Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

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, forced marriage, beggary and many more. Recently chief Lokayukta SN Srivastava has intervened in the issue under his jurisdiction as misconduct of public servant. Srivastava revealed that during his investigation, he found there were organized gangs working on juvenile criminals and jails who connect with them to lure/ convince children join them. “There are international gangs and push the vulnerable ones into slavery, beggary, pickpocketing and even orphanages.” He is gathering detailed information and has given deadline till December to properly implement several schemes and take steps to curb human trafficking and missing children. Srivastava said that additional chief secretary NK Aswal and DIG (CID, child cell) Rajeev Srivastava have assured of proper implementation of track the child web portal, AHTUs, formation of special juvenile police units etc. Talking to TOI, Rishikant from national NGO Shaktivahini working women and child rights said, “Supreme court’s intervention and summon on CS and DGP itself shows laxity in Chhattisgarh’s law enforcement. Being a hub of child trafficking, issue of increasing number of children going missing has to be dealt seriously in Chhattisgarh. Tracing a child isn’t a tough job if one really intends to, we have been doing it in accordance with police for past many years.” Explaining about how state needs to begin from the scratch over the issue, Rishikant said, “It’s vital for police to understand that as per SC’s order FIR has to be lodged with each child going missing presuming that he/she was trafficked. Only then process of tracing missing children could begin with the help of all stakeholders.” Meanwhile, reacting over opposition Congress’ spokesperson Shailesh Nitin Trivedi said it was high time state government wake up to the calls of growing missing children and Supreme Court’s order. Accusing Raman Singh government he said, “It’s shameful that thousands of children are still missing and despite that police avoids lodging FIR.” Supreme Court had earlier directed many states to file a compliance report following a petition filed by the Bachpan Bachao Andolan, which led the court to provide many directions regarding complaints of missing children. (Times of India 16/10/14)

102. Kingpins of girl trafficking racket from Jharkhand held (1)

New Delhi: A wanted couple, accused of trafficking minor girls from Jharkhand, has been arrested by the Delhi police’s crime branch. The trafficking kingpins had given shelter to the absconding former Jharkhand agriculture minister Yogendra Sao, who was recently arrested in northwest Delhi’s Shakurpur’s J.J. Colony. The police have identified the accused as Panna Lal (31) and his wife Sunita Kumari (37). The duo were running placement agencies in the name of “Birsa Bhagwan Placement Service”, “Pahal Security Services” and “Laxmi Placement Service”. Wanted in many cases of trading minor tribal girls from Jharkhand, Panna Lal hogged headlines when CID (Jharkhand) and the Delhi police arrested Mr Sao from his home on October 4, but left him behind. This police oversight earned media ire as Panna Lal, allegedly running a multi-crore business with scores of illegal placement agencies that dealt in the supply of Jharkhand girls as domestic servants, into forced marriages and to brothels, had an arrest warrant and four FIRs against him. “They (the couple) were involved in trafficking children from Jharkhand for working illegally as domestic helps in Delhi and NCR through their placement agencies,” joint commissioner of police (crime) Ravindra Yadav said. The accused were wanted by the Jharkhand police in a case of human trafficking and non-bailable warrants had been issued against them. On Sunday, a trap was laid by the police and both the accused persons were apprehended from their “hideout” in Shakurpur J.J. Colony, where both of them had come to collect their belongings for fleeing to some unknown place to evade their arrest. Both the accused persons had not been visiting their residence for the past few days. “It has been revealed that accused Panna Lal was running several sub-units to expand the business of human trafficking in Delhi. His connections with Maoists are being probed by the Jharkhand police,” Mr Yadav added. The police said that one Gayatri (35), who is the sister-in-law of Panna Lal Mahto, was also arrested on October 13. She had purportedly told the police the whereabouts of Panna Lal. (Asian Age 20/10/14)

CORRUPTION

103. ‘Chopper verdict upholds honour of ex-IAF chief’ (5)

New Delhi: After a court in Italy on Thursday found him not guilty of corruption in the 2010 deal to supply India with AgustaWestland helicopters, Giuseppe Orsi, the former chief executive of Italian firm Finmeccanica said the judgement upheld the honour of India’s ex-air chief, Air Chief Marshal SP Tyagi, falsely accused of wrongdoing. “This judgement is also important because gives Marshal Tyagi back his honour after the accusation of having done something that he really had not done,” Orsi said in a statement sent to a news agency by his lawyers. Tyagi was not charged in the Italian case, heard in the court of Busto Arsizio and has denied any wrongdoing in connection with the EUR 560 million (Rs 3,600 crore) contract for 12 helicopters for VVIP use. “The peremptoriness of the acquittal makes the allegations meaningless. No amount of money was paid to an Indian public official, nor did the Swiss intermediary try to alter the tender,” said Orsi’s advocate, Ennio Amodio. Orsi, who was then the CEO of Finmeccanica unit AgustaWestland, was accused of paying bribes to Indian officials to win the contract. An agent of AgustaWestland, who agreed to become a witness for the prosecution, testified that he had met with Tyagi, who then changed the tender requirements to favour AgustaWestland. The Italian judge said in the verdict that while prosecutors had proven that fake invoices had been issued, there was no corruption. Telling reporters after the verdict that he hoped India would reconsider its decision to cancel the helicopter order, Orsi said: “This was an internal Italian issue that had nothing to do with India. I hope that the good relations between Italy and India will be restored.” Three helicopters had been delivered when the deal was cancelled. Reacting to the verdict, Tyagi told reporters here: “I am happy man, I always knew that I had done nothing wrong. It’s a big morale booster for the Indian Air Force, which had done its job perfectly.” The Central Bureau of Investigation, which is investigating the deal, on Thursday said the Italian court’s judgement did not necessarily mean the agency would drop its investigation of Tyagi, and that it was waiting to peruse the full judgement. (Zee News 10/10/14)

104. SC to decide on CBI petition on Jayalalithaa (5)

New Delhi: More trouble seems to be in store for former Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa, sentenced to four years in jail by a Bengaluru court. The Supreme Court is set to conduct final hearings in a special leave petition filed by the CBI challenging a Madras high court judgment quashing its chargesheet against her in a corruption case. The CBI had filed a case in 1996 against her under the Prevention of Corruption (PC) act for alleged criminal misconduct and obtaining of valuable thing/s. It had alleged that Jayalalithaa, on her birthday in 1992, had accepted R1.26 crore in ‘gifts’ via demand drafts when she was the state’s chief minister. “The demand drafts were accepted without consideration from people with whom she had current or potential official transactions,” said a CBI source. The CBI had in 2006 chargesheeted Jayalalithaa in a Chennai court under the PC act for the alleged offence. But the high court in 2011, acting on petition by Jayalalithaa, had quashed the CBI’s chargesheet on grounds of “unexplained delay” in registering the case then filing of the chargesheet. The CBI filed a special leave petition in the Supreme Court in 2012 challenging the high court’s order. (Hindustan Times 11/10/14)

105. Enforcement Directorate attaches official’s assets worth Rs 53 crore (5)

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has attached assets and bank accounts worth Rs 53.57 crore, belonging to tainted former Mhada deputy collector Nitesh Thakur. He had hit headlines two years ago in 2012 after a raid by the state anti-corruption bureau (ACB) found him guilty for ‘disproportionate possession’ of assets and properties worth Rs 118 crore during 12 years of public service though his salary was merely Rs 28,000. The latest ED action has been executed under provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). The attachment order will see the freezing of property and land admeasuring 55 acres in the state along with fixed deposits totally valued at Rs 53.57 crore. During the previous ACB raid, Thakur was found to be in possession of 26 properties that included 11 flats and four bungalows collectively worth Rs 118 crore in Kandivali, Borivali, Andheri, Ghatkopar, Alibaug, Murud, Kolegoan and Chikli, most of which were registered in the name of his brother Nilesh and his mother. Thakur also possessed four cars, including a BMW, Mercedes, Land Rover and a Honda CRV. Sources said Thakur had been amassing the wealth through bribes and illegal gratification while being on unsanctioned leave since 2005, following which he was suspended by the agency. (Asian Age 13/10/14)

106. Lokayukta probe: More skeletons may tumble out of scholarship scam (5)

INDORE: After blowing the lid off scholarship scam running in paramedical colleges in Indore division, the anti-corruption watchdog Lokayukta police have now broadened its area of investigation. Prima facie, it was found that nearly 60 private colleges including engineering, management and under graduate courses are operating in Indore division in collusion with tribal welfare department and minorities welfare department officials and are involved in irregularities in disbursing scholarship. The in charge officials designated to disburse scholarship amount meant for students misused their powers and altered with the prescribed rules to benefit more than one college, stated Lokayukta press release. Police also found that colleges without taking permission from the students, gave fake admissions to withdraw scholarship amount provided under state government scheme. It was also found that colleges gave admission to those candidates who had never taken admission in colleges. With Lokayukta police starting investigations into the scholarship scam, more skeletons are likely to tumble out of cupboard in coming days. “A thorough investigation has been launched to probe the irregularities. The nexus of government officials and college directors will expose major corruption running in the name of providing education. College directors in collusion with government officials have siphoned off crores of rupees meant for scholarship,” said an official. (Times of India 14/10/14)

107. Black Money Study Reports Yet to be Accepted: Finance Ministry (5)

NEW DELHI: The Finance Ministry is yet to accept two of the three reports submitted to it on the assessment of black money in India and abroad which were commissioned by the UPA government three years ago.The studies were conducted by the Delhi-based National Institute of Public Finance and Policy (NIPFP) and National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER), and National Institute of Financial Management (NIFM) at Faridabad. “Report from one institute has been received and accepted and reports from the remaining two institutes have been received but yet to be accepted by the government so far,” the Finance Ministry said in reply to an RTI query. It, however, declined to share the contents of the reports citing the exemption clause under the transparency law.   “Further details cannot be made available at this point of time as the information is exempt under Section 8(1)(c) and Section 8(1)(e) of RTI Act, 2005, since the report is yet to be examined by the government or action taken thereof is yet to be laid before Parliament,” the ministry said. Section 8(1 )(e) bars disclosure of information which would cause a breach of privilege of Parliament. The other clause exempts disclosure of “information available to a person in his fiduciary relationship, unless the competent authority is satisfied that the larger public interest warrants the disclosure of such information. The three studies were expected to be completed within 18 months’ time, which deadline had expired on September 21, 2012. The Finance Ministry did not give the dates on which these reports were submitted with it although the RTI application had also sought that information.There is at present no official assessment on the quantum of black money in India and abroad. (New Indian Express 19/10/14)

ENVIRONMENT/ CLIMATE CHANGE

108. Scientist cautions against unchecked environmental pollution (9)

ALAPPUZHA: E. Vivekanandan, Emeritus Professor, Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute, has cautioned that unchecked environmental pollution could have serious repercussions. According to him, the existing scenario could lead to increase in sea temperature and also result in the extinction of coral reefs in the Indian Ocean within 50 years. Delivering a presentation on the topic ‘Reducing vulnerability and enhancing resilience of fishing communities to climate change’ organised as part of the workshop on coastal zone management at Mararikulam on Wednesday, Dr. Vivekanandan said he did not foresee a spike in the frequency of tornadoes and storms in the region. However, studies strengthened the possibility of an increase in intensities of the natural phenomena. Such occurrences could potentially affect fishermen in the coastal areas adversely. Factors such as excessive fishing, pollution and disruption of ecosystem impacted the fisheries sector much more than climate change, he said. Delivering a talk on ‘Drinking water and sanitation problems in coastal areas and its management’, Centre for Water Resources Development and Management senior scientist P.S. Harikumar said small-scale reverse osmosis units were necessary to address the problem of drinking water shortage in coastal areas. He also proposed the installation of e-toilets and harvesting rainwater in wells to prevent contamination of groundwater to a certain extent along the coastal belt. Scientists Linda Nostbakken, Natasha Bhatia and D. Chandramohan also spoke on various issues relating to coastal management. The four-day workshop concluded on Thursday. (The Hindu 10/10/14)

109. Online community network of Swachh Bharat launched (9)

New Delhi: The Ministry of Urban Development, seeking to convert the Swachh Bharat Andolan into a mass programme has launched an online community network. Taking the help of ‘LocalCircles’, a community social media platform, the social media platform will enable citizens to easily come together, exchange ideas on cleanliness, take up appropriate cleanliness activities in their neighbourhood, share pictures of collective efforts, engage with elected representatives and take the cleanliness campaign forward. Further, it will enable participants to know about the best practices for adoption. Further, it also enables considered and collective inputs to the implementing agencies on a regular basis on issues like garbage collection and disposal, promotion of civic sense and interventions, if any, required from the concerned agencies. The Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on October 2, focuses on sanitation, hygiene and waste management. It includes sweeping, removal of garbage, debris and unauthorised encroachments from roads, markets and residential places and aims at making India a clean country by 2019, the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. (New Kerala 10/10/14)

110. Hudhud strips Visakhapatnam of its green cover (9)

HYDERABAD: The maddening velocity of Cyclone Hudhud, apart from destroying the properties of thousands of residents, almost entirely stripped Visakhapatnam of its green cover, sucked it dry of its rich wealth of birds and eroded its picturesque beaches. Such was the cyclone’s intensity that about 75-80% of the city’s trees were found to have been flattened on Monday, their bare stumps standing testimony to nature’s fury. Even the hills dotting the city have become shorn of trees. The most saddening sights were visible in places such as Kailasagiri, Waltair, Ukkunagaram and the Andhra University campus that were earlier the most prominent lung spaces of Vizag. On Monday, however, the once tall trees were bent and broken, unable to bear the onslaught of Hudhud. The Kambalakonda Reserve Forest too had half its trees missing on Monday. In fact, almost all of the 50 lakh trees covering over 40% of the 3,600 hectares of Ukkunagaram or VSP Steel Township were found damaged. A top official of a PSU said that most campuses in Vizag were rich in green cover and the overall loss of flora and fauna was worse than the infrastructure damage they suffered. The erstwhile lush green corridors running along the two sides of National Highway 5 were no different. Pictures posted across social networking sites by commuters revealed the large-scale devastation that this stretch faced on Sunday. In place of trees, what remained were only heaps of fallen branches and leaves. “We will have to take up at least 50% re-plantation on the university campus in the near-term. But it will be an uphill task as the groundwater levels are already low. It will take us another 10 years to replant all the trees on campus,” Andhra University registrar, K Ramamohana Rao, said. The campus, spread over 700 acres, is presently a picture of havoc and is strewn with broken branches, much like the sprawling 1,000 acre Kailasagiri area. “Watching the sky on Sunday was heart-breaking. Dead bodies of our feathered friends were seen flying all around. Given that many trees were blown away along with their nests, these little creatures clearly had no place to shield themselves from the cyclone’s fury,” said Santosh Paul, a resident of Beach Road. Though some crows and kites were seen making a comeback on Monday, their numbers were limited to just a handful. If the accounts of some residents are to be believed, over 30,000 birds are believed to have died in the coastal city in less than 24 hours. Though the animals housed in Vizag’s Indira Gandhi Zoological Park, fortunately, managed to brave the storm, the expansive premises have lost all its green cover. (Times of India 14/10/14)

111. Indian firms moving towards low carbon economy: CDP (9)

The India 200 Climate Change Report 2014 by CDP, an international non-profit organisation, says that 24 per cent of the companies surveyed have reduced their absolute emissions while driving business growth and profitability. An additional 26 per cent have reduced their emissions intensity while driving business growth and profitability. This report analyses responses from the top 200 Indian companies by market capitalisation. This year, 59 companies (30 per cent) responded to CDP compared to 55 in 2013. Over 90 per cent of the companies state that climate change opportunities are driven by change in regulation. About 15 per cent of the responding companies have reduced their emissions despite a tough business situation. Over 60 per cent of surveyed companies are introducing process energy efficiency initiatives, consequently, 24 per cent have reduced their absolute emissions and an additional 26 per cent have reduced their emissions intensity while driving business growth and profitability, the report said. Indian companies are using their increased commitment to climate change action to drive innovative, sustainable businesses processes. In terms of global ranking, CDP said five Indian companies have made it to the Global A-list, on par with Australia and Canada and more than any other emerging economy except South Africa. Wipro, Essar Oil, Tech Mahindra, Larsen & Toubro and Tata Consultancy Services have shown the world that they can match the best in world when it comes to fulfilling their global challenge action on climate change. The research is published in The A List: The CDP Climate Performance Leadership Index 2014 , which has been created at the request of 767 investors who represent more than a third of the world’s invested capital. Wipro leads the Climate Disclosure: Leadership Index (CDLI) in India. The responding Indian companies have acknowledged the role of governments and regulations as the primary driver of climate change opportunities and investments. Five Indian companies have made it to the Global A-list, on par with Australia and Canada (The Hindu 19/10/14)

AGRICULTURE/ FARMERS SUICIDES

112. Congress promises to highlight farmers’ issues in legislature (20)

BIKNOOR (NIZAMABAD DT.): Congress leaders have warned the TRS government that it will have to face the music if it failed to keep its promises made to farmers and coolies before elections. They said the government was least bothered when the farmers, being unable to bear the crop loss, were committing suicide. In their ‘Rythu Bharosa Yatra’ conducted in the drought-hit mandals of Biknoor and Domakonda mandals on Thursday, the leaders accused Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao of trying to wriggle out of his responsibilities towards the farm sector and farming community by slinging mud on the Congress and Opposition leaders. Led by TPCC president Ponnala Lakshmaiah, K. Jana Reddy and D. Srinivas, the party floor leaders in the Assembly and Council respectively, former Ministers Mohammed Ali Shabbir and P. Sudarshan Reddy and party Kisan wing president M. Kodanda Reddy visited Pedda Mallareddy, Baswapur, Seetharampally and Achanpur in Domakonda and Biknoor mandals to observe themselves the crop loss and plight of the farmers. Addressing a gathering of farmers on a dried maize field at Seetharampally, Mr. Lakshmaiah said the Congress undertook the yatra to instil confidence among farmers to face the drought situation and request them not to commit suicide. “We are all behind you. We will make concerted efforts to expose the failures of the government in solving your issues in Assembly and Council and pressurise it to come to your rescue,” he said. Later, speaking at Rameswarpally, Mr. Lakshmaiah said that the TRS government dashed the hopes of four crore people of Telangana in the very beginning of its innings, which will not augur well for it in future. The Congress floor leader in the Council D. Srinivas said that almost all the 36 mandals in the district recorded 50 per cent less than normal rainfall (770 mm), while Domakonda and Biknoor witnessed scanty rainfall. Therefore, all mandals should be declared drought hit, he said. Former Ministers N. Uttamkumar Reddy and Mohammed Ali Shabbir also spoke. (The Hindu 10/10/14)

113. SC gives precedence to sugarcane farmers over banks (20)

New Delhi: The Supreme Court Monday said sugarcane farmers will have precedence over banks for the recovery of their dues from mills as they are in a state of financial distress and are prone to commit suicide. A bench of Chief Justice H.L. Dattu, Justice Madan B. Lokur and Justice A.K. Sikri, while dismissing appeals by the State Bank of India and the Punjab National Bank, said if farmers are not paid, they will commit suicide. “If money does not go to the farmers, they commit suicide,” the court observed. The two banks have moved the apex court against the Allahabad High Court order which had said that the sugarcane farmers have the first right over the proceeds of selling sugar by the mills for the recovery of their dues. Appearing for the two PSU banks, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi told the court that the banks’ only security was the sugar stocks with the sugar mills against which the banks have advanced the loans for the payment of farmers dues. Matter relates to the outstanding payments of Rs.3,007.07 crore to sugarcane growing farmers by the sugar mills owners in Uttar Pradesh as on Oct 7, said V.M. Singh who appeared as caveator in person for the Rashtriya Kisan Mazdoor Sangathan. Singh said that Allahabad High Court has directed the sugar mills to clear the outstanding dues of the farmers growing sugarcane by Oct 31. He contended that under the provisions of UP Sugarcane (Regulation of Purchase and Supply) Act, 1953 as amended in 1972, sugar mill owners could raise money against their stocks of sugar for exclusively making the payments of farmers dues but that amount was allegedly diverted and did not reach the farmers. Singh said that now apex court had reaffirmed the Allahabad High Court order, the farmers would get their dues with the auction of the sugar stocks with the sugar mills. (Business Standard 13/10/14)

114. 99 suicide-hit farmer families of Bathinda seek immediate compensation (20)

BATHINDA: Activists of farmers’ body BKU (Ekta Ugrahan) and farm labourers’ outfit Punjab Khet Mazdoor Union went to the office of Bathinda deputy commissioner and submitted the list of 99 peasants, who had committed suicide in the district in 18 months between April 1, 2013 and September 30, 2014. Families of suicide victims also assembled at Bathinda district administrative complex on Monday and sought a compensation of Rs 2 lakh each, as promised by the state government. “As per our survey, 99 suicides have taken place in Bathinda in the past 18 months. We forwarded the representation from all suicide-hit families for compensation to the district administration. We want immediate disbursal of compensation to these families,” said BKU (Ekta Ugrahan) general secretary Sukhdev Singh Kokri Kalan. Bathinda additional deputy commissioner (ADC) Sumit Kumar met activists and sought two days to decide the cases. He said, “The administration has sought two days to settle the compensation issue. It will be dealt accordingly.” In September 2013, the government had ordered the DCs to immediately disburse financial assistance of Rs 2 lakh each to the families of farmers who had committed suicide after verifying the facts. Revenue and rehabilitation department on September 30, 2013 asked three universities of Punjab to conduct a survey to tabulate suicides by farmers till March 31, 2013. The survey could not be conducted for want of funds as Punjab government had failed to provide funds to the universities for the same. “Though Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), Ludhiana; Punjabi University, Patiala and Guru Nanak Dev University (GNDU), Amritsar had counted 4,800 suicides, as per our findings, more than 30,000 farmers and farm labourers have killed themselves in the last over two decades in the state. The government has preferred not to record most of the farm suicides and has concealed facts about these,” said Sukhdev Singh and Khet Mazdoor Union secretary Lachhman Sewewala. (Times of India 14/10/14)

115. 250 farmers committed suicide in 4 months in Telangana (20)

HYDERABAD: The farmers in Telangana are a distressed lot. Saddled with insurmountable debts, nearly 250 of them ended their lives in the past four months. On an average, at least two farmers have been committing suicide a day in the state just this Kharif season that is set to come to a close in the next two or three weeks. The harvest is expected to take place by the end of October or early November. Incidentally, of the 40 farmer suicides in Medak district since TRS assumed power, 18 of them were in chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao’s assembly constituency of Gajwel. Warangal continues to have the dubious distinction of high est such deaths with 54 recorded so far in the past four months. As per a GO issued in 2004, which is still in force, the government is required to provide immediate financial and rehabilitation assistance to families of farmers who commit suicide irrespective of the reason for such an act. “The farmers in the state have lost all hope,” said Ravula Chandrasekhar Reddy, Telangana TDP politburo member. “It is not that we expect miracles from a government that is barely fourmonth old. But we also do not expect disasters like these,” he told TOI. “There has not been one sentence of condo lence from anyone in the ruling TRS,” said Congress deputy leader in the legislative council Md Ali Shabbir, a former power minister. While no TRS leader or elected representative was willing to come on record to talk on the issue of farmers’ suicides, privately, some party leaders admitted that it was an issue the government should have taken seriously. However, they preferred to hold the previous governments responsible for the sad plight of farmers in the state accusing them of neglecting the rural power supply and irrigation sectors. While as of now there are records of 234 farmers’ suicides as verified by the local police, the figure is set to touch 250 if the deaths that occurred in the past 10 days are taken into account. “Suicide is a result of a person coming to a conclusion that he or she cannot solve a problem and also cannot see anyone else coming to their rescue to solve that problem,” Diana Monteiro, a counselling psychologist and director of Hyderabad Academy of Psychology explained. When the TRS announced that it would waive loans as promised in its election manifesto, the farming community stood by the party and is believed to have voted for it in large numbers catapulting it to power. However, the delays in implementing the loan waiver scheme and the riders attached to it, diluting the promise, has meant that many farmers who hoped to be freed from the cluthes of debts, suddenly found themselves at a loss. Not a single government representative or TRS leader has visited any of these families, allege TDP and Congress. “Despite championing the cause of farmers, TRS has completely ignored the provisions of GO 421 of 2004 which stipulates that the state is responsible for providing relief to families of farmers who commit suicide,” Shabbir said. In fact, the GO does not differentiate reasons for such deaths but lays down that irrespective of the reason, the government has to provide certain amount of relief, not exceeding Rs 2 lakh per family . The GO mandates the government to take steps to rehabilitate the family of the deceased farmer. (Times of India 17/10/14)

LAND ACQUISITION/ DISPLACEMENT

116. UP acquires 2,000 hectares for Agra-Lucknow expressway (4)

Lucknow: Uttar Pradesh government has acquired over 2,000 hectares from farmers and land owners for the proposed 301 km Agra-Lucknow expressway. This together with around 121 hectares of government and Gram Sabha land makes up for 70 percent of total land required for one of the flagship projects of the Akhilesh Yadav government. The project estimated to cost about Rs 10,000 crore would traverse 10 districts viz. Agra, Firozabad, Mainpuri, Etawah, Auraiya, Kannauj, Kanpur City, Unnao, Hardoi and Lucknow. According to UP Expressways Industrial Development Authority (UPEIDA) sources, the government has so far acquired over 2,061 hectares of land from 22,525 farmers spanning 217 villages in these districts. Additional land across 15 other villages is still to be acquired and negotiations with farmers were underway. Interestingly, land acquisition has been lowest in pocket boroughs of SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav in Firozabad, Mainpuri and Etawah, where acquisition percentage have stood at merely 40 percent, 17 percent and 34 percent respectively. Hardoi and Kannauj have clocked highest acquisition percentages at 100 and 95 percent respectively. Kannauj is the parliamentary constituency of Dimple Yadav, the wife of chief minister Akhilesh Yadav. Meanwhile, UPEIDA has sought Rs 1,350 crore from the finance department for part payment to farmers. Almost Rs 5,000 crore would be needed for land acquisition payments and the project is expected to be completed in 30-36 months. Initially, the expressway was planned on public private partnership (PPP) model. Since, it failed to garner investors due to economic slowdown. Subsequently, the government decided to adopt Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) route, wherein the state would fund the project. The contract for the project, divided into five packages, has already been awarded to developers. PNC Infratech has been selected for package 1 (Agra-Firozabad); Afcons Infrastructure for package 2 (Firozabad-Etawah); Nagarjuna Construction Company for package 3 (Etawah-Kannauj); Afcons Infrastructure for package 4 (Kannauj-Unnao); and L&T for package 5 (Unnao-Lucknow). The expressway would cut travel time between Lucknow and Agra and spur economic development along the route with trade, agricultural and economic corridors proposed at different places. It would provide seamless travel between Lucknow and National Capital Region (NCR) via the functional Agra-Greater Noida Yamuna Expressway. (Business Standard 10/10/14)

117. SC judgment due: Singur farmers want end to logjam (4)

SINGUR: It was the wedge between farmers willing or unwilling to part with their land that catapulted Singur into the global map from oblivion nearly a decade ago — first when it was shortlisted as the site for the world’s cheapest car and then, when it fuelled the anti-farmland acquisition stir that shook one of the mightiest corporate empires in the country. But that wedge now ceases to exist. All eyes will be on the Supreme Court on Tuesday when it takes up for hearing the validity of the Singur Land Rehabilitation and Development Act, 2011, which Calcutta high court struck down as unconstitutional in June 2012. Chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s efforts to soothe the pain of unwilling farmers by shelling out doles from taxpayers seem to have bracketed even the big land-losers with the landless stakeholders. Take Mahadeb Das for example. Das, along with Becharam Manna, had first raised the banner of revolt and later roped in Trinamool Congress MLA Rabindranath Bhattacharya to give the Singur anti-land acquisition movement a political hue. Today, Das is disgruntled. With 11 bighas of his land in the 997.11 acres fenced off for the Tata Nano factory, Das hopes the SC verdict shows a way out of the logjam. “This can’t continue forever. Let there be a conclusive order — either the factory stays or the land is returned. To think of it, even if the factory stays we will live with it,” he said. Manna — now a minister in the state government — however stuck to the ruling party line. “The Singur movement has been an eye-opener to the world. It even forced the Centre to enact a new land acquisition law of its own. We keenly await the Supreme Court verdict. The farmers will get back their land,” he said. Statistics, however, don’t appear to prove a challenge to the state. Of the 997.11 acres, only 156 acres belong to owners who are unwilling. Of the Rs 90-crore fund disbursed by the previous Left Front government in 10,000 cheques, only 2,800 cheques have not been accepted. As high as 82.7% of the landowners have given a nod the Tata Nano project. At Beraberi Purbapara, Shyamali Das had named her granddaughter ‘Paribartan’ during the heady days of fiery protests when even the mightiest stumbling blocks did not appear too daunting with Didi by her side. Four years after she and others celebrated ‘victory’ when Ratan Tata announced the pullout, Shyamali is disillusioned with how things have unfolded since. “We have the ‘friendly government’ in place but neither land nor money. Farmers who had led the struggle are just about managing to eke out a living. The CM is handing out a monthly dole of Rs 1,000 and 2 kg rice at Rs 2 a kg to families that haven’t accepted cheques. My husband was beaten up mercilessly by the police during the protests and is still undergoing treatment with a medical bill of Rs 500 a month. That leaves the family with only Rs 500. What do we do with it? If the government is serious about our plight, it should pay the interest on the amount that we have forfeited by not accepting cheques for the acquired land,” she said. For her family, it would amount to Rs 3,000 a month for the 1.5 bigha acquired. (Times of India 13/10/14)

118. Land acquisition no longer required for green approval (4)

New Delhi: Making green norms more business friendly, the environment ministry has now allowed project proponents to seek environment clearance without mandatory land acquisition. In a change in rules notified last week, the ministry said that documentary evidence to suggest that the process of land acquisition has started would be more than enough to appraise the project and grant environment clearance. The change became possible as the ministry opined that the environment clearance is site specific under the Environment Impact Assessment notification of 2006 and any change in the site would make the approval invalid. “It may, however, be noted that the EC granted for a project on the basis of the aforesaid documents shall become invalid in case the actual land for the project site turns out to be different and mentioned in the EC,” the office memorandum issued with respect to land acquisition said. The amendment in the rules was made after several infrastructure ministries and industry associations told the environment ministry that the condition was a cause for delay in project acquisition. Considering the plea, the ministry said there should be some credible document to show the process of land acquisition has been initiated. In another business friendly measure, the ministry has imposed a restriction on its Expert Appraisal Committee that recommends environment clearance from seeking more environmental studies at the time of final consideration of the project, called stage-II approval process. The ministry said that the EAC should recommend environment studies at the time of approving the terms of reference for the project also called stage-I approval process. This condition was also imposed on suggestion of industry bodies. (Hindustan Times 14/10/14)

119. Raising Sardar Sarovar dam height will spell doom for poor: Medha Patkar (4)

BHOPAL: A large number of oustees of Narmada projects led by Narmada Bacaho Andolan (NBA) activist Medha Patkar sat on dharna near CM house on Thursday. They wanted to meet chief minister to highlight their concern over raising Sardar Sarovar dam height, but in vain. “We could see chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s cavalcade passing from dharna site but he did not stop to meet tribals and poor, who are affected and have been rendered landless because of these projects Whole day, we waited for him but he did not turn up to listen to our pleas,” Medha told TOI before leaving Bhopal. “Around 45,000 dam-hit families are yet to be rehabilitated. Raising dam height to 138.68 m would spell doom on more poor people,” Patkar said. Gujarat government has started construction on October 8 to raise dam height from 121.92 metres to 138.68 metres and to install radial gates on the dam. In June 2014, Union government gave approval to Gujarat government to raise the height of the dam. Following this development, she said, there are fresh issues related to relief and rehabilitation, huge corruption in rehabilitation work which is being investigated and violation of norms by Narmada valley Development Authority (NVDA). “We wanted to tell CM all this. Whole day officials kept assuring us that they would arrange meeting with CM, but in vain. MP has three ministers in Modi cabinet, still voice of the state is not “heard in Delhi.” “Owing to pressure from Narendra Modi, Uma Bharti would talk about saving Ganga only but she has no time to talk about Narmada,” Patkar alleged. Besides Sardar Sarovar dam oustees, oustees from other projects on Narmada and Adani power project in Chhindwara among others were also there. Meanwhile, Shyamla Hills police have registered a case against Patkar, Sunilam and their supporters. FIR was registered under different sections of IPC, including 147 (rioting), 341 (punishment for wrongful restraint) and 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant). (Times of India 17/10/14)

RIGHT TO HEALTH

120. New health policy pushes for decriminalising suicide bids (3)

New Delhi: India’s new health policy which calls for recognition of mental disorders and a more accessible and holistic treatment of mental illnesses also pushes for decriminalisation of attempted suicide. Released on the occasion of World Mental Health Day on Friday, the policy takes a fresh look at the health services being offered for mental illnesses, lays down the guidelines for mental health care, and recommends changes in the law that criminalises suicide, now considered a major cause of death among people with a mental illness. Releasing the policy, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said: “The Indian Lunatic Asylum Act, 1858, and Indian Lunacy Act, 1912, ignored the human rights aspect and were concerned only with custodial issues. After Independence, it took 31 years for India to attempt the first enactment, which resulted another nine years later in the Mental Health Act, 1987. But due to many defects, the Act never came into force.” Advocating a change in attitude towards mental illnesses, he said: “When someone attempts suicide and fails, it is considered a crime; attempted suicides should be decriminalised.” The new policy is backed up by the “Mental Health Action Plan 365” which spells out specific roles for the Centre, States, local bodies and civil society organisations. “Universal access to mental health care is a specific goal of the government. It would find substantial articulation in the National Health Policy and National Health Assurance Mission,” the Minister said. (The Hindu 10/10/14)

121. Ebola toll passes 4,000 as fears grow worldwide (3)

Madrid: The death toll from Ebola has passed 4,000, the World Health Organization said on Friday, while a Madrid nurse was fighting for her life and authorities worldwide tried to prevent panic over the deadly disease spreading. The WHO said 4,033 people have died from Ebola as of October 8 out of a total of 8,399 registered cases in seven countries. The sharp rise in deaths came as the UN said pledges of aid to fight the outbreak have fallen well short of the $1 billion needed. Beyond west Africa, where almost all of the deaths have occurred, fears grew about the worst-ever Ebola epidemic. From Australia to Zimbabwe, and Macedonia to Spain, people who showed signs of fever or had recent contact with Ebola victims were whisked into isolation units or ordered to stay in their homes. False reports of infections forced Spanish police to call for calm, while in France some public buildings outside Paris were briefly closed after a scare. Authorities warned that hoaxes could trigger panic as a man was taken off a US flight by a bio-hazard team after he sneezed and reportedly said, “I have Ebola. You are all screwed.” Serious concerns remained in Spain over how the virus could have spread in the country’s main isolation hospital. Healthcare workers told AFP the quarantine floor of Carlos III hospital in Madrid was shut last year as a result of spending cuts and only re-opened for two missionaries who were flown back with the disease in August. Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy visited the hospital where 44-year-old nurse Teresa Romero was infected, and where she was in a “stable but serious” condition on Friday. Doctors there took in seven more patients for observation late Thursday, while Madrid’s regional leader said Romero, who caught the haemorrhagic fever while caring for the missionaries, was at “serious risk” of dying. Her husband and 12 other people, most of them medical staff, were also under observation, though a male nurse had been discharged, the hospital said.In a sign of the stress at the hospital, where the media are camped out, some staff did not show up for work on Friday. “There are fewer staff signing up to help,” said one nurse caring for Romero, Charly Manuel Torres, referring to voluntary extra cover at the hospital. “We are very stressed. We are working under a lot of pressure.” The United Nations and leaders of the Ebola-stricken nations of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone pleaded for greater help for the frontline of the disease in Africa. UN Deputy Secretary General Jan Eliasson said only a quarter of “the one billion dollars sought” to combat the disease had been pledged. He also appealed for doctors, nurses and other health care personnel to come forward to work in desperately needed treatment centres in west Africa. In Liberia, where the official death toll was put at 2,316 by the WHO on Friday, the government said it had banned journalists from Ebola clinics, arguing it was to protect patients’ privacy. The move came as nurses at the largest government Ebola clinic in the capital Monrovia staged a “go slow” to demand hazard pay, defying a request by UN health officials to avoid industrial action during the crisis… (The Hindustan Times 11/10/14)

122. ‘Socio-cultural change must to reduce maternal, infant mortality rate’ (3)

Nagpur: Providing quality emergency and essential obstetric care to the mother holds the key to reducing maternal mortality rate (MMR). Also, gender equality and women’s empowerment can reduce the mother and child mortality rate, said Dr Prakash Deo, the state programme coordinator of the United National Population Fund (UNPF) of Madhya Pradesh (MP). Deo was interacting with TOI after receiving the Late DR VN Wankar Memorial Lifetime Achievement Award from the Indian Medical Association (IMA), Nagpur chapter, at the inauguration of IMA’s annual conference NIMACON. He basically belongs to Nagpur and served the public health sector in the state for two decades before taking up the UNPF assignment where he has been working since last seven years. Dr Deo said in MP, the MMR continues to be as high as 250 per one lakh women while the infant mortality rate (IMR) is 64 per thousand. “As per the Millennium Development Goals, the MMR should be brought down to less than 100 while IMR should be less than 30%. In MP, the total fertility rate (number of children delivered per mother) is 3.2 which needs to be brought down to 2.1. The sex ratio in MP has also gone down from 932 in 2001 to 918 in 2014,” he said. The main agenda of the UNPF is to ensure safe pregnancy, child birth and allowing every adolescent to achieve full potential. “This is possible only through socio-cultural change for which the UNPF acts as a catalytic agent. Improving the literacy rate also empowers women to defend themselves against all oppressions that they face in the male dominated society,” said Dr Deo. National programmes like the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) and certain state initiatives like the ‘Mamta Abhiyan’ in MP are also supporting this cause, he added. The NIMACON was inaugurated by Arun Jamkar, vice-chancellor of Maharashtra University of Health Sciences. Dr Milind Naik, national vice-president of IMA, presided over the programme. Dr Sanjay Deshpande and Dr Kish Jhunjhunwala, IMA president and secretary respectively, also spoke on the occasion. Earlier, various technical sessions were held wherein Dr Vikrant Deshmukh, Dr Anand Pathak, Dr Sanjay Kolte, Dr Prakash Deo, Dr Deepak Jeswani, Dr Mannuprasad, Dr Satish Tiwari, Dr PG Dixit made presentations. (Times of India 12/10/14)

123. Tribal-dominated districts account for 47% of malaria deaths in India (3)

LUCKNOW: The three-day 25th National Congress of Parasitology titled ‘Global Challenges in the Management of Parasitic Diseases jointly organized by the Indian Society of Parasitology and CSIR-Central Drug Research Institute (CSIR-CDRI), which commenced on Thursday, saw discussion on malaria hogging the limelight. Malaria as a major public health problem in tribal area of India was brought forth by Dr Neeru Singh, director of the Regional Medical Research Centre for Tribals (ICMR), Jabalpur. She said that analysis carried out at the district level revealed that districts with 30% or more tribal population (comprising about 8% country’s population) contribute to 46% of total malaria cases and 47% malaria deaths in the country. The presentation also discussed various operational issues and challenges in malaria control and prevention in tribal areas. Director of CDRI, Dr SK Puri, while speaking on the occasion highlighted the contribution of the institute during the past more than six decades in the field of parasitic diseases. Padma Bhushan awardee Dr VP Sharma, former director of India’s Malaria Research Institute and an eminent parasitologist stressed on the need for more pro-active efforts from scientists and students in dealing with the nuances of parasitic diseases. He further said that drug resistance has emerged as a major threat in recent years and asked the scientists to also think of adopting new vector control strategies especially in the tribal areas of India to check the menace of parasitic diseases. Director general of Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, Dr PS Ahuja stressed on the need to detect and tackle the parasitic diseases at an early stage so that intervention can be started at the earliest. Dr SL Hoti, president of the Indian Society of Parasitology asked the scientists to take advantage of the large biodiversity of India and translate the leads generated from traditional medicine approaches to help infected individuals. During the scientific keynote and plenary sessions, Dr Joachim Clos from Germany described the role of heat shock proteins in survival and signal transduction in Leishmania, the causative organism of Kala-azar. Dr Ramaswamy Kalyansundaram from USA addressed elimination strategies for filariasis and highlighted recent advances in the development of vaccines against lymphatic filariasis. (Times of India 16/10/14)

HIV/AIDS

124. US urges action to keep Ebola from becoming `next AIDS` (3)

Washington: A top US health official urged swift action Thursday to prevent the deadly Ebola virus from becoming the next AIDS epidemic, as the health of an infected Spanish nurse deteriorated. The United Nations chief meanwhile called for a 20-fold increase in the world`s response to the spread of Ebola, which has killed nearly 3,900 people in West Africa since the beginning of the year. Ebola`s spillover into the United States and Europe has raised fears of a wider outbreak, and led the United States, Canada and Britain to start tougher airport screening of passengers arriving from West Africa. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention predicted the number of cases could mount to 1.4 million by January unless strong measures are taken to contain the disease, which is spread though close contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person. “We have to work now so that it is not the world`s next AIDS,” CDC Director Tom Frieden told the heads of the United Nations, World Bank and International Monetary Fund gathered in Washington. “I would say that in the 30 years I`ve been working in public health, the only thing like this has been AIDS,” he added, warning of a “long fight” ahead.In Madrid, the condition of a nurse who treated two elderly missionaries with Ebola worsened, leaving her at “serious risk” of dying, Madrid regional president Ignacio Gonzalez told parliament. Teresa Romero is the first person infected with Ebola outside Africa. Health officials said they would monitor about 50 other people — mostly health staff — who had been in contact with Romero for the duration of the 21-day Ebola incubation period. Six other people are in quarantine at the hospital as a precaution, including Romero`s husband and several health workers, according to the latest tally from the hospital. Among Ebola`s latest victims is Thomas Eric Duncan, the first patient cared for in the United States to die of the disease. Just after his death was announced Wednesday, US officials ordered increased screening at five major airports in Atlanta, Chicago, New Jersey, New York and Washington. French Health Minister Marisol Touraine said she was working with the authorities in countries badly affected by Ebola “to see in which conditions we can reinforce departure controls.” Britain said it would start “enhanced screening” of people coming from Ebola-hit parts of West Africa at Heathrow and Gatwick airports and on Eurostar trains from Belgium and France. The European Commission was expected to meet on October 17 to discuss possible new ways to monitor passengers arriving from affected countries.The continuing outbreak in West Africa forced officials in Liberia — the nation worst hit by the Ebola outbreak — to postpone nationwide elections. Almost three million voters had been due to go to polling stations on Tuesday but organizers said there was no way a “mass movement, deployment and gathering of people” could go ahead without endangering lives. In Guinea, global aid agency Medecins Sans Frontieres said a surge of Ebola cases had pushed its treatment unit in the capital Conakry to its “physical limits.” Speaking to the UN, World Bank and IMF chiefs in Washington, Sierra Leone President Ernest Bai Koroma assailed the global response to the epidemic thus far, saying it was moving more slowly than the spread of the disease. “This slower-than-the-virus response needs to change,” he said. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said resources to support the fight must be increased 20-fold, and urged nations to act without delay. “Cases are growing exponentially,” Ban said. “Do not wait for consultation. Just take action.” World Bank President Jim Yong Kim admitted that the world was “behind the curve” in the fight against Ebola. (Zee news 10/10/14)

125. HIV/AIDS cases on the rise in Arunachal (3)

ITANAGAR, Oct 10 – HIV/AIDS cases have been steadily going up in Arunachal Pradesh over the past five years, with 223 cases being recorded till last March. The number was 167 in 2010, officials of the Arunachal Pradesh State AIDS Control Society (APSACS) said. APSACS Dy Director (IEC) Tashor Pali said that most of those tested positive were in the age group of 15 to 39. Papum Pare district topped the list of HIV/AIDS-infected patients followed by Lohit and Changlang in the second and third spots respectively. “Unprotected sexual contact is found to be the primary reason for increase in HIV infection among people in the age group of 15 to 39 in the State,” Pali said. Pali said, “Awareness is the only way to stay away from infection as Anti Retro Viral Treatment (ARVT) can control only the multiplication of HIV virus inside the body, but cannot cure AIDS.” District Integrated Counselling and Testing Centres (ICTC) Supervisor Ali Taloh said that counselling for patients is a must since patients suffer from sudden shock and fear of death after they test positive. Pali observed that through proper and timely counselling, the longevity of life of the patients could be expanded by making them understand that there was a life beyond AIDS. “Through counseling we try to instil confidence among them on how to live a positive life, besides urging them to become a symbol of awareness by sharing experiences with their family members, friends and the society”, Pali further said. A private organisation “Arunachal Network of Positive People (ArNP+)” has been rendering a great service in creating awareness about the disease among the people. The ArNP+ is a registered society in the State constituted by 14 HIV-positive individuals. – PTI (The Assam Tribune 11/10/14)

126.  ‘HIV cases may increase in 4 to 5 years due to laxity in prevention’ (3)

MYSORE: Even as the number of people living with HIV/AIDS in the country has come down over the last ten to twelve years, president of AIDS Society of India I.S. Gilada fears a fresh spurt in the epidemic if the laxity in preventive intervention is allowed to continue. Till a few years ago, voluntary organisations and government agencies carried out preventive strategies in high-risk groups including truck drivers, sex workers and migrant workers. “But, these preventive activities have been more or less abandoned as the focus has now shifted to treatment,” said Dr. Gilada, speaking to The Hindu on the sidelines of a two-day HIV/AIDS Conference, which concluded in Mysore on Sunday. If the complacency and laxity in preventive measures continues, there may a fresh spurt in HIV cases in the next four or five years, he warned. Calling for scaling up of preventive strategies, including risk mapping in vulnerable areas like student centres, railway stations, tourist centres, marketplaces and pilgrim centres, Dr. Gilada also made out a case for introducing ‘health education’ in school curriculum to create awareness about the virus. Though India has the third highest number of estimated people living with HIV in the world, Dr. Gilada said the spread of the disease in the country was not on as massive scale as had been feared in the early days when the virus was detected. “There was a flaw in the way it was analysed back then by comparing it with African countries like Nigeria, Botswana and Swaziland,” he said. He mentioned that sex was taboo in India and the society was against promiscuity. He said the affliction in India had been stabilised due to treatment strategies including free Anti Retroviral Therapy (ART) introduced since 2004. About 6.8 lakh patients are benefiting from the government ART programme, he said. Meanwhile, according to statistics provided by the National AIDS Control Organsiation (NACO), new HIV infections per year has come down by a massive 57 per cent from 2000 (2.74 lakh) to 2011 (1.16 lakh), while HIV prevalence among adults reduced from 0.41 per cent in 2001 to 0.27 in 2011. (The Hindu 12/10/14)

127. Inmate Abused at HIV Home in Kovai, Say Public (3)

COIMBATORE: Tension prevailed at Puliyakulam in Ramanathapuram here on Monday after a section of local residents staged a protest alleging inmate abuse at a home for HIV/AIDS affected children and youth and demanding its immediate closure. According to the police, a few days ago, a 20-year-old girl, who was suffering from cancer and AIDS, was admitted to the home by her father. The facility hosts 20 inmates, most of whom were HIV positive. On Monday, a few locals noticed the girl crying outside the home. When questioned, the girl told them that she was beaten up by the staff. The locals took up the issue and staged a protest, demanding immediate closure of the home and also alleged that the staff at the facility were abusing the inmates. On information, the Ramanathapuram police rushed to the spot and conducted enquiries. A police official told Express that the staff at the home used to make the inmates of the facility do some chores for their ‘overall development’. These included washing their own clothes and cleaning vessels. As part of the policy, the staff had asked the girl to wash her clothes. However, when she failed to perform the task satisfactorily, the staff allegedly beat her up. Inspector Saravanan said that a detailed inquiry was conducted into the operation of the home and nothing wrong was found. However, a district child welfare committee probe into the incident was pending. According to sources, the locals had been against the functioning of the facility, as the home housed HIV/AIDS patients. Later, the father of the girl took her away. (New Indian Express 14/10/14)

Posted by admin at 20 October 2014

Category: Uncategorized

 DALITS/SCHEDULED CASTES

1. ‘Locks’ Fall as Dalits Get Access to Salon (2)

THANJAVUR: Dalits of Veerasingampettai village in the district on Wednesday got their first haircut in three years at the local salon. The service had been denied to them due to the diktat of some dominant caste members of the village. G Thangappan, a Dalit farm worker got his haircut in the presence of leaders of the Tamil Nadu Untouchability Eradication Front, S Vigneswaran, revenue inspector of Kandiyur, and Anandathandavam, inspector of police. “For the last three years, I used to get my haircut at Kandiyur, about 2 km from here,” said Thangappan. U Punniyamurthy, a Dalit and local unit secretary of CPM,  said, “Till three years ago, Dalits used to be serviced by two salons in the village. However, when a PMK man got elected as village leader of the dominant community, Dalits were denied service at the salons.” The two salons located on the land of a Mariamman temple at Veerasingampettai, used to service not only Dalits of the village but also those from the neighbouring hamlets of Thiruvedikudi, Thiruchchotruthurai and Kalyanapuram. However, for the last three years the Dalits from these villages were also denied service. A Muthamizhselvan of Thiruvedikudi said two months ago a Dalit youth from Thiruchchotruthurai was roughed up by members of the dominant caste for questioning the denial of service at the salons. Offering of service to Dalits at the salons in  Veerasingampettai was the result of a campaign undertaken by the Tamil Nadu Untouchability Eradication front (TNUEF), which had announced action on the issue on September 30. However, a peace meeting was conducted by Tiruvaiyaru Tahsildar on September 29 and it was agreed by all parties present that the services would be offered at the salons from Wednesday. However, TNUEF members became agitated when one of the two salons, owned by a person called Gunasekaran, remained closed. TNUEF members and Dalits pointed out that the shop, which used to open around 7 am, remained closed till 10.30 am. “Only after the intervention of revenue officials and some members of the dominant caste, the salon was opened,” said Sathish, a Dalit youth. He also pointed out that Sureshkumar, son of Dhanapal, who used to offer hairdressing services at one of the salons, was conspicuous by his absence at the meeting. Express that such untouchability prevailed in Varahoor village in Tiruvaiyaru union also. He said in Varahoor, the Dalits were also denied laundry services. G Neelamegam, district secretary of CPM, V Jeevakumar, C Packirisamy, district secretariat members of CPM, and Sami Natarajan, farmers wing district secretary, were present in Veerasingampettai when the Dalits were offered hairdressing service in the salon. (New Indian Express 2/10/14)

2. Muzaffarnagar tense after 3 injured in Dalit-Jat clash (2)

Muzffarnagar: A clash between Dalits and Jats on Friday in Jat Mujhera village of Muzaffarnagar left three people injured. Both the groups resorted to stone pelting and firing following which a heavy police force was deployed to the area to control the situation. Senior police and district officials rushed to the village to bring the situation under control. According to reports on Thursday night, Raj Singh of the Dalit community had an altercation with three people — Jasbeer, Sitara and Kushal — at the Ramlila ground of the Jat Mujhera village. A peace meeting was called in the village on Friday morning but both parties ended up getting into an argument again. The matter escalated when men from both sides started pelting stones at each other and firing in which Pradeep, 28, Ravish, 30, and Naveen, 17, received bullet injuries. Some Dalits alleged that shots were fired at them in the presence of the police, who did nothing to help them. Later, several Dalit women blocked the Shukrataal- Muzaffarnagar Road, demanding action against the assailants. The administration has deployed heavy police and PAC force in the village. The situation remained tense till reports last came in but no FIR from either side had been filed regarding the incident. Hospital sources said two of the three injured had been referred to a Meerut hospital for further treatment. (Hindustan Times 3/10/14)

3. Dalits throng Nagpur on Dhammachakra Pravartan Din (2)

NAGPUR: Manisha Kursunge, 21, a student of BSW (Bachelor of Social Work) from Gondia district of Maharashtra, is astounded to see the huge crowd gathered at the Deekshabhoomi here on Friday. “I have come here for a field assignment. It’s amazing to see so many people and I am trying to understand what motivates them to gather here every year,” said Manisha. Every year on the day of ‘Ashoka Vijayadashami’, Dalits from across the country gather at Deekshabhoomi (the place where Dr. B.R. Ambedkar converted to Buddhism with his followers in 1956) to celebrate the Dhammachakra Pravartan Din — the day on which he converted to Buddhism. Lakhs of people thronged Nagpur to celebrate the 58th Dhammachakra Pravartan Din. “Babasaheb [Ambedkar] gave us new life. Before him we were not even being considered humans. I come here every year to thank him,” claimed Rahul Bagade, a deputy engineer in the Public Works Department from Amravati. According to Sanjay Bele, an activist from Nagpur, at every other place in the world, people either gather for religious purpose or rituals. “But at Deekshabhoomi, people come to buy books and to remember their emancipator. Although it had a religious background initially, the yearly event now does not have any religious connection,” Mr. Bele said. When asked about the political divisions among Dalits, he said, “The community seems to be divided on different lines politically but they come here for the bond they share with Dr. Ambedkar.” (The Hindu 4/10/14)

4. Situation still hostile for Mirchpur Dalits to return (2)

New Delhi: Four years after Dalit families in Mirchpur were victimised after a pet dog of a Dalit dog barked at a group of Jats, the village continues to remain unsafe for the riotstricken victims. A fact-finding report submitted before the Supreme Court claims the situation continues to be hostile and unfriendly for the victims to return. On the directions of the top court, the PIL petitioner, who exposed the pitiable living conditions in Mirchpur, surveyed the village and also a private farm where the 75% of the victims are residing at present. The camp is located 7km from the village.The report would be taken up Wednesday by a bench headed by justice SJ Mukopadhyaya. Though the Haryana gover nment reconstructed all the houses they remain vacant and dilapidated as none of the victims have returned. Even four years after the incident the Haryana government has failed to re-instill faith in the victims prompting them to go back to their houses. According to the petitioner, security personnel continue to be posted in the village. Apparently, the gover nment has even stopped supply foodgrains and monetary benefits under the NREGA scheme, which were provided to them at the SC’s instance. As the camps are situated outside Mirchpur, girl students have been forced to abandon education. They can no longer go to school on foot as its too dangerous for them, the report has claimed. On April 21, 2010, members of the Jat community attacked the houses of Dalit families after the accused got enraged when a Dalit boy objected to hurling of stones by Jat youths at the dog. One Tara Chand and his physically-challenged teenaged daughter got killed in the attack. On SC’s direction the trial in the case was moved from Haryana to Delhi. In its final verdict, the trial court held 15 persons guilty for setting ablaze Tara Chand’s house and sentenced them to life imprisonment on October 31, 2011. Convicts’ appeal against the verdict is still pending. (Hindustan Times 8/10/14)

5. Minors assault Dalit youth over nameplate in Gujarat (2)

Ahmedabad: A group of upper caste minor boys in Gandhinagar assaulted a Dalit youth for displaying his surname on his motorbike. The incident took place in Palaj village on September 30, during the Navaratri festival. According to the case registered at the Chiloda police station, 18-year-old Mehul Vaghela was returning home on his motorbike after attending the Navaratri festivities. He was stopped by a group of four minor boys from the upper caste Rajput community. They questioned Mehul, who belongs to the Chamar caste, for having his surname on the vehicle. The boys said this was a practice only among the Rajputs. One of the minors then hit Mehul with a stick in the back even as the others began beating him. The injured was later admitted to a hospital, police told The Hindu. A case was registered under the Indian Penal Code sections 323 (voluntarily causing hurt), 504 (intentional insult), 506 (ii) (criminal intimidation), 114 (abettor present when offence is committed) and section 3(1)(x) of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. S.K. Savani, Deputy Superintendent of Police, said since the offences did attracted a punishment of less than seven years, the minors were not arrested, as per the Supreme Court guidelines. “We have recorded their statements. We will be sending them a notice at the time of filing the charge sheet before the Juvenile Justice Board,” he said. (The Hindu 9/10/14)

TRIBALS

6. Tribals oppose thermal power plant (6)

NALGONDA: Tribals from Mattampally mandal, who were denied a meeting with District Collector T. Chiranjeevulu on Monday, arrived at the Collectorate again on Tuesday to give a representation to the Collector opposing the setting up of the thermal power plant under Peddaveedu Panchayat limits. The tribals from three hamlets, Krishna Tanda, Gurrambodu Tanda and Tumma Tanda, came to the Collectorate on Monday, but the protesters complained that they were denied a meeting with the Collector till late in the evening. They tried to stay near the collectorate until they got an appointment but the police evicted the protesters. As their village was located about 90 km away from the district headquarters, they stayed at a nearby village for the night and returned to the Collectorate on Tuesday morning. They staged a protest for a couple of hours when they were permitted to meet the Collector. (The Hindu 1/10/14)

7. CPI (M)’s anti-Church comments draw flak (6)

Agartala: Christian groups here are dismayed over the ‘anti-Church’ comments of senior CPI(M) leaders on the demand for separate tribal State. They sought an explanation from the ruling party leaders as to how the Church is instigating the movement on the issue. “It is very regrettable that the senior ruling party leaders have made unfounded allegation against a religious institution without presenting any evidence. We are deeply hurt and annoyed”, a spokesperson of Tripura Baptist Church Union (TBCU) said on Wednesday. The CPI (M) state secretary, Bijan Dhar, and leaders of the party’s tribal front Gana Mukti Parishad (GMP) lashed out at the CIA, underground extremists and the Church in their statements against the ongoing agitation of the Indigenous People’s Front of Twipra (IPFT) for a separate tribal State. Though CPI(M) was not attaching much importance to IPFT, but recent by-election results of the Manu Assembly constituency made the party take a tough stance. The IPFT secured sizeable votes and ended third after Congress in a multi-corner contest. The CPI(M) and the GMP resolved to fight out the IPFT and reach out to tribals against the divisive demand which according to them is aimed at creating discord between the 33 percent tribal population and the majority Bengalis. The IPFT wants the tribal State to be called ‘Twipraland’. The specific comment against the Church created a fresh controversy with Church groups, especially Baptists, asking the ruling party leaders to retract it or present evidence. A few Christian forums are preparing to lodge complaint with Governor P.B. Achariya. (The Hindu 4/10/14)

8. ‘Adivasi, Dalit Children Suffering Due to Lack of Nutritional Food’ (6)

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM : A study conducted by an NGO, RIGHTS, based here has revealed that 70 per cent of children in the state have not been enjoying the provisions of nutritional food distribution supply systems.  According to the study, children belonging to dalit, adivasi and fishing communities of the state critically lack nourishment. The services of Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) had been received only by 28 per cent of children in the state aged between 0 to 6 years. According to the study, the number of children in the state suffering from ailments due to lack of proper nutrition has increased eight fold in the last five years. The study observed striking increase in the number of children suffering due to health problems, owing to lack of nutritional food, in dalit, adivasi and fishing communities in Palakkad, Malappuram and Idukki districts . It said that while the number of children in Palakkad who suffered due to health problems, owing to lack of nutritional food, was 229 in 2008, the number increased to 2,209 in 2013. In Malappuram, the number of children who suffered due to health problems was 404 in 2008 but it rose to 2,605 in 2013. In Idukki, it was 57 in 2008 which rose to 405 in 2013. While 25 per cent of the children in the state do not get nutritional food, on an average, 37 per cent of dalit children in the state do not get nutritional food. Similarly, 45 percent of adivasi children and 36 per cent of children in the fishing community do not get nutritional food. (New Indian Express 6/10/14)

9. Govt Spent Rs 30Cr on Food for Tribals, Says Anjaneya (6)

BANGALORE: The state government had disbursed free foodgrains, dal and edible oil to more than 35,000 tribal families living along dense forest ranges ahead of monsoon, Social Welfare Minister H Anjaneya said on Monday. He told reporters that the department spent more than Rs 30 crore to implement the scheme and the beneficiaries were identified in the forest ranges of Mysore, Chamarajnagar, Kodagu, Dakshina Kannada and Udupi districts. The food items supplied included 30 kg of rice, 2 kg of oil and 5 kg of sugar, the minister said. “The scheme was evolved to ensure that tribals dwelling in forest areas are not deprived of foodgrains during the rainy season,” he said. The scheme was in addition to the existing Anna Bhagya scheme, being implemented by the Food and Civil Supplies Department, Anjaneya said. He also said the department would spend more than Rs 180 crore to open five new Valmiki Residential schools across the state to help Scheduled Tribe students. “We have finalised an action plan to spend over Rs 4,500 crore this year towards the empowerment of STs,” he said. He added that renowned educationist D Borappa has been nominated for the Sri Maharshi Valmiki Award for 2014-15. The award, which includes a cash prize of Rs 2 lakh, will be handed out by Chief Minister Siddaramaiah at the Vidhana Soudha on Wednesday. Borappa, who hails from Chitradurga district, has been selected for his outstanding contribution to the field of education. An expert committee, headed by writer S G Siddaramaiah, had recommended Borappa for the award. (New Indian Express 7/10/14)

10. Tribals vow to fight bauxite mining till end (6)

Sapparla (GK Veedhi): At an anti-bauxite meeting conducted by the Andhra Pradesh Girijana Sangham (APGS) in the Visakha Agency on Wednesday, tribals warned the state government that they would sacrifice their lives but not allow bauxite mining. Around 700 to 800 tribals from 30 villages in Ammavari Darakonda and Galikonda panchayats gathered at the Sapparla High School and carried out a rally to the primary health centre. Armed with traditional weapons like bows and arrows, they raised slogans against the TDP government and bauxite mining. In the nearly three-and-a-half-hour-long meeting, tribals raised their voice against the government and sang songs slamming bauxite mining and the government. Addressing the gathering, APGS Visakha district secretary K Appala Narsa accused the TDP government of deceiving tribals by first opposing bauxite mining when it was in the opposition and now doing a volte face by trying to excavate bauxite. “We fought the white people (British) for independence and now we are ready to fight with the government for our livelihood,” he said. Accusing the government of turning a blind eye to the objections raised by tribals, another tribal leader Bonangi Chinnayya Padal said there were nearly 550 million tonnes of bauxite reserves in the Visakha Agency that the government was conspiring to loot for the benefit of multinational companies. Other tribal leaders like Balaram, A Santhi, GK Veedhi MPP S Balaraju, sarpanches GYV Raju, Rama Krishna and Sunkari Vishnu Murthy also addressed the crowds. (Times of India 9/10/14)

WOMEN

11. This garba is dedicated to saving the girl child (8)

PALANPUR : This is a garba dedicated to saving the girl child while worshipping goddess Amba. The Samarpan Group of Mehsana has ensured that the participants in its garba contribute towards spreading awareness against the practice of female foeticide given the fact that the district has one of the highly skewed sex ratios in the state. “The participants have the logo ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Badhao’ (Save and welcome the girl child) embossed on their dresses as well as hoardings,” said Ashvin Patel, president of the Samarpan Group. Sources put Mehsana’s sex ratio at 926 girls per 1,000 males. The sex ratio has shown an improvement following a campaign by the government and NGOs over the last few years. “This is the first such occasion where a garba is espousing the cause of saving the girl child,” said an organizer Daxaben. She said that a dozen women also support belts on their shoulders with the slogans of saving the girl child written on them. Established in 2001, this group is known for introducing new concepts in its social activities including blood donation camps, notebook distributions to poor children and helping people in the times of natural calamities. (Times of India 1/10/14)

12. Training session for police soon to properly record statements of sexual abuse survivors (8)

MUMBAI: Personnel at each of Mumbai’s 93 police stations will soon be trained on how to correctly record statements of survivors in cases of rape and child sexual abuse. Vague or incomplete statements adversely impact the case in court. Volunteers of the NGO, Majlis, will conduct these training sessions in the wake of amendments in the law concerning rape and a new legislation introduced to protect children from sexual offences. Police commissioner Rakesh Maria announced earlier this year that survivors of offences like rape or molestation need not visit police stations to lodge a complaint; a woman police officer will visit the place convenient for the complainant, such as her residence. “It’s observed that a junior officer usually goes to record the survivor’s statement while the investigation thereafter is conducted by a senior officer. Very few of these junior personnel ever go to court to attend hearings of the case. The new law on protection of children from sexual offences is very descriptive. It is essential that the exact act committed by the accused is put on paper. But some of the junior personnel record vague or incomplete statements. We will train the policemen on how to word their questions correctly,” said Audrey D’Mello, programme and administration director, Majlis. Activists said few police personnel have gone through the new laws in detail. “We run a helpline for state stakeholders and encourage the police to call us if they have queries concerning the new law, such as which sections to apply in a particular case etc. On an average, we receive two calls per day. Personnel ask questions like whether they need to have a particular rank to conduct an identification parade of the accused in a case of child sexual abuse,” said D’Mello. Majlis will provide the police with a check-list to deal with investigation on all fronts. A booklet will be released at a later stage for quick reference. The training sessions will start after the state polls and will be conducted zone-wise. This is the second phase of Majlis’ training for the police force. “Previously, we trained 700 officers in batches of 50, on how to respond to a victim of sexual violence 24 hours later. We showed them judgments where judges made specific observations on the police investigation in a case,” said Flavia Agnes, co-founder of Majlis. Maria had issued a three-page circular for the force when the training commenced. (Times of India 6/10/14)

13. Sushma vows to double women cops in Haryana (8)

SAFIDON: Desperately looking to boost her sister and BJP candidate Vandana Sharma’s campaign in a tough contest in Jat heartland’s Safidon seat, Union external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj on Sunday struck an emotional chord with women by rolling out a charter of women empowerment plans that included a promise to double women cops in Haryana police to curb rising crime. “We need to make Haryana clean and good. Which is why BJP has made plans first to double the strength of women cops in state police and free bus travel facility with an armed cop would be provided to girls,” Swaraj said at Old Mandi in Safidon. Safidon is part of Jind district that was rocked by over 30 rape incidents of Dalit women in the past two years, including that of a 16-year-old girl who had committed suicide, forcing Congress president Sonia Gandhi to visit her village in 2012. Being a Brahmin, Swaraj’s younger sister Vandana is pitted in a tough battle in this seat, where INLD has fielded their sitting MLA Kali Ram Patwari while Congress has fielded a gurjar Bachan Singh Arya, who was independent MLA in 2004. The seat has around 20,000 Brahmins, 34,000 Jats and over 76,000 voters from Scheduled Caste (SC) and other backward classes (OBC). Swaraj also announced a pension scheme of Rs 2,000 for widows to ensure women do not face discrimination by in-laws. The external affairs minister, who was in the US until last week along with PM Modi, also invoked her memories from her first elections in Ambala when she had become the youngest MLA at 25 after her maiden poll victory against then four-time Haryana chief minister of Bansi Lal in 1977. “During my recent trip to the US, I was often asked by the Americans about my home state. I proudly told them that I belong to Haryana. I narrated them the tale of 1977,” she said.  The Sharma family has been camping in Safidon for the past thee weeks. Swaraj was joined by her brother and Ambala-based ayurved doctor Dr Gulshan Sharma, who had led her campaigns in Vidisha in 2009 and 2014. She also took potshots at CM Bhupinder Hooda for discriminating against rest of Haryana by restricting development in his constituency Rohtak. (Times of India 6/10/14)

14. Bombay high court order gives rise to questions about dowry death cases (8)

Mumbai: The Bombay high court recently acquitted a man, along with his mother, who was sentenced in 2000 for harassing his wife for dowry. She committed suicide in 1995. A division bench of justice TV Nalawade acquitted Vasant Sonawane and Chindhabai Sonawane who were sentenced to three years’ rigorous imprisonment and one year’s simple imprisonment respectively. The court while setting aside the conviction said: “The so called demand for (dowry) was very old and the evidence about it appears to be probable in nature.” As per the prosecution case the deceased Mangala and the accused Vasant married in the 1993. A few months after marriage, Vasant apparently demanded Rs5,000 to start a paan shop. Since she did not fulfil the demand, the accused started harassing her. When she was five months pregnant she returned to her parents house for delivery. But Vasant took her back to his home on the promise of good behaviour. On April 4, 1995, Mangala committed suicide by taking poison. During the trial the prosecution examined around six witnesses to bring home the guilt of the accused. The trial court in 2000 acquitted Vasant and his mother of the abetment to suicide charge but found them guilty of dowry harassment. The duo were out on bail pending the hearing of their appeal filed in the high court, challenging the conviction. The high court, after going through the evidence, concluded that the evidence on record says the demand was made almost a year before the incident [suicide]. Also, as soon as Mangala was found to have consumed poison her parents were informed and she was moved to hospital. The two brothers of the deceased examined as witnesses have not given any direct evidence of them being told of Mangala being harassed. Accordingly the court, giving benefit of doubt to the accused, set aside the conviction. (DNA 7/10/14)

15. Narendra Modi’s mention of growing number of bachelors finds resonance among women (8)

HISAR: Referring to the grave problem of swelling number of bachelors in Haryana, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday said that 125 out of each 1,000 young men were not getting married in the state. Modi promised that daughters would not be allowed to be killed in womb amid clapping from women attending his rally in poll-bound Haryana at Hisar on Monday. Talking about the skewed sex ratio in the state, Modi said, “Out of 15 districts of the country, which have poorest sex ratio, nine are from Haryana.” He appealed to the people of Haryana to consider the issue seriously. “If daughters are not allowed to be born what will be fate of the society” Modi asked the gathering. Around 2,000 women had also came to attend the BJP rally but most of the time they remained unresponsive except when Modi said that their brother was sitting in Delhi and female foeticide would be not be allowed in Haryana. He alleged that because of ‘gundagardi’ (hooliganism) in Haryana women were the worst sufferers while referring the incidents related to gang rapes of women, especially from the Dalit communities. “The state needs a government in which mothers and sisters are safe,” said Modi while asking for clear mandate for the saffron party in Haryana. An MSc student from Guru Jambheshwar University here, Anu Chiriya, was impressed by Modi for raising the issue of female foeticide. “The benefit of the women-friendly schemes like Ladli should reach the grassroots,” she opined. Another spectator at the rally, Anita Verma, a housewife, said, “The problem of skewed sex ratio will become more serious in coming days, if it is not handled immediately.” Haryana is among the states with the worst sex ratio in India with only 877 women for every 1,000 men as per the 2011 Census. As a result, thousands of bachelors have formed informal groups colloquially known as ‘randa unions’ as they are not able to get brides in Haryana. As per the 2011 census, Haryana was at the bottom in the child sex ratio among all states with just 834 girls for each 1,000 boys in the age group of 0-6 years. (Times of India 8/10/14)

CHILDREN/ CHILD LABOUR

16. EC asks parties not to involve children in Haryana poll process (14)

Chandigarh: The Election Commission on Wednesday asked political parties not to involve children in any work connected with the election process to the Haryana Assembly polls. Haryana Chief Electoral Officer Shrikant Walgad said that the leaders of political parties have been asked to ensure that children are not involved in election work like campaigning and carrying of electioneering material. He said the District Election Officer or Returning Officer would be held responsible for violation of child rights and would face severe disciplinary and legal action. Walgad said that Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act 1986 bans the employment of children below 14 years of age in specified occupations such as transport of goods. “It is the responsibility of the leaders of the political parties to ensure that there is no violation of these instructions,” he added. (Zee News 1/10/14)

17. Infant deaths high in India (14)

Mumbai: The World Health Organisation’s (WHO) latest global report on child mortality (2000-13) has once again placed India among the leading countries in terms of high infant mortality rate. The reasons why India has a large number of babies dying prematurely within 27 days of birth include weak health of infants as well as lifestyle diseases of their mothers like diabetes, obesity and blood pressure that lead to premature deliveries. According to the report published in The Lancet, out of 6.3 million children who died before reaching the age of 5 in 2013, over 51.8 per cent died of “infectious diseases” and over 2.741 million children (44 per cent) died in the neonatal period. Dr Bhupendra Avasthi, pediatrician, Sion Hospital, said, “The revenue allotted for pediatric care in the country is minimal. Many babies, apart from the malnourished ones, are born with complications and our lifestyle is also playing a lethal role in it. Most of them either contract infections or develop asphyxia.” The WHO report has made special mention of the deaths in India and China due to higher mortality rate. The three leading causes of the pre-mature deaths according to the report are Pneumonia (14.9 per cent), pre-mature birth complications (15.5 per cent) and intra-partum related complications (10.5 per cent). The report has said, “Reductions in Pneumonia, Diarrhoea, and Measles collectively were responsible for half of the 3·6 million fewer deaths recorded in 2013 versus 2000.” Meanwhile, a Right to Information Act report has found that a total of 24,380 children aged between 0 and 6 years have died in Maharashtra. Over 19, 465 infants have died in the state in the last year. On an average, nearly six children in this age group have died every day in the last year, 53 of them being infants. (Asian Age 4/10/14)

18. Beheaded body of a girl found in Meghalaya (14)

Shillong: The beheaded body of a teenagegirl with her arms chopped off was recovered from a jungle near Songsak road in East Garo Hills district of Meghalaya, police said on Monday. The 15-year-old girl, who was missing for a week, was suspected to have been raped before murder since the body was nude when it was recovered last night, Superintendent of Police Davis Marak said. Her arms and head were found some distance away and wild animals ate much of her body flesh, he said. A missing report was filed by her stepfather on September 28, but he was arrested after an FIR was lodged by the girl?s mother on October 1, Marak said. The stepfather, who had married the girl’s mother when she was four-year-old, was first questioned by the mother’s relative in a village meeting convened after disappearance of the girl. Since his statements were contradictory, his wife lodged an FIR against him, another police offical said. (Hindustan Times 6/10/14)

19. AP child welfare panel needs revamp (14)

VISAKHAPATNAM: The state department of child welfare needs to urgently improve inter-state and inter-department coordination, reintegrate rescued interstate children, provide special homes for differently-abled and HIV positive children, feel experts. In fact, these have been highlighted by a member of AP Child Welfare Committee (CWC) at the recently-held regional convention on child rights in Chennai. The CWC member has also submitted a paper to the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights, New Delhi for its perusal so that the department can improve its functioning. Elaborating on these challenges, advocate Abdul Raqueeb, the CWC member from Vizag who raised these issues at the convention, said, “In most of the districts, there’s not even a permanent facility, infrastructure or office to conduct the CWC proceedings, which usually have to be conducted in women-child welfare offices or in some schools or shelters. Many officials are not even aware of the juvenile justice system and its rules and regulations, while there’s inadequate staff to support the clerical work of CWC. Transport facilities for CWC members are often lacking and it becomes a problem to reach far-flung areas in times of emergency to rescue children from begging, trafficking, marriage, labour and crime.” Moreover, re-integration and escorting of vulnerable children, especially from other states, becomes a challenging issue due to language problems as well as the lack of coordination and cooperation among the various departments such as Rajiv Vidya Mission, labour, health, police and Childline among the states. Integrated child protection officials are also often not given a free hand in discharging their duties due to excess bureaucratic control, added Raqueeb. Other pertinent issues plaguing the CWC include the absence of a special home or attached home for the physically and mentally challenged category and children living with HIV under the government sector in AP. Many districts also lack a separate juvenile welfare home for street or rescued children. “Again, after bifurcation of the state, the after-care children’s homes (where those crossing 18 years of age are housed) are now located in Hyderabad and other Telangana districts. So, such after-care homes need to be established in Andhra Pradesh as well. Guidelines already exist for setting up of after-care and mental care homes for children, but the budget is yet to be released by the government,” said A Satyanarayana, district child protection officer, women and child welfare department, Visakhapatnam. (Times of India 7/10/14)

20. Govt forms 3-member panel to select state child rights chairperson (14)

PANAJI: The state government has constituted a three-member committee for the selection of the chairperson of Goa state commission for protection of child rights. The panel is headed by the minister for women and child development Dilip Parulekar and includes secretary and director of women and child development as members, according to the notification issued by the joint secretary Vikas Gaunekar. Samira Kazi was appointed as the first chairperson of the new Goa state commission for the protection of child rights. The present commission under the second tenure of chairmanship of Kazi was constituted in 2011. The state commission is a monitoring body to ensure that children are seen as social actors with the right to express their views and opinions on all matters that affect them and are afforded their legitimate rights. (Times of India 9/10/14)

MINORITIES – GENERAL

21. Former Bengal governor warns of ‘minorities forming political outfits’ (7)

EDINBURGH: Mahatma Gandhi’s grandson and former governor of West Bengal — Gopal Krishna Gandhi has warned of the rising trend of religious minorities forming political outfits on the basis of religion — a retrograde development as “democracies are meant to be about policy choices, not prejudice choices.” Delivering the first India day lecture in front of a packed house at the University of Edinburgh, Gandhi who is known for his candid flair warned that the “mutation, through the sanctification of the ballot box of electoral options into religious polarizations can bring a secular democracy to the doorstep of a majoritarian theocracy”.According to him, this “will only be a fruit of the democratic tree but an unrecognizable mutant, wholly alienated from India in its vision and in its methods”.The lecture was attended by hordes of students from Scottish universities besides the Indian diaspora at large. Gandhi also expressed his deep sense of worry over the “real possibility of the political majority” getting “fused and confused with its ethnic-religious majority” in modern day India even though a “political majority has nothing to do with India’s ethnic majority, its linguistic or religious majority”.Gandhi also took a pot shot at India’s modern generation — the upwardly mobile middle classes with designer footwear and swanky mobile phones. He said that even as modern technology grows and enters the lives of average citizens, old superstitions have tightened their hold on the Indian mind. Gandhi said, “If a billion men and women wear watches and carry cell-phones, they also now, much more than their ancestors did, wear strings and rings, charms and totem-bits on their persons, propitiating old deities and new voodoo obsessions. Many here would have heard of vastu, a force governing buildings. Vastu is said to be a super-natural energy governing the fate of built structures and thereby determining the welfare of its occupants. You will find the most modern, internationally-travelled persons in India today drawing plans for their houses in ways that are vastu-cleared even before they are cleared by the town planner.” According to the former director of the Nehru Centre in London, “India yesterday, poor as it was, less educated than it is now, was moving away from superstition. India today, linked in to the fastest technologies, using fast moving vehicles, listening to fast music, eating fast foods, is fast-forwarded and — re-winded. If any country in the world can zoom forward and lunge backward, in real time, India can and is doing.” Calling India a nation of paradoxes, Gandhi said, “India today has men and women re-spelling their names with impossible multiple vowels and consonants to conform to the nostrums of numerology. Vehicles’ registration numbers are also often chosen or requisitioned with reference to auspiciousness. It is another matter that the owner of the divinely approved number plate is a horrendous offender of traffic rules.” (Times of India 3/10/14)

22. Obama did not bring up minority rights with Modi, says Nisha Biswal (7)

Washington: U.S. President Barack Obama avoided any mention of minority rights in India in his bilateral summit with visiting Prime Minister Narendra Modi despite pressure from multiple constituents, including a bipartisan group of 11 Congressmen, to introduce the subject of curbs on religious freedoms affecting Muslims and Christians. Asked if the issue came up in the conversation given that the Congressmen had written a strongly worded letter to Mr. Obama days ahead of the summit, Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Nisha Biswal, during a briefing with select media here days after Mr. Modi’s high-profile visit, said, “We didn’t — I am not aware of a specific conversation.” Responding to a question from The Hindu , National Security Council Senior Director for India Philip Reiner said, “Part of our agenda going forward, part of our action agenda going forward, of course, will cover what you’re asking about.” He said the U.S. would be working closely with the Indian government on this matter, “not just in response to any… letter, but because it is a critical issue for both of our governments.” Ms. Biswal went on to add that this part of the ongoing discussion with the Indian administration would be situated within the broader framework of social issues, including “human rights, religious freedom, religious tolerance, women’s empowerment,” all of which came under the purview of the Global Issues Forum. She said the U.S. considered such forums to be opportunities to share best practices and lessons learned, emphasising that for both countries, it was a case of “works in progress” and the “spirit” of conversation was to be able to “reinforce with each other the values that bring us together as societies.” (The Hindu 4/10/14)

23. Skills institute for minorities (7)

New Delhi: In a move to enhance the employability of young people belonging to the minorities, the Narendra Modi government has decided to set up a national-level skill development institute exclusively for them. Announcing this, minority affairs minister Najma Heptulla said the institute would train people in specialisations where the demand is likely to rise in evolving economic conditions to aid employment prospects. The minister said the government will soon set up the Maulana Azad National Academy for Skills (MANAS), that will serve as a specialised vehicle to impart and upgrade skill development for the minorities. Inaugurating the annual meet of the State Channelising Agencies of the National Minorities Development and Finance Corporation (NMDFC), the minister said the academy will be based in New Delhi. “This is an ambitious project focusing at providing skills, training and upgradation in those sectors of the economy in which there is shortage of these specialisations or demand is likely to emerge in future. It will help people find gainful employment or self-employment,” she added. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has frequently stressed on the need for skill development of youth to deal with the challenge of unemployment. NMDFC will ensure concession on credit flows to those who have undergone training and want to either set up or expand their own businesses for self-employment, an official statement said. MANAS will act as a link between the demand for skills and the need for soft loans to boost employment. (Asian Age 9/10/14)

MINORITIES – MUSLIMS

24. Muslim personal law is barbaric: Justice Markandey Katju (7)

NEW DELHI: Press Council of India chief Markandey Katju on Tuesday described the Muslim personal law as barbaric and backward supporting the imposition of the uniform civil code. He contended that every modern country has a uniform civil code but no one speaks out in India due to the “Muslim vote bank”, citing the reversal of apex court judgment in Shah Bano case. Speaking on the lack of equal access to justice for women at the Indian Women’s Press Corps Katju said, “The Muslim personal law is barbaric, backward and unjust…it is a feudal law. All countries in the world have one law…why shouldn’t we? I support the uniform civil code.” The uniform civil code has been a core issue for the BJP. In fact law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad in a recent Parliament response said that the government would consult all stakeholders before taking any steps in the direction. Katju also bemoaned the “alarming trend” of corruption in judiciary. Katju had recently stirred a controversy by raising the issue of corruption amongst judges. When asked about the increasing cases of corruption the former SC judge said, “Harsh punishment should be given to corrupt judges…the corrupt should be hanged.” He however differed with former Chief Justice R M Lodha on the issue of “cooling period’ for two years saying there was no rule restraining judges from taking up government assignments or constitutional posts after their retirement.

“There is no such hard and fast rule. There is no such rule (of two year cooling-off period). There are number of institutions (required to be occupied by the retired judges like tribunals), do you want them to be occupied by politicians?” he asked…. (Times of India 1/10/14)

25. Lack of education responsible for Muslim’s plight (7)

BARPETA, Oct 5 – Lack of proper education is the main cause of the backwardness of the Muslim community. This was the view expressed by a few experts in a seminar at Gomafulbari in Barpeta district recently. The seminar ,‘Causes of underdevelopment of Muslims and ways of remedy’ was organised by Samuhik Gyan Vikash Kendra, Gomafulbari at Gomafulbari Senior Madrassa campus. It was conducted by Ahmad Hussain Khan, former principal of Madhya Kamrup College. Addressing the seminar, Dr Ataur Rahman, retired professor of the Department of Physics, Gauhati University said that only proper education can save the community from doom. He stated that a class of people deviating from the modern education system cannot develop at all in the true sense of the term. He indicated that the education provided by the madrassa is useless, which cannot cope with the modern needs. Rahman said that the Muslims of today do not follow the principles of Koran and Hadis as these scriptures do not call for avoiding education. Indicating the reluctance of this community towards science and technology, the professor made it very clear that people who do not advocate science and technology have no right to use the inventions of modern science. Strongly advocating in favour of female education, Rahman said that when a male is educated, only a man is educated, but when a woman is educated, a family and a clan is educated. Addressing the seminar, Kamruzzaman Ahmed, retired engineer also advocated female education. He also insisted upon the proper use of funds allocated by the Government under various schemes for minority development. He also narrated in brief about the necessity of adopting good habits for development of the individuals and the community as a whole. Moulana Abdul Basid, a renowned Muslim saint said that while the importance of religious faith cannot be ruled out, we must adopt uptodate education for existence. A number of personalities of this locality with distinguished contributions in different fields, right from agriculture to culture, were feted in the meeting. Some brilliant students were also felicitated. (The Assam Tribune 5/10/14)

26. Kerala Muslims fund Bakrid animals for poor in other states (7)

Thiruvananthapuram: Muslims in Kerala sponsored hundreds of sacrificial animals for the poor in north and north-eastern states this year on the occasion of Bakrid on Monday. Individual attempts to intervene and sponsor had been reported in the past, but the practice has been organised and streamlined in last two years. Ahead of the festival, various Muslim relief and service organisations in the state collected funds from the community members and the money was given to coordinators in respective states to buy the sacrificial animals. Kerala-based Relief and Charitable Foundation of India, promoted by prominent Sunni leader Kanthapuram A P Aboobacker Musaliyar, ma-de arrangements to distribute the sacrificial meat among 50,000 families in 15 states this year. The organisation’s all-India coordinator Muhammed Shafi said there are Muslims families in several north Indian villages which do not get the sacrificial meat. “Kerala Muslim families under such mahallu committees get huge quantities of meat. A family of five members, sometimes gets upto 5 kg-10 kg of meat on the day. Hence, we thought of helping those who are not lucky enough to get the sacrificial meat. This time, we have also focused on the flood-hit Kashmir region,’’ Shafi said. He added that a section of affluent Muslims are offering sacrificial animals in the state as well as outside it. “Local leaders in respective states will decide upon the animal to be scarified depending upon the ban on particular animals. In some states, only goat is allowed as a sacrificial animal, whereas in other states we are allowed to kill male buffaloes,’’ Shafi said. The Jamaat-e-Islami in Kerala has a scheme called ‘Ourbani’ aimed at taking sacrificial meat to impoverished Muslim villages in north Indian states. Its coordinator Abdul Latheef Kaloor said the scheme targeted two lakh families this year. Last year, 1.75 lakh families had benefited from it. He said many in Kerala are now willing to perform the sacrifice in other states. It would ensure that every member of the community gets a share of the sacrificial meat, he said. (Indian Express 7/10/14)

MINORITIES – CHRISTIANS

27. Kandhamal village binds religions (7)

BERHAMPUR : Simanbadi, a village in Daringibadi block of Kandhamal district, is a picture of communal harmony. Hindus, Muslims and Christians come together to celebrate the five-day community Durga Puja every year. “We celebrate every festival, including Durga Puja, Christmas and Id, together,” said Sadhu Nayak, a Christian and president of 22-member Durga Puja committee. “Before the celebrations, we invite local heads of all religions to the preparatory meeting. The practice has been in vogue since the community puja started in 1986,” he said. There are three Muslim families in the village having a population of 3,000. Other families are either Hindu or Christians. “Although we don’t perform any ritual during the puja, we share the joy and religious fervour with the Hindus,” said a Muslim. The idol-maker, Khetra Pradhan of the village, is a Christian. “He is a good artist and that is his identity. Whether he is a Christian or Muslim it doesn’t matter,” Sadhu said. The puja committee has planned several entertainment programmes during the period. “Besides a theatre on the last day, folk dances will also regale the people. Immersion will take place on October 7,” said Sukanta Pradhan, sarpanch and a member of the committee. Secretary of the committee Muna Chaudhury, a Hindu, said they visit and houses of Christians and Muslims during Christmas and Id. (Times of India 1/10/14)

28. Kurien lauds contribution of Syrian Christians in independence movement (7)

BHILAI : Rajya Sabha deputy chairman Prof PJ Kurien has described late Bishop Dr Stephanos Mar Theodosius, the former metropolitan of Kolkata diocese of Malankara (Indian) Orthodox Church and founder of Bhilai St. Thomas Mission, as a Saint, who worked for welfare and uplift of people of the region. He was speaking at a programme organized during the 106th annual global conference of Mar Gregorios Orthodox Christian Student Movement (MGOCSM) being held at Christian College of Engineering & Technology (CCET) in Bhilai. Speakers at the conference remembered efforts of the late Bishop Stephanos Mar Theodosius, who laid the foundation for mission work in North India. The Bishop was the face of Malankara church in North India. Prof Kurien highlighted the role of Syrian Christians in the independence movement and called for history to be rewritten with a focus on this. He also stressed on the importance of tradition and legacy of orthodox Christians. About 550 delegates from churches and educational institutions from across the country are attending the four-day conference. (Times of India 4/10/14)

29. Now, MP town denies permission for Christian convention (7)

Bhopal: After declaring a marriage between a Christian man and a Hindu girl invalid, the local administration in Jobat, Alirajpur, has refused permission to the minority community to hold an annual gathering on the ground that it was likely to “disturb peace”. The four-day gathering organized by All India United Christian Front (AIUF) and Moksha Foundation (MF) was supposed to start from Monday at an agricultural field which is two kilometers away from Jobat town. The town earlier saw protests by right-wing organizations after a Christian man married a Hindu girl. The police administration had declared as invalid the marriage between Joseph Pawar and Ayushi Wani, both major, who tied the knot at an Arya Samaj temple in Bhopal. The 5th Massihi Atmik Jagruti Sabha had been planned in advance but the administration first cancelled the permission on September 30 after Hindu organizations threatened to begin an indefinite protest from October 1 till the couple was not traced and the woman restored to her parents. While denying the permission, SDM (Jobat) Sharda Chouhan in a letter to Kapil Sharma, who is founder of MF and state head of AIUF said if the meet was held “Wani Samaj and Hindu Sangathan(s) could commit some cognizable offence.” The SDM quoted an input by the in-charge of the Jobat Police Station behind the refusal. The couple was traced and brought to Jobat on October 1, the day Hindu organizations enforced a complete bandh but withdrew the call for indefinite protest. Ayushi told the administration that she loved Joseph and refused to go back to her parents. While she was sent to Nari Niketan in Ujjain, Joseph was escorted to Indore. Thinking that the matter had been resolved, Sharma again wrote to the SDM seeking fresh permission for the meet. He said invites had been sent to followers weeks in advance and it would be difficult to stop them from coming to Jobat. Sharma told The Indian Express that on Sunday he got a call from the SDM to convey the administration’s decision that the permission for the meet remained cancelled because the atmosphere was still charged. Chouhan informed that the ‘mahaul’ was not conducive for the gathering of Christians and that the permission had been denied because it could have become a law and order issue. “What if something goes wrong? Then we will be blamed for having allowed the meet to take place” she said adding tempers were still running high. She said the venue (agriculture field) suggested the meet was planned at a larger scale. Sharma said that he would challenge the denial of permission in a court of law because the minority community’s constitutional right was being violated. Fr Anand Muttungal of Isai Mahasangh slammed the Alirajpur administration saying security concern was an excuse. “How could permission be refused for a peaceful meet that could have taken place inside a church,” he asked dubbing the cancellation as “deliberate”. Refusing the allegation by right-wing organizations that people are converted during the annual meet, Sharma’s letter to the SDM said “no one has been converted in the last four meets and no one will be converted in future.” (Indian Express 5/10/14)

REFUGEES/ MIGRANTS

30. Refugee Camp Girl Molested; Student Held (13)

VELLORE: A college student was arrested on Thursday for molesting a five-year-old girl at the Sri Lankan refugee camp in Chinnapallikuppam in Ambur. S Britten (18) was arrested after the victim complained to her mother about pain in her private parts. Dayanidhi enquired her daughter further who revealed the incident which had occurred on 1 October. Both families are residents of the camp. Britten, a private college student, was offering tuitions to children in the camp in evenings. According to a police official, “The victim went to the house of the accused for her tuitions. But it was cancelled as it was the last day of the pooja of ‘golu’ in his house. After the puja, the accused took the girl to a lonely place in his home and molested her.” “The girl was taken to Ambur GH and referred to the Vellore GH. As the doctors were absent, the medical test was postponed to Saturday,” the police official said. The accused was arrested under various sections of the IPC and remanded in jail. A case was registered in Ambur All Women Police Station and enquiry is on…  (New Indian Express 4/10/14)

31. US aid worker’s parents plead for his release (13)

The parents of a US man threatened with beheading by the Islamic State group are pleading with his captors to free him, saying in a video statement Saturday that their son has devoted his life to humanitarian work and aiding Syria’s war refugees. Ed and Paula Kassig’s video was released a day after the Islamic State group’s online video threatened to behead 26-year-old Peter Kassig next, following the beheading of British aid worker Alan Henning. That video was a heartbreaking development for Kassig’s family and friends, who had stayed silent since his capture while working to secure his release. In the family’s video, Ed Kassig says his son, who now goes by the first name Abdul-Rahman after converting to Islam during his captivity, was captured on Oct. 1, 2013, in Syria, where he was providing aid for Syrians fleeing that country’s civil war. He says his son has grown “to love and admire” the Syrian people, after growing up in an Indianapolis family with a long history of humanitarian work and teaching. “Our son was living his life according to that same humanitarian call when he was taken captive,” says Ed Kassig, a teacher. The family says Kassig, a former U.S. Army Ranger, formed the aid organization Special Emergency Response and Assistance, or SERA, in Turkey to provide aid and assistance to Syrian refugees. He began delivering food and medical supplies to Syrian refugee camps in 2012 and is also a trained medical assistant who provided trauma care to injured Syrian civilians and helped train 150 civilians in providing medical aid. His work in Lebanon led to his capture when he crossed the border into Syria. After than, SERA suspended its aid efforts. Paula Kassig, a nurse, sits next to her husband on a couch in the couple’s three-minute video, wearing a head scarf and holding a photo of her son as she speaks directly to him. “Most of all, know that we love you, and our hearts ache for you to be granted your freedom so we can hug you again and then set you free to continue the life you have chosen, the life of service to those in greatest need,” she says. “We implore those who are holding you to show mercy and use their power to let you go.” The family says Kassig served in the Army from 2006 to 2007. He was a member of the 75th Ranger Regiment and served four months in Iraq in 2007 before being medically discharged at the rank of private first class in September of that year, his military record shows. (Indian Express 5/10/14)

32. More than 2,000 Brus return to Mizoram (13)

AIZAWL, Oct 4 – At least 2,136 Bru refugees have returned to Mizoram from the six relief camps in Tripura since June 21 last, State Home department officials said yesterday. The Bru refugees entered Mizoram on their own after discontinuation of the official repatriation process and settled in different villages in Mamit district, they said. The self-repatriated Brus would be given rehabilitation and resettlement package only after being identified as bonafide residents of Mizoram, the officials said. Mamit-based Bru Coordination Committee chairman Elvis Chorkhy alleged that those who were willing to return to Mizoram were threatened and obstructed by some people. Joint NGO leaders at the relief camps and Bru leaders like A Sawibunga, President of the Mizoram Bru Displaced People’s Forum (MBDPF), however, claimed that the Bru people, did not want to return to Mizoram unless their demands were met. The MBDPF has been demanding among other things that the rehabilitation and resettlement package should be increased from Rs 85,000 to Rs 1.5 lakh per family and that the free ration to be provided to the repatriated families should be extended from one year to two years. – PTI (The Assam Tribune 5/10/14)

33. Pakistan army to induct 14,000 youth from Waziristan (13)

Islamabad: Pakistan Army Chief General Raheel Sharif Monday announced that 14,000 youth will be inducted into the army from tribal region of Waziristan over the next five years. General Raheel Monday spent the Eid-ul-Azha festival with the troops in North and South Waziristan and also visited the displaced people in Bannu, a district near Waziristan, Xinhua reported. Years of militancy, fighting and military operations have rendered people jobless and badly affected normal life in the region. Officials say nearly one million people have left their homes since the military launched the biggest offensive in North Waziristan June 15. October 2014 also marked the 6th year of the military operation in South Waziristan, the birthplace of the Pakistani Taliban. Many of those displaced in South Waziristan have not yet been rehabilitated. (Business Standard 6/10/14)

34. India rules out talks to de-escalate tensions till Pakistan stops firing (13)

NEW DELHI: India is ready for the long haul in the ongoing exchange of fire with Pakistan on the International Border (IB) in Jammu and Kashmir, with top government sources ruling out any talks to de-escalate tension till Islamabad puts a complete stop to its cross-border misadventure of targeting civilians with mortar shells. Prime Minister Narendra Modi did respond with a perfunctory “everything will be fine soon” to questions on the border tension at an IAF function on Wednesday evening, but top sources in the Indian security establishment said the government would not allow Pakistan to “dictate terms” any longer. “We are prepared for the long haul… Our massive and targeted retaliation is not going to stop. If talks or flag meetings are held, it will be on our terms and only after Pakistan stops firing,” said a source. This came after one of the heaviest exchanges of fire in recent times that saw Pakistan targeting 63 BSF outposts along the IB on Tuesday night, and India retaliating by raining 1,000 mortar shells over 70 such Pakistani posts. Pakistani troops resumed heavy firing around 9.45pm on Wednesday with shells raining down on Samba, Kanachak and Akhnoor sectors of Jammu. BSF issued an alert to Indian villages along the IB as Pakistan increased the shelling range from 4km to 7km. Indian journalists in Samba were told to trace their steps 2km back into home territory to avoid coming in the line of Pakistani fire. The fierce cross-border duels, which have caused civilian casualties on both sides, even led UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon to ask India and Pakistan to resolve their issues diplomatically through dialogue. But the Modi government is in no mood to give in to Pakistan’s “coercive diplomacy” since it believes Islamabad has let loose its firepower across the IB — which unlike the Line of Control (LoC) has settled populations and built-up areas on both sides — due to “sheer frustration” at repeatedly failing to “internationalise the Kashmir issue”. (Times of India 9/10/14)

RIGHT TO INFORMATION

35. CIC asks Tihar to make Afzal Guru’s death warrant public (1)

NEW DELHI: The Central Information Commission has directed Tihar prison to make Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru’s death warrant public along with copies of communication sent to his family about the date of execution. Mohammad Afzal Guru was convicted for his role in the December 2001 terrorist attack on Parliament and hanged on February 9, 2013. The case was exceptional because he was the first Indian citizen to be hanged after nine years and only the second after Mumbai terror attack convict Ajmal Kasab. Information Commissioner M Sridhar Acharyulu said any RTI application (in this case seeking details of Afzal Guru’s execution) cannot be rejected lock, stock and barrel without application of mind and citing exemption under Section 8 without justifying the defence. The commission directed the Tihar authorities to provide to RTI applicant Paras Nath Singh certified copy of death warrant for the execution of Guru. Singh had sought details of the death warrant and video recording of Guru’s execution. The Tihar authorities refused to provide any information, saying it would endanger national security. “The commission observed that denying copy of death warrant, copy of communication sent to the family of Afzal Guru about execution is devoid of reason and thus arbitrary and unreasonable,” Sridhar said. The Information Commissioner asked the Central Public Information Officer of Tihar how disclosure of death warrant of Guru would endanger national security to which he said it might create a law and order situation and endanger lives of the people. The Tihar CPIO later agreed that endangering the nation is totally different from the possibility of creating law and order problem, the commission noted in his order. On the issue of sharing video recording of Guru’s execution, the CPIO said he would have to check whether the execution was video recorded or not. “The commission agrees that seeking video recording of execution of Afzal and name of the officer who fixed the date of execution are hit by 8(1)(g) and even though the petitioner tried to prove public interest in this, it cannot be given as per the RTI Act,” he said. Sridhar directed the CPIO to not give video recording of execution of Guru but inform the application whether there was a video recording or not. He also directed the authorities to withhold the name of official who fixed the date of execution as it could cause serious risk to the life of the officer. (Times of India 2/10/14)

36. State Info Commission want errant PIOs blacklisted to stall promotions (1)

BHOPAL: What’s ironical about Right to Information Act in Madhya Pradesh is that public information officers guilty of stonewalling info and rendering the transparency tool toothless are often rewarded with promotions by the government. Their service records are shown as impeccable during promotions despite aberrations in dispensation of duty and fines slapped on them for concealing information under RTI. Now, the state information commission wants general administrative department (GAD) to fortify RTI Act by blacklisting public information officers (PIOs) penalised for denying information. “Their service records should be red-marked every time they misuse their powers. This will act as a huge deterrent to PIOs, who are undeterred by penalties. They will then think twice before denying information once their promotions are stalled,” said an official at the state information commission. The commission penalizes at least 50 PIOs every month for refusing information to RTI applicants, but hefty penalty has not stopped their career graph from soaring. At least 400 PIOs, who were penalized, were promoted within a three-year span. Take the case in point of public information officer, Surendra Kumar Upadhyay, who was senior official with higher education department in February 2007. He was fined Rs 25,000 for denying information to an assistant professor of economics, S K Wagle, a resident of Dhar. Wagle had filed a RTI plea seeking information on authenticity of a letter issued by principal of government college of Kannod in Dewas district. The petitioner felt the signature on the letter was suspect and wanted an authorized copy. On being denied information by Upadhyay, he filed first and second appeals. But in the interim period, Surendra Kumar was promoted as CEO, Zila Panchayat, Bhopal. “He was elevated to IAS rank despite the fact the PIO was guilty of concealing information and was slapped with a penalty,” said an officer with the information commission. If GAD fails to bring a law, information commissioners are planning to direct the administrative department of the errant public information officers to take disciplinary action against them under Section 2 of RTI Act. Speaking to TOI, information commissioner, Heeralal Trivedi said, “To protect transparency and accountability in RTI Act, we will take the strong step to direct the administration to include the penalty imposed on PIOs in their service record. If not imposed by GAD, I will myself direct the order in my next trial.” “Nowadays, depositing a penalty of Rs 25,000 is not a big deal for PIOs. But by bringing a strong deterrent like blacklisting their service books will definitely set things right,” said undersecretary, state information commissioner, Parag Karkare. (Times of India 6/10/14)

37. Info panel defunct in absence of commissioners (1)

JAIPUR: Even after a month of expiry since the deadline fixed by the Rajasthan high court for filling up all vacant positions of information commissioners in the state information commission to ensure speedy disposal of pending appeals nothing much has moved. The deadline expired on August 14. The Rajasthan Information Commission (RIC) just has a chief information commissioner but not a single information commissioner. The information Act prescribes a minimum of two and a maximum of 10 information commissioners in a state. Moreover, the Supreme Court recently made it mandatory for the information commission to hear appeals by at least a two-member bench. Hence, in the absence of information commissioners, the commission has remained defunct. According to estimates, more than 12,000 second appeals are pending for hearing with the commission and the time period of appeals filed now is almost two years. The high court’s orders were made on a petition filed by a resident of Jodhpur and RTI activist Dinesh Bothra. The petitioner said the state government has appointed only one chief information commissioner (CIC) in state, whereas the Act demands appointment a minimum of one and a maximum 10 information commissioners. Sources revealed that the government has received 119 applications for the post of information commissioners but the list of short listing of candidates by the committee comprising the chief minister, the leader of opposition and a cabinet minister is not yet done. “Transparency is a fading in the current government. It is carving out new laws and the Land Acquisition Bill is yet another step towards it but there is no transparency. Even the minimum wage for labourers that was to be raised has not happened till now,” said Kamal Tak of the Rozgar Evum Suchna Ka Adhikar Abhiyan. Incidentally, Rajasthan was instrumental in bringing about the RTI Act in the country which has now become the biggest showpiece legislations of the UPA. But till the time the state puts its act together and appoints an information commissioner soon, it may well be justice delayed for many seeking justice under the Act. (Times of India 6/10/14)

38. Over 500 in race for job of information commissioners (1)

NEW DELHI: Over 550 people including sitting and former bureaucrats are among the applicants for four vacant posts of information commissioners at the Central Information Commission. The list of applicants given in an RTI response includes former I&B secretary U K Varma, former textile secretary Zohra Chatterjee, former secretary in the department of personnel Shyamal Kumar Sarkar, former defence secretary Sangita Gairola, former secretary in social justice and empowerment ministry Stuti Narain Kacker, former road secretary Brahm Dutt, shipping secretary Vishwapati Trivedi, DD DG (news) Archana Dutta apart from lawyers, activists and others. Other bureaucrats who have applied include Railway Board chairman Arunendra Kumar, board member (mechanical) Alok Johri, former secretary in HRD Ashok Thakur, diplomats like Nagesha Rao Parthasarthy, Pinak Ranjan Chakravarty and Ashok Kumar Attri. Lt Gen (retd) Anil Chait, Lt Gen (retd) N C Marwah, former CRPF DG Vikram Srivastava also figure in the list which includes activists Girish Mittal and Varun Arya among others. The department of personnel and training disclosed this list in response to a RTI query by Lokesh Batra adding that 553 applicants applied for the post of information commissioners in the CIC. It said a search committee chaired by the cabinet secretary has been constituted to shortlist names for placing before the selection committee chaired by the Prime Minister. According to RTI Act, the CIC can have a chief information commissioner and 10 ICs whereas there are only seven ICs in the commission at present. The transparency panel became headless in July after the retirement of then chief Rajiv Mathur and no new appointment has been made since. (Times of India 9/10/14)

RIGHT TO EDUCATION

39. 203 unrecognised schools in Trivandrum (11)

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Jawahar English Medium School at Pathirapally, Kudappanakkunnu, which is in the dock for allegedly locking up a child in a kennel, is only one among the 203 schools that are functioning without recognition in the district. Data gathered by the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) from the district shows that 49 of them are within the city limits. A majority of them are not child-friendly, a strict condition laid down by the Right to Education Act and the Kerala Education Act. Sources in the SSA said that most of these schools started as neighbourhood kindergartens and gradually added classes every year, as per demand. The practice adopted by the management, according to a senior SSA official, is to follow a particular syllabus and then club the students to a nearby recognised school to write the board exams. “The quality of teaching is poor and facilities pitiable, but still parents admit their wards to these schools just because the medium of instruction is English. Though it is another matter that the students are taught in their mother tongue, in reality,” said the official. If one goes strictly by the rules, including the mandatory requirement of a minimum 50 cents to start a lower-primary school, a majority of these schools will fail to qualify. Additional Director of Public Instruction L. Rajan told The Hindu that under the RTE, all schools had to get recognition and, accordingly, the government had given time for schools to get the same. Education Secretary A. Shahjahan said that by March 31, 2015, the process to recognise schools that satisfy the criteria — such as basic amenities, qualified teaching staff, and adequate campus area — would be completed and the institutions would be notified. When the 2015-16 academic year begins, there would be no unrecognised institutions here, he added. If any school was found to be functioning without recognition, they would be shut down and a fine of Rs.1 lakh would be levied as mandated by the RTE. (The Hindu 1/10/14)

40. School dropout cases highest in west Rajasthan (11)

JAIPUR: The state continues to face the problem of students dropping out of schools. A report by SarvaShikshaAbhiyan says that the state has a total of 13.20 lakh dropouts in the age group of 6-14 years in the academic session 2013-14. Barmer is leading with 97,000 students found to be out of schools while Rajsamand, Jhunjhunu, Dausa and Dholpur have 17,000 student dropouts. In Jaipur, 59,000 students were out of schools including 47,000 from mainstream schools. The high rate of drop outs in desert districts like 97, 000 in Barmer, 60,000 in Bikaner and 28,000 in Jaisalmer points out that the poor infrastructure facilities especially no drinking water, schools at long distances and no toilets is causing this. The tribal dominated districts of southern Rajasthan also have an alarming number of dropouts. The high number of dropouts like 84,000 in Udaipur, 44,000 in Banswara and 27,000 in Dungarpur highlights that tribal in the state constitute for large chunk of dropouts. “Tribal areas have witnessed a high dropout rate due to schooling and average teacher attendance. These districts have inter-generation poverty, which restricts students from studying since the preference is on working,” said KB Kothari, managing trustee, Pratham Shekhawati region has least number of dropouts with Jhunjhunu’s number being 17,000, Sikar’s 23,000 and Churu is on 44,000. Of total number of dropouts, girls are in majority. Still the main reason behind dropouts in age group of 12-14 years is marriage and lack of facilities like separate toilets for girls, women teachers and girl schools. The figures highlighted the failure of the state in containing the students even after spending crores. Every year, government carries out child tracking survey followed by bringing students into mainstream schools but this seemed to have not produced the desired results. (Times of India 6/10/14)

41. Three rounds of admissions, but over 5,000 RTE quota seats in Mumbai schools still vacant

MUMBAI: Despite three rounds of admissions and efforts by non-profit organizations, the civic body and the state, only about 32% of the seats reserved under the Right to Education (RTE) Act in the city’s unaided non-minority schools have been filled. This leaves 5,513 of the 8,223 available seats vacant. Only 2,710 students have been admitted over the past five months of the online admission process, which concluded on September 30. The Anudanit Shiksha Bachao Samiti had filed a PIL after several students and parents were turned away by schools during the first two rounds in spite of having allotment letters from the BMC. The Bombay high court then instructed the BMC to hold another round. But only about 350 admissions were done in the third round. The HC may allow schools to fill up the vacant seats with students from the general category, but is yet to decide on it. “The HC has asked the BMC and the state to submit an affidavit stating the final count of admissions and vacant seats. A decision on how to fill up the vacant seats will then be taken,” said O P Singh, the NGO’s advocate. The BMC is also awaiting HC’s instructions. “Whether or not to conduct a fourth round of admissions will depend on the HC,” said a civic education department official. But schools are unhappy. “We have eight more seats, but there are no applicants. It is already the end of the first term, so we can’t fill these now. We can’t afford to lose the revenue we get from fees,” said Jenny Kumar, headmistress of St Mary’s School, Jogeshwari. Around 84 of the 300-odd schools eligible for admitting students under the RTE did not get applications. “We are willing to take in students but parents prefer specific schools hence, we did not get applications. We also had to turn away kids as we did not have vacancies in the general category,” said the vice-principal of a CBSE school. But Sudhir Paranjpe of the Samiti said, “If schools are allowed to fill the seats with students from the general category, they will find more reasons to deny admission to those from underprivileged backgrounds so that seats remain vacant.” (Times of India 6/10/14)

42. DYFI demands action against teachers resorting to corporal punishment (11)

NAGERCOIL: The Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI) has urged the Department of School Education to take stern action against teachers resorting to corporal punishment. A release from N. Rejeesh Kumar, district secretary, condemned the incident of corporal punishment reported from Government Higher Secondary School, Ettrakkode, in Thucklay educational district, on September 26 and demanded that the entire expense of the treatment for the affected child be borne by the government. Instances of corporal punishment were still in vogue in many schools in Kanyakumari district but officials did not deal with them seriously, the DYFI alleged. Corporal punishment forced the students to drop out of school due to mental agony. Hence, officials should take stringent action against teachers responsible for corporal punishment to end the barbaric act, the release also said. A. S. Radhakrishnan, Chief Educational Officer, told The Hindu that an enquiry report from the District Educational Officer, Thuckalay, was expected and suitable action would be taken against the teacher on receipt of the report. Heads of all schools had been instructed that corporal punishment should be treated as a violation of Right to Education Act, the CEO added. (The Hindu 8/10/14)

43. CBSE releases Central Teacher Eligibility Test results (11)

CHENNAI: The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) on Wednesday released the results of the Central Teacher Eligibility Test (CTET) conducted in September. According to a release from the CBSE, 11.95% of those who sat for paper 1 of the test have cleared it while 2.8% of those who wrote paper 2 passed. More than 2.8 lakh candidates appeared for paper 1 of the test. Clearing paper 1 is mandatory to become a teacher in classes from 1 to 5 under the Right To Education Act 2009. As many as 4.59 lakh candidates sat for paper 2 of the test. Clearing paper 2 is a must to teach in classes from 6 to 8. The test was conducted at 962 centres across the country and at two centres overseas on September 21. In Srinagar, the test was postponed due to the recent floods. A release from the CBSE said that candidates could visit www.cbse.nic.in or www.ctet.nic.in to view their results. (Times of India 9/10/14)

RIGHT TO FOOD/ HUNGER

44. Death, hunger stalk tea estate workers (21)

BUNDAPANI: Deprived of health care and food rations, workers who had been scraping by on $1.50 per day were left with nothing. Bundapani’s owner didn’t raise the alarm for two months as the workers, abandoned at the feet of the Himalayas, slid silently into catastrophe. “I have become like a beggar,” said Ramesh Mahali, 59, struggling to stand. He has been unable to properly feed himself or his family since the closure. Seven workers died in the two months it took the government to become aware of the crisis, and the toll has continued to climb since. In the past year, at least 69 tea workers have died across Bundapani and four other shuttered tea plantations in West Bengal, according to the Right to Food campaign, an advisory committee to the Supreme Court that is monitoring the deaths. More than 16,000 people have been left in extreme poverty at the estates, spread across the Dooars plains below Darjeeling, source of the famous brand known as the Champagne of teas. The government has launched emergency food and medical relief, but conditions remain grim. Despite the aid, 14 people at Bundapani alone have died in the past eight months, either from malnutrition or inadequate medical care. Dozens of men have left to find work, but women and those too weak to travel like the Mahalis remain in houses on the estate, where 7,000 people still live. In estates visited by The Associated Press, many workers were clearly underfed and a number were suffering from diseases commonly related to malnutrition, such as tuberculosis. Several people said relatives had recently died. Many were skipping meals, living on rice broth. The government relief of 2 kilograms of rice a week per worker falls below standard rations at refugee camps. Their situation highlights how eastern India’s tea industry has changed little since colonial times. The decisions of individual estate-owners still determine the fates of whole communities. The government has done little to penalize owners who abandon their workers, and in practice, they have few obligations beyond their own conscience to ensure workers’ well-being. Powerless, workers are dying in a system closer to the 19th than the 21st. “This is kind of the last hangover of a straightforwardly colonial relationship,” said Harsh Mander, special adviser on food to India’s Supreme Court. There are tea plantations in other Indian states, including Assam and Kerala, but West Bengal’s are widely seen as having the worst labor conditions. Most of its 200,000 tea workers are paid 95 rupees ($1.50) per day, three—quarters the state minimum wage and below the U.N.’s $2 a-day threshold for extreme poverty. (The Hindu 1/10/14)

45. Andhra govt to provide houses at subsidized rate to SC/STs (21)

RAJAHMUNDRY (Andhra Pradesh): Andhra Pradesh government will provide houses to the poor and SC/STs in the state at subsidized rates, finance minister Y Ramakrishnudu said here on Thursday. “The government is aiming to eradicate poverty in the state. We will provide houses to the poor and people belonging to the SC and ST categories for Rs 1-1.50 lakh soon,” Ramkrishnudu said at a function at AV Nagaram village in East Godavari district. “The government will be spending Rs 5,400 crore on revised pensions in next ten months irrespective of the financial constraints it has inherited post bifurcation to create Telangana,” the minister said. (Times of India 2/10/14)

46. Govt May Offer Subsidised Rice to APL Families Too (21)

BANGALORE: The government is considering cutting by half its quota of subsidised rice for families below the poverty line. The government is now handing out rice to poor families at Rs 1 a kilo under its Anna Bhagya scheme. A BPL (below poverty line) family gets a monthly provision of up to 30 kg, and the government plans to divert 10 kg of that quota to APL (above poverty line) families. A government source said a BPL family of three or more will get a maximum of 15 kg under the proposal. An individual gets 5 kg, instead of the present 10. Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, who has been handing out benefits to his favoured constituency of Ahinda (minorities, backward castes and Dalits), is said to be keen on reintroducing rice quotas for APL cardholders after reports emerged of Anna Bhagya rice being sold illegally in the open market. The move is likely to attract the wrath of BPL families, but will help the government garner the goodwill of over 34 lakh APL families, who will get a maximum of 10 kg and a minimum of 5 kg under the new proposal. The price for APL families will be higher: about Rs 10 to Rs 15 a kilo. Of the 30 kg quota, the government will be left with 5 kg after it diverts 10 to APL families. It plans to save Rs 750 crore a year by stopping that purchase. The government plans to divert this money to fund the higher education of students hailing from lower and middle income families from next year. The proposal, if implemented, will also reduce the subsidy burden as the government will sell rice to APL families at a higher price. At present, the government spends about Rs 4,500 crore in subsidies to provide rice for over 1.03 crore BPL cardholders. When contacted, Food and Civil Supplies Minister Dinesh Gundurao confirmed such a proposal was before the government. “Nothing has been finalised about how much rice APL families should be given and how many families will be covered,” he said. He said APL families had been seeking restoration of their subsidised rice quota since it was stopped in 2013. “There was also a feeling that 30 kg for a family was a little too much,” he said, reiterating that no decision had been taken either way. Since July 2013, the government has diverted 84,000 MT of rice meant for APL families to meet the increased demands of its Anna Bhagya scheme. Karnataka requires a maximum of 2.84 lakh MT of rice a month, while it is getting just 1.77 lakh MT from the Centre. It is procuring the remaining 1.07 lakh MT through the open market, and at a much higher price. The new proposal is likely to be introduced from Deepavali (October 24) or before January 2015, sources said. (New Indian Express 7/10/14)

47. Food security scheme deadline for states expires (21)

NEW DELHI: Rolling out the Food Security Act (FSA) across states seems to have dropped down the priority list of the Narendra Modi government. This is evident from the fact that the Centre did not issue any notification to extend the deadline for its implementation by all states, which ended on October 4. Officials said this should not be a seen as a big issue as the states availing subsidised food grains for their public distribution scheme (PDS) will continue to get the grains from central pool. They also added the deadline will be extended very soon. Last time, the deadline was extended by three months despite a few states including West Bengal demanding an extension of six months. 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 act is in force. Sources said that only two more states – Assam and Uttarakhand – have informed the ministry about their readiness to launch the scheme. So far 11 states have either implemented the scheme completely or partially. “Our focus is not just to see that every state launches the food security scheme just for the record even when it is not ready and has not done enough to ensure the successful implementation of such a major scheme. It has no meaning if states are unable to store, transport and distribute the grain that we are sanctioning under this scheme,” said a food ministry official. The ministry has circulated a revised proforma seeking detailed response from all states including on issues such as whether the governments have identified the beneficiary households as per the guideline and whether the list of such persons has been put out in the public domain. Some of the other queries are whether states are making doorstep delivery of foodgrains and whether they have created sufficient and scientific storage capacity at different levels. The ministry has also sought response on steps that have been taken to set up an internal grievance redressal mechanism including call centres, help lines and designation of nodal officers. Among the states that have implemented the FSA are Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Punjab, Bihar, Delhi, Himachal Pradesh and Karnataka. (Times of India 9/10/14)

LABOUR/ MGNREGA

48. Senior citizens happy over increase in monthly pension (14)

Bangalore: Khairun Bi, a senior citizen who spent half her life rolling beedis in a factory in Goripalya in the city, beamed with joy on Tuesday. Her monthly pension of Rs. 380 – that she has been getting under the Employees’ Pension Scheme (EPS) linked to the Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF) – has now been increased to Rs. 1,000. Although Rs. 1,000 is not enough even for her medical expenses, she is happy that she does not have to ask money from her children for every small need. She is one of the 44,600 EPS beneficiaries whose minimum monthly pension has been increased. The EPF Organisation had organised a programme to felicitate these pensioners in the city on Tuesday. Inaugurating the programme, Union Minister for Chemicals and Fertilizers Ananth Kumar said the increase in pension was one of the major pro-people measures notified by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government at the Centre. Responding to the EPS Pensioners Welfare Federation’s demand that the minimum monthly pension should be raised to Rs. 3,000, the Minister assured that he would speak to Union Labour Minister Narendra Singh Tomar in this regard. Stating that the minimum monthly pension of Rs. 1,000 was just the beginning of welfare measures for pensioners, the Minister said that he wanted similar pension facilities to be extended to the unorganised sector. “Our government will extend such facilities to the unorganised sector too in the next five years,” he said. P.C. Mohan, Bangalore Central MP, and city MLAs B.N. Vijaykumar, Satish Reddy, Muniraju and Ravi Subramanya,– apart from Regional PF Commissioners Sarojini Rane and K. Narayana were present. (The Hindu 1/10/14)

49. Govt to launch first of its kind national portal for job search (14)

New Delhi: Job seekers across the country will soon have a national portal on the lines of popular search based websites, which will keep them up-to-date with vacancy notifications, job placements as well as skilling and training opportunities. The labour ministry is set to launch the National Career Service Portal, which is on the lines of a similar service provided by the UK government. The website is a part of the ministry’s plan to modernise employment exchanges and revamp them into Career Centres that will provide information on jobs and also facilities such as career counselling. “The portal will be implemented in phases but the first phase is likely to be launched later this year,” said an official close to the development. The website can be accessed by employers from the government sector, private companies as well as public sector firms, along with indirect employers such as staffing agencies as well as skilling institutes and trainers. “Just like the job-seekers, each of the employers will also have to be registered on the website to ensure their credentials,”said the official. Similarly, to provide accurate and relevant information to employers, the labour ministry plans to introduce reliable jobseeker data that would include personal details, address, skills and qualifications as well as past work experience. With over 12 million youth expected to join the workforce annually, the labour ministry is hopeful that it will help fill the demand-supply gap on jobs and skilling by connecting workers and employers across the country. “There are a number of private sector portals on these lines as well but we expect that our reach will be unparalleled,” the official said. The project was originally sanctioned by the UPA government late last year with an allocation of Rs 150 crore but has got a boost with the NDA’s focus on job creation and skilling. (Indian Express 3/10/14)

50. Construction workers’ union welcomes PM’s programmes (14)

VADODARA: The Bandhkam Mazdoor Sangathan (BMS), a union of construction labours, welcomed the Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan (SBA) and the Jan Dhan Yojana (JDY) launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.  a meeting at Vadodara and declared support to the SBA. The organisation stated that cleanliness at construction sites would help the workers. It also stated that the workers should be provided proper sanitation facilities at the construction sites as a part of the drive. It also pressed on the need to keep material in an organised manner at construction sites. The organisation reiterated its demand of providing ‘ghodia ghars’ or child-care facilities for children of construction workers. It also sought equipment like safety shoes, helmets and gloves for labours. The BMS also stated that after accounts of labours were opened in banks under JDY, their wages should directly be deposited in bank accounts. This, it said, would stop their exploitation as a record of the salary paid to them would be available. (Times of India 4/10/14)

51. Cong. will oppose changes to labour laws: Kharge (14)

GULBARGA: The leader of the Congress party in the Lok Sabha M. Mallikarjun Kharge has said his party would oppose the amendment to the Industrial Disputes Act and the labour laws proposed by the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre. It would seek the support of like-minded parties in Parliament. The move was a “total sell-out” of the interest of the working class to the corporates and big industries. The government was acting without understanding its repercussions on the working class, both in the organised and unorganised sectors, Mr. Kharge, who held the Labour portfolio in the previous UPA government, told The Hindu here on Sunday. He said the previous UPA government did a fine balancing act of protecting the interests of both the working class and the employers without amending the pro-working class provisions in the Industrial Disputes Act and other labour laws. How would the Congress oppose these amendments? “The strength of the Congress is limited in the Lok Sabha… we will consult parties interested in safeguarding the interests of the working class and take a stand,” he said. He accused the Centre of withholding funds for projects in the Gulbarga region launched when he was holding the Labour and Railway portfolios in the previous UPA government. Work on the ESIC Medical Education complex was proceeding at a snail’s pace and neither the ESIC nor the Labour Ministry had made any effort to start the dental, nursing, pharmacy and other paramedical colleges proposed within the complex. “Ï have already written to Labour Minister Narendra Singh Tomar. I will write to him once again to hasten the construction work and start all the proposed paramedical courses.” Mr. Kharge said in the nine months he was Railway Minister, he had started a number of works to improve railway infrastructure, including pit lines in the Gulbarga and Bhalki railway stations, pumped in more funds for the Gulbarga-Bidar railway line and started work on Railway Over Bridges in Gulbarga City and the new Gadag-Wadi Railway Line. “However, all these have almost come to a standstill apparently due to the stoppage of funds.” Mr. Kharge said he had brought this to the notice of Railway Minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda. (The Hindu 6/10/14)

52. Government rolling back rural job scheme, say activists (14)

New Delhi: Civil society activists Wednesday claimed that the NDA government at the Centre was trying to roll back the national rural job guarantee scheme, and warned of a large-scale agitation on the issue in December. “This government came to power saying that they will continue with the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme. But they are trying to undermine it at a very basic level,” Nikhil Dey of the People’s Action for Employment Guarantee told the media here. He said that the budget for the programme which was always allocation-based has been made into demand-based now. Noted civil society activist and former member of the National Advisory Council Aruna Roy said: “The government is in denial. None of the people I have spoken to in the rural areas want MGNREGS curtailed in any way”.Asserting that if the scheme is rolled back, more than half of the country would be affected, Aruna Roy said: “Not only unemployment, but MGNREGS has also addressed issues of underemployment.” Forty percent of the households which have benefited from the scheme belong to the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes, she said. The activists said among the ways in which the government was trying to roll back the law was by converting it into a contractor-driven programme and by rationing funds. According to Dey, this information has been accessed through the Right to Information (RTI) query. Economist Prabhat Patnaik said that the MGNREGS was the most significant programme of independent India. “To undermine it is to attack peoples’ rights,” he added. He said that the employment guarantee programme ensured a certain amount of purchasing power among the rural poor. “We should take this extremely seriously.” Former Planning Commission member Abhijit Sen said: “The opposition to MGNREGS has come from farmers who believe that it has shoved up wages.” According to Aruna Roy, people in rural areas were very unhappy with the changes being proposed in the law and would converge in the capital in December to raise their voice against it. (Deccan Herald 8/10/14)

53. Job scheme dilute finger at Gadkari (14)

New Delhi, Oct. 8: A host of activists and academics have appealed to Narendra Modi to nip any move to dilute the 100-day village job scheme after rural development minister Nitin Gadkari brushed aside objections from within his own ministry. In a letter signed by over a hundred citizens, the signatories that included Aruna Roy, Nikhil Dey, Jean Dreze, Harsh Mander, Prabhat Patnaik and Abhijit Sen sought the Prime Minister’s “immediate assurance” that such “retrograde, anti-poor and anti-labour measures” would be withdrawn. The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act guarantees up to 100 days of unskilled work for every rural household in a year. Gadkari plans to change the scheme’s labour-material ratio from 60:40 to 51:49. A 60:40 labour-material ratio means cost of material for a project cannot exceed 40 per cent of the total cost, while expenses on labour can go up to 60 per cent. In other words, making the ratio 51:49 would dilute the scheme’s labour-intensive nature. The proposal had triggered concerns among ministry officials. In a note they said it was legally and technically possible to change the ratio, but added that it “runs contrary to the spirit of the act”. But documents accessed under the information act by the NGO Peoples’ Actions for Employment Guarantee (PAEG) showed that Gadkari overruled the objections. Gadkari had indicated the proposed changes while replying in the Lok Sabha on July 30 to a discussion on irregularities in the employment act. Sources said the change had been proposed following the alleged inability of implementing agencies to create “durable and productive” assets because of constraints the ratio imposed on expenditure on the material component. The material component in MGNREGA projects now accounts for about 27 per cent of the project cost. If this component is raised to 49 per cent, funds available for wages would come down sharply. This could result in total employment coming down to 136 crore persondays per year, compared with the 220 crore persondays in 2013-14. This fall in persondays of work, the ministry officials had estimated, would adversely affect some five crore rural families. But Gadkari seems determined to push through the change. A note dated August 8 and signed by him said the ratio of 51:49 should be brought about “immediately through an amendment in Scheduled-I of the Act”. “The concerns expressed by the (ministry) joint secretary that this will lead to shortage of funds for (the) wage component is not justified as the government of India is legally bound to provide additional funds if such demands arise,” the note said. Today, some of those who signed the letter to Modi, addressed a media conference criticising the proposed change. Activist Roy, who is associated with PAEG, described as “hoax” the minister’s assertion that changing the ratio would not lead to shortage of funds for wages. “An additional Rs 20,000 crore would be required under the MGNREGA apart from Rs 33,000 crore allocated to ensure that the change in labour-material ratio does not lead to shortage of funds for wages. There is no sign of that additional funds coming. What the minister saying is false.” Patnaik said non-creation of assets cannot be a reason to dilute the act. Former solicitor general Indira Jaising said the government cannot amend the schedule by an executive order. (The Telegraph 9/10/14)

RESERVATION

54. “Implement Sachar Panel recommendations in toto” (25)

NAGERCOIL: The Tamil Nadu Minority Peoples’ Welfare Organisation (TNMPWO) has demanded the implementation of the recommendations of Justices Sachar and Ranganath Misra panels, which recommended reservation for minorities in admission to higher educational institutions such as IIT and IIM and in employment in government jobs. A charter of 10 resolutions, including the implementation of Sachar Committee and Ranganath Misra Committee recommendations, was passed at the TNMPWO’s first district conference here on Sunday. The other resolutions included a demand for increasing the quota for Muslims in Tamil Nadu; extension of full subsidy for Muslim women self-help groups; payment of educational scholarships to minority students without any delay; recognition of Dalit Christians as Scheduled Castes and separate department for minority welfare. The conference also wanted the police not to arrest innocent Muslims and called for the release of innocent undertrials. Moosa, State deputy convenor, TNMPWO, inaugurated the conference. S. Noor Mohamed, State convenor, addressed the gathering. Mariya Vincent welcomed the gathering and R. Chellasamy, district panchayat chairman, presided. Rev. Peter Remigues, Bishop of Kottar, and Devakadatcham, Bishop, CSI Diocese, offered felicitations. M.S. Salam proposed a vote of thanks. (The Hindu 1/10/14)

55. BJP is not against any community, says Nitin Gadkari (25)

Chandrapur: Union Minister for Transport and Rural Development Nitin Gadkari today said the BJP is for development with true national spirit and is not against any community as projected by rival political parties. Gadkari was in the city to campaign for BJP candidates Sudhir Mungatiwar and Nana Shamkule who are contesting Maharashtra assembly polls. He said that his party is opposed to terrorism and it is Pakistan, who after humiliating defeats in three wars, has waged proxy war against India as well as fueling hatred among Hindus and Muslims in India. Addressing the poll rally here, he said that the BJP has never ever indulged in the politics of caste, creed and religion and is not against Muslims. He also alleged that it is the Congress and the NCP which fuels hatred among Marathas and OBCs as well as Dhangars and Dalits through petty politics, in the name of reservation. “If you consider us as communal, then do not vote for us, but before doing so, remove the spectacles (eyeglasses) of secularism, given by the Congress and judge us through open eyes,” Gadkari said. Gadkari pointed out that if BJP was anti-Muslim, then Prime Minister Narendra Modi would have not sanctioned relief worth Rs 1,000 crore to flood-hit Kashmir. “I had personally inspected the calamity that hit Kashmir and sanctioned Rs 250 crore through my ministry for construction of damaged roads and bridges,” he said. Gadkari lauded the development works and grants for the area by BJP MLAs Sudhir Mungatiwar and Nana Shamkule and sought votes for them from the people. Earlier, ex-MLC and senior Congress leader, Jainuddin Zaweri and former District Youth Congress President Matin Sheikh, along with several of their followers entered the BJP during the programme. Earlier during the day, Gadkari also addressed a poll rally in Nagbhid and sought votes for Kirtikumar Bhangadiya, the BJP candidate from Chimur. (Zee News 3/10/14)

56. Gujjars make a U-turn, suspend stir over quota (25)

JAIPUR: The Gujjars led by Kirori Singh Bainsla took a U-turn on Thursday and suspended their five-day-old sit-in near Hindaun on the quota demand. The state government, on its part, once again invited them for talks on October 5. A day earlier, the Gujjars had declined to let up their protest and the government had reacted by declaring to keep them out of the talks on October 5. Parliamentary affairs minister Rajendra Rathore, however, was believed to have reached out to the Gujjars again on Thursday, seeking time for the government to show commitment on the quota demand. “Minister Rathore called up our leader Bainsla and assured sincere efforts on the quota demand also. Considering the government request and the ongoing festive season, we have suspended the protest till October 5,” said Himmat Singh Gurjar, spokesperson of the Rajasthan Gurjar Aarakshan Sangharsh Samiti that was leading the protest under the leadership of Bainsla. The government and the Gujjars leaders were scheduled to meet here on October 5 in the presence of legal experts to discuss constitutional ways to get the quota matter cleared by the Rajasthan high court. The reservation Act, 2008, that promises 5% quota in jobs and educational institutes to special backwards classes (SBC), which includes Gujjars, was currently stayed by the high court since it violates the Supreme Court guidelines to keep total reservation in the state up to 50%.During their two rounds of talks with the government on Tuesday and Wednesday, the Gujjar leaders demanded that the 2008 Act be withdrawn and redrafted to maintain overall reservation within the 50% limit, while keeping the 5% SBC quota intact. Sources said the government declined to withdraw the Act. Another option-to place the SBC quota under Constitution’s Schedule-IX-too was ruled out for the time being since the state assembly’s resolution for the same passed in 2008 was said to have lapsed. “The BJP leadership knew that the resolution had lapsed, yet it made a fake promise in its election manifestos of 2013 and 2014 that the SBC quota would be placed under Schedule-IX,” the Sangharsh Samiti spokesperson said. He emphasised, “We will watch the government approach on the quota demand on October 5 and accordingly decide our next move when the Gujjar leaders meet again on October 6.” (Times of India 3/10/14)

57. Karnataka Reveals Plan to Give More Reservation for SC/ST (25)

BANGALORE: After allocating funds in proportion to their population, the Karnataka Government is now considering increasing reservation for the SC/ST community on the same lines. Chief Minister Siddaramaiah announced this at the Valmiki Jayanti celebrations organised by the Social Welfare Department here on Wednesday. Currently, the community gets an 18 per cent reservation – 15 per cent for SCs and three per cent for STs. The OBC category gets a reservation of 25 per cent, while Lingayats and Vokkaligas get 7 per cent. The remaining 50 per cent is for the general category. From this fiscal, the government will be allocating development funds according to the population per community. SCs and STs make up around 24 per cent of the total population and the government is considering increasing the reservation by 7 percentage point to 25. However, the proposed increase will mean that the reservation quota will breach the 50 per cent mark stipulated by the Supreme Court. Tamil Nadu has a reservation quota of 60 per cent. “Inclusive growth cannot be achieved sans equitable distribution of the state’s resources,” Siddaramaiah said, asking officials to lay out an acceptable revision after the caste census. He also said the Congress is the only party in the country with a strong commitment to ensuring social justice. He said the only way to eradicate the caste system is to empower caste groups through constitutional guarantees. Paying rich tribute to Maharshi Valmiki, Siddaramaiah said even Mahatma Gandhi was inspired by him to develop the country on the “Rama Rajya model”. (New Indian Express 9/10/14)

HUMAN RIGHTS/ CIVIL SOCIETY/ NHRC

58. UN: ISIS atrocities amount to war crimes (1)

Turkey/Beirut: ISIS jihadists are committing such staggering atrocities in Iraq that they could amount to war crimes, the United Nations rights chief said Thursday. “The array of violations and abuses perpetrated by ISIL and associated armed groups is staggering, and many of their acts may amount to war crimes or crimes against humanity,” said UN human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein. Mr Zeid’s comments came as his office and the UN’s monitoring mission in Iraq released a joint report on the offensive carried out by the ISIS group. Covering the period from July 6 to September 10, the 29-page study cited a litany of gross abuses and violations of international humanitarian law. The jihadists were perpetrating their rights violations “with an apparent systematic and widespread character” the key criteria for abuses to amount to crimes against humanity, Mr Zeid’s spokesman Rupert Colville told AFP. The jihadists have been committing “really every crime you can think of, and on a massive scale,” he said, listing beheadings, abductions, torture and forcing women and young girls into sexual slavery as just a few examples. ISIS insurgents tightened their grip on a Syrian border town on Thursday despite coalition airstrikes, sending thousands more Kurdish refugees into Turkey and dragging Ankara deeper into the conflict. Kurdish militants warned that peace talks with the Turkish state would come to an end if the Islamist insurgents were allowed to carry out a massacre in the predominantly Kurdish town of Kobani, pressuring Ankara to act. ISIS fighters advanced to within a few kilometres of the town on three sides, after taking control of hundreds of villages around Kobani in recent weeks. In Iraq, ISIS launched attacks on Iraqi bases in two western towns that left at least 17 members of the security forces and 40 jihadists dead, security and medical sources said Thursday. Seven policemen and four soldiers were killed when ISIS fighters attacked the police headquarters in the town of Heet, while at least six members of federal forces were killed in an assault on a major Army base in Ramadi. Meanwhile, hundreds of people took to the streets of the Syrian city of Homs on Thursday, demanding its governor resign after a suicide bomber killed 47 school children, a monitoring group said. The protesters vented their anger at Governor Talal al-Barazi over the deadly attack in a loyalist neighbourhood of the government-controlled central city, not at the Damascus government, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. “Hundreds of people are protesting, chanting slogans against the governor,” Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP. “The protest began as a mass funeral for the children, but morphed into a demonstration as residents vented their rage over Wednesday’s school attack,” he added. US-led forces, which have been bombing ISIS targets in Syria since last week as well as in Iraq, hit a village near Kobani on Wednesday and strikes were reported further south overnight, according to sources in the town, which is known as Ayn al-Arab in Arabic. But they seemed to do little to stop the Islamists’ advance. (Asian Age 3/10/14)

59. NHRC Asks Bengal to Continue Potato Supply to Odisha (1)

BHUBANESWAR: Although potato crisis has shown signs of improvement, the West Bengal Government’s unilateral decision to stop movement to neighbouring States which had triggered the problem, has prompted the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to intervene. The rights panel has asked West Bengal Government to take necessary measures for supply of the tuber to Odisha. Acting on a complaint lodged by rights activist Akhand, the NHRC has asked the Bengal Chief Secretary to act within eight weeks. The petitioner had alleged that West Bengal Government imposed restriction on inter-State transportation of potato halting its supply to Odisha in August due to which potato-laden trucks from West Bengal were stranded at different bordering check-gates. While the Bengal Government’s restriction on transportation of potato beyond its borders led to a spiralling rise of price in Odisha, people of the State which was struck by flood, had a hard time due to price rise, the petition added. The petition stated that Odisha is solely dependent on Bengal for its supply of potatoes. While the State requires about 9,13,000 tonnes of potato per year, it produces no more than 2,01,000 tonnes, resulting in a supply deficit of 7,12,000 tonnes. The deficit is met with imports from outside, primarily from Bengal. On the other hand, potato production in Bengal was nearly 95 lakh tonnes this year. The neighbouring State has 430 cold storages which could stock only about 60 lakh tonnes. The remaining has to be sold since the tuber crop is perishable. Potato is stocked in cold storages in December and brought out in March. Between December and February, new crop is available in the market. At present, there are 31 lakh tonnes of potato stocked in the cold storages. “So there was no need for imposing a restriction on transportation of potato to Odisha but the Bengal Government intentionally did not supply the tuber to Odisha,” Akhand stated in the petition. Taking cognizance of the matter, the NHRC directed the West Bengal Chief Secretary to “take such action as deemed appropriate.” The authority concerned is directed to take appropriate action within eight weeks and inform the complainant of the steps taken, the NHRC said. (New Indian Express 6/10/14)

60. Rights Violations: HRF to Step up Fight (1)

HYDERABAD: The Human Rights Forum (HRF) has paid tributes to its founder and noted rights activist K Balagopal on his fifth death anniversary, at a commemorative meeting held at Sundarayya Vignana Kendram here on Sunday by pledging to intensify the fight against human rights violations. Marking the occasion, the HRF organised several events like book release and talks by activists across the country in memory of Balagopal. Books written on mass violation of human rights, like the Tsundur massacre and the conflict between Israel and Palestine, were released at the meet. A compilation of Balagopal’s articles “Nigah 2”, was also among the books released at the programme. HRF members said Balagopal is still alive in his books. “His writings will remain the driving force for all human rights activists forever,” said S Jeevan Kumar, president of HRF. The commemorative meet also featured talks by prominent personalities like Vrinda Grover, Supremer Court lawyer and rights activist Achin Vanaik and others. Vrinda Grover, who has been fighting against impunity of the state against human rights violations, said the society needs more personalities like Balagopal to keep the fight alive against growing sexual violence by the Army in states like Nagaland and Jammu & Kashmir. “Public servants who have committed the crimes like sexual assault against women and fake encounters must be served severe punishments,” she added. Remembering her brief meeting with Balagopal, she said he was a man with great vision, who had never compromised in his fight. The HRF, which has been fighting for justice to the victims of Tsundur massacre, had invited GS Nageswara Rao, assistant public prosecutor at Tsundur Special Court, to talk about the struggle of the victims for justice. GS Nageswara Rao described the recent judgment by the AP High Court to release the accused for inadequate evidence as an unfortunate one. Achin Vanaik, the member of the Indian Campaign for Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, said, “Balagopal’s work was never restricted to India. He also raised voice against several international issues like conflict between Israel and Palestine.” Achin Vanaik concluded his speech with the wise words of Balagopal: “We don’t have to be the victims to feel their pain.” (New Indian Express 6/10/14)

61. Government rolling back rural job scheme, say activists (1)

New Delhi: Civil society activists Wednesday claimed that the NDA government at the Centre was trying to roll back the national rural job guarantee scheme, and warned of a large-scale agitation on the issue in December. “This government came to power saying that they will continue with the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme. But they are trying to undermine it at a very basic level,” Nikhil Dey of the People’s Action for Employment Guarantee told the media here. He said that the budget for the programme which was always allocation-based has been made into demand-based now. Noted civil society activist and former member of the National Advisory Council Aruna Roy said: “The government is in denial. None of the people I have spoken to in the rural areas want MGNREGS curtailed in any way”.Asserting that if the scheme is rolled back, more than half of the country would be affected, Aruna Roy said: “Not only unemployment, but MGNREGS has also addressed issues of underemployment.” Forty percent of the households which have benefited from the scheme belong to the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes, she said. The activists said among the ways in which the government was trying to roll back the law was by converting it into a contractor-driven programme and by rationing funds. According to Dey, this information has been accessed through the Right to Information (RTI) query. Economist Prabhat Patnaik said that the MGNREGS was the most significant programme of independent India. “To undermine it is to attack peoples’ rights,” he added. He said that the employment guarantee programme ensured a certain amount of purchasing power among the rural poor. “We should take this extremely seriously.” Former Planning Commission member Abhijit Sen said: “The opposition to MGNREGS has come from farmers who believe that it has shoved up wages.” According to Aruna Roy, people in rural areas were very unhappy with the changes being proposed in the law and would converge in the capital in December to raise their voice against it. (Deccan Herald 8/10/14)

JUDICIARY/ LAW

62. More women judges needed: Justice Rasheed (19)

KOCHI:  Justice Harun-Ul-Rasheed of the Kerala High Court on Tuesday called for appointment of more women judges at the Kerala High Court. Replying to a reference given to the Judge, who is to retire on October 4, he said that out of 2,500 High Court lawyers around 600 were women; and 123 out of the 466 presiding officers in the subordinate and higher judiciary were women. Therefore, it was very important to have more women judges at the High Court. The Judge also said that undue delay in delivering judgments was detrimental to the judiciary. Judgments should be pronounced in time as far as possible to help the needy, he said. (The Hindu 1/10/14)

63. Road safety bill should take care of drivers’ working conditions, experts say (19)

NEW DELHI: Drivers of commercial vehicles, particularly trucks, over-dimensional vehicles and buses, are blamed for large number of road deaths in India. Moreover, despite the government records showing that 36% of fatalities involve such vehicles and over 20% across the globe happen due to “driver fatigue”, hardly any employer or fleet owner follows the laws including maximum working hours, minimum wages and mandatory weekly off for them. Considering how the fleet owners have preferred to ignore these legal provisions because of poor enforcement, road safety experts have now raised the demand of “effective implementation of protecting the livelihood of drivers” and enforcement of the stipulated “working hours” for drivers. They have demanded that the Bill for Road Transport and Safety to be introduced during winter session must include all these provisions. According to a sample survey of drivers by Institute of Road Traffic Education (IRTE) in 2013, about 29% drivers were found suffering from sleeping problem. The main reason behind this was driving beyond stipulated hours. The Motor Transport Workers Act says that no driver should be made to work more than eight hours a day and 48 hours a week. In case of exceptions (long routes), they can be asked to drive for 10 hours per day and 52 hours a week. It also specifies that a driver is entitled to 30 minutes rest after every five hours drive. But all these norms are hardly respected. “The success of the Bill hinges not only on penalties and punishment of drivers, but also on the effective implementation of the legal provisions under Motor Transport Workers Act. The Bill should incorporate the provisions including laying down the duty and liability of common carriers, transport firms and the fleet owners,” said S P Singh of IFTRT, a transport think tank. Even truckers associations have highlighted in the recent years how about 16%-18% trucks are standing idle because of drivers’ shortage. Low wages are seen as one of the main reasons. According to reports, even the American Trucking Associations has estimated shortage of about 30,000 truckers nationwide and it is to touch two lakh in the next decade. “Only when the drivers have a respectable life and they get all mandated benefits, more people will join. Enforcement of rules is the responsibility of both Centre and state governments,” Singh said. (Times of India 6/10/14)

64. NJAC Bill has not removed flaws of collegium system, says Justice Shah (19)

NEW DELHI: As the NDA government moves to gain a foothold in judicial appointments through the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) Bill, Law Commission Chairman Justice A.P. Shah on Sunday criticised the proposed law in its present form as “disquieting.” According to Justice Shah it may perpetuate a “culture of trade-offs and sycophancy present in the collegium system of appointment.” Justice Shah, who was consulted by the government during the framing of the NJAC Bill, described it as a “missed opportunity” for the government to provide guidance on Constitutional values integral to judicial appointments. He was giving the Annual Capital Foundation Lecture on ‘Judging the Judges: Appointments to the Supreme Court and High Courts.’ According to him the NJAC Bill has not removed the flaws of the collegium system. “Constitutional Courts of this country cannot be run like closed country clubs.” Pointing to controversies like that of Justice P.D. Dinakaran, he said this opaque mode of functioning by the collegium has been one of its major failings. Since 1993, the Supreme Court has been “packed” with Chief Justices of High Courts elevated by the collegium merely due to their seniority, and without looking at merit and other objective qualifications. This, he said, has led to a “decline in the standard of judges.” Noting that the Bill erodes judicial independence, he pointed to how non-judicial members in the NJAC can veto a candidate irrespective of the views of three judicial members, including the Chief Justice of India. “What is more dangerous is that it is likely that the veto power would perpetuate the culture of trade-offs and sycophancy which is present in the collegium system of appointment and makes it even more pernicious – since the trade-offs will not remain internal to the members of the collegium, but will be between the judiciary and the executive,” he said. The former Chief Justice of India, R.M. Lodha, who was the chief guest at the lecture, said the ultimate goal of a Judicial Appointments Commission is to safeguard independence of judiciary. “There should not be a lurking fear in the judge that here is an authority who appointed me while giving his decision… if there is such a fear, there is no room for judicial independence,” Justice Lodha said. Mr Shah said it is best that members have a cooling-off period of two to three years to ensure that they are not just independent in fact, but are also seen by the wider public as being independent of the Executive. In an obvious reference to the former CJI, P. Sathasivam, he said: “One retired CJI whom I had great respect for… I was very disappointed when he accepted the Governor post of a southern State.” (The Hindu 6/10/14)

65. Report calls for scrapping of 100 outdated laws (19)

NEW DELHI: Did you know that possessing 2.43 mm to 3.52 mm of copper wire was illegal and could land you in prison or that you need to pay excise duty of 1 paisa per kilogram on Virginia tobacco produced and auctioned? These are just some of the laws that continue to be in our statute books according to 100 Laws Repeal project report by Centre for Civil Society in collaboration with NIPFP and Vidhi Legal Centre. The report released recently has outlined 25 colonial and independence related laws, 17 laws that constrain economic freedom and impose restrictions on personal liberty and 19 laws that hinder effective governance. The report includes justification and evidence to support repeal of 8 laws that impose taxes, cesses and levies that bring little benefit despite adding significant administrative and collection costs. The group also recommends that 20 laws passed around the time of Emergency, allowing the government to take over private enterprises be repealed besides identifying 10 central statutes that add to India’s labour market rigidities. These include Exchange of Prisoners Act, 1948 to facilitate exchange of prisoners between India and Pakistan post-partition, Telegraph Wires (Unlawful Possession) Act, 1950 despite the fact that the telegraph wound up operations in July 2013, the Tobacco Cess Act, 1975 and the Hackney-Carriage Act, 1879 for licensing of hackney carriages. Centre for Civil Society president Parth J Shah said, “Repealing these 100 laws should not become one-off exercise. The Australian Government has set aside Autumn Repeal Day every year and they promise the people to cut red-tape by $1 billion per year. The laws, regulations and executive orders they cut are also listed on www.cuttingredtape.gov.au for transparency and accountability. In honour of the Constitution of India, may be January 26 could be the Annual Repeal Day for India.” The law ministry has already identified obsolete British statutes, and proposed repeal of 36 such laws in the last session of Parliament. Alongside, the Law Commission in its recent report has identified an additional 72 such laws (40 of which came from the 100 Laws Project.) Besides law ministry has decided to repeal 287 amending acts. (Times of India 7/10/14)

66. Madras High Court moots increasing legal marriageable age for girls (19)

Madurai: Increasing the legal age of marriage for girls from minimum 18 years was mooted by the Madras High Court on Wednesday as a way out to check instances of hundreds of women getting married at an young age only to be separated a few years later. “For a male, the marriage age is fixed as 21 years. For a girl it is 18 years. But both boys and girls grow in school atmosphere till the age of 17,” a division bench of justices S Manikumar and VS Ravi said, and asked, “How can girls be considered more matured at 18 than boys?” The court made this observation while suggesting some amendments to the Indian Majority Act 1875 and the Child Marriage Restraint Act so that it addresses the issue of the minimum age of marriage of girls. Noting that the Hindu law prescribes 21 years as marriageable age for men, the court wondered whether it could be said the girl could acquire social, psychological maturity and ready for marriage on attaining 18 years. The judges said the High Court was registering a large number of habeas corpus petitions with regard to girls who run away with boys at the age of 18. No parent would like his child to walk away from family and getting married on her own in their absence, it said. The bench, which was closing a habeas corpus plea filed by one R Thiagarajan, said parents bring up their child with love and affection, educate them with a fond hope, and after verifying many particulars as to who would be his or her partner, settle them in marriage. It was the grievance of the parents that at adolescent age, when the children were not mentally and psychologically mature they decide their course of action, and get married because of infatuation. Due to lack of proper understanding with parents, they think there was somebody to take care of them and get themselves entangled, the court said. It was to avoid these factors there was need to consider increasing the marriageable age of girls to 21 or more than 18, the bench said. The girl may be be fit to drive scooter, get employment at 18, but all that could not be equated with mental maturity for marriage, the bench said while suggesting revision of marriageable age. Another thing is that the parents were not able to monitor their daughters all the time. The visual media was having adverse impact on young girls. Most of the girls of 18 years say they married as per their wish. But parents would not like them to get married like that, the court said. (DNA 9/10/14)

POLICE/ AFSPA/ CUSTODIAL DEATHS

67. AAP demands CBI probe into Ludhiana killings (1)

CHANDIGARH: Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has mounted an attack on SAD-BJP government for the Ludhiana killings, demanding a CBI probe into the incident even though the SSP concerned has already been suspended. Demonstrations will be organized by AAP in all districts of Punjab on Wednesday. AAP’s Punjab convener Sucha Singh Chhotepur said that police involvement in the crime has already been established and it points to a well-planned conspiracy. “The party will launch statewide protests with peaceful demonstrations outside deputy commissioner offices in all districts on Wednesday to highlight the growing incidents of crime in the state,” he said. He also demanded imposition of President’s rule in the state. According to the AAP leader, the fact that this was a pre-mediated murder has been acknowledged by the Badal government with the suspension of the Khanna SSP, the SHO and other police officials of the area. He said all AAP district units would hold a state-wide peaceful protest in front of DC offices in every district headquarters from 11am to noon on Wednesday, to demand dismissal of the Badal government. He also appealed to people to join the protest and said memorandums would be handed over to district deputy commissioners or at SSP offices. AAP MP from Sangrur, Bhagwant Mann, said there is need for an in depth probe by a central agency to find out if there was any political patronage for those behind the double murder. “The state government should be dissolved in view of the deteriorating law and order situation. AAP demands that President’s rule be imposed in Punjab,” he said. “The fake encounter happened in an area which has emerged as a stronghold of AAP. The party has surpassed the popularity of other parties there. We have given a call to all likeminded people to join the statewide campaign,” said AAP leader Himmat Singh Shergill. Police have been under fire for the alleged coldblooded murder of two brothers of Bhaupur in Machiwara by the husband of a sarpanch and cops from Machiwara police station at Ahluwalia colony of Jamalpur on Saturday. Meanwhile, SAD leaders maintained that a high-level probe has already been ordered into all aspects of the killings and there was no need to politicize the issue. On Monday, SSP Khanna, Harsh Kumar Bansal, was placed under suspension while a constable was dismissed and two home guards also lost their jobs. A murder case has already been registered on September 27 in Ludhiana after the incident. (Times of India 1/10/14)

68. NGOs release manifesto for police reforms in M’rashtra (1)

NEW DELHI: Alleging that the police reform measures initiated after Mumbai terror attacks are not enough, activists have now come up with a ten-point manifesto ahead of the Assembly elections to ensure better policing in Maharashtra. The activists said Mumbai residents had hit the streets following 26/11 attacks demanding police reforms but six years has gone by and nothing significant happened. In the name of reforming, they alleged, authorities just tried to procure AK-47s and circumvented Supreme Court directives on police reforms. Two NGOs — Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative  and Police Reforms Watch— have now come up with the manifesto on police reforms, which they want political parties to adopt. “Turning ‘police force’ into police service is that all we want. Can better policing be an election agenda,” they said in a statement. Demanding better policing, they asked: “Are our women and children safe? Have custodial deaths stopped? Do police have adequate staff and is proper infrastructure in place? Do police still spend more time for VIP duties than regular duties and much more?” Ending misuse of police personnel for non-policing work and separation of investigation from law and order functions are among the demands listed in the “Manifesto for Better Policing in Maharashtra — Ten Giant Steps.” The NGOs also demanded abolishing the use of police personnel as orderlies for any domestic or private personal purpose by police officers of all ranks besides use of police personnel as personal security guards. (Deccan Herald 5/10/14)

69. Ten Inmates Die within 45 Days at Cherlapally Prison (1)

Is Cherlapally Central Prison fast becoming a death zone for prisoners? In a span of 45 days between August 1 and September 15, at least 10 prisoners have died due to various health-related reasons. Lack of doctors in the prison has further compounded the misery of prisoners. A PIL filed by a citizen from Hyderabad was admitted by the Chief Justice of High Court recently to probe the unexplained and mysterious deaths of prison inmates. The court directed the government to recruit doctors to provide treatment to prisoners. To an RTI reply, it was found that between January 1 and September 17, 2014, as many as 23 prison inmates had died under mysterious circumstances. The petitioner, Ayub, who filed the petition before the court, alleged that the authorities had manipulated/fudged the prison records to cover up lapses leading to the deaths. “Cherlapally prison is very congested and at least 2,000 prisoners are lodged. Hundreds of prisoners from different places are shifted here. However, we have made efforts to take care of these prisoners by providing better medical staff, including senior doctors,” Singh says. Singh says most of prisoners suffer from chronic diseases. Some fall sick due to depression and some others have problems adjusting to jail atmosphere. But most of them died due to heart attacks. Three posts of civil assistant surgeon have fallen vacant and are lying vacant for about a year. A civil assistant surgeon takes care of psychiatric issues of prisoners. The prison authorities are using the psychiatrist and dentist in place of assistant civil surgeons to address the needs of about 1,800 inmates of the prison. (New Indian Express 6/10/14)

70. Pakistan targets BSF posts, villages; India hits back with heavy fire (1)

NEW DELHI: India has turned the heat on Pakistan with massive retaliatory fire in response to ceasefire violations along the Line of Control (LoC) as well as the International Border (IB) in Jammu and Kashmir, leading to civilian casualties on both sides. After five Indian civilians were killed and 34 injured in heavy fire from across the border in Arnia sub-sector of Jammu on Monday, which was followed by Pakistan targeting 40 BSF border outposts and adjoining villages through the night, India retaliated in even greater measure. Intelligence agencies tracking reports in Pakistani media on Tuesday estimated that more than 15 Pakistani civilians had died in the firing by BSF soldiers, mainly in the Sialkot sector. No casualties were, however, reported on the Indian side in the latest exchange of fire. Sources said BSF fired 1,000-1,200 shells overnight, inflicting damage on Pakistan’s military infrastructure in the area. Pakistan lodges protest with UN military group over border firing The offensive intent of the Indian security establishment was also evident during the weekly DGMO hotline talks on Tuesday, with the Indian Army warning its Pakistani counterpart that the response to any provocation would be “intense, immediate and more than adequate” in keeping with the directions issued by Army chief General Dalbir Singh Suhag. “We conveyed our concerns about ceasefire violations and civilians being targeted by Pakistani forces over the DGMO hotline. We asked them to exercise restraint and not escalate the situation. They, in turn, accused us of the same,” said a source…. (Times of India 8/10/14)

71. 11-year-old boy set ablaze by Army jawans? (1)

HYDERABAD: An 11-year-old boy was found with severe burns in a restricted area on the premises of Mehdipatnam Garrison on Wednesday afternoon. Family and locals alleged the boy, Shaik Mustafauddin, who suffered over 90% burns, was set ablaze by Army jawans. Siddique Nagar has just over 200 households and it is an old residential area located in the middle of the Mehdipatnam Garrison. The residents are issued special passes by the Army to enter and exit the garrison. The residential area is cordoned off on all sides except for a passage, which doubles up as entry/exit for the civilians. Mustafauddin, son of Shaik Mukheeduddin from Siddique Nagar, is a student of a local madrassa. At 2 pm, according to police, residents of the colony heard screams from outside the barricaded area. “Locals said they found Mustafa lying outside the barricade with severe burn injuries. I spoke to the boy at Osmania General Hospital (OGH) and he told me that while he was playing near his house, two Army jawans called him into the barricaded area. They asked him to sneak in through the fencing. After the boy entered the restricted area, the two jawans thrashed him and threw gasoline on him. The boy said when he tried to escape, the jawans beat him up again and set him ablaze,” Greater Hyderabad mayor Majid Hussain told TOI. After the incident, XV additional chief metropolitan magistrate A Srinivas Kumar recorded the statement of Mustafa at OGH. Hyderabad RDO K Nikhila and other officials also visited the hospital. “We shifted the boy to Apollo Hospital, DRDO, for better treatment. I was told that a judicial magistrate recorded the statement of the victim,” the RDO said. Following the incident, several senior police officers, including Hyderabad police commissioner M Mahendar Reddy, visited the spot and spoke to locals as well as the Army brass. A forensic team seized an empty can of kerosene and a matchbox near the crime scene along with other evidence. The boy, engulfed in flames, was first noticed by residents of Siddique Nagar. After he was rushed to hospital, angry locals pelted stones at Army stores located nearby and damaged the glass panes. Police sources said as of now they have not found any eyewitnesses to the crime. However, preliminary investigation by the Humayun Nagar police revealed that the relationship between residents of Siddique Nagar and Army personnel was quite good and there was no incident in the recent past which could have prompted such an attack. Commissioner Mahender Reddy said, “We are conducting a thorough probe from all possible angles. The truth will be come out soon and the culprits will be brought to book.” The Humayun Nagar police registered a case under section 307 (attempt to murder) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). (Times of India 9/10/14)

MEDIA/ FREEDOM OF SPEECH

72. Mohan Bhagwat row: Congress to gherao Doordarshan house (1)

New Delhi: The Delhi Congress is due to stage a gherao at the Doordarshan house in Mandi house in protest against the live telecast of RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat’s speech in Nagpur on October 3 by the state broadcaster, terming it a “misdeed”.Meanwhile, reacting to the controversy Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has said if DD finds Mohan Bhagwat’s speech “newsworthy, it is a call taken by them”. “Please listen to his speech. He has something good to say. Congress party se aur kya apeksha ki ja sakti hai. Agar sabhi channel sarsanghchalak ka live telecast dikha rahe hain to DD bhi dikhaye to galat kya hai. (What do you expect from the Congress? If all the channels are running the live telecast, why do you call see it any other way if DD does the same? The Congress leaders’ problem is they are not visible. What can we do?)” Chief spokesperson of Delhi Congress Mukesh Sharma has said the RSS was a controversial religious and political organisation and showing Bhagwat’s address live on Doordarshan was not at all acceptable. The live telecast of Bhagwat’s address in Nagpur on Friday by Doordarshan stoked a controversy with almost all major opposition parties slamming the government for “misusing” the state broadcaster while BJP defended it. “The Doordarshan is being saffronised. This is a very serious issue. Showing the speech live was an attempt to propagate a certain ideology,” Sharma said. He said scores of Congress MLAs, municipal councillors, leaders and workers will launch an agitation against the government and Doordarshan on Sunday. “We will gherao the Doordarshan headquarters,” he said. The decision to launch the agitation was taken at a meeting of DPCC office bearers. The meeting was presided by DPCC president Arvinder Singh Lovely. (India Today 5/10/14)

73. Poll war spills on to social media (1)

Mumbai: BJP’s television advertisements for the Assembly elections have become a matter of ridicule on social media and Whatsapp groups in Maharashtra. The BJP suspects that the Shiv Sena is behind it, but no BJP leader is willing to publicly denounce the former ally. In the TV ads, the catchphrase is “Kuthe nevun thevlay maza Maharashtra?” (where have you taken my Maharashtra?) The BJP campaign is against the Congress-NCP government, indicating that the general condition of Maharashtra has deteriorated under their rule. However, the counter campaign on social media not only makes fun of BJP ads, but also projects them as anti-Maharashtra. When asked, Shiv Sena’s social media in-charge Harshal Pradhan, denied that the Sena was behind the social media campaign against BJP’s ads. He said, “The Shiv Sena has concentrated only on developmental issues. We post messages regarding Shiv Sena’s development vision on social media. We don’t have to carry out a campaign against BJP’s campaign.” He further said that Sena has 65 political districts and each district has a WhatsApp group with 50 active Sena members. “Group members immediately forward the messages to other groups and this way our messages reach at least six lakh people in no time,” Mr Pradhan said. BJP spokesperson Keshav Upadhye refused to comment on any Sena-related issue. Another BJP leader, on condition of anonymity, said, “Our advertisements are simple and touch people’s lives. Our feedback is that our ad campaign is being appreciated by the common people and therefore our opponents have started to distort the ads’ message. But we are confident that people will reply to them by voting for the BJP.” Though the BJP has said that it will not criticise Shiv Sena, its leaders have slowly started attacking the party. In a public rally in Mumbai, state BJP president Devendra Fadnavis had suggested that Shiv Sena extorts money in the name of celebrating Shiv Jayanti. Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray responded to the charge saying, “If Sena was extorting money, was the BJP sharing it when it was a part of the alliance for the last 25 years?” (Asian Age 6/10/14)

74. Scribe arrested in TV journalist’s murder case (1)

BERHAMPUR: A journalist Sibaram Nayak was arrested by the police on Monday in relation to the murder a TV journalist,Tarun Acharya on May 27 at Khallikote in Ganjam district of Odisha. The same media house owns the Odia newspaper for which the accused scribe was working as well as the Odia TV news channel to which the deceased was attached. Sub-Divisional Police Officer (SDPO) Alekh Chandra Pohi, confirmed the arrest of Sibaram but did not divulge details regarding involvement of Sibaram in the murder as investigation was still on. Yet according sources, it was alleged that Sibaram was a key conspirator behind the murder of the TV journalist. With the arrest of Sibaram, total number of arrests in this case has risen to four. Earlier arrested persons included Shyamsundar Prusty owner of cashew processing unit at Bharasa village near Khallikote and the contract killer Ramesh Reddy. Investigation had revealed that Ramesh had been paid Rs. 50,000 rupees to kill Tarun. On May 27 night, while he was returning back to his village Bikrampur from Khallikote, Tarun had been stopped by the assailants at a deserted spot. They had slit open his throat by a sharp knife to kill him at the spot. This gruesome murder of a journalist had created much furore in Odisha. (The Hindu 7/10/14)

75. Journalist thrashed, case registered (1)

CHANDIGARH: A 32-year-old journalist with a Hindi newspaper was thrashed by some unknown persons near the bridge of Khuda Lahora and Dhanas on Monday night. According to the FIR, Sanjeev Mahajan was in his car when he was signalled to stop by two youths in another vehicle near Sector 25 around 10.45 pm. As Mahajan came out and interacted with two youths, some persons grabbed him from his neck and bundled him inside an SUV bearing a yellow colour taxi registration number plate. Mahajan claimed he was thrashed with blunt weapons, including bamboo sticks. He somehow managed to escape from the SUV and called the police. A case was registered at Sector 11 police station. A delegation of journalists met UT DIG A S Cheema to apprise him about the alleged misbehavior of some policemen with the victim, who instead of being taken to Government Multi-specialty Hospital, Sector 16, for medical examination, was taken to Sector 25 for narrating the sequence of events. Cheema assured a probe. (Times of India 8/10/14)

COMMUNAL RIOTS

76. Vadodara: A strained show of normalcy… (7)

Vadodara, which was in the spotlight after Narendra Modi picked it to fight the parliamentary elections and won with a record breaking margin to become prime minister, was scarred during its most vibrant moment — the Navratri festival — when riots broke out on September 25 reportedly sparked by an objectionable image circulated through WhatsApp. For the five-month-old Anandiben Patel government, this was the first such communal clash in the backdrop of the VHP’s campaign against “love jihad” and brazen call to ban Muslims from garba venues, with support from some BJP quarters. Vadodara had last seen a major riot in 2006 when six people were killed after clashes over razing of a dargah, and has been communally vulnerable. Though Commissioner of Police E Radhakrishnaiah kept reiterating that law and order was “under control”, at least five senior officers who had formerly done stints in Vadodara were parachuted to aid him. Radhakrishnaiah banned mobile data services for three days, disabling all communication based on mobile Internet services, on the ground that rumours floating on these channels were provoking riots. But there was no curfew imposed on ground and efforts were being made to ensure shops remained open in a show of normalcy. No message of peace was run on the active social media handles of government functionaries either. Between September 25 and September 29, Chief Minister Patel’s twitter handle had posts related to Garib Kalyan Mela and Pre-Vibrant Gujarat Global Investors Summit among others, but nothing on Vadodara. State Finance Minister Saurabh Patel, who is an MLA from a Vadodara constituency, visited a garba venue close to where communal clashes were on, for the third day running. However, he gave no statement on the violence. The police had, by then rounded up some 100 people — Hindus and Muslims — under prohibitory orders. Health Minister Nitin Patel, who is the guardian minister for Vadodara, held a peace meeting only on September 28, the fourth day, as sporadic incidents of violence kept the walled city areas on edge. When contacted, Nitin Patel said, “The government response was not late. Action was taken step wise as per requirement.” Asked why the CM, who holds the home portfolio and Junior Home Minister Rajnikant Patel did not visit the city during the clashes, Patel, who is also government spokesperson, said, “Things were being monitored from Gandhinagar. And, I did visit.” What began as arson and plundering on the first day of Navratri, turned violent with incidents of communal stabbings as violence affected the Fatehpura, Yakutpura, Mandvi, Panjrigar Mohalla, Hathikhana, Bhandwada, Adaniapul and Taiwada areas of Vadodara… (Indian Express 4/10/14)

77. Ahmedabad Police file FIRs against rioters (7)

AHMEDABAD: Police on Monday filed two first information reports following Sunday’s attacks by rioting mobs on the policemen in the communally sensitive Shahpur area here. The first complaint filed by sub-inspector HM Rana of Shahpur police station says the mob of about a thousand people attacked the policemen with stones, swords and sticks, leaving three policemen including deputy commissioner of police (crime) Himanshu Shukla and assistant commissioner of police MD Chaudhary injured. The mob tried to kill the policemen who were patrolling in the area to prevent illegal cow slaughtering on Sunday evening, the complaint says, adding that attackers came from various lanes leading to Rangila chowky, Rajaji pol, Burkhaposh pol, Shahpur Hauj and Shahpur Adda. Police fired at least 30 teargas shells and later fired five rounds in the air, the FIR says. Rana claims in the FIR that he has identified 12 persons who led the mob. The FIR has been registered under sections 307 (attempt to murder), 143 (unlawful assembly), 148 (rioting with weapons) and 332 (attacking public servants) of the Indian Penal Code. The second FIR registered by police sub-inspector AB Gohil of Navrangpura police station says that the rioters snatched away his loaded service revolver. Gohil states that when two constables and he were heading towards Rangila Chowky on their bikes at around 7.30pm, a mob of around 1,500 persons stopped them near Mirzapur meat market and attacked them with sticks. (Times of Indi 6/10/14)

78. Curfew in Bihar town after communal violence (7)

Patna: Curfew was imposed on Tuesday for 48 hours in the border town of Kishanganj in Bihar following communal violence set off by rumours that the carcass of an animal was found near a temple. Residents burnt tyres and blocked the road and rail traffic and forced the closure of shops and government offices.

Train delayedThe Capital Express from Danapur to Kamakhya was delayed at Kishanganj for over three hours due to the agitation. Animesh Kumar Parashar, District Magistrate of Kishanganj, said the situation was brought under control. Additional forces had been deployed in the town, said Deepak Barnwal, Superintendent of Police, Kishanganj. Elders across communities met the district magistrate and urged him to take steps to restore normality in the town. The government has asked Principal Secretary (Home) Amir Subhani to take stock of the situation in Kishanganj. (The Hindu 7/10/14)

79. Communal violence in Indiranagar (7)

LUCKNOW: Members of two communities clashed in Amrahi area in Indiranagar on Tuesday evening over camel sacrifice for Eid ul Zuha. Six persons sustained injuries due to stone pelting. Gunshots were also fired in the air. Both groups were led by members of political parties. PAC personnel and large contingent of police force had been deployed in the locality following the clash. Till late night, cops were trying to maintain vigil in the area and had not lodged FIRs. On Monday local administrative and police officials had tried to broker peace between Shailu Awasthi (27) and Haji Ghayas (45) who had an argument over animal sacrifice. As per local residents Awasthi is BJP worker while Ghayas is associated with the ruling party. Ghayas has been carrying out animal sacrifice for Eid ul Zuha for the past several years but this time Awasthi and some local residents objected to the practice. As per Faheem, an eyewitness of the incident and a local resident, Awasthi had issues over sacrifice. “Awasthi was unhappy as he did not want remains of the animal and blood splattered near his house in the village,” said Faheem. Ghayas’ plan to sacrifice camel was sounded out to forest department officials and the animal was being taken away. Haji agreed not to sacrifice the animal and the team of officials left the area. Late evening, however, rumour mongering over sacrifice of camel triggered tension again and groups came face to face around 7.30pm. Stones were pelted at each other and at least six persons sustained injuries. Gunshots were also fired in the air, said local residents. By 8pm, situation was brought under control. Additional superintendent of trans-Gomti area Dinesh Yadav said strong action will be initiated against offenders. “We will press harsh sections and lodge FIRs against miscreants. Situation was tense for around 15 minutes,” he said. Yadav denied reports of gunshots being fired in the air. (Times of India 8/10/14)

COMMUNALISM

80. Vishwa Hindu Parishad protests at collectorate to stop ‘cattle slaughter’ (26)

Ghaziabad: Several workers of Hindu outfit Vishwa Hindu Parishad today staged a protest at District Headquarters here for allegedly not adopting stringent measures to stop cow slaughter. Later they submitted a memorandum to the District Magistrate in this regard, an official said. VHP’s ‘Gau-Raksha’ wing’s district president Aakash Katiyar, in his memorandum, has alleged that all efforts of District Administration to stop ‘cow slaughter’ are not bearing any positive results. District Magistrate Vimal Kumar Sharma assured them that District Administration is already vigilant and keeping a strict watch on it.   (DNA 4/10/14)

81. Row over RSS Hindutva on Doordarshan (26)

New Delhi: A controversy erupted on Friday when Doordarshan telecast live RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat’s speech on Vijaya Dashami (also the RSS founding day) in which he described Hindutva as India’s “national identity”. The Opposition slammed the government for “misusing” the state broadcaster. However, both the BJP and the government defended the decision to telecast the RSS chief’s speech on the grounds that it was a “newsworthy” event. Mr Bhagwat also found backing from the highest level of government with Prime Minister Narendra Modi saying, “Mohan Bhagwatji talked about important national issues in his speech. The issues of social reform that he raised are very relevant today.” Congress spokesman Sandeep Dikshit said the hour-long telecast was a “dangerous tradition” as the RSS is a controversial religious and political organisation. “It is a dangerous tradition. This is not an organisation which is completely neutral. It is a controversial organisation,” he said, adding it was a political decision of the government. Mr Dikshit’s party colleague, Mr Abhishek Manu Singhvi, feared that from now on the country would be ruled through the official media “for Nagpur, by Nagpur and of Nagpur”. Another Congress leader, Mr Rashid Alvi, said, “This naked state majoritarianism must be resisted.” However, information and broadcasting minister Prakash Javadekar said that Prasar Bharati, under whose jurisdiction Doordarshan comes, took its own decisions and that DD News covered the speeches of leaders of the Congress and other parties too. While Prasar Bharati CEO Jawahar Sircar refused to comment, Doordarshan DG (News) Archana Dutta said, “It was just like a news event to us. So we covered it.” Mr Javadekar, who was in Mumbai, suggested that Doordarshan may not have covered the RSS chief’s speech live in the past because of “restrictions” placed by earlier regimes. He said when “all private news channels are showing it, why should DD be banned?” However, none of the major channels showed the entire speech live. BJP MP Meenakshi Lekhi, while refuting the criticism, said, “The Congress and Left never raised objections when the Pope’s message was telecast live, even when they were in power.” Applauding the Narendra Modi government for “positive signs” about the emergence of India as the “guide and torch-bearer of the whole world” since the “nai vyavastha (new administration)” has taken over, Mr Bhagwat described Hindutva as the country’s “national identity” and said it was the “thread of unity” running through its diversities. “The all-inclusive and all-encompassing truth is what we call Hindutva. It is our national identity. That is why we should take the Sangh Shakha to each home in every village, street and community… Sangh has been doing it for many decades. It believes in unity in diversity, which does not ask anybody to leave anything except their vices and arrogance, which is the thread of unity running through the country’s diversities, this is Hindutva,” Mr Bhagwat said. The RSS chief also complimented the government for initiatives on national security, economy and international relations in a short period of four months. He also said people should give some time to the government for expeditious and efficient execution of its policies. Condemning the live broadcast, the CPI(M) said, “The RSS uses the occasion to propagate its Hindutva ideology. The national public broadcaster has no business to telecast live the speech of the chief of an organisation like the RSS.” The CPI also condemned the live telecast with party national secretary D. Raja saying the government, particularly the I&B ministry, should give an explanation to the people on why it allowed DD to be a mouthpiece for the RSS. Holding that it amounted to misuse of official machinery, JD(U) leader K.C. Tyagi said the I&B ministry should not encourage public broadcast of any such event in the future. He said the RSS is a religious organisation and its remarks have created controversies from time to time. (Asian Age 4/10/14)

82. Hindutva no longer a poll plank (26)

New Delhi: Hindutva has not become an issue in the Maharashtra Assembly polls, with the BJP and the Shiv Sena focusing more on local issues, accusing each other for the breakdown of their 25-year-old ideological alliance, while the Congress and the NCP are not highlighting their achievements in the last 15 years of power. Hindutva used to be the main campaign theme of the Shiv Sena-BJP combine in the Lok Sabha and the Maharashtra Assembly polls ever since they came together since 1989. They had, in fact, had created a strong support base among the people around this issue with social engineering and thus emerged as an alternate to the Congress-NCP combine. But this time, these four parties are blaming each other for “backstabbing” in the fight to establish their supremacy over each other. If Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s meetings have shown that the BJP has been lacking a face in the multi-cornered contests, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray and NCP supremo Sharad Pawar are the only major leaders trying to check the Modi wave in the state. “But this election has revived Raj Thackeray and his Maharashtra Navnirman Sena,” a state Congress official said on Sunday. These three leaders are attacking the BJP at a time when the Congress’ campaign theme is yet to become clear. This is because former chief minister Prithviraj Chavan is giving details of how many files he had cleared during his tenure while another former chief minister, Narayan Rane, is taking the Shiv Sena-MNS line of “son of the soil” and how the Modi government at the Centre is working against the interest of Mumbai and Maharashtra. Mr Modi has been maintaining silence on the issue of a separate Vidarbha state, perhaps after realising that it could be counter-productive and lead to the BJP’s isolation in Mumbai, western Maharashtra, Marathawada, north Maharashtra and Konkan regions. But the state BJP leaders are reiterating the party’s line on this controversial issue. (Asian Age 6/10/14)

83. Venkaiah defends telecast of RSS chief’s address (26)

HYDERABAD: Union Minister for Urban Development M. Venkaiah Naidu dismissed as ‘meaningless’ protests raging over Doordarshan’s live telecast of RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat’s address on Vijaya Dasami day. Responding to a question at a media conference here on Monday, he termed the speech ‘historic’ and said it was telecast live by many news channels including DD. “I don’t know why people are making it a controversy … RSS is a nationalistic organisation, a patriotic organisation. Doordarshan has done a good thing. I compliment them,” he said. When a journalist pointed out that it had never happened in the past, Mr. Naidu ticked him off, saying that good things, even if they were delayed, should be welcomed. “Modiji has come. Good things are happening. Acha din aagaya … Aur bhi acha din ayega!” (The Hindu 7/10/14)

TERRORISM

84. ISI closely connected with Indian Mujahideen operatives: NIA (12)

New Delhi: Pakistan intelligence agency ISI was “closely connected” with top operatives of banned Indian Mujahideen (IM) and provided shelter to its members wanted in India, the National Investigation Agency has told a special court in New Delhi. The NIA said this in its supplementary charge sheet filed against 20 suspected IM operatives, including its absconding co-founders Riyaz Bhatkal and Iqbal Bhatkal, in connection with a case relating to larger conspiracy of the banned group to carry out terror activities across the country. “Investigation has established that in pursuance of the conspiracy, accused A-10 (Riyaz Bhatkal) has remained closely connected with the ISI of Pakistan. The ISI organised training of IM operatives and also provided shelter to several accused persons, including A-10, after they were wanted by Indian courts for their involvement in terrorist activities,” the agency said. The NIA also said that its probe in the case established that Iqbal Bhatkal, who is based in Pakistan, had been associated with ISI to obtain funds and support. “Investigation has established that accused Iqbal Bhatkal had associated himself with the Pakistani agency called as ISI for obtaining regular funding and infrastructural support for the IM operatives,” it said. “Accused A-11 (Iqbal Bhatkal) was also summoned by the ISI officials on certain occasions and given directions. Due to the closeness of ISI with A-11, there were occasional intra-organisational rifts, as established during the investigation,” the NIA further said. Out of the 20 accused named by NIA in its charge sheet, 17 have not been arrested yet while three others, Tehsin Akhtar, Haidar Ali and Zia-ur-Rehman, are in judicial custody in connection with the case. The NIA had earlier filed two charge sheets in the case against nine suspected IM operatives, including its co-founder Yasin Bhatkal and his close aide Asadullah Akhtar alias Haddi, who were arrested by the agency on August 28, 2013 in the case. All these accused have been named in the charge sheet for the offences under various sections of the IPC, including 120-B (criminal conspiracy), 121 (waging war against the country), 121-A (conspiracy to wage war) and Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. In its supplementary charge sheet filed against the 20 accused, the NIA said that IM operatives wanted to create a situation in India similar to the one prevailing in Iraq and Syria. It also said that some of the suspected IM men had wanted to be sent to Syria with other jihadis. NIA is probing the alleged roles of 33 suspected IM men in the case out of which 29 have been list in the charge sheet by it. (The Hindu 2/10/14)

85. Police kill seven Taliban militants in Pakistan (12)

KARACHI: Pakistan police on Sunday killed seven Taliban insurgents during a raid in the port city of Karachi, police said. The encounter took place in the Sohrab Goth area on the outskirts of the city after police received intelligence information about the presence of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) insurgents in a compound there. “There were up to 16 TTP militants present in the house when we raided it,” senior local police official Rao Anwar told AFP. He said the raid triggered a gunfight, killing seven insurgents, adding that three of them were involved in the assassination of a senior Karachi police official Chaudhry Aslam in January this year. “These three militants, who had fled to Saudi Arabia after Aslam’s murder but returned home just recently, were experts of making bombs and suicide vests,” Anwar said. Police were trying to identify the four others who were killed. At least seven militants fled during the gunfight, he said. The raid came two weeks after a senior police official Farooq Awan, who has been a key player in the police’s fight against terrorist groups in the city since 2001, survived a car bomb attack in Karachi. Karachi, a city of 18 million people which contributes 42 per cent of Pakistan’s GDP, has been plagued by sectarian, ethnic and political violence for years. (Times of India 5/10/14)

86. BJP steps up heat for NIA probe in Bengal blast (12)

Kolkata: Stepping up the heat on the Mamata Banerjee government over the Oct 2 blast in West Bengal’s Burdwan district, the BJP Tuesday said the ruling Trinamool Congress was intentionally preventing NIA probe to cover up its alleged terror links. The Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) national secretary and party observer for West Bengal, Siddharth Nath Singh said the state government’s attitude towards the matter involving national security was becoming an embarrassment for the entire country. “It has become now apparent that the Trinamool is trying to cover up its links with terror outfits, otherwise why it is so opposed to the NIA stepping in. By belittling an issue concerning the nation’s security, the Mamata Banerjee government is causing embarrassment for the entire nation,” Singh told IANS. With investigating agencies suspecting the involvement of international terror outfits in the explosion in a house in Khagragarh in the district that killed two suspected militants, the BJP as well as the CPI-M have been clamouring for the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to step in. Referring to Banerjee’s demand for an NIA probe into the affairs of premier resort, Vedic Village, on the northern outskirts of the city, where arms were found after it was burnt down by a mob on Aug 23, 2009, Singh questioned the chief minister’s reluctance for the central agency’s intervention. “As the then opposition leader, she had demanded an NIA probe in the Vedic Village case, but why this reluctance now when she is the chief minister? Is it because her party’s links with terror outfits like the Jamaat-e-Islami will become apparent?” Singh posed. The BJP leader also said the “Trinamool’s links” with the Jamaat will adversely affect India’s bilateral relations with Bangladesh. Defending its decision to repose faith in the state police to crack down the case, the Trinamool has hit back at the BJP which has been demanding an NIA probe and accusing the state police of trying to cover up the probe. “The chief minister of West Bengal completely trusts the administration of Bengal to crack the Burdwan case and is confident that they will do their job,” Trinamool national spokesperson and Rajya Sabha member Derek O’Brien had said Monday. “Trust is a word not found in the PM’s dictionary. The PM does not trust his own party colleagues – L.K. Advani, Rajnath Singh, Sushma Swaraj. Nor does he trust key members of his own administration. He thinks the CMs of all states also operate like him…,” he said. Three people, including two women, have been arrested in the case which is being probed by the CID as well as a composite task force comprising officers from the state investigating agencies. (Business Standard 7/10/14)

87. West Bengal: New faces of terror surface with Burdwan blast (12)

Kolkata: An accidental blast at a Jihadi explosive manufacturing centre in West Bengal’s Burdwan district earlier this week has raised concerns about an Al Qaeda-linked Bangladeshi terror outfit being active in India. Razia and Amina, both in their early twenties and mother of infants are the latest faces of terror. Tenants at a two-storey building owned by a TMC worker on the fringes of Burdwan town, these burqa clad women reportedly never batted an eyelid when an explosion at the house blew Razia’s husband Shakeel Ahmed to pieces and killed another terrorist. Amina’s husband Abdul Hakim was also injured in the blast. The state police’s decision to defuse explosives at the house, even before central investigating agencies arrived is being viewed as a setback. Paradub: The women must have been trained. Even after such an incident they were very absolutely calm. They had no tears in their eyes. Seeing them it was difficult to believe that their husbands were dead or injured from the blast a short while ago. The women resisted police entry and tried to destroy critical evidence. Investigators say they are members of the Al Qaeda-linked Bangladeshi terror outfit Jamaat-Ul-Mujahedeen. Their neighbours are quite visibly shocked. “We never had the slightest inkling that they were up to such things. Else we would have lynched them. We would never tolerate such things here. They have put us to shame,” Chowdhury Moula Ali, a next-door neighbour. It is indeed difficult to comprehend how families of seemingly ordinary profiles could have direct connections with international terror modules. While investigating agencies continue to unearth fresh evidences of just how widespread this terror network may have been, they agree that the female Jihadists arrested from this house would be hard to crack. Some 55 improvised explosive devices were found at the house. Rs 44,000 in cash was recovered from Amina suggesting the group had a steady supply of cash. Police also found evidence of Jihadi activities at localities in Nadia and Murshidabad districts from where these families had migrated. Investigators are now hunting for a man, Kausar, who is a Bangladeshi national. He was acting as a conduit who transported the finished IEDs to their intended destinations. But for now these women and these two men, Hakim and Hasem Mollah, hold the key to the investigation. But the state police’s decision to defuse explosives at the house, even before central investigating agencies arrived is being viewed as a setback. (CNN IBN 8/10/14)

88. 18 terrorists killed in infiltration bid (12)

NEW DELHI: Indian forces on Tuesday killed 18 terrorists trying to sneak into India from Pakistan, security sources said. A big part of the border violence is linked to Islamabad’s design to push disruptive elements and terrorists across the border before snow sets up on the mountain passes, they said. Ceasefire violations on the LOC have risen for couple of years, but this year the targeting of civilians has added another dimension. More than 20 unprovoked firing incidents have taken place ever since Narendra Modi took office, which sharpened after the foreign secretary talks were cancelled. The violations, earlier limited to the LOC, have now spread to the international boundary. “From the time of Modi’s election, Pakistan army’s been testing him. LOC firing is part of the process,” said Vivek Katju, former diplomat and Pakistan expert. Tuesday’s massive Indian retaliation may be a pointer to how New Delhi will respond. “Islamabad seems to be signalling two things — one for the international community, seeking attention, and second, a message to India that it cannot continue ignoring Pakistan which can create enough trouble to bring New Delhi to the table,” says Rana Banerji, security expert. Pakistan hasn’t had it easy of late – a spike in terrorism against Pakistan, internal instability, yawn-worthy attention from the US. Worse, China appeared to be getting friendly with India, cancelling Xi Jinping’s Islamabad trip. Kashmir, the cause in Pakistan’s eyes, was being pushed to the global backburner. India draws a direct correlation between this quest for international relevance, Nawaz Sharif’s UN address calling for plebiscite and the escalation of border violence. In addition, it’s been a tried and tested way of Pakistan bonding against the India threat. While attention-grabbing may be on Pakistani minds in the short term, in the longer term, it could be setting in place a plan for next summer. In some weeks, snow will choke most passes. By the time they reopen in spring, it may coincide with J&K elections, which are almost certain to be delayed because of flood devastation. Pakistan, says former envoy G Parthasarathy, could be investing in stoking popular discontent in the Kashmir Valley after the floods. Pakistan believes India’s greater conventional military capability gives it greater leeway on both ends of the spectrum – to continue with the asymmetry of terrorism at the lower end and extend the threat of nuclear escalation on the upper. Used together, Islamabad believes it can constrain New Delhi’s military threat. India has this time refused to buy this argument stepping up conventional military response and said it wouldn’t seek a meeting of DGMOs. On Monday, the US state department obliged with a statement. “We continue to encourage India and Pakistan to engage in dialogue,” spokesperson Jen Psaki said. “Our policy on Kashmir hasn’t changed. We believe that the pace, scope, and character of India and Pakistan’s dialogue on Kashmir is for those two countries to determine.” (Times of India 9/10/14)

NAXALS/ MAOISTS

89. Naxals kill panchayat secretary in Chhattisgarh (12)

RAIPUR: A panchayat secretary was killed by naxalites in Maoist-hit Bijapur district of Chhattisgarh, police said on Thursday. Hingaram Kodiyam, cousin brother of late Chinnaram Gota, who was a leader of the erstwhile anti-naxalite movement Salwa Judum, was killed by ultras near Keshkutul village under Bhairmgarh police station limits last night, Bijapur additional superintendent of police Indira Kalyan Elesela told PTI. Prima facie, it appears that the victim was killed with sharp-edged weapons, the ASP said. According to villagers, a group of naxalites stormed into the victim’s house yesterday in Kehskutul village where he is the Panchayat Secretary and dragged him out of his home. Kodiyam’s body was found lying in a pool of blood in a restive patch of Bhairamgarh-Kutru road this morning, the ASP said. Soon after receiving information, security forces were immediately dispatched to the spot, the official said, adding, Kodiyam’s body has been recovered. The reason behind the attack was yet to be known, he said, adding that security forces have launched combing in the region to nab the assailants. A former Janpad member and influential Salwa Judum leader, Chinnaram Gota was gunned down by Maoists in Bijapur in December 2012. A police jawan, who was guarding him, had also lot his life in the incident. Later, the elder brother of Gota, Banshilal was also killed by naxals in May last year. Salwa Judum, an anti-Maoist civil militia, was disarmed and disbanded in the state following the Supreme Court order declaring as illegal and unconstitutional the deployment of tribal youth as special police officers in the fight against Maoist insurgency. (Times of India 2/10/14)

90. Naxal deputy commander shot dead in Bijapur (12)

Raipur: In a major success, the police shot dead a Naxal Deputy Commander after a fierce gun battle in a forested patch of Bijapur district, a senior police officer said here on Thursday. Superintendent of Police, Bijapur, KL Dhruv informed that a police team comprising District Force (DF) personnel had started on a search operation from the district headquarters on September 30. The team came under heavy Naxal fire twice in the jungles of Bodla Pusnar village. However, the police personnel returned the fire making the Naxals flee into the jungles, the SP said. On September 1, police party searching in Munga village of the district had an encounter with the Naxals. Both sides engaged in fierce gun battle and once again the insurgents ran away, he said. During the operation at different places, the police team were attacked by Naxals  who had also placed IED (Improvised Explosive Device) and pressure bombs in different places and a Head Constable of district police Dasrath Nag was injured in one of the blasts during the operation, Dhruv stated. While Dasrath was injured in the blast, Naxals resumed attack on the police team but had to run away after the force returned fire. Later, the injured Head Constable was airlifted to Jagdalpur for treatment, he said.  While searching the area after the gun battle in forests of Munga village , body of a Naxal was found who was identified as Korsa Ayatu (26) resident of Munga Devgudipara village. The deceased was identified as Deputy Commander of CNM (Chetna Natya Mandli) one of the offshoots of banned Communist Party of India (Maoist), the SP said. Ayatu had joined Naxal cadre in 2005 as a Sangham member and in 2007 he became an active member of Gangalur Local Operating Squad (LOS). After working as LOS for three years in 2011 he was made Deputy Commander of CNM. A muzzle gun, backpack and items of daily use were found near the the body. (Pioneer 3/10/14)

91. Jharkhand MLA with Maoist links arrested in Delhi (12)

NEW DELHI: The Delhi Police crime branch in a joint operation with Jharkhand Police arrested former agriculture minister and sitting Congress MLA of Jharkhand Assembly, Yogendra Saw, on Saturday evening. Saw is a suspected Maoist sympathizer and accused of running two terror organizations-Jharkhand Tiger Group and Jharkhand Bachao Andolan-which carry out anti-social activities, police said. Saw is involved in 13 cases of murder, attempt to murder, rioting, criminal intimidation and extortion as well as several alleged massacres in Jharkhand. Cops have taken Saw on a transit remand and took him to Ranchi on Sunday, police said. Police said Saw has close associations with several area commanders of banned Maoist outfits and had been hiding and operating out of Delhi since he resigned as minister and absconded from Jharkhand early September. Addl CP (crime), Ashok Chand, said that Jharkhand Police had information that Saw had been hiding in Delhi. “A joint operation was launched by the crime branch and Jharkhand CID and several raids were conducted to track Saw. Finally, a team led by ACP Hoshiyar Singh and inspector Sandeep Malhotra tracked him to a JJ colony in Shakurpur of northwest Delhi. He was apprehended around 6.30pm on Saturday,” Chand said. On September 1, five members of Jharkhand Tigers Group were arrested and the mentor, Raj Kumar Saw, was found to have Maoist links, police said. Police had phone records of the arrested people talking to the ex-minister. “Huge cache of arms and ammunition and other incriminating material were recovered from them. During interrogation they revealed that Saw was providing arms, ammunition and vehicles to commit extortion, kidnapping for ransom, murder, etc. On September 23, the case was transferred to CID Ranchi and 11 members of this group have been apprehended since,” said DCP (crime) Dinesh Gupta. Saw, Congress MLA from Barkagaon, resigned on September 12 following confessions by arrested Jharkhand Tigers leader Rajkumar Gupta that the politician had ‘founded’ the outfit. Security agencies were left baffled when Gupta disclosed that a Maoist training camp in Hazaribagh was being run by Saw. Sources said police have evidence that Saw was involved in the Beltu massacre of Hazaribagh in 2001. Maoists had beheaded 13 people in the incident and allegedly played football with the heads. The arrested men in the case – Dwarika Singh and Bigan Turi – had confessed that Saw was involved in the conspiracy. Congress had made a three-member panel to probe the allegations against Saw following which he had to resign from his portfolios on September 12. A non-bailable warrant was issued against Saw and he absconded mid-September. (Times of India 6/10/14)

92. Incentives fail to lure Naxal rebels (12)

Raipur: The Chhattisgarh government’s latest policy of increasing incentives on surrendered weapons by Maoists who return to the mainstream by leaving red cadre seems to have few takers among the “reformed rebels”. No Naxal leaders who have surrendered before police in Bastar in the past three months have carried their weapons with them despite the fact that the incentives on surrendered arms have been made very attractive, a senior police officer told this newspaper here on Monday. “The spate of surrender of Maoists in Bastar witnessed in the past three months is quite encouraging for us. But, at the same time, we are puzzled as well as disappointed that Naxals preferred to surrender without their weapons”, the police officer said unwilling to be quoted. The rehabilitation policy for surrendered rebels has been revised by the Chhattisgarh government. (Asian Age 7/10/14)

TRAFFICKING

93. PIL on placement agencies disposed of (1)

NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court on Tuesday disposed of a public interest writ petition seeking regulation of placement agencies in the Capital after being informed that an executive order had been notified last week with the provisions to stop exploitation of domestic workers. The PIL had claimed that many of these agencies were involved in child trafficking. The Delhi Government informed a Division Bench of the High Court that the notification issued on September 25 will remain in force till the Delhi Private Placement Agencies (Regulation) Bill is passed. The High Court had recently pulled up the Labour Department for its failure to comply with its December 18, 2013, directions to regulate placement agencies through an executive order. The petitioner in the case was a non-government organisation, Bachpan Bachao Andolan (BBA), working for children’s welfare and rehabilitation of rescued child labourers. BBA counsel H.S. Phoolka said the cases of trafficking of girls were still being reported and thousands of girls could have been saved if the State Government had acted on the High Court order. The High Court had earlier summoned the Delhi Government’s Labour Secretary to appear in person in connection with the case. The BBA counsel stated that the placement agencies were bringing girls from other States, such as Jharkhand and West Bengal, to Delhi and many of them were rescued by the police from these States, while the Delhi Police were not taking any action. The Bench, comprising Chief Justice G. Rohini and Justice R. S. Endlaw, directed the State Government to follow the notification’s provisions in their letter and spirit to check the problem of trafficking of girls. In addition to the placement agencies, the employers or owner of the house where a domestic labourer is working has also been made responsible under the notification. The notification provides for compulsory registration of private placement agencies in the Capital within 30 days. All unregistered agencies will have to close their business after October 25. All the information related to the domestic workers has to be supplied to the Labour Department, which will upload it on its official website. The details will include the number of workers and their salaries. According to the notification, the placement agencies will issue a passbook containing the domestic worker’s name, age, address, employer’s name, etc., in Hindi, along with the worker’s photograph attested by the employer or the placement agency, to the domestic worker. Significantly, the employer has to sign an agreement with the domestic worker in writing. In case of non-compliance or violation of any of the provisions, a penalty of Rs.50,000 will be imposed on the placement agencies and it will be recovered as the land revenue arrears. The complaints made by domestic workers will be entertained and adjudicated by the Delhi Commission for Women and the Child Welfare Committee. Besides, if any domestic worker goes missing, it will be the employer’s responsibility to inform the police within 24 hours. (The Hindu 1/10/14)

 

94. Panel to prepare status report on Delhi’s missing children (1)

New Delhi: To keep a tab on issues of missing children, the Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights (DCPCR) has planned to prepare a status report by the end of next month. “We are preparing an annual status report over the missing children issues. The report will be prepared till the end of November this year,” DCPCR chairman Arun Mathur told IANS. For preparing this annual report, Mathur said, a missing children cell was set up which holds meetings with the investigating police officers and the parents of missing children. “The aim is to keep tab on the investigations being done by Delhi Police,” said Mathur. The DCPCR has launched a scheme, ‘Khoj’, to get the information about the missing children, said Mathur. “All 102 registered children’s homes have been instructed to provide the details of the children living there so that any missing child can be traced easily,” said Mathur. On an average, 18 children go missing in the capital every day and of them four are never traced, a report by the Alliance for People’s Rights found. A total of 6,494 children, 53 percent of them girls, disappeared in Delhi from Jan 1 to Dec 31, 2013, the report said, citing Right to Information replies from Delhi Police. The reply to RTI query also showed that the number of missing children has increased in the past year from 14 cases a day in 2012 to 18 now. In some police districts the number has shot up quite a bit – 54.82 percent jump in cases reported from West district and a 47.24 per cent increase from North-West district. Only North-East and New Delhi districts saw a decline in the number of missing children in 2013 compared to 2012. The report stated “more than 50 percent of them (rescued children) are from the socially deprived sections of society”.The convener of the alliance, Reena Banerjee said: “This is just the data we could get from the police through RTI, but there are many cases that never get registered. So the actual number of missing children may be higher.” According to a DCPCR report, a total of 6,268 children were reported missing in 2008. In 2009 the number stood at 5,946, and in 2010 “at least” 5,091 children were reported missing. In 2011 and 2012, the missing children were 5,111 and 5,248, the DCPCR report says. (Times of India 6/10/14)

95. 4 KIMS staffers held for child trafficking (1)

HUBLI : Vidyanagar police have arrested 4 KIMS staffers, including three women, in connection with a child trafficking case.Speaking to reporters here on Tuesday, DCP Hanumantharayappa said that PSI Yadavannavar and some police personnel were deputed at the hospital in civilian dress to keep check on suspicious movements of visitors in the wake of the recent kidnap of a three-year-old girl. “When our team, posing as child traffickers, approached Venkatesh Bampalli, a contract worker at KIMS, on October 1, he assured us he would get us a girl child. He also introduced three women contract workers. Our team sought the help of a woman social worker to approach Venkatesh and team, who took us to a mother, who had delivered a girl child 5-6 days ago,” the DCP said. As the woman had delivered a third girl child and was from a poor financial background, she was forced by Venkatesh and team to sell her baby for Rs 30,000. Meanwhile, Venkatesh demanded Rs 2 lakh from the woman social worker. “When the social worker tried to convince them that the money would be handed over after the child was delivered at Siddappajja temple in Unkal on October 3, they fled from the scene. However, Venkatesh and the three women were arrested on Monday,” he added. He also said that all four have been handed over to judicial custody. “As per Supreme Court’s order, we can not reveal the names of the three women until their offence is proved in the court of law,” he added. ACP AR Badiger, Vidyanagar police inspector Girish Rodkar and district child welfare officer Usha too were present at the press conference. (Times of India 8/10/14)

96. Experts discuss ways to check human trafficking (1)

MYSORE : Mysore SP Abhinav Khare has said that effective implementation of sections 366, 366 (A), and 372 of Indian Penal Code, along with a sound rescue mechanism, can eradicate human trafficking in the country. Addressing the participants of a state-level workshop on ‘Challenges in preventing human trafficking’ organized by JSS Law College and Karnataka Institute for Law and Parliamentary Reform (Bangalore), in the college premises here on Tuesday, the SP said: “Girls, who run away from their homes for different reasons, form a major chunk of victims of human trafficking and prostitution. In big cities, some women play a major role in the abduction of girls.” “First, they identify girls roaming in public places like bus stations and befriend them. Later, they abduct them, only to push them into illegal activities. Human trafficking is rampant in border regions. One can see many Bangladeshi girls in Kolkata. It is difficult for police to trace illegally migrated girls as they are given fake ID cards,” Khare claimed.In many cases, victims do not reveal the circumstances under which they get into prostitution fearing pimps or abductors who would have warned them with dire consequences.Speaking on trafficking in Karnataka, he said that majority of the girls are being trafficked to neighbouring states. “Initially, girls refuse to get into that vicious circle. But later, they are brainwashed to work in brothels. Victims conceive, and continue to work in brothels to look after their children,” the SP said, adding that getting into prostitution is no less than getting stuck in a whirlpool. Victims need at least 3-4 years to get over the trauma. But rehabilitation centres serve them hardly for a year. The short stay may again push them into brothels, the SP said. Additional secretary to Karnataka government and in KILPAR director H K Jagadish said: “Despite having strict laws, immoral trafficking is on the rise. Legal challenges need to be discussed and social and economical challenges must be met.” (Times of India 9/10/14)

CORRUPTION

97. Swamy urges Public Prosecutor to oppose bail to Jayalalithaa (5)

CHENNAI: BJP leader Subramanian Swamy has urged the Public Prosecutor in the disproportionate assets case against former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa to vigorously oppose the bail applications of the convicted persons fixed for hearing on October 7, 2014. Mr. Swamy, who is the complainant in the case, said the events in the State since the judgment was pronounced in Bangalore on September 27, raised a strong presumption that the AIADMK party cadre and elected representatives were instigated to indulge in demonstrations against the judge. Hence, Jayalalithaa and her three associates must be denied bail. “I also urge the Narendra Modi government to impose President’s Rule in Tamil Nadu for one year, and subsequently hold general elections in the State. All violent and anti-national elements in the State should be arrested under the NSA,” Mr. Swamy said in a statement. (The Hindu 2/10/14)

98. Graft at check-posts: trailers causing major revenue loss (5)

Thiruvananthapuram: Car-carrier trailers are a major source of corruption at border check-posts in Kerala, the Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau (VACB) has told the government. An estimated 82 to 96 such vehicles enter the State daily, most of them through Palakkad. The trucks are designed to transport vehicles from manufacturers to dealers. However, the operators, in order to squeeze profits, have speciously altered the trucks on their own to carry an excess number of vehicles. They paid a monthly consideration, up to Rs.1,000 per truck per day, to corrupt officials of the Motor Vehicles Department at check-posts to turn a blind eye to such violations of transport rules. The well-entrenched graft has caused substantial revenue loss to the government in lieu of fine and also endangered road safety. Similarly, the VACB has also reported that offence registers at check-posts manned by the Commercial Taxes Department are routinely fudged to facilitate fraudulent and discriminatory assessment of imported freight to help consignees, mostly traders, evade tax. Investigators said that corrupt officials issued summons to importers without entering the perceived offence and the estimated fine in statutory offence register. This opened the door for negotiations through middlemen and subsequent reduction of fine in return for illegal gratification. Surprise inspections conducted by the VACB at various check-posts in Palakkad district till August this year has resulted in the seizure of bribe money to the tune of Rs.2.21 lakh, just a fraction of the actual scale of graft. The action against the corrupt officials has been limited to shifting them from one check-post to another. Investigators said the recent transfer of key members of their intelligence team before the completion of their mandatory five years in their respective posts had retarded the drive against check-post corruption in Palakkad. They said they suspected “mischief” in the inclusion of the names of the officers in the general transfer list and the matter had been referred to the Home Department for rectification. (The Hindu 5/10/14)

99. Govt declines info on Lokpal, cites fiduciary relationship (5)

New Delhi: The central government has declined to make public details of people who have applied for becoming chairperson and members of anti-corruption body Lokpal, saying the information is held by it in “fiduciary relationship”.Replying to an RTI query, the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) said the process of making functional the Lokpal organisation is yet to be completed. “Your application pertain to the persons having fiduciary relationship with the DoPT. Moreover, the process of making the Lokpal organisation functional is yet to be completed. Hence, the information is not being furnished at this stage,’ the DoPT said in reply to an RTI application filed by PTI. The DoPT was asked to provide the details of persons who have expressed their desire to be chairperson and members of the Lokpal. The names were also sought of persons chosen to be part of the search committee which is mandates to prepare a panel of persons who may be considered by the Prime Minister- led selection committee for appointment as chairperson and members of the Lokpal. The Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act provides for establishment of a Lokpal for the Union and Lokayuktas for the states to inquire into corruption charges against public functionaries. The DoPT has given an advertisement seeking applications from suitable persons for becoming chairperson and members of the Lokpal. It has got nominations from various individuals in that regard. The Centre had last month notified the new Lokpal search committee rules, giving it more freedom to recommend names for chairperson and members of the anti-corruption body outside the list provided by the DoPT. (Zee News 6/10/14)

100. HC rejects Jaya bail plea, says graft is rights abuse (5)

Bangalore: Former Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalitha suffered another blow on Tuesday with the Karnataka High Court rejecting her bail plea citing several observations made by the Supreme Court while dealing with cases under the Prevention of Corruption Act. Dismissing the interim prayer seeking bail and suspension of sentencing, Justice A V Chandrashekar observed, “In view of the observations of the Supreme Court, this is not a fit case to suspend the sentence, the bail application is also liable to be dismissed.” Recollecting the course of the case in the last 13 years since filing of the charge sheet, Justice Chandrashekar said: “Corruption is a violation of human rights as it leads to economic offences. The Supreme Court has added new dimensions to cases of corruption. This court is of the opinion that corruption is seriously undermining health of the polity.” Pointing out the apex court’s directives to trial courts hearing cases of corruption, Justice Chandrashekar observed: “The apex court has held that the trial courts should dispose of cases related to corruption within one year after the charge sheet is filed. If there is any delay, the trial court judge has to explain the reason for delay to the chief justice. “The whole effort of the Supreme Court is a clear indication to put corruption cases on fast track. This court is of the opinion that no grounds exist to suspend the sentence.” The court, however, admitted the appeal challenging the special court order sentencing the accused to four years’ imprisonment, along with a fine.Special Public Prosecutor G Bhavani Singh in his submission said that he had no objections to the court granting conditional bail to the accused. At this point the court observed, “The SPP in his memo filed before the court objects to bail, but in his oral submission says that he is not against the bail sought by the accused.” Earlier, senior counsel Ram Jethmalani, appearing for Jayalalitha, submitted that there were several discrepancies in the special court order. Pointing out to the contentions of the prosecution regarding the expenses made during the marriage of accused number three, Jayalalitha’s former foster son Sudhakaran, Jethmalani said the special court judge refused to accept the contention of the defence stating that the expenditure was made by the family of the bride. Terming the order of the special court as arbitrary, Jethmalani cited the case of former Bihar chief minister Lalu Prasad who was granted bail in a disproportionate assets case by the apex court. (Decczan Herald 8/10/14)

ENVIRONMENT/ CLIMATE CHANGE

101. NGO alleges dumping of toxic waste in India, moves National Green Tribunal (9)

NEW DELHI: Toxics Link, an environmental NGO, has moved the National Green Tribunal alleging rampant violation of E-waste Rules, 2011. It claims that tonnes of second-hand or used goods are being dumped in India leading to pile up of e-wastes. In its appeal Toxics Link has urged NGT to direct the directorate general of foreign trade (DGFT) to submit a report on the exact quantities of goods being dumped in the country under the Export Import Policy of India (2013-2014). It also wants information on how these equipment are being recycled and whether their recycling is being done in an eco-friendly manner. The NGT bench on Monday issued notices to all respondents-the ministry of environment, forests and climate change (MoEFCC), state pollution control boards, including Delhi Pollution Control Committee and DGFT. The Toxics Link’s application also quoted a 2011 Rajya Sabha report, which said that India had been a destination for industrial wastes such as “mercury, electronic and plastic wastes from the US; asbestos from Canada; defective steel and tin plates from the EU, Australia and the US, toxic waste oil from the UAE, Iran and Kuwait; zinc ash, lead waste and scrap, used batteries and waste of metals such as cadmium, chromium, cobalt, antimony, hafnium and thallium from Germany, Denmark, the Netherlands, the UK, Belgium and Norway”.It quotes a study by the head of the Centre for Occupational and Environmental Health of the Maulana Azad Medical College in Delhi about 250 people working as recyclers and dismantlers who were studied over a period of 12 months. The study has reportedly found levels of lead, mercury and chromium in the blood and urine samples to be 10 to 20 times higher than normal. The application gives a trend of e-waste generation around the country and says in Delhi, the current generation levels are about 30,000 metric tonne. (Times of India 1/0/14)

102. Warming of Indian Ocean may weaken monsoon: Study (9)

PUNE: A recently published study says the Indian Ocean has been warming consistently for over a century and at a faster rate than any other region of tropical oceans — and this may weaken the monsoon. The study by scientists from Pune’s Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), Sorbonne University in Paris and Pune’s Fergusson College found the warming of the Indian Ocean has been a major contributor to the total global sea surface warming, which may have long-term effects on the climate such as weakening the southwest monsoon and being detrimental to marine biodiversity. Global ocean surface warming has long-term effects on the climate since it persists for a longer time compared with land temperatures. Mathew Koll Roxy, lead author of the research and senior scientist at the Centre for Climate Change Research at IITM, told TOI this is the first time scientists have discovered warming of this rate and magnitude over the Indian Ocean. “Earlier analysis were for shorter periods (e.g. past 50 years), while our current analysis is with multiple datasets for the past 112 years,” he said. The study was recently published online by the Journal of Climate of the American Meteorological Society. It is part of an Indo-French collaboration carried out under the National Monsoon Mission set up by the ministry of earth sciences. Ritika Kapoor, Pascal Terray and Sebastien Masson are the study’s co-authors. Roxy said among the major oceans, Indian Ocean is the smallest but also the warmest. Hence it plays a critical role in regulating the climate and variability of the Asian monsoon, as well as the global climate. This research found warming over the Indian Ocean to be happening at a rate faster than any other region of the tropical oceans, and with a ‘potential’ to alter the strength and course of the monsoon. Generally, the western Indian Ocean has cool surface waters, while the central-east Indian Ocean is a warm pool with sea surface temperature (SST) greater than 28 degrees C. “Earlier studies have shown that the warm pool has considerably warmed over the past half-century, though the reasons have remained elusive until now,” said Roxy. “However, our research, which used extended data of sea surface temperature during 1901-2012, revealed that the relatively cool western Indian Ocean has been warming for more than a century, and has attained the warm pool SST values of 28 degrees C.” Scientists attributed the warming over western Indian Ocean to increasing El Nino events, among other causes. “The periodical El Nino events over the east Pacific change the global atmospheric circulation, and weaken the winds over the western Indian Ocean,” said Roxy. “This induces abnormal warm surface waters over the western Indian Ocean. Meanwhile the La Nina events fail to make any significant changes over the Indian Ocean. Along with this, the frequency of El Nino events has increased during recent decades. This piles up the heat over the western Indian Ocean, resulting in excessive warming.” He said the results of the study may help in understanding the long-term decrease in monsoon rainfall, but not for individual years. (Times of India 3/10/14)

103. Global warming driving migration of species in India (9)

New Delhi: Rising temperatures are forcing a huge, untold number of species to move their homes northward or climb to higher altitudes, says an alarming study. Global warming and changing rainfall patterns have resulted in shifts or extensions in species’ range in every terrain, region and ecosystem in India, the findings showed. “If it is indicative of a wider unfolding process related to climate change, it would suggest that a staggering number of species in India are moving home,” said lead study author Nagraj Adve, member of India Climate Justice Collective — a group of social movements for climate justice. “This would adversely affect human habitat as well,” Adve added. The other causes driving the migration of species could be changing rain patterns and the availability of food. Indicating how such shifts in the geographical location of species could affect human lives, Adve pointed out that major fish species, crucial to diets and incomes, are moving north off both coasts of India because the ocean waters have been getting warmer. Sea surface temperature over 1967-2007 has increased by 0.15 degrees Celsius every decade along the western coast. Oil sardines were not present at all off the south—east coast until the mid—1980s, but have spread there in a major way since the 1990s. Mackerel has become more prominent off the east coast as its range too has moved, from Andhra Pradesh to parts of waters off southern Bengal.The same northward move has also happened for mackerel off India’s west coast. “These shifts or extensions in range are also occurring in India’s rivers as their waters warm,” Adve stressed. The most well-known example of species creeping higher could be the case of apples in Himachal Pradesh. “With fewer days of freezing weather at 1,500 metres, apples are now flourishing only at altitudes of 2,200-3,000 metres,” Adve maintained. (The Hindu 4/10/14)

104. Greenpeace hopes for draft plan to protect wildlife, forests (9)

Raipur: Greenpeace India expressed hopes here today that the central government would draft a comprehensive plan to protect wildlife and dense forests from mining, while auctioning new blocks in future, after the recent Supreme Court decision to cancel coal blocks across several states. “We hope that the new government at the Centre will do the right things keeping in mind the well-being of wildlife and environment,” Greenpeace India’s campaigner Nandikesh Shivalingam said here today at a press conference, after he was asked about what environmental activists expect from the Narendra Modi-led NDA government to save bio-diversity. The Supreme Court’s recent ruling cancelling licences of 214 coal blocks terming these allocations “illegal” was heartening to activists and their long fight to save Indian forests, Shivalingam said. “The government has got yet another opportunity to correct wrongs. We now urge the Centre and state governments to avoid auctioning within forests and set up an independent committee to study elephant movement in the state to manage human-wildlife conflict more effectively,” he said.  He was speaking after Greenpeace India released its report? ‘Elephant in the Room’ here today at the Raipur Press Club, about human-elephant conflict in four forest divisions of Chhattisgarh, namely South Sarguja, Katghora, Korba and Dharamjaigarh in which two coal fields, Hasdeo Arand and Mandraigarh are located. Briefing reporters about the study, Greenpeace India’s senior media officer Nitya Kaushik said, “The study takes an inclusive look at current issues within these four forest divisions where coal mining is proposed. Mining in the area has led to an alarming increase in human-elephant conflicts, which are known to cause damage to human life and property as well.” “Human deaths due to elephant attacks have also increased eight times, to an average of 25 deaths a year, since 2005. Unfortunately, the Chhattisgarh government has failed to address the issue,” Kaushik said. According to the Greenpeace report, around 14 elephants died due to electrocution in Chhattisgarh between 2005 and 2013. Human-elephant conflict also caused 198 human deaths here in the same period, the report said. Chhattisgarh recorded 8,657 incidents of property damages and 99,152 incidents of crop damage between 2004 and 2014, while total compensation paid after human-elephant conflict amounted to Rs 2,140.2 lakh during this period, the report said. “Incidentally, elephant presence was recorded in most coal blocks in the study area, where the government has identified mining sites. These forest divisions already account for an average of more than 30 per cent human deaths and crop damage incidents of the state. Hence, further diversion of forests here could lead to an increase in existing human-elephant conflict,” the report said. “Despite glaring evidence of elephant presence in these forest divisions as well as advice from expert bodies to protect Korba and Dharamjaigarh forests, the state has dropped the proposed Lemru Elephant Reserve, possibly due to mining interests,” the report said. “These forests are home not just to elephants but also leopards and bears, and may be even tigers. It is ironical that the state dropped the Lemru Elephant Reserve even after obtaining all permissions from the Centre in 2007,” Shivalingam, who is also the lead author of the report said. (Zee News 7/10/14)

AGRICULTURE/ FARMERS SUICIDES

105. A.P. capital: farmers oppose land acquisition move (20)

GUNTUR: Even though the State government hasn’t decided about land pooling or land acquisition for the purpose of building State capital, the farmers took a serious note of ‘veiled threat’ of the government. The farmers umbrella bodies have shot back at the clearly comprehensible tone and tenor of the Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu that the government would opt for land acquisition in case farmers did not agree for land pooling. It may be recalled that Mr. Naidu on Thursday said that a clear picture on extent of land required for Capital city would emerge once the master plan was in place. Construction of capital should be beneficial to both farmers and the government. “It is up to the farmers to choose between land pooling and land acquisition. If they don’t agree for pooling, we will go for acquisition,” Mr. Naidu said. Irked over it, the farmers in Guntur district are gearing up to move court if the government went ahead with land acquisition proposal. CPI (M) affiliated Rythu Sangham president J. Siva Sankar says, “We do not have faith in the proposed 60:40 development model in which a farmer holding an acre of land hardly gets 1,000 square yard. We are not sure where the government is allotting land and more importantly, the question of alternative livelihood is causing sleepless nights to farmers.” (The Hindu 5/10/14)

106. Two debt-ridden farmers end life in Telangana (20)

Karimnagar: Two debt-ridden farmers allegedly committed suicide in Karimnagar district of Telangana, after they suffered huge losses due to crop failure, police said today. DH file photo. For representation purpose Two debt-ridden farmers allegedly committed suicide in Karimnagar district of Telangana, after they suffered huge losses due to crop failure, police said today. The farmers identified as D Ramesh (42) from Lakkaram village and M Tirupathi (30) from Ramakrishnapur village of Kodimial revenue mandal, took the extreme step last evening, they said. Ramesh had taken five acres of land on lease and had raised paddy and cotton crops, after borrowing money from private financers. Due to drought in the region, the crops failed and he suffered losses. Unable to repay the debts, he ended his life by hanging himself to a tree at the agricultural field in his village, police said. Tirupathi took his life by consuming insecticide at the outskirts of his village after facing financial troubles due to crop failure. (Deccan Herald 6/10/14)

107. Contract farming can reap benefits if mechanization is speeded up: Report (20)

PANAJI: The government’s contract farming plan can reap benefits for stakeholders if mechanization is speeded up and other hurdles are quickly cleared to boost agriculture and arrest its further decline. Issues of fragmented land holdings and ownership, costly labour inputs, use of primitive and labour-intensive farming methods due to partial mechanization are some of the reasons for the gradual slide in agricultural activities, sources said. The Goa Agriculture Tenancy (amendment) Bill, 2014 was passed recently to encourage contract farming. “All along, farmers did not allow their fallow land to be cultivated by others out of fear of losing it under tenancy act, but now they can let those who want to cultivate it, do so,” Orlando Rodrigues, director of agriculture department, said. The government has provided attractive subsidies, but many see farming on a bigger scale with optimal use of machinery as a requirement for profitable farming. “Contract farming requires large tracts of cultivable land and fast mechanization is needed for timely operations and saving high costs of labour,” says H R Prabhudesai, subject matter specialist (agronomy) ICAR, Old Goa. The introduction of labour-saving harvesters a few years ago had raised hopes of revival of agriculture. Farmers were enthusiastic about reduction in costs and drudgery of manual operations. But mechanization of transplanting operations, another labour-intensive aspect of cultivation, has failed to take off despite availability of transplanters. The agriculture department had subsidized a few transplanters, but they are not being utilized. “There are a few operational problems in local conditions. Nurseries have to be raised on polythene sheets to be cut into blocks and fed into the machine for transplanting. This is slightly labour-intensive but once done, transplanting is fast,” an official explained. Former director of agriculture department, P Tufani said states like Kerala have tackled the problems and transplanting operations have become much easier. Involvement of a company or a community-based effort can help, he added. Agrees Rolf Frank, an agro businessman, “A sense of pride in farming is missing. If various aspects of raising nurseries for the transplanter are entrusted to groups of people, the task can be made simpler and achievable,” he stated. Frank suggests a professional approach. “Contract farming is a step in the right direction and farmers engaging in it should be encouraged to run a profitable enterprise by ensuring them subsidies and machinery,” he said. As an individual farmer has failed, a contract farming enterprise (CFE) can function as an agro service centre. “The CFE owning machinery will do cultivation, ploughing, transplanting, harvesting and provide seeds and manure for his own requirements and also become a support base by providing services for a small fee to marginal farmers around him,” Frank explained. A few more issues need to be resolved quickly. “If farmers lease their land, can the cropping pattern be changed?,” an agricultural officer asked. Fragmented land and ownership issues are a setback for enlarging the cultivable area. “Farmers with big chunks of land can decide fast, but who will organize small farmers?,” Tufani asked. More than 40% are small and marginal rice farmers and may hold a few hectares of land. “This is difficult to be merged into a composite unit for mechanization,” Tufani said. Absentee landlordism is another socio-economic peculiarity to this state, as farm owners are settled elsewhere. “This means owners are not allowing others to till the land,” Prabhudesai said. But in case of farmers becoming deemed owners, they are not in possession of documents. “Some farmers do not have a clear title and cannot avail subsidies,” he added. (Times of India 6/10/14)

108. 207 farmers allegedly committed suicide in Telangana in 4 months (20)

Hyderabad: At least 207 farmers have committed suicide in Telangana in the last four months, according to Rythu Swarjya Vedika, an umbrella group of voluntary organisations working on farmers’ issues. The situation is grim in Warangal where 52 farmers allegedly committed suicide, followed by 35 in Medak, 31 in Adilabad, 28 in Nalgonda, 27 in Karimnagar and 18 in Mahububnagar. Inadequate rainfall, dry bore wells, depletion of ground water and scarce irrigation facilities leading to general crop failure have been cited as the reasons that forced these farmers to end their lives. “A majority of the victims are tenant farmers who pay very high rates to take land on lease, often paying up to Rs 10,000 per acre per season. When their crops fail, they are left in debt. With private financiers hounding them, they take their own lives,’’ said RTI activist B Kondala Reddy who is associated with Rythu Swarjya Vedika, and Caring Citizens Collective, an NGO. The Agriculture Department officials said cotton and chilli farmers have been hit hard, because of unseasonal showers and lack of sufficient rainfall. In Warangal, the groundwater levels went down this September to 8.06 metres below ground level, last September it was at 5.07 metres. Officials said Warangal received 31 per cent less than normal rainfall this year. The situation is the same in Adilabad with 29 per cent deficit and Nalgonda with 38 per cent less rainfall. In Medak district where 35 farmers allegedly committed suicide, there was only 44 per cent rainfall putting thousands of paddy, cotton and sugarcane farmers in distress. There were five farmer suicides each in Ranga Reddy and Khammam and six in Nizamabad. Officials say since agriculture in Telangana is predominantly dependent on bore wells, depleted groundwater levels coupled with power cuts have hit the farmers. Agriculture Minister P Srinivas Reddy blamed the previous Congress government for the plight of farmers. “The previous government did not create proper irrigation facilities nor has it bothered about the welfare of farmers. The farm loan waiver of the TRS government will aid the farmers immensely,’’ Reddy said, when asked about the alleged suicides. … (Indian Express 8/10/14)

LAND ACQUISITION/ DISPLACEMENT

109. Odisha eyes 8 sites to create land stock of 50,000 acres (4)

Bhubaneswar: The state government has identified eight locations for creation of 50,000 acres of land bank for expeditious grounding of different industrial projects. The locations identified are tracts of land in Bhadrak and Balasore districts lying close to Dhamra port, Paradeep port, Bhubaneswar, Gopalpur in Ganjam district in the coastal belt. The locations identified in the western part of the state are Sambalpur- Jhasuguda region and Sundergarh-Rourkela region. Similarly, the government intends to create such land banks along Dhenkanal- Angul industrial corridor in central Odisha and Koraput/Rayagada- Kashipur region in south Odisha. Sources said, near Dhamra port, some un-surveyed land is available between CRZ (coastal regulation zone) line and saline embankment for industrial use. However, the patch has to be brought to the revenue record first. Bhubaneswar-Khurda-Nayagarh area, Bhubaneswar-Jatani and Bhubaneswar-Baranga-Athagarh area have been identified for creation of land bank. Similarly, land banks can be created by taking up the stretch between Gopalpur sea coast and Rusikulya coast and unutilized land of IRE (Indian Rare Earth) project in Ganjam district. Besides, land is available in Gosala and Chiplima area in Sambalpur can be pooled for the purpose of industrialization. Un-surveyed land in Rayagada and Koraput districts are also available for creation of land bank for compensatory afforestation in respect of forest diversion proposals. In a recent meeting held in the presence of Chief Secretary, Gokul Chandra Pati, it was decided that un-surveyed land will be recorded and brought to revenue records through Boundary Change Proceedings (BCP). Odisha Industrial Infrastructure Development Corporation (Idco), the nodal agency for land acquisition in the state, would identify these patches with in-house survey of Record of Rights (RoR) and cadastral maps. Private land will also be aggregated on land pooling system. The creation of land banks assumes significance as the manufacturing sector contributes a whopping 40 per cent to the state Gross Domestic Product. Besides, the state government has confronted with the challenges of acquiring land for industrial purpose. Big ticket projects like South Korean steel maker Posco and Tata Steel have battled against local opposition during land acquisition for their respective projects. The Rs 52000 crore steel plant of Posco, touted as the single largest foreign direct investment (FDI) in country, is yet to be implemented due to land acquisition problems. (Business Standard 1/10/14)

110. Three villages to get grazing land back in APSEZ (4)

AHMEDABAD: Three villages in the Mundra block will soon get the grazing land back after the government had allotted the plots from these grazing lands to the Adani Port Special Economic Zone (APSEZ) in the last decade. Gujarat high court has asked the authorities to expedite the process of measurement of land hand over it to the respective village panchayats. This happened after the villagers filed PIL in 2011 through advocate Anand Yagnik stating that Navinal, Luni and Goyarsama villages were left with limited gauchar land at their command after part of these plots were allotted by the government to the company for SEZ development. The petitioners stated that further dwindling the gauchar area would be detrimental to the villagers and make the sustenance of their cattle population extremely difficult in this area, which is otherwise chronic scarcity hit region. As the HC began hearing on this PIL, the state government granted 387 hectare land for gauchar of Navinal and 85 hectare for Luni village as per their requirement. The formality of measurement was not completed and the villages could not utilize the land. The HC has asked the District Inspector of Land Records (DILR) of revenue department to carry out measurement of this land by end of this month. The concerned mamlatdar has been asked to demarcate the boundaries of land and to issue a Sanad in favour of respective gram panchayats. For Goyarsama village, the HC asked the revenue department to identify the requirement and undertake the process of land allotment at the earliest. (Times of India 4/10/14)

111. A.P. capital: farmers oppose land acquisition move (20)

GUNTUR: Even though the State government hasn’t decided about land pooling or land acquisition for the purpose of building State capital, the farmers took a serious note of ‘veiled threat’ of the government. The farmers umbrella bodies have shot back at the clearly comprehensible tone and tenor of the Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu that the government would opt for land acquisition in case farmers did not agree for land pooling. It may be recalled that Mr. Naidu on Thursday said that a clear picture on extent of land required for Capital city would emerge once the master plan was in place. Construction of capital should be beneficial to both farmers and the government. “It is up to the farmers to choose between land pooling and land acquisition. If they don’t agree for pooling, we will go for acquisition,” Mr. Naidu said. Irked over it, the farmers in Guntur district are gearing up to move court if the government went ahead with land acquisition proposal. CPI (M) affiliated Rythu Sangham president J. Siva Sankar says, “We do not have faith in the proposed 60:40 development model in which a farmer holding an acre of land hardly gets 1,000 square yard. We are not sure where the government is allotting land and more importantly, the question of alternative livelihood is causing sleepless nights to farmers.” (The Hindu 5/10/14)

112. Activists demand clarity on land pooling (4)

HYDERABAD: Taking strong objection at the AP government’s attempts to take over green fields for the proposed capital city, various organisations have demanded that the government make its plans clear on the actual land requirement. Activists alleged that the entire process of land pooling seems to be to help only realtors. Addressing a conference organised by Dalit Bahujana Front (DBF) in Vijayawada on Monday, former MP Yalamanchili Sivaji found fault with the government’s plans to acquire one lakh acre for the capital. “There is absolutely no need to acquire one lakh acre at the cost of small and marginal farmers,” he said, suggesting that the capital be constructed in the available 23,000 acres in VGTM-UDA limits. He wondered why the government needed so much land when the entire infrastructure in Hyderabad is not spread in more than 1,000 acres. “If land has to be acquired, it should begin from big realtors and industrialists who own vast tracts of land in and around the Amavarathi-Mangalagiri region,” the former MP said. Sivaji warned that the entire process would be hit if the government uses force and urged coordination committees with farmers, local leaders and intellectuals to make the process more transparent. APCC SC cell chairman Korivi Vinay Kumar demanded that all the plots distributed to SC and STs under the land distribution scheme should be exempted from land pooling and acquisition. State DBF general secretary Melam Bhagyarao added that there is no question of farmers agreeing to land acquisition if denied justifiable compensation. Bhusadhana Vedika leader Ch Ravikumar said an on-field survey should be taken up to assess the actual requirement of land for capital. Bhumi-Upadhi Hakkula Vedika leader Velicherla Durgaprasad said that the new Act on land acquisition mandated the conduct of a social impact assessment prior to issuing notification for land acquisition and violation of the act would only delay the process. (Times of India 7/10/14)

113. Narmada dam-affected held after suicide bid (4)

Vadodara: Police on Monday thwarted suicide attempts by 12 persons who were affected by the Narmada Dam project and arrested them after they tried to jump into the Narmada canal near the district’s Naswadi village. Demanding jobs and restoration to compensate for the ancestral lands they were forced to give up for the Narmada Dam project, the 12 persons, including a woman, went to the canal and threatened suicide if their demands were not met, a police official said. “They belong to project-affected families who wanted jobs as well as land, as compensation for what they surrendered for the Narmada Dam project in Kevadia to the Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Limited,” Naswadi Circle Police Inspector B.M. Vasava said. After gathering at the canal, all of them jumped into it to protest against the compensation given by SSNL. However, local policemen pulled them out of the canal and arrested them. “All of them were rescued and sent to the hospital for treatment,” Mr. Vasava said. The 12, along with others, were shifted to Baroli-based settlements in south Gujarat as part of the State government’s rehabilitation programme for project-affected people. One of them said: “Benefits should be given to all members of project-affected families, as five acres of land given to one family member is not enough to sustain the entire family.” Work up to the height of 121.92 metres on the Narmada Dam was completed six years ago. Installation of radial gates on the dam is currently underway, likely to be completed in about three years, taking its height to 138 metres. — PTI (Te Hindu 8/10/14)

114. PIL Wants Govt to Resume My Home Land (4)

HYDERABAD: A public interest litigation was filed in the High Court on Wednesday seeking directions to the Telangana government to resume the lands allocated to My Home Constructions Pvt Ltd. Petitioner P Jithender Reddy, an advocate of the city, submitted that in pursuance of the Special Economic Zones Act and GO Ms No.161 dated February 13, 2006 the then APIIC had allocated a prime land of five acres to the realty firm for establishing an IT and ITES zone at Rayadurg Panmaktha village near Madhapur in Ranga Reddy district. The sale deed was executed in favour of the company on August 29, 2012. But, contrary to the terms and conditions, the company used the land for constructing residential apartments for sale to public, he said. Construction of residential apartments in a SEZ  is an illegality which cannot be legitimised, he argued and sought cancellation of the letter of approval given to the company. He urged the court to direct the authorities concerned not to register any conveyances. (New Indian Express 9/10/14)

RIGHT TO HEALTH

115. Caritas to start home for intellectually-disabled (3)

Panaji: Caritas Goa plans to start the state’s first community home for intellectually-disabled adults around December this year. Caritas Goa director Fr Maverick Fernandes told TOI that the community home – located at Porvorim – will be christened Divya Sadan. Fr Fernandes said that the home is in response to a huge demand from ageing parents who are worried about their intellectually-disabled adult children, who will have no one to look after them once they (parents) are gone. The home will be based on the model of L’Arche ( Asha Niketan) and Camphill. “We at Caritas Goa hope to create an inclusive and loving community of people who are welcomed and loved no matter what their ability, social origin, religion, gender and culture,” Fr Fernandes said. The home will not be an alternative to institutionalization. Though these persons are often referred to as ‘mentally-retarded’, the inmates of the Caritas home will be given an opportunity to check out the facility and decide whether they would prefer living there instead of in their present family homes. While there will be community living at the home under supervision, other inmates will come in the morning and leave later in the day, Fr Fernandes explained. The facility will include a sheltered workshop with several trade skills on offer which inmates may learn. This will give them an opportunity to become productive members of society. Doctors, counsellors and other professionals will be part of a team that will manage the home. The project not only looks for volunteers but also donations to make it a success. Caritas Goa presently runs a number of such charitable institutions. These include the St Francis Xavier centre for special children at Old Goa, ASRO – a home for HIV children at Thivim, another ASRO – a home for HIV adults at Cavelossim. (Times of Indi 3/10/14)

116. Infant deaths high in India (3)

Mumbai: The World Health Organisation’s (WHO) latest global report on child mortality (2000-13) has once again placed India among the leading countries in terms of high infant mortality rate. The reasons why India has a large number of babies dying prematurely within 27 days of birth include weak health of infants as well as lifestyle diseases of their mothers like diabetes, obesity and blood pressure that lead to premature deliveries. According to the report published in The Lancet, out of 6.3 million children who died before reaching the age of 5 in 2013, over 51.8 per cent died of “infectious diseases” and over 2.741 million children (44 per cent) died in the neonatal period. Dr Bhupendra Avasthi, pediatrician, Sion Hospital, said, “The revenue allotted for pediatric care in the country is minimal. Many babies, apart from the malnourished ones, are born with complications and our lifestyle is also playing a lethal role in it. Most of them either contract infections or develop asphyxia.” The WHO report has made special mention of the deaths in India and China due to higher mortality rate. The three leading causes of the pre-mature deaths according to the report are Pneumonia (14.9 per cent), pre-mature birth complications (15.5 per cent) and intra-partum related complications (10.5 per cent). The report has said, “Reductions in Pneumonia, Diarrhoea, and Measles collectively were responsible for half of the 3·6 million fewer deaths recorded in 2013 versus 2000.” Meanwhile, a Right to Information Act report has found that a total of 24,380 children aged between 0 and 6 years have died in Maharashtra. Over 19, 465 infants have died in the state in the last year. On an average, nearly six children in this age group have died every day in the last year, 53 of them being infants. (Asian Age 4/10/14)

117. Second human development report ready (3)

GANDHINAGAR: After almost a decade, the Gujarat government is ready with the second state human development report which is to be published shortly. The first report was published in 2005 after being held for two years – the report was prepared in 2003 but due to a controversial chapter on the 2002 riots, it was not published. The new report shows the human development index (HDI) improvement during the tenure of former chief minister Narendra Modi, who is now the Prime Minister. Highly placed sources said, “The draft HDI report has been finalized and will be published shortly. In the past ten years, good results were achieved due to the government’s focus on improving the HDI. The MMR (maternal mortality rate) and IMR (infant mortality rate) have significantly improved; the school dropout rate has reduced; health facilities have improved; higher education facilities have increased; social infrastructures like road and public utilities have increased considerably; and availability of drinking water has improved. All these aspects have been recorded in the new report.” The earlier report was focused on statistical comparison only while the new draft will show the best practices adopted by the state government to improve the HDI, like ‘save the girl child’ campaign, Kanya Kelavani and Shala Pravesh Utsav, Garib Kalyan Mela, nutrition mission, housing improvement etc. After severe criticism over the poor HDI of the state and mismatch between economic and human development, Modi had set up a dedicated department for the improvement of the HDI in the state. A director of human development was appointed in 2007 and new initiatives were launched to improve the HDI. (Times of India 7/10/14)

118. India’s sanitation campaigns have cost 40 times Mars mission budget (3)

CHENNAI: Since 1986, India has spent over $3 billion on constructing toilets across the country, figures from the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation show. Despite such massive investments, India’s sanitation campaigns over the years have unfortunately yielded limited results. India continues to have the largest number of people who defecate in the open. Even poorer countries in the neighbourhood, such as Bangladesh and Nepal, have improved sanitation coverage faster and surpassed India in the last two decades – by all accounts, at a fraction of the cost. The Indian government is now gearing up to spend an additional $31 billion (Rs.1.9 lakh crore) over the next five years through the Swachh Bharat mission. But experts warn that it could turn into another money wasting exercise. “Just the name of the programme is being changed without bothering to change how it is implemented,” says Nitya Jacob of WaterAid. The Swachh Bharat mission would place overwhelming emphasis on constructing toilets, with plans afoot to build over a 100 million of them in rural areas alone in the next five years. But if prior experience is anything to go by, many of them would either not be built or not used. Unofficial studies like the SQUAT survey, which was done in five northern States, show that in at least 40 per cent of households with a newly built toilet, a member of the family was still defecating in the open. Cultural conditioning and tradition were some of the reasons for poor adoption, the survey found. Despite strong evidence that shows constructing toilets alone is not enough, Swachh Bharat would carry forward the hardware-led solution that has been repeatedly tried by governments in the past. Under the new programme, the allocation meant for changing behaviour and attitudes is actually being cut from the existing 15 per cent to 8 per cent, says Mr. Jacob. “The same practice of constructing toilets which nobody will use and nobody will want is going to continue,” he says. Contrary to expectation, the proposal also makes no allocation for post-implementation audit, Mr.Jacob says. “The government doesn’t seem to have learnt anything from the previous 30 years of dysfunctional investment.” Government figures claim that over 97 million household toilets were constructed using public money since 2001 alone. A further nine million were constructed under the Central Rural Sanitation Program that ran from 1986 to 1999. States such as Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar, which have the worst sanitation indicators, also spent the most amount of money over the last 15 years. Uttar Pradesh alone accounted for nearly a fifth of all the money that was spent on this count since 2001. The State was one of the few that consistently managed to spend over 90 per cent of the allocated money every year. “Constructing toilets has become a business,” says Kamal Kar of the Community-led Total Sanitation initiative. He points to Nepal and Bangladesh, which have had a measure of success without spending so much money, as better models. In both countries, people were allowed to choose the toilet technology that works for them, instead of a government committee deciding it on their behalf. Latrine reviews in the house of a prospective spouse became common, women were included in the community committees that decided the type and location of toilets, and social pressure from school children was used to transform families. Toilet construction was a minor part of the whole programme. That is why, Mr.Kar says, the Indian government should stop counting the latrines it builds and start counting the reduction in hospital visits. “States with the worst outcomes spending the most money is unacceptable.” (The Hindu 8/10/14)

119. Ebola track: 34 fliers under scanner (3)

AHMEDABAD: Even as Ebola virus threat continues to expand beyond West Africa, Gujarat has remained unaffected till now as not a single case of Ebola has been registered after screening facilities for the virus were put up at Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport. From August 2014, over 150 suspect passengers have arrived from Ebola- affected countries, including Liberia, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Guinea, while 34 passengers are still under surveillance. Every day, three to four alerts of asymptomatic passengers are generated at the city airport. These are the passengers who have either passed through Ebola-affected areas or are travelling from those areas. Until now, around 158 such suspect passengers have been scanned but not a single case of Ebola has been detected. Every passenger has to fill the health form at the airport upon arrival. The suspect passenger is tracked for 21 days until declared safe and currently 34 such passengers are being tracked. Also immigration officials separate the passengers coming from Ebola-affected countries from other passengers unlike in Dubai and other international airports where airlines and airport officials inquire each passenger personally if they have come from West Africa by floor walking. “The passengers are divided into three categories A, B and C. The A category passengers are those who are coming directly from the Ebola-affected countries while B and C category passengers are the ones who have come directly in contact with Ebola-affected person or passengers who have symptoms of Ebola. Till now, we have had only cases in category A,” said Dr Bharat Bodat of epidemic branch of AMC deployed at airport. Botad further said that similar procedure is being followed for Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS). Some passengers raised objections saying that screening facilities were inadequate. However airport officials claim that every passenger is being monitored according to the guidelines issued by the ministry of health. “The passengers who are being tracked are called every day to check if they have developed any symptoms of Ebola,” added Bodat. (Times of India 9/10/14)

HIV/AIDS

120. India set to run out of critical free drug for HIV/AIDS programme (3)

New Delhi: India could run out of a critical medicine in its free HIV/AIDS drugs programme in three weeks due to bureaucratic bungling, a senior government official said, leaving more than 150,000 sufferers without life-saving drugs for about a month. Missed dosages for long durations can increase patients’ drug resistance and result in faster spread of the virus, while changes in medication regimens expose patients to side effects. The supply crunch will be an embarrassment for the four-month-old government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has promised to deliver more affordable and better health services. As drugs in the open market are expensive, the government provides more than one-third of India’s 2.1 million HIV/AIDS patients with free antiretroviral drugs that are procured from pharmaceutical companies via a tender process. Delays in approving such tenders has left the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) scrambling to secure supplies of tenofovir/lamivudine tablets that are prescribed to thousands of patients during initial stages of treatment. “We are also fed up. What to do? There are so many bureaucratic hurdles. The file goes to so many tables, and so many comments,” NACO Deputy Director General A.S. Rathore told Reuters. Several sources, company executives and documents seen by Reuters revealed that a tender for the medicine was approved last week, but supplies normally take at least 60 days to reach patients, which in this case would take it to late November.Patients and activists complained of shortages of several HIV drugs in September, forcing one group to send a legal notice to India’s health secretary, Lov Verma. Verma directed NACO to take stock of the programme and told Reuters on Sept. 4 that the situation was not as grave as activists described. However, Rathore said on Tuesday that the programme had only 1.6 months of tenofovir/lamivudine tablets in stock on Sept. 4. That means, supplies will run out in about 20 days from now. As of Sept. 24, 10 Indian states had less than a month of stocks of such tablets, data available on NACO’s website showed. NACO is now leaning on companies – including Aurobindo Pharma, one of the manufacturers that has been awarded the contract – to help avert a crisis. Asked about the consequences if supplies run out, Rathore said: “If they don’t give medicines, we can’t make medicines, we can’t do anything. If stocks won’t be there, they won’t be there.” (The Financial Express 2/10/14)

121. HIV pandemic originated in Kinshasa in 1920s: study (3)

London: Bustling trade routes, urban growth and changes to the sex trade in the city of Kinshasa in the 1920s created a ‘perfect storm’ for the emergence of HIV pandemic that has infected almost 75 million people worldwide to date, scientists say. An international team of scientists, led by University of Leuven in Belgium and Oxford University, has reconstructed the genetic history of the HIV-1 group M pandemic, the event that saw HIV spread across the African continent and around the world, and concluded that it originated in Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The team’s analysis suggests that the common ancestor of group M is likely to have emerged in Kinshasa around 1920 (with 95 per cent of estimated dates between 1909 and 1930). HIV is known to have been transmitted from primates and apes to humans at least 13 times but only one of these transmission events has led to a human pandemic. The team’s analysis suggests that, between the 1920s and 1950s, a ‘perfect storm’ of factors, including urban growth, strong railway links during Belgian colonial rule, and changes to the sex trade, combined to see HIV emerge from Kinshasa and spread across the globe. “Until now most studies have taken a piecemeal approach to HIV’s genetic history, looking at particular HIV genomes in particular locations,” said Professor Oliver Pybus of Oxford’s Department of Zoology, and senior author of the paper. “For the first time we have analysed all the available evidence using the latest phylogeographic techniques, which enable us to statistically estimate where a virus comes from. “This means we can say with a high degree of certainty where and when the HIV pandemic originated. It seems a combination of factors in Kinshasa in the early 20th Century created a ‘perfect storm’ for the emergence of HIV, leading to a generalised epidemic with unstoppable momentum that unrolled across sub-Saharan Africa,” Pybus said. One of the factors the team’s analysis suggests was key to the HIV pandemic’s origins was the DRC’s transport links, in particular its railways, that made Kinshasa one of the best connected of all central African cities. “Data from colonial archives tells us that by the end of 1940s over one million people were travelling through Kinshasa on the railways each year,” said Dr Nuno Faria of Oxford University’s Department of Zoology, first author of the paper. (The Financial Express 3/10/14)

 

122. Odisha: Dalit couple affected by AIDS boycotted (3)

Bhubaneswar: A young Dalit couple from Bhairabagarh village of Naxal-affected Rayagada district has been boycotted for being affected by the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). The couple are being treated in an unjust manner by the villagers for the past two years, so much so, that they are not even allowed to walk down the streets of their village. They are also not being allowed to take a bath in the common river or collect drinking water from the common tube well. Babuli Gardia, the victim, said, “They have denied us to collect drinking water from the tube well, use water from the river and walk on the street road.” “Everyone hates us and ask to leave the village. We went to Muniguda and stayed there for six months, but the situation turned same there as well,” she added. “One day one of our brothers fell sick, my uncles came to take him to the hospital but the villagers misbehaved with them. My relatives were attacked and then socially boycotted like us,” the victim added. The couple alleged that the villagers have been behaving with them so nastily that one day they were asked to apply human tools on their heads and walk in the street. Umasankar Garadia, the second victim, said, “The villagers told us that since you are suffering from AIDS we will also be affected unless you leave the village.” “The government has not helped us in any form. We want to request the government to give us the BPL card and a lot us a house as well,” he added. With much expectation to get some help and solution from the police, the couple often tried going to their nearby police station but they were ignored there as well. The victims stated that they feel so isolated, neglected and rejected by their villagers that they do not want to live any longer. While they themselves find it extremely difficult to face the social boycott, their problem becomes double when they think of the future of their only child. They say that they are alive today only to look after and give their love and affection to their child. They want to be accepted by their village mates and come back to the mainstream of the society, but the impediment of HIV has become a major block for them. Finding no hope, support and peace from any one or anywhere, they are now working as coolies at the Muniguda railway station to earn their livelihood. Although the government has been trying to make aware the people about this deadly disease by arranging lots of programme and giving many slogans, but this incident reflects the government’s failure. (Zee news 7/10/14)

123. MSM community accounts for 27% of AIDS cases at district hospital (3)

Meerut: Members of the MSM (men who have sex with men) community constitute as high as 27% of the total cases of Acquired Immuno Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) diagnosed at P L Sharma hospital, reveals data recorded over the past nine months. 5,261 city residents visited the Integrated Counselling and Testing Centre (ICTC) at the hospital to get tested for the disease. “Out of the 5,261 people who visited the hospital for AIDS testing from January 1 to September 30, only 72 were detected positive. But out of that, 20 belonged to the MSM community,” said ICTC counselor Yogesh Kumar. Studies have identified the MSM community as a high-risk group that has increased chances of playing host to Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) as compared to heterosexual males. Dr. J P Singh, in-charge, ICTC said, “The members of this community generally opt for sodomy to establish sexual relations. Biologically, this is an uncommon method of having physical relations, thus increasing the community members’ chances of contracting and becoming carriers of HIV.” According to statistics provided by the hospital authorities, injection drugs users (IDU) and sex workers form the next highest numbers of AIDS patients respectively. Figures also show that 70% of the total cases reported were from the age group of 20-40. “It is very necessary to make the younger generation aware about safe sexual practice via sex education in schools, so that they can take necessary protection against sexually transmitted diseases once they reach adulthood,” said Dr Singh. City residents diagnosed with the disease at P L Sharma hospital are sent to Lala Lajpat Rai Memorial (LLRM) Medical College for further treatment. (Times of India 8/10/14)

124. HIV’s infection tactics could guide AIDS vaccine, study finds (3)

New research that sheds light on the methods and machinery used by HIV to infect cells provides insight into the tricky virus that potentially could guide the development of a vaccine against the virus that causes AIDS, according to US government and other scientists. Separate studies published on Wednesday describe in detail the structure and dynamics of the spike on the surface of the human immunodeficiency virus that it employs to fuse with and enter cells. The researchers expressed hope that the information can provide a road map for a potential vaccine designed to keep the spike in a “closed” state to prevent the virus from successfully infecting cells. “We can expect a lot of activities being devoted to that goal,” Yale University virologist Walther Mothes, one of the researchers, said, calling the new findings “a major step forward for drug and vaccine design.” Another researcher, structural biologist Jason Gorman of the Vaccine Research Center at the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, expressed optimism “that this new information will pave the way for a vaccine. Of course, there are always many barriers to overcome.” The research, published in the journals Nature and Science, may point to a way through a vaccine or perhaps new drugs to enable the immune system – the body’s natural defense system – to zero in on HIV and block its ability to infect cells. The research revealed the detailed structure of the spikes on the surface of HIV as well as details on how the spike rearranges itself into three different configurations. Three sets of a pair of molecules make up each spike, and the spike alters its shape before and during cell binding, the researchers said. The configuration that the spikes most often assume is the “closed” state, which is particularly difficult for the immune system to detect. But in that form the spike also has difficulty infecting a cell. The spikes need to be in their “open” state in order to fuse with a cell and infect it. But that state exposes parts of the virus that may be more vulnerable to antibodies, the protective proteins produced by the immune system in response to an invader like a virus. As a result, the spike usually takes its “closed” form and opens for a short time, making it hard for the immune system to find and attack the virus, the researchers said. A class of antibodies called “broadly neutralizing antibodies” are able to keep the spike closed and curb further cell infection by HIV but are rarely found in HIV-infected people. Scientists have tried for decades to develop a safe and effective vaccine to prevent AIDS, caused by HIV infection. HIV is complex and extremely changeable, thwarting the immune system at nearly every turn. Gorman said the work provided atomic-level details of the full spike that are critical for allowing scientists to try to deprive it of its flexibility “and lock it into the closed state that elicits and is recognized by broadly neutralizing antibodies.” (DNA 9/10/14)

 

Posted by admin at 10 October 2014

Category: Uncategorized

DALITS/SCHEDULED CASTES

1. Fear returns to Dharmapuri (2)

On July 4, 2014, it would have been one year to the suicide of Dalit youth E Elavarasan, whose marriage to a girl belonging to the Vanniyar caste had triggered riots in Tamil Nadu’s Dharmapuri district two years ago. A few days before that, the Tamil Nadu Police began rounding up Dalit youths from villages in the district and charging them with being Naxals. In the three-and-a-half months since, cases have been registered against 50 youths. Except for six charged under the National Security Act (NSA) still in prison, others are out on bail. The youths, picked up from Kondampatti, Natham Colony and surrounding villages, have been accused of possessing arms and being “indoctrinated in extremism”. They have all been charged under the NSA or the Indian Arms and Explosives Act. The police have also claimed that these youth were planning to kill leaders of the Vanniyar community, a Most Backward Caste (MBC), and its political face, the Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK). Apart from the “confessional statements”, allegedly acquired through torture, police have no other evidence against the youths. A CID report also found no basis for the allegations of the district police administration. Natham Colony lies tucked behind the bustling Dharmapuri town, 300 km from Chennai. In November 2012, over 250 Dalit houses here had been damaged in attacks by the Vanniyars after Elavarasan had married Vanniyar girl Divyaa. Peace had returned to the area after Divyaa had come back to her parents’ house under community pressure and Elavarasan had committed suicide. That’s now shattered, with the arrests leaving the Dalits in fear. On June 27, the first six people were arrested. The same evening, when a crowd gathered at the Dharmapuri town police station seeking reasons for the arrests, more people were rounded up. Briefing the media, the police called it “the biggest case” involving Maoists in Tamil Nadu in recent years. Dharmapuri had a strong Naxal presence during the 1970s and ’80s, and still receives massive funding for anti-Maoist operations. However, apart from a brutal crackdown in the 1990s and arrest of 30 youths in 2002 for organising “a study camp of Naxalism”, there have been no arrests of Maoists from this area. Among those arrested was Michael Raj, 26, a diploma holder and IAS aspirant, who was taken away at 4 am from his aunt’s house in Salem by a team of 30 police officials. (Indian Express 21/9/14)

 

2. Bihar: Dalits dragged by horses, hit with pistol butt (2)

Patna: Three persons, including two Dalit workers of the ruling Janata Dal (United), were allegedly tied to horses and dragged for quite a distance before being tied to a pole and hit with a pistol butt and sticks, over a political dispute. The gruesome incident took place near Khairpur village under Kharik police station in Naugacchia police district in south eastern Bihar, late afternoon on Saturday. The victims – identified as Kharik block JD (U) dalit cell chief Bablu Das, his dalit associate Niraj Das and party worker Kapildev Mandal, were rushed to the Kharik primary health centre in a fairly serious condition. “Bablu Das has a fracture in his arm while Mandal has a badly swollen face from the beating,” said JD (U) local (Gopalpur) MLA Narendra Kumar Neeraj alias Gopal Mandal, who informed the police about the incident. Official sources said the main assailant had been identified as Ajay Yadav, a man known for his strong arm ways and stated to be a close relation of a local mukhia, Vimla Devi. Sources said late Saturday, Yadav fired at the three men in the Naugacchia riverene area, known for high incidence of criminal activity, as they headed for their native Khairpur on a motorcycle. When they fell down from the motorbike, Yadav and his associates allegedly tied Bablu and Niraj behind a horse with a rope and Mandal to another horse. Then, the three were allegedly dragged to Vimla Devi’s residence. There, they were tied to a pole and hit repeatedly with a pistol butt, said sources privy to the incident. Reached for his comment Sunday afternoon, Naugacchia SP Shekhar Kumar confirmed the incident. “The main accused, Ajay Yadav, has already been arrested and sent to jail,” he said. The SP described the incident as a “clash” and said it was the outcome of a political dispute between the mukhia, Vimla Devi, and a local municipal ward member with whom the three injured persons were associated. “While the injured persons had instituted an SC-ST act case against Yadav and his associates, the other side had lodged an arms act case against the JD (U) activists, alleging they were carrying illegal arms,” the SP told HT. He denied that the injured persons had been tied behind horses and dragged on the ground for any distance. However, JD (U) MLA Neeraj, who is also a whip of the ruling party in the Bihar assembly, insisted there was absolutely no doubt that that the victims were dragged after being tied behind horses. “The Ganga diara (riverine area) of Naugacchia is the wild west of Bihar, where it is common for horse riding criminals to enforce their diktats in the most inhuman fashion,” he said. Neeraj said while a political dispute may have been one of the causes behind the incident, it could not have been the sole one. “Earlier, too, the accused had done similar, unspeakable things to terrorise the weaker sections of the society,” he claimed. (Hindustan Times 21/9/14)

 

3. RSS rewrites history: Dalits ‘created’ by invaders (2)

New Delhi: In its renewed impetus to woo Dalits, various other castes and sub-castes, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) has embarked on an ambitious exercise to re-write history. Emboldened by the BJP’s success in the Lok Sabha elections, the RSS has intensified its efforts to find and validate a common Hindu thread to unify all groups under one Hindu identity. Three top RSS leaders have sought to attribute the genesis of Dalits, tribals and many other groups to “Muslim invasion” in medieval times. They articulated these views in their forewords to three books, authored by BJP spokesman Vijay Sonkar Shastri and released by RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat recently — “Hindu Charmakar Jati”, “Hindu Khatik Jati” and “Hindu Valmiki Jati”. The Sangh leaders claimed that these castes had come into existence due to atrocities by foreign invaders and did not exist in Hindu religion earlier. According to Bhaiyyaji Joshi, No.2 in RSS hierarchy, ‘shudras’ were never untouchables in Hindu scriptures. ‘Islamic atrocities’ during the medieval age resulted in the emergence of untouchables, Dalits and Indian Muslims. Joshi further elaborated, “To violate Hindu swabhiman (dignity) of Chanwarvanshiya Kshatriyas, foreign invaders from Arab, Muslim rulers and beef-eaters, forced them to do abominable works like killing cows, skinning them and throwing their carcasses in deserted places. Foreign invaders thus created a caste of charma-karma (dealing with skin) by giving such works as punishment to proud Hindu prisoners.” Another top RSS functionary, Suresh Soni, echoed the same: “Dalits had their genesis during Turks, Muslims and Mughal eras. Today’s castes like Valmikis, Sudarshan, Majhabi Sikhs and their 624 sub-castes came into being as a result of atrocities against Brahmins and Kshatriyas during Medieval or Islamic age,” he wrote. Krishna Gopal, Sah-sarkaryavah, RSS, went on to bolster the Sangh’s new found agenda saying, “In pre-historic and Vedic age, Khatik castes have been recognized as Brahmins who affected sacrifices. It may be noted that before the advent of Muslim invaders, there is no reference to rearing pigs in India.The RSS has been focusing on research in this area of late. One of its affiliated organisations had recently organised a conclave of over 100 historians to discuss historiography and changes required to give a proper perspective. An overarching Hindu identity beyond any castes or sub-castes is an objective that the RSS has been striving for decades, despite being projected as an upper caste outfit. The BJP itself, under the stewardship of Narendra Modi and Amit Shah, has been actively reaching out to Dalits and OBCs. The Sangh’s latest move looks set to re-ignite a debate on history and historians. (Hindustan Times 22/9/14)

 

4. Dalits denied entry to Kalitheerthalkuppam temple (2)

PUDUCHERRY: Tension prevailed on Monday at Kalitheerthalkuppam, around 23 km from here, after a local office of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) was torched on Sunday night, even as the party resolved to go ahead with its temple-entry plan on September 30. The call was given by the Untouchability Eradication Front, a CPI(M) wing, to oppose caste Hindu groups for denying Dalits entry to the Draupathiamman temple in the village. According to police sources, the protest was timed to coincide with the death anniversary of CPI(M) leader B. Srinivasa Rao, who had fought against oppression of the Dalits by caste Hindus in Thanjavur district. A group of Vanniyar youths on Sunday met under the banner of Kudumba Vanniya Orunkinaippu Kuzhu and reportedly discussed measures to counter the programme, police sources said. Shortly thereafter, a group of 40 youths vandalised the Mannadipet commune panchayat CPI(M) committee office, located 500 meters away from the temple, and set afire the structure. A resident of VBG Nagar said, “During a festival time, elders of the Vanniyar community used to gather at the temple entrance. Whenever they spot Dalits, they signal volunteers to bar them from entering. The Dalits are now going to a Mariamman temple nearby.” A 68-year old Dalit farmer said, “Ten years ago it was a custom for village elders to invite everyone to participate in the festival. It is only in recent times, that a community-based organisation is prohibiting us from entering the temple.” CPI(M) Puducherry unit secretary V. Perumal told The Hindu that the party was determined to go ahead with the plan to assert the rights of Dalits who were being discriminated in several ways in the Union Territory of Puducherry. “We will continue to fight against the practice of untouchability,” he said. (The Hindu 23/9/14)

 

5. ‘Temple purification’ after CM Manjhi’s visit: Bihar orders probe (2)

PATNA/MADHUBANI: A day after his claims that a temple in Bihar’s Madhubani district was washed and purified soon after his visit there for obeisance, chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi on Monday ordered a probe. Strict action will be taken if anybody is found guilty, the CM warned even as the temple priest stoutly denied allegation in this regard. Majhi told reporters after presiding over “Udyami Panchayat” that the Darbhanga divisional commissioner and inspector general of police (IG), Darbhanga zone, will jointly probe whether idols and premises of Parmeshwari Devi temple located in Anradhari village were washed and purified soon after his visit there for obeisance a few month ago. On reminded that the mines and geology minister Ramlashan Ram Raman and JD(U) MLC Vinod Kumar Singh have denied that the temple was cleaned after the chief minister’s visit, Manjhi said he was not in the habit of speaking lies in public. Bihar chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi (right) with JD(U) supremo and former Bihar CM Nitish Kumar. (TOI file photo by Pramod Sharma) Raman had narrated the incident to him not once, but twice after which he chose to go public to highlight bias against dalits in civil society, the chief minister said. Though the minister now denied having said so, an ex-MP Devendra Yadav who represented Madhubani lok sabha seat had called him from New Delhi to inform that the temple was washed within half an hour of his visit nearly three months ago, Manjhi said. (Times of India 29/9/14)

 

6. 4 Years on, Dalits Yet to get Relief in Temple Entry case (2)

CHENNAI: Four years after they were denied entry into the Uthamapalayam Mariamman Temple in Tirupur district during its consecration, a group of Dalits are yet to receive the compensation as mandated under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989. This despite an order, recommending interim relief, and a reminder from the National Commission for Scheduled Castes, apart from campaigns and protests by several pro-Dalit outfits, activists told Express. The incident dates back to October 21, 2010, when a group of Dalits were barred from entering the “new” Uthamapalayam Mariamman Temple by caste Hindus, who had decided to construct a new temple after the older one started allowing the entry of Dalits in 2005. This has led to tensions in the area, activists charged. The charge-sheet in the case was filed 675 days after the incident, that too only after the intervention of Madras High Court. In the case of distribution of relief, too, there has been an inexplicable delay. Dalit outfits which formed the Uthamapalayam Temple Entry Agitation Committee (UTEAC) approached the National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC). The Commission ordered the district Collector and SP to expedite the process of according relief to the victims after conducting a proper inquiry on October 1, 2013. The commission also recommended immediate relief for the victims through its communique dated October 3, 2013 and another reminder was sent which was dated April 25, 2014. The then Tirupur SP sought legal opinion from the Government Pleader in Madras High Court, who in turn recommended compensation to all 144 Dalits, and not just the two injured, citing that all of them were barred from entering into the temple for which the relief should be provided as per law, five months ago. “Earlier this month, after a summons from the NCSC, the SP had appeared before the Commission and explained that the list of 143 victims had been passed on to the District Administration recommending interim relief of upto `1 lakh each. The District Administration has written to Director, Adi Dravidar Welfare, Chennai, seeking funds so as to disburse relief,” said S Karuppaiah, joint general secretary, Dalit Liberation Movement. He added that the Collector has assured that the relief would be disbursed soon after the ADW released the funds. (New Indian Express 30/9/14)

 

TRIBALS

7. Call for institutional approach to tribal welfare projects (6)

KALPETTA: Union Tribal Affairs Secretary Hrusikesh Panda has said that an institutional approach, instead of individual approach, is the need of the hour to ensure the sustainable development of various sections of tribal people in the State. Addressing a review meet of senior officials of various departments, chaired by Tribal Welfare Minister P.K. Jayalakshmi, after visiting a few tribal colonies and tribal educational institutions in the district on Friday, Mr. Hrusikesh Panda said that individual incentives or support of the government could not make any positive results in the living condition of the community. Though the government agencies had been implementing various individual-based projects for the welfare of the community, the fruits of the projects were usurped by others. Hence, the government should focus on executing institutional-based projects to improve the overall status of the tribal community. A house provided free of cost to a tribesman might not be suited to his taste. But if he constructed the house by using his own savings earned from an institutionalised project, such as a dairy farm of a tribal hamlet, it would improve his self esteem, financial stability and social status, Mr. Hrusikesh Panda said. Funding would not be an issue for launching institutional-based projects, Mr. Panda said. Mr. Panda directed the government to draft an action plan, after conducting a comprehensive health survey of tribesmen, to identify and address various health issues, including diseases such as tuberculosis and sickle cell anaemia, as well as antenatal care to tribal mothers. (The Hindu 20/9/14)

 

8. Inquiry panel seeks replies from tribal devpt offices (6)

NASHIK: The inquiry committee probing into allegations of financial irregularities in tribal welfare schemes has called for replies from tribal development offices following allegations by 27 individuals who have filed their affidavits. The committee has also proposed for a lawyer who will look into the procedures on behalf of the committee. The committee, headed by retired high court judge M G Gaikwad, to look into the alleged financial irregularities in tribal welfare schemes in the state from 2004-05 to 2008-09, has called for replies from employees of the tribal department to the allegations made by the individuals. “The committee has, so far, received 27 affidavits from individuals. Even after a month has passed, the committee is still willing to accept the affidavits from individuals even now,” the official looking into the procedure said. “The affidavits can be filed by any individual who knows he has been cheated without needing to approach the notary. He can go to the inquiry committee on the premises of the tribal development commissioner and file the affidavit,” the officer said. The committee has been formed following the high court order that was passed on a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by a tribal, Bahiram Motiram, from Nashik district, demanding probe into the alleged Rs 6,000-crore scam with regard to tribal schemes. The committee would recommend action to be taken against the persons responsible for the scam. The officials said the process of appointing a lawyer for the committee was going on and the proposal had been sent to the state government. (Times of India 21/9/14)

 

9. Govt announces freebies for Saharia tribals, but deny deaths (6)

JAIPUR: The Vasundhara Raje government on Monday sprung into action over reports of deaths of malnourished children in Baran, though it continued to be in a denial mode about any deaths. The state machinery suddenly got busy and went on a strong drive on Monday. First came the announcement that distribution of free pulses, oil and ghee (clarified as butter) among the families of Saharia tribe would be done through Tribal Area Development (TAD) department. Soon, Kota MP Om Birla addressed a press conference denying any child had died in Baran because of malnourishment. It was followed by statements of principal medical officer of Baran district hospital and the district collector about measures being taken and how beneficial are the malnutrition treatment centres are. Last but not the least, came the notification that the deputy collectors of Shahabad and Kishanganj are re-designated as deputy collector and deputy project officer, Saharia Development Project for better implementation of the welfare schemes for the tribe. It all happened on the day PCC chief Sachin Pilot chose to visit the families who had lost their kids recently. Meanwhile, several other questions remained unanswered. After being targeted by Congress in the assembly for not visiting the areas, local MP Dushyant Singh made a hurried visit to the area on Sunday night, which was four days after Pilot had announced his visit. However, neither did he issue a statement nor was his visit discussed much. While he chose to maintain silence, the BJP leaders and officials failed to explain why Birla, instead of local representative Dushyant Singh, addressed a press conference over the issue. Pilot’s visit seems to have worked as a wake up call for the state government, which had failed to react to the reports and to the opposition’s attack over the issue in the assembly last week. Senior Congress leader Pradhyuman Singh and NPP leader Kirori Lal Meena had raised the issue in the house following media reports that two children had died of malnutrition in Kishanganj and Shahabad areas of Baran. In his reply, health minister Rajendra Rathore had denied that there had been any deaths because of malnutrition in the state. Giving details of the two cases which were reported by the media, he said a baby boy Rahul (18 months) had died due to low hemoglobin and low weight at a hospital in Pohari of Madhya Pradesh on September 5 while a two-month old baby girl Kallo had died while she was fed milk by her mother probably due to respiratory blockage… (Times of India 23/9/14)

 

10. ‘Tribal girls were gang-raped before murder’ (6)

Agartala: Two tribal girls, found hanging from a tree on September 12 in Takarjala area near Agartala, were gang-raped and murdered, it is officially established now. Three girls, studying in Class X in Takarjala government higher secondary school, had slipped out of their hostel unnoticed on September 11. Next day two of them were found hanging from a tree in a nearby forest area. Officers of the Takarjala police station had claimed that the girls committed suicide and they found nothing suspicious in the case. Police had further stated that the girls took the extreme step after their hostel superintendent rebuked them for use of mobile phones. Protests by local residents, members of Tribal Students Union (TSU) and Indigenous Nationalist Party of Twipra (INPT) led by former Takarjala MLA Rajeswar Debbarma virtually forced the top brass of the police to widen the probe into the case. Seepahijala ASP Sharmistha Chakraborty, who earned fame for her tirade against drug and smuggling syndicates, led the investigation. Interrogation of three tribal youths, who had lured the girls for joy ride, helped to solve the case. According to police, the two girls were gang-raped and murdered before hanging them from the tree. The third girl returned to the hostel, but she hadn’t witnessed the heinous crime. She provided some information to the investigators. The young men gave confessional statements in a Magistrate’s Court and they are lodged in jail. (The Hindu 25/9/14)

 

11. Tribal body suggests changes in CTA (6)

Ranchi: The Tribal Advisory Council (TAC) on Saturday recommended amendments in the Chotanagpur Tenancy Act which will make selling of land easier for tribals. The existing provisions of CNT Act restrict sale of tribal land to people from other communities. Also, “the tribal person selling and buying the land must belong to the same police station area,” said chief minister Hemant Soren, who chaired the meeting. Though the proposal leaves the restriction on other communities unchanged, TAC recommended that tribals should be allowed to sell or purchase tribal land anywhere in the state. The tribal council, which met after more than 10 months (members of the body is supposed to meet twice every year), recommended another important change. It suggested allowing loans to tribal families on their land property. Banks are often reluctant to approve loans against mortgaged tribal land because of the existing law. The council invited bank officials, particularly the convener of state level bankers committee (SLBC) and decided to form a committee under minister Lobin Hembram and comprising officials of the bank to suggest measures so that banks issue loans on tribal land as well. The Hembram committee has also been designated to suggest measures for effective implementation of the Samta judgment — the famous judgment of 1997 empowering people’s right over land in scheduled areas passed by the apex court in connection with a PIL filed by one NGO against Andhra Pradesh government. Soren said the committee under Hembram would study how it was implemented in Andhra Padesh and recommend measures for protecting natural resources. The council also decided to promote studies in tribal languages. Acknowledging the fact that there is dearth of teachers for tribal language from primary to PG level, the council recommended appointments against these vacancies immediately. TAC member Bandhu Tirkey hailed the decisions taken on Saturday. “It was the first time that the TAC meet was constructive and concrete decisions were taken over policy issues,” he said. Tirkey also expressed hope that once banks start honouring loans to tribal people on their landed property they would be able to utilize the land efficiently,” he said. (Times of India 28/9/14)

 

WOMEN

12. AIDWA calls for stronger agitation to prevent crimes (8)

SALEM: All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA) national president Malini Bhattacharya has said violence against women is on the rise and those who oppose it are suppressed and called for a stronger protest movement to fight gender discrimination and to get their democratic rights. Addressing the three-day 14th State Conference here on Saturday, she said that as the nation developed, crimes against women, especially gang-rape, sexual violence, dowry harassment and honour killings were on the rise. “More victims are coming out, protesting and resisting violence. But owing to the fragmentation in the women’s movement, they are oppressed,” she said. She blamed the government for failing to amend the laws related to sexual and domestic violence and for poor implementation of the laws to protect children and women. “The government is withdrawing its promises to the people and is devoting itself to the service of corporate.” Ms. Malini said that only because of the presence of the Left parties in parliament could government be held to account, and could projects like the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme be operated. But the budgetary allocation for such schemes came down because of the continuous pressure from the corporate sector. She urged women to fight injustice and brutality meted out to them and called for agitations against oppressing minorities and tribes. AIDWA State president N. Amirtham called for stringent laws to prevent honour killings and acid attacks. National vice-president U. Vasuki and national general secretary Sudha Sundaram participated. Six women who fought against violence were felicitated. The resolutions passed at the conference demanded effective implementation of the MGNREGS and appointment of chairpersons for the State Human Right Commission and the State Commission of Women. (The Hindu 21/9/14)

 

13. Section.498 (a) being misinterpreted: Women’s Commission Chairperson (8)

VIJAYAWADA: A.P. Women’s Commission Chairperson Tripurana Venkata Ratnam has said that Section 498 (a) which defines punishment for husband or any of his relative whoever subjects the wife to cruelty or harass her mentally or physically, was being misinterpreted, and are tagging words ‘dowry harassment’, which is not read in the Section. Some advocates and persons who are writing complaints are adding dowry harassment and are including the names of in-laws and other persons in the family, which is leading to arrests and separation of the couples, without giving any scope for reconciliation. Speaking to newsmen here on Monday, Ms. Venkata Ratnam said Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 was enacted to prevent dowry system and the Act defined punishment for giving or taking dowry. But, due to lack of awareness, some people were misusing Section 498 (a). “It is not correct to involve the family members, who are away from wife and husband and not connected to the disputes, in every case and break the marriages. However, I request both the sex to protect the moral values and culture,” the chairperson urged. Explaining the activities of the Commission, Ms. Venkata Ratnam said the Women’s Commission received about 1,300 cases in 2013, of which, 700 were solved, and the remaining were in different stages. The Commission was trying to render justice to all the victims and protect their rights. Victims could post their complaints to Second Floor, Buddha Bhavan, Ranigunj, Secunderabad-500003, she said. As regards breaking up of NRI marriages, the chairperson said the courts of some countries were granting divorce there which was against Hindu Marriage Act 1955. The Commission appealed to the State and Central governments to discuss the issue with other countries. Later, she participated in a seminar on ‘Balikalu Bhadratha’, organised by AIDWA at Siddhartha Mahila Kalasala. Krishna District Women Development and Child Welfare Project Director K. Krishna Kumari and other officers were present. (The Hindu 22/9/14)

 

14. 221 women apply to drive taxis in Mumbai (8)

MUMBAI: For the first time, the state transport department has opened the doors to women to drive black-and-yellow taxis in Mumbai. The invite has received an overwhelming response, with 221 women sending their applications. In another first, the department has also received applications for taxi permits from three transgenders, two from south Mumbai and one from the suburbs. “We have never had a transgender plying a taxi and this will perhaps be the first time that such an opportunity will be given to them. But it also depends on the applicants winning the lottery, which will be held in October,” an RTO official said. According to transport officials, it might not be an easy job for the woman who will enter the unorganized sector. “These are black-and-yellow taxis and an unorganized sector, where women drivers will have to face all kinds of passengers. But the possibility of a difficult time has not deterred 163 women from Mumbai, including 122 from the island city, from applying for a permit,” said a senior transport official. “We also have candidates from Vasai, Thane, Kalyan and Navi Mumbai.” The permits will be allotted through a lottery system on October 10. As many as 27,220 candidates have applied from the Mumbai metropolitan region for 7,800 permits on offer. The processing fee were accepted till Monday afternoon after which the online process was closed. “Around one-fourth of the total number of candidates will be given permits,” said an official. Taxi union leader A L Quadros has threatened to move the high court if a majority of the permits do not go to those from greater Mumbai. Statistics shows among the applicants, 1,062 are graduates and 20 are believed to have post-graduate qualifications. Some of the applicants are auto drivers who are eligible to apply for taxi permits this year. (Times of India 23/9/14)

 

15. Take Rs.2 lakh and abort, Bihar panchayat tells raped girl (8)

Patna: A panchayat in Bihar has ordered a minor rape victim to take Rs.2 lakh and undergo abortion, police said Wednesday. The panchayat of Subhankarpur village under Kanti police station in Muzaffarpur district asked the 13-year-old rape victim to take the amount fixed by it and undergo abortion to resolve the issue. Muzaffarpur Senior Superintendent of Police Jitenra Rana told IANS by telephone from Muzaffarpur, about 70 km from here, that an FIR has been lodged in this connection and police have began investigation. “After a case was lodged Tuesday, we are trying to arrest the accused and take action against panchayat members for their diktat,” Rana said. Parents of the girl said the panchayat took the decision at a meeting Tuesday. “The panchayat ordered to take Rs.2 lakh. But we are not ready for it, we want strict action against the accused, Arun Bhagat,” they said. “The panchayat has fixed an amount as a punishment against accused. But we want justice,” said the victim’s father, who did not want to be named. (Deccan Herald 24/9/14)

 

16. Committed to women’s reservation Bill, but need consensus: Venkaiah Naidu (8)

New Delhi: As it seeks consensus amongst political parties on the issue of the women’s reservation Bill, the government said it is committed to getting the legislation passed in Parliament. “We have to evolve a consensus on the issue of women’s reservation. We have seen the earlier experience also, but my party is committed to this (the Bill), we will see how it can progress,” Parliamentary Affairs Minister Venkaiah Naidu said at the Assocham awards function. Naidu, however, declined to give any time frame for bringing the Bill in Parliament and said the NDA government would move “forward cautiously” on the issue. “I cannot give any time frame because it is not to be decided by one party. It needs broader support and consensus among all political parties. You need an amendment as well,” he said when asked whether the Bill would be introduced in the upcoming winter session of Parliament. “We have to talk to different parties, take them on board and then move forward. We have had bitter experiences earlier … on the discussion of the Bill. Keeping that in mind, we have to move forward cautiously,” he said. Regarding the opposition to the Bill, Naidu said without naming anybody that, “Some men have their own way of obstructing the progress of women and are determined to deprive them of opportunities. “The issue of women’s reservation is one such example. For long have we been talking of giving one-third share to women in the Assemblies and in Parliament. Why should anybody grudge giving just one-third seats to women when they are equal in number.” Hoping for the speedy enactment of the law, Naidu said, “I strongly feel that the women’s reservation Bill needs to be taken forward to its logical conclusion. Earlier the better.” About 35 women achievers from across the country were honoured by the Assocham Ladies League at the event. Naidu said that the role of women in society should be recognised and all hurdles towards their empowerment should be removed. “Women are on a par with men… Whatever few hurdles there are in the way of women expressing themselves shall be brought down quickly. I hope that day is not too far. “It is one thing to hold women in high esteem but what is more important is to accord them due space, share and status,” Naidu said. “It is patently false to suggest that, by nature, men are more capable than women. These days, in umpteen number of areas, women are outdoing men,” he added. (Indian Express 26/9/14)

 

17. End violence against women, say Nobel peace laureates (8)

New Delhi: Women Noble Peace laureates Monday called on the Indian government to take more decisive steps to end sexual violence in India and internationally. “The laureates are calling on the Indian government to take more decisive steps to end sexual violence in India and internationally – among them, endorsing the G8-backed Declaration of Commitment to End Sexual Violence in Conflict,” said global human rights organization Breakthrough in a statement following an event featuring laureates Jody Williams and Shirin Ebadi. Williams, who is co-chair of the International Campaign to stop Rape and Gender Violence in Conflict, said that the Indian people are turning their outrage at cases of rape and gender violence into unprecedented powerful activism. “The people of India are turning their outrage at these crimes into powerful activism. Right now, students in Jadavpur are protesting sexual violence and police brutality on their campus. All around the country, activists are mobilizing for change like never before,” Williams said at the event. The International Campaign to stop Rape and Gender Violence in Conflict is made up of 5,000 individuals and over 800 member organisations working to end sexual violence. “Prime Minister Narendra Modi has committed to tackling violence against women and said India was ashamed by sexual violence and gender inequality. Now is the time for India to show leadership by endorsing the Declaration and ending impunity for violence against women,” said Ebadi. Every day, 92 women are raped in India, according to India’s National Crime Bureau, while rates of rape are at a record high in Delhi. Breakthrough’s recent survey of women in six Indian states reveals that 91 percent of women and girls in India face sexual harassment in their lifetime. “Violence against women is the largest human rights pandemic globally. If we want to create a world where all people can thrive, we must transform the norms that lead to women’s second-class status,” said Breakthrough president and CEO Mallika Dutt. (Business Standard 29/9/14)

 

18. Misuse of anti-dowry law minimal, says new NCW chief (8)

NEW DELHI: Women’s rights activist Lalitha Kumarmangalam, who took over as National Commission for Women (NCW) chairperson on Monday, ruled out dilution of the anti-dowry act though she admitted that there was some misuse of the legislation. Reacting to the Supreme Court order which ruled that police cannot arrest the accused in dowry cases automatically, she said that misuse of anti-dowry law or domestic violence law was very low. “Of course, the misuse is a concern, but then the percentage of misuse is very low. Just for that we should not dilute the law, rather look at it from a broader and long term perspective,” she said. Kumarmangalam also spoke in favour of pushing the women’s reservation bill while prioritizing women’s empowerment by providing them with equal access to legal, financial and social tools. “I want to address it in terms of allowing women access to each and every development activity, especially in government sector like skill building, sanitation and infrastructure,” she said. Kumarmangalam has fought on a BJP ticket twice and was a member of the party’s national executive. When asked about her political affiliations, Kumarmangalam denied that her background would be an impediment and said that she would work with other members for women’s empowerment irrespective of caste, religion or other considerations. When asked about WCD ministry’s proposal which is aimed at enhancing the powers of NCW, she said, “During my meeting with the minister, we talked about it and the Minister said she will give all possible support to make the commission effective.” The NCW Chief intends to utilise the money under the Nirbhaya Fund which is lying “unused”.Kumarmangalam was heading a NGO called Prakriti and contested Lok Sabha polls in 2004 and 2009 but lost in both the elections. She was born to Mohan Kumaramangalam– a communist ideologue, politician and trade union leader. (Times of India 30/9/14)

 

CHILDREN/ CHILD LABOUR

19. For rescued kids, this home is more a jail (14)

BANGALORE: “I don’t want to go to jail,” cried the 9-year-old boy, as a policeman led him into the Government Boys’ Home off Hosur Road on Tuesday night. The boy was among nine children found after 18 of them had fled the home three days earlier. Despair was writ large on the faces of these nine children as another tryst with freedom had come to an end. The 18 boys had been rescued from the houses of their relatives in DJ Halli on Tuesday. They had been lodged at the rescue home till officials verified the claims of their families. The 18 boys had climbed the home’s wall using ropes made by knotting towels end-to-end and shinned down a pipeline to escape. The uncertainty of the streets looked a better prospect than remaining locked up in the four walls for months, the rescued boy told policeman escorting him. Ironically, what the boy called a jail was a place meant to kindle hopes of education and a better life. The home was started with the idea of providing a temporary shelter for children in distress till they’re reunited with parents and guardians. Some months ago, most of the children were from other states and had been rescued from child labour or from the streets, and were forced to spend months in the home. No wonder they called it a jail. The red-tape that shrouds the communication of officials has subverted the original idea of a home being only a transit facility. The severely short-staffed home is all about managing over 200 inmates rather than caring for them. “Our employees are concerned about the children, but they’re bound by official restrictions. There’s also an endless stream of children,” said an official on condition of anonymity. That most children are from other states is a big problem. Communication between officials and children is tough, as are food habits and cultural values. Children often end up playing with ragi balls as they don’t relish the home’s staple food.”During the time they spend at a rescue home, children should be given hope that there is a better life than working on the streets. If not a paradigm shift in the current system, we at least need to make the place child-friendly instead of making it look like a government office,” said child rights activist Fr PS George. Any child brought here after a rescue should leave within a week, but due to lack of coordination and increasing paperwork, they end up staying much longer. These boys have nowhere to go and very little to do… (Times of India 21/9/14)

 

20. 18 children go missing everyday in capital: CRY report (14)

New Delhi: The number of children going missing in the national capital has increased in the last two years — 18 children went missing everyday in 2013, compared to 14 children in 2012. The data has been compiled by CRY (Child Rights and You) and is based on statistics from Delhi’s 12 districts, which was collected through questions filed under an RTI. “In Delhi, the numbers related to missing children, sexual abuse and other child protection indicators have been increasing each year. This clearly shows that children pay the price… of an environment of gross negligence, weak implementation of laws, insensitivity, apathy and no safety nets. The need of the hour is to work towards ensuring an environment where children get top priority in terms of policies, schemes and budget allocations,” Soha Moitra, north regional director of CRY, said. According to the data, the number of missing children cases has shot up drastically in some districts. West Delhi showed a 54.82 per cent increase while Northwest Delhi showed a 47.24 per cent increase. However, others like Northeast and New Delhi districts have seen a decline. The data also shows that 6,494 children went missing in the city in 2013, of which 3,059 were girls and 2,709 were boys. In 2012, the number of missing children was 4,086 children. Of the 2,887 children “reported” missing in 2012, only 832 were found. According to a report compiled by the NGO last year, in association with the Alliance for People’s Rights (APR) on the status of missing children, 14 children went missing from Delhi’s streets everyday in 2012. The report further said that Northeast Delhi and outer districts had the highest number of missing children, and that “children of migrants, poor and marginalised were in a vulnerable state always.” “Data from our intervention areas in Delhi presented a grim reality of child protection in the capital. Collaboration between states and police is integral to limit the growing number of child protection issues in the city. Steps should be taken to map vulnerabilities of children and available initiatives/resources. Our system currently lacks cross-departmental linkages to ensure protection of children,” APR convenor Reena Banerjee said. (Indian Express 23/9/14)

 

21. Media coverage on child rights issues dismal: study (1)

HYDERABAD: Only six per cent of child survival and developmental issues, 25 per cent on children’s education issues and 42 per cent on child protection issues were reported in a study of 994 news stories, conducted among three national English dailies and three Telugu dailies by the Centre for Media Studies (CMS) over a month. Explaining the details of the study at a media workshop on ‘Reporting on Children – Agenda’ conducted by CMS and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Anita Medasani, Regional Manager, CMS, Hyderabad, said, “Child protection issues was higher because they comprised of crimes such as rape and corporal punishment. Reporting was not about issues, but about the incidents as such. There is a need to write about them in depth,” she said. Mamatha Raghuveer, member, State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (SCPCR), Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, also stated that the media generally covers child labour incidents more than others. Through a presentation, she explained how young girls were often pushed into prostitution after their parents were cheated with false promises of jobs. “Also, prostitution is not illegal in India, but the Act punishes those operating brothels. However, prostitutes can be arrested if they are found soliciting in a public area,” said Ms. Raghuveer and added that victims of sexual molestation also include boys. Prasun Sen, advocacy and communication specialist, UNICEF, Hyderabad, said that though there are laws to protect child rights, there is no effective implementation of them. According to statistics (sourced from various government agencies) provided by the United Nations Children’s Fund, there are 110 maternal deaths per 1,00,000 births, 41 deaths per 1000 births among infants in Telangana. 2. Among adolescent girls aged between 15 to 19, 68 per cent of them are anaemic, suffering from different types of anaemia. 3. In Telangana, only 66 per cent of children aged seven years and above are literate. In that, rural literacy rates in that age bracket is 57.3 per cent, and 81.1 per cent in urban areas. 4. The dropout rate in schools and colleges among adolescents aged between 15 to 18 years is 16 per cent, and also seven per cent in the same age group never attended school. Statistics for Andhra Pradesh in those two areas is even higher, at 9 per cent and 27 per cent. 5. In the undivided State of Andhra Pradesh, between 2005-06 only 40.3 per cent of births were registered, according to data from the National Family Health Survey (NFHS). The same data also revealed that nine per cent of children aged between 5 to 14 years were employed in various works. (The Hindu 24/9/14)

 

22. Child abuse law fails in detection: High court (14)

KOCHI: The country’s latest law for protecting children from sexual abuse – Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (Pocso Act), 2012 – has failed to provide a system for detecting such abuses, the Kerala high court said and took on itself the task of framing guidelines for this purpose. Considering two cases related to child abuse, Justice A Muhamed Mustaque said in an interim order: “The act provides measures to safeguard the interests and well-being of children. The act also provides the manner in which child abuse has to be reported. The point that arises for consideration is detection of sexual abuse on children. There is no procedure laid down to detect the cases of abuse. It is only when abuses have come to light that legislative mechanism pushes its wheels to roll.” The order added that systemic screening of every child studying in schools is needed with the aim of early intervention and to prevent repetition of sexual abuse. The court also stated that teachers must be trained in detection and prevention of such abuse. The court has sought the views of the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (CPCR), state CPCR, ministry of women and child development and the department of social justice on the matter of issuing guidelines. (Times of India 26/9/14)

 

23. Merger of schools is anti-Dalits, minorities and girls: Study (14)

JAIPUR: A study conducted by NGOs and activists working for child rights highlighted that state government’s step to merge schools has affected 10 lakh students. It has come as a denial of education for children from vulnerable sections by taking away schools from their door steps. Study was conducted in Jaipur, Bundi, Alwar, Baran and Pali districts. Organizations like Bharat Gina Vegan Samiti (BGVS) and PUCL volunteers conducted a study of 102 schools in five districts on a questionnaire-based survey. This includes 71 schools in Jaipur city. The findings say that schools which were in Dalits’ and minorities’ areas were worst affected and resulted in a sharp decline in enrollments since August 2014. In all 9,399 children were enrolled in 71 schools of Jaipur city (Adarsh and Merged), out of which 840 children of the merged schools stopped going to school. This is around 10% of the total children enrolled. “The government of Rajasthan has disregarded the law of the land by merging schools. This has overnight affected the success of several schemes and campaigns which have brought students to the school,” Vishwambhar, member State Commission for the Protection of Child Rights. The members presented some case studies which say that where Dalit schools were merged into schools in higher caste areas the students have reportedly faced discrimination. The level of discrimination is such that Dalit children were discouraged from going to school. For instance, a school in Kalbeliya ki Dhani was merged with another school in Khatipura (Jagatpura), which is a Meena-dominated locality. As a result, all 23 children of Kalbeliya School stopped going to school. The activists also accused the government of discouraging education for girls. Report says that many schools for girls were merged with co-educational schools. For instance, Girls’ Primary School in Dhankiya Basti, Jhotwara was merged with a co-ed school in Raeger Basti, where mostly boys study and that resulted in all the girls students from Dhankiya School quitting school. (Times of India 29/9/14)

 

MINORITIES – GENERAL

24. Minorities panel tells Rajnath: Act against hate speech (7)

The National Commission for Minorities (NCM) Thursday wrote to Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh demanding an assurance that the government will act against anybody who violates the Indian Constitution and the country’s penal code. The NCM, in its letter, cited speeches made by BJP MPs Yogi Adityanath and Sakshi Maharaj on ‘love jihad’ and BJP MLA Usha Thakur’s comment asking for a ban on Muslim men attending garba events. The letter comes a week after legal luminary and constitutional expert Fali Nariman, while delivering the NCM annual lecture, criticised the Central government and the NCM for not standing up to hate speech incidents. In the letter, the commission listed three incidents: “Comments by Sakshi Maharaj associating terrorism with madrasa and with Muslims, derogatory comments on Muslims with regard to garba celebrations by Usha Thakur and unfounded and extremely offensive comments about Muslims by Yogi Adityanath regarding ‘love jihad’ and riots being engineered by Muslims.” In an interview to The Indian Express, Indore MLA Thakur had said that if Muslim men want to participate in garba, they should convert to Hinduism as they use the festival as a pretext to mingle with Hindu girls. Unnao MP Maharaj had said that madrasas impart education of terror and ‘love jihad’, while Gorakhpur MP Adityanath had made a series of provocative speeches on ‘love jihad’ in the run-up to the Uttar Pradesh Assembly byelections. “In view of the above, we would like your assurance that the government will take appropriate action against any act or speech that violates the provisions of IPC and the spirit of the Indian Constitution. The government must demonstrate its unwillingness to tolerate any speech or action that is likely to aggravate communal tensions in any part of the country,” NCM chairman Naseem Ahmed wrote to Singh. In his speech, Nariman had said, “I would respectfully suggest that if we minorities (through the statutory body set up by Parliament ) do not stand up for the rights of minorities and protest against such hate speeches and diatribes how do we expect the government to do so?” “We have written to the ministry emphasising the need to crack down on statements made by Adityanath, Maharaj and Thakur,” Ahmed told The Indian Express. (Indian Express 20/9/14)

 

25. Panel: Probe schools for ‘forcing’ Sanskrit (7)

New Delhi: The Linguistic Minorities Commission has issued a notice to the city’s education department to initiate an inquiry, and subsequent action against the Delhi government schools where students from the minority community are “forced” to opt for Sanskrit as third language subject. An RTI application by a Delhi-based NGO, Nawa-e-Haque Welfare Association, had revealed that over 14,800 Muslim students across 100 government schools in the capital had no provision for teaching Urdu and these students had to opt for Sanskrit as third language subject from Classes 6 to 10. Some schools, like the Sarvodaya Kanya Vidyalaya, Sultanpuri Block H, have as many as 789 Muslim students; yet the schools have not recruited any Urdu teachers, despite directions from Directorate of Education (DoE). In a notice to the principal secretary directorate of education dated September 19, the commission directed the department to initiate investigation into the matter and take action against these government schools in the national capital. “I am directed to forward herewith a copy of the representation dated August 20 along with the enclosures received from Mr Asad Ghazi, president Nawa-e-Haque Welfare Association, Delhi, for your kind perusal and necessary action. Action taken in this matter may kindly be informed to this office at the earliest for placing before the commissioner for linguistic minorities of India,” Assistant commissioner S. Shivakumar of the Commission for Linguistic Minorities of the minority affairs ministry ordered in the notice. According to the NGO, a majority of schools don’t have Urdu teachers, thereby violating the Delhi School Education Act, 1973 and other constitutional laws, which grant the option of opting for one’s mother tongue as third language from Classes 6 to 10. A delegation of minority rights activists had, last week, also met the Delhi Minorities Commission chief Qamar Ahmad to discuss the “piteous” situation of Muslim students in these schools. The delegation, led by the NGO Nawa-e-Haque Welfare Association, presented YouTube videoclips of Muslim students in which these students are explaining how they were forced to opt Sanskrit instead of Urdu as third language in Classes 6 to 10 in government schools. The delegation had submitted a memorandum and requested to take stern action under the provisions of Delhi Minorities Commission Act 1999 against concerned, who are responsible for imposing Sanskrit on Muslim students without the consent of students and parents. It had also requested for re-activation of the minority cell of the directorate of education to look after the minority affairs of the education department. (Asian Age 26/9/14)

 

26. Congressmen urge Obama to discuss religious tolerance with Modi (7)

New York,: Eleven members of the U.S. Congress have urged President Barack Obama to inject a discussion about religious tolerance and the protection of minorities into his bilateral summit with visiting Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday and Tuesday. In a formal letter to the President, the bipartisan Congressional group said, “Your meeting with [Mr.] Modi… provides an opportunity to discuss religious inclusion and the protection of religious minorities in India,” adding that the Indian Prime Minister’s visit could open a dialogue about the “positive steps his government can take in preventing oppression and encouraging religious inclusion.” A twelfth lawmaker, Mike Honda from California, wrote an individual letter to Mr. Obama along similar lines, urging him to reinforce human rights and religious freedoms through increased attention and dialogue, but also underscoring that the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom’s 2014 Annual Report noted that “in the past year, reports of incidents of communal and religiously-motivated violence in India increased.” The Congressmen, who signed the letter, including Keith Ellison, Joseph Pitts, John Conyers, Raul Grijalva, Barbara Lee, Betty McCollum, Jim Sensenbrenner, Jared Polis, Trent Franks, James McGovern and Rush Holt, also alluded to “an increase in violence against Muslims and Christians in the first hundred days of Prime Minister Modi’s term,” adding that this “echoes the deadly 2002 riots in Gujarat, which happened while Prime Minister Modi was Chief Minister of the region.” They said that Mr. Modi had made positive remarks after winning the general election earlier this year, when he suggested that his government’s only religion would be “India first.” While this statement was promising, the members of Congress said, “Given the reported increase in violence against Christians and Muslims, the reality on the ground in India’s communities indicates that this promise must be followed by action.” Highlighting Mahatma Gandhi’s non-violent approach to civil disobedience as an example of our shared belief in democratic values between India and the U.S., the members of Congress said that such values included, foremost, the tolerance of minority groups. “Prime Minister Modi can play a constructive role by criticising extremists and opening a dialogue in the country about violence aimed at religious minorities,” in this regard, they noted. Coalition Against Genocide, an alliance of human rights groups campaigning for justice and accountability for the Gujarat pogrom of 2002 said that it welcomed the lawmakers’ letter to Mr. Obama. (The Hindu 29/9/14)

 

MINORITIES – MUSLIMS

27. Hate speeches, love jihad, talaaq discussed in Muslim Rashtriya Manch conference (7)

Concerns over hate speeches by politicians, propaganda by Hindu right-wingers against education imparted in madarsas, and opposition to the sacrifice of animals in Bakr-Id. These were some of the issues raised by participants in the state-level conference of the RSS affiliated Muslim Rashtriya Manch (MRM), which was attended by senior Sangh functionary Indresh Kumar. The MRM is the only organisation for Muslims in the Sangh Parivar, and has Kumar as its chief margadarshak (guide). Kumar, who was questioned by the CBI in the 2007 Mecca Masjid blasts, however made a strong pitch against cow slaughter, stressed on the need for men to divorce the ‘bottle rani’ (liquor) instead of their wives, prevent female foeticide and rapes, adding that Hindus and Muslims shared the same roots and ancestry. Kumar also said that the Hindu identity was not one based on religion, but on nationality and citizenship and “tensions would decrease once this was understood.” Lauding prime minister Narendra Modi’s statement about Indian Muslims willing to live and die for the country, Maulana Israr Bakai, a Sunni cleric, said they were willing to shed every drop of blood for India. However, he urged Kumar to communicate to the government that “leaders who want to divide Hindustan through fasad (violence) must be banned.” Stressing that Muslims of India wanted peace, Bakai said Modi needed to restrain such leaders from making inflammatory statements. He also lamented that some organisations chose to intervene only when kurbani (slaughter) was to be offered at Bakri-Id and seize animals being brought to the city, and not otherwise. Maulana Ali Abbas Umadd, a Shia cleric from Panvel, quoted Kuranic surahs to stress that these seminaries taught humanity and that the blood of people should not be shed. “From independence till today, around 23,000 riots have taken place in which lakhs have died and property worthy crores has been destroyed,” said Kumar, adding that he had in the past stressed for “a riots-free Hindustan.” Kumar noted that while religions did not preach hatred, men did. He also spoke out against slaughter of cows and said the longest chapter in the Quran was named after the animal. “If a cow was meant for sacrifice, then why has it been given an important place in the Quran?” he asked. When asked about the campaign against ‘ love jihad’, Kumar said it was wrong to assume fake religious identities and use religion to fulfil carnal desires and said that since all religions were the same, conversions must stop. “We are faithful to the nation. We are not tenants, but also the owners,” said Abbasbhai Bohra, co-convenor, MRM. He added that some elements did not want Hindus and Muslims to live in peace and slammed vote-bank politics. (DNA 21/9/14)

 

28. Madhya Pradesh: 9 Muslims arrested for Dalit conversions (7)

Bhopal: Three weeks after right-wing organisations re-converted several Dalit members, who had embraced Islam in Khaniyadhana town of Shivpuri district, to Hinduism, the police have arrested nine Muslims, accusing them of initiating the conversion to Islam. The police said the names of the nine accused were revealed during questioning of Dalit converts who themselves were booked under the Freedom of Religion Act for changing their faith without notifying the district authorities. “The Dalit members had read Kalma in the local mosque in the presence of these nine persons, including a Kazi, six or seven months ago. There was no ceremony as such but they had accompanied the Dalits,” in-charge of Khaniyadhana police station, Y S Jadaun, told The Indian Express. Jadaun was unable to explain how the nine persons were arrested under the anti-conversion law when the very people they had been accused of converting to Islam had been re-converted to Hinduism at the town’s Hanuman temple. The re-conversion ceremony had taken place a day after Maniram Jatav, Tularam Jatav and three other family members were arrested and released on bail. “Nobody has informed us about the re-conversion,” claimed Jadaun. Maniram and others had been brought to the police station premises by Bajrang Dal and Vishwa Hindu Parishad members before taking them to the nearby temple. “The police misled us before arresting the nine persons. I was asked to bring them to the police station where they were taken into custody,” said municipal councilor Sajjad Ali. He claimed none of the arrested persons is a Kazi. Most of them are goat traders and offer regular Namaz, he said wondering how the arrest took place when no Dalit member had accused any one of offering money or other enticement. “This is victory of Bajrang Dal and VHP. Had we not remained alert many more conversions would have taken place. The arrests have followed our campaign. Had the district administration acted on our complaint before things would not have come to such a pass,” Bajrang Dal leader Manoj Sharma said. According to him, at least one family member of the nine arrested Muslims is based in Dubai and other Muslim countries. Sharma alleged that the nine persons had offered money to the Dalit to convert to Islam after offering them monetary and other help in running small businesses. (Indian Express 25/9/14)

 

29. Nine Muslims held in MP for ‘conversions’ (7)

Bhopal: Three weeks after right-wing organisations reconverted to Hinduism several Dalit members who had embraced Islam in Khaniyadhana town of Shivipur district, police have arrested nine Muslims, accusing them of initiating the conversion to Islam. The police said the names of nine Muslims were revealed during questioning of the Dalit converts who themselves had been booked under the Freedom of Religion Act for changing their faith without notifying the district authorities. “The Dalit members had read Kalma in the local mosque in the presence of these nine persons, including a Kazi, six or seven months ago. There was no ceremony as such but they had accompanied the Dalits,” in-charge of Khaniyadhana Police Station Y S Jadaun told The Indian Express. He was unable to explain how the nine Muslims were arrested under the anti-conversion law when the very people they had been accused of converting to Islam had been reconverted to Hinduism at the town’s Hanuman temple. The reconversion ceremony had taken place a day after Maniram Jatav, Tularam Jatav and three other family members were arrested and released on bail. “Nobody has informed us about the reconversion,” he claimed. Maniram and others had been brought to the police station by members of the Bajrang Dal and Vishwa Hindu Parishad before being taken to the nearby temple. The arrests were made on Wednesday. “The police misled us before arresting them. I was asked to bring them to the police station where they were taken into custody,” said municipal councilor Sajjad Ali. He claimed none of the arrested Muslims is a Kazi. Most of them are goat traders and offer regular Namaz, he said, adding how the arrest took place when no Dalit member has accused any one of offering money or other enticement. “This is victory of Bajrang Dal and VHP. Had we not remained alert many more conversions would have taken place. The arrests have followed our campaign,” Bajrang Dal leader Manoj Sharma said. (Indian Express 27/9/14)

 

MINORITIES – CHRISTIANS

30. Christians Have Enriched Society, Says Ansari (7)

MANGALORE: By providing value-based services to people irrespective of their religion or caste, the Christian community has strengthened the secular fabric and enriched Indian society, Vice-president M Hamid Ansari said here on Sunday. He was addressing the gathering at the valedictory of the centenary celebrations of Catholic Association of South Kanara (CASK). Ansari said,  “As CASK has completed 100 years of its existence, it must be complimented for establishing itself as a vibrant institution promoting the general welfare of not only the Catholic community, but all segments of society.” “CASK has provided value-based services in the field of health and education, especially to the deprived and marginalised sections. It has also focused on supporting the local culture, including Konkani language, literature, music and fine arts.” The CASK has proved to be an effective vehicle for uniting communities. The country is blessed to have all the great religions coexisting peacefully and prospering here for centuries, he said. “The Catholic community in India is an important part of the country’s social mosaic. The members of the community are fully integrated in the national mainstream and have served the nation with great distinction in every sphere,” he said. Ansari said CASK has carried forward the rich legacy of selfless public service inspired by Jesus Christ. “It is for this message that Mahatma Gandhi called Jesus Christ the greatest teacher of humanity,” he said. The country is facing many challenges and poverty and unemployment are major obstacles in its development, he said. Besides health and education, CASK should expand its areas of work to skill development and employment generation. Ansari’s wife Salma Ansari, Governor Vajubhai Rudabhai Vala, District Minister B Ramanath Rai, former ambassador and secretary of ministry of external affairs Eric Gonsalves, Chief Postmaster General, Karnataka Circle M S Ramanujan, Bishop of Mangalore Rev Fr Aloysius Paul D’Souza, CASK  president Deric Lobo and secretary J P Menezes were present. (New Indian Express 22/9/14)

 

31. Mizoram plea on missionaries (7)

Silchar, Sept. 22: Mizoram home minister R. Lalzirliana has written to his Madhya Pradesh counterpart Babulal Gaur seeking immediate lifting of all cases against five Mizo missionaries, who were arrested over a week ago in Sanawad town in that state, on charges of converting Hindus. The missionaries, belonging to KTP churches, were granted bail on Tuesday after they spent four days in judicial custody and shifted to a Christian mission at Kanapur in the state. Lalzirliana wrote to Gaur asking for the “acquittal” of the five missionaries, who were arrested after a resident of Khargon in Madhya Pradesh accused them of offering Rs 1 lakh to a few Hindus with a view to convert them to Christianity. Speaking to the correspondent here today over phone from Aizawl, Lalzirliana, however, said he was yet to receive a reply to his letter sent on Friday pleading for the withdrawal of all cases against the five missionaries. The home minister wrote, “Christians are never taught to resort to using any form of material or financial incentives in their mission works, and I assure you that the missionaries never use such forms of enticement and allurement even in the future.” (The Telegraph 23/9/14)

 

32. VHP tells Muslims and Christians to ‘stay away’ from Navratri festival (7)

New Delhi: Vishwa Hindu Parishad warned Muslims and Christians on Thursday not to join in a lively Navratri festival this month, in the latest bid by activists to step up segregation in the multi-faith country. Emboldened by the May election victory of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, hardliners in his party and affiliated right-wing groups have been stirring up sentiment against religious minorities in recent months. “We are warning Muslims and Christians that they should stay away from all our festivals. The Navratri festival is for Hindus only,” Surendra Jain, spokesman for the Vishwa Hindu Parishad said. The annual, nine-night Navratri Hindu festival began on Thursday. In many parts of the country it is marked by celebrations involving prayer, music and dance among men and women. It is famous for being high-spirited and Christians and Muslims are known to take part. They also take part in the Holi festival. But this year, VHP activists plan for the first time to demand identity cards to keep non-Hindus out of festival venues. Usually in India, one can tell a person’s religion by their name. “Muslims and Christians do not pray to the Hindu mother goddess so why should they dance and enjoy nightly feasts with us?” Jain said, accusing young Muslim men of taking part in the festival to tempt Hindu girls into converting to Islam. Members of the VHP have in the past been accused of instigating communal violence, including riots in Gujarat in 2002, when Modi was its chief minister. At least 1,000 people were killed, most of them Muslims. The VHP is a radical member of a cluster of right-wing Hindu groups that includes Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party. Modi has distanced himself from the anti-Muslim views of some of his supporters. In an interview with a news channel last week, Modi praised the patriotism of India’s Muslims and said they would not be tempted by Islamist groups such as al Qaeda. Modi, who is observing a nine-day fast to mark Navratri, departed for the United States on Thursday, his first trip there since being denied a visa in 2005 over allegations of religious intolerance stemming from the 2002 riots. In Modi’s home state of Gujarat, a Muslim cleric this week called Navratri a “festival of demons”. He was arrested for his comments, and hit and pushed by a member of the public as he was detained. (Asian Age 26/9/14)

 

REFUGEES/ MIGRANTS

33. 1,30,000 Syrian refugees reach Turkey fleeing IS (13)

ANKARA, Turkey: The number of Syrian refugees who have reached Turkey in the past four days after fleeing the advance of Islamic State militants now totals 1,30,000, Turkey’s deputy prime minister said on Monday. Numan Kurtulmus said Turkey is prepared for “the worst case scenario” should more refugees stream in. The refugees have been flooding into Turkey since Thursday, escaping an Islamic State offensive that has pushed the conflict nearly within eyeshot of the Turkish border. The al-Qaida breakaway group, which has established an Islamic state, or caliphate, ruled by its harsh version of Islamic law in territory it captured straddling the Syria-Iraq border, has in recent days advanced into Kurdish regions of Syria that border Turkey, where fleeing refugees on Sunday reported atrocities that included stonings, beheadings and the torching of homes. Although the numbers are high, Turkey says it is ready to react. (Times of India 22/9/14)

 

34. Myanmar gives citizenship to some Rohingya Muslims (13)

YANGON: Myanmar gave citizenship on Monday to 209 Muslims displaced by sectarian violence, after the first phase of a project aimed at determining the status of about a million Rohingya whose claims to nationality have been rejected in the past. Meanwhile Myanmar government’s chief negotiator said on Monday that efforts to secure a historic ceasefire agreement with ethnic armed groups are “at a crucial moment” at the start of a fresh round of negotiations. The Rohingya Muslim minority in Rakhine State need permission to move from their villages or from camps, where almost 140,000 remain after being displaced in deadly clashes with ethnic Rakhine Buddhists in 2012. The government and many people refer to them as “Bengali”, a term that implies they are illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, although Rohingya families have lived in the area for generations. Many of them are effectively stateless because they are not recognised as citizens by Myanmar or by Bangladesh. Officials from Myanmar’s immigration ministry told Reuters that 1,094 Muslims took part in the pilot verification process in displacement camps in Myebon. Some of the 209 who received citizenship were members of the Kaman Muslim minority, who are recognised by the government as indigenous to Myanmar, but there were also Rohingya. (The Hindu 23/9/14)

 

35. 345 rescued ‘refugees from Syria’ refuse to leave Cypriot ship (13)

LIMASSOL, Cyprus: More than 300 people, apparent refugees fleeing from Syria, refused to leave a cruise ship that rescued them from a small boat stranded off Cyprus, a cruise line official said Thursday. Salamis Cruise Lines managing director Kikis Vasiliou said that the people are insisting that they be taken to Italy instead. “They want us to send them to Italy,” Vasiliou told reporters at the east Mediterranean island’s main Limassol port. “The authorities, they have to decide what they want to do.” Vasiliou blamed Cypriot authorities for keeping him in the dark about how they intend to resolve the situation. Cypriot officials said that the 345 people, including 52 children, were to be taken to a reception centre near the capital Nicosia where they would be given shelter and medical attention until authorities determine what will happen to them. Dozens of civil defence officials, medical staff and police were waiting at dockside to receive the people after the cruise ship had docked. A small group did disembark from the ship to negotiate with authorities, Vasiliou said, but talks broke off with the group returning to the ship. But several adults holding small children were seen leaving the cruise ship, while one man led away by police in handcuffs. A man later came on the cruise ship’s public address system to urge the group to disembark through an Arabic-speaking interpreter by telling them that authorities would do all they can to send those who met the criteria to other European countries. The people were packed aboard a small vessel that issued a distress call early on Thursday amid rough seas and high winds some 50 nautical miles off Cyprus’ southwestern coastal town of Paphos. The Cypriot defence ministry said the boat had “most likely” set sail from Syria loaded with “civilian refugees”.Vasiliou said his company received the request from Cypriot Search and Rescue authorities to assist in the rescue operation on Thursday morning while the cruise ship was returning to Cyprus from the Greek islands. But he said the unexpected turn of events is costing his company “several hundred thousand” euros after the cancellation of a trip by 300 mainly Russian tourists to Haifa, Israel aboard the cruise ship that was scheduled to depart late Thursday. Thousands of migrants fleeing conflicts in the Middle East and northern Africa attempt to cross the Mediterranean Sea in rickety boats in search of safe havens in Europe, and hundreds have died at sea. (Times of India 26/9/14)

 

36. Tibetan market is favourite of tourists, students (13)

In Delhi, if there is anything Tibetan which is more popular than the omnipresent momos, it is the bustling market run by the people from the Himalyan state. Tucked behind the concrete slabs of a flyover near Kashmere Gate in north Delhi, the market attracts hundreds of shoppers daily who care little about the fact that virtually all men and women behind the sales counters are foreigners. By evening, the closure time of the market, the business conducted in the winding lanes of the congested commercial hub leaves dozens of Tibetans with enough cash to support their families and proudly nurture their Tibetan identity. “This market is our identity here in India, we are not only selling our traditional food, clothes, and drinks but we are imparting our traditions from one generation to the next,” says Dolma, a 60-year-old woman shop owner. For most shopkeepers in the market, strategically located a few kilometres away from the Tibetan colony at Majnu ka Tilla, the daily grind is also a reassurance that not all is lost even after they left their country decades ago. Tashi, a shopkeeper, who sells traditional Tibetan garments, shoes and Buddhist worship articles, said: “Earlier the market area was dominated by Tibetans’ homes. We started shops to sell things to the refugees but later the entire zone got commercialised.” “Foreign tourists contribute a lot to our sales but domestic tourists and visitors are evergreen,” Tashi says. The market is a big attraction for tourists who are unable to go to Dharamsala, the seat of the Dalai Lama and main settlement of Tibetans in India. Apart from selling merchandise like shoes and traditional worship articles, the market is also a popular destination for food lovers. “The market is famous for its mouth watering chicken momos and many other variety of Dumplings and Thenthuk,” says Diekhem, an eatery owner. “Many Delhi university students come here to eat my chicken and momos, they love me and pay great respect,” says Diekhem. “Sometimes they ask me, if I am interested in studying, but I refuse. I have to earn money to meet my family’s need,” says the momo specialist. The Tibetan market appears to have reached its saturation point. Some young Tibetans do not have the means to own and run shops in the “upscale” area. And this has encouraged them to look for alternative employment opportunities. “Although most of the refugees are dependent on their own businesses, but  the new generation of Tibetans has started exploring other areas such as BPO and higher studies,” says Pemma, a middle-aged man whose two sons work in a call centre.  Another Tibetan shopkeeper Lofsang, who sells a traditional drink from Tibet and supports a four-member family, says: “I have two children, one is studying in the Delhi University and other is pursuing engineering.” “I believe Tibetans should start establishing themselves professionally along with their fight for freedom. I always encourage my children to explore opportunities for work other than owning a shop in this market,” says Lifsang. Tibetan entrepreneurs have no qualms about admitting that their business in the market is good and they are happy with their earnings. “I sell clothes and shoes and I am happy that every month I earn Rs 30,000,” says Tanzing Nyendak, a shopkeeper. Pairson, who is a shopkeeper says, “Because of lack of space in the market, some community members have opened shops in Lajpat Nagar, Safdarjung area and many other places across the city.” As the sun sets over the market, a stone’s throw from the Yamuna bank, the hustle-bustle of the market makes way for prayers. The enterprising Tibetans piece together their lives and head for homes in a foreign country which, in their own words, has now increasingly started “appearing” like their own. (Deccan Herald 28/9/14)

 

RIGHT TO INFORMATION

37. Give reasons for seeking information under RTI: Madras High Court (1)

New Delhi: In a serious blow to transparency regime in the country, the Madras High Court has said RTI applicants must give reasons for seeking information as it gave relief to its Registry from disclosing file notings on a complaint against a chief metropolitan magistrate. A division bench comprising justices N Paul Vasanthakumar and K Ravichandrababu said an applicant must disclose the object for which information is sought and also satisfy that such object has a legal backing, a decision which may have far reaching implications on getting information under the RTI Act and which was decried by legal experts and activists. “If informations (sic) are to be furnished to a person, who does not have any reason or object behind seeking such informations, in our considered view, the intention of the Legislature is not to the effect that such informations are to be given like pamphlets to any person unmindful of the object behind seeking such information,” the bench said.The Madras High Court has said RTI applicants must give reasons for seeking information as it gave relief to its Registry. However, the Legislature while passing the RTI Act has specially incorporated Section 6(2) which says an applicant making request for information “shall not” be required to give any reason for requesting the information. The Madras High Court order does not mention Section 6(2) of the Right to Information Act. “We should not be mistaken as if we are saying something against the intention of the Legislature. What we want to emphasise is that a Legislation, more particularly, the one on hand, must achieve the object, viz, concrete and effective functioning of the public authority with transparency and accountability by providing the information which are under the control of such public authorities,” it said. Terming the order “illegal”, senior lawyer Prashant Bhushan said it is against “letter and spirit” of the Act. “It’s a self-serving order by the High Court in line with a number of earlier orders of High Courts and Supreme Court virtually preventing administrative transparency of the court,” he said. (CNN IBN 21/9/14)

 

38. RTI/RTS commissioners appointed as per rules, Haryana govt writes to governor (1)

CHANDIGARH: Claiming that commissioners for right to information commission and right to service commission were appointed as per rules, Haryana government has submitted a report to governor Kaptan Singh Solanki. The government recently informed the Raj Bhawan that the appointments were made after necessary approval from the governor. However, sources said that the government is silent on some of the crucial aspects related to the issue. Amid controversy over the appointments, Solanki on August 1 had sought a report from Bhupinder Singh Hooda-led government. Hooda had administered oath to five commissioners hurriedly at his official residence on July 27 despite secretary of administrative reforms department Pradeep Kasni refusing to issue appointment letters to the new appointees, raising various objections on the process. Even after Solanki taking oath on the same day, Hooda had administered oath to them on the basis of authorization by outgoing governor Jagannath Pahadia. On the basis of same authorization from Pahadia, Hooda on August 1 administered oath to the outgoing chief secretary S C Choudhary as chief commissioner of right to service commission. “The government has not explained why no permission was sought from the new governor to administer oath to the chief commissioner of right to service commission even after five days tenure of Solanki. The oath to the commissioners was administered despite Pahadia not mentioning on file specifically about their appointment orders. But the government did not explain this point also,” sources said. When contacted for comments, chief secretary Shakuntla Jakhu just said they have sent the report to governor. Hooda has been claiming that the commissions had not been constituted in a hurry and that all members had been appointed in keeping with the constitutional norms. (Times of India 23/9/14)

 

39. AAP sends RTI request to Madras High Court (1)

Palakkad: A recent Madras High Court order insisting Right to Information (RTI) applicants to disclose the reason for seeking the information has received a different kind of response on Wednesday when 20 activists of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in Palakkad sent requests to the Madras High Court seeking copies of the order under RTI Act. Further more, they mentioned the reason for seeking copies of the order under RTI Act as ‘‘to generate a debate in legal and social circles on the order as it violates the key fundamentals of the act passed by Parliament in 2005.’’ ‘‘The order has already sparked a debate with several legal experts and activists calling it an attempt to derail the RTI Act. Section 6(2) of the Act clearly says an applicant making request for information shall not be required to give any reason for requesting the information. This court order contradicts the very essence of the law,” said AAP State committee member S. Karthikeyan. The activists sent their requests from central post office here on Wednesday noon. District convener T. Venugopal was present on the occasion. (The Hindu 25/9/14)

 

40. Govt sits on proposals for good governance (1)

BHOPAL: Madha Pradesh government has been dithering on recommendations of ‘Manthan 2009′, an initiative chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan for good governance and policy initiatives. Of the 850 odd recommendations for good governance proposed 300 are gaining dust for five years now. While the state government failed to act on recommendations made in the past, ‘Manthan 2014′ began at RCVP Noronha academy of administration here on Saturday. Documents procured under RTI Act by activist Ajay Dubey states a total of 964 such recommendations aimed at bringing good governance in state were made in 2009 of which 96 were rejected by the state government and of the remaining 878 government has failed to act on 338 till date. However, Chouhan said ‘Manthan’ held in year 2007 and 2009 has given better results and a lot of administrative changes have taken place on the recommendations made during these brainstorming. He termed it as attempt to improve governance and empower people of the state. “Manthan and programmes like these are just an eyewash if government is not determined to bring in transparency and a lot of public money is wasted on organizing them,” Dubey said, adding, “All we demand from government is to make the expenditures made on organising past ‘manthans’ and this one, public on its website”. (Times of India 28/9/14)

 

RIGHT TO EDUCATION

41. Schools must provide books, uniforms to poor students: HC (11)

NEW DELHI: Reminding the public schools constructed on the land allotted on concessional rates, of their social and legal responsibility, the Delhi High Court on Thursday said these institutions must provide free textbooks and uniforms to the students belonging to economically weaker sections. The court said the Right to Education Act also makes it mandatory for them. A Division Bench, hearing a public interest writ petition seeking proper implementation of the RTE Act in the private unaided schools, said the public schools that had obtained land on concessional rates were under an obligation to provide free education to 25 per cent poor and disadvantaged children. The observations came after the Public School Association raised objection to the provision of free books and uniforms. The Bench, comprising Justice B. D. Ahmed and Justice Siddharth Mridul, posted the matter for final directions to October 9, while observing that if the schools were not willing to comply with the provisions of the RTE Act, they must pay market value of the land allotted to them. Delhi Government counsel Zubeda Begum informed the court that the government was reimbursing Rs. 1,290 per student a month to the schools for free textbooks and uniforms. The court asked the Directorate of Education to submit the relevant data pertaining to the issue by October 9, when the matter would be disposed of. (The Hindu 20/9/14)

 

42. Rajasthan government moots 3 public exams till Class VIII (11)

JAIPUR: The state government is planning to introduce three public examinations between Class 1 and VIII from next academic session by amending RTE rules. The government is contemplating changes at a time when the country is debating stress-free education for children. Hinting at the development, SS Agarwal, principal secretary, education department, said, “This is in initial stages. Nothing is on official papers at present. Once a draft is prepared and presented in the assembly it will be discussed and suggestions will be taken from all the stakeholders before making any change.” However, experts term it as ‘retrograde’ move and violation of RTE-2009 which clearly states that students shall be mandatorily promoted till Class VIII. Sources said that the move to introduce exams is a fallout of low levels of learnings-reading, writing and comprehension among students which is declining for the past three years. According to sources, the main reasons for declining quality of education is shortage of teachers and the fact that in most schools the syllabus is never covered on time. “This is illogical on the part of government to introduce exams hoping that the move will improve the learning levels. In fact, it will add pressure on children which will lead to more drop outs. Ideally, the state should work on improving the quality of teaching rather altering RTE norms,” said Rajiv Gupta, former head of department, sociology, Rajasthan University. The government’s another move to give ‘learning levels’ extra weightage and slashing infrastructural norms like toilets, playground, boundary wall, ramps, hand wash facility and electricity will benefit thousands of public and private schools at large which are struggling to fulfill the RTE norms (infrastructural). The government is justifying its move by stating that of the total 85,685 schools, only 29,142 schools have electricity and 31,789 have playground. Besides, 14,644 schools don’t have boundary wall. “Meeting all the infrastructural requirements would take years and require crores for constructing buildings,” said a senior official. Already, government had submitted its affidavit to HRD minister seeking more time for implementation of RTE. Experts sees these attempts a way out for the government to remove the delay in implementing RTE and provide a relief to private schools to get recognition/registration. (Times of India 24/9/14)

 

43. Private school offers free English edu to underprivileged kids (11)

CHENNAI: Amid reports of many private schools in the city appearing reluctant to admit students under the Right to Education Act, this institution near Sithalapakkam has proved to be a refreshing path-breaker. Sai Sankalp primary school, set up in 2006 by five youngsters from Madipakkam, now provides free education, from LKG to Class 5, to about 230 poor students from areas like Arasankazhani, Nukkampalayam, Nethaji Nagar, Perumbakkam, Semmencherry and Indira Nagar, all around Sithalapakkam. “There are no government schools nearby and private schools demand donations and the fees are high. So we thought of establishing a school offering free English-medium education,” said Kannan Ramani, one of the founders. Asked how they managed to meet their expenses without charging fees, the administrators say they receive financial and other assistance from individuals and social organisations. “The students get stationery and other things from Sevai, an NGO. Another organisation conducts periodic medical camps for students and their parents,” said Sairamkumar Jayaraman, one of the founders. Initially, absenteeism among students was the main issue because of malnourishment. “The number of absentees has reduced after school started giving a glass of milk for each student,” said headmistress K Sangeetha, adding that dates were later added to milk twice a week. For slow learners, volunteers of Sahithi Trust, an NGO, conduct special classes after school, while classes are also conducted on weekends with the help of volunteers from private firms. Free computer classes, summer camps, spoken English coaching and music sessions are also held. How do they select students? Every March, applications are given. “We also visit the homes of the applicants to check if they are eligible. Preference is given to poor students staying in rented accommodation and orphans. ,” said R Rajappa, correspondent. “We are lucky to have a school with no tuition fees. But I don’t have an idea where to send my boy after Class 6. I hope the school will be extended till Class 10,” said T Ansari, a daily wage worker. (Times of India 25/9/14)

 

44. 67% students admitted to school under RTE in region (11)

NASHIK: As many as 6,222 students, that is, 67.85% of the total students from the division have been admitted to school as per the 25% provision made under the Right to Education (RTE) Act, 2009. The figures are comparatively better than what was witnessed last year, the deputy director of education has said. As per norms, children aged between 6 years and 14 years belonging to economically backward class can avail admissions under the provisions made under the RTE. Students are allowed to take admissions in private and permanently non-aided schools, but the provisions do not apply for minority and government-aided education institutions. An official at the office of the deputy director of education here said the division had aimed to admit around 10,634 students for the current academic year and has been able to admit 6, 222 students to schools under the RTE. Jalgaon district has recorded the highest number of students being admitted with 97.59% of the total quota, while the lowest percentage of admitted students was recorded at 38.49%.The official said that the provisions were strictly implemented from the last academic year; however, there was not much response from the parents and schools then. Increased awareness among the stakeholders has helped improve the percentage of students getting education. “District-level workshops have been conducted periodically and parents are also seen more interested in sending their child to school,” the official said. He further said that more needs to be done to increase the admission percentage. “Parents are still inclined to send their children to schools with better infrastructure and five star institutions. This mindset needs to be changed. Parents backing off from other schools are the reason that schools are seeing less number of applications under the RTE quota,” he added. The trend of competition among parents to admit their wards in a select few institutions also needs to be changed, the official pointed out. Officials have always emphasized on an effective and efficient mechanism ito monitor as well as take stock of quality of education and the implementation of norms of the RTE. A workshop was also conducted a few months ago for chief executive officers of zilla parishads, group development officers of municipal councils and education officers of municipal corporations of Nashik division, comprising Nashik, Ahmednagar, Jalgaon, Dhule and Nandurbar districts.  (Times of India 28/9/14)

 

RIGHT TO FOOD/ HUNGER

45. Inequity kills people, says Binayak Sen (21)

Kozhikode: India needed Rs.1.76 lakh crore to ensure free and quality health care to the entire country. The amount was only one third of the tax waiver given to big corporate companies. “India is facing a desperate situation in which poverty coexists with increasing levels of inequity,” said human rights activist Binayak Sen. Inaugurating a health rights convention organised by the Movement for Socialist Alternative (MASS) in Kozhikode on Saturday, he said inequity killed people on a large scale and to keep the system in place, there was an enormous scale of violence. He spoke on the importance of the broader Left alternative at a time when the Left in India was passing through a bad phase. Speaking of a socialist alternative, there was a need to articulate on the right to health and health care, as the health care expenditure in the country had risen to unprecedented levels, he said. India needed Rs.1.76 lakh crore to ensure free and quality health care to the entire country. The amount was only one third of the tax waiver given to big corporate companies. Poverty in India was not just financial. In fact, 35 per cent of the adult population here had a Body Mass Index less than 18.5 that denoted chronic malnutrition. More than 45 per cent of children below 5 years of age were suffering from acute malnutrition and were stunted owing to chronic malnutrition.The convention passed a resolution demanding that the government withdraw policies that would disrupt the public health system, to end looting by drug companies, and to declare that health was a fundamental right. (The Hindu 21/9/14)

 

46. Over 4,000 Cities to be Under Poverty Alleviation Schemes (21)

NEW DELHI: The central government Thursday increased the number of cities and towns to be covered under the current urban poverty alleviation programmes from 790 to 4,041. Announcing the decision here, Union Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation (HUPA) Minister Venkaiah Naidu said that covering 4,041 statutory cities and towns will be like bringing the entire population under the poverty removal schemes. Naidu was speaking at the National Convention on Skills for the Rural and Urban Poor where he along with Rural Development Minister Nitin Gadkari announced the Deen Dayal Antyodaya Yojana. The scheme aims at imparting skill training to improve livelihoods of people in both urban and rural areas. “The developing countries would need 5.70 crore trained people and by 2020 we aim to train 4.70 crore people through skill training,” Gadkari said. Stressing that skill upgradation is the “need of the hour to create wealth”, Naidu said: “If India is to emerge as the manufacturing base to meet the global needs, the only certain way is to empower every youth of our country with necessary skills.” Deen Dayal Antyodaya Yojana will be implemented by the rural development ministry and the housing and urban poverty alleviation ministry. Out of the 1,000 core earmarked for urban poverty alleviation, HUPA will spend Rs.500 crore on skill development of over 5,00,000 urban poor. He urged the private players to contribute in imparting skill training and generating employment. (Indian Express 25/9/14)

 

47. Govt commits Rs 500 crore to make urban poor employable (21)

NEW DELHI: The government on Thursday declared it would spend Rs 500 crore on skill development of urban poor barely a few hours after Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the ‘Make in India’ plan, which also targets to create more job opportunity for the youth. At least four major private companies also made a commitment to hire at least 30,000 rural youth who have got skill training in the next three years. The skill development scheme has been named as ‘Deen Dayal Antyodaya Yojana – DAY’ and the announcement was made by housing and poverty alleviation minister M Venkaiah Naidu and rural development minister Nitin Gadkari. Naidu said that while the current urban poverty alleviation programme covers only 790 cities and towns the government will now extend these to all the 4,041 statutory cities and towns. Out of Rs 1,000 cr budgetary provision for urban poverty alleviation during this financial year, 50% will be spent on skill development that would benefit over five lakh urban poor. Under its urban component DAY will focus on imparting skills with an expenditure of Rs 15,000 – Rs 18,000 on each urban poor. It will also help promote self-employment by setting up individual micro-enterprises and group enterprises. The government will also extend interest subsidy for individual projects costing Rs 2 lakh and Rs 10 lakh for group enterprises. The subsidised interest rate will be 7%.Moreover, there will be provision for enabling urban poor to form self-help groups for meeting financial and social needs with a support of Rs 10,000 for each group who would in turn be helped with bank linkages. Gadkari said that his ministry has reduced the age limit for rural persons from 18 years to 15 years to get skill training under government schemes. He also asked his ministry officials to look into the provision of providing some kind of skill training to differently abled persons so that they can also become employable. (Times of India 26/9/14)

 

48. Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana to cover 1.04 crore BPL families (21)

BELLARY: Chief Minister Siddaramaiah will launch a programme here on Monday to extend health insurance benefits to around 1.04 crore families in the State under the Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (RSBY). “Karnataka was the first State in the country to extend health insurance cover to BPL families having five members, which would enable them to get cashless treatment up to Rs. 30,000 a year,” P.T. Parmeshwar Naik, Minister of State for Labour and district in-charge, told presspersons here on Saturday. Mr. Naik said that hitherto the scheme was limited to workers in the unorganised sector, including autorickshaw drivers, cycle rickshaw pullers, licensed vendors, porters and hawkers in railways, beedi workers, postmen, and those employed under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act. So far, around 45 lakh families were getting the benefit of cashless treatment with the Centre and State contributing the premium amount in the ratio of 75:25. “The State government will shoulder the burden of payment of premium to the tune of Rs. 131.28 crore a year for families which are being brought under the scheme,” he said, adding that the process of distributing smart cards to beneficiaries would be completed in three months. To a question, he said there was scope for modification of the schemes to ensure that the needy reaped all benefits of the scheme and if necessary, he would speak to the Union Minister for Labour to bring in suitable amendments to relax rules. Mr. Naik informed that Mr. Siddaramaiah, during his day-long visit to the city, would inaugurate and lay the foundation stone for developmental works and conduct a review meeting. Around a dozen Ministers, including D.K. Shivakumar, H.K. Patil, Roshan Baig, Dinesh Gundu Rao, Umashree, Sharanaprakash Patil, Qamarul Islam, and M.H. Ambareesh would also participate. “The new developmental works proposed to be implemented in the district was estimated to cost Rs. 92.41 crore,” he said. (The Hindu 28/9/14)

 

49. Jharkhand ‘hunger death’: Tribal youth’s body to be exhumed for autopsy (21)

The Jharkhand health department has decided to exhume the body of a tribal youth whose suspected “hunger death” has kicked off a political storm in the poll-bound state. Officials said an autopsy will be carried out to determine the exact cause of death of Kamlesh Munda. Munda, 20, was found dead on September 25 in his house at Betulkhurd village in Ramgarh district, about 70 km from Ranchi. Munda, from an economically marginalised group, was “adopted” by the state government 11 years ago after the death of his parents and sister within a fortnight, also due to hunger. District health officials said that no specific date for the autopsy has been fixed but added that Munda’s body is likely to be will be exhumed by mid-next week. Chief investigating officer in the case, Dr Prem Kumar, said “the autopsy has to be done within 15 days to determine the actual cause of death of Munda”. With assembly elections due by the end of the year, the death of Munda is threatening to become a political issue. The opposition BJP and AJSU-Party have accused the Hemant Soren government of failing to check hunger and malnutrition deaths in the state. Ramgarh deputy commissioner Abu Imran has denied that Munda died due to hunger and claimed that the tribal youth was an epileptic besides being a “chain smoker and alcoholic”. “Poor intake of food, his disease and habits could have led to his death,” Imran said. Munda’s body was buried by his brother Sunil before he reported the matter to the administration on Friday. However, the administration has already suspended three panchayat workers and decided to withhold the salary of four block circle officers for their alleged inaction in the matter. Show-cause notices have also been served on sub-divisional officer (SDO), district welfare officer (DWO) and district education officer (DEO) over Munda’s death. (Hindustan Times 29/9/14)

 

50. Death, hunger stalk Indian tea estate workers (21)

BUNDAPANI:Deprived of health care and food rations, workers who had been scraping by on $1.50 per day were left with nothing. Bundapani’s owner failed to raise the alarm as hundreds of workers slid into catastrophe. “I have become like a beggar,” said Ramesh Mahali, 59, struggling to stand. He has been unable to properly feed himself or his family since the closure. His wife, Puliya, seeming 20 years older than her 50, sat emaciated on the floor. Seven workers died in the two months it took the government to become aware of the crisis, and the toll has continued to climb since. In the past year, at least 69 tea workers have died across Bundapani and four other shuttered tea plantations in West Bengal, according to the Right to Food campaign, an advisory committee to the Supreme Court that is monitoring the deaths. More than 16,000 people have been left in extreme poverty at the estates, spread across the Dooars plains below Darjeeling, source of the famous brand known as the Champagne of teas. The government has launched emergency food and medical relief, but conditions remain grim. Despite the aid, 14 people at Bundapani alone have died in the past eight months, either from malnutrition or inadequate medical care. If the plantation had not closed, “these people would not have died,” said Anuradha Talwar, a Right to Food activist. “These people are in a situation where they cannot afford basic things essential to survive.”… (Times of India 30/9/14)

 

LABOUR/ MGNREGA

51. NREGA to be restricted to tribal, backward districts (14)

NEW DELHI: In changes proposed to the MGNREGA, Union Minister of Rural Development Nitin Gadkari has proposed that the permissible labour to material ratio of expenses be changed from the current 60:40 to 51:49. Even as the current upper limit in expenditure is not being met, the government wants to increase this from 40 to 49 per cent. The change will increase the presence of contractors in the job scheme and squeeze the funds available for wages. “There was no prior consultation on the labour-material ratio changes and the Minister’s announcement came as a surprise to us. There is no real reason [for the change] when the States are not even spending 40 per cent [on material] right now,” said an official at the Ministry requesting anonymity. With UPA-II government tightening spending in its last years, MGNREGA allocation was reduced from Rs. 40,100 crore in 2010-11 to Rs 33,000 crore in 2013-14. “Increasing material ratio will add Rs. 8,000 crore in expenses. This means under the current allocation, we will have that much less to spend on wages,” said a senior official. Mr. Gadkari has also proposed to restrict MGNREGA to the poorer parts of the country. While the Minister made the proposal – which will require amending the Act – last week, the Ministry, since July, has been focusing on implementing the scheme in 2,500 backward blocks under its Intensive Participatory Planning Exercise. These blocks have been identified based on percentage of population below poverty line (BPL), as per the Planning commission estimates of 2013, and a backwardness index prepared by the Planning Commission using the 2011 Census data that uses five parameters – percentage of households primarily dependent on agriculture, female literacy rate, households without access to electricity, households without access to drinking water and sanitation within the premises and households without access to banking facilities. Going by these parameters, in Tamil Nadu, one of the best performing States in the MGNREGA currently, only 98 of 385 blocks can be identified as backward, while in Chhattisgarh, 105 of total the 145 block fall into this category. “This will end the universal spirit of the MGNREGA. More material expenses will mean more false bills and more farziwada (fraud),” said Shankar Singh, an activist with Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan, Rajasthan. (The Hindu 22/9/14)

 

52.  ‘Don’t violate street vendors’ rights when clearing footpath encroachments’ (14)

Bangalore: The High Court of Karnataka on Monday directed the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) not to violate the provisions of the new law, which protects the interests of street vendors, while clearing footpaths of encroachments. A Division Bench comprising Chief Justice D.H. Waghela and Justice Ashok B. Hinchigeri made it clear to the BBMP that it would have to enforce the court’s July 23 direction on clearing footpaths of encroachments. However, the court has now put a rider stating that the BBMP should not violate the provisions of the Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Act, 2014, which came into force on May 1, 2014. The Bench issued the direction when it was pointed out that the newly enacted Street Vendors Act provided protection for street vendors across the country. In its July 23 direction, the court had directed the BBMP to evict all encroachers on footpaths without issuing notices to them. The new law states that no street vendor shall be evicted or relocated till the survey of vendors was completed and certificate of vending issued to all vendors by specifying their vending locations. BBMP counsel told the Bench that the government was required to frame a scheme for street vending in consultation with the local authority within six months from the date of commencement of the new Act. The Urban Development Department has convened a meeting in this regard on September 27. However, the Bench orally told the State government and the BBMP that they would have to keep in mind the conflict between the right of persons to walk and the right of persons to sell while formulating the street vending scheme. Earlier, the BBMP counsel submitted a report indicating that a majority of the encroachments identified on footpaths of arterial and sub-arterial roads had been removed and the remaining encroachments would be removed in a phased manner by next month. (The Hindu 23/9/14)

 

53. Govt adopting multi-pronged strategy for unorganised sector (14)

New Delhi: The government today said that it is adopting a “multi-pronged” strategy to develop a mechanism to identify people in the unorganised sector and taking measures to augment their living standards. Union Labour Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said that his ministry is also making “all out efforts” to increase welfare fund cess from employers and maximise its expenditure for the benefits of workers. “We are adopting multi-pronged strategy to develop a mechanism to identify people working in the unorganised sector and simultaneously, we are taking measures to augment their living standards and take care of their health and children’s education,” he said. Tomar was addressing a Symposium and Exhibition on “Occupational Health and Safety in the Construction Industry – Proceeding from a Problem to a Solution”.”The welfare fund cess earmarked for labour….The ministry is trying all out efforts to increase the collection of cess from employers and also maximise the expenditure of that cess for worker’s benefits,” he said. Tomar said that the government is aware about issues confronting the well-being of labour in the unorganised sector especially in the field of construction. Stressing that working population in construction and other sectors is endowed with a rich heritage of knowledge, he said that his ministry is committed to providing them with training, followed by certification which will get their talent acknowledged and facilitate higher wages. The minister specified the budget provisions laid out by the new government towards development of infrastructure and indicated that the construction sector was set to grow by leaps and bounds in the near future. Michael Steiner, German Ambassador to India, who shared the dais with Tomar, termed the Indian government’s vision to spend $1.2 trillion on infrastructure as the “right focus for exploring a young society with huge aspirations”. He said that two German bodies, DGUV and BG BAU, collaborating to organise the symposium, had helped Germany reduce accident rate by more than 75% in the last 25 years. (Business Standard 24/9/14)

 

54. NREGA workers’ march chokes traffic (14)

Lucknow: Arterial streets in the city were left choked as thousands of MGNREGA workers gathered at Vidhan Sabha Marg on Friday. On Tuesday, Aanganbadi workers and power department employees had staged a protest at Ashok Marg leading to massive traffic jams. On Friday, the city commuters again jostled for space on the busy Nishatganj-Charbagh route for hours after the workers started collecting from various parts of the state and marched towards Vidhan Sabha building. Traffic movement was worst-hit between 12pm and 3pm. Those commuting on Ashok Marg, Rana Pratap Marg, Jopling Road, Narhi, Sikandar Bagh Crossing, Sapru Marg, Shahnajaf Road, Lalbagh, Bank street, Mahatma Gandhi Marg and other routes were forced to move at snail’s pace. Diversions had to be enforced at various points including Sankalp Vatika and Hazratganj crossing and alternative routes had to be used to streamline the traffic. Ritesh Pratap Singh, a commuter said, “I had to pick up my sister from school and got late by more than 20 minutes.” Singh was stuck in Hazratganj. (Times of India 27/9/14)

 

55. Govt initiates total revamp of employment exchange (14)

Ranchi: The days of the virtually outdated employment exchange offices seem to be over. The Government has laid out a plan and road map for a facelift of the all important office which would work as a lot better interface between employers and job seekers in future. The aim is to provide about 50 lakh unemployed youths all desired support to improve their employability in the next five years besides offering them jobs. Department for Employment and Training took significant steps in the direction on Friday when it threw open its own web portal. The portal would work like a single platform for both the job seekers and providers with over five lakh data available online. All the companies and business houses operating in Jharkhand would be told to register on the portal and avail information about qualified youths seeking jobs. “We are targeting 40-50 lakh unemployed youths in the next five years and have prepared a complete roadmap for that. We are going to remodel the employment exchange. It would work as ‘Jharkhand Career Center’ now onwards which not only register the unemployed youths but also help them in getting training and career counseling so that their employability can be enhanced,” said Labour Minister KN Tripathi while inaugurating a call center and web portal. The call center would have a toll free number—18003456578—where any person seeking job can get assistance about his registration with the exchange, career advice about admission in colleges or institutions and existing vacancies. The platform would also make available database of job seekers to the employers readymade which enable them to utilise the bank to its optimum level. There are 43 employment exchanges functional across the State but work in traditional manner like form submission and less effective postal information sharing. The system seldom helps in providing jobs to the youths in the want of a seamless and fast interface. “The programme would be run under e-governance initiative. The job seekers would have to upload scanned copies of their certificates along with applications. The information can be accessed by companies willing to hire people. Important is that no paperwork is involved into this and the communication between job seekers and job providers would be transmitted through email and phone,” said Rahul Sharma, Secretary of the Department. The Government would also run a special drive for 15 days staring from October 1 to connect all the companies and industries mandatorily and a public notice would be published for the registration purpose. (Pioneer 28/9/14)

 

RESERVATION

56. Punjab warns officials against de-reserving posts (25)

Chandigarh: The Punjab government has issued strict directives against de-reserving posts of reserved categories and converting these to other categories, an official spokesman said Sunday. All departments in the state government have been directed not to do this without securing prior approval from the welfare department’s reservation cell. In a communique to all heads of departments (HoDs), divisional commissioners, deputy commissioners, registrar of Punjab and Haryana High Court, all sessions’ judges and sub-divisional magistrates, the state government has clarified that the filling of vacant posts of reserved categories from other categories without approval would lead to a strict disciplinary action. “If the posts reserved for SCs/BCs (Scheduled Castes/Backward Classes) were lying vacant due to non-availability of qualified SC/BC category candidates, then the posts could not be de-reserved without getting prior approval from reservation cell of welfare department,” the letter said. Punjab Welfare Minister Gulzar Singh Ranike said impartial and proper implementation of the reservation policy was constitutional responsibility of all departments and erring officers would have to face action if they failed to do this. The departments have been told that if there was non-availability of eligible candidates from reserved categories, the department concerned would send a detailed dossier of proposed conversion of posts explaining that why these posts could not be filled from reserved categories, despite efforts. “It has been observed that some departments were violating the reservation laws and taking decisions in this regard at their own level without getting permission from reservation cell. The state government has taken a serious note in this regard as it affects the interests of Scheduled Castes and Backward Classes,” the spokesman said. He added that in case of any violation of the instructions, strict action would be initiated against the erring officers who failed to implement the state’s reservation policy in true spirit. (Business Standard 21/9/14)

 

57. Eunuch leaves MBBS midway, begs (25)

The recent move of the state government to bring eunuchs under Other Backward Classes (OBCs) may not turn their lives around wholly so long as the social stigma remains. Naina, a eunuch now in her mid-40s, had to drop out of an MBBS course. Begging with her on the city’s streets are a research scholar and a commerce graduate. They all accompany some eunuchs living in a rented house in Patna City’s Alamganj area. Naina’s peers — Saloni and Chandani — claimed that the former had enrolled into a medical college in Delhi. “But she left midway as students began teasing her once they got to know she was a eunuch. She left the institute and joined a group of eunuchs before moving to Patna a decade ago. Naina speaks English fluently as her basic education took place at a Delhi-based convent school. But she is shy and introvert now,” said Saloni. Naina was hesitant. She opened up after much prodding. “I come from an affluent family. My father is a doctor and my mother a teacher. I did a BCom from Kirorimal College, Delhi, after my dreams to become a doctor were shattered. I don’t want to recall the trauma I underwent while pursing MBBS in Delhi in 1997-98,” she said. It is difficult for her to survive outside her community. “We are looked down upon. The very thought of a public sector job makes me nervous. For eunuchs, it would be difficult to continue in a job anywhere,” she said. Naina’s peer Reshma from Kaimur district is doing her PhD in chemistry from Patna University. “She is a bright student and wants to pursue higher studies. We do not want her to beg,” said Raj Kumari alias Lalan, a senior leader of eunuchs. Suman, Gautam and Abina are equally qualified. Suman graduated in history from Indira Gandhi National Open University and Gautam in commerce from Magadh University, Bodhgaya. Abina is doing her postgraduation through distance learning. “We want to lead a normal life. But that’s a dream,” Abina said. Chandani, a Darbhanga resident, left her ancestral home four decades ago but gets to meet her parents. “My father is with the Bihar Homeguards and my mother a government school teacher. They live in Patna. At times I go to meet them. But I’m not welcome at the home of my brothers — one a doctor and the other an engineer,” she said. A social welfare department survey said there were over 4,000 eunuchs in Bihar. Dinesh Rai, who works for their welfare, said it could be 10 times more. On September 9 this year, the Bihar government brought eunuchs and transgenders under the third gender and decided to include them in Annexure II, giving them the benefits of reservation in government jobs. Raj Kumari said the government’s recent decision has kindled hope among eunuchs. “At least the qualified ones will get jobs,” she said. A Supreme Court judgment in April 2014 recognised eunuchs and transgenders as a third gender and said they should get admission into educational institutions, be treated as OBCs and given jobs. Kali Hijra would have benefited from the order. Though elected ward councillor from Gardanibagh area, Kali was debarred from contesting the election a second time for being a transgender. Kali died about four months ago. Raj Kumari, who unsuccessfully contested local body elections from ward No. 85 in Patna, said she raised the issue of providing accommodation to eunuchs at a meeting convened by social welfare department principal secretary Amarjeet Sinha on August 25. (The Telegraph 22/9/14)

 

58. Higher education Bill to be withdrawn from Parliament (25)

NEW DELHI: The Union Cabinet on Wednesday decided to withdraw the Higher Education and Research Bill, 2011, from Parliament in view of the reservations expressed by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on certain provisions of the draft legislation. The Bill — which was pending in the Rajya Sabha — sought to determine, coordinate, maintain and promote standards of higher education and research, and subsume existing regulatory bodies in higher education including the University Grants Commission, the All India Council for Technical Education, the National Council for Teaching Education and the Distance Education Council (DEC)  The Cabinet cleared a number of agreements to be signed during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s U.S. visit. One of them is a Joint Declaration of Intent between the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) and the U.S. Department of State for cooperation in the field of higher education for Study Webs of Active-Learning for Young Aspiring Minds (SWAYAM), a programme for online education. The SWAYAM platform server will be based in India and U.S. universities will be invited to offer postgraduate academic programmes with certification on the SWAYAM platform. Besides, the Cabinet approved signing of a Joint Declaration between the HRD Ministry and the National Science Foundation (NSF) of the U.S. to launch the Global Initiative of Academic Networks (GIAN) in Higher Education. It aims at tapping the talent pool of scientists and entrepreneurs to engage with the institutes of higher education in India to augment the country’s existing academic resources, accelerate the pace of quality reforms, and further strengthen India’s scientific and technological capabilities. (The Hindu 25/9/14)

 

59. BJP: 10% quota to dalit allies in government (25)

NAGPUR: BJP has promised to give 10% share in power to dalit parties that have allied with BJP. State BJP president Devendra Fadnavis told the media that Ramdas Athawale would also be given a share of power wherever possible. Sulekha Kumbhare, president of Bahujan Republican Ekta Manch (BREM) and Gondwana Gantantra Party (GGP), a tribal party, have extended support to BJP candidates. Union transport minister, Nitin Gadkari, brought Kumbhare to BJP camp after she was ditched by Congress. BJP is supporting GGP candidate from Ramtek DM Reddy. Reddy is contesting on the lotus symbol. The two leaders claimed that if any person inducted into the party was found guilty then he or she would have to face the law. “The party won’t come to their defence,” Fadnavis said. Maintaining BJP’s policy of not criticizing its former ally Shiv Sena, Fadnavis said that BJP’s enemies were only Congress and NCP and Sena was not its target. “We don’t have time to reply to Sena’s criticism. People will decide who was at fault,” he said. Earlier, Sulekha Kumbhare slammed Congress for backstabbing her. “We supported the party in Lok Sabha and their leaders promised to support us in Vidhan Sabha. I had demanded five seats but agreed for two. Even as I was given Kamptee and Umred seats, Congress had already decided its candidates from the two seats. “I came to know on Friday that Kamptee seat had been given to Rajendra Mulak, who could not be accommodated in Nagpur West. Congress conveyed to me through media that I should contest from Umred. However, I learnt on Saturday that it had decided to field Sanjay Meshram from there,” an angry Kumbhare said.Kumbhare claimed she decided to join hands with BJP as it was pro-Vidarbha and pro-development. (Times of India 29/9/14)

 

HUMAN RIGHTS/ CIVIL SOCIETY/ NHRC

60. Newborn death: NHRC issues notice to Govt (1)

CUTTACK | in Bhubaneswar: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has issued notice to the State Government asking it to show cause as to why an amount of Rs one lakh would not be paid to the family of the newborn baby boy who died just seconds after his birth falling into a water-filled bucket inside the labour room of a Government hospital in Jajpur district. Adjudicating an application filed by social activist and lawyer Prabir Kumar Das, the NHRC on Thursday observed that the death of the newborn was caused due to head injury which amounts to medical negligence and deserves monetary damage under Section 18 of the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993. The Chief Secretary has been asked to respond to the notice within four weeks. Das in his application has stated that the baby’s mother Manorama Jena (30) was admitted in the hospital in the afternoon of April 8, 2014 in the advance stage of her pregnancy. She was sent to the labour room under the care of two nurses, who were also attending to five other expectant mothers. However, around midnight, one of the nurses went to sleep and the remaining one went out of the labour room for some work when Manorama delivered the baby. “The newborn slipped from the bed and fell into the bucket kept by the side of the bed,” Das mentioned in his application. Reports obtained by the NHRC from the district magistrate and the State Health Secretary also corroborated the fact but had denied any negligence by the hospital staff.But when the postmortem report confirmed that a healthy baby was born but died due to head injuries, the NHRC observed that negligence was caused by the hospital staff. (Pioneer 20/9/14)

 

61. India to seek re-election to UN’s human rights body in October (1)

India will seek re-election to the United Nations Human Rights Council for a second consecutive term in a vote to be held in October. The country is currently a member of the 47-nation UNHRC and its term ends on December 31, 2014. It is seeking re-election to UN’s main human rights body for the period of 2015-17 and the elections will be held in October during the ongoing 69th session of the UN General Assembly, according to the Indian mission to the UN. India will compete in the Asia group in which four seats will be up for election. The other countries in the Asia group that will be candidates in the electionare Bangladesh, Qatar, Thailand and Indonesia. The support of member states for the country’s candidature in the Human Rights Council elections would be greatly appreciated, a note from the Indian mission said. 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. They have the ability to discuss all thematic human rights issues and situations that require its attention throughout the year. In 2013, the General Assembly had elected 14 countries, including China, Saudi Arabia and Russia to serve on the Council. According to the Council website, the General Assembly takes into account the candidate states’ contribution to the promotion and protection of human rights,as well as their voluntary pledges and commitments in regard of the same. While members of the Council serve for a period of three years, they are not eligible for immediatere-election after serving two consecutive terms. The Council’s Membership is based on equitable geographical distribution, with 13 seats each for African and Asia-Pacific states, eight seats for Latin American and Caribbean states, seven for Western European and other states and six for Eastern European states. (Business Today 23/9/14)

 

62. 11 lakh women to take part in awareness drive (1)

New Delhi: About 11 lakh women in Delhi are being roped in by the city administration to raise awareness of violence against women on Thursday in their respective localities in the national capital. All the women being reached by the administration’s 181 helpline for women in distress are those who themselves have called the helpline to seek help. The helpline has been contacting each of those women who had got in touch in the past two years to raise awareness about the rise in violence against the women in their respective localities. “All our callers are being contacted to raise their voice against the atrocities being committed against women on September 25,” civil rights activist and helpline head Khadijah Faruqui told this newspaper. The UN marks November 25 every year as the International Day of Elimination of Violence against Women all over the world. Of late, the UN has been observing the day on the 25th of every month to raise awareness among people about the violence being committed against women across the globe. Violence against women and girls is one of the most widespread violations of human rights. According to a 2013 WHO global study, 35 per cent of women worldwide have experienced either physical or sexual violence. Some studies show that up to 70 per cent of women have experienced physical or sexual violence in their lifetime from an intimate partner. Between 500,000 to two million people are reportedly trafficked annually into situations including prostitution, forced labour, slavery or servitude. Women and girls account for about 80 per cent of the detected victims. Ms Faruqui said the helpline was observing September 25 as Orange Day to raise awareness to trigger action to end the global scourge against women. Asked why Orange Day, she said, “It signifies the rising sun (the beginning).” The UN started observing November 25 every year as an awareness day to mark the brutal assassinations in 1960 of the three Mirabal sisters, political activists in the Dominican Republic. Ms Faruqui said she would be requesting all administration employees to wear orange bands on Thursday. (Asian Age 24/9/14)

 

63. BHRC member proposes amendment to Human Rights Act (1)

Patna: Plagued by shortage of hands, a member of Bihar Human Rights Commission (BHRC) has proposed amendment of the Protection of Human Rights Act (PHRA), 1993 to induct persons as ex-officio and deemed members on the lines of National Human Rights Commission (NHRC). In the proposal sent to BHRC chairperson Bilal Nazki with copies sent to the secretaries of the Home and Law Departments, Commission Member Neelmani has called for incorporating chairpersons of state Commissions for Women, Minorities, Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Child Rights, Child Labour and other similar bodies as ex-officio members. “This will go a long way in generating suitable response to the Human Rights issues in Bihar. It is a big state and more ex-officio members will provide a wide reach to BHRC, and at the same time, lead to increase in awareness among the people about their natural rights,” Neelmani said. In his proposal, Neelmani has quoted Section 3 (3) of the PHRA, which deals with the constitution of NHRC and requested to amend the Act to have similar provisions in the states as well. (Zee News 25/9/14)

 

64. NHRC notice to UP Police over undertrial’s torture (1)

New Delhi: The NHRC has issued notice to Uttar Pradesh Police over the alleged torture of an under-trial prisoner after he refused to bribe the jailor in the states’ Mahoba district, a statement said Friday. The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) panel took suo motu cognizance of a media report published Sep 22, 2014, alleging that the Dalit undertrial was branded with a hot iron rod, brutally beaten with a whip and thrown out of the jail premises in a semi-conscious condition by the jailor. “The reason behind the assault was that the victim, instead of paying a bribe of Rs.5,000 on the day of his release Sep 20, asked the jailor to deduct the money from the Rs.10,000 he earned for doing labour while in jail,” the NHRC said. “The contents of the report, if true, raise a serious issue of violation of human rights of the undertrial prisoner,” it added. The NHRC has asked the director general of prisons of Uttar Pradesh and superintendent of police of Mahoba district to submit a report within two weeks. According to the NHRC, the victim is recovering in a hospital. (New Kerala 26/9/14)

 

65. Panchayat bars girls from going to school: NHRC sends notice to DM, SSP (1)

New Delhi: National Human Rights Commission on Friday issued notices to the district authorities of Kanpur Rural, Uttar Pradesh where a panchayat has allegedly ordered girls not to go to school and colleges to avoid eve-teasing. According to an official statement released here, notices have been issued to the Kanpur Rural District Magistrate and the Senior Superintendent of Police calling for reports within two weeks. The notices were issued after the commission took suo motu cognisance of a media report that a panchayat had ordered around 150 girls of Tyonga village to stop going to schools and colleges to save themselves from harassment. According to the media report, carried on September 21, the diktat from the panchayat came on Friday, September 19, after some local goons harassed some girls while they were returning from a coaching institute. When the girls resisted and raised an alarm, the goons not only threatened them with dire consequences but also thrashed a victim’s sibling. Although, the parents had allegedly informed the police about the harassment, but no action was taken. The residents, thereafter, staged a protest in front of   the local police station. The Commission has observed that the content of the report, if true, raise a serious issue of violation of human rights of the girl students. (Indian Express 27/9/14)

 

JUDICIARY/ LAW

66. Basements can be sold and registered independently: SC (19)

GURGAON: In a landmark judgment that is bound to bring relief to property owners, the Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday that basements of residential houses can now be sold and registered separately in Haryana. Until now, basements could only be sold and registered along with the ground floor. A three-judge bench of the Supreme Court, headed by Chief Justice R M Lodha, delivered the verdict. “The judgment will bring relief to over 9,000 basement owners in Gurgaon, who so far used to sell them with power of attorney. This reduced the saleability and prices of basements. The court judgment is pro-people and restores the right of thousands of property owners,” said Nivedita Sharma, the petitioner and lawyer. Until 2009, even floor-wise registration of plotted houses was not allowed in the state. A March 27, 2009, state government circular, followed a few months later by an amendment in Haryana urban development and regulation of urban areas act, finally allowed floor-wise registration. The amendment, though. put a cap on the number of dwellings per plot to three, rendering the sale of the basement illegal. This provision was challenged in the court of law. The petitioner, Nivedita Sharma, had approached the Gurgaon sub-registrar in August 2009 to register her basement property in DLF Phase 1, but her application was rejected on ground that basements alone could not be registered. She sought the intervention of the deputy commissioner (DC), who wrote a letter to the office of the financial commissioner for advice. The financial commissioner advised the DC to take a decision on his own. Eventually, the application was rejected by the sub-registrar on September 9, 2009, with an explanation that “the basement doesn’t constitute an independent floor and the sale deed in favour of the petitioner can’t be registered”.The petitioner then approached Punjab and Haryana high court, which also rejected her plea on March 19, 2012, saying “basements can’t be used for human habitation and hence are not dwelling units.” As a last resort, Sharma sought relief from the Supreme Court on July 30, 2012, and was finally rewarded on Wednesday. (Times of India 20/9/14)

 

67. Govt can’t punish civil servants who expose corruption: SC (19)

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday ruled that any civil servant who exposes corruption and other illicit acts by knocking on the doors of a court cannot be subjected to disciplinary proceedings. A bench of Justices J Chelameswar and A K Sikri said that if a bureaucrat files a petition, alleging that the government was lax in discharging its constitutional obligations of establishing the rule of law, his or her conduct does not imply that he or she failed to maintain absolute integrity and devotion to duty, or indulged in conduct unbecoming of a member of the service. “Clearly the rule only prohibits criticism of the policies of the government or making of any statement which is likely to embarrass the relations between the government of India and a foreign state or the government of India and the government of a state. Allegations of maladministration, in our opinion, do not fall within the ambit of any of the three categories (warranting disciplinary actions),” said the bench. It added, “The right to judicial remedies for the redressal of either personal or public grievances is a constitutional right of the subjects of this country. Employees of the state cannot become members of a different and inferior class to whom such right is not available.” The court issued the ruling while quashing disciplinary proceeding against IAS officer Vijay Shankar Pandey. The proceeding had been initiated against Pandey under charges of misconduct after he joined a campaign to bring back black money stashed abroad. He had actively participated as a member of a social group that filed a PIL and prompted the Supreme Court to pass a judgement on setting up a special investigation team to retrieve black money. He also gave his personal affidavit in the matter. While an enquiry officer had given Pandey a clean chit after proceeding were initiated, authorities refused to accept this view and set up another board in September 2012 to look into his conduct. The bench said that the purpose behind these proceedings appeared “calculated to harass the appellant since he dared to point out certain aspects of maladministration in the government of India” and that the order of a second inquiry was “wholly untenable”. “The whole attempt appears to be to suppress any probe into the question of black money by whatever means, fair or foul. The present impugned proceedings are nothing but a part of the strategy to intimidate not only the appellant but also to send a signal to others who might dare in future to expose any maladministration,” it noted. Highlighting that the petition filed by Pandey led to some effective orders, the court said, “The Constitution declares that India is a sovereign democratic Republic. The requirement of such democratic republic is that every action of the State is to be informed with reason. State is not a hierarchy of regressively genuflecting coterie of bureaucracy.” The court also directed the authorities to pay Rs 5 lakh to Pandey. (Indian Express 23/9/14)

 

68. National taxation tribunal law unconstitutional: SC (19)

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday declared as unconstitutional the National Tax Tribunal Act under which a national tribunal was set up to decide tax-related cases by taking away the jurisdiction of High Courts in such matters. A five-judge Constitution Bench comprising Chief Justice of India R.M. Lodha and Justices J.S. Khehar, J. Chelameswar, A.K. Sikri and Rohinton Nariman held that it was the ultimate encroachment on the exclusive domain of the superior Courts of Record in India. The Bench passed the order on a batch of petitions filed by the Madras Bar Association and others challenging the validity of the National Tax Tribunal, contending that there was a grave danger that the judiciary would be substituted by a host of quasi-judicial tribunals which function as departments of various ministries. Writing the main judgment, Justice Khehar said Parliament had the power to enact legislation and to vest adjudicatory functions, earlier vested in the High Court, with an alternative court/tribunal. Exercise of such power by Parliament would not per se violate the basic structure of the Constitution. “The basic structure of the Constitution will stand violated if, while enacting legislation pertaining to transfer of judicial power, Parliament does not ensure that the newly created court/tribunal conforms with the salient characteristics and standards of the court sought to be substituted. The National Tax Tribunal encroaches upon the power of higher judiciary, which only can decide issues involving substantial laws and not a tribunal.”The Bench said: “It is obvious that substantial questions of law which relate to taxation would also involve many areas of civil and criminal law, for example Hindu joint family Law, partnership, sale of goods, contracts, Mohammedan Law, Company Law, law relating to Trusts and societies, transfer of property, law relating to intellectual property, interpretation of statutes and Sections dealing with prosecution for offences. It is therefore not correct to say that taxation, being a specialised subject, can be dealt with by a tribunal. “All substantial questions of law have, under our constitutional scheme, to be decided by the superior courts alone. Indeed, one of the objects for enacting the National Tax Tribunals Act, as stated by the Minister on the floor of the House, is that the National Tax Tribunal can lay down the law for the whole of India which then would bind all other authorities and tribunals. This is a direct encroachment on the high courts’ power under Article 227 to decide substantial questions of law which would bind all tribunals.” The Hindu 25/9/14)

 

69. Panel seeks more rights for women in family laws (19)

New Delhi: The Ministry of Women and Child Development is considering recommendations of a panel that has suggested for redefining adultery that treats wife as a man’s “property”, a fresh look at term “cruelty” under the Hindu Marriage Act as it is currently based on patriarchal notions of a woman’s behaviour, and doing away with the concept of an “illegitimate” child. The committee has also pitched for mandatory payment of maintenance to wife and children in the event of separation or divorce, doing away with the clause that it can be stopped if the woman was “unchaste” or had refused to stay with her husband. The panel has also pushed for giving woman more rights under the Hindu Succession Act. The committee, headed by former Panjab University professor Pam Rajput, was set up by the previous UPA government, but it submitted the report to WCD Minister Maneka Gandhi only a few days ago. The panel has also called for separate law to fight “honour” killings, beside suggesting changes in the Muslim and the Christian family laws as they are loaded against women. It recommended a complete ban on the practice of “oral, unilateral and triple talaaq (divorce)” and polygamy. In its assessment of family and succession laws, the committee has said that not only married women, but also those in “live-in relationships which are in the nature of marriage” should be eligible to it. In case of separation, the panel suggested, “Provision which allows maintenance to be stopped if a woman has been unchaste or has refused to live with her husband should be deleted.” All relevant laws should be amended to declare the mother as a “natural guardian” of the child along with the father when a child’s custody has to be decided, the report said. On the matter of devolution of a property owned by a woman, the committee said that appropriate changes should be made in Sections 15 and 16 of the Hindu Succession Act so that in absence of her husband and children, the property goes to her parents or her parents’ heirs/siblings instead of relatives of her husband…. (Indian Express 29/9/14)

 

POLICE/ AFSPA/ CUSTODIAL DEATHS

70. Court seeks report on police atrocities (1)

KOCHI: The high court on Friday asked the state government to provide details about the steps taken to prosecute police officials who abused their powers and engaged in illegal acts. A division bench comprising of acting chief justice Ashok Bhushan and justice A M Shaffique was considering a petition filed by Roshan Jacob Oommen alleging that government is not taking action against police officials involved in atrocities against the public. In the petition, he had highlighted the custodial torture of a woman by Cheranalloor police. During the first week of this month, a housemaid named Leeba, who was working in a doctor’s house, was arrested on the allegation of stealing 14 sovereigns of gold. The woman was tortured by a police team led by a sub-inspector, which resulted in grave injuries to her spine. After police complaints authority chairman justice K Narayana Kurup intervened, the SI and two women police constables were suspended from service. In the petition filed to the high court , Roshan alleged that the police action at Cheranalloor and in other parts of the state, such as Sambath custodial death, are in violation of the guidelines regarding arrest issued by the Supreme  Court in D K Basu vs state of West Bengal case of 1997. As the guidelines issued by the apex court are not being followed by police, such officials should be proceeded against as per Criminal Procedure Code and Kerala Police Act provisions. However, no such action is being taken by the government even when atrocities by police is on the rise, the petitioner alleged. (Times of India 20/9/14)

 

71. Custodial death: suo motu action against police station (1)

Bangalore: The Karnataka State Human Rights Commission took up a suo motu case against the officers of the Sarjapur police station, following the mysterious death of a man who was allegedly illegally detained by them on Saturday. “We have ordered a probe to ascertain the cause of death,” KSHRC member C.G. Hungund said. The deceased, Pillanna (55), who was a resident of Thindlu, was detained for questioning by the Sarjapur police in connection with the death of Harish (32). Harish’s body was found abandoned in a drain in Sarjapur on September 15, wrapped in a gunny bag. Preliminary investigations by the police revealed that Harish had an affair with Pillanna’s daughter, which led them to suspect the role of the girl’s family in the murder. The Sarjapur police summoned Pillanna and his brother Narayanaswamy to the station for questioning on Saturday.However, the police claim that Pillanna developed chest pain and collapsed in the police station during questioning. He was immediately rushed to a nearby government hospital, where he was declared brought dead. An autopsy was conducted at Victoria Hospital on Sunday, after which the body was cremated. (The Hindu 23/9/14)

 

72. Supreme Court issues elaborate guidelines on encounter death cases, .. (1)

New Delhi: Issuing elaborate guidelines on deaths in police encounter, the Supreme Court ruled that in all cases of encounter deaths there shall be mandatory registration of FIRs and investigation by CID or any other independent agency. A bench led by Chief Justice R M Lodha also said that no officer shall be given out of turn promotion or a gallantry award for encounter operations till the inquiry is completed on its genuineness. The court said that the magisterial inquiry should be completed expeditiously and of a police officer is found guilty of involvement in a fake encounter, he should be proceeded against legally and departmentally. The PIL in the matter was filed by NGO, People’s Union for Civil Liberties’ (PUCL) which, along with NHRC, had also suggested for the setting up a separate and independent probe agency under NHRC or the state human rights commission to probe all encounter killings. The plea has sought that unless proved beyond doubt that an encounter was genuine, no officer should be promoted or rewarded and compensation money for dependents of every fake encounter killing should be equivalent to the reward money given to the police in such operations. The bench, in this matter, is separately hearing submissions relating to the proposal for streamlining the process of media briefings by police. (Indian Express 24/9/14)

 

73. CBI probe ordered into alleged custodial rape (1)

CHENNAI: Strongly criticising the police and the magistrates for not doing their duty in a case of alleged custodial torture and rape, the Madras High Court on Wednesday ordered a CBI probe into the complaint. It also directed the State government to provide an interim compensation of Rs. 2 lakh to the victim within two weeks. If the investigating officer concluded that the victim should get further medical examination, it should be done at the Government Multi Super Specialty Hospital here. On completion of trial and in the event of conviction, the victim would be at liberty to proceed against the erring officers for compensation. It would be open to the State to recover the sum paid by it (as per the present order) from those responsible. Justice V. Ramasubramanian passed the order on a petition by the victim’s daughter. The petitioner alleged that her mother, who was making a living by washing dishes in a small hotel at Udumalpet in Tirupur district, was arrested on August 14 in connection with the murder of her house owner. The woman was harassed from August 10. The police subjected her to torture by injecting needles into her fingers, nails and hand; she was beaten up mercilessly, and lathis were inserted into her private parts, the petitioner said. The Udumalpet Inspector said that as the woman herself stated that she had sustained injuries on her own, there was no need for any further inquiry. Mr. Justice Ramasubramanian said the Inspector appeared to have not informed his superior officers of the incident. Under the Police Standing Order, a police officer should inform the RDO immediately on receipt of a complaint of torture. No FIR was registered on the allegations by the woman or her daughter. The judge said he was not happy with the manner in which the Judicial Magistrate-II, Udumalpet, acted at the time of remand, while he was acting as JM-I. After having noted injuries on the victim, the JM-II ought to have checked whether the Supreme Court guidelines in the D.K. Basu case were followed. The guidelines were violated. The magistrate recorded that there was no complaint against the police. The victim’s cry for help and justice was not heard either by the subordinate judiciary or by the superior police officers. The allegations were serious. Hence, the CBI should investigate the matter, he said. (The Hindu 25/9/14)

 

74. Ministry Of Home Affairs to review AFSPA in Northeast (1)

Guwahati: The home ministry is going to review the existing policy on dealing with militancy in the Northeast, besides the relevance of the Armed Forces (Special Power) Act. Pointing out that it may not be possible to scrapped the Armed Forces (Special Power) Act at one go, authoritative security sources told this newspaper that the home ministry has decided to review its relevance and working out mechanism to lessen its utility in phased manner in the north-eastern states. Informing that the ministry was reviewing the effectiveness, utility and allegation of misuse of the act, security sources said that home ministry was giving a final touch to a new policy on dealing with militancy in the north-eastern states. Clarifying that the ongoing peace talks with various factions of militant groups would continue, security sources, however, said that New Delhi is going to set a deadline to end the peace talks and ceasefire with the militant outfits in Assam. The new policy of the home ministry may not give liberty to the states to engage any militant groups expressing their willingness for talks. Security sources pointed out how the peace talks with the National Democratic Front gave birth to a new Ranjan Daimary faction of the NDFB. Thereafter, the government was forced to engage the Ranjan faction of the NDFB in the peace talks, which gave birth to a third faction of NDFB led by I.K. Songbijit, security sources said. The home ministry intends to formulate a policy to end this never-ending peace negotiation of the north-eastern states, security sources said. Union home minister Rajnath Singh, during his visit to Assam some time in the middle of October, may announce the new policy on dealing with militancy in the region. Security sources said the ministry was also in process of preparing a comprehensive policy for the surrender of militants to stop the practice of declaring non-militant or sympathisers as member of the militant groups just to increase their strength at the time of surrender. Another major area on which the home ministry is working is to end the over-dependence of northeastern states on the Central forces, security sources said. (Asian Age 29/9/14)

 

MEDIA/ FREEDOM OF SPEECH

75. I did not criticise Islam in ‘Lajja’: Taslima Nasrin (1)

New Delhi: Bangladeshi author Taslima Nasrin says she did not criticise Islam in her controversial novel “Lajja” and the fatwa against her is because of her criticism of the religion in many of her other books. “Many believe that I have criticised Islam in ‘Lajja’ and the Muslim fundamentalists of Bangladesh have issued a fatwa against me – both untrue. I have not criticised Islam in ‘Lajja’ and the fatwa is not because of Lajja. The fatwa is because I have criticised Islam in many of my other books,” she says. “‘Lajja’ can be seen as a symbol of protest. It is a protest against the violence, hatred and killings that are going on all over the world in the name of religion,” Nasrin writes in the preface of a new English translation of “Lajja” brought out as a special 20th anniversary edition. The fresh edition, translated by activist-writer Anchita Ghatak, is published by Penguin Books India. 52-year-old Nasrin says “Lajja” will remain relevant as long as the incidents described in it continue to happen and as long as there is conflict between people of one religion and another. According to her, “Lajja” does not speak of religion or hate, it speaks of humanity and love. A savage indictment of religious extremism, “Lajja”, written in 1993, was banned in Bangladesh but became a bestseller in the rest of the world. It tells the story of the Dattas who have lived in Bangladesh all their lives. Despite being members of a small Hindu community, they refuse to leave their country. But their world begins to fall apart after the demolition of the Babri Masjid at Ayodhya on December 6, 1992. Nasrin had to leave Bangladesh in 1994 in the wake of death threat by fundamentalist groups for her alleged anti-Islamic views. She is now a citizen of Sweden. She has been getting Indian visa on a continuous basis since 2004. She had been living in exile since 1994 and has lived in the US, Europe and India in the last two decades. However, on many occasions she had expressed her wish to live in India permanently, especially in Kolkata. The writer had to leave Kolkata in 2007 following violent street protests by a section of Muslims against her works. Earlier this month, the Centre gave a one-year visa to Nasrin allowing her to stay in India till August 2015. Nasrin says even today, the “politics of religion does not allow the subcontinent to become civilised” and its people to become truly educated. “My book is primarily a testament to the savagery of religions in the Indian subcontinent. Relgion drives people to madness, at which point they do not hesitate to bandon even basic humanity.” Some of her other works include “Dwikhondito”, “Oporpokkho”, “Amar Meyebela” and “Utal Hawa”. Nasrin’s works have won her the prestigious Ananda Puraskar in 1992 and 2000. She has been recognised with the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought from the European Parliament, the Kurt Tucholsky Award from the Swedish PEN, the Simone de Beauvoir Award and numerous other awards and doctorates. (Indian Express 22/9/14)

 

76. Enlarge access to media, Editors Guild tells govt (1)

NEW DELHI: The Editors Guild of India on Tuesday asked the Modi government to “enlarge access and engage more actively” with journalists. A statement issued by the Guild said that a “top-down, one-way interaction in a country with limited internet connectivity and technological awareness cannot be the only answer for large masses of readers, viewers, surfers and listeners. Debate, dialogue and discussion are the essential ingredients of a democratic discourse.””By delaying the establishment of a media inter-face in the Prime Minister’s Office, in restricting access to ministers and bureaucrats in offices and in reducing the flow of information at home and abroad, the government in its early days seems to be on a path that runs counter to the norms of democratic discourse and accountability,” it said. It said that every government is entitled to choose a media strategy that best suits its philosophy and interests. “Indeed, the media would not grudge a government keeping an arm’s-length distance while it is engaged with its core issues of governance. However, diminishing access to information to journalists and the media runs against the grain of democratic functioning in an age of openness, transparency and right to information,” the Guild said. Its statement highlighting “certain deficit in transparency in the functioning of the government” comes in the backdrop of a succession of press conferences by the new ministers to mark 100 days in office and the prime minister’s interactions with the foreign media. “While information always has ways of getting out, the public will be well served by such professional journalistic practices as identifying sources and getting elucidation and reactions from persons in office and outside. The Guild calls upon the government to enlarge access and engage more actively with professional journalists and the news media,” the statement said. The Guild, a professional body of editors, unreservedly welcomed the increasing use of social media by the new government to get its message across. The organisation said that it hoped that the PM would interact with the Indian media as well on the lines of his interactions with the international media. “The Editors Guild of India urges the government to see the news media, with its diversity, varied viewpoints and multiple functions, as a valuable interface with the democratic constituents,” it added. (Times of India 24/9/14)

 

77. Media monitoring panel to consider cases of paid news (1)

Mumbai: No sooner has filing of papers and election campaigning begun, than the Media Certification and Monitoring Committee (MCMC) has come into force in all 35 districts to actively consider cases of paid news referred by expenditure observers. The committees, chaired by collectors, are constituted by one returning officer from each constituency and one independent who will oversee the cases. Apart from two MCMCs set up in Mumbai city and the suburbs each, the process of monitoring paid news through newspapers and television channels has also started. Archana Shambharkar, member secretary of the MCMC committee in Mumbai, said, “Before going to campaign, one has to get a certification from the returning officer and after the canvassing is over, the candidate is required to submit all expenses incurred during the period. And if we find something objectionable, be it paid news or other expenses and practices, we will take action.” Ms Shambharkar, who is working as a subject specialist, added, “If a candidate is not satisfied, he/she can approach the same committee set up at the state level.” RTI activist Anil Galgal said, “It seems this mechanism is only a sham as in the Lok Sabha polls, all candidates flouted rules as per their wishes. The state election officials seemed to be shielding the erring candidates.” (Asian Age 26/9/14)

 

78. Press Council of India panel to probe ban on journalists in Andhra (1)

NEW DELHI: The Press Council of India has set up a three-member committee to probe into complaints that the reporters of two newspapers were being prevented from attending the press conferences of chief minister of Andhra Pradesh Chandrababu Naidu. PCI chairperson Markandey Katju, has formed a committee, including journalists Rajeev Ranjan Nag as convenor, and with K Amarnath and Prajnananda Chaudhury as members, to enquire into the matter. In his order Katju said it had been brought to his notice that the “accredited reporters of ‘Saakshi’ daily and ‘Namaste Telangana’ newspapers were being prevented from attending the official press conferences of the Andhra Pradesh CM.” Katju, while ordering the probe, said on careful consideration of matter on the basis of representations from National Union of Journalists (India) and Indian Journalists Union, he ‘prima facie’ believed that restrictions on the reporters in covering the press conference affects the freedom of the media of access to and dissemination of news.” The committee will visit Hyderabad, interact with stakeholders in Hyderabad and elsewhere, and the concerned authorities. (Times of India 28/9/14)

 

COMMUNAL RIOTS

79. PM’s statement to please US, shed his communal image: UP Minister (7)

Ballia: Uttar Pradesh Minister Ramgovind Chaudhary on Saturday alleged Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s statement that Indian Muslims will live and die for India, was made “to please” United States and shed his “communal image”. The state minister for primary education urged the Prime Minister to ask Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), VHP, Hindu Jagran Manch and other Hindutva organisations to adopt his views. “Samajwadi Party president has often said that BJP needs to change its mindset on Muslims. It seems that Modi has taken it seriously and only repeated Mulayam Singh Yadav’s opinion that Muslims are patriots,” he told reporters here. Chaudhary alleged that “the Prime Minister’s statement was made out of compulsion to please the US and to shed his communal image. “Despite everything, he cannot wash off the blot on his image.” State minister for stamps and registration, Ambika Chaudhary while welcoming Modi’s remark said that before issuing the statement he ought to have won over the confidence of Muslims for his party so that they would take them seriously. “Modi need to ensure that BJP leaders’ behaviour reflect his views on the subject,” she added. The Prime Minister said in a television interview that Indian Muslims will live and die for India and that they will not dance to the tunes of terror outfit Al Qaeda. “My understanding is that they are doing injustice towards the Muslims of our country. If anyone thinks Indian Muslims will dance to their tune, they are delusional. “Indian Muslims will live for India, they will die for India–they will not want anything bad for India,” he told CNN in a rare media interview. (Indian Express 20/9/14)

 

80. Bareilly on high ‘festive’ alert (7)

BAREILLY: With two major festivals, Dussehra and Bakr-Eid, coming soon in close succession, the district administration and law enforcement agencies are on high alert in Bareilly. The city witnessed riots in 2010 and 2012, and the administration is leaving no stone unturned this year, to ensure that the festive season passes peacefully. Bareilly is also considered among the most communally sensitive districts in the state. Moradabad, Muzaffarnagar, Aligarh and Bulandshahr, all also sensitive districts, are in the region. The state government recognises as many as 27 of its 70 districts as communally sensitive. During the month of Ramadan and Shravan in July this year, the city saw several ugly confrontations between members of Hindu and Muslim communities. At several locations, posse of policemen and personnel of the para military and Rapid Action Force (RAF), along with men of the Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC), were stationed to prevent communal flare-ups. This time, the administration has taken proper preventive measures, and deployed police personnel and para military forces in strength in different locations until October 10. Reports said the Local Intelligence Unit (LIU) is on high alert. Superintendent of police (city) Rajeev Malhotra told TOI, “Two major communal riots occurred here in 2010 and 2012 and a large number of instances of face-off between the two communities have occurred in various parts of the district in recent months. The city falls in the communally sensitive category. That is why we are on high alert. The police will be supported by the RAF and PAC battalions during the festive season. The state government will soon also augment the strength of the para military forces here.” (Times of India 25/9/14)

 

81. US court summons PM Modi for ’02 riots (7)

New York/New Delhi: Ahead of his arrival in the US, a New York court has issued summons against Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his alleged role in 2002 communal riots in Gujarat when he was the state’s chief minister. The summons against Mr Modi were issued on Thursday by the US a federal court for the southern district of New York on a civil lawsuit filed by the New York-based American Justice Centre (AJC), a non-profit human rights organisation, along with two survivors of the post-Godhra violence. The court said that Mr Modi has to respond to the summons within 21 days after it is served on him. The Prime Minister is due to leave for home on September 30 from Washington after he concludes his five-day US visit. The lawsuit against Mr Modi has been filed under the Alien Tort Claims Act (ATCA) and the Torture Victim Protection Act (TVPA). Seeking compensatory and punitive damages, the 28-page complaint charges Mr Modi with committing crimes against humanity, extra-judicial killings, torture and inflicting mental and physical trauma on the victims, mostly from the Muslim community. “The Tort Case against Prime Minister Modi is an unequivocal message to human rights abusers everywhere,” said John Bradley, director at the AJC. “Time and place and the trappings of power will not be an impediment to justice,” he said. The Alien Tort Claims Act, also known as Alien Tort Statute (ATS), is a US federal law first adopted in 1789 that gives the federal courts jurisdiction to hear lawsuits filed by US residents for acts committed in violation of international law outside the US. Reacting to the lawsuit, Union law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the government will examine the US court summons. “We will examine it. I don’t know it. I am only hearing it from you. We will examine it,” Mr Prasad told reporters. During his five-day visit, Mr Modi is due to address the annual UN General Assembly and the Indian-American community at Madison Square Garden in New York before travelling to Washington to meet President Barack Obama on September 29 and 30. Groups known for their anti-India activities have planned a series of demonstrations against Mr Modi in both New York and Washington. (Asian Age 27/9/14)

 

82. Communal clashes in Vadodara after stabbing (7)

VADODARA: Communal clashes erupted at Kotiyarknagar near Panigate on Sunday, forcing the police to open fire in air. Teargas shells were lobbed to disperse the mobs that gathered after a man was stabbed on Waghodia Road on Sunday afternoon. Another person was stabbed in Champaner Gate even as the city police struggled to maintain peace in the communally sensitive areas that have been witnessing rioting since Thursday. Two more SRPF companies were deployed to contain the situation, police said. Communal violence had erupted in Yakutpura, Panjrapole, Fatehpura and Kumbharvada on Thursday after some derogatory posts about a religion were put on social networking site Facebook. The police department’s step of suspending mobile internet services and bulk text messages didn’t help much as riots kept spreading from one area to other on Saturday night. City police commissioner, E Radhakrishna had cited rumour-mongering as the reason behind suspending mobile internet services. With police struggling to quell riots, Director General of Police P C Thakur had to rush to the city and hold a meeting with senior police officials. Thakur was forced to hold a meeting at 2am near Mandvi Gate. While situation was normal on Sunday morning, trouble began in Kotiyarknagar in noon when Shailesh Rajput, a tea-vendor was stabbed at Kala Darshan crossroads. Rajput was stabbed in the back by some unidentified persons who came on a motorbike. He was rushed to SSG Hospital and admitted to the ICU. Soon after, mobs from two communities gathered at Kotiyarknagar and started pelting stones. Policemen fired one round in air and lobbed teargas shells to disperse the mob. Tension prevailed in Wadi, Fatehpura, Yakutpura and Gendigate. The person stabbed near Champaner Gate was identified as Mangal Singh. He was reported to be out of danger. State finance minister Nitin Patel also rushed to the city and attended a peace committee meeting organized by the police department. “We have identified persons involved in rioting and the process to arrest the accused is on. We have formed several teams to investigate the cases and nab the accused,” Radhakrishnan told TOI. (Times of India 29/9/14)

 

COMMUNALISM

83. VHP plans Navaratri drive against beef, ‘love jihad’ (26)

Ahmedabad: The upcoming Navratri festival, widely celebrated in Gujarat with Garba dances, is set to be an occasion for an aggressive Hindutva campaign by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad. The VHP says its women’s wing, Durga Vahini, is planning to carry out a campaign against beef-eating and “love jihad” across the State. “During Navratri, the Durga Vahini members are going to campaign against ‘love jihad’ in colleges. They will also go to housing localities and tell people not to sell houses to those who eat beef,” VHP general secretary Ranchhod Bharwad told The Hindu on Saturday. Following Indore MLA Usha Thakur’s call for banning Muslims from Garba events, the VHP in Gujarat has gone on the offensive. “The Navratri is a sacred festival of Hindus. So in Gujarat, we have decided that those who eat beef will not be allowed to enter these events. We have issued a notification regarding this,” Mr. Bharwad said. Asked if the VHP was targeting Muslims and Christians and how they would be able to identify beefeaters, he said, “Hindus will automatically know it. Why there are some Hindus also who eat beef. You understand who is who.” In Godhra in Panchmahal district, Bharuch and Vadodara, the VHP has sent out strong messages, the police said. About two weeks ago, unverified leaflets bearing the organisation’s name were distributed in Vadodara, which warned people to be wary of well-dressed Muslim men. “The whole thing started at the behest of the Indore MLA. They are basically saying that Muslims can come with their families, but single Muslim men will not be allowed. Nothing has formally come to the police. We are communicating with the people and the Garba and peace committees. We are also taking precautions,” a police officer, who did not wish to be named, told The Hindu. In Narmada district, the VHP sent a letter to the police “regarding the Navratri festival,” which begins on September 25, Manoharsinh Jadeja, Deputy Superintendent of Police, said. Assuring that no untoward incident would take place, a State Intelligence Department source said, “As of now, there is nothing. Whatever reports have come, we have conveyed to the government.” (The Hindu 21/9/14)

 

84. RSS rewrites history: Dalits ‘created’ by invaders (26)

New Delhi: In its renewed impetus to woo Dalits, various other castes and sub-castes, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) has embarked on an ambitious exercise to re-write history. Emboldened by the BJP’s success in the Lok Sabha elections, the RSS has intensified its efforts to find and validate a common Hindu thread to unify all groups under one Hindu identity. Three top RSS leaders have sought to attribute the genesis of Dalits, tribals and many other groups to “Muslim invasion” in medieval times. They articulated these views in their forewords to three books, authored by BJP spokesman Vijay Sonkar Shastri and released by RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat recently — “Hindu Charmakar Jati”, “Hindu Khatik Jati” and “Hindu Valmiki Jati”. The Sangh leaders claimed that these castes had come into existence due to atrocities by foreign invaders and did not exist in Hindu religion earlier. According to Bhaiyyaji Joshi, No.2 in RSS hierarchy, ‘shudras’ were never untouchables in Hindu scriptures. ‘Islamic atrocities’ during the medieval age resulted in the emergence of untouchables, Dalits and Indian Muslims. Joshi further elaborated, “To violate Hindu swabhiman (dignity) of Chanwarvanshiya Kshatriyas, foreign invaders from Arab, Muslim rulers and beef-eaters, forced them to do abominable works like killing cows, skinning them and throwing their carcasses in deserted places. Foreign invaders thus created a caste of charma-karma (dealing with skin) by giving such works as punishment to proud Hindu prisoners.” Another top RSS functionary, Suresh Soni, echoed the same: “Dalits had their genesis during Turks, Muslims and Mughal eras. Today’s castes like Valmikis, Sudarshan, Majhabi Sikhs and their 624 sub-castes came into being as a result of atrocities against Brahmins and Kshatriyas during Medieval or Islamic age,” he wrote. Krishna Gopal, Sah-sarkaryavah, RSS, went on to bolster the Sangh’s new found agenda saying, “In pre-historic and Vedic age, Khatik castes have been recognized as Brahmins who affected sacrifices. It may be noted that before the advent of Muslim invaders, there is no reference to rearing pigs in India.The RSS has been focusing on research in this area of late. One of its affiliated organisations had recently organised a conclave of over 100 historians to discuss historiography and changes required to give a proper perspective. An overarching Hindu identity beyond any castes or sub-castes is an objective that the RSS has been striving for decades, despite being projected as an upper caste outfit. The BJP itself, under the stewardship of Narendra Modi and Amit Shah, has been actively reaching out to Dalits and OBCs. The Sangh’s latest move looks set to re-ignite a debate on history and historians. (Hindustan Times 22/9/14)

 

85. Hate speech: Clean chit to Bhagwat, Togadia, Azam (26)

NEW DELHI: Delhi Police on Wednesday gave a clean chit to RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat, VHP leader Praveen Togadia and SP leader Azam Khan for allegedly making “hate speeches” saying “no cognizable offence” was made out under its jurisdiction as alleged in a plea seeking lodging of an FIR against them. Police made the submissions before Metropolitan Magistrate Snigdha Sarvaria in an action taken report (ATR) saying they have sent the complaint to Mumbai Police on September 17 as the alleged incident had taken place there. “It is submitted that there was no incident mentioned in the complaint which ever happened under the jurisdiction of Tilak Marg Police Station. The entire incident took place in Mumbai. So the complaint was sent to Mumbai on September 17.No cognizable offence (is) made out under jurisdiction of Tilak Marg Police Station,” the police said. The court had earlier directed the station house officer of Tilak Marg Police Station to file an ATR on a plea filed by Kamran Siddique who had alleged that “Bhagwat, Togadia and Khan willingly and deliberately with intention to disturb peace in India tried to distort the communal harmony while promoting enmity between different groups on the ground of religion and region”. The court has fixed the matter for hearing on October 7. The complainant has sought registration of FIR against Bhagwat, Togadia and Samajwadi Party leader Azam Khan alleging that police have not taken any action against them till date. In his plea, the complainant alleged that Bhagwat had, while speaking at a public function in Mumbai on August 17, termed India as a “Hindu Rashtra” and Togadia, who was also there, had “insisted to get Ram Mandir at the disputed site (Ayodhya)”. Reacting to their statements, Khan had allegedly asked Bhagwat regarding the “Map of Hindu Rashtra”, the complainant had claimed. “It is, therefore, prayed that this court may be pleased to call the report of the SHO and the IO of police and direct them to take legal action against the aforesaid accused persons in the interest of justice,” the complainant said in his plea. (Times of India 25/9/14)

 

86. RSS discovers a new Hindu icon: Hemu, who fought Akbar (26)

After Maharana Pratap and Chhatrapati Shivaji, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh has found a new Hindu icon among medieval Indian royalty: Hemu, the vanquished combatant in the Second Battle of Panipat, whose defeat ended the shortlived rule of a Hindu king over Delhi, and led to the resurrection of Mughal power in India. The Akhil Bharatiya Itihaas Sankalan Yojana (ABISY), the history wing of the RSS, will next month pay tributes to  “Maharaja Hemchandra Vikramaditya”, the “Great Warrior of India”, and “the last Hindu Emperor of Delhi”. The ceremony, at Delhi’s National Museum on October 5, will be presided over by the Union Minister of Culture, Shripad Yesso Naik. BJP leader Subramanian Swamy will be the chief guest. Among the speakers will be Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) joint general secretary Vinayak Deshpande. Hemu, a brilliant military commander for the Afghan successors of Sher Shah Suri had, after a trail of successful campaigns against both Afghan rebels and the Mughals, declared himself emperor of Delhi in October 1556 — the first Hindu king to control the city since the establishment of the Delhi Sultanate at the beginning of the 13th century. Barely a month later, on November 5, 1556, Hemu met the Mughal army led by the generals of the then 14-year-old Akbar at the battlefield of Panipat. He led from the front, and was said to have been on the verge of victory, when a freak arrow struck him in the eye, knocking him off his battle elephant, and triggering panic among his troops. The battle changed course dramatically after that, and a general massacre of Hemu’s army followed. The injured Hemu himself was captured and beheaded by Bairam Khan, Akbar’s guardian, paving the way for re-establishment of Mughal rule in Delhi, which lasted for another 300 years before it was ended by the British. The invitation card for the October 5 ceremony describes the event as “A Forgotten Hindu Emperor Maharaja Hemchandra Vikramaditya: A Tribute”. B M Pande, organising secretary of ABISY, who will speak at the event, told The Sunday Express, “We are always in favour of recognising and remembering our forgotten, real heroes who were deliberately ignored by the biased historians of the Mughal and British era.” Shivaji and Pratap, who resisted the Mughals, are already huge icons for the RSS. June 6, Shivaji’s Coronation Day, is among the five festivals the RSS celebrates officially every year (the others being Guru Purnima, Raksha Bandhan, Makar Sankranti and Varsh Pratipada)… (Indian Express 28/9/14)

 

TERRORISM

87. NIA files supplementary chargesheet against 20 IM operatives (12)

New Delhi: National Investigation Agency (NIA) Monday filed a supplementary chargesheet against 20 alleged operatives of banned terror group Indian Mujahideen (IM), including Haidar Ali alias “Black beauty”, for waging war against the country. In the supplementary charge sheet filed in the special NIA court, 17 absconding accused including Riyaz and Iqbal Bhatkal and Amir Reza Khan have been charged for executing terrorist acts like bomb blasts at various places across the country. In the charge sheet, the NIA has cited prosecutable evidence indicating the involvement of the accused persons which includes recovered e-mails and chat logs, extracts of DNA recovered from hide outs, record of financial transactions across international boundaries in addition to oral testimony of witnesses. This is the second supplementary charge sheet filed by NIA in the case which was registered by the agency in 2012 to probe the activities or IM along with its ‘sleeper cells’ based in the country and abroad. The NIA was tasked to unravel and prevent conspiracy hatched by the terror group for targeting various important and prominent places of India including Delhi by triggering bomb blasts, with the active aid and support from their Pakistan-based operatives and associates. A total of 29 operatives of the Indian Mujahideen have been charge sheeted so far by the NIA during it probe of the case. Today’s charge sheet named Tahseen Akhtar alias Monu, Zia Ur Rehman alias Waqas, a Pakistani national, besides Ali. Dreaded terrorists like Riyaz Ahmed Shah alias Riyaz Bhatkal, Mohammed Iqbal alias Iqbal Bhatkal, who hail from Bhatkal area of Karnataka and Amir Reza Khan of Kolkata and Mohsin Chowdhry of Pune, who were among the first to have started IM, have been named in the charge sheet. Azamgargh module of Indian Mujahideen which included Ariz Khan, Mohd. Sajid, Shahnawaz Alam, Mirza Shadab Beg, Mohd Khalid, Abu Rashid and Mohammed Rashid have also been named. Others accused include Mohammed Saleem Ishaqui, Afif Jailani, Abdul Khadir Sultan, Mohammed Shafi, Mohammed Hussain Farhan and Anwar Husain (all from Bhatkal area of Karnataka). (Zee News 22/9/14)

 

88. ‘Disturbing trend of Indian militants admiring IS/Qaeda’ (12)

New Delhi: Delhi Police have discovered what they describe as a “disturbing trend” of Indian militants professing admiration for international terror groups like the Islamic State (IS) and Al Qaeda. These indoctrinated militants seek to motivate vulnerable Muslim youth and lure them by showing videos of killings by international terror groups. “We’ve noticed a disturbing trend after interrogating some terrorists we have recently captured. They’re otherwise tough nuts to crack but profuse in their praise of groups like ISIS and Al Qaeda,” a senior police officer told IANS on condition of anonymity as he is not authorised to speak to the media. In the last one year, Delhi Police have arrested at least six suspected terrorists, including what they claimed as the “big catch” Yasin Bhatkal, one of the founder members of the Indian Mujahideen, though none of them have been been found to be directly in touch with IS or Al Qaeda. “Terrorists like Bhatkal and Ajaz Sheikh are very hard to crack. They break down over time and say they would want to launch attacks like ISIS and Al Qaeda,” the officer said. “They exude pride as though they were associated with such groups,” said the officer. Bhatkal, a native of Karnataka was arrested last Aug 28 from the India-Nepal border near Motihari in Bihar. He was trained in Pakistan in 2006 to launch terrorbombings in Indian cities. Ajaz Sheikh was arrested from Uttar Pradesh’s Saharanpur district earlier this month. Sheikh, a cyber expert, told interrogators that the other operators of IM want logistical and financial support from the IS and Al Qaeda. He is in the custody of Delhi Police. Bhatkal is described as a motivator, recruiter, expert bomb-maker and mastermind of a series of bombings in cities like Mumbai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Ahmedabad, Pune and Jaipur since 2007. He is currently lodged in Delhi’s Tihar jail. “These Indian terrorists believe that the jihadists in top terror groups are going on the right track for expanding the message of jihad and they too wanted to follow them,” another officer, who interrogated Bhatkal, told IANS. “These terrorists motivate Indian Muslim youth and also lure them by showing videos of killings by international terror groups,” said the officer. The IM, believed to be a byproduct of the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), is banned by the Indian government. SIMI was formed in Aligarh in 1977 and had thousands of members and offices in almost every district of Madhya Pradesh before it was banned in 2002. The group is said to believe in fundamentalist Islam and to spread its values. In 2007, the Supreme Court of India described SIMI as a “secessionist movement”. (Deccan Herald 23/9/14)

 

89. Indian Mujahideen wants to make India like Iraq, Syria: NIA (12)

New Delhi: The Indian Mujahideen wanted to make India like war-torn Iraq and Syria by carrying out regular terrorist activities in the country, according to charge sheet filed against top suspected operatives by the NIA. The National Investigation Agency (NIA) said top IM operative Mohammad Shafi Armar alias Shafi alias Atta Bhatkal, who is on run, has travelled to Afghanistan and Syria and worked with the Al Qaeda. He was in regular contact with top IM men like Riyaz, Iqbal and Yasin Bhatkal. “During a chat, the accused Armar stated that he desired that India should become like Iraq and Syria (where terrorist activities were continuously going on and large scale violence was also taking place),” the NIA said in the charge sheet against Tehsin Akhtar, Waqas, Haidar Ali alias Abdullah and 17 other absconding accused including IM founder Riyaz Bhatkal, Iqbal Bhatkal, Mirza Shahid Beg and Armar. A court Thursday took cognisance of the charge sheet filed Monday. It was the third charge sheet filed in the case, registered on Sep 10, 2012 against members of IM for carrying out terrorist activities and conspiracy to wage war against the country. Tehsin was arrested March 25 near the India-Nepal border in West Bengal while Waqas was arrested outside the Ajmer railway station March 22. Haidar was arrested July 2. In February, the NIA has charge sheeted IM co-founder Yasin Bhatkal and three others, and in July 2013, five more IM cadre – Mohammad Danish Ansari, Mohammad Aftab Alam, Imran Khan, Syed Maqbool and Obaid-ur-Rehman. They are booked under various provisions of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and the Indian Penal Code for conspiracy to commit offences against the state. (Zee News 26/9/14)

 

90. ISIS on mind, India sends IB chief to Saudi Arabia (12)

New Delhi: With an aim to forge a common front against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) and al Qaeda terrorist groups, India on Sunday has despatched Syed Asif Ibrahim, director, Intelligence Bureau, for a week-long trip to Saudi Arabia to discuss radicalisation of Muslim youth over the internet. Ibrahim, whose tenure led to a crackdown and subsequent decimation of the Indian Mujahideen (IM) group with the arrest of co-founder Yasin Bhatkal in August 2013, is currently under threat from a Pakistan-based IM splinter group Ansar-ul-Tauhid for taking the Indian fight to the Islamic jihadists. He was threatened and called names by Tauhid-run Al Isabah website on the 6th anniversary of Batla House encounter on September 18, 2014. The website was disabled that very day. Top government sources said that during his trip, Ibrahim will be interacting with Saudi intelligence agency heads as well as the interior minister of the Kingdom to discuss ways to prevent Sunni youth from joining the so-called Caliphate of Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi of ISIS. Under pressure from the global community, the Saudis this time are keeping a close watch on the Haj pilgrims to prevent the radicalisation in the name of religion. It is understood that central message from Mecca on Eid will be against terrorism. While joining the coalition in the fight against ISIS, Saudi Arabia has assured India that it will not allow any Haj pilgrim to stray into Syria or Iraq and a close vigil will be maintained on the borders. Although MK Narayanan, national security advisor to the then PM Manmohan Singh, this month has revealed a figure of 150 Indians fighting with ISIS, the internal estimates of the Union home ministry still stand at 22 youth from Telangana, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra (Hindustan Times 29/9/14)

 

NAXALS/ MAOISTS

91. CRPF has curbed recruitment of naxals in region, says IGP (12)

COIMBATORE: Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) has effectively stopped Maoists from recruiting naxals from villages, said CRPF inspector general of police (southern state), Mandava Vishnuvardhana Rao. The CRPF would also provide medical aid to personnel injured during attacks, he added. He was speaking at the CRPF training college at Kurudampalayam near Coimbatore, where he witnessed the passing out parade of 166 sub-inspectors. The para military agency has managed to gather information about 80 % of the Maoists and has been taking efforts to curb supply of weapons to them, he said. “Maoist movements have been controlled in various states by the CRPF. There is no fresh recruitment from tribal villages and naxalism will end soon,” said Rao. Violence is not a solution to any problem and the CRPF is against killing of Maoists. “Our job is to ensure they change their ideologies and integrate with mainstream society,” he said. “Maoists have not succeeded in passing on their ideas to the new generation. Their numbers are dwindling. The police and security forces have succeeded on several occasions in making them surrender using a multi-pronged approach,” said Rao. “The CRPF is willing to provide medical aid to injured Maoists. They should refrain from getting treatment from quacks,” he said. “We have provided the National Investigation Agency (NIA) with ample information to track and curb Maoist movements and identify where and how they are procuring their weapons,” said Rao. CRPF personnel conducted a demo to control the mob during protests by using mild lathi charge and weapons. Later, a group of CRPF personnel showcased their karate skills for the audience. (Times of India 20/9/14)

 

92. Maoist camp busted; laptops, printers seized (12)

Raipur: In a major success, a joint team of Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) and District Force (DF) busted a Maoist camp and seized laptops, printer and other electronic gadgets in the insurgency-hit Rajnandgaon district. The encounter took place in the dense jungles of Katema about 90 km from district headquarters. Rajnandgaon, Superintendent of Police Dr Sanjeev Shukla told The Pioneer on Sunday. The spot where the forces conducted the raid is located in a thick vegetated hilly track near the borders of Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh, he said. We had intelligence inputs that insurgents had set up a camp in jungles of Katema in the Kanghurra region of the district. Accordingly, a joint team of ITBP and DF was immediately mobilised towards the spot, the SP said. After reaching the jungles of Katema, the joint team and insurgents had a fierce gun battle following which the insurgents fled away leaving behind computers, laptop (i-5 generation), mouse, backpacks, torches, cords, medicines and other items, SP said. Blood stains were spotted at the encounter site which suggests few insurgents would have sustained serious injuries, SP said. (Pioneer 22/9/14)

 

93. Top Maoist arrested in Bihar (12)

Patna: In a major catch a top Maoist, involved in several naxal-related incidents in Bihar, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh, was Tuesday arrested along with three accomplices, police said. Shambhuji alias Sunil Kumar alias Lambuji, member of Special area committee of the banned outfit in Bihar, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh, was arrested from Gandhi Maidan police station area here, a press release from the office of Senior Superintendent of Police Manu Maharaj said. Acting on a tip off, the city police netted him with three aides when he had come here to collect levy money, the release added. The three others arrested were Sanjay Kumar, Sunil Singh and Lakshaman Yadav. ‘Shambhu ji’ was involved in brutal massacre of 16 members of TPC (Third Presentation Committee) in Jharkhand on August 8 this year, the release said. Several cases of loot, murder and extortion have been listed against him in the three states. A total of 25 detonators, 3 Chinese make radio sets, medicines to make someone unconscious besides Rs 25,000 were recovered from him, it said.  (Zee News 23/9/14)

 

94. Battling Maoists: Home ministry clears proposal to buy motorcycles for BSF, CRPF (12)

NEW DELHI: Home minister Rajnath Singh’s two-kilometre long motorcycle ride through the hotbed of Maoist insurgency in Jharkhand’s Saranda forests on Tuesday signified more than just a photo op. The ministry is in the process of clearing a proposal from paramilitary forces CRPF and BSF to buy over 5,000 motorcycles for its troops battling Maoists as twowheelers have emerged as the “safest” mode of transport for troops in the region, given the use of landmines by ultras to target cops. BSF last week sent a proposal to the home ministry, seeking 10 new motorcycles for each of its companies posted in Maoist-infested areas, a ministry official said. (Economic Times 25/9/14)

 

95. Two naxals surrender in Chhattisgarh (12)

Raipur: Two naxals carrying a reward of Rs 10,000 each on their head surrendered in Narayanpur district of Chhattisgarh on Saturday, police said. Naxal Sukhdas (40) and Keshu (40) laid down their arms at the district headquarters. Both the outlaws had joined the naxal movement in 2008 and used to work for their area commanders. Later in 2010, Sukhdas was promoted as the head of Sonpur Dandkaranya Kisan Mazdoor Sanghatan while Keshu was made the Sonpur Militia Commander. Both are involved in several cases including those of murder and Maoist attacks on security personnel in Chhattisgarh. Disillusioned with the naxal ideology and treatment met out to them by Andhra Maoist leaders, the duo decided to surrender, police said, adding that the two will be facilitated into the mainstream soon.   (Zee news 27/9/14)

 

TRAFFICKING

96. Trafficking of women:CBI arrests four more in Kochi (1)

Kochi: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) arrested four more persons in connection with the trafficking of women from Kerala to Gulf countries through Nedumbassery and Thiruvananthapuram airports. The agency arrested Manesh A.P., 33, Kodungalloor; P.K. Kabeer, 52, of Chavakkad who was living at Angamaly; Sudharman, 57, of Vellayambalam, Thiruvananthapuram, and Anilkumar V., of Vattappara, from the Kochi office of the CBI on Wednesday night. They allegedly conspired with other accused Lissy Sojan, Sethulal, and Suresh K.V. to trick women from poor backgrounds into going to the Gulf and forcing them to work in brothels there. Manesh was allegedly an accomplice of Lissy Sojan and others in running the brothels in Ajman and other places. He allegedly received customers, collected money from them, and helped confine the women. He was first detained by the Ajman police in an operation launched to rescue some of the trafficked women from the brothel. Anilkumar was allegedly an agent for Suresh, suspected to be the kingpin of the racket. The CBI said that he recruited women to the brothels and facilitated their transport. Kabeer allegedly assisted Anilkumar in running the brothels. Sudharman, who was living in a rented flat near the airport at Nedumbassery, allegedly assisted the trafficking operation. A CBI report said that he had raped a woman who had fallen into the racket at his flat before sending her abroad. The accused were summoned to the CBI office by the Thiruvananthapuram unit of the agency, who are investigating the case. They were produced before the Ernakulam Chief Judicial Magistrate Court on Thursday. The court granted the CBI custody of the accused till Monday after the agency submitted that it wished to question the accused for vital information regarding the role of other accused. The case related to the incident in which a woman from Kattappana was trafficked to Ajman after she was promised a job as a maid in Dubai. The other accused in the case are Bindu, Lissy Sojan, Sethulal, Siraj, Suresh K.V., T.A. Rafeeque, and M. Ramesh. (The Hindu 20/9/14)

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