof. Bagchi said, India no longer had the capacity to go down the accelerated industrialisation path by extracting resources from other countries. Besides, our whole environment is facing near collapse. Pointing to the unbridled promotion of luxury tourism and housing all down the steep slopes of the Himalayas from Arunachal Pradesh to Himachal Pradesh up to the Pir Panjal range in Kashmir, he said the Indian ruling classes had instigated environmental disasters, ignoring the warnings about the dire effects of climate change. Prof. Bagchi said privatisation of education was churning out students with no knowledge of the subjects for which they received degrees. (The Hindu 21/10/14)

103. Acts protecting environment should not be relaxed: Activists (9)

MADURAI: Environmental activists in Madurai have urged the Centre to spend more time to listen to the opinions of all stakeholders from across the nation before making changes in the laws related to environment. The ministry of environment and forests had in August welcomed suggestions as the government had proposed a review of the laws. The review would be done by a committee headed by a former Cabinet secretary. The suggestions are to be sent before the end of October. At a meeting facilitated by Samam Kudimakkal Iyakkam, a Madurai-based organisation, representatives from many NGOs working on the environmental front in Madurai and neighbouring districts took part and shared their views. The activists suspected the move by the central government and the way the work is speeded up is creating suspicion in the minds of many. The present laws protecting the environment should not be weakened in the review, they urged. They passed a set of resolutions at the end of the meeting and the same would be sent to the ministry for consideration. Opinions from people from all sectors including tribals, farmers, fishermen and environmental activists across the nation should be taken and considered seriously before making any changes in the existing laws. The time given by the ministry for public opinion is insufficient and should be extended. Industries, factories and companies creating environmental hazards should be checked and stringent action should be taken. Dyeing units and leather factories in several districts are creating environmental pollution, the resolutions said. The Forest Rights Act, 2006, which gives rights to tribals to eke out their livelihood and ensure their rights on the forest, should not be changes, the resolution said. M Arunachalam, head, department of environmental studies, Manonmaniam Sundaranar University addressing the activists said that lack of data on water bodies and the changes which took place in recent years has resulted in the failure to preserve them. Emphasising the preciousness of water and water bodies he said that such data would have helped to study the ecosystem. (Times of India 25/10/14)

104. ‘Swachh’ turning into photo op for many (9)

ADILABAD: The Swachh Bharat or Clean India drive in Adilabad has come more as a photo opportunity for officials and others than a chance to clear the place of weeds and garbage. The effort is also unlikely to achieve the desired success as it does not envisage control on garbage production. The standard practice of going about the garbage and weed clearance drive here is to inform the local press photographers of the day’s programme wherever it would be taking place. Officials and local people concerned line up with brooms for the benefit of the photographers. While the top officials participating in the programme leave soon after the photographers, those who have been shouldering the responsibility for the cleanliness drive stay for a bit longer. The best of efforts so far has not resulted in cleaning of over 50 per cent of any given premises since the drive started on October 2. Places like the huge premises of the Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS), Adilabad, still have garbage strewn around despite a few hours of cleaning done under the drive. Evidently, the huge campus requires a concentrated and more prolonged effort in cleanliness which is its dire necessity. As most offices are located in urban areas and mandal head quarters the drive is mainly focussed on such places. There is hardly any cleaning done in rural areas. One example is the litter spread in the forest land which was cleared to accommodate a community kitchen at the remote Jodeghat village in Kerameri mandal when Chief Minister K. Chandrashekhar Rao came visiting on October 8. Though officials have come to the place after his visit, they have not bothered to clear the place of the garbage. “The Swachh Bharat will mean hardly anything unless there is control on garbage production,” opines a Municipal official. “Adilabad town continues to produce 66 tonnes of garbage every day though we are nearly a month into the Swachh Bharat drive,” he adds. (The Hindu 26/10/14)

105. Cabinet approves ratification of bio-safety protocol (9)

NEW DELHI: India will ratify a protocol which promotes innovation in agricultural and healthcare research and development that is safe for the environment, bio-diversity and human beings. The Union Cabinet on Wednesday gave its approval for ratification of the Nagoya-Kuala Lumpur supplementary protocol on liability and redress to the Cartagena protocol on bio-safety. The protocol provides international rules and procedure on liability and redress for damage to biodiversity resulting from living modified organisms. It would promote sound application of biotechnology making it possible to accrue benefits arising from modern biotechnology while minimizing the risk to the environment and human health. “The proposal will protect the interests of all Indians without distinction or differentiation,” said an official statement. The proposal is based on the principles of the Convention on Biological Diversity and Cartagena Protocol on Bio-safety, both internationally negotiated and binding legal instruments. The objective of the supplementary protocol is to contribute to the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity, taking also into account risks to human health, by providing international rules and procedures in the field of liability and redress relating to living modified organisms. (Times of India 30/10/14)

AGRICULTURE/ FARMERS SUICIDES

106. Crop failure drives two farmers to suicide (20)

KHAMMAM: Upset over successive crop failure, a farmer ended his life in a state of depression in Wajedu mandal headquarters in Bhadrachalam division on Tuesday. The police identified the deceased as Kuppa Narasimhulu, 40, a chilli grower of the mandal headquarters town. The incident comes close on the heels of the suicide of another distressed farmer at Komararam in Yellendu mandal on Monday. Sources said that Narasimhulu had taken three acres of land on lease and sowed chilli a couple of months ago. He suffered huge financial losses due to the failure of his chilli crop for the second consecutive time due to extended dry spell. He was terribly upset over the mounting financial problems and the future of his children, sources added. Suicide in Adilabad Adilabad Special Correspondent adds: A farmer from Kumari village in Neredigonda mandal, Penta Narayana, aged about 50 years, committed suicide by hanging himself at his residence on Tuesday apparently perturbed over crop failure. According to police, he also ran into debts worth Rs. 2.5 lakh. (The Hindu 21/10/14)

107. Six farmers commit suicide in Vidarbha (20)

Nagpur: An activist Thursday blamed official apathy for the suicide by six farmers in Maharashtra’s Vidarbha region. DH file photo. For representation purpose  An activist Thursday blamed official apathy for the suicide by six farmers in Maharashtra’s Vidarbha region. Four of them were from Yavatmal district and one each from Akola and Amravati districts, Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti president Kishore Tiwari said. The deaths occurred Wednesday. “The farmers voted overwhelmingly for the BJP in both the Lok Sabha and assembly elections hoping their suffering will be mitigated,” Tiwari told IANS. He said the Bharatiya Janata Party promised during the election campaign to address issues such as debts, market prices of cotton and soyabean, and compensation for crop failures. But continuing official apathy has forced the farmers to take their lives, Tiwari said.The activist urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to visit Vidarbha. He said the monsoon was delayed by two months this year and a dry spell after Sep 15 had hit the crops badly. According to the National Crime Records Bureau, 3,146 distressed farmers committed suicide last year in Maharashtra — the highest number for any state. (Deccan Herald 23/10/14)

108. Govt allows field trials for GM mustard, brinjal (20)

New Delhi: The environment ministry has allowed field trials of two varieties of genetically modified (GM) brinjal and mustard, almost 18 months after the previous government ordered a freeze on such tests. In a reply to an RTI query early October, the ministry said on August 21, it permitted the Delhi University to hold trials for a mustard variety and Maharashtra-based Bejo Seeds Pvt Ltd to test Bt brinjal. The decision does away with the uncertainty surrounding the biotech sector. Environment minister Prakash Javadekar had been saying the government had not taken a decision on field trials while maintaining “science cannot be stopped”. There is a huge debate surrounding GM crops that are strongly resisted by organisations that question their safety and cite concerns that the country’s food security could be compromised due to monopolising farm biotech MNCs. The Supreme Court is hearing a public interest litigation that has sought a ban on open field trials. The ministry’s nod came after the country’s biotech regulator, the genetic engineering appraisal committee (GEAC), approved trials of more than 30 varieties in two batches this year. The go-ahead, a ministry official said, was an indication of the positive outlook of the Modi government towards the use of “science” to boost agriculture production. The process of field trials, a necessary step to evaluate a GM technology’s efficacy and safety before commercial approval, had nearly come to a halt during the previous UPA regime. The DU’s Centre for Genetic Manipulation of Crop Plants, headed by former vice-chancellor Deepak Pental, got the permission to conduct trials for a new variety of GM mustard two years after filing an application with GEAC, the ministry said. Nod for Bejo Seeds came after a year. Former environment minister Jairam Ramesh had imposed a moratorium on commercial release of Bt brinjal in 2010. “Either the minister is being misled by the bureaucrats, or the public is being misled by the minister. For gains of few companies, people and farmers are being blindfolded. Mr Javadekar should come out in public and end this double-talk,” said Manvendra Singh, a Greenpeace campaigner who filed the RTI plea. The UPA government’s decision to freeze trials was wrong as these were conducted in labs and that, too, after state governments’ permission, the official said. “The Supreme Court had never asked the government to impose the moratorium,” the official said. Several states such as Haryana, Maharashtra and Punjab have asked agriculture universities to ensure that the GEAC safety conditions for field trials were complied with, the reply said. GM crops are those in which genetic material is altered to provide some perceived advantage either to the producer or consumer, such as pest resistance or better nutrition. (Hindustan Times 26/10/14)

109. Widows of farmers take to the streets (20)

NALGONDA: The widows of farmers who committed suicide complained that the district administration is denying them ex gratia and other benefits given to the kin of victims by refusing to recognise the death of their husbands as those of farmers’ suicide. Widows and family members of suicide victims led by Human Rights Fourm (HRF) leaders have staged a protest before district collectorate here on Monday and presented a representation to officials during the grievances day on Monday. Speaking to The Hindu, Joythi (45), widow of Reddymasu Levan, and native of Kammagudem village of Kattangur mandal, said that her husband died on October 29, 2013 by consuming pesticide as their cotton fields were damaged due to heavy rains in the last week of October. Though Reddymasu Levan, a tenant farmer, cultivated cotton in 10 acres in hired land, his widow, said the authorities never visited their house for verification. The case of Gandicheruvu Sumalatha, 25, from Kakulakondaram village, is also similar. Her husband, Narasimhulu, also committed suicide by consuming pesticide last year, but officials paid her no ex gratia. HRF State secretary G. Mohan said that a three-member committee comprising respective RDO, DSP and Assistant Director of Agriculture Department should visit the houses of victims for verification, according to GO No. 421 issued by State government in 2004, but in most of the cases the committee never did that. Mr. Mohan further said that the State government is trying to hush up the number of suicides. According to GO, he said that the government should pay Rs. 1 lakh ex gratia, besides one-time loan settlement up to a sum of Rs. 50,000. “The kin should be given priority while implementing all the welfare schemes initiated by State and Centre, besides the children should be admitted in government welfare hostels to provide free education, he said. Recently, a fact finding committee led by district president of HRF, Ch. Guravaiah, visited families of 24 suicide victims who have revealed that they were denied the benefits without proper verification. HRF activist N. Sulochana, said the State government paid ex-gratia to only 480 families against 1,887 farmers who committed suicide, as recorded by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) between 1999 and 2012. (The Hindu 28/10/14)

110. Commonwealth forum seeks supportive policies for agriculture (20)

Chandigarh: The Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) Wednesday urged all participating countries for a supportive policy framework for sustained agriculture growth. It also stressed for collective efforts to implement comprehensive policies in support of farmers. Speaking on the role of parliamentary agricultural committees (PACs) in Asia region at a workshop here Wednesday, Tony Worthington of University of Greenwich (Britain) said that for Asian countries, agriculture could act as a catalyst of growth and poverty reduction. Opposing the policy statement of G-20 focussing on capacity strengthening of institutions, Worthington said that unless work on grass-root individual extension work is done, no permanent solution for growth was possible. While pointing out that agriculture, which was the most labour-intensive profession for Bangladesh, Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Malaysia, was the engine for growth in these countries, Worthington said that it was imperative to focus on this sector to tackle the growing pangs of unemployment. He noted that half the labour force of Bangladesh, Pakistan, and over 60 percent population in India was engaged in agriculture sector and Commonwealth countries have to focus on increasing agricultural productivity to keep pace with increasing population growth in the subcontinent. Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan said that in a parliamentary system, parliamentary committees were a much needed institutional arrangements that allowed parliament to exercise its role more effectively and efficiently, besides assuring accountability of the executive to the people. Bangladesh parliament Speaker and CPA chairperson Shirin Sharmin Chaudhary said that agriculture was the lifeline of any nation and its development was of paramount significance. Advocating the need to help peasantry in general and the poor farmers in particular, she said all governments should come forward to bail them out from the existing worldwide crisis by extending liberal incentives. (New Kerala 30/10/14)

LAND ACQUISITION/ DISPLACEMENT

111. BJP voice for airport land rate cry (4)

Durgapur; The Bengal BJP has decided to back a demand for a higher compensation by a group of villagers whose land has been identified for the approach road to the proposed airport in Burdwan’s Andal. Naresh Konar, a BJP state committee member in Andal, told the 600-odd villagers on Sunday that the party would back their demand of Rs 1 crore an acre. The Bengal Aerotropolis Projects Limited (BAPL), the airport promoter, has offered Rs 7.5 lakh to Rs 11 lakh an acre. The decision by the BJP, which has been eyeing the principal Opposition’s space, comes at a time the airport project is likely to miss its fourth deadline in November. BJP sources said the party’s decision was an attempt to remind Mamata Banerjee of her days in the Opposition when she had rallied behind landlosers in Singur and Nandigram. “Mamata became the chief minister riding on her movement against forcible land acquisition in Singur and Nandigram…. But what about those whose plots have been identified here? We will support the villagers’ demand,” Konar told the gathering of villagers at a Vijaya Sammilani organised by the Andal Krishi Jami Raksha Committee, the villagers’ forum. The 4.1km approach road from NH2 to the proposed airport would require around 100 acres. Asked about Konar’s claim to support the villagers’ demand, BJP state president Rahul Sinha said: “We don’t know about the chief minister’s deadlines. We just want the government to consider the demand of the villagers.” Sinha added: “Trinamul had backed the landlosers in Singur when the party was in the Opposition. But it is not doing so after coming to power. This is double standard.” The Rs 10,000-crore project — with Singapore’s Changi Airports International as a partner — was supposed to come up within three years of the Left Front government handing over 1,818 acres to BAPL in 2009. However, the project has missed three deadlines — in 2012, 2013 and April this year. A similar problem over a compensation package has also prompted residents of another village to refuse to part with their land that has been identified for the shifting of eight transmission towers blocking the runway. Sources in Trinamul said although Mamata showed little interest in the proposed airport initially, she started backing it after realising that it was probably the only mega-project in the state. In August, she visited Singapore at the invitation of Changi Airports International to scout for investments from the Southeast Asian country. During the trip, Mamata had announced that the first flight would take off from Andal in November, a plan that no longer looks feasible with the authorities allegedly having pushed the deadline to January 2015. Andal, where the BJP has decided to raise its pitch over the compensation package, comes under the Asansol Lok Sabha seat, one of two constituencies the party won in Bengal this time. Brokers dealing with land described the villagers’ demand of Rs 1 crore an acre as “justified”, saying it was well below the current market rate. “According to the current market rate, a cottah sells for Rs 4 lakh to Rs 5 lakh. An acre is around 60 cottahs, which means the price can be up to Rs 3 crore an acre. The villagers are demanding a third of that,” a broker said. The Andal unit of Trinamul accused the BJP of inciting the villagers to delay the project further. Andal block Trinamul president Kanchan Mitra said: “I would request the villagers not to get carried away by the BJP. It is trying to get a political mileage over the issue.” (The Telegraph 21/10/14)

112. Rehabilitate Tribal Families in SOG Camp: NHRC to Govt (4)

CUTTACK: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has directed the State Government to rehabilitate seven tribal families languishing in the Special Operation Group (SOG) Camp at Chandaka on the outskirts of Bhubaneswar. Acting on a complaint of Rights activist Akhand, the Commission has asked the Chief Secretary to ensure their rehabilitation within eight weeks. Akhand had alleged, seven tribal families had been stuck on the premises of SOG camp and subjected to restrictions due to security measures. The family members were unable to move freely. The State Government had set up the SOG in 2004 and allotted 62 acres land at Tulasideipur village for their training. At the time of acquiring land, house of the seven tribal families remained in the camp’s limits. The Commission had taken cognizance and sought a report from the State Government in the matter. The IG of Police (Operations) admitted the presence of the families. As per his report, Khurda administration has been moved to shift these families to a nearby alternate location, with rehabilitation facilities that they may be entitled to as per law. The report concedes the restricted movement of the members of these families because of strict security arrangements in the campus, due to Naxal menace. Considering the report, the Commission noted that “the seven families should be rehabilitated at the earliest because they are facing difficulties since long. From report of the IG (Operations), it appears that the district administration was intimated as early as in 2011, but no action has been taken so far.” The State Government should take prompt necessary action in this regard and the Chief Secretary should submit a report on rehabilitation of the families, the Commission directed. (New Indian Express 26/10/14)

113. Two decades on, land acquired for NH development remains untouched (4)

KOCHI: It is just impossible to develop all national highways in Kerala at 45-metre width, due to prohibitive cost of land acquisition and stiff resistance to the proposal that is building up all across the State, key stakeholders in the State’s NH-development process have said. The State government had recently decided to develop NHs at 45-metre width, as against its declared stand to develop NH stretches in Kerala at 30-metre width in places where land acquisition for 45-metre wide NH is facing stiff resistance from land owners. NGOs fighting against 45-metre-wide highways speak of how fresh land acquisition at places where 30-metre-wide land is available is next to impossible. “Land owners on NH 17 will fight another round of acquisition tooth and nail since their houses were pulled down for acquiring land at 30-metre width. They rebuilt their houses in whatever small plots were available. We cannot comprehend yet another attempt to evict people since many people have not got full compensation amount for plots surrendered 25 years ago,” said Hashim Chendampilly, convener of NH Samara Samity, a conclave of NGOs. He said NH 17 is hardly six-metres wide in places such as Vadakkekara, while land acquired at 30-metre width is lying idle and weed- infested. “Both land owners and commuters are angry at the state of affairs.” Sources in PWD said land acquisition was the biggest challenge since only eight hectares of land was acquired in NH 47 and NH 17 during the past 13 years. “The government says the total compensation to land owners would be Rs. 13,500 crore (at the average rate of Rs.4 lakh per cent). But this would scale up to well over Rs. 50,000 crore since the market rate for most plots facing NHs ranges from between Rs. 10 lakh to Rs. 1 crore. It is doubtful whether NHAI would pay this since State government is hard-pressed for funds.” Rather than waste time on the project, priority must be given to widen Cherthala-Kazhakoottam reach of NH 47 and also Edappally-Kuttipuram reach of NH 17 into four lane. Land acquired at 30-metre-width over two decades ago was lying idle in these busy but narrow and highly-accident-prone stretches, they said. Other highway corridors can be developed at 30 or 45-metre width, depending on the availability of land. Already, the 270-km NH 47 stretch from Edappally to Walayar is being developed at 45-metre width. A senior PWD official suggested construction of an elevated 4-lane corridor on a BOT basis in the next stage of development in 30-metre highways. This would cost approximately Rs. 150 crore under current estimates and can be realized through user fee. (The Hindu 29/10/14)

114. Acquired land can’t be returned under existing law: Moloy (4)

ANDAL/ASANSOL: Land once acquired cannot be returned unless the existing law is amended by the Supreme Court or the Centre, former state law minister and currently in charge of labour department Moloy Ghatak told Andal airport township land-losers on Wednesday. Speaking to land-losers who were demanding higher compensation for 20-22-acre prime land abutting NH2 and leading to the nearly-ready airport through the proposed township, the Asansol MLA urged them to consider the interest of the state. “The farmers were demanding higher compensation. I told them that Andal and Singur land acquisition was done by the previous government and explained that there is no scope for returning the land under the present law. Only if the Supreme Court or the Centre introduces a new law can acquired land be returned,” Ghatak told TOI on Wednesday evening. Ironically, it was during Ghatak’s tenure that the state government had introduced the Singur Land Rehabilitation and Development Act 2011 to enable the state government to return to farmers the land that had been leased to Tata Motors. The Act was subsequently challenged by the Tatas and is currently being heard in Supreme Court. Return of Singur land was one of the primary planks on which Trinamool rode to power in 2011. The land in Andal that Ghatak was trying to negotiate is crucial for the Aerotropolis project as the main arterial road cannot be linked to the highway without it. Chief minister Mamata Banerjee is keen to showcase a completed airport to Singapore PM Lee Hsien Loong and FM Tharman Shanmugaratnam when they come visiting during the forthcoming investor meet Biswa Banga scheduled on January 7-9, 2015. Sources said Mamata is keen to present the airport as her government’s achievement and hopes that it will inspire confidence among investors. In fact, the CM wants the airport to become operational on January 7 so that Loong and Shanmugaratnam witness a test flight land. Loong had, during Mamata’s visit to Singapore in August, enquired about the delay of the Andal airport project in which Changi Airports International, Singapore’s airport operator, has substantial stake. Mamata had then assured him that the state would do everything to ensure its speedy completion. At a review meeting presided by the transport secretary recently, the controversy over the land that is proposed to be the project entrance was discussed. Ghatak convened the meeting of disgruntled land-losers on Wednesday. Of the 1,600-odd owners of the 20-22 acres in question, 1,500 have accepted cheques. But the remaining 100 are demanding higher compensation as they believe their prime land should fetch more than the uniform Rs 10.5 lakh per acre doled out to all land-losers. (Times of India 30/10/14)

RIGHT TO HEALTH

115. Ebola: US issues new treatment protocols (3)

Dallas/Washington/Paris: The United States issued stringent new protocols on Monday for health workers treating Ebola victims, directing medical teams to wear protective gear that leaves no skin or hair exposed to prevent medical workers from becoming infected, as another US patient recovered from Ebola and was discharged from hospital. The new guidelines from the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta come as 43 people who were exposed to the first patient diagnosed in the United States were declared risk-free, easing a national sense of crisis that took hold after two Texas nurses who treated him contracted the disease. Under new protocols, Ebola healthcare workers also must undergo special training and demonstrate competency in using protective equipment. Use of the gear, now including coveralls, and single-use, disposable hoods, must be overseen by a supervisor to ensure proper procedures are followed when caring for patients with Ebola, which is transmitted through direct contact with bodily fluids but is not airborne. Meanwhile, a new device similar to a simple pregnancy home-test could allow doctors to diagnose a patient with suspected Ebola in under 15 minutes, its French developers said Tuesday. Trials at a high-security lab have validated the technique and prototype kits should be available in Ebola-hit countries by the end of October for a clinical trial, France’s Atomic Energy Commission said. The diagnostic tool works by monoclonal antibodies reacting to the presence of virus in a tiny sample, which can be a drop of blood, plasma or urine, it said. (Asian Age 22/10/14)

116. 24% of global missed TB cases in India: WHO (3)

LONDON: One in every four missed cases of tuberculosis (TB) globally is in India.The World Health Organisation has found that India tops the list of the world’s missed TB cases. Almost 24% of the world’s missed TB cases are from India, according to the Global TB Report 2014 released on Thursday. Ten countries accounted for 74% (2.4 million) of the estimated “missed” cases globally in 2013. The number of missed cases is defined as the difference between the estimated number of incident cases and notified (new and relapse) cases in 2013. Of the nine million incident cases of TB estimated to have occurred in 2013, only 5.7 million were both detected and notified to national TB programmes (NTPs) or national surveillance systems giving a case detection rate of 64%.WHO says that this leaves a gap of approximately 3.3 million people with TB who were “missed”, either because they were not diagnosed or because they were diagnosed but not reported. WHO said “Improvements in case detection in India would have a global impact, given the size of the TB burden in the countries and the sizeable gap between notified cases and estimated incidence. A recent study in India suggests that about 50% of detected cases are not reported to the NTP, a finding confirmed in a recent prevalence survey in Gujarat (unpublished data)”. Meanwhile, WHO revised its estimate of how many people have TB by almost 5,00,000. In 2013, some 9 million people had developed TB around the world, up from 8.6 million in 2012.About 1.5 million people had died in 2013 from TB, including 3,60,000 people who had been HIV positive, the WHO said in its global report. In 2012, there had been 1.3 million tuberculosis deaths. The WHO said its report underlined that a “staggering number of lives are being lost to a curable disease and confirms that TB is the second biggest killer disease from a single infectious agent”.”One of the biggest issues facing organizations tackling the disease was the number of undiagnosed cases. The fact that three million people are missing out on treatment every year explains why there are still so many avoidable deaths from tuberculosis,” said TB Alert chief executive Mike Mandelbaum…. (Times of India 24/10/14)

117. Preventive healthcare important to cut medical bills: PM Modi (3)

Mumbai: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday inaugurated a hospital in Mumbai and stressed that preventive healthcare should be given importance by encouraging measures like washing hands among children to reduce the burden on the nation’s healthcare systems, saying that small steps like these this will have an impact. He also raised concern over India’s high child mortality rate and said it is a serious issue. The prime minister also talked about the ‘Make in India’ initiative, saying that the domestic production of medical equipment will cut the cost of healthcare. Talking about medical facilities to the poor, he said that a poor face immense difficulties, if a poor person falls ill the entire family can starve; and pointed out that the tele-medicine facilities will ensure best treatment for the poor. “Tele-medicine enables expert opinion even for people living far away. We need to integrate this and give good facilities to people,” PM Modi said. Earlier, the prime minister inaugurated the hospital, now in its 90th year, located in south Mumbai, which has been re-built by Reliance Foundation, led by its chairperson Nita Ambani, into a modern 19-storey tower with two heritage wings. Nita Ambani termed it “a historic day” in the life of the hospital which was re-dedicated to the people of Mumbai. “Narendra bhai, we assure that this hospital will become a centre of good health and global levels of health-care, respect for life, modern technology combined with love and compassion, with dignity to all,” she said. “This will not just be a hospital but an institution of care,” she said, adding that words like religion, caste, social strata, age and gender will not interfere with the kind of treatment patients receive. “We won’t just treat health, we will also respect life,” and at this institution quality will meet affordability, she added. Founded in 1925 as Mumbai’s first general hospital, it has a rich heritage — it saw the freedom struggle and the Second World War, and Mahatma Gandhi was among its frequent visitors. The hospital celebrated its silver jubilee with Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel as its chief guest and the golden jubilee celebrations were graced by Jayaprakash Narayan. Now in its 90th year, the prime minister is inaugurating its new avatar, the foundation said. The 345-bed, multi-specialty tertiary care hospital has six thrust areas: cardiac sciences, nephro-urology, neuro sciences, oncology, orthopaedics and spine, and women and child health. Earlier, Mukesh Ambani, his wife Nita and other family members welcomed Modi near the entrance to the hospital, along with Maharashtra Governor C.V. Rao. The ceremonies were performed before a galaxy of film stars, business honchos, cricketers, politicians and other celebrities from different walks of life. Present at the inauguration were Kokilaben Ambani, Amitabh Bachchan, Gulzar, Shah Rukh Khan, Aamir Khan, Hrithik Roshan, Paresh Rawal, Rishi Kapoor, Neetu Kapoor, Sonakshi Sinha, Saif Ali Khan, Kareena Kapoor, Aishwarya Rai, Bharat Ratna Sachin Tendulkar, Sunil Gavaskar, Praful Patel, Kajol, Rani Mukherjee, Sonali Bendre, Asha Bhosale, M.S. Dhoni, union minister Nitin Gadkari, and Maharashtra BJP leaders Devendra Fadnavis and Vinod Tawde among others. (Zee News 25/10/14)

118. Harsh Vardhan to urge global experts to unite for fighting TB (3)

Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan will urge global healthcare experts to unite to fight the real threat of tuberculosis (TB) during his visit to Spain where he is slated to attend some of the important international healthcare events. The minister will deliver the keynote address at the World Health Organization (WHO)’s symposium on tuberculosis entitled ‘Moving out of the box to end global TB epidemic: With post-2015 strategy’. In his address, Dr Harsh Vardhan will stress the importance of community driven solutions to TB, the disease which is considered the biggest killer worldwide. Its incidence is the highest in India, a country which reports 230 cases per 1 lakh population. “I look forward to this visit because I have already geared up the Ministry to accept the challenge of eliminating the TB scourge and meeting the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) by 2015,” said Dr Harsh Vardhan before leaving. He said he would highlight the need for building up community-led action strategies for fighting TB in all parts of the world, including India. “The highest priority accorded to our anti-TB drive by making mandatory notification of TB cases, banning of commercial serological diagnostic tests for TB, web-based notification and tracking of cases, restriction of open market sales of TB drugs and prevention of irrational use, have already caught the imagination of global experts,” the Minister pointed out. During his four-day stay in Spain, the Minister will also address delegates at the World Conference on Lung Health. He will meet with the Health Minister of South Africa, Aaron Motsoaledi, along with representatives of the STOP TB Partnership & Results. He will also co-chair a high-level meeting of the BRICS forum with Motsoaledi. Organ donation, which is highest in Spain, will also feature in Dr Harsh Vardhan tour agenda. The minister is expected to discuss the possibilities of a memorandum of understanding with the National Transplant Organisation of the Ministry of Health, Social Services and Equality of Spain for sharing of knowledge on organ donation.  (Business Standard 28/10/14)

HIV/AIDS

119.  HIV through blood transfusion at Junagadh hospital: Parents object to CBI’s closure report

AHMEDABAD: The parents of the thalassemic kids who had contracted HIV through blood transfusion at Junagadh Civil Hospital filed a protest petition on Monday and questioned the conclusion arrived at by the CBI after a two-year-long probe. The petition, which was filed before a special CBI court in the city, accused the agency of shielding the ruling party’s MLA, Mahendra Mashroo, who was managing Sarvodaya Blood Bank that had provided blood for these kids. Twenty-seven parents have termed the CBI probe incomplete. The CBI has exonerated the laboratory, blood bank and hospital staff. But the petitioners’ counsel Paresh Waghela said that mere absence of mens rea (criminal intention) on part of those responsible for this blunder was not enough to spare them. It was because of their negligence that more than 30 children contracted HIV and five of them have died so far. Advocate Waghela said that the CBI had found 529 of total 1,227 blood donors and traced the donor who had HIV positive. The 2011 reports showed that he was HIV negative. When CBI could locate one person, it proves that there was a problem in the system and there were people responsible for the same. (Times of India 21/10/14)

120. 30 HIV positive children get new clothes, sweets from IOB (3)

Nagapattinam: The faces of 30 HIV positive children from different parts of the district lit up when Collector T. Munusamy gave them new sets of clothes and sweets at the Collectorate on Monday. Presiding over the function, the Collector said the Indian Overseas Bank had been providing sweets and new clothes every year to the HIV affected children in different parts of the district to celebrate Deepavali like other children. The IOB had spent Rs. 600 for every child for new clothes and sweets so that they could celebrate the festival of lights. Senior regional manager of IOB Balamurali, Lead bank manager Kathirvel, and district supervisor of Tamil Nadu AIDS Control Society Sakthivel participated in the function. (The Hindu 22/10/14)

121. 25% of HIV patients detected with primary drug-resistant TB (3)

Mumbai: An alarming 25% of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) patients from the city detected with drug-resistant tuberculosis (DR-TB) were primarily infected with the resistant form of TB bacteria which does not respond to the known anti-TB drugs. The findings were part of a new study released by international medical humanitarian organisation Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF). The study, published in PLoS One, an international journal, is the first to measure the burden of drug resistant TB infection in high HIV-burden settings in the city. MSF said the study was conducted between February 2013 and January 2014 at seven Anti-Retroviral Treatment centres in Mumbai. Researchers collected sputum of 1,724 patients with TB symptoms. The study reveals the proportion of DR-TB to be 25% among new cases of TB and 44% among previously treated TB cases. According to Dr Petros Isaakidis, MSF principal investigator of the study, the DR-TB epidemic may be driven by primary transmission rather than the lack of adherence to TB treatment. “Such studies will help shape the national response with specific interventions for those populations most at risk of getting DR-TB,” said Dr Arun Bamne, co-author of the study and former executive health officer of Mumbai’s public health department. Conventionally, patients, who opt out of anti-TB treatment, develop resistance to the known TB drugs and are classified DR-TB cases. However, with the increase in the number of such cases, many healthy individuals are primarily contracting the resistant strain, making it challenging to treat them. “Lifetime risk in getting TB in immune-compromised patients such as HIV is 8% to 10 %. There is a very strong association between TB and HIV and so the burden of TB in HIV patients is always high. TB is a global epidemic and the rise of primary drug resistance should be addressed,” said Dr Om Shrivastav, director, infectious diseases department, Jaslok Hospital, Peddar Road. (Hindustan Times 28/10/14)

122. HIV is a war, not a punishment,say experts (3)

The experts while speaking at a two-day seminar shun the notion that HIV patients are different from the society. They talked about the rights of such patients, various precautions to be taken by them, need to consult a doctor and side effects of taking medicines without consulting a doctor etc. The seminar was conducted by the branch of Etawah based NGO in collaboration with Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society and Uttar Pradesh Welfare for People Living with HIV/AIDS Society. Speaking at the seminar Dr Chaman Kumar Vanvani, senior medical officer, Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) centre, said, “Patients suffering from HIV/AIDS have to face a lot of societal pressure, which results in negative impact on the treatment. HIV is a war that can be won with the help of each one of us, it should not be considered as a punishment. It is very important that these patients are aware about their rights and different facilities that are being provided by the government,” he said. AIDS-related stigma and discrimination refers to prejudice, negative attitude and maltreatment directed at people living with HIV and AIDS. The consequences of stigma and discrimination are wide-ranging: being shunned by family, peers and the wider community, poor treatment in healthcare, psychological damage and negative effect on success of HIV testing and treatment, he added. The doctor said that the HIV deadly virus can be tackled just like any other disease. “The government provides free counselling and antiretroviral drugs to such patients. These are available at the ART centres all over the country. If someone is suffering from frequent fever, skin problems or any other type of illness, he should immediately go for HIV test. Once the virus is detected in the human body, the person needs to consult a doctor. Eating healthy diet rich in protein and anti-oxidant can help a sufferer lead a long life. Also, one should go for CD4 count test every six month to keep a track of the level of antibodies in the body,” he said. The doctor debunked the myth that HIV and AIDS are same. He said that just like many other diseases HIV and AIDS are two different stages of the disease. The event was attended by about 50 patients of the city. (Times of India 30/10/14)

Posted by admin at 30 October 2014

Category: Uncategorized

DALITS/SCHEDULED CASTES

1. Govt opposed to Dalit status for converts (2)

NEW DELHI: The Centre believes that granting dalit status to converts from Islam and Christianity would encourage religious conversions, coming out against the demand that the list of Scheduled Castes be opened up beyond Hinduism, Sikhism and Buddhism. Union social justice minister Thavar Chand Gehlot told TOI, “Allowing SC status to converts would provide a fillip to religious conversions. The demand is not constitutional and we want to work within the parameters of the statute for the welfare of these communities.” The unequivocal stance indicates that the Centre may oppose the demand of dalit Christians in the Supreme Court. The issue has been hanging fire as the UPA government, in its affidavit, continuously dragged its feet in the Court. The call for extension of dalit status to Christianity and Islam is a sensitive subject that has resulted in divisions among social groups. While the dalit converts have long complained that stigma of caste-system exists in their new religions and they be clubbed with SCs, a section of existing dalits oppose it out of the fear that new members to the SC list would add more claimants for benefits like job reservations and cut into their share. Groups like Sangh Parivar apprehend if dalit status is opened to practitioners of Christianity and Islam, there would be nothing to stop dalits from changing faith. The ineligibility for welfare benefits is seen as a check against conversion. Speaking to TOI, Gehlot argued that opening the SC list would bring new claimants for benefits available to existing dalits. “It will encroach upon the facilities of SCs,” he said. On the other hand, he claimed the dalit converts are availing facilities extended to (backward) Christians and Muslims. “Now, if they get SC status, they will be eligible for dual benefits,” he added. According to the minister, the demand was unjustified because dalit-converts left the Hindu fold to escape the scourge of untouchability. “They converted to other religions because untouchability did not exist there. The conversion has solved the problems they faced as Hindus. So, they should not ask for SC status,” he argued. Coming out strongly against the campaign of dalit converts, the Union minister said the subject was debated in detail in the Constituent Assembly and has also been examined by government and the Supreme Court in the past. “They did not support it then and it should not be done now,” he insisted. Refusing to spell out the stand the government may take in the apex court, Gehlot said, “I am not aware of the affidavit the law ministry would file. But we are against opening dalit status to converts.” (Times of India 10/10/14)

2. Six Dalits raped in Bihar, Ranbir Sena man held (2)

Sikarhatta (bihar) : Six Dalit women, including two minor girls, were allegedly raped by a former gunman of a disbanded private army and two others in Bihar’s Bhojpur district on Wednesday night. The three men are now in police custody. The victims belong to the mushahar caste, who are at the bottom of the economically deprived Mahadalit communities in Bihar. The main accused, disbanded Ranbir Sena’s Neelnidhi Singh, is already facing 18 criminal cases and was on bail, said district police chief Rajesh Kumar. He said the police had yet to confirm the exact age of the victims, though based on primary inquiry, they are probably between ages 12 and 30. The medical test reports have confirmed rape.The incident took place in Kurmuri village under Sikarhatta police station of the district when nine rag-pickers from nearby Dumaria village reached a scrapyard called at Maa Saraswatiji Enterprises to sell the scrap they had collected. Scrapyard owner Neelnidhi Singh, his brother Jayprakash Singh and their associate Guddu Pandit allegedly kept the payment on hold on the excuse that it would take time to arrange the change. The total value of scrap sold by the nine was Rs 1000. As it was already past 6pm and the team had to walk 8km back to their village, the rag-pickers kept insisting on prompt payment. There were three married women, two girls, two minor girls and two minor boys in the group. Neelnidhi Singh allegedly flashed a gun at the mushahar women to terrorise them into staying back at the scrapyard on Wednesday night. Guddu Pandit is said to have brought pouches of country liquor and the three reportedly forced the women and girls to drink the alcohol. The two minor boys are reported to have been tied with ropes. Six women and girls, including two minors, were then allegedly raped at an orchard near the thatched scrapyard. The victims, who came to their full senses by midnight, jumped into a drain to reach an approach road and escape to the Dumaria village. One of the girls, aged around 7, was spared and returned with the victims. One of the victims later reported the matter to Sikarhatta police on Thursday. Bhojpur police arrested Jaiprakash Singh on Thursday evening. After an overnight search through paddy fields, Neelnidhi Singh and Guddu Pandit were arrested on Friday afternoon. The police have seized the clothes of the accused. A forensic team also went to the scrapyard to examine the scene. Kurmuri, a village of 4,000 people dominated by upper-caste Bhumihars, is just one of many villages in Bhojpur which has been witnessing recurring caste tension since the killing of former Ranbir Sena chief Barmeshwar Mukhiya in June 2012… (Indian Express 11/10/14)

3. Two Booked for Abusing Dalit Man (2)

MADURAI: Two caste Hindus were booked on Saturday for allegedly verbally abusing a Dalit resident of Thaniyamangalam village near Keelavalavu after a peace meeting conducted by the Revenue Divisional Officer following a dispute over organising a temple festival. Sources said that of late the Dalits of the village had been demanding greater role in organising the festival at a local Amman Temple. This had triggered tension between the caste Hindus and Dalits, prompting the officials to intervene. Meanwhile, on Friday, the Melur Revenue Divisional Officer (RDO) organised a peace meeting between the Dalits and caste Hindus. During the meeting, both the communities purportedly reached at an amicable solution and left on good terms. However, according to the complaint lodged by one P Dharmalingam (38), a Dalit, he was intercepted by two persons after the meeting. The duo, including a woman, allegedly abused him for demanding rights to conduct temple festivities. They also threatened that if the Dalits did not retract their demands, the village would be engulfed in caste violence, the complainant further alleged. (New Indian Express 13/10/14)

4. Dark days of violence on Dalits return to haunt Bihar (2)

The Dalits who mobbed Bihar minister Ramai Ram in Sasaram on Wednesday do not have knowledge of the state’s latest crime statistics but their anger is backed by numbers. There has been a remarkable spurt in violent crimes against Dalit communities in Bihar this year. The numbers since 2005 are bad enough — 32,395 cases of atrocities till this August — but it’s the 10,681 cases in the past 20 months that point to an alarming uptrend. It gets worse from this January to August: 4,322 cases, including 361 cases under the Prevention of Atrocities against SC/ST, the highest in the past nine years. Fingers are being pointed at state Chief Minister Jeetan Ram Manjhi, himself a Mahadalit, for lack of a proper response but observers see reasons beyond inept running of the police machinery. A state with a dark history of oppression of its lowest-caste poor may be seeing a fragmentation of the “social coalition” of Dalits and upper castes after the split in the governing NDA in June 2013. Veteran Dalit leader Ramai Ram was in Mohanpur village of Rohtas district to hand over a compensation cheque of Rs 2.8 lakh for the death of Sai Ram, 15, who was burnt alive, allegedly by upper caste men on Wednesday. But there was no gratitude, only angry words. “We have been at the receiving end even after Manjhi became CM. A leader like you (Ram) has been a lackey of Lalu Yadav and Nitish Kumar for 25 years but done little for our empowerment,” a resentful villager told Ramai Ram. “There are no toilets for us. Our women suffer humiliation when they go to upper-caste people’s fields.” When a villager tried to praise the visiting minister, an angry protester slapped him. A sobered Ram said: “I can understand their anger. They have real issues we need to address.” The rising crime numbers since January last year have been brought in sharp focus by three big back-to-back anti-Dalit incidents in the month: rape of six Dalit women and minors in Bhojpur earlier this month; over 150 in Gaya being forced to leave their village after clashes with dominant upper castes in September-end; and Manjhi’s highly publicised accusation that a Madhubani temple was cleansed after his visit. The main accused in the Bhojpur rapes, for example, was a member of the disbanded landlord army Ranbir Sena and all three belonged to upper castes…. (Indian Express 19/10/14)

5. Dalit’s attempt to ply auto invites wrath of caste Hindus (2)

BHAYLA (AHMEDABAD DISTRICT): For Mehul Kabira, a Dalit youth in Ahmedabad district, life could have taken a different turn. An auto-rickshaw rented by his father could have freed him from his traditional caste occupation. However caste Hindu interests in the village ensured against it. Residing in Bhayla village in Bavla block, about 40 km from Ahmedabad city, Mehul belongs to the Valmiki community — historically restricted to cleaning, sweeping and scavenging jobs. In 2012, Vinubhai Kabira, Mehul’s father, rented an auto with the hope that his son would earn a living as an auto driver. In a matter of a few days, Mehul was attacked by a group of youths from the Darbar community, who beat him up so badly that he had to be hospitalised and the family had to flee the village. “They objected to my riding the auto. They forbade people from sitting in it. Their harassment continued for five days after which they vandalised my auto and beat me up. Out of fear, we fled the village,” said Mehul, whose family mustered the courage to return four months ago. “They said ‘Bhangdas’ should not ride an auto. They did not even allow us to park it at the auto stand. They said we were fit only to clean gobar [cattle faeces] and work in their fields,” his father Vinubhai said. After the incident, Mehul filed a case under the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. But with no strong police action, his fears remained. The auto, covered with a tarpaulin, stands outside his house. But the means of livelihood has become a white elephant for the Kabira family. Mehul briefly got a cleaning job in a private company. However, all of his monthly earnings of Rs. 4,000 went towards paying the monthly rent of Rs. 4,400 for the auto. “About nine payments to the tune of Rs. 45,000 are still pending,” he said, having no clue about what he should do about the abandoned vehicle. To make matters worse, the family’s return to the village has been frowned upon by the numerically large Darbar community, according to the residents of the Valmiki colony of 20 houses. Early this month, an incident of stone pelting and assault left several people injured, resulting in another case of atrocity. Mehul has been named as one of the accused in a counter-FIR filed by the Darbar youth. Inquiries at the houses of the Darbar youth were met with a stony silence and evasive replies by several residents of the caste Hindu locality. “They behave that way with the police too,” remarked J.D. Zala, sub-inspector, in charge of the Bavla police station. In the last five years, three atrocity cases have been filed from Bhayla village alone. (The Hindu 20/10/14)

TRIBALS

6. Forest Rights Rejection in LWE-affected Areas Reviewed (6)

CHENNAI: Concerned over the high rate of rejection of claims under the Forest Rights Act (FRA) in the Left-wing Extremism (LWE) areas, the Union Ministry of Tribal Affairs has reviewed its implementation and has asked the states to take proactive steps to mobilise maximum number of claims so that the forest dwellers get ownership of forest land in the 117 affected districts. In a letter to all Principal Secretaries, the ministry mentioned that Community Forest Rights (CFR) titles have been awarded to Joint Forest Management Committees in the LWE states, which is not in accordance with the FRA procedure and not permissible under the FRA. Earlier, the matter was also raised by the Cabinet Secretariat,which had asked the ministry to look into it. A brief study was commissioned under the Ministry of Tribal Affairs (MoTA) – UNDP Project to study the reasons of the high rate of rejections in the LWE areas. “It was found that the appropriate procedure for filing was not followed due to lack of awareness at the Gram Sabha- level. Documentary evidences were not available with the claimants and joint verification process has often not been appropriate, due to lack of coordination between the Revenue and Forest Departments,” the letter sent in September said, adding, the duplicate claims led to inflated number of claims received and number of rejections. The ministry has now directed the states and District Collectors to take proactive steps to mobilise maximum number of claims from the LWE affected states and issue directives and guidelines to frontline staff to address the local issues and challenges for better implementation of the FRA on the ground.It said that the process should not simply end with the recognition of rights, that the record of rights (ROR) need to be created in the revenue code of law as well. Besides, the reasons for rejection of claims must be communicated to the claimant in writing and the claimant should be given a chance of appeal.The states have been asked to send data to the MoTA, clearly mentioning the   district-wise status on rejection along with the reasons for monitoring and review, as this will help in reviewing the wrongly rejected claims. (New Indian Express 10/10/14)

7. Bonda tribals move to safe haven (6)

BERHAMPUR:  The evacuation of primitive Bonda tribals living in remote hamlets of Bonda hills in Malkangiri district of Odisha started on Saturday ahead of the Hudhud cyclone expected to hit Odisha on October 12. Speaking to The Hindu , Revenue Divisional Commissioner (RDC) Bikash Moahapatra, said that unlike cyclone Phailin last year, the hilly districts of Malkangiri and Koraput would be effected by Hudhud. The four districts of south Odisha which will face maximum impact of the cyclone are Ganjam, Gajapati, Malkangiri and Koraput. Out of these districts, people in Malkangiri and Koraput districts have not been affected by any major cyclone in the past. There are no permanent cyclone shelters in tribal-dominated districts of Malkangiri and Koraput, where people are staying in kutcha houses. So, in these two districts as well as Gajapati district, the administration has identified pucca houses to be used as shelters. Till Saturday evening, around 400 Bonda tribals living in hamlets of the Bonda hill area in Khairaput block were evacuated to the Government High School building at Mudulipada. It may be noted that during heavy rains, the Bonda hill area gets cut off from the outside world. A team of Odisha Disaster Response Forum (ODRAF) has already reached Mudulipada. A 45-member NDRF team has also reached the district. The areas of Malkangiri district bordering Visakhapatnam district of Andhra Pradesh, where Hudhud is expected to make landfall, are under strict vigil. According to Malkangiri collector, D.Prasant Kumar Reddy, the cut off area of Balimela reservoir is another thrust area. The motor launch service to the cut off area has been stopped. But adequate amount of food stock, has been sent to the six cyclone-vulnerable Maoist prone panchayats of the cut off region. In the Koraput district, we are evacuating people living in kutcha houses on the banks of rivers and reservoirs to identified pucca shelters, said the RDC. According to Mr Mohapatra, the administration is keeping tabs on the path the Hudhud cyclone will take because after making landfall near Visakhapatnam, it is likely to storm the Malkangiri and Koraput districts. People from these villages in the two districts, which would fall in the path of the Hudhud after landfall, are being evacuated as precautionary measure. (The Hindu 12/10/14)

8. Tribals to Construct Homes on Their Own (6)

KALPETTA: In a bid to end the rampant corruption in tribal housing projects, Adivasi societies will be formed across the State to assign the task of constructing houses allotted under various State and Central government schemes. The first such society in the State has been set up in Vellamunda panchayat in Wayanad. The society, registered under the Kerala Cooperative Societies Act, comprises 75  skilled tribal construction workers hailing from the panchayat. “This project is part of the government’s efforts to end rampant irregularities in the execution of tribal housing projects. The project would be extended to the remaining districts, if found successful,” said Minister for Welfare of Scheduled Tribes P K Jayalakshmi. The path-breaking initiative will be implemented on an experimental basis in 21 wards in the panchayat and it will be gradually extended to other parts of the district, said officials with the Scheduled Tribes Development Department. Initially, the society will take up the construction of 16 houses in the panchayat. The 75 members are being divided into four area-specific groups to execute the project. The houses which are currently being constructed are those allotted under the Centre-sponsored Indira Awaas Yojana (IAY) and the special State government housing package programmes for primitive tribal groups. Each house with an area of 650 sq ft consists of two bedrooms, a living room, a kitchen, and an outdoor toilet. In the next phase, the society would be assigned to complete the construction works of the partially-built houses in Wayanad, she added. (New Indian Express 13/10/14)

9. Three tribal Odisha districts badly affected (6)

Nhubaneswar: Hudhud inflicted considerable damage to the three tribal-dominated districts of Koraput, Gajapati and Malkangiri in southernmost part of Orissa while moving to Chhattisgarh late on Sunday night.  However,  it spared a majority of Odisha districts. Two other neighbouring tribal-dominated districts—Rayagara and Nowrangpur—witnessed limited damage. The storm crossed the Odisha border over Patangi in Koraput district around 11:30 pm on Sunday. By then, it had already weakened from a very severe cyclonic storm to a severe cyclonic storm. But it still caused considerable damage. According to preliminary estimates by the office of the special relief commissioner (SRC), about 25,000 houses were damaged in the Koraput district alone, followed by 15,000 in Gajapati. Nearly 50,000 houses have been destroyed across the five districts. A majority of them were thatched houses of tribals.  Power supply infrastructure also sustained considerable damage in these districts. According to Energy Secretary Suresh Mohapatra, the storm damaged 24 transformers and uprooted 600 electric poles in the five districts. Efforts were on to fully restore electricity supply by late Monday night or Tuesday morning. The state administration has diverted personnel from other places to the five affected districts for quick restoration of services. “Efforts are on to normalise the situation in the affected southern districts on a war footing,” said Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik after a review meeting. Significantly, no casualty has been reported from any of these districts, primarily owing to large-scale evacuation from vulnerable points. According figures available with the SRC’s office, 2,47,829 people had been evacuated before the arrival of the cyclone from various districts across the state, and housed in 2,197 relief camps. People had started returning homes on Monday afternoon. (Deccan Herald 14/10/14)

10. Tribal people seek fishing rights (6)

ONGOLE: Yenadi tribals from Kukatlapalle near Ballikurava under the banner of the Kula Vivaksha Porata Sangam staged a demonstration in-front of the Prakasam Bhavan here on Wednesday, seeking restoration of their fishing rights. The tribals led by Saparpanch K. Narasimha Rao complained that they were being attacked by farmers in the village and demanded security and identity cards for them. KVPS State Secretary A. Malyadri wanted the district administration to allow fishing up to 20 km in the Gundlakamma reservoir instead of the 10 km at present. (The Hindu 16/10/14)

11. Policy on Maoists also focuses on welfare of tribals (6)

New Delhi: The Centre’s first cut of the policy on dealing with the Maoist challenge gives it the right to use all necessary force against the Maoists but balances the hardline approach by focusing on tribal welfare. “The state is duty-bound to resolutely deal with the Maoist violence and reserves the right to use any element of its national power against the outfit,” the draft policy cleared by home minister Rajnath Singh said. The policy is the first attempt to coherently, and comprehensively spell out the national policy against Maoists. While it was in the opposition, the BJP had often targeted the previous UPA government for the absence of a central policy. A source conceded the policy — to be circulated in all Maoist-affected states and central ministries — was as much of a strategy vision as a political document. The draft policy asks states and district SPs to take the lead in the counter-insurgency campaign with support from the Central Armed Police Forces. “The CAPFs have the responsibility of holding the counter-insurgency grid together, operating seamlessly across state borders in coordination with the state police forces,” the Centre’s counter-insurgency policy said. The policy counts on government interventions in four areas, namely security, development, ensuring rights and entitlements of local communities and public perception management. In the new format, the Centre intends to extensively focus on 23 districts that account for 80% of Maoist violence. The primary response in these districts will be a security approach. In moderately-affected districts, on the other hand, the security and development response will go hand in hand. Government sources said many elements of the new policy were already under implementation. For instance, the policy recognises that the first step towards checking Maoist violence was reviving, strengthening or starting new police stations. (Hindustan Times 18/10/14)

12. KCR Peeved over Poor Literacy Rate among Tribals (6)

HYDERABAD: What is making the tribal community lag behind in academics? This is the poser put by Telangana chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao to the officials at the meeting of the Tribal Advisory Council held here on Saturday. Chandrasekhar Rao, who chaired the council meeting held at the Secretariat, was peeved over the lack of any substantial increase in the literacy rate among the tribals. “There are Integrated Tribal Development Agencies (ITDAs) and other government schools in tribal areas but unfortunately, the literacy rate among the tribals is not showing any improvement,’’ he observed. Taking a strong note of this aspect, Chandrasekhar Rao asked the officials the reasons for it. He sought to know the situation of educational facilities in tribal areas, the vacancies in these institutions and others. Officials reportedly told the chief minister that there was a dearth of teaching staff in the schools in tribal and agency areas and they are making efforts to fill them. He also wanted a report on the conditions in ST Residential Junior Colleges in the state. The other issues which came up for discussion include relief and rehabilitation package to the oustees of irrigation and other development projects in the state. “We will extend more compensation to tribals that no other state would have extended during rehabilitation of tribals during execution of projects,’’ Chandrasekhar Rao said adding that the tribals, who will lose lands in Pranahita-Chevella project will get the ‘best’ package. “We will extend compensation twice the amount of the registration value of the land that a tribal loses in the project,’’ he announced. This means a person who loses an acre of land worth ` one lakh will get Rs four lakh, the chief minister said adding this would be more than compensation packages being extended by neighbouring AP or even the Centre. Officials explained to the CM that under the Pranahita-Chevella project, seven reservoirs and nine villages will be submerged. A total of 696 tribal families will lose their land. On the issue of upgrading tribal hamlets into gram panchayats, the chief minister said they will fulfill the promise which was included in the manifesto. Asking the elected representatives to give their opinion on the issue, Chandrasekhar Rao said special gram panchayats can be carved out including hamlets three kilometres outside a village. “There is no need to abide by the rule that a gram panchayat can be carved out when there is more than 500 population in a village. Three to four tandas (hamlets) can be made into a gram panchayat,’’ he said. Some elected representatives suggested that tribal hamlets with less than 500 population and away from any other village should also be made into a gram panchayat. (New Indian Express 19/10/14)

WOMEN

13. Women helpline to be made more effective (8)

New Delhi: The city administration’s 181 helpline for women in distress is in the process of preparing a policy document to make effective changes in the existing rules to check crimes against women in the national capital. The helpline is likely to hold a series of consultations with the station house officers (SHOs) of the areas that have registered most cases of violence against women in the city. The helpline also plans to hold a mega-meet of the survivors on the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on November 25. “We are going to hold meetings with the police officers, lawmakers, women’s rights’ activists and other experts to see what changes can be effected in our policies to provide a secure environment for the women in the city,” rights’ activist and 181 chief Khadijah Faruqui told this newspaper. She said that an analysis the 181 helpline on the basis of FIRs filed and on the calls received between December 31, 2012 and July 15, 2014, showed that certain areas were more prone to sexual assaults, domestic violence and abductions. Ms Faruqui said the maximum cases of violence against women were reported in the border areas, resettlement colonies and traditional villages of the national capital. “Once we hold discussions with the experts, we will be able to find out the remedy as well. We will also prepare a comprehensive policy document for active consideration of the city administration.” In all, as many as 14,318 FIRs were lodged on the basis of the calls received by 181. The number of FIRs ranged between 100 and 200 in 37 police stations. Uttam Nagar topped the list with 454 cases and was followed by Sultanpuri with 333 cases. The police stations where more than 200 cases were registered, included Gokulpuri and Sangam Vihar (both 201), Tilak Nagar (202), Burari (211), Najafgarh (214), Dabri (215), Mangolpuri (242), Aman Vihar (252), Jehangirpuri (252), Narela (253) and Nangloi (268). As far as domestic violence against women was concerned, the police had registered 9,273 cases in the same time period. Dabri topped the list with 499 cases. (Asian Age 11/10/14)

14. Harassment of women for dowry is increasing, observes Court (8)

New Delhi: A court here has observed that harassment of women for dowry is increasing while awarding a three-year jail term to a victim’s husband and two others for harassing her for 14 years. Metropolitan Magistrate Ekta Gauba said: “…the harassment of women for demand of dowry is increasing in today’s scenario.” The court awarded the jail term to victim Anuradha’s husband Mukesh Kumar, her sister-in-law Guddi and brother-in-law Virender Singh after convicting them under various charges dealing with enticing or taking away or detaining a married woman with criminal intent. The court also directed the three to pay a compensation of Rs.5,000 each to her. The court noted: “Kumar being the husband of complainant along with convict Virender Singh and convict Guddi being the relatives of the husband of the complainant subjected the complainant to mental and physical cruelty in order to compel the complainant to meet their unlawful demand for dowry.” According to the prosecution, the three were harassing her physically and mentally and compelled her to meet their demands for dowry. —IANS (The Hindu 12/10/14)

15. Making the Girl Child Feel Safe Wherever She is (8)

CHENNAI: On the International Day of the Girl Child, Chennai woke up to newspapers splashed with  stories after news stories on everything from missing girls to abuse of girl children on the road. But experts point out that the cycle of violence might actually go beyond what one sees on the roads or in the papers. “Child marriage for instance has its roots in violence against the girl children, though we do not associate it that way. One of the reasons why many of the parents take to child marriages is safety. The idea is that when the girl child is married of she is safe thereafter,” says Varsha Pillay of CRY. Child rights activists point out that ensuring that children are at school is one of the effective ways to ensure the safety of the girl child, as it brings out more awareness among the children about their rights and reduces exposure to high risk areas like child labour. Meanwhile, under reporting of violence and crime owing to stigma is another area of concern. As per the last year’s National Crime Records Statistics, Tamil Nadu reported one of the lowest number of incest rape cases with just six cases reported through the state in the while year and Chennai reported no incest rape case at all. It is to be noted that even among the 6, five were below 18 years of age. “The fact is that the largest incidence of rape against children happens with families or in close neighbhourhood. But much of this seems to go unreported,” says Sherin Bosko of Nakshatra Rape Crisis Centre. The skewed child sex ratio is another important area of concern. “The general sex ratio of the state is not an area of concern. But what is problematic is the child sex ratios. In some of the districts especially in rural areas we are seeing a decline in the child sex ratio,” says R Vidyasagar, Child Protection Specialist at the UNICEF. While the girl child today has increasing opportunities in educational and better health conditions, new problems have come to haunt them. “One of them is the preference for a single child. When families go for a single child, they want that child to be a boy. This was not the case when families had 2-3 children. Similarly technology has also become a threat. Sex selection technologies have led to the reduction of child sex ratio,” he said. Interestingly, Chennai’s sex ratio is below the state average even while a district like the Nilgiris which is less developed has the highest sex ratio. But experts point out low sex ratio is a city like Chennai might have more complicated reasons behind it than a neglect of the girl child. “Among all the districts Chennai has the highest number of migrants coming in. So in a city like this one really does not know where exactly is the low sex ratio coming from,” he said. (New Indian Express 13/10/14)

16. Accused in Crimes against Women Known to Victim: HC Told (8)

NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court was Wednesday informed by the city police that there has been a “steep rise” in incidents of rape, molestation and eveteasing in national capital since the December 16 gangrape case and most of these occur inside the victim’s house and the accused in majority of the cases is a relative or an acquaintance. The submission was made in an affidavit placed before a bench of justices Badar Durrez Ahmed and Siddharth Mridul who listed the matter for hearing on October 29 after senior advocate Neeraj Kishen Kaul, appearing for Delhi police, sought an adjournment. “There is a steep rise in incidents of rape, molestation and eveteasing after the Nirbhaya case (December 16, 2012 gangrape). “There were a total of 2276 incidents of rape, molestation and eveteasing in 2014 up to September 15 as against 2070 incidents during the same period in 2013.  “1375 out of the 2276 incidents took place inside the house and its difficult to anticipate or prevent such incidents … In 1767 out of the 2276 incidents, the accused turned out to be relatives or acquaintances…,” the affidavit submitted by Delhi Police, through advocate Zubeda Begum, said.  According to the affidavit, there is around 125 per cent increase in rape cases as compared to 2013 for the period from January to September 15, while the rise in molestation and eve-teasing cases is around 448 per cent and 478 per cent, respectively.  These figures pertained to the crimes against women reported in 44 red-flagged areas or police stations of the capital from January 1, 2014 to September 15, 2014 and were submitted pursuant to the court’s direction of September 24 when it had directed Delhi police to file a better affidavit. The police, in its affidavit, answered the queries raised on the last date by the court which had also wanted to know specific details regarding measures implemented to curb crimes against women in four police stations – Mehrauli, Govindpuri, Hauz Khas and Safdarjung Enclave.   The court had also raised queries regarding scientific techniques employed by the investigating officers (IOs) while probing the crimes, especially those against women.   Answering these queries, Delhi Police has said that in the areas falling under the four police stations the measures undertaken include identification of affected or sensitive spots, increase in patrolling, deployment of anti-stalking and anti-eveteasing pickets, deployment of women police officers and conducting seminars and training programmes on gender sensitisation.  Deployment of pickets and patrolling is primarily at the bus stops as well as near the colleges and schools and NGOs have been roped in to spread awareness, police has said.  It has also submitted that meetings have been organised with RWAs of these areas to create awareness about such incidents. On the scientific techniques employed to probe crimes against women, Delhi Police has said that depending upon circumstances of each case, its IOs employ a number of methods which include, ensuring that medical examination of victim as quickly as possible, especially in rape cases. Spot inspection by forensic and crime team, seizure and examination of biological evidences like blood, bodily discharge, etc as well as analysis of CCTV footage (if available), call details and mobile locations are the other scientific techniques that are employed, police has said.  The court was hearing a plea filed by social activist Nandita Dhar through advocate Gaurav Kumar Bansal against increasing incidents of eveteasing in the capital.  On September 24, the high court had come down heavily on police for its “shoddy” probe into rising cases of crime against women in the national capital and had said that it has led to lack of fear for law in the minds of the perpetrators. It had also slammed Delhi police for its “downhill” crime investigation and had asked it to shape up. The court had also expressed dissatisfaction over the Delhi Police affidavit containing the comparative chart of crimes against women reported in 44 red-flagged areas of the capital from January 1 to April 15 and from April 16 to July 31. The bench had said comparison of crimes committed in the two periods is like “comparing apples with oranges” and directed the police to present a more “detailed, correct and complete picture” of the status of offences against women in those areas, specifically in Mehrauli, Govindpuri, Hauz Khas and Safdarjung Enclave, and measures taken to curb the same.  The court had also directed the police to also deal with the points in the report of Delhi State Legal Services Authority (DSLSA) with respect to the hotspots and reasons for crime in the red-flagged areas. (New Indian Exprerss 15/10/14)

17. Wife’s cruelty towards in-laws ground for divorce, says HC (8)

LUCKNOW: The Lucknow bench of the Allahabad high court has ruled that a man can seek divorce if his wife pressurizes him for abandoning his parents and demands a fixed sum every month for personal expenses. Terming such behaviour as ‘cruelty upon the husband’, the court also ruled that a woman who makes these demands while earning more than her husband will not be entitled for permanent alimony. The court made these observations while upholding the judgment of a family court which granted divorce to a man on the above grounds and also declined permanent alimony to his wife under Section 25 of the Hindu Marriage Act. Expressing concern over the case which dragged for over 23 years, a division bench of Justice Rajiv Sharma and Justice Mahendra Dayal said, “The worst sufferer of this long litigation is the child who was born out of the wedlock and the parties are still not ready to reconcile or settle their dispute amicably.” Radhika and Ashok (names changed) got married in Lucknow on February 5, 1991. Immediately after marriage, Radhika demanded eviction of her in-laws from the house and Rs 3,000 for her monthly expense on cosmetics and outings. When Ashok failed to meet her demands Radhika started harassing her in-laws and husband physically and mentally. Ashok then lodged a police complaint on June 14, 1991, and got his injuries examined in the government hospital. He also complained to Radhika’s mother and two brothers but to no avail. A miffed Radhika then threatened to frame her husband and in-laws in dowry harassment case. Ashok then took a rented accommodation in Rajajipuram. In September 1991, he was transferred to Bulandshahr. When his wife came to know about his transfer, she along with her family members detained him in the house and threatened him with dire consequences if he left. But he managed to escape and joined his new posting. He filed a divorce petition in the family court in October 1991. In retaliation, Radhika filed a dowry harassment case against her in-laws and husband (they were acquitted later). Ashok requested the family court to hear his plea before the completion of one year – the minimum period before such a petition can be heard – alleging mental harassment by his wife. The family court took up the case issued summons to Radhika. The case prolonged for 13 years till Ashok obtained a high court order telling family court to decide the case within three months. On September 30, 2004, the family court granted divorce to Ashok and declined any permanent alimony to his wife. (Times of India 20/10/14)

CHILDREN/ CHILD LABOUR

18. 1.5 lakh kids toil as labour in Bangalore, say activists (14)

BANGALORE: “India has touched Mars, but we’ve not been able to touch our children’s hearts,” a Bangalore-based child rights activist says. It couldn’t be truer when one looks at the extent of child labour in Karnataka. Union labour department statistics point to 2,49,432 child labourers in Karnataka as per the 2011 census. But actual figures are much more, say child rights activists, pegging the number in Bangalore itself to be a little more than 1.5 lakh. Add to this the north Karnataka region where child labour is rampant, and you’ll see systemic paralysis. Next month, the world will observe 25 years of signing of the UN resolution against child labour. But the situation in Karnataka remains disturbing. India had enacted The Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation) Act, 1986 three years before the UN resolution and Karnataka borrowed the same. It lists 58 occupations that children shouldn’t be doing. But the law is hardly implemented. Karnataka then came up with a plan that envisaged ridding the state of child labour at the end of the plan period (2002-2007). That policy paper lies buried in Vidhana Soudha’s archives as children continue to work in bars and hotels, workshops and sweatshops, in hazardous sectors like illegal e-waste, construction sites, brick kilns, silk industry, and so on. Labour officials say they are cracking the whip. In three years (2011-2013) the department found 428 violations, prosecuted 458 people and convicted 117 people, who’d wrongfully employed children below the age of 14. And therein lies the crux of the problem, say child rights activists. Kavita Ratna of Concerned for Working Children says: “The issue is how we view child labour. Our policies criminalize those below 14 and ignore those above 15 but below 18. There is zero attention to prevention of the problem. Child labour will never go as long as there is largescale deprivation, and the number of homeless and landless people increase.” We cannot simply follow the international method of “ban and boycott,” she says, calling to provide alternatives for children, as many are breadwinners. The Apprenticeship Act is never thought of for these children. That has better means to deal with the problem as it allows children to work in a regulated environment and also go to school. “But there’s not a single evening school. We’re not serious,” Kavita says. Umesh Aradhya, chairperson, Karnataka State Commission for Protection of Child Rights, says all the departments must work together. “There are some wonderful schemes conceived by the government, but we’re failing to deliver the same to these kids. There needs to be a convergence.” One such scheme is the Child Labour Project. Under this, 7,074 children have been sent to school after being rescued from child labour since 2011. But the efforts seem isolated with children continuing to be denied education, food, shelter and other rights. It’s time we revisit our policies. ( Times of India  11/10/14)

19. 60 child workers rescued from Mumbai (14)

PATNA: The state labour resources department (LRD) with the help of an NGO rescued 60 children from Mumbai and brought them back on Sunday by Rajendra Nagar-Mumbai Express. The LRD officials of the districts concerned took the children back to their native places. Surjeet Kumar, deputy labour commissioner, Muzaffarpur said the children were rescued from different industrial belts of Mumbai by the NGO. “We sent a team of GRP to bring back the children who belonged to Bihar. An inquiry team would be constituted to identify the middlemen sending them as child workers from every district. The department would ensure their rehabilitation, including allotment of a house to each under Indira Awas Yojana. The children were deployed in jobs which are strenuous for eyes.” The rescued children used to work in bangles and garment factories in Mumbai. They were moved out of the state in view of a police warning that threatened action if child workers in the state were not removed in 10 days. The rescued children belonged to Motihari (49), Sitamarhi (5), Sheohar (3), Madhubani (2) and Muzaffarpur (1). Sikandar (7) and Mohammed Alam (8) from Sitamarhi district went to Mumbai three months back. Sikandar said, “A neighbour took us along with him to Mumbai and gave us jobs. ‘Subah dus baje se raat egarah baje tak chimta se phool chipkate the churi per’ (We used to decorate bangles with minor details from 10am to 11pm).” Alam said, “We did not have any holiday and he used to pay us Rs 1,500 per month. But, instead of handing over the money to us, he used to send it to our parents.” (Times of India 12/10/14)

20. Activists hope Nobel win will help put focus on child rights (14)

New Delhi: Activists working for child rights hope that with Kailash Satyarthi winning a Nobel Peace prize for this cause, there will be a spotlight on the issue. NGOs claim it is mostly on their insistence that the police and the government conduct joint raids to rescue minor children working in inhuman conditions. “The award will certainly help in changing the mindset not only of the bureaucracy but the law-enforcement agencies. There is bound to be a wider impact of this award and it will definitely help in creating greater awareness about child rights. So far, a number of bills are pending related to trafficking and child rights —so it will put pressure on the government to act,” said Rishi Kant, an activist with NGO Shakti Vahini that works for the welfare of children. In Delhi, the labour department, the sub-divisional magistrates and Delhi Police have a big role to play in preventing trafficking and child labour but many a time the issue does not find prominence. The labour department is supposed to check construction sites, road side eateries and industrial areas to find if any minors have been employed there. However, NGOs claim the number of raids conducted is almost negligible. “Delhi is known for children working as domestic help,” said Shireen Vakil Miller, director advocacy and policy, Save the children. NGOs also hope that this will create more awareness among the public. “The issue of child labour and bonded labour is grave in India and Satyarthi and his organization have chartered difficult territories to develop standardized procedures in areas of rescue and rehabilitation of children in exploitative environments. This will further reinforce global efforts to uphold children’s rights,” said Komal Ganotra, director, policy and advocacy, CRY — Child Rights and You. Recently, the high court had summoned the Delhi government’s labour secretary to explain why its previous directions for regulating placement agencies through an executive order were not complied with. According to NGOs, over 10,000 illegal agencies were operating in the city. “When I had started my campaign, it was a non-issue but people started taking note of it. With this award I hope the mindset of people and government will change,” said Satyarthi of BBA. (Hindustan Times 12/10/14)

21. New Bill for total ban on child labour (14)

NEW DELHI: Among the bills up for consideration in the winter session of Parliament is the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Amendment (CLPRA) Bill, pending since December 2012. The proposed amendments to the Act will for the first time ban employment of children below 14 years in any occupation, bringing the law in consistency with the Right to Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act 2009. The Bill prohibits employment of adolescents aged 14-18 years in hazardous occupations. The Ministry had sought public comments on the CLPRA Bill 2012 this June. A majority of the changes in the proposed Bill are the same as those in the Bill introduced in the Rajya Sabha by UPA Minister for Labour and Employment Mallikarjun Kharge in December 2012. “The Bill will regulate conditions of work for adolescents, and of children working in audio-visual entertainment industry. In 1996, the Supreme Court had prescribed a penalty of Rs. 20,000 from employers and Rs. 5,000 from State government for every child worker rescued. This will now be introduced in law and indexed to price rise,” a senior official in the Ministry of Labour and Employment said. The 1986 law prohibits employing children only in certain occupations such as mines, work in hazardous process and with inflammable substances or explosives. Minors working in middle class homes as domestic workers and those employed at hotels, dhabas were included as a category of child labourers only after an amendment in 2006. The Standing Committee on Labour and Employment under D.S. Chauhan had in its report on CLPRA Bill, in December 2013, recommended that the Bill give details for regulation for prescribing the conditions of work for adolescents — criteria for wages, hours of work, settlement of disputes. This was incorporated. It had suggested that adolescents should have completed Class VIII before being allowed to join an occupation. It suggested the explicit exception in the Bill granted to children helping their family after school hours be deleted. Both suggestions were not accepted. Despite the amendment, different Acts continue to define “child” differently. While the RTE Act 2009 and CLPRA 2012 define a child as 14-year-old, the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000 considers this to be 18 years. “Richer parents would normally be so protective of their children even after they are in Class XII. Why have a different standard for children from poor families?” said social activist Rishikant of Shakti Vahini. (The Hindu 15/10/14)

22. Farmers to be booked under Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act (14)

SALEM: After the rescue of 14 child workers and 29 other children from cotton fields in Thalaivasal block, officials are keen on taking up rehabilitation measures effectively so that they pursue their education and not involve in the work again. Of the 43 children, 25 children’s parents have received advance from the farmers. Hence, the officials are working on obtaining an assistance of Rs. 20,000 from Child Labour Rehabilitation-cum-Welfare Fund from the district administration and hand over it to the children’s parents. Also, the officials are coordinating with various departments, including Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, revenue and social welfare, so that the students pursue their education and their parents receive benefits of the Government schemes. Meanwhile, the police could also invoke Section 17 under the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act on the farmers for employing child workers. The Thalaivasal police earlier registered a case under Sections 365 (kidnapping and wrongfully confining person) and 367 (slavery) of the IPC. Last year, four farmers were arrested from Siruvachur village for employing child workers. But the case is yet to come for trial. (The Hindu 19/10/14)

23. Difference in figures a major hindrance for government and activists (14)

New Delhi: While the bone of contention with regard to child labour and abuse is the difference in facts and figures generated by activists and the government, the Central as well local authorities seem to have geared up efforts to attend to the issue. The ministry of women and child development has fast-tracked its endeavours in the past few months. It has taken up new areas to understand why the capital and country lag behind in curtailing child labour despite several laws being in place. However, the activists feel the work done is too little and too late, and most of them doubt the efforts of the Delhi government. “According to the NCPCR the number of child labourers in Delhi is around 35,000. This figure is highly questionable as we know there are more than one lakh children who are homeless and not enrolled in school. Unless and until the government clarifies on the data, it is impossible to get to the root cause of the problem. NGOs have been on their toes to shelter and provide basic facilities to these children but that is only one aspect of the issue,” explained Amod Kanth of Prayas. While the NGOs applauded the attention given to the sector as a fallout of international recognition, experts feel there are few immediate steps that can change the scenario. Since a major chunk of children are employed illegally in households as domestic helps, it is crucial to bring placement agencies in the capital under the purview of the law. The fact that they operate in a callous manner adds to the disparities in figures of number children working as domestic labour. The capital is a major market for these agencies. In order to keep a check on children being trafficked from across India, the ministry has come up with a helpline which will expand its wings by the end of the financial year to aid in tracking children. As per ministry sources, the “Childline” received more than 38 lakh calls in the past one year. Another crucial aspect of child labour is rescue operations and thereafter restoration. In this regard, the network of NGOs play a crucial role. After the child has been tracked, the rescue operation is carried out by NGOs; their work includes providing emotional and financial support to the child. As per ministry data, in 2013 a mere 1,100 adoptions were made. However the adoptions seem to have picked up from June onwards and till August 1,650 children had been adopted. Particularly in the case of the national capital, NGOs feel that the state government is callous in dealing with suggestions and queries coming from activists. (Asian Age 20/10/14)

MINORITIES – GENERAL

24. Govt opposed to Dalit status for converts (7)

NEW DELHI: The Centre believes that granting dalit status to converts from Islam and Christianity would encourage religious conversions, coming out against the demand that the list of Scheduled Castes be opened up beyond Hinduism, Sikhism and Buddhism. Union social justice minister Thavar Chand Gehlot told TOI, “Allowing SC status to converts would provide a fillip to religious conversions. The demand is not constitutional and we want to work within the parameters of the statute for the welfare of these communities.” The unequivocal stance indicates that the Centre may oppose the demand of dalit Christians in the Supreme Court. The issue has been hanging fire as the UPA government, in its affidavit, continuously dragged its feet in the Court. The call for extension of dalit status to Christianity and Islam is a sensitive subject that has resulted in divisions among social groups. While the dalit converts have long complained that stigma of caste-system exists in their new religions and they be clubbed with SCs, a section of existing dalits oppose it out of the fear that new members to the SC list would add more claimants for benefits like job reservations and cut into their share. Groups like Sangh Parivar apprehend if dalit status is opened to practitioners of Christianity and Islam, there would be nothing to stop dalits from changing faith. The ineligibility for welfare benefits is seen as a check against conversion. Speaking to TOI, Gehlot argued that opening the SC list would bring new claimants for benefits available to existing dalits. “It will encroach upon the facilities of SCs,” he said. On the other hand, he claimed the dalit converts are availing facilities extended to (backward) Christians and Muslims. “Now, if they get SC status, they will be eligible for dual benefits,” he added. According to the minister, the demand was unjustified because dalit-converts left the Hindu fold to escape the scourge of untouchability. “They converted to other religions because untouchability did not exist there. The conversion has solved the problems they faced as Hindus. So, they should not ask for SC status,” he argued. Coming out strongly against the campaign of dalit converts, the Union minister said the subject was debated in detail in the Constituent Assembly and has also been examined by government and the Supreme Court in the past. “They did not support it then and it should not be done now,” he insisted. Refusing to spell out the stand the government may take in the apex court, Gehlot said, “I am not aware of the affidavit the law ministry would file. But we are against opening dalit status to converts.” (Times of India 10/10/14)

25. Are Hindus being victimised in Pakistan? (7)

Islamabad: Pakistan Hindu Council (PHC) said that people have occupied properties left by the Hindus when they migrated to India after Partition in 1947. “Illegal occupation and corruption related to properties owned by minorities occurred due to the appointment of non-Hindu chiefs of the multi-billion-rupee Evacuee Trust Property Board in the past,” the PHC said in a statement after a meeting of the council here. The PHC proposed appointing former Supreme Court judge Rana Bhagwandas as the chairman of ETPB. The government recently appointed Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) leader Siddiqul Farooq as the ETPB chief. The PHC statement said the Liaqat-Nehru Agreement of 1950 binds the government to appoint someone from the Hindu community as the head of ETPB. “Appointing a non-Hindu person, Syed Asif Hashmi, as ETPB chairman during the last PPP (Pakistan People’s Party) government resulted in large scale corruption regarding minorities’ properties,” it said. During the meeting, participants also requested patron-in-chief of the Pakistan Hindu Council, Dr Ramesh Kumar Vankwani, who is a legislator of the ruling party, to play his due role to ensure the implementation of the Liaqat-Nehru Agreement. Dr Vankwani said that he had provided a file with proofs of corruption to the federal minister for religious affairs and asked him to appoint a probe commission. (Asian Age 14/10/14)

26. Minority girls to get Rs 50K marriage dole (7)

Gulbarga: Qamar-ul Islam, Minister for Municipal Administration, Minorities and Wakf, announced on Wednesday that the government would provide Rs 50,000 to each of the poor girls from the Muslim and Christian communities for their first marriage, under ‘Bidai’ scheme. Brides with an annual family income of Rs 1.5 lakh will be eligible for the dole. The government has set aside Rs five crore for the purpose. A total of 1,000 girls will get the allowance in the first phase, the Minister told a press conference. A total of 43 brides will get the dole in Gulbarga district, which has a minority population of 2.3 lakh. The number of beneficiaries in each district will be proportional to the population of minorities in the respective districts, he said. He announced that it had been planned to open minorities’ welfare centres in both district and taluk levels. These centres will be housed in government buildings which will also have the offices of the departments of minorities’ welfare and wakf. Information related to schemes for the minorities will be updated on the website concerned and e-mailed to the individuals and institutions concerned. Details on the selection of beneficiaries and on the utilisation of aid will also be uploaded on the website, to ensure transparency. The minister said that grants amounting to Rs 4.59 crore had been given to 53 churches and community halls belonging to the Christian community. Scholarships would also be provided to students from the Jain community, Islam said. A total of 2,000 taxis had been sanctioned by the Tourism department, with a grant of Rs two lakh to each beneficiary from the backward classes and minorities. The beneficiaries will have to bear the balance amount in instalments. Islam said the Nagarothana project would be implemented in 19 districts, at a cost of Rs 1,400 crore. It had already been initiated in Chikmagalur and Dharwad districts. The other districts include Haveri, Kolar, Kodagu, Hassan, Mandya, Bijapur, Mysore, Dakshina Kannada, Uttara Kannada, Udupi, Ramanagar, Davangere, Chitradurga, Bangalore Rural and Chamarajanagar.  The project funding will be in the 50:50 ratio by the Union and State governments. Road and drainage works will be completed in these districts under the project. It will be implemented in Bidar, Bagalkot, Yadgir, Shimoga and Gadag districts too. (Deccan Herald 16/10/14)

MINORITIES – MUSLIMS

27. Kanchi seer meets Muslim cleric, discusses Ayodhya (7)

LUCKNOW: Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham Shankaracharya Jayendra Saraswati on Saturday met All-India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) general secretary Khalid Rashid Firangi Mahali and sought his help for initiating fresh dialogue between Muslim and Hindu leaders for a possible out-of-court settlement of the Ram Janambhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute. The seer had unsuccessfully held talks with AIMPLB to resolve the dispute in 2002 and 2003 on then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s request. He told Mahali that courts would be unable to sort out the dispute as it involves faith and that the solution can be reached only through dialogue between the two communities. Mahali said the seer had come with a request to begin a fresh dialogue. He said he assured him of all help for a peaceful settlement of the dispute. The Muslim cleric called on the need for confidence building measures to bring Hindus and Muslim closer before the dialogue. “Please talk to people, who are vitiating atmosphere through misinformation campaign on issues like love jihad, cow slaughter and madarsas. You are highly respected and tall religious figure, I am sure such people will listen to you,” Mahali told the seer. Jayendra Saraswati, shankaracharya of Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham. (TOI file photo by Deepak Salvi) The two religious leaders held a closed-door meeting for nearly an hour with the help of interpreters. The seer told Mahali he has lot of respect for Islam. In response, Mahali quoted Urdu poet Allama Iqbal, who had lauded lord Ram as Imam-e-Hind. “We all respect Ramchandraji. Islam teaches respect for other religions, their saints and prophets,” he said. There two agreed that the September 30, 2010 high court judgment on Ayodhya dispute was not acceptable to any party to the litigation. They noted the legal solution will take time and leaders from both side should explore possibilities of dialogue for out-of-court settlement. The seer had met AIMPLB president Maulana Rabe Hasan Nadwi in March 2002 and proposed Hindus should be allowed to construct Ram Temple on the undisputed land. The proposal included status quo will be maintained on the disputed land and both Hindus and Muslims will abide by the court’s verdict The talks continued for a year. But the seer withdrew his earlier proposal and asked AIMPLB to donate the disputed area to Hindus and think on the same lines for disputed mosques in Mathura and Kashi in 2003. The AIMPLB rejected the proposal saying the site of the mosque is the property of Allah and cannot be alienated by sale, gift or otherwise. The Supreme Court had in May 2011 stayed the Allahabad high court order for trifurcation of the 1500 sq meter land in Ayodhya. (Times of India 12/10/14)

28. Hardly any Indian Muslim indulge in terrorism: Prez (7)

Oslo:  Asserting that the problem of terrorismin India was imported, President Pranab Mukherjee has said indigenous terrorist activity was “extremely negligible” with hardly any involvement of the 150 million Muslims of the country. “Of course there may be one or two out of hundred fifty million but all of these are imported. These are coming from outside. Indigenous terrorist activity in India is extremely negligible and whenever such signs are visible we take appropriate steps,” he said in interviews to the Norwegian media ahead of his two-day state visit to Norway. Mukherjee said terrorism has no respect for religion or borders with no ideology or their only ideology is wanton destruction and total negation of human values. “Nobody should say terrorism indulged by A is good and terrorism indulged by B is bad. Good terrorists, bad terrorists – these types of classification, to my mind, are meaningless,” Mukherjee said. The president said the country has been fortunate as hardly any among the 150 million Muslims – second largest population after Indonesia – indulges in terrorism. He said terrorism must be fought and should not be indulged in any form. “That is the only way you can handle the terrorism,” he said. On the question of recent violence on the Indo-Pak border and Line of Control, Mukherjee said the foreign minister would be the right person to answer this and added that stated policy on the issue is we can select our friends but cannot select our neighbours. “In my capacity as the foreign minister serving India twice, I used to articulate that I cannot live in perpetual tension with my neighbour. I would like to ease the tensions. “But at the same time, it is to be recognised that there have been a series of developments since independence and partition of these countries,” he said. Mukherjee said there are two institutional treaties -Shimla Agreement of 1972 and Lahore Declaration of 1999 – which can provide the mechanism through which outstanding issues could be resolved. (Hindustan Times 14/10/14)

MINORITIES – CHRISTIANS

29. Will Christians vote good governance over secularism? (7)

Mumbai: This season, the Christian vote will be more fragmented than at any time in the community’s history. Catholic and Protestant churches will urge parishioners at weekend mass to vote for “good governance” over “secular parties”. Incidentally, good governance is the BJP’s vote plank, while secularism is the Congress calling card. Christians live in large numbers in Byculla, Mahim, Bandra, Amboli, Kalina, Vakola, Malad, Mira-Bhayander and Vasai. Many are longtime Congress supporters and may be reluctant to switch loyalties. Archbishop of Bombay, Oswald Cardinal Gracias, had told TOI on September 24 that he had urged Catholics to vote for “good governance” rather than “secular parties”. Writing in the Examiner, he added a footnote for “minorities and weak and marginalised sections”.Fr Rocky Banz, parish priest of Gloria Church, Byculla, said, “We will repeat the Cardinal’s message at mass on Saturday evening and Sunday morning.” The Church of North India (CNI) echoes similar thoughts. Rev John Silas of Christ Church said, “Good governance is a must. Everybody banked on the Congress for a long time but somewhere something went wrong. (Narendra) Modi is extremely articulate as compared to past incumbents. We cannot predict the future but let us at least vote for good people.” Some Catholic organizations have announced support for BJP and Shiv Sena candidates. The Catholic Secular Forum (CSF) is supporting BJP’s Ashish Shelar in Bandra (W). Bombay Catholic Sabha’s Gordon D’Souza said, “The Cardinal’s message is a huge leap from the traditional stand. We must focus on infrastructure. Good candidates are a must, while secularism is an added advantage.” A M Sodder, secretary of the Association of Concerned Catholics, says, “Corruption has flourished under the garb of secularism. The Congress-NCP has not given us reservations in government institutes, jobs or special benefits. We will choose good people, irrespective of party or community.” East Indian Christians have formed the Maharashtra Swaraj Party (MSP), which could nibble at the vote share of mainstream parties. MSP’s five candidates will contest as independents as the party is yet to be registered. Vile Parle candidate Godfrey Pimenta denies that MSP has been propped up to break Christian votes. “Ours is not a party of Christians or East Indians. This time our candidates are Catholics as we were had no time to prepare a wider base. We are testing the waters. If we need to contest 227 municipal seats, we need local people from all communities.” D’Souza and Abraham Mathai of Harmony Foundation are pleased that more Christian and East Indians are contesting. But Sodder says, “Their 300-400 votes may influence the margin of victory, not the result.” (Times of India 10/10/14)

30. Maoist killed catholic nun, accepts arrested leader (7)

Ranchi: A senior Maoist leader arrested last month in Dumka district has told the police that his party killed Catholic nun Valsa John because her presence was an obstacle to the growth of the CPI-Maoist in the Santhal Pargana. Another mystery seemed to have been solved when Sukhlal Murmu told his interrogators that his team did not know they were ambushing a Superintendent of Police-ranked officer when they killed Amarjit Balihar, in charge of Pakur district, in July 2013. Sukhlal (39), known as Prabirda, was the Zonal Commander of Santhal Pargana for the CPI-Maoist when sister Valsa (53) – who hailed from Kerala – was murdered in November 2011. He was elevated to being a member of the Purvi Bihar Purvothar Jharkhand Special Area Committee created earlier this year on his request. The BBC had quoted a Maoist spokesperson after sister Valsa’s murder claiming responsibility for the killing. The spokesperson alleged that the nun was working on behalf of mining interests. Prabir has repeated the charge, telling his interrogators that sister Valsa used to do “dalali” work for the PANEM Coal Mines Ltd., which was trying to operate in Pakur district. However, Prabir has also said that Valsa’s death was premeditated, with the CPI-Maoist deciding about a year-and-a-half ahead to kill her. “There was a meeting of the Jharkhand Regional Committee held at Pirtand [of Giridih district] about a  year and a half before the murder. Senior leaders Kishanda [Politburo member] and Prayaag were at that meeting. Kishan was apparently not murdering a woman who was religious, too,” said Dumka SP Anoop Mathew said. However in the end, the JRC resolved to kill sister Valsa, Prabir has told police officers that Valsa  was averse to an alliance with his party even though their interests aligned when it came to mining. Known for her paranoia, the nun even had her people follow Prabir once when he tried to get in touch with people in the PANEM area, trying to influence them. The Maoists, who were trying to use the popular anger against PANEM as a foothold to enter the region, were being pegged back by Valsa’s influence. However, Prabir has said the Maoists saw a way in when Valsa dropped her blanket objection to the PANEM project, allowing the company to construct a road in the area. She later agreed to allow the project to go forward if adequate compensation was paid. The Maoists told people that Valsa was becoming a broker for the company… (Indian Express 12/10/14)

31. Bangalore: Church attack panel report scrapped (7)

Bangalore: The Siddaramaiah led Congress government has rejected the findings of the Justice B K Somashekhara Commission that was constituted by the previous BJP government to probe the widespread attacks on churches across the state in September 2008. Terming the report “politically motivated” and “lacking credibility”, law minister T B Jayachandra told reporters at the end of the cabinet meeting where the decision was taken to scrap the report. He said the commission’s final report “washed over” the crimes of groups such as the Bajrang Dal and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad “which had orchestrated the attacks”.He also said that, despite being a retired judge, justice Somashekhara had not been “objective”. “There are major discrepancies between the interim and final reports of the commission. The final report was a watered down version of the interim report and was clearly aimed at helping the government of that time,” he said. He said that the law department had studied the report “deeply” and sought the opinion of many legal experts before deciding to scrap it. The attacks – for which then Bajrang Dal chief Mahendra Kumar and Vishwa Hindu Parishad chief M B Puranik claimed responsibility – started in Mangalore on September 14 and spread to other parts of the State in the following days. In a series of press conferences held after the attacks, the two Hindutva leaders said that the attacks were in response to “forcible” conversions to Christianity, a claim they are yet to prove. While deciding to scrap the Somashekhara commission report, the State government has decided to take action against police officials who allegedly colluded with the attackers and cracked down on Christians who were protesting against the attacks. Jayachandra said that the government has decided to adopt the recommendations of the NHRC, which said that action must be taken against groups that took law into their own hands. (Hindustan Times 16/10/14)

REFUGEES/ MIGRANTS

32. At least 20 dead in latest India-Pakistan row over Kashmir (13)

Delhi: Cross-border shelling between India and Pakistan has killed at least 20 people and displaced thousands since the latest round of hostilities broke out more than a week ago, government officials from both countries said. At least 10 Pakistani civilians were killed and 42 injured in firing across parts of the disputed northern Kashmir region and eastern Punjab province. Indian officials confirmed to ucanews.com that at least 10 civilian had died as a result of intense fighting. In India, about 15,000 people have fled their homes in towns and villages and are staying in relief camps administered by the government. Bharat Bhushan, 49, fled Arnia township on October 4 after heavy shelling occurred near his home. “It appeared to be a bomb which I thought had fallen next to my house,” Bhushan, whose home rests about three kilometers from the India-Pakistan border, said over the phone. “We saw several mortar bomb shells with markings of ’81′ and ‘Pakistan ordnance factory,’” he told ucanews.com. Gulshan Kumar, 35, who remained in Arnia to guard against looting, said shelling from Pakistan continued into Thursday morning. “The fire from Pakistan continues; the last mortar fire hit the town at about 8am today,” he said by telephone from Arnia. Ajeet Kuman Sahu, Jammu deputy commissioner, told ucanews.com that 10 people have been killed and 71 injured from shelling and gunfire along the disputed international border that separates India and Pakistan. Both countries have accused the other of initiating the latest conflict and have vowed to not stand down until the other side stops firing. Fighting between Indian forces and rebels seeking independence or a merger of the territory with Pakistan has killed tens of thousands – mostly civilians – since 1989. The two countries have gone to war over the territory twice, in 1947 and 1965, and fought a smaller-scale conflict in 1999. Girdhari Lal, a local trader from Arnia, said it was painful for villagers to live like refugees on their own land. “We are fed up with all this; we request the Indian government to settle this conflict once and for all,” Girdhari said. (UCA News 10/10/14)

33. 22,000 ‘Nitaqat’ returnees seek government assistance (13)

Thiruvananthapuram: About 22,000 people, who have returned from Saudi Arabia, have registered with the state government seeking assistance for starting self-employment programmes, an official said. These people, who have come back after the Saudi government applied stricter labour laws called the “Nitaqat”, have registered with the Norka (Non-resident Keralites affairs) department that looks after the welfare of the Kerala diaspora and also those who have returned from abroad. Last year when there was a talk about a mass exodus from Saudi Arabia on account of the “Nitaqat” law which made it mandatory for local companies to hire one Saudi national for every 10 migrant workers, the state government announced it would come out with a rehabilitation scheme for such people to start their own business. It also promised to provide subsidy in both capital and interest on short- and long-term loans. “We had opened an online registration of all those who wished to avail the financial assistance scheme of the government that was made available with the help of Canara Bank and Union Bank of India. Till now we have received 22,000 applications,” Norka CEO P. Sudeep told IANS. According to the government policy, the maximum cap on loans would be Rs.2 million and a 10 percent subsidy would be offered to all those who start an enterprise in agriculture, manufacturing, trading or the service sector. The Norka department has by now processed these applications and directed all such applicants to attend a short-term training programme that was held at the district headquarters to make them familiarise on how to run a successful business or self employment programmes. “To each of those who had registered with us we opened a new site and handed over them a password to access the site. Till yesterday 2,900 applicants have re-registered with us. Now we have asked the remaining people that if they are interested to re-register they can walk into any of the Akshaya Centres and get their re-registration done,” said Sudeep. “We now plan to start giving the loans from December 1st and for that we along with the representatives of the banks would sit together with the applicant and give them instant loans. We will hold special adalats in all the 14 districts of the state and hand over these loans,” he added. (Business Standard 12/10/14)

34. POK refugees hold protest in Jammu (13)

Jammu: Demanding permanent rehabilitation in the country, members of Pakistan occupied Kashmir Displaced People’s Front (POKDP) today held a protest here and accused successive governments of turning a “blind eye” towards their demands. The members of the outfit were also demanding Rs 25 lakh compensation for each of the refugee families. “The successive state governments have turned a blind eye towards our demand of permanent rehabilitation including grant of Rs 25 lakh compensation to each of refugee family,” said Capt Yudhvir Singh Chib president of POKDP. He said that in the upcoming Assembly polls his organisation will field its own candidates. “During election campaigns leaders of various political parties come and make promises, but as soon as they come to power they forget all the promises,” Chib claimed. “We have decided to field our own candidates in the upcoming Assembly polls,” he said. (Zee news 16/10/14)

35. North-East Students Feel the ‘Difference’ in City (13)

BANGALORE : Discrimination against us is not new, say some students from the North-East living in the city. “We see a lack of respect when people talk to us,” says Bijoy, an undergraduate student. When he came to Bangalore a year ago, he says he was surprised that auto drivers were asking for excess fare. “Wherever we went, they used to charge us more. They used to look at us funny,” he says. Many from the North-East come to Bangalore to study and work. While living in areas such as Shanthinagar, Kothanur and Kammanahalli, they say they have faced discriminatory comments, but have never felt unsafe. “We stand out first because of our facial features and then the language,” says Abujam, who is pursuing a masters course. Most students say shopkeepers and auto drivers are the main culprits. “Shopkeepers try to charge us extra. When we speak in Hindi, they are surprised we know the language,” says Angelina, who works at a parlour. Sometimes they are called Chinese and Nepali, or mistaken for Tibetan refugees.  “When we tell them we are from the north-eastern part of the country, they are visibly shocked,” she says. Meyasi, from Nagaland, admits not knowing Kannada sometimes comes in the way of communicating. Smile, Walk Away The North-Easterners have different ways of dealing with their problem. Kiara is the type who simply smiles and walks away. “But sometimes, we try to educate the people,” she says. Some have no bitter experiences. “I have never been assaulted or attacked. Auto drivers do try to fleece us, but I don’t feel unsafe even when I venture out late at night,” says Gulshan K. One student is careful not to tar everyone with the same brush. “Some are initially racist, but once they get used to us, they understand us. Others can’t get over the fact that we are different. But the second category is small,” says Gaius Shimray, a BCA graduate looking for a job. (New Indian Express 17/10/14)

36. HC comes to rescue of Sri Lankan refugee (13)

MADURAI: The Madras High Court Bench here has imposed a cost of Rs.10,000 on the Director of Social Welfare for not disbursing the emoluments due to a Sri Lankan refugee who retired last year after 32 years of government service. Allowing a writ petition filed by the refugee, Justice T. Raja ordered that the Director should pay the cost, from his personal funds and not from that of the government, to the petitioner within six weeks besides disbursing the emoluments with 12 per cent interest. “Mr.T.S. Mohammed Mohideen, learned Additional Government Pleader, repeatedly requested the court with all politeness to dispense with the cost. But this court is not inclined to accept the request as the respondent deserves to be imposed with a heavy cost,” he said. The judge pointed out that the petitioner, I. Jothi Gandhi, had taken refuge in India since 1973. He was appointed to the post of Office Assistant on November 5, 1981 on the basis of his Sri Lankan educational qualification considered equivalent to completion of Class XI in Tamil Nadu. After 10 years of service, he was promoted as Junior Assistant on January 27, 1992. However, on March 13, 1992 he was reverted back to the post of Office Assistant on the ground that he did not possess the requisite educational qualification. The poor refugee did not challenge the order reverting him to the old post. Thereafter, on June 2, 2010, the Commissioner of Social Welfare Department promoted him to the post of Junior Assistant along with 59 other employees in accordance with the Tamil Nadu State and Subordinate Service Rules. (The Hindu 19/10/14)

RIGHT TO INFORMATION

37. RTI weakened by neglect, say activists (1)

NEW DELHI: An independent assessment of the functioning of the Right to Information Act 2005 in the last two years in five States has found alarmingly high levels of pendency of appeals and several instances of violations of mandatory norms of pro-active disclosure under Section 4 of the RTI Act. Releasing the report, ‘People’s Monitoring of the RTI Regime in India 2011-13’ on Friday, activists criticised the systematic weakening of the law in the study period. They pointed out that while previously three attempts to dilute the law by the central government through amendments in 2006, 2008, 2013, had failed following public outcry; the Act was now being weakened through neglect of important appointments and lack of provisions of resources at State level. “The Central Chief Information Commission is headless since no chief has been appointed since August when the post fell vacant. This will increase the already massive pendency of over 25,000 cases. The delay in this appointment raises issues about the legal validity of orders passed in the interim,” said Anjali Bhardwaj, Coordinator of the study done by RTI Assessment and Advocacy Group and Samya-Centre for Equity Studies and member, National Campaign for People’s Right to Information.With delays in disposal of cases and information commissions working at less than required strength, there is increasing pendency of cases in many states. The study calculated that given the existing backlogs, if an applicant filed an application in Madhya Pradesh Information Commission which had disposed only 6 percent cases , the hearing would be expected to come up for hearing in 60 years. The same number for West Bengal was calculated at 18 years. Nearly two thirds of the RTI applications in the sample were found to be seeking information that should have been proactively made public under section 4 of the RTI Act. “Despite a strong provision for pro active disclosure under section 4, there is poor compliance as authorities do not put up boards with required proactive disclosures or make available publications in their offices which citizens could inspect to access information on public issues,” said Shekhar Singh, the study’s coordinator. The researchers who relied on over 800 RTI applications to various information commissioners, inspections, interviews, group discussions, found several states commissions had not published mandatory annual reports on RTI implementation since over five years. An assessment by the activists in 2009 had found better implementation as well as high awareness levels on the Act, especially in rural areas. (The Hindu 11/10/14)

38. 15,500 sign petition to urge PM Modi to name CIC (1)

NEW DELHI: For the first time in 10 years of the RTI act the Central Information Commission (CIC) is headless after the retirement of chief information commissioner Rajiv Mathur on August 22. A petition urging PM Narendra Modi to appoint the CIC has gained some traction garnering over 15,500 signatures in the last few weeks. The delay in appointing a new chief is severely hampering the working of the commission. Not only is there a huge backlog with close to 25,000 appeals and complaints pending, but the commission’s orders can be challenged in a court in the absence of the chief. The petition initiated by National Campaign for People’s Right to Information ( NCPRI)’s Nikhil Dey, Anjali Bharadwaj and Amrita Johri points out, “This ever-increasing backlog of cases challenges the citizen’s fundamental Right to Information and creates roadblocks in fighting corruption, big and small. PM Modi, you have often stressed on ‘anti-corruption’ and ‘quest for transparency’ as the driving forces of your good governance program. How can then such a key institution to fight corruption remain rudderless?” Demanding that the position be filled immediately Bharadwaj said, that according to media reports, the delay in appointing a new chief is because there is no leader of opposition. However, the RTI Act clearly states that in the absence of a leader of opposition, the leader of the single largest opposition party should be part of the committee to appoint the new chief. (Times of India 12/10/14)

39. Over 150 activists gather in city, celebrate 10 yrs of RTI (1)

COIMBATORE: More than 150 RTI activists from Coimbatore district gathered in the city to celebrate the beginning of the tenth year of the RTI Act. Many shared their stories and a few even raised questions regarding the Act. Several activists had travelled from Pollachi, Tirupur and Ooty as well for the meeting. “The meeting which should have been held by the government is being held by us,” said V Easwaran, MDMK, Youth Wing, State Secretary. Bhaskaran, an eminent RTI activist from Pollachi was felicitated at the meeting for his commendable contribution to society through the Act. He has been using it since its inception in 2005. “This Act allows the public immense power but few people recognize its true potential,” said Bhaskaran. In 2007, an old woman had approached him for help after postal department officials refused to release her son’s insurance money. “Her son, who had died in 2007, had taken out an insurance policy in 2002. The officials not only refused to give her the money but also insulted her saying that she was more interested in the money than her son,” said Bhaskaran. He filed several RTIs asking for information and also appealed to the higher authorities using RTI. “Within 19 days she received the insurance amount. That is the power of the Act,” he said. Other activists shared similar stories. “Often, we don’t get appropriate answers. Sometimes, it takes a while before we get any response from them. Just as we organize meetings, the relevant officials also hold meetings trying to figure out how to avoid giving the requested information,” said M R Krishnamurthy. Many said the student community needs to be made aware of the power of the RTI and should be included in the crusade. “The present corrupt system and fast life has made the students completely unaware of their rights and responsibilities. But if they start questioning the government, many changes will happen,” said Thiyagarajan, RTI activist. “Illegal encroachments, official negligence, land grab cases and other corruption cases have been brought to light by activists through the RTI,” said V Easwaran. Even though several people who were in politics were present at the meeting, the activists wanted the meeting to be devoid of any political intentions. “We wanted to make sure that this doesn’t have any political intent and all common men participate in it to use the act in a better manner,” said Manoj Arun, RTI activist. (Times of India 13/10/14)

40. Do not file RTI to know results: UPSC to candidates (1)

New Delhi: The Union Public Service Commission has advised candidates not to file RTI applications to know results of civil services preliminary examination. “The Commission puts up the mark sheets of all candidates who takes the civil services examination. Despite this, candidates file RTI applications to know their results. We have been informing them that mark sheets will be uploaded on our website once the entire selection procedure of this year’s exam gets over,” a senior official of the UPSC said. The results of civil services preliminary examination, 2014 were declared yesterday by the UPSC. “Candidates are also informed that marks, cut-off marks and answer keys of civil services (preliminary) examination 2014 will be provided only after the entire process of the civil services examination, 2014, is over i.e. after the declaration of the final result.” “Therefore, no application under RTI Act, 2005 or otherwise will be entertained in this regard,” the UPSC has said in a statement. As many as 16,933 candidates have qualified in the civil services preliminary examination. A total of 4,52,334 candidates have taken the test held on August 24 at 2,137 venues across 59 cities in the country. The civil services examination is conducted in three stages — preliminary, main and interview — to select candidates for prestigious Indian Administrative Service (IAS), Indian Foreign Service (IFS) and Indian Police Service (IPS) among others. (Zee News 15/10/14)

41.  ‘Commission is acting against the spirit of RTI’ (1)

GULBARGA: Senior Right to Information (RTI) activists have charged the Karnataka Information Commission (KIC) with acting against the letter and spirit of the RTI Act, 2005 by delaying the process of hearing of the petitions, filed by people seeking action, against those who denied information sought by the general public. The RTI activists under the banner of newly formed organisation Paradarshikate (Transparency), in a letter addressed to the Governor Vajubhai Rudabhai Vala, and submitted to the Deputy Commissioner in Gulbarga on Wednesday, said it was highly regrettable that the complaint or appeal filed before the KIC wass taken up for the first hearing after a period eight months to one year. The signatories to the memorandum included former registrar of the Karnataka State Law University K.S. Bagale, who is the secretary of the organisation, and president Deepak G. Gala. They said that the Commissioners were not following set procedures for hearing the complaints, appeals and to adjourn the cases. Seeking the intervention of the Governor to put back the functioning of the KIC on the rails, they said there is no uniformity in hearing the number of cases per day. (The Hindu 16/10/14)

42. 13 parties’ tax-free income Rs 1,381cr in 2 yrs (1)

NEW DELHI: The tax-exempted income of 13 major political parties of the country, in last two years, amounts to Rs 1,381 crore, according to an RTI reply. Of this, Congress and BJP have cornered around 80%.During 2012-13 and 2013-14, Congress had a tax-exempted income of Rs 743.76 crore and BJP had Rs 338.95 crore. Congress in 2012-13 had income worth Rs 318.08 crore whereas the amount rose to Rs 425.68 crore in 2013-14, BJP though had an income of Rs 17.42 crore in 2012-13 and it was Rs 321.53 crore for 2013-14. According to the income tax department, SP’s Rs 164 crore was tax-exempted, whereas BSP had registered Rs 20.76 crore for the same period as exempted. Among other parties, CPI(M) registered an income of Rs 92.90 crore, CPI Rs 2.62 crore, JD(U) Rs 13 crore and RLD Rs 4.48 crore, it said. RJD in 2013-14 had a tax-exempted income of Rs 41,411. Political parties are exempted from tax on income through section 13 A of IT Act 1961. They have to, however, maintain a book of account for donations or income above Rs 20,000. (Times of India 20/10/14)

RIGHT TO EDUCATION

43. School jobs for SCs: Meerut resident seeks governor’s help (11)

Meerut: Meerut resident Mannu Singh has written to UP governor Ram Naik to issue mandatory and time-bound instructions to ensure relaxation in norms for appointing SC candidates for the post of part time instructor (PTI) in physical education and arts education. In his letter, he referenced suggestions made by National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) to the Basic Shiksha Department (BSD). “Under article 338 (7) governor has been entrusted with the task of ensuring the compliance of the report or any part thereof of NCSC of any such matter”, Singh said. As per the Right to Education Act 2009, the state government in 2013 had issued an order to fill PTI posts in primary schools with over 100 students. 2,330 of the 11,099 posts, that needed to be filled, were of the SC category. In many districts, the posts reserved for SCs have not been filled up. Over 200 posts are currently vacant. This was because a candidate can only be appointed to a post in his or her own district. The NCSC recommended that the state government consider a relaxation of conditions and allow candidates from adjoining districts to be appointed to available vacancies. There are suitable SC candidates in some districts where there are no vacancies, while there are vacancies in some districts but there are no eligible candidates. Hence, vacancies reserved for SC candidates were not filled up in some districts. “This will help filling up of the reserved vacant posts and employment to the unemployed youth. With these recommendations the case is disposed off”, ordered NCSC chairman PL Punia. Mannu Singh told TOI that not a single PTI post under the SC quota was filled in Lalitpur, Sonbhadra and Lakhimpurkhiri districts. He added that there is a significant number of vacancies in Lucknow, Sitapur and Badaun districts. “It is a matter of grave concern that despite mandatory obligations, the BSD is not abiding by the reservation policy. Owing to that, a number of eligible candidates are deprived of job opportunities”, he said. (Times of India 12/10/14)

44. Many families in slums hardly knew of RTE Act, says survey (11)

JAIPUR: Law students of five-year integrated course at Law College of Rajasthan University have done a reality check on the status of admissions in private schools under the RTE in the slum areas. Under the aegis of NGO Centre for Legal Aid, Awareness & Youth (CLAAY), formed by the students of Law College, they found that most of the families in slum areas aren’t aware of the RTE act. Many of those who admitted their wards, later had to quit due to adverse situations created by the schools. The NGO was formed in 2011 to evoke activism and sense of participation among students in providing legal aid to poor and needy and to critically assess the state’s social welfare schemes and policies. These students have gone a step ahead to file a petition in the court against the private schools for not admitting students under RTE. They have submitted its report to highlight the non-compliance of RTE by private schools. The report says that lackadaisical attitude of the government in keeping a check on admissions under RTE by private schools is fast adding to the dropouts. “Those students who were supposed to be in the schools were found working at street shops. Many were found involved in drug abuse cases. In many cases, schools have been creating obstacles like charging activity fees, forcing students to quit,” said Abhimanyu Singh Yaduvanshi, founder member of CLAAY. Students surveyed were from slum areas of Vidhyadhar Nagar, Parwati Nagar and Jawahar Nagar. Fighting the menace of child workers is also high on their agenda. The law students have done an extensive survey to track down the children of up to 14 years engaged in working. From seminars on child rights to counselling families for sending their children in schools is done by them. “Law students are torchbearers of law,” said Harshad Kapoor, a fifth year student, who informed that they are rolling out a campaign against the menace of ‘eve teasing’ in the city. “The city is fast developing into an urban conglomerate and is fast loosing its social values with cases of crimes against women on the rise. Besides, creating legal awareness, we will use social media to report such cases to map the vulnerable areas for eve teasing,” said Kapoor. (Times of India 13/10/14)

45. RTE effect: 26% drop in number of out-of-school kids since 2009 (11)

NEW DELHI: In a vindication of sorts for the Right to Education Act, the latest HRD ministry-mandated survey shows a 26 per cent drop in out-of-school children in the country since 2009. According to the latest survey conducted by Indian Market Research Bureau for the ministry, out-of-school (OoS) children have declined to 60.6 lakh — 2.97 per cent of all children in the 6-14 age group — from 81.5 lakh in 2009. In the first survey of 2005, 1.34 crore children were out of school. Interestingly, there were less girls (28.9 lakh) out of school than boys (31.6 lakh). In fact, girls have consistently done better than boys in all three surveys. A survey of OoS slum children was done for the first time and it their number was found to be 4.73 lakh. The survey found a continuing drop in the number of OoS children among scheduled castes and Muslims. Among tribal OoS children, the drop was marginal — from 10.69 lakh in 2009 to 10.07 lakh in 2014. In terms of social classes, the number of SC out-of-school (OoS) children have come down to 19.66 lakh from 23.08 lakh in 2009 and 31.04 lakh in 2005. In the latest survey found there were 15.57 lakh Muslim OoS children, down from 18.75 lakh in 2009 and 22.53 lakh in 2005. While states such as Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Delhi, Odisha, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal witnessed a decline in the OoS children, in 13 states and Union Territories percentage of such children has increased since 2009. These include Gujarat, Karnataka, Kerala, Chhattisgarh, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Uttarakhand. What dampens the good work of RTE is that the decline in OoS disabled children has followed a different trajectory. In 2005, 5.82 lakh disabled children were out of school which went up to 9.88 lakh in 2009 and in the latest round has come down to 6 lakh. Sources said it could be due to inclusion of more kinds of mental and physical disabilities in the list so that RTE becomes more inclusive. But there is a general acknowledgement that a lot needs to be done on this front. (Times of India 14/10/14)

46. Free education for transgender kids in Delhi schools (11)

New Delhi: Transgender children will study in Delhi schools free with Lt. Governor Najeeb Jung Wednesday approving their admission under the category of “disadvantaged group” defined by the Right to Education Act. It means these kids will be eligible for 25 percent reservation under the economically weaker section (EWS) and disadvantaged students category for admission. A government notification said: “In exercise of the powers conferred by Clause D of Section 2 of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act 2009 (35 of 2009) (RTE Act), the Lt. Governor of Delhi is pleased to notify inclusion of a ‘transgender’ child within the meaning of ‘child belonging to disadvantaged group’ as defined in the said section of the RTE Act.” The notification issued by the Directorate of Education added: “The order will be applicable to all schools situated within the National Capital Territory of Delhi.” (Business Standard 15/10/14)

47. Bihar government to implement common school system: Minister (11)

PATNA: Education minister Brishen Patel said despite financial handicaps the state government would implement the common school system (CSS) with a view to achieving the goal of universalization of education. Speaking on Sunday as the chief guest at the inaugural function of a two-day UGC-sponsored seminar on ‘Common school system and right to education’, organized by Patna Training College in collaboration with Suryasthali Human Welfare Society, the minister said the CSS has been a dream project of the state government and it has assumed greater significance after the implementation of Right to Education. The government is striving hard for implementing the CSS, he added. Inaugurating the seminar, Bihar legislative council chairman Awadhesh Narain Singh said proper implementation of Right to Education can be ensured only after the introduction of the CSS. Even poor children would be able to get quality education after its implementation, he said. Patna University pro-vice-chancellor Ranjit Kumar Verma presided over the seminar. Patna Training College principal and seminar convener Khagendra Kumar welcomed the guests. The theme of the seminar was introduced by Lalit Kumar. A book, ‘Common school system and right to education’ was also released on the occasion. National University of Educational Planning and Administration faculty member A K Singh delivered the J P Blair memorial lecture on ‘Situating common school system within right to education framework: a pathway for achieving the exclusive goal of universalization of education’. Jawaharlal Nehru University faculty member S N Malakar delivered the A A Kazmi memorial lecture on ‘Liberalisation and school system in India in general and Bihar in particular: Imaging crisis and challenges’. Prominent among those who participated in the deliberations included Sudhakar Prasad Singh, Shahla Kishore, Beena Prasad, Jessi Modi and Kumar Sanjeev. A cultural programme was also organized on the occasion of the college foundation day. (Times of India 19/10/14)

RIGHT TO FOOD/ HUNGER

48. States get six months more to implement food security law (21)

NEW DELHI: The food ministry on Thursday extended the deadline by six months for implementation of the food security law by the state governments. The food law, which came into force in July last year, was to be implemented by all the state governments within a year – by July 4, 2014. Since only 11 states had either fully or partially implemented the scheme, the ministry had extended the deadline by three months, which ended on October 4. But the remaining states could not put in place the necessary infrastructure and mechanism for rolling out the welfare scheme. Announcing the extension of the deadline, food minister Ram Vilas Paswan said out of the 11 states that have rolled out the scheme, only five states have implemented the scheme fully. In September last year, Parliament had passed the Food Security Act under which each eligible person would get 5 kg of rice and wheat at Rs 3 and Rs 2 per kg respectively. The existing Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) poorest of the poor households, will continue to receive 35 kg of foodgrains per family a month. The implementation of the law would increase the Centre’s food subsidy bill by Rs 25,000 crore to Rs 1.31 lakh crore while the grains requirement would rise by 6-8 million tonnes from the current 55 million tonnes annually. Meanwhile, the Centre is focusing more on whether the state governments have built adequate capacity to implement the scheme. The food ministry has even sought details of the preparedness in states where the scheme is in force. With Facebook interested in expanding its network of users in India, the government is expected to take up issues like education, female foeticide and ‘Clean Ganga’ campaign for promotion through the social networking site. (Times of India 10/10/4)

49. BPL category may get free medicines; PDS may exclude tax payers (21)

New Delhi: The Centre is working on a solution to ensure that poor get benefits like free medicines and check-ups in speciality government hospitals on the basis of their BPL ration cards while eliminating income tax payers and top officials from the ambit of PDS. The new moves are aimed at better targeting of subsidies which the government wants should reach the needy and the deserving. “This issue is under consideration. We are trying to find some workable solution to ensure Below Poverty Line (BPL) category people can avail other facilities like free medicines with ease on the basis of a ration card,” says Union Food Minister Ram Vilas Paswan. He told PTI in an interview that the poor are facing problems, especially in those states where the new food law has been implemented. The Minister was asked whether the government will take steps to ensure that new ration card serves as an ID card for other benefits. Meanwhile, the government is working on plans to take out income tax payers and ranking officials in the government out of the ambit of Public Distribution System (PDS). The Modi government has asked states to try such a scheme and Paswan will be discussing the issue with them. It has also given enough signals that the much-touted welfare food security programme of the UPA government will not be shelved. (Zee news 12/10/14)

50. India’s rank improves to 55th position on global hunger index (21)

New Delhi: The number of hungry people has declined in India with its score on the global hunger index (GHI) improving to 55th position in 2014 due to progress made in addressing underweight in children, says a report. The country’s score is better than Pakistan (rank 57) and Bangladesh (57) but it still trails behind Nepal (44) and Sri Lanka (39). India was at 63rd position on GHI last year. “Progress in dealing with underweight helped India’s 2014 GHI score fall to 17.8 points. India now ranks 55th out of 76 countries, before Bangladesh and Pakistan, but still trails behind neighbouring Nepal and Sri Lanka,” the report said. While the country is no longer in the “alarming” category, India’s hunger status is still classified as “serious,” it said. While India has made significant progress in reducing underweight among children under five in the past few years, “much work still needs to be done” at the national and state levels so that a greater share of the population will enjoy nutrition security, it suggested. The GHI report has been jointly prepared by International Food Policy Research Institute and NGOs Welthungerhilfe and Concern Worldwide. This year marks the end of a “data drought”, the report said, adding that India has determined its first new provisional national underweight estimate in eight years. At 30.7%, it points to real progress compared with the last estimate of 43.5% in 2005-2006, it said. “As a consequence, India no longer ranks second to last on underweight in children, but 120th among 128 countries with data on child under-nutrition from 2009-2013,” it added. Highlighting the efforts made to address underweights in India, the report said that since the last under-nutrition data became available, the Indian government rolled out and expanded several programmes that targeted a mix of direct and indirect causes of under-nutrition. Nutrition-specific interventions that were scaled up after 2006 include a final push to expand the Integrated Child Development Services and the launch of the National Rural Health Mission. Indirect factors may have included the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, a rural jobs programme, and reforms in several states to the Public Distribution System, which distributes food to the poor, the report said. The GHI report said: “Although implementation of these social sector programmes has been fairly uneven across India’s diverse states, given the scale and budget of these programs in India, it is likely that changes have helped improve underlying conditions for child growth in parts of India.” It said efforts have also been made to create an enabling environment for nutrition. Within the context of India’s decentralised governance system, state governments have taken ownership of nutrition and tried to strengthen delivery of targeted nutrition efforts. “The state of Maharashtra was the first of several to bring high-level political and bureaucratic leadership to nutrition through a Nutrition Mission, a program with greater flexibility and freedom than usual,” said the report. Another key element in the enabling environment for food security and nutrition was the creation of a body called the Commissioners to the Supreme Court on the Right to Food Act, a group that supports independent monitoring of the delivery of food-based programs like the Integrated Child Development Services programme and the PDS, it added. (Hindustan Times 13/10/14)

51. World Food Day: India home to 190 million hungry people (21)

New Delhi: On World Food Day, observed to mark the foundation of the Food Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations in 1945, here is a reality check for India. (a) 2012-14: India has around 190.7 million undernourished people, out of a total population of 1,252 million — a 15% prevalence rate. (b) 2010-12: India had 188 million undernourished people, which means the number of undernourished people during 2012-14 increased by 2 million. (c) Number of undernourished people in India was the highest in 2004 when it was 241 million. World Food Day is observed in more than 150 countries, focusing on the need for action to eradicate poverty and hunger. By sheer numbers more people are going hungry in India than anywhere else. Here’s why. India is home to 269 million people living below the poverty line, according to the Tendulkar methodology. This is more than the population of Indonesia, the world’s fourth most populous nation. Simply put, 269 million Indians do not have the money to buy food. This is the reason why India has the world’s biggest food security programme under which two-thirds of the country’s 1.2 billion population has the right to subsidised grains. A look at India’s prevalence of undernourishment and depth of food deficit, as against BRICS and a few other comparator economies such as Mexico and Indonesia, shows the subcontinent giant is doing better, but only just. For a quick analysis, take a look at the prevalence of undernourishment, and depth of food deficit…. (Hindustan Times 16/10/14)

52. Needy Adivasis may lose food security (21)

ADILABAD: Food security could eventually elude those who actually need it the most in backward districts like Adilabad if the State government denies the Telangana State Food Security Card (TSFSC) to those who own more than 2.5 acres of wet or five acres of dry land. Almost the entire agency area in this district will be deprived of subsidised rations as most poverty and debt- ridden Adivasis and other tribal people invariably own dry lands in excess of five acres. “If the criterion of land ownership to decide on allocation of FSC is implemented, our gram panchayat will have over 80 per cent of the 850 households losing the existing white ration cards. Even if the Adivasis own 20 acres, they find it difficult to make ends meet as the lands in the hilly agency areas are not fertile and productivity is dismally low,” points out Sirpur (U) sarpanch Atra Omprakash, as he expresses fears of being deprived of FSC. The Agency areas falling under Utnoor and Asifabad Revenue Divisions have over 1.6 lakh families (70 per cent cardholders assumed to be tribal) using white ration cards and Antyodaya Anna Yojana cards. The land holding in these areas is better as compared with the plain areas with some tribal families owning even 20 acres of land. The land holding, at least in the case of 36,000 tribal beneficiaries, improved further following the implementation of the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 (FRA). These families are cumulatively ‘richer’ by nearly 1.4 lakh areas of land for which pattas were issued under the FRA though the status of such land is not clear so far as the issue of FSC is concerned. “The issue came up for discussion and the government has asked officials to take a compassionate view of FSC applicants hailing from backward areas with respect to landholdings,” reveals Adilabad District Supply Officer Vasant Rao Deshpande. “This is not the case as the Tahsildar has asked Village Revenue Officers to ‘round’ off the names of applicants who own more than five acres of land,” counters Mr. Omprakash. (The Hindu 17/10/14)

53. 9.43 Lakh people Apply for Food Security Cards in RR Dist (21)

HYDERABAD : Over 3 lakh applications for pensions and 9.43 lakh applications for Food Security Cards have been received in Ranga Reddy district so far. This was revealed bydistrict collector N Sridhar at the zilla parishad meeting held here on Friday. The meeting, presided over by zilla parishad chairperson P Sunita Mahendar Reddy, discussed about 60 topics but primarily focused on  farm loan waiver, food security cards, pensions, caste and income certificates.  Opposition members charged the ruling party with ‘lackadaisical’ approach to making necessary arrangements at the counters set up to receive applications for food security cards and various other welfare schemes of the government. TDP members accused the government of indifference to farmers who were reeling under drought. Some others alleged that several pensioners had not been paid for two months and demanded an explanation from the chairperson. (New Indian Express 18/10/14)

LABOUR/ MGNREGA

54. Activists object to changes in MGNREGA (14)

GULBARGA: Civil society activists have raised serious objections to the central government’s “blatant” attempts to roll back the national rural job guarantee scheme and have written to the prime minister on the issue. An open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi signed by several prominent public figures and organisations across different fields raises serious objection to the central government’s effort to undermine the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) and divert it from its basic objectives. Activists Friday claimed that the NDA government was trying to roll back the national rural job guarantee scheme. Civil society activist and former member of the National Advisory Council Aruna Roy asserted that if the scheme is rolled back more than half of the country would be affected. Forty percent of the households, which have benefited from the scheme, belong to the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes, she said. She said that among the ways in which the government was trying to roll back the scheme was by converting it into a contractor-driven programme and by rationing funds. (Business Standard 10/10/14)

55. Officials respond to demand for work under MNREGS (14)

GULBARGA: Officials of the Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Department conceded to the demand for work under the Mahatma Gandhi Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MNREGS) by the villagers of the Azadpur in Kusnur Gram Panchayat. The villagers, mostly women who could not get any work , had been demanding the work from the gram panchayat under the MNREGS for the past few days. Recently, the villagers under the banner of the Janawadi Mahila Sanghatane and Pragnya Kanoonu Salaha Samiti staged a dharna in front of the Kusnur Gram Panchayat office. Senior officials of the panchayat rushed to the gram panchayat and assured the protesting women that they would be provided the work of desilting of the Azadpur Tank. As promised the gram panchayat officials provided work of desilting the tank to 200 women who had demanded work. (The Hindu 12/10/14)

56. Relief for Employees Working in the Unorganised Sector (14)

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Workers in the unorganised sector who had to fight even for the right to sit has every reason to cheer now as an ordinance issued in August ensures them the basic facilities for which they had been fighting for a long time. The ordinance to amend the Kerala Shops and Commercial Establishments Act, 1960 ensures the right of an employee, working in a big establishment, to get an appointment order from the employer at the time of appointment. It also directs that no educational or experience certificate in original received from an employee shall be retained by the employer of any establishment at the time of appointment or during the course of employment. “While the ordinance came into effect, the draft rule is being formulated which would help in providing the basic facilities to workers such as rest room and sanitation facilities,” Additional Labour Commissioner (Industrial Relations) G L Muraleedharan, who is at present holding the charge of Labour Commissioner, said. The Assembly will pass the Kerala Shops and Commercial Establishments (Amendment) Bill in its next session. Every employer, as per the ordinance, shall provide service certificate to the employees engaged by him at the time of resignation or during retrenchment or superannuation of the employee or while he/ she applies for another job. The ordinance categorises shops or commercial establishments into three: big, medium and small. A shop or establishment which employs 20 or more employees is termed as big, the one which employs six or more but less than 20 employees is medium and the one which has no employee or not more than five employees forms the small category. The ordinance also directs every employer of a big establishment, employing more than 50 employees, to provide hostel facilities to the employees. The fine for violating the provisions of the Act has also been increased. “It will be ensured that the labourers working in shops and commercial establishments are allowed to sit and the amendments made in the Act will be strictly implemented,” Minister for Labour Shibu Baby John said in a discussion organised by the Youth Commission in this regard in September. A toll-free number of the Labour Department will function round-the-clock for the employees to lodge complaints. It would also be made mandatory to disburse the salary through banks. “If the attitude of the employers do not change, we would start the second phase of the agitation,” said a woman working in a textile shop in Kozhikode. (New Indian Express 13/10/14)

57. 37 Bonded labourers Rescued; Collector Warns Employers (14)

NAMAKKAL : A day after 37 bonded labourers were rescued from a bore well-digging firm near here, Collector V Dakshinamoorthy issued a strict warning that stringent action would be taken against those who resort to bonded labour system. “I will look into the issue of 37 bonded labourers exploited by their employer. Severe action will be taken against the bonded labour system in the district,” Dakshinamoorthy told Express. A team of Revenue Department officials, acting on a petition received by the Collector, rescued 36 bonded labourers, who were confined in a shed at a farm in Thidumal falling under the Paramathi-Velur taluk in the district on Saturday. Later, one more labourer was rescued taking the number to 37. The rescued persons were from Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha and Chattisgarh. The Collector said that surprise checks would be conducted in workplaces like poultry farms, borewell-digging firms and other such establishments where a large number of migrant workers were employed. “I will instruct the officials concerned to the check private firms that have employed migrant labourers,” he stated. Meanwhile, the Nallur police arrested the employer of the borewell-digging firm, C Murugesan (32) of Thidumal, on charges of practicing bonded labour system. Cases under sections 370, 374 of IPC, 9, 16, 17 and 18 of Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1976 were slapped on Murugesan and sections of the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act, were also invoked against him. It came to light that the firm owner had hired the labourers through an agent and employed for them for digging bore wells. But he did not pay the agreed wages to them. “Though I have toiled for about six months toiling, owner has not given me wages,” Ajithkumar, a rescued labourer, said. It may be noted that as many as 58 such bonded labourers, all of them women, hailing from Chattisgarh, were rescued from a food processing unit in Namakkal in November last year. (New India Express 13/10/14)

58. MNREGA was used as ‘partisan tool’ to win votes: Govt cites study (14)

New Delhi: Government on Friday toughened its stand about bringing changes into UPA’s flagship MNREGA scheme even as Congress hit out at the NDA regime for “weakening” the programme just for political reasons. Digging out a study by the Mumbai-based Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research, the Centre said that its report on the rural job scheme reveals how it was used by Congress as “a partisan tool to garner votes” in Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh. The study, ‘Local Funds and Political Competition: Evidence from the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme in India’, by Bhanu Gupta and Abhiroop Mukhopadhyay, shows that “larger funds (were) allocated to blocks where Congress had lower initial vote share” in Rajasthan, government sources said. “These results are stronger when we consider blocks where Congress won or lost by a close margin in a previous election. The study gives evidence of a mechanism which highlights the role of a political representative in the funds sanctioning process,” government sources said quoting the study. Amidst allegations that the government was diluting the MNREGA, Rural Development Minister Nitin Gadkari today ordered immediate e-transfers to reduce delays in the payment of wages under the scheme. Meanwhile, Congress targeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the issue and accused NDA government of deliberately “maligning” and “weakening” the scheme simply because it was launched by UPA. “It is a very unfortunate and sad to bring politics into everything and to malign and weaken it only because it was brought in by UPA. MNREGA has been a very effective scheme,” said Congress spokesman Abhishek Singhvi. “It’s coverage is being narrowed. Labour-material ratio, which was the soul of the scheme has been cut down from 60:40 to 51: 49 even though experts had earlier demanded that it be raised to 70:30,” he said. Congress’s attack came a day after the NDA government declared that it was determined to go ahead with its plan to undertake a “thorough review” of MNREGA. The Rural Development Ministry had also suggested that MNREGA could be linked with the skill development programme, a pet project of Modi. (Zee News 17/10/14)

59. Labour laws: Measures will work only if states join in (14)

Industry captains have welcomed Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s labour law announcements, especially the ones on inspections for compliance with labour laws. Modi had said inspectors will visit factories only on the basis of randomly-generated targets from a computer. Employers hope this’d end arbitrary raids, bribery and harassment. The announcement’s fi ne print shows it’s not as sweeping as made out. The PM’s plan encompasses only inspectors under the central labour commissioner working through its regional offices. This machinery covers all central PSUs and major ports, mines and oil fields, banking and insurance companies, air-transport services, and industries like cement, petroleum, telecommunication. These sectors only have an estimated 1800 inspectors. The remaining industrial units are under state governments because labour’s on the Concurrent List. The latest Annual Survey of Industries says in 2011-12 India had 1.76 lakh factories employing over 1.3 crore people. In 2012-13, about 30,000 inspections were conducted and nearly 2.6 lakh irregularities found. Modi’s announcements touch only a fraction of workers. State labour departments regulate bulk of the workforce with an estimated 8,000 inspectors. And, 8,000 is far from being an impressive figure where the entire country is concerned. In New Delhi, for example, roughly 25 inspectors cover 25,000 units. The story doesn’t end here. The labour law enforcement machinery is limited to the organized sector, mostly covered by the Factories Act. A large number of these factories may not be complying with labour laws, especially in states like UP where inspections were done away with years ago. So, the impact is on a fraction of units. What lies beyond the organized sector is a vast ocean of units nominally covered by some labour law or not at all. According to a recent National Sample Survey Organization report, about 72% of workers in the non-agriculture and non-cultivation/animal-rearing jobs work in the informal sector. Manufacturing, construction, wholesale and retail trade, transportation and storage are main providers of informal sector jobs, the report says. About 73% rural workers and 75% in the urban areas are employed in these industries. About 79% of these workers don’t have a written job contract, 71% don’t get paid leave, 72% have no social security benefits, and over 80% have no union or association. In other words, they are firmly beyond the pale of labour laws. Economic policy experts arguing for greater labour market flexibility saying that it’ll boost productivity need to look at this vast sector where complete flexibility prevails and wages are a pittance and net contribution to the economy is over 50%. (Times of India 18/10/14)

RESERVATION

60. Constitutional changes sought for betterment of disabled persons (25)

HYDERABAD: Castigating the successive Central governments for discarding welfare of people with disability, the city-based activists for the disabled community on Friday demanded constitutional amendments to improve their living conditions. Activists rued that Parliament is seeking to enact a law for safeguarding rights of persons with disabilities without giving it a constitutional status. “We need legal protection, which is guaranteed to SC and ST community. We also demand political representations at all levels. That apart, amendments should be made to the constitution to include the disabled in various articles which would ensure welfare,” said V. Rajashekar, deputy coordinator for the Cell for Disabled at The English and Foreign Languages University (Eflu). Another activist K. Srinivas said they have demanded an increase in job reservation from three per cent to five per cent before a parliamentary standing committee. “The reservation should also be given to us in promotions and not just direct recruitment. This should be guaranteed by the constitution,” he said. The activists were representing the Hyderabad Alliance for Disability Rights, an umbrella organisation of five other organisations. (The Hindu 11/10/14)

61. Scrap Quota for Wards of Freedom Fighters in Medical Education: HC (25)

CHENNAI: The Madras High Court on Friday directed the State government to strike down the quota for children of freedom fighters in medical education. V G Sunramaniyan, son of a freedom fighter filed a petition seeking directions to the Health and Family Department, Directorate of Medical Education, and the Medical Council of India to allot MBBS seat to his daughter under the Freedom Fighters Quota. Justice V Ramasubramanaian observed that the quota for freedom fighters’ children was only a special category for reservation and such reservation was not a Constitutional guarantee. The petitioner claimed that his daughter passed higher secondary in 2013-14 securing 1,159 marks. She applied for admission to MBBS course in the academic year 2014-15 under the  quota. But the Selection Committee refused to consider her application, stating that it applied only to children of freedom fighters and not grand children. He further contended that if the decision of the committee was allowed, no seat could be filled up under the quota since children of freedom fighters will be of more than 50 years of age now. Meanwhile, the Health and Family Welfare department of TN and the Directorate of Medical Education stated in their counter affidavit that for the past 15 years no candidate was admitted under the special category. They further stated that every year if no eligible candidate was available for the three seats under the category, they would be reverted to the general category. Questioning the rationale for the existence of the category, if no one had applied under the category for the past 15 years, the judge directed the department to remove the category for children of the freedom fighters to avoid any more confusion in future. (New Indian Express 12/10/14)

62. Only parents income be considered for deciding creamy layer:SC (25)

New Delhi: The Supreme Court has held that an individual candidate’s income was not required to be clubbed with the income of the parents for the purpose of determining “creamy layer” to exclude a person of backward class from the benefits of reservation. Referring to the Centre’s Office Memorandum of 1993 on the issue and judgements of the apex court, a bench comprising justices J S Khehar and Arun Mishra set aside the decision of the Punjab and Haryana High Court which took consideration of the income of the candidate, a chartered accountant, to declare that the family belonged to the “creamy layer”.”The aforesaid determination was rendered by reading down the policy instructions issued by the state government, on the basis whereof, the backwardness of a candidate had to be adjudged. “The aforesaid policy instructions were read down, to include the income of the person concerned, along with the income of the parents of the person, contemplated by the policy instructions,” the bench said. “It is not possible for us to accept, that the individual’s own income could have been taken into consideration,” the bench said after analysing the Centre’s office memorandum of September 8, 1993 issued by the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances & Pension (Department of Personnel & Training). The apex court noted that even with reference to category IV, which includes professional’s (like CA), the income of the professional, has not been included. “Thus viewed, we are satisfied, that on the plain reading of category VI of the office memorandum of September 8, 1993, that it was not the income of the individual concerned, but that of his parents, that would determine whether he would fall within the creamy layer or not,” the bench said while allowing the appeal of a candidate filed through advocate R K Kapoor. (Deccan Herald 13/10/14)

63. Maharashtra child rights commission seeks to cancel quota exemption for minority schools

MUMBAI: With several schools in the state applying for the minority tag to avoid reserving 25% of their seats for children from the weaker sections, the state child rights commission has asked the Centre to consider cancelling the exemption for minority institutes. While the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009, requires schools to reserve 25% of their seats for students from economically weaker sections, on May 6, the Supreme Court exempted aided and unaided minority institutes from doing so. The Maharashtra State Commission of Protection of Child Rights has written to the department of school education and literacy, Government of India, requesting it to file a review petition against the SC order. “In Maharashtra, particularly in Mumbai, where a majority of quality schools have the minority tag (linguistic and religious)…[they] are not admitting children falling under the category of weaker section on the basis of the SC order, under the 25% quota,” said the commission’s secretary, A N Tripathi, in the letter dated October 7. According to the commission, almost 80% of the private schools in the state have acquired a minority tag and several others have applied for the same. “We have got several complaints where students have been denied admission, but on most occasions we cannot resolve the case as the schools are minority institutions. Hence, we feel there is a need to cancel the exemption given by either filing a review petition or by way of a constitutional amendment,” Tripathi told TOI. “Government-run schools neither have the resources nor the discipline, while privately-owned schools are completely commercialized…thus, a majority of urban and rural children who fall under the category of weaker section are being deprived from education,” read the letter. Activists agree that schools are misusing the privilege and hence, this practice needs to be curbed. “After the SC order, schools have started applying for the minority status just to avoid admitting students from the weaker sections,” said K Narayan of the Anudanit Shikshan Bachao Samiti. In the recent RTE admission process, only 312 unaided schools participated, of which five got the minority status during the admission round. (Times of India 16/10/14)

64. Protest over regional quota under Article 371-J (25)

Bidar: The Karnataka State Government Employees Association members staged a dharna against the State government for delay in providing them regional reservation as per the provisions of Article 371-J. They went on leave and sat in front of the zilla panchayat where Umashree, district in charge Minister, was holding the Karnataka Development Programme review meeting. She met the employees and promised to carry their concerns to Chief Minister Siddaramaiah. Their demands included cancellation of all promotions and recruitments done without invoking the provisions of the Constitutional Amendment, identifying regional and State cadre among all groups of employees, taking up steps to vacate the stay on the rules, ensuring eight per cent State cadre reservation to employees in the Hyderabad Karnataka region, publishing the seniority lists of State cadre and HK regional cadre employees and transfer of important departments, boards and corporations to HK district (The Hindu 18/10/14)

HUMAN RIGHTS/ CIVIL SOCIETY/ NHRC

65. NHRC gives notice to CS on N’garh orphan family status (1)

Bhubaneswar: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has sought a status report from the Chief Secretary over the status of an orphan family in Nayagarh district. The NHRC was moved by rights activist Radhakanta Tripathy on November 5 last year alleging that on November 1, 2013 a helpless woman Kunti Dharua widow of Hita Dharua died due to medical negligence in the Nayagarh. After her death her five minor children most of whom are girls have become orphans. Their condition was so miserable that they were not able to perform the last rites of their deceased mother. “The first two children who are adolescent daughters left their studies to earn a livelihood for the family despite odds against them as child labourers,” said the petitioner requesting the apex human rights panel for restoration of their basic human rights. The petitioner stated that pursuant to the direction of the commission, a report dated 11.7.14 from the State Government has been received by the commission wherein the condition of the distressed family was narrated. The report revealed that the family has been included in the BPL list of beneficiaries and 25 kg of rice at the rate of Re1is being provided to them, besides a financial assistance of `3000 has been provided and another similar amount has been recommended to the Collector from Chief Minister’s Relief Fund. Another report dated 17.7.14 from the Government received by the commission revealed the background of the sufferings of the deceased Kunti Dharua as a TB patient and her treatment. It is reported that deceased Kunti Dharua died due to shock for the loss of her husband and her third daughter. The NHRC further directed the CS to submit a status report on the question of shelter to the orphans under MO Kudia Yojana within six weeks and also transmitted each report to the petitioner for comments within the same period. In his rejoinder the petitioner submitted that the family has not yet been assisted a house neither under any Government schemes nor the children duly cared for. He urged the commission that all the benefits under the social protection scheme are ensured to this unfortunate family.  The response from the Chief Secretary is awaited. (Pioneer 10/10/14)

66. Recognition of civil society’s contribution, says Pranab (1)

NEW DELHI: President Pranab Mukherjee on Friday led the nation in heaping accolades on Indian activist, Kailash Satyarthi, for winning the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize, alongwith Pakistani teenage advocate for girls’ education, Malala Yousafzai. In his congratulatory message, he said: “The prize should be seen as recognition of the contributions of India’s vibrant civil society in addressing complex social problems such as child labour and the important role played by it in collaboration with the Government in the nation’s efforts to eliminate all forms of child labour.” Congratulating Mr. Satyarthi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said: “The entire nation is proud of his momentous achievement.” He also congratulated Ms. Yousafzai and said hers is a journey of immense grit and courage. Greeting both awardees, Vice-President Hamid Ansari said: “This is a richly deserved recognition for two remarkable human beings, who have worked tirelessly and fearlessly, against all odds, to protect and promote the rights of the child.” Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan also congratulated both. The Congress sought to drive home the symbolism in India and Pakistan sharing the award at this juncture with spokesman Abhishek Singhvi tweeting: “What a message to world and India and Pakistan. Joint Indo-Pak male-female Nobel peace prize winners. We are being shamed into settling our age-old dispute.” Later at the Congress briefing, he congratulated both on behalf of the party; adding that the symbolism of the moment should not be lost on anyone. “This joint Peace Prize sends a clear message that conflict resolution in all troubled parts of the world, including the sub-continent, must be the norm…’’ (The Hindu 11/10/14)

67. 2,422 NGOs got Rs 800 cr in foreign donations: Probe (1)

Bangalore: An inquiry by the Internal Security Division (ISD) of the State police has found that as many as 2,422 non-profit organisations active in Karnataka and registered with the Union Ministry of Home Affairs receive on an average a whopping Rs 800 crore in foreign donations a year. That is, however, not the final picture as there is no centralised information on how many NGOs, under the banner of civil society, are active through foreign donations in the State. The ISD dug into the records after Congress MLA K R Ramesh Kumar raised questions about the manner in which NGOs function and their financial condition. Chief Minister Siddaramaiah had directed the police to dig out the details. The ISD also found that there are at least 50,000 NGOs, including self-help groups, associations and trusts. Sources in the ISD said that of the 2,422 NGOs that received foreign monetary support, many have not shown any tangible evidence of the donations being utilised for a special purpose or cause. The inquiry also revealed that a majority of the NGOs have not maintained proper records of the donations they received. Sources also said that several NGOs could not even show the details of expenditure towards a specific agenda or programme for which the donations were claimed. Besides, almost all NGOs gave information for only two financial years—2012-13 or 2013-14—while the ISD had served them notices seeking details of at least three consecutive years. As per MHA records, NGOs in Karnataka are said to receive Rs 1,100 crore every year in foreign donations. Hence, the ISD is looking into this difference of Rs 300 crore between the MHA and State figures of the donations received. While most of the NGOs have provided at least some information on their funding, some have questioned the ISD’s right to enquire into their monetary affairs. Among such NGOs is the well-known Samaj Parivatan Samudaya (SPS) headed by activist S R Hiremath. The SPS is said to have questioned the ISD’s authority to enquire into the fundings of the NGOs by sending a written response to the police. But sources assert that refusing information by the NGOs does not amount to any offence as they are legally within their rights not to reveal any information. For there is no particular investigating agency which has been formed or appointed by the government to seek details or conduct an investigation. The ISD is said to be sending a report to the State government soon as part of a reply to Ramesh Kumar’s question. The report is said to include certain recommendations that may be required to make the NGOs show transparency in their financial dealings. (Deccan Herald 14/10/14)

68. NHRC awards Rs 5 lakh to biker’s kin, Jung hikes it to Rs 50 lakh (1)

New Delhi: The Delhi government has unilaterally hiked 10-fold the compensation amount ordered to be paid to the family of 19-year-old Karan Pandey, who was killed in police firing in July last year. In mid-July, the National Human Rights Commission had recommended to the Delhi government to pay Rs 5 lakh as compensation to the next of kin of Karan Pandey, who was killed in police firing on stunt bikers on Ashoka Road in Central Delhi on the intervening night of July 28-29, 2013. Now, in a letter to Delhi Police Commissioner B S Bassi on October 9, a Delhi government Home Ministry functionary has said Lt-Governor Najib Jung has sanctioned payment of “monetary relief of Rs 50 lakh” to Pandey’s next of kin.The letter also says the L-G has directed Bassi to take departmental action against the inspector involved in the incident. The NHRC took strong note of the evidence, which pointed to “negligence and error of judgement” on the part of a Delhi Police inspector, who had opened fire at the rear tyre of the motorbike which resulted in the death of Pandey who was riding pillion (it was being driven by Puneet Sharma). The NHRC concluded that “there was unnecessary use of force — opening fire — which was disproportionate to the amount to threat to the PCR personnels’ life”. It had also questioned the police claim that they fired only after the youths started pelting stones at the police party. The youths were allegedly part of a group of bikers who were performing stunts in the high-security area. Awarding compensation of Rs 5 lakh to Pandey’s next of kin, the NHRC headed by former Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan had asked the Chief Secretary to submit the action-taken report on the departmental proceedings initiated against the police officers, along with the proof of payment, within six weeks. “I don’t think there has been any instance, at least in my memory, of a state government revising our recommendation by such a level on its own. Many states, in fact, refuse to accept our recommendation. This is a welcome step,” a senior NHRC functionary said… (Indian Express 16/10/14)

69. NHRC notice to State on poor facilities to tribal students (1)

Bhubaneswar: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has sought an action-taken report (ATR) from School and Mass Education Secretary over illness of students of Tentoloi Sevashram School in Banarpal block in Angul district within four weeks. According to complainant Human Rights Watch secretary Sangita Swain, around 60 inmates and students of Tentoloi Sevasram School fell seriously ill as sans any pure drinking and toilet facility. “The students depend on river water for drinking and other purposes which violate their human rights. Due to unavailability of proper drinking and other basic facilities the students fell ill,” said the complainant. She urged the commission to take disciplinary action against the school/public authorities, besides praying the apex human rights watchdog to ensure pure drinking water and toilet facilities immediately. (Pioneer 19/10/14)

JUDICIARY/ LAW

70. Law Minister says no to proposal to give arrest power to NCW (19)

New Delhi: The Law Ministry has red flagged a proposal to provide the National Commission of Women punitive powers to arrest and penalise people guilty of harassing women and ignoring summons. The Law Ministry has also questioned the move to have two separate selection panels for chairperson and members of the Commission. Sources said the Law Ministry is of the view that the Commission cannot be given powers to arrest and penalise as these were the domain of the police and the judiciary. The Law Ministry has also pointed out that one selection panel was sufficient for the selection of chairperson and other members. Seeking to give more teeth to the NCW, the Ministry of Women and Child Development plans to make National Commission of Women (NCW) on par with National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to effectively deal with cases of violence and harassment of women. According to the proposal, ignoring summons of NCW may land the offenders in jail. The WCD Ministry wants the NCW to be an effective body so that it can recommend jail and refer cases to court. According to Chapter III of the National Commission for Women Act, 1990, the Commission is mandated to investigate and examine all matters relating to safeguards provided for women under the Constitution and other laws. The NCW is also mandated to make recommendations for the effective implementation of safeguards. It also takes up cases of violation of the provisions of the Constitution and other laws relating to women with the appropriate authorities. The Commission is free to take suo motu cognisance of reports of deprivation of women’s rights and non- implementation of laws enacted to provide protection to women and also to achieve the objective of equality and development. NCW is the apex national level organisation of the country with the mandate of protecting and promoting the interests of women. (Zee News 12/10/14)

71. Gallows only for meticulously executed diabolic murders: SC (19)

New Delhi: The Supreme Court has said that when an accused executes a meticulously planned diabolic murder, without provocation or acting on the spur of the moment, and becomes a menace to society, then the crime falls in the category of rarest of rare cases warranting the death sentence. “In our considered view, the “rarest of the rare” case exists when an accused would be a menace, threat and anti-thetical to harmony in the society,” said the apex court bench of Chief Justice H.L. Dattu, Justice R.K. Agrawal and Justice Arun Mishra in their Oct 9 order. Holding that the death sentence in such cases was the only appropriate punishment, Chief Justice Dattu pronouncing the order said, “Especially in cases where an accused does not act on provocation, acting in spur of the moment but meticulously executes a deliberately planned crime inspite of understanding the probable consequence of his act, the death sentence may be the most appropriate punishment.” The court said this while upholding the July 2, 2009, order of the Jharkhand High Court which had confirmed the Aug 1, 2008, order of the trial court convicting four accused of murder who had wiped out an entire family of eight of their immediate relative over a land dispute. The trial court awarded all the four convicts the death sentence. However, the high court while confirming the conviction of the four by the trial court upheld the death sentence of two and commuted the death sentence to life imprisonment of the other two – Saddam Khan and Wakil Khan . “We are mindful that criminal law requires strict adherence to the rule of proportionality in providing punishment according to the culpability of each kind of criminal conduct keeping in mind the effect of not awarding just punishment on the society,” the order said. “Keeping in view the said principle of proportionality of sentence or what it termed as “just-desert” for the vile act of slaughtering eight lives including four innocent minors and a physically infirm child whereby an entire family is exterminated, we cannot resist from concluding that the depravity of the appellant’s offence would attract no lesser sentence than the death penalty,” the court said while upholding the order of conviction and sentencing by the trial court and its being confirmed by the high court with modification. In the present case on June 6, 2007, one Mofil Khan and others attacked his brother Haneef Khan when he was offering prayers at a mosque in Makandu village in Jharkhand with sharp-edged weapons. Haneef died on the spot. Thereafter, the assailants went to Haneef Khan’s house and killed his six sons and wife. One of the sons was physically disabled. (Business Standard 11/10/14)

72. Give ACB free hand to probe cases against babus: PIL (19)

Mumbai: A Mumbai activist has approached the Bombay high court seeking to quash a circular, issued by the general administration department, requiring the anti-corruption bureau (ACB) to seek the state’s approval before starting any inquiry against an IAS/IPS officer or a minister. A division bench of chief justice Mohit Shah and justice MS Sonak has posted the public interest litigation filed by Ankur Patil for hearing on November 13. The 33-year-old Mulund resident contended the circular issued by the department in March 1981 was similar to section 6-A of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946, and cannot be continued as the Supreme Court had, in May 2014, invalidated section 6-A of the Act. According to the PIL, section 6-A of the DPSE Act states the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) will not conduct any inquiries into allegations against an officer of the level of joint secretary or above, without previous approval of the Centre. However, after politician Subramanian Swamy had challenged validity of the section, the apex court held the legal provision was invalid. The SC had observed that every public servant, against whom there is reasonable suspicion of commission of a crime, has to be treated equally under the law. “The decision-making power does not segregate corrupt officials into two classes,” the Apex Court had held. “Any distinction made between them on the basis of their status or position in service for the purpose of inquiry/investigation is nothing but an artificial one, and offends Article 14 of the Constitution of India.” In his petition, Patil stated after the verdict of the apex court, he wrote to the chief minister and the department in July 2014, and requested them to withdraw the circular, as it was contrary to the law laid down by the SC. Eventually, he approached the HC after noticing that his letter was not taken into cognisance, and the anti-corruption bureau was still following the circular. (Hindustan Times 18/10/14)

73. Converted wife can seek divorce only after renouncing Islam: HC (19)

AHMEDABAD: A non-Muslim woman who converted to Islam for marriage can seek divorce from her Muslim husband only on the basis of reconversion to her original faith, said Gujarat high court. The HC further said that such divorce petition cannot be turned down by the family court without conducting proper trial because section 4 of the Dissolution of Muslim Marriage Act does not come in between. According to case details, Vadodara-based Christian girl Shinu married Muslim boy Javed Mansuri in February 2003 by entering into nikah according to the Muslim marriage laws. Shinu complained of ill-treatment by her husband and renounced Islam and reconverted to Christianity in March 2012. Immediately, she moved a family court and sought divorce decree on the ground that her husband was not maintaining her as well as her renunciation of Islam leaves her nikah null and void. The husband also moved the court questioning her reconversion and asserting that section 4 of the law prohibits the automatic dissolution of marriage. In August 2013, a family court in Vadodara rejected Shinu’s application saying that she had alleged cruelty but not sought dissolution of marriage on any of the grounds of section 2 of the Act — desertion and non-maintenance of wife. The court held that section 4 of the Act — which prohibits automatic dissolution of marriage at woman’s renunciation of Islam – would not apply in this case because Shinu was a Christian, who became a Muslim and then re-embraced her original faith. The rejection from family court brought Shinu to the high court, which cancelled the lower court’s order and sent the matter back for adjudication after recording evidence. The HC said that Shinu had to establish at any rate necessary facts by supplying evidence that she was a Christian first and now she has renounced Islam. She then will have to show legal fallout of her reconversion. She does not have to seek divorce by raising the ground of desertion and husband’s default in maintaining her. (Times of India 19/10/14)

74. Wife’s cruelty towards in-laws ground for divorce, says HC (19)

LUCKNOW: The Lucknow bench of the Allahabad high court has ruled that a man can seek divorce if his wife pressurizes him for abandoning his parents and demands a fixed sum every month for personal expenses. Terming such behaviour as ‘cruelty upon the husband’, the court also ruled that a woman who makes these demands while earning more than her husband will not be entitled for permanent alimony. The court made these observations while upholding the judgment of a family court which granted divorce to a man on the above grounds and also declined permanent alimony to his wife under Section 25 of the Hindu Marriage Act. Expressing concern over the case which dragged for over 23 years, a division bench of Justice Rajiv Sharma and Justice Mahendra Dayal said, “The worst sufferer of this long litigation is the child who was born out of the wedlock and the parties are still not ready to reconcile or settle their dispute amicably.” Radhika and Ashok (names changed) got married in Lucknow on February 5, 1991. Immediately after marriage, Radhika demanded eviction of her in-laws from the house and Rs 3,000 for her monthly expense on cosmetics and outings. When Ashok failed to meet her demands Radhika started harassing her in-laws and husband physically and mentally. Ashok then lodged a police complaint on June 14, 1991, and got his injuries examined in the government hospital. He also complained to Radhika’s mother and two brothers but to no avail. A miffed Radhika then threatened to frame her husband and in-laws in dowry harassment case. Ashok then took a rented accommodation in Rajajipuram. In September 1991, he was transferred to Bulandshahr. When his wife came to know about his transfer, she along with her family members detained him in the house and threatened him with dire consequences if he left. But he managed to escape and joined his new posting. He filed a divorce petition in the family court in October 1991. In retaliation, Radhika filed a dowry harassment case against her in-laws and husband (they were acquitted later). Ashok requested the family court to hear his plea before the completion of one year – the minimum period before such a petition can be heard – alleging mental harassment by his wife. The family court took up the case issued summons to Radhika. The case prolonged for 13 years till Ashok obtained a high court order telling family court to decide the case within three months. On September 30, 2004, the family court granted divorce to Ashok and declined any permanent alimony to his wife. (Times of India 20/10/14)

POLICE/ AFSPA/ CUSTODIAL DEATHS

75. AFSPA needs to be be repealed immediately, says former police officer (1)

IMPHAL, October 10: The debate over Armed Forces Special Powers Act, AFSPA is no longer needed; it should be repealed at the soonest. It is inhuman and as well as redundant as a law. This was stated by Potsangbam Sonamani, former senior superintendent of police, Kohima, who is also the president of Manipuri Association North East India. Sonamani was speaking in the North East Consultation on Human Rights, today at the Tribal Research Center hall, Imphal. The consultation was jointly organised by North East Students`™ Organisation, NESO and All Manipur Students`™ Union. Sonamani further said that though the Act has been enacted by the establishment, the greater onus lies with the human right activists and the people. He also lamented the lukewarm turnout of public during such an important consultative meeting. Former Chief Minister, Radhabinod Koijam, speaking as the chief guest recounted his experiences with the then Prime Minister, during his short stint as the State Chief Minister regarding the ramification of the Act. Yambem Laba, human right activist and journalist, recalled how the human right movement took a definitive shape in the State. He also recollected how he during his college days petitioned against the Act before the Supreme Court of India, along with some of his friends. He appealed the members of NESO and AMSU to be firm with their convictions. Samuel Jyrwa, Chairman NESO, termed AFSPA a manifestation of racial discrimination against the North East people and emphasised on the need to repeal such a draconian law. He also pointed out that such consultation will be held in all the seven sister States of the NE before the next Parliament session. After a thread bare discussion on the genesis and politics of AFSPA, adverse gender impact of the armed conflict and the increasing `securitisation of development`™ in the Northeast region, the consultation unanimously decided to pressurise the MPs from the Northeast to push for the repeal of AFSPA in Parliament. Sinam Prakash secretary general NESO in his keynote address pointed out that despite of internal and external democratic pressure to repeal AFSPA the government of India is turning a blind eye to the issue for too long. The technical session was a chaired by Lokendra Arambam, senior citizen. Seram Rojesh, Anjulika Samon and Homen Thagjam presented papers on the Act. (Kangla )m;ome 11/10/14)

76. State Human Rights Commission investigates custodial deaths (1)

COIMBATORE: The State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) conducted an inquiry into complaints of alleged human rights abuse by police officials in the western region in Coimbatore city on Friday. SHRC member K Baskaran probed the complaints and later visited Coimbatore central prison to investigate a prisoner’s suspicious death. A few of the witnesses were also questioned by the judge and the next hearing has been fixed on December 19. SHRC received 28 complaints from the western region of the state. To ensure easy access to the petitioners, police officials and other government officials, it conducted the probe at the Circuit House located at Red Fields on Friday. Petitioners and police officials from Namakkal, Salem, Tirupur, Coimbatore and Krishnagiri districts gathered at Circuit House to attend the probe. R Mohanraj, 31, from Selvalakshmi Nagar in Tirupur, engaged in garment trading, was picked up by Tirupur police on September 3, 2012, in connection with a murder case and died in custody at Tirupur rural police station. Police detained Mohanraj for inquiry. He fell unconscious after policemen allegedly beat him up. Police claimed that Mohanraj tried to escape from their custody by jumping over a wall. Unfortunately, he fell on ground and died. But family members of the accused allege that he died because of police torture. Following the custodial death, Mohanraj’s relatives approached SHRC, telling them that Tirupur assistant superintendent of police (Now SP – Erode) Sibi Chakaravarthi and the inspector Kumar beat him to death. Both Ramesh and Kumar were interrogated by SHRC member Baskaran. Sibi Chakaravarthi was asked to appear in the next hearing. Baskaran and his team visited Coimbatore central prison on Friday afternoon where they recorded the statements of a few inmates in connection with a convicted prisoner C Kumar’s suspicious death inside the prison complex. Kumar, 29, from Kallikattu Valavu village in Salem district, murdered his father Chinnasamy. He was arrested by Salem rural police and lodged at Coimbatore central prison in 2005. The Principal district judge court in Salem had awarded a life sentence to Kumar. Later, he appealed before the Madras high court which reduced the life sentence to seven years rigorous imprisonment. On August 9, 2010, Kumar allegedly committed suicide at the library hall in Coimbatore central prison after he came in contact with live wire. Prison officials claimed that it was a suicide. However, the SHRC has taken the case as suo motu and started the investigation. Baskaran visited the library hall and cell where Kumar had been lodged. He conducted an inquiry with other inmates who spent time with Kumar. (Times of India 11/10/14)

77. STF submits papers of 13 encounters to legal panel (1)

AHMEDABAD: The Special Task Force (STF) probing 17 encounters which took place in Gujarat from 2002 to 2006 has completed investigation in 13 cases. At a meeting held in Gandhinagar on Friday, the case papers relating to the 13 encounter cases were handed over to the STF’s legal committee for scrutiny. Sources said the legal committee will give its opinion on the cases to STF chairman former Justice H S Bedi, who is coming to Gujarat on October 16. “Justice Bedi will then, in consultation with STF members and members of the legal committee, decide on further action,” said sources in the task force. STF officials said work is still to be done in the Samir Khan Pathan encounter case, the Kasim Jafar Hussein custodial death case and an encounter which had taken place in Anand. The encounter in which Samir Khan Pathan was killed took place at Usmanpura in Ahmedbad in October 2002 and the Kasim case also took place in the same year. Compensation has been given to the relatives of the victims of four encounters, including the wife and children of Kasim. The STF was set up by the Supreme Court under the chairmanship of retired Apex Court judge, Justice HS Bedi, on a petition filed by Bollywood writer Javed Akhtar and journalist BG Verghese. “Joint commissioner of police (JCP), Ahmedabad crime branch, Arun Kumar Sharma, was appointed the coordinating officer by the state government. Four IPS officers were entrusted with the investigation into 17 different cases,” said an STF official. However, as Arun Kumar Sharma has been empanelled for central deputation, it is possible that a new coordinating officer of IGP rank will soon be appointed in the STF. “Incidentally, as promotions from IGP to ADGP are due within a few days, the new JCP of crime branch could be appointed coordination officer of the STF,” said sources in the home department. (Times of India 13/10/14)

78. Pakistan troops resort to firing along LoC (1)

New Delhi: The India-Pakistan frontier was on the boil once again on Monday with Pakistani troops violating the ceasefire and resorting to firing along the LoC in Poonch district of Jammu in which one woman suffered injuries. The Indian security brass has warned of clear attempts being made by Pakistan to vitiate the atmosphere in Jammu and Kashmir by keeping the border issue alive and also push militants in a bid to disrupt the forthcoming Assembly polls in the state. With top sources indicating that the polls in J&K may be held as early as December, home minister Rajnath Singh on Monday morning held a closed door meet with NSA Ajit Doval, BSF DG D.K. Pathak and chiefs of IB and Raw to review the security situation. The high-level meet is also learnt to have discussed the issue of Pakistan trying to internationalise the Kashmir issue. Meanwhile, the four-day Army Commander’s Conference chaired by Army Chief Gen. Dalbir Singh Suhag began on Monday during which the Army top brass is expected to take stock of the situation prevalent at the borders with both Pakistan and China. The view in the Indian security establishment is that J&K will remain on high alert till polls and if needed, more Central forces will be rushed to the state to oversee the election process. A final view is yet to be taken by the Election Commission on the dates for holding Assembly elections in J&K. In heavy retaliation by the BSF, an officer of the Pakistan Rangers was killed by the force on Monday which fired more than 50,000 rounds and over 1,000 mortars resulting in heavy damages on the Pakistani side. Sources said more than 50 border outposts and small chowkis of the Pakistani troops have been severely damaged. The Indian security brass has decided to build pressure on Pakistani troops through an approach of ‘’matching one bullet with five’’. There was, however, no ceasefire violation by Pakistan along International Border (IB) in Jammu frontier. (Asian Age 14/10/14)

79. Police attitude causes fear among people, says CPI (1)

TIRUCHI: Communist Party of India (CPI) State secretary D. Pandian said on Friday that the attitude of the police caused fear in the minds of the people. Citing the recent custodial death at the S.P. Pattinam police station in Ramanathapuram district and the excesses committed on women at Vachathi during the anti-Veerapan operations earlier, Mr. Pandian said the police had to be reformed and made to function within the ambit of law. Addressing journalists after taking part in the party’s State executive committee meeting here, he said the government had given the police absolute freedom and urged it to take steps to reform the force. The CPI would launch a movement to make this demand. He said Tamil Nadu was yet to enact a Lok Ayukta Act to check corruption. The CPI, along with legal experts and social activists, would launch a movement demanding the enactment of an anti-corruption law. Alleging that the BJP government was attempting to destroy the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, he said the Centre should ensure that the scheme continued to be implemented and expand it to urban areas. (The Hindu 18/10/14)

80. CBI begins probe into alleged custodial torture (1)

TIRUPUR: As directed by the Madras High Court, CBI officials conducted a preliminary inquiry into the alleged custodial torture and sexual assault of a 49-year-old woman at the Udumalpet police station a few months ago. Police sources here told The Hindu that a CBI team, led by Superintendent of Police M. Roopa, an IPS officer of the Nagaland cadre, recorded the statements of the policemen posted at the station, over the last few days. The statements of the officials at the sub-divisional and district levels are yet to be recorded. The court ordered the probe on a petition by the Madurai-based daughter, which said her mother was taken into custody on August 14 in connection with the murder of her house owner. She said the police tortured her and injured her private parts. Justice Ramasubramanian, who ordered the probe, came down on the police and pulled up for the judicial magistrate for not strictly verifying whether the guidelines laid down by the Supreme Court in D.K. Basu vs. the State of West Bengal were followed while making the arrest. Meanwhile, All India Democratic Women’s Association national vice-president and CPI (M) central committee member U. Vasuki told The Hindu that the AIDWA members’ interaction with the kin of the 49-year-old woman revealed that she was subjected to third-degree methods. (The Hindu 19/10/14)

MEDIA/ FREEDOM OF SPEECH

81. Islamic State group kills Iraqi TV journalist (1)

The governor of Iraq’s Salahuddin province says a journalist from a local television network has been killed by the Islamic State group. Governor Raed Ibrahim says Raad al-Azzawi, who was a cameraman for Iraq’s Salahuddin Television, was killed by militants on Friday in the city of Tikrit. Ibrahim said he wasn’t able to provide any further details. The Islamic State group, which holds large swaths of land stretching across the Iraq-Syria border, has beheaded a number of journalists in Syria, saying the killings are in retaliation to U.S.-led coalition airstrikes in Iraq and Syria. Reporters Without Borders said last month that the militants had threatened to execute al-Azzawi, a father of three, for refusing to join the Sunni militant group. (Indian Express 11/10/14)

82. The media watchdog said al-Azzawi was abducted on Sept. 7. (7)

Chennai: Journalists, academicians and filmmakers, who participated in ‘Behind The Lines, Between The Lines’ film festival, stressed the importance of ethics in a world where journalists work in extremely hostile environments. “Visual media could be the future of journalism and we need to educate people about image construction and consumption. An image has the power to influence people in many ways,” said Annette Danto, professor of film and filmmaker. Stating that journalism in the U.S. had shifted towards visual media, overshadowing the written word, she insisted journalists of tomorrow must be aware of journalistic ethics. “Young students are more comfortable with cameras than they are with writing a story. They need to be taught to fully understand the subject they are filming,” she said. Renowned Indian journalist, Syed Nazakat, who has covered conflicts in Asia and Africa, said that media houses are failing to invest in journalists. “Young journalists are not aware of the risks they are constantly in. They are not trained to keep themselves safe in conflict situation,” he said. (The Hindu 12/10/14)

83. CM’s nod for cashless health scheme for scribes: Minister (1)

KADAPA: Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu has agreed to extend cashless health scheme of Rs. 2.50 lakh to journalist families, Minister for Information and Public Relations Palle Raghunatha Reddy said. The government would enhance the corpus in the journalists’ welfare fund, he asserted in a get-together for journalists all over Kadapa district organised by Rajya Sabha member C.M. Ramesh Naidu at Meda Convention Centre here on Sunday night. He assured to examine the demand to extend the accreditation and concessional bus to sub-editors too. Mr. Chandrababu Naidu was according priority to the journalistic community unlike his Telangana counterpart K. Chandrasekhar Rao, who blocked telecast of two news channels, Mr. Raghunatha Reddy said. He recalled the key role played by the media during the freedom struggle and in nation-building. Stating that a sustained media campaign led to enactment of Nirbhaya Act, unearthing of several scams and unbridled plundering of natural and national resources, Minister for Social Welfare Revala Kishore Babu lauded the media for working round-the-clock, often risking their lives, and voicing the people’s concern and woes. The Chief Minister would be apprised to grant house sites, houses and health cards to media personnel. He urged the media to cooperate with the government in safeguarding democratic institutions and serving the society effectively. A.P. Legislative Council Deputy Chairman S.V. Satish Kumar Reddy assured efforts to resolve the problems confronting journalists. He lamented that many scribes lacked basic pay and facilities. Rajya Sabha member C.M. Ramesh Naidu and Government Whip Meda Mallikarjuna Reddy assured that the Government would ensure the welfare of journalists. District TDP president M. Linga Reddy and other TDP leaders participated. (The Hindu 14/10/14)

COMMUNAL RIOTS

84. Public meetings may revive tensions in western U.P. (7)

New Delhi: An RSS-backed panchayat that has been called in Muzaffarnagar on October 10, and a Rashtriya Lok Dal-inspired rally scheduled for October 12 in neighbouring Meerut, with seemingly different agendas, could see a fresh spurt of divisive politics in western Uttar Pradesh, an area that was rocked by communal violence last year and led to 40,000 Muslims fleeing their homes to take shelter in refugee camps. Friday’s Muzaffarnagar panchayat — that has awakened memories of last year’s mahapanchayat where inflammatory speeches by local Jat leaders led to communal violence — its convenor Virendra Singh told The Hindu telephonically, has been called to demand that the recent murder of three labourers in the district be declared as a “communal incident” so that their families can get the compensation that those who are victims of communal violence get — and that includes a government job. The three murdered men belong to the Jatav, Valmiki (both Dalit) and Kashyap communities, so the fervour that was seen among the dominant Jat community may not be on display on Friday, Mr Singh – a Jaat himself – said. But by insisting that it be seen as a communal incident there appears to be an effort to revive the tension seen last year that so polarised Hindus and Muslims in the Lok Sabha elections that the BJP swept the polls in the region. Simultaneously, RLD chief Ajit Singh has called a rally on October 12 under the banner of “Chaudhary Charan Singh Smarak Banao Sangharsh Samiti” ostensibly to demand that 12 Tughlak Road be declared a memorial for his father and the former Prime Minister Charan Singh but, in fact, it will mark the start of his efforts to revive his party. The RLD that traditionally drew its strength from the Jat-Muslim combine found its base totally eroded after last year’s communal violence left the two communities at war with each other. The rally is being described as a “political family get-together” as invitations have been sent to the Samajwadi Party, the Janata Dal-United, the National Conference, the Biju Janata Dal, the Rashtriya Janata Dal, the Telangana Rashtra Samithi and the Janata Dal-Secular — many of whose leaders are expected to show up. For Mr. Ajit Singh, this will be his first effort after the Lok Sabha polls to demonstrate that he still has political clout in the region and sources say, he is expecting over a lakh and a half to show up as Jat leaders and khap heads from Haryana and western UP have all been sent invitations. Those who are likely to attend are former PM H.D. Dewe Gowda, former Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, JD(U) president Sharad Yadav, RJD president Lalu Prasad and SP leader Shivpal Yadav. Congress Chief Ministers Harish Rawat and Bhupinder Singh Hooda, NC chief Farooq Abdullah, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and Telangana CM K. Chandrasekhar Rao too, have been invited. With the RLD rally an attempt to bring anti-BJP forces on one platform in Meerut, and the Muzaffarnagar panchayat an effort by pro-BJP forces to revive the communal tension of last year, western UP will continue to be a contested site. (The Hindu 10/10/14)

85. Communal riots of Kokrajhar in 2012 exposed Assam to jihadists (7)

Guwahati: The communal riots of 2012 in Kokrajhar was the turning point for Assam as it brought the state on the radar of pan-Islamic jihadi elements. Informing that the arrest of six modules of Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen of Bangladesh has also corroborated it, authoritative security sources told this newspaper that documentary evidences in possession of the security agencies have revealed that Assam started figuring in most of discourses of pan-Islamic jihadi forces after communal riots of 2012. Saying that in most of the discourses of Islamic terror networks, the plight of Muslims in Assam was highlighted, security sources informed that there have been occasions when plight of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar was also referred with Assam in discourses at various international forums of radical jihadis. Claiming that some of the NGOs and religious and political leaders who came for relief operations were also instrumental in highlighting it, security sources said that some protest demonstrations against the Assam riots outside the state also helped in publicising the demography of the state. Security sources clarified that they are yet to find any evidence that indicates the interest of the Al Qaeda in Assam, though they admitted that the Indian subcontinent is on the radar of the Qaeda and Indian security agencies had prior inputs in this regard. Admitting that the ongoing radicalisation of Rohingya youths facing onslaught in Myanmar was also posing a serious threat to the safety and security of Assam, security sources said that agencies have found evidences of Rohingyas exploring possibility of shelters in the frontier states of the Northeast. Pointing out that the Rohingyas of Myanmar have already flooded J&K and New Delhi, sources said that Assam may turn out to be a new shelter for them, with several NGOs and jihadi elements extending their moral support to the ongoing training of Rohingyas in the bordering areas of Bangladesh. They said that six Muslim youths arrested in Assam were the part of the JMB plan to launch a retaliatory attack on Dhaka. (Deccan Chrinicle 13/10/14)

86. Minister meets kin of riot victims in Hallikeri (7)

HUBLI : Food and Civil Supplies and district in-charge minister Dinesh Gundu Rao on Saturday met relatives of the three persons killed in the recent communal violence in Hallikeri village, Navalgund taluk, Dharwad district. Family members of the Koreppa Javur, Hucchappa Durgad and Ismail Nadaf said they live in a state of fear and complained that police are yet to provide protection to their houses. Speaking to reporters, Rao said probe into the case will be carried out in an impartial manner. “It was unfortunate that the village witnessed communal clashes. The government has been trying to maintain peace in the village.” The minister said that the youths who fled the village fearing police action will be convinced to come back and live in harmony. A few protests were held during the public grievance meeting attended by Rao here on Saturday. BJP workers staged protested in front of the minister, demanding appointment of a new commissioner of Hubli-Dharwad Municipal Corporation. The protesters said routine work is being affected due to the absence of HDMC commissioner. Deputy mayor Manjula Akkur, BJP district president Lingaraj Patil, former mayor Pandurang Patil and others were present during the protest. Replying to the protesters, Rao said that the government will appoint the commissioner within 10 days. The BJP also demanded prevention of irregularities at the food and civil supply department as thousands of beneficiaries are denied BPL card. Rao said he will soon take action against the culprits. “Pending ration cards will be issued within a month,” he said. In another protest, members of the Hubballi Viman Nildana Santrastar Okkuta demanded alternative land under Ashraya scheme to those who lost their land due to expansion of the airport. Members of the Karnataka State Retired Government Employees and Senior Citizen Welfare Association demanded a space for their office at the HDMC Complex and a site for their association. They also urged a separate outpatient unit for senior citizens at government hospitals. (Times of India 18/10/14)

COMMUNALISM

87. In RSS-backed school, students get a Modi crash course (26)

In a drawing competition at Bandra Hindu School, founded by RSS members, the winner of the first prize is 15-year-old Sohail Shaikh, for his crayon drawing of Narendra Modi. The compulsory competition, held at the school on Gandhi Jayanti, saw each of the 350 students draw the face chosen for them, the Prime Minister’s. Founded in 1992, the school is run by the Bandra Hindu Association and three-fourth of its management staff are Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh workers. But 75 per cent of the students, who come from the slums of Behrampada and Bandra’s Garib Nagar, are Muslims. Most of their parents are uneducated and work as labourers or hawkers, said Ajeet Manyal, the secretary of Bandra Hindu Association. “I was asked to draw a picture of Narendra Modi and, since he is the Prime Minister, I drew it,” said the nonchalant winner Sohail Shaikh, a class 10 student. The competition and prize distribution on Gandhi Jayanti ended with a mandatory poetry recital by students, now the school’s anthem. “Loot ke le gaya dil-jigar, Modi jadugar” (He has stolen our hearts, the magician Modi), reads the first line of the jingle. “Modi thinks like a rishi and executes like a corporate leader. His commitment to Indian ethos and his love of education makes him like Swami Vivekananda and greater than Jawaharlal Nehru,” said Manyal. The central hall of the school is watched over by framed portraits of RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat, Swami Vivekananda, Subhash Chandra Bose, Maharana Pratap and Lakshmibai, the Rani of Jhansi. The school also lets BJP workers use the space to hold meetings. “For all these poor children, Modi is a perfect icon because he has led a similar kind of life, full of hardships. Every child in this school should think, ‘I also want to be Modi’,” Manyal said. A big day at the school last month was September 17, Modi’s birthday. The children and staff attended a havan at the school and prayed for the PM’s long life. The school also had a fancy dress competition after the havan where the management supplied Modi masks to children. “Modi is approachable at all times. We send him pictures of our school activities through social networking websites and he replies,” said Aarti Khurana, an administrator. Irshad Shaikh,14, seems well pleased. “He (Modi) shares a lot of information about the country,” he said. “We keep listening to his speeches in the school and he is very motivating.” In between class rooms are huge walls, highlighting Modi’s quotes, alongside his framed photographs. “Don’t dream to be something, but rather dream to be something great,” reads one panel. The fan-like visuals are interrupted at some spots, by a photograph of Mahatma Gandhi and his word in one place. .. (Indian Express 10/10/14)

88. Hindutva activist revered by Uddhav, Modi slams both (26)

Sangli: At his election rally in Sangli’s Tasgaon Sunday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi referred to staunch Hindutva activist Sambhaji Bhide (Guruji) as one of his inspirations. Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackeray had earlier sought Bhide’s blessings during election rallies Shiv Sena held in Sangli and Mumbai earlier this week. But even as both parties blame each other for a bitter divorce,  Bhide said he was displeased with both leaders for not persisting with the saffron alliance in Maharashtra. A former Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) activist, Bhide is the founder president of the Shiv Pratishthan Hindustan, an outfit with sizeable clout in Sangli, Satara, and Kolhapur districts of Western Maharashtra. “I had called them both a couple of times urging to persist with the alliance. While they kept assuring me that alliance would continue, they eventually snapped ties,” Bhide told the Indian Express. Claiming that a division of votes between the former allies was “disastrous”, Bhide alleged that the two snapped ties as they were blinded by power. At the Tasgaon rally, Modi had said he had come to seek blessings of Bhide Guruji, who had been an inspiration during the early days of his life. Modi also reminded crowds that “at the instance of Bhide Guruji, he had visited the Raigad fort to gain inspiration from Maratha warrior king Chatrapati Shivaji, before accepting the responsibility of leading the BJP to power at the centre.” Interestingly, Bhide remained present of rallies of both the leaders in Sangli, while turning down requests to share the stage with the leaders. “I have never shared a political stage in my life,” Bhide explained. “The Mahabharata describes an instance when Vidur meets Gandhari with a request to step in to resolve differences between her sons Duryodhan and Dushashan. She, however, turns it down saying as a mother she did not know whose side to take and that both were useless. People like us are faced with the same dilemma now,” he said. Having dedicated his entire life to promote the rich legacy of Shivaji and his heir Sambhaji, Bhide also alleges that “all parties had made Shivaji an office of profit”. All  political parties in tkhe state have been using Shivaji’s name in their election campaigns to woo Maratha voters. “Parties invoke the great leader’s name during elections. He is conveniently forgotten thereafter. It kills to say his name is misused this way,” Bhide further said. The activist, however, says he would request the PM to translate the ‘sacred texts’ on Shivaji in all languages and include lessons in school curriculum to spread the word on the great ruler’s legacy. The Shiv Pratisthan Hindustan holds expeditions to various forts built by the Maratha warrior king as part of its efforts to preach his legacy. (Indian Express 11/10/14)

89. Enough time till 2019 for Ram temple: RSS (26)

LUCKNOW: The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) on Friday said it would not set any deadline for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government to construct the Ram temple as the issue was part of the BJP’s manifesto. “The government has enough time till 2019 to act on the issue,” said RSS joint general secretary Dattatreya Hosabale. He called Ram temple a national issue and said they did not need pressurize the government on this issue while speaking at the RSS national executive meet here on Friday. “Any decision on demand or programme related to Ram temple construction will be taken by dharmacharyas and Vishwa Hindu Parishad, which is supported by the RSS,” he said. “The BJP government has been formed for five years and it is not RSS’s duty to fix priority of the government. The government will have to fix its priorities keeping other matters which they think are important in mind.” Hosabale said national security issues would be discussed at the RSS meet and added ‘love jihad’ may figure in the deliberations. This contradicted RSS media in-charge Manmohan Vaidhya’s statement, saying ‘love jihad’ was not on the agenda. Hosabale said the RSS would not pass any economic and political resolution since the government has been in office for just a few months. “We will first see its performance,” he said. The RSS would chalk out a plan for rehabilitation work in disaster-hit Jammu & Kashmir, Andhra Pradesh and Meghalaya. Hosabale claimed RSS workers participated in relief operations in these states. RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat earlier inaugurated the three-day meet. He paid tributes to Indian soldiers killed in exchange of fire with Pakistan on the border and those killed in recent natural calamities. (Times of India 18/10/14)

90. VHP to hold Virat Hindu Sammelans across country (26)

Buoyed by the runaway victory of the Narendra Modi-led BJP at the Centre, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) is planning ‘Virat Hindu Sammelans’ in five metros across the country as a “Hindu show of strength.” The sammelans, which have been organised to celebrate the golden jubilee year of the out, will be attended by Hindu religious leaders and Sangh Parivar functionaries. VHP leader Venkatesh Abdeo told dna that the convention to be held in Mumbai on December 14 will be attended by religious leaders like yoga gur Baba Ramdev and Narendra Maharaj of Nanij in Ratnagiri apart from Buddhist and Jain preachers. VHP president Pravin Togadia and RSS sah-karyawah Dattatray Hosbale will also attend the function to be held at the Bandra Reclamation ground, he added. The VHP is also trying to get Hindutva rabble-rouser and Lok Sabha MP Yogi Adityanath to attend the program. Similar functions will also be held in Delhi, Kolkata, Bhopal and Bangalore. “It is our credo to bring together the Hindu samaj in the VHP’s golden jubilee year. This will be a gathering of the Hindu samaj, a Hindu show of strength. It will aim at creating self-confidence and unity in Hindus and bring them together only as Hindus regardless of divisions like caste, language and region,” said Abdeo, adding that “a strong Hindu samaj will strike fear in the hearts of the enemy”.The organisation will also hold similar Hindu sammelans at the district level between November and February and a blood donation camp will also be held on November 2 to collect one lakh units of blood. “The self-respect of the Hindu community was being trod upon… despite comprising 85% of the country’s population, Hindus were being forced to live the lives of second-class citizens,” said Abdeo, referring to the Lok Sabha results. He added that with the BJP-led government at the Centre, they expected that the “injustice” against the Hindus be done away with, Hindus getting to “live a life of dignity” and “their culture be protected.” Abdeo said protection of Hindu religious institutions, Sanskrit language and cows were part of their wish list. “We had been demanding the protection of Ganga which culminated in the formation of a separate ministry for the purpose… similarly, we need a ministry for gau raksha (protection of cows),” said Abdeo, adding that a Uniform Civil Code and anti-religious conversion law were also part of their expectations. (DNA 19/10/14)

TERRORISM

91. 11 labourers kidnapped by militants in Mizoram (12)

Suspected militants from Tripura kidnapped 11 people, mostly construction labourers in Mizoram’s Mamith district on Friday night, police said on Saturday. A senior police officer of Mizora believed they were taken to Chittagong Hill Tracts of southeast Bangladesh. While Tripura police blamed the National Liberation Front of Tripura (NLFT) for the incident, its Mizoram counterpart did not name any outfit. “We are not yet sure whether it was NLFT or the Bru militant group”, Mamith district superintendent of police C. Lannunmawia told The Hindu over phone on Saturday. The militants sprang in front of a passenger vehicle and kidnapped 16 people at gun point, but afterwards released five tribals and took away mostly Bengali speaking labourers who hail from Karimgang district in lower Assam. They were held hostage to ransom, highly placed sources said. They stated that the kidnappings were committed by NLFT in collaboration with the Bru National Liberation Front (BNLF) – an outfit of Bru or Reang tribe fighting for autonomy in Mizoram. The Reang armed groups surfaced after ethnic strife forced thousands of community members to take shelter in north Tripura in 1997. (The Hindu 12/10/14)

92. Bangla militants’ arrest bares terror network plan (12)

Guwahati: The Assam police have launched an operation in the state’s districts bordering Bangladesh after the arrest of six Jamatul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) militants brought to the fore the Islamic fundamentalist group’s plan to spread their tentacles in the state. The six were found to be involved in the Burdwan blast incident and were instructed to remain as a sleeper cell in Assam and to look for potential Muslim youth for motivation into jihad. Police have identified Kokrajhar, Dhubri, Goalpara and Karimganj as vulnerable to such Islamic terrorism. “This is the first instance of Assam police finding the presence of the JMB in Assam. Earlier, other fundamental outfits like Huji, SIMI, Indian Mujahideen’s presence were reported,” said a senior Assam police official. The official added, “The districts bordering Bangladesh may have been intruded by such outfits and radical ideologues. As these districts have a large Muslim population, we have started an operation to look for such elements. Influx from Bangladesh has been rampant in these areas and such fundamental outfits might have taken advantage of it.” Police have arrested another youth, Imran Hussain (20) from Kachua area in Nagaon district, on Sunday. He was working as a tailor in the area and a handmade pistol was found from his possession. However, his connection to any Islamic outfit is yet to be ascertained. “He denied having any such links. Investigation is on,” said Nagaon SP A Kalita. On Saturday too, three others-Saidul Islam (19), Akhirul Hoque (21) and Nubul Hoque (30) were arrested by police in Dhubri district along with sophisticated firearms and ammunition. Intelligence sources said the six JMB members were found to be traveling to West Bengal, Bangladesh and several other areas in the state in connection with the outfit’s activities. “Saikhul, an accused from Barpeta, had received training in jihad in Simulia madrassa of Burdwan and also in another madrassa in Murshidabad. The outfit is trying to spread the jihadi movement by distributing literature pieces, preaching recordings and other documents,” a source said. Intelligent wings also suspected that the outfit has been trying to lure Muslim youth by invoking the recent BTAD violence in which hundreds of Bengali speaking Muslims became victims. (Times of India 13/10/14)

93. 30 Taliban militants surrender in Afghanistan (12)

Kabul: Thirty armed Taliban militants have given up fighting and resumed normal life in Qaisar district of Afghanistan’s Faryab, Mohammad Naeem Andarabi, deputy to the provincial police chief, said Sunday. “Thirty Taliban fighters laid down arms yesterday (Saturday) and resumed normal life in their communities in Qaisar district,” Andarabi told reporters. These people were involved in anti-government activities in Qaisar and Almar districts over the past couple of years and with their joining civil society, the security situation would further improve in the province, Xinhua cited the police official as saying. Taliban militants, who are active in Faryab province and fighting against the government to regain power, were yet to make any comment on the development. (Business Standard 19/10/14)

NAXALS/ MAOISTS

94. Naxalites call for poll boycott over separate Vidarbha issue (12)

NAGPUR: The Maharashtra state committee of banned Communist Party of India (Maoist), popularly known as Naxals, has urged for boycott of the assembly elections on October 15 over the separate Vidarbha issue. The reds have claimed that the four prominent political parties, including Congress and BJP, have opposed the century-old demand of statehood for Vidarbha, and this warrants a boycott of the polls as a mark of protest. A press release by the secretary of the Maharashtra state committee of Naxals claims that Shiv Sena has openly opposed the issue of statehood for Vidarbha while others like Congress, NCP and BJP have refrained from taking a stand only to mislead the masses. The Naxals have appealed to the electorate to use boycott to punish parties for the injustice to Vidarbha. The press release says that this mechanism of boycott is part of a bigger struggle for mass revolution, which should be used at this juncture to protest exploitative and corrupt political parties, irrespective of their banners. The outfit has also claimed that boycotting poll is within the ambit of democratic rights, and should be used to ensure that the four big parties and their allies are ousted. The rebels hold the political parties responsible for suicides of at least eight ryots per day between 1995 and 2013 during the government of Shiv Sena-BJP alliance and later Congress-NCP combine. The Naxals have underlined the fact that around 60,000 farmers ended their life in two decades, which includes 3,146 suicides in 2013, quoting statistics from National Crime Records Bureau. The guerrilla outfits have claimed that governments of all political parties have only added to the woes of the farmers by displacing them from their native places to promote capitalist projects like Surjagarh mining and special economic zones. The Naxals also claimed that the big four political parties are actually hand-in-glove, with not much difference in their policies and agenda. These parties have an internal ‘setting’, from local bodies to the highest government, in order to distribute the exploited wealth of the masses among themselves, Naxals say. Referring to Mumbai’s growth, the Naxals claimed that the development of Maharashtra’s economic capital was at the cost of the labour and working class, whose wealth has filled the coffers of capitalists and industrialists. The reds also took a dig at the so-called encounter specialists of Mumbai, saying that they have replaced the ‘bhais’ after eliminating them. (Times of India 13/10/14)

95. Making a wave: 20-fold increase in Maoist surrender since May-end (12)

NEW DELHI: The number of Maoists giving up arms has shot up since the Narendra Modi government took over earlier this year, mainly in the Maoist backyard of Bastar in the BJP-ruled Chhattisgarh, which has reported a 20-fold increase in surrenders since the end of May. Home Minister Rajnath Singh is said to be highly enthused by these high figures of desertion among the insurgent ranks in Bastar as this could pave the way for his plan to go after the top leadership of the Communist Party of India (Maoist), which is holed up deep inside the district. According to a report with the Ministry of Home Affairs, which was accessed by ET, 395 Maoists have surrendered across the country till September 30 this year, almost double the 206 who laid down arms in the corresponding period last year. The home ministry is highly optimistic about the way ahead, especially because of a report from the Chhattisgarh police, which shows that the number of Maoists who surrendered in the worst-affected Bastar range surged to 221 as of October 8, a 20-fold jump from only 11 at the end of May, when the Modi government came to power. The highest number of surrenders was in the worst-affected districts of Sukma (50) and Kondagaon (67), which fall in the Bastar range, as per the state police report to the home ministry. The report shows 73 Maoists surrendered in Bastar last month. According to the home ministry, only 24 Maoists gave up their arms in the January-September period last year in all of Chhattisgarh, where Chief Minister Raman Singh has been at the helm for more than a decade. “Intelligence agencies are excited over the record desertions in Maoist ranks in Bastar. There seems to be panic among the Maoists in their den,” a home ministry official said. However, the number of surrenders in other affected states, except Andhra Pradesh, leaves a lot to be desired. While Andhra Pradesh has reported 76 surrenders this year against 44 last year, there have been only four surrenders in Bihar and 17 in Jharkhand this year, similar to their respective figures for last year. “Both Bihar and Jharkhand have been unable to cash in on the attractive surrender and rerehabilitation policy floated by the Centre,” a ministry official said. Bastar has performed well on other parameters too. There have been 143 police-Maoist encounters there this year, leading to the killing of 29 insurgents, and 459 of them have been arrested, leading to the seizure of 121 weapons, 115 improvised explosive devices, 269 detonators and 753 rounds of ammunition, as per Bastar police. (Economic Times 14/10/14)

96. Naxals gun down tribal person in Bhadrachalam division (12)

KHAMMAM: Fear gripped the tribal pockets in Venkatapuram mandal of Bhadrachalam division following the kidnap and killing of a tribal person by Maoists late on Tuesday night after branding a police informer. Midiam Balakrishna (29), a farm labourer, hailed from Tippapuram in Venkatapuram mandal. Police reportedly recovered a letter left behind by Maoists near Ramachandrapuram, where they dumped the body of Balakrishna after gunning him down. Police handed over the body of Balakrishna to his family members after a post-mortem examination at the government hospital at Venkatapuram on Wednesday afternoon. He is survived by wife and two children. Police registered a case. (The Hindu 16/10/14)

97. Senior CAF officer suspended after Naxals kill a jawan (12)

Raipur: A senior officer was suspended for not taking standard security measures, after a jawan of the Chhattisgarh Armed Force was killed by Naxals in the state’s insurgency-hit Sukma district today. Constable Shivkumar Sidar was abducted by Naxals on his way to hospital and killed earlier today. Company Commander Vinod Thapa was suspended for failing to take standard security measures while sending Sidar to Dornapal for medical treatment from Temelwada camp, said Inspector General of Police, SRP Kalluri. Sidar was sick for the last few days. While he was on his way to Dornpal today, Naxals abducted him from a private bus and killed him. He was travelling without any security personnel accompanying him, unarmed, and dressed in civilian clothes. The Naxals stopped the bus between Temelwada and Kusawada and asked him to get down. He was taken a little away and killed, Kalluri said. His body was later retrieved by the security personnel and a combing operation was launched in the area to nab the Naxals. (Zee News 18/10/14)

TRAFFICKING

98. Trafficked children toil in city’s factory units (1)

JAIPUR : The Nobel Peace Prize for Kailash Satyarthi, a child rights activist, has put the limelight once again on the menace of child labour. Rajasthan, indeed, has a large number of child labourers with gems, polishing, hotels and restaurants industry pulling in hundreds of such children every month. The Rajasthan Bal Adhikar Samrakshan Sajha Abhiyan (collective body of child rights NGOs) is working for child rights and engaged in rescuing children from labour with the help of law enforcement agencies. Satyarthi’s NGO Bachpan Bachao Andolan has been actively participating in the rescue and rehabilitation of child labourers in Rajasthan. In fact, Jaipur is the epicentre of child labour with over 800 children being rescued this year alone. ActionAid, a human rights group, carried a study on 659 child labourers who were rescued from Jan 2013 to March 2014. The finding says that 85% comes from Bihar and 50 from Jharkhand and 32 from UP. Surprisingly, the number from Rajasthan is negligible. These children were mostly in the age group of 7 to 17 years. By the time they were rescued, most of them had spent an average of 4.5 years working in inhuman conditions. (Times of India 12/10/14)

99. Kerala denies human trafficking through orphanages (1)

NEW DELHI: Accused in the Supreme Court of turning a blind eye to “human trafficking” through unauthorised orphanages and childcare centres, the Kerala government has countered that it does not carry the stain of child abuse and exploitation. Kerala came under a cloud of suspicion before the Supreme Court, which learned of a recent incident about illegal transportation of around 600 children from Bihar and Jharkhand to some orphanages in the State. Police and district officials had rescued the children. The matter came to the court’s attention on an application filed by advocate Aparna Bhat in August 2014. Ms. Bhat is the court’s amicus curiae in a pending case on exploitation of children in orphanages in Tamil Nadu. On her application, Kerala was made a party in the litigation and the court had issued notice to the State. The amicus had described the Palakkad incident as part of a larger problem of mushrooming unauthorised orphanages and child care centres in the State. The case is scheduled to come up before a bench led by Chief Justice of India H.L. Dattu on Monday. In its affidavit, the State government said the rescue operation in Palakkad was its own initiative. The children were provided care and protection by the State. It said social instruments like Kudumbasree, Childline, etc., work with the authorities to prevent child exploitation and abuse in the State. (The Hindu 13/10/14)

100. In disguise, UP man treks 500km to rescue children from traffickers (1)

Lucknow: Jagram, a shop owner in Bahraich district’s Turaini Rajab Kudiya village, finally found his sons being held as bonded labourers with 100 other children at a brick-making unit near Kathmandu in August. Jagram said the children were working under the most inhuman conditions, slaving from 3am to 5pm every day without rest and with just two meals. Thousands of children are trafficked in India every year for domestic servitude or to work for a pittance in sweatshop-like conditions in hazardous fireworks factories and coal mines apart from the carpet-weaving and silk-manufacturing industries. The problem was brought into focus last week when child rights activist Kailash Satyarthi won the Nobel Peace Prize. Satyarthi, who has been fighting child trafficking and child labour for decades, estimated about 60 million children in India, or 6% of the population, are forced into work. Jagram’s journey to find his sons wasn’t easy. He mortgaged his farmland and set off for Nepal in July on a tip from an NGO. Twenty days later, Jagram found his boys at the brick kiln, transporting soil and fetching water from a nearby lake. The whole area was well fortified and escape seemed hopeless. But Jagram was determined. To get closer to his sons, he took up work as a labourer at the factory where he found four more children from his village. He asked them not to reveal his identity and to wait for the right moment to escape. One night when security eased, Jagram took off with the seven children, but they barely made it to the neighbouring highway when security guards raised an alarm. The group hid under piles of sand in a paddy field and took a bus next morning to Nepalganj – that shares a border with Bahraich – unaware that they were stepping into a trap. The traffickers caught them at the Nepalganj bus station, took them to a secluded place and thrashed the victims mercilessly. Jagram pleaded, saying he would return to his village and they could take the children. On being freed, he approached local police who raided the factory and took the owner and an aide into custody. Nepal police alerted their counterparts in UP and NGO Childline. The children were escorted to the international border and handed over to UP police who sent them home. “I dreamt of educating my children and giving them a better life. When flood ravaged my village in 2013, I moved to Lucknow and worked at a construction site while my wife and the three children stayed in the village. I returned on hearing that my sons had gone missing,” said Jagram. Jagram now runs a shop in his village while his sons – Amrit Lal, 15, Nakshed, 13, and Akhilesh, 10 – are in school. Jitendra Chaturvedi, a member of Childline who also manages the NGO Developmental Association for Human Advancement (Dehat) near the Indo-Nepal border, said the two countries should join hands to check child trafficking and strict action is needed against those involved in such inhuman practices. (Hindustan Times 14/10/14)

101. Chhattisgarh’s efforts sluggish in tracing missing children : SC (1)

RAIPUR : Supreme Court summons to Chhattisgarh chief secretary Vivek Dhand and director general of Police AN Upadhyaya to appear in person on October 30, has once again brought to focus the alarming problem of human trafficking of women and children particularly from tribal areas of state, and laxity of administration in dealing with the problem. With nearly 65,000 women and children missing between 2001 and 2013, Chhattisgarh has the dubious distinction of being a hub of human trafficking as tribal women and children are taken to metropolis including Delhi and Mumbai and even far off to foreign countries, presumably to work as domestic helps. Eventually, many of them are pushed into prostitution. Irony for Chhattisgarh is earning tag of being among country’s fastest developing states amid its laid back law enforcement and bureaucracy. TOI found shocking numbers where Chhattisgarh recorded nearly 65,000 women and children missing between 2001 and 2013 of which more than 40 per cent still remain untraced. Official data received through an RTI shows children and women at Raipur, Durg, Jashpur and Bastar are among the most vulnerable ones with maximum number of children going missing and the figure continue to rise with every year. On an average, Chhattisgarh witnessed 330 women and 230 children going missing every month. Figures show around 40 per cent of the missing children have not been traced. Where do these missing women and children go isn’t really unknown to state’s stakeholders which include police, department for women and child, state commission for protection of child rights, child welfare committees, anti-human trafficking units and CID child cell. Officials have admitted that maximum of those going missing were trafficked who are procured under the guise as labourers and are further pushed into domestic slavery, prostitution,