Posted by admin at 31 July 2015

Category: Uncategorized

DALITS/SCHEDULED CASTES

1. SC Christians Allege Caste Discrimination (2)

COIMBATORE:  Alleging caste discrimination and untouchability by the bishop, dioceses, churches and Christian institutions, a group of people belonging to the Scheduled Caste Christian community staged a protest at St Michael’s Cathedral in Coimbatore, where 21 Bishops from 18 Dioceses were participating in the council meeting on Sunday. They also alleged that Bishop Jebamalai Susaimanickam deliberately blocked Michael Raj from being appointed as deacon, thus blocking his chances of becoming a priest. The deacon is the position below the priest. The protesters demanded that Michael Raj be appointed as priest of the Sivagangai constituency. They also alleged that, even though the scheduled caste Christian community constitutes 75 per cent of the total Christian population, they have been discriminated against and have not been allowed to participate in the decision making process in the church and dioceses. “Michael Raj underwent training at a seminary for 12 years and was on the verge of being appointed deacon, which will make him eligible to become a priest soon. It would have been a proud moment for us, but he was sacked from the seminary without any reason,” said PJ Xavier, one of the protestors. Explaining the developments that led to his ouster, Michael Raj told Express, “There was a function at the seminary in Tiruchy to welcome the novices. The very next day, six mikes that were used for the function went missing. Later, the mikes were found in a well inside the seminary. I and five others were blamed for it and all six persons were sacked from the seminary. A few days later the culprits confessed and the authorities were forced to take back all the six.” However, Michael Raj was asked to go abroad to practice as a priest and the other five were appointed as priests elsewhere, said Michael Raj. He raised the question that if he could be a priest abroad, why shouldn’t he get the opportunity here. “The dioceses and Bishop always discriminate us and it is the reason why 13 people who finished their training in various seminaries have not become priests,” he added. Staff from the Bishop’s office told Express that there was no logic behind the allegations. They said the Bishop would convene a press conference on Wednesday to clear all concerns. (New Indian Express 13/7/15)

2. Dalit beaten for walking on land owned by upper caste (2)

COIMBATORE: In a shocking incident that smacks of the level of inequality that exists in our society, a 40-year-old dalit was bound to an iron pole and severely thrashed by non-dalits for walking through an agricultural land owned by the latter, near Udumalpet in Tirupur district. The arms of A Palani, of Chinna Bommansalai in Udumalpet, was tied behind his back and his legs were bound by the trousers he wore. He was then tied to a pole and beaten until he fell unconscious. Palani has been admitted to hospital. The incident that happened four days ago has come to light after human rights activists took up the issue. Police have registered cases against two men, but have not arrested them yet. The attack happened on July 9 at about 5.30 pm when Palani walked through the agricultural land belonging to Thirumalaisamy, a non-dalit, as it was a short cut to reach the next street. “As soon as Thirumalaisamy spotted me, he was furious and started threatening me. Though all villagers use the short cut through his land, Thirumalaisamy asked, how can a dalit walk on his land,” Palani told TOI over phone from the hospital bed. “I retorted saying that the land will not be spoilt if a dalit walks on it. Immediately, Thirumalaisamy and his son Senthilkumar started beating me. They tied my hands behind and bound me to an iron pole. They then started attacking me with wooden logs. I have cut injuries on my head and my teeth are also broken,” Palani alleged. The duo assaulted Palani until he fell unconscious 30 minutes later. Thirumalaisamy then called an ambulance to send him to hospital. His wife P Lakshmi was allegedly driven away when she rushed there and questioned the non-dalits. Meanwhile, a police team from Thali reached the spot and arranged for Palani to be admitted to the Udumalpet Government Hospital. “We have registered cases against Thirumalaisamy and Senthilkumar under SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act 1989. But the two are on the run. We have formed special teams to nab them,” deputy superintendent of police A Kanageswari, Udumalpet sub-division, Tirupur district. “The non-dalits levelled allegations that Palani entered the land to steal a rooster. But we have found out that allegation is false,” she said. There are about 100 dalit and 1,300 non-dalit families in Chinna Bommansalai. “Dalits are not treated as equals, but never in the past was a dalit beaten up so badly,” said S Rangasamy, an Arunthathiyar Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam functionary, who has planned to stage a protest against the attack on July 17. In a similar incident that happened in Coimbatore on July 12, K Rajeswari (38), a dalit woman from Anna Nagar near Perur was beaten up for entering the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Department’s land taken on lease by a non-dalit. Two men have been arrested and search is on for two more. M Thangavel, co-ordinator of Vizhuthugal, an NGO said discrimination against dalits continues in several villages in Coimbatore and Tiruppur districts.  (Times of India 14/7/15)

3. Dalit youth shot dead in Sarfabad near Noida (2)

NOIDA: Tension erupted in Sarfabad near Sector 73 after a 22-year-old Dalit youth was allegedly shot dead by his neighbours after he responded to their casteist remarks. An FIR has been registered. The three accused are on the run. A senior police officer said the shooting took place around 1am on Wednesday when the deceased, identified as Sohit Jatav, was sleeping on the roof of his rented house in Sarfabad. Sources said Sohit used to work with a private firm and was living in the house for the past 2-3 years. The accused, brothers Munish, Kale and Umesh Yadav, were making noise when Sohit asked them to lower their volumes. In response, they started abusing him and passed some casteist remarks, which angered Sohit. The argument escalated and Kale brought a country-made pistol from his home downstairs. Before Sohit could see the pistol, Kale shot him in the chest from a close range, killing him immediately. On hearing the ruckus, a few neighbours called police but the accused had fled. The neighbours said the accused used to bully Sohit and had passed castiest remarks several times before. A case of murder has been registered against the trio with Phase 3 police station. “An FIR was lodged on the complaint of Sohit’s brother Suraj. The body has been sent for autopsy,” said Arvind Yadav, circle officer III, Gautam Budh Nagar. (Times of India 16/7/15)

4. Dalit families forced off land in Telangana (2)

PATHAPALLY (MAHABUBNAGAR DISTRICT): Trouble for the 45 Madiga families in the small village of Pathapally, about 170 kms from Hyderabad, began on May Day this year, when Raghuram, a conductor with the Telangana Road Transport Corporation, got married in the “Madiga-Wada’ (SC locality) and wanted to enter the village temple. The wedding party was initially stopped but on assurance from the sitting MLA, G. Chinna Reddy, they managed to enter and have ‘darshan’. But on May 4 the temple was locked like it had been for years. When the villagers lodged a complaint with the district administration, the Mandal Revenue Officer and Sub-Inspector of Police visited the village and sorted out the issue. However, even as the officers were leaving the village, the temple was locked again, allegedly by members of the dominant Boya community. Since then the tiny scheduled caste community has faced unprecedented persecution. Around the second week of May, the families were driven out of land that was allotted to them by the government. Members of the Boya community then proceeded to bury their dead in this land to ensure that the displaced families cannot return. They have been denied water from the 40,000-litre capacity overhead service reservoir (OHSR) and are constantly abused, taunted, threatened and even physically assaulted. Though the Madiga members have documents to prove their ownership of the land, the district administration, under the Revenue Divisional Officer and Deputy Superintendent of Police, termed them encroachers and pulled down their huts and a shop. The ‘Kula Nirmoolana Porata Samithi’ (Struggle Committee for Caste Annihilation) has taken up the issue and organised protests since June 23 at Mahabubnagar and Pebbair. On Sunday, the hunger strike at Pebbair was visited by social activist Anand Teltumbde, grandson of B.R. Ambedkar. After interacting with the ousted families in the village, Mr. Teltumbde said it was unfortunate that such a situation should arise within 11 months of the birth of Telangana, a State that was achieved after decades of struggle. (The Hindu 20/7/15)

TRIBALS

5. Jharkhand to develop 4,000 tribal-dominated villages in 4 years (6)

JAMSHEDPUR: Jharkhand government will develop 4,000 villages with 80 per cent tribal population in the next four years, chief minister Raghuvar Das said on Saturday. To start with the plan, the state government will identify such villages and will develop 1,000 villages every year from August 15, Das told PTI. These villages will be developed under Anusuchit Janjati Gramin Vikas Yojana (Schedule Tribe Rural Development) Scheme, he said adding that while 1,000 tribal-dominated villages will be taken up this fiscal year, total 4,000 such villages will be covered in next four year time. The gram panchayat committees will be given the responsibility to achieve the target and involve women self-help groups (SHG) for the purpose, he said. The government will allot Rs 2 lakh to the SHG, he said. The educated youth of these villages will also be given Rs 2 lakh each and trained under ‘Schedule Tribe Welfare Fund’ scheme for self-employment. The state government also has plans to impart skill development course in the school curriculum from next year to promote self-employment, he said. “We have abundance of mineral and human resources and have potential to become one of the developed state of the country in next ten years time”, the chief minister claimed. Referring to his two-day visit to Chotanagra, in the mid of naxal stronghold Saranda forest last month, Das said a huge crowd of tribals gathered on the occasion demanding for basic amenities such as water, electricity, road, education, health etc. The government was committed to improve the infrastructure in these rural pockets, he said. (Times of India 11/7/15)

6. Demand for charter of tribal rights (6)

Shillong, July 12: An indigenous group today pitched for an “inclusive amendment” of the Sixth Schedule while demanding a “charter of tribal rights” for the Khasi, Jaintia and Garo populace. The Union ministry of home affairs had brought out a draft bill proposing an amendment to Article 280 of the Constitution for augmenting the consolidated fund of Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram to supplement the resources of the autonomous district councils. The draft bill also seeks to amend the Sixth Schedule for implementation of memorandum of settlement (MoS) signed with various groups in Assam and Meghalaya and other measures to ensure democracy at the grassroots in the autonomous councils. Congratulating the chiefs of the autonomous district councils of the Northeast for forming the Forum of Councils under the Sixth Schedule (FOCUSS), the Movement for Indigenous Peoples’ Rights and Livelihood-Meghalaya (MIPRL) said the indigenous people of the region require a definite statement on the protection guaranteed to them by the Constitution. “This (formation of FOCUSS) has come at a time when the tribals of the Northeast need to have a definite statement of the protection guaranteed by the Constitution and especially the provisions of the 5th and 6thSchedule,” MIPRL spokesperson Erwin K. Syiem Sutnga said. He said while the Sixth Schedule has been strengthened to enlarge the rights of other tribes, Meghalaya, the birthplace of the SixthSchedule, has seen the “whittling down of the powers of the autonomous district councils”.”In Meghalaya, the councils are the repositories and custodian of tribal rights being tribal institutions while the Meghalaya government is a non-tribal institution having to work under the mandate of the SeventhSchedule since the state government does not have the empowerment of Article 371 A (a) and Article 371 (G) as in the case of Nagaland and Mizoram, which are constitutionally recognised as tribal states,” Sutnga said. Therefore, he said there was a need to define tribal rights within the Sixth Schedule. “In these times when insurgency and anti-India forces are resurgent andare trying to destabilise the Northeast, a positive reassurance by way of an inclusive amendment of the Sixth Schedule will go a long way to unify this region with the rest of India.” The special report on good governance in the Fifth and Sixth Scheduled Areas submitted by the National Commission on Scheduled Tribes (NCST) in 2012, he said has “strongly recommended” a Charter of Tribal Rights to be incorporated into the Fifthand SixthSchedules. “The Congress-led UPA government took no steps on the report which if implemented would go a long way in ensuring tribal identity and rights in India,” he added. In the spirit of the said report, the MIPRL demanded a Charter of Tribal Rights of the Khasi, Jaintia and Garo tribes to be incorporated into Para 12A of the SixthSchedule among other safeguards, modifications and adaptations as required.He said the MIPRL has already framed a 10-point Charter of Tribal Rights, which recognises the matrilineal system, right over surface and sub-surface land, minerals, water, forests, culture, traditional institutions and other inalienable rights. The MIPRL sought the support of the public, organisations and traditional institutions to work out a comprehensive amendment of the SixthSchedule, which will “incorporate the broken pro-mises of the Annexed Agreement to the Instrument of Accession as well as reflect our place in the modern world”. (The Telegraph 13/7/15)

7. Six hacked to death on witchcraft suspicions in Odisha village (6)

Bhubaneswar: Six members of a tribal family were reportedly killed by villagers inside their house at Munda Sahi village in Joda area of Odisha’s Keonjhar district, allegedly on suspicions of witchcraft. Two other family members who were injured in the attack are currently receiving treatment at a district hospital. As per reports, a massive manhunt has been launched to arrest the villagers who have fled fearing police action. (New Kerala 14/7/15)

8. Maoists warn 30 tribals on bauxite mining (6)

VISAKHAPATNAM: Thirty Girijans from eight villages in Visakha Agency where the government is proposing to take up bauxite mining, have been warned by the CPI (Maoist)’s east division committee to come out of the bauxite rehabilitation committees and support the local people’s struggle against bauxite mining. They and their families would face boycott or physical action if they failed to surrender to the people and avoid promoting bauxite mining, secretary of the east division committee Kailasam said in a press release sent to reporters in Agency area. The statement has names of 30 Girijans on it and alleged that they had fallen to the government’s plan to divide the Girijans to facilitate bauxite mining in an easy way. Apart from the 30 persons named in the list some others are working secretly but all have been warned in the past through Praja courts, posters, banners and paper statements. In Jerrela alone Praja court was held three times but they failed to change their stand. They cannot bring disaster to their own people just for the sake of receiving a salary of Rs. 14,000 a month, Kailsam said and warned the government that would be held responsible for any action taken against the people the party had listed or those working secretly. (The Hindu 16/7/15)

9. Tribal people get freedom from clutches of private moneylenders (6)

SRIKAKULAM: Many tribal people broke free from the clutches of moneylenders with the Union government’s initiative for providing loan facility by opening accounts under Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY). It was observed that many local lenders used to fleece tribal people by taking exorbitant interest. Many locals have been thrown into a debt trap with the non-availability of soft loans from banks all these years. However, the scenario changed in many villages of Burja, Palakonda, Sithampet and other places. People living in most backward areas of Srikakulam district are able to get banking services with the constant awareness programmes being conducted by the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (Nabard) in association with various non-governmental organisations. Several banks which don’t have branches in remote tribal areas are opening the accounts on the spot as part of the financial inclusion programme. Small loans up to Rs. 5,000 are being sanctioned for the customers who make transactions regularly. Nabard District Development Manager M.D. Vasudevan, Non-governmental organisation, ARTS, director Nuka Sanyasi Rao and others have been visiting various villages for the promotion of Union government’s flagship programmes such as PMJDY, Atal Pension Yojana, Jeevan Jyothi Bhima Yojana and Suraksha Bhima Yojana. “PMJDY provides overdraft, insurance and other facilities. It is really a boon for the tribal people who don’t need to depend on money lenders hereafter,” said Mr. Vasudevan. Mr. Sanyasi Rao said that the Union government’s other schemes Jeevan Jyothi Bhima Yojana, Suraksha Bhima Yojana and Atal Pension Yojana were also being highlighted with the support of the Nabard’s Chaitanya Ratham. (The Hindu 19/7/15)

WOMEN

10. Woman beaten, throttle to death by in-laws over dowry in UP (8)

Faridabad: A 23-year-old woman was allegedly beaten and throttled to death by her in-laws over dowry, police said on Saturday. The father of the victim, Hari Chand, registered a complaint against husband Hansraj, his parents and uncle-in-law Hemchand, police said. The victim identified as Pooja was beaten and throttled to death by her in-laws after which her body was hung from the ceiling by the accused to prove it as a case of suicide, the complaint added. According to the complaint, the victim along with her elder sister were married in the same family and physically and mentally harassed for dowry by their in-laws. It was informed on Friday to their father that Pooja had died and the body was kept in a mortuary of a government-run hospital in Faridabad, the complainant said, adding it raised suspicion. The police have sent the viscera of the victim for analysis and the reason of death would be known only after the report is received, said the investigating officer ASI Satveer Singh. A case has been registered at Sector-55 Faridabad Police Station under section 498A and 304B of IPC. (The Hindu 11/7/15)

11. Delhi cop arrested for raping domestic help (8)

New Delhi: A 50-year-old assistant sub-inspector (ASI) with the Delhi Police has been arrested for reportedly raping a domestic help at gunpoint in north-west Delhi’s Rani Bagh. ASI Jayveer Singh, posted with the Punjabi Bagh police station in west Delhi, was dismissed from the force on Saturday and sent to 14 days’ judicial custody. The 23-year-old victim works in Jayveer’s friend’s house. He reportedly raped her in an inebriated condition late on Thursday. Following the incident, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) on Saturday demanded the resignation of Delhi Police Commissioner Bhim Sain Bassi. CCTV footage has also surfaced showing Jayveer aiming his service pistol at the woman. Sources said the police are trying to verify the footage. The police said the woman had made a call to the police control room on Friday. “A case was filed after her medical examination confirmed sexual assault. Jayveer was arrested on Friday afternoon,” Bassi told mediapersons. An initial probe revealed Jayveer had met the woman’s employer while investigating a case registered under Section 308 (attempt to commit culpable homicide) of the Indian Penal Code with the Punjabi Bagh police station a few months ago. The owner of the house was the accused in the case, and Jayveer was the investigating officer. As Jayveer used to frequently visit the house, he befriended the woman’s employer. On Thursday, Jayveer was invited to a party at the house. Jayveer was drunk and not in a condition to return home. He decided to stay back for the night, upon which the domestic help was told to take him to the guest room.  Jayveer reportedly raped here there. (Deccan herald 12/7/15)

12. 1,585 rape complaints filed in state this Maharashtra (8)

MUMBAI: Between January and May this year, the state police recorded 1,585 complaints of rape, 5,250 cases of molestation and 11 cases of attempts to rape. Also, 2,394 complaints of kidnapping of children were recorded, said CM Devendra Fadnavis in a written reply to the legislative assembly.Around eight lakh investors have lost Rs 10,000 crore in Ponzi schemes across the state since 1999, said minister of state for home Ranjit Patil. Replying to supplementaries during the question hour, Patil said that the government has attached property worth Rs 7,000 crore and has filed 163 cases. Of these, 108 cases are in various fast-track courts. He said the state has so far distributed Rs 93 crore in 41 cases.The BMC has failed to provide water supply to five adivasi hamlets in Aarey Colony as it is yet to obtain a NOC from the Force One and Film City, said the CM in a written reply to a question raised by MLAs Parag Alavani, Ashish Shelar and others. There 27 adivasi hamlets in Aarey and 18 have been provided water.The state government will review the incentive floor space index (FSI) parking lot policy and make changes if required, said Patil while replying to supplementaries on parking lot issues in the legislative assembly during the Question Hour. Patil promised to hold a meeting in a fortnight to decide whether the policy needed to be reworked.  (Times of India 15/7/15)

13. Committee on women wants AFSPA repealed (8)

New Delhi: A high-level committee, constituted by the government to study the status of women to evolve policy interventions, wants the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) repealed, gay sex decriminalised and at least 50 per cent reservation for women at all levels of legislature, right up to Parliament. The High Level Committee on Status of Women was set up by the UPA government in 2013 to do a comprehensive study on the status of women since 1989, and to evolve appropriate policy interventions based on a contemporary assessment of economic, legal, political, education, health and socio-cultural needs of women. The first such committee was set up 42 years ago in 1971 on the request of the United Nations. The present committee submitted an interim report in 2014 and recently submitted its final report to the Ministry of Women and Child Development. In the section dealing with violence against women, the committee headed by Pam Rajput, called for several legislative interventions. Describing AFSPA as an instrument that gives unbridled power to security forces in areas where the Act is imposed, the panel called for repealing it and also recommended that efforts to criminalise same sex relationships should be eliminated. The report emphasises the need to devise mechanisms for dealing with cases of extra judicial killings and arbitrary detention of women by state officials and security forces. Calling for 50 per cent reservation of seats for women in the local bodies, state legislative assemblies, Parliament, cabinet and all decision-making bodies of the government, the committee noted: “Gender parity in governance and political participation is a pre-requisite to the realisation of gender equality. A 33 per cent reservation for women is ensured through Constitutional amendments. In some States it is 50 per cent. However, there is nothing like ‘natural transition’ from the Panchayats to the State Assemblies and the Parliament, where the representation of women continues to be dismal.” The committee in its report also called “India’s missing girls”, the problem of skewed sex ratio due to cultural preferences for sons, a “national shame”. While proposing a gender score card for all those in public life, it also recommended that all elected representatives — MPs, MLAs and members of Panchayati Raj Institutions and Urban Local Bodies — should be accountable for the sex ratio in their respective constituency, district and village, inviting rewards and recognition for progress, and prosecution for negligence, inaction, and complicity. It cited the example of Haryana and Himachal Pradesh governments that recently announced incentives for villages with improved sex ratio. … (Indian Express 17/7/15)

14. Kerala Reports 4,269 Cases of Crime Against Women Till April (8)

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Kerala reported 391 cases of rape and 1,380 complaints of molestation of women till April this year, despite the intense awareness campaigns and strict monitoring against gender exploitation in the state. According to the latest crime statistics by Kerala Police, as many as 4,269 crime cases, including kidnapping, eve-teasing, dowry deaths, cruelty by husbands or in-laws and other offences, besides rape and molestation, have been registered in the state till April 2015. A total of 1,354 cases have been registered in connection with cruelty by husband or in-laws while 108 cases of eve-teasing, 43 cases of kidnapping, two of dowry deaths and 991 cases of other offences were reported during the initial four months of this year, it said. The most number of rape cases were reported in northern district Malappuram–51. Coincidentally, the sexual molestation of a 12-year-old girl with the support of her mother and stepfather in Kottakkal in Malappuram district had triggered an uproar in the state recently. As per the figures, Thiruvananthapuram (rural) and high range Palakkad figure in the second and third positions in the number of rape cases–46 and 32 respectively. While most number of molestation cases were reported in Thiruvananthapuram (rural)-221, the highest number of cases connected to the cruelty by husband/inlawas were registered in Malappuram (199), it said. In 2014, as many as 13,880 crime cases had been reported, which included 1,283 complaints of rape, 4,356 molestations and 4,810 cases of cruelty by husbands/inlaws. The police statistics also said that as many as 238 cases of rape and 43 cases of kidnapping and abduction had been reported against children in the state till this April. (New Indian Express 19/7/15)

CHILDREN/ CHILD LABOUR

15. 91 child labourers rescued in Ganjam (14)

BERHAMPUR: Ganjam police have rescued 91 children working at different places, including hazardous cashew processing units, in the last couple of days. “Raids were conducted on hotels, garages, shops and cashew processing units in the district under Operation Muskan. The rescued children include 80 boys and 11 girls and four among them are from Bihar,” DSP (crime) Subash Acharya said on Sunday. They are in the age group of 12 to 17, he added. The DSP said 13 children were found working in cashew processing units at Sorada (7) and Khallikote (6). Eleven among them are girls. Cashew processing unit is categorized as hazardous under Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act 1986. “Two separate cases have been registered against owners of these units. We are investigating the circumstances under which these children were employed in these units and whether were they kept as bonded labourers.” he said. The rescued children are under the custody of Childline, an NGO. “They will be produced before the district child welfare committee (CWC) and later handed over to their parents,” the DSP added. In the last one month, a squad of the district-level monitoring committee rescued 22 children, 20 of them from Bihar, from sugarcane processing units and gup-chup making units in Berhampur. The squad comprised district labour officer, chairman of district child welfare committee, district child protection officer, police and campaigners. Lauding Operation Muskan, state convener, campaign against child labour, Sudhir Sabat said such operations can be more successful if police involve different agencies like the labour department, child protection units and voluntary organizations, working for protection of child rights. (Times of India 13/7/15)

16. Child rights officials visit govt school (14)

CHANDIGARH: Officials from the Chandigarh Commission for Protection of Child rights (CCPCR) visited the “Theatre Age” on premises of a government school on Tuesday. “Our primary motive was to ensure that children involved in theatre age were not left out of opportunities that they used to get in the NGO, mainly good education,” said CCPCR chairperson professor Devi Sirohi. CCPCR officials were accompanied by members of the social welfare department, director child welfare committee, cluster heads and the school principal. The commission will now hold a meeting on Wednesday with NGOs/institutes and government bodies who have been dealing with children. Based on the list which has more than 50 children who were enrolled in theatre age, the commission will be meeting kids to ensure that they are not under pressure or facing trauma. The commission will also meet UT education department officials and suggest measures and discuss fate of these children. “We will ask if the extra classes can be held specially for these kids ,” she said. Talking about the issue, director public instruction (schools) Kamlesh Kumar said, “We will define more checks to rule out such incidents in the future. Moreover, no child related to theatre age will be left to suffer.” When asked if he will take action against other NGO’s operating in government schools, he said: “This was an isolated incident and all NGOs must not be held responsible. But we will be more careful in future before allotting space to such institutions.” Officials from UT education department said that no student, who was part of “Theatre Age”, will have their future at stake since all of them are already enrolled in some or the other government school. “Students were given extra classes in dance and drama there but they studied in government schools. So no student is bound to suffer,” an official said. (Times of India 15/7/15)

17.  ‘Stop employing children below 18 years of age’ (14)

PUDUCHERRY: Campaign Against Child Labour (CACL), a group of non-governmental organisations, suggested to Parliamentary Standing Committee on Labour to make employment of children below 18 years in all occupations illegal. The group has presented a memorandum to Rajya Sabha MP P.Kannan, Member, Standing Committee on Labour, in this regard. National Democratic Alliance Cabinet has approved the amendments to Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation) Act, 1986 to prohibit employment of children below 14 years in all occupations and processes with a few exemptions. The Bill may be tabled during this Monsoon Session of the Parliament which starts on July 21. CACL national convener P. Joseph Victor Raj said, “Our position is that any person below the age of 18 is a child; and all children should study at least upto 12{+t}{+h}Standard.” Pointing out the increase in workforce of the unorganised sector, the CACL said it would be difficult for the Labour Departments in the States and Union Territories, which already suffer lack of manpower, to inspect homes and find out whether the ‘employer’ is the natural parent/guardian or an entrepreneur. Similarly to establish that the children are working only after attending the School hours is also difficult. “There are no guidelines for the children working as artists in an audio-visual entertainment industry, which leads to prolonged working hours and sexual abuse too. Further, allowing children to work after school is detrimental to their health – as rest and recreation is important for their fullest physical and mental development in the formative years,” said Mr. Victor Raj. (The Hindu 15/7/15)

18. Illiteracy led to surge in child labour cases: Childline report (14)

INDORE: Illiteracy and lack of administrative measures are the reason behind a surge in child labour cases in city in last four years. According to statistics procured from Childline, an NGO dealing with child rights, in 2012 there were around 101 cases (of which 57 were rescued by Childline), in 2013 the number went down to 85 (of which 52 were rescued), in 2014 the number was 104. But this year, 74 cases have been reported till June. Female children, who work as servants, are often exploited, according to an official from Childline. Women’s empowerment officer Sanjay Bharadwaj said, “Child labour task force had done a commendable job in rescuing child labourers. Merely, two or three rescue operations are not enough so labour department should make sincere efforts and carry out frequent operations”.Advocate Ajay Kumar Mishra said sometimes we have to face critical situations to present proper facts before court due to lack of coordination among departments concerned that contributed in rescue operations. “We can’t deny that recently sexual abuse of girl child labourers has increased significantly,” said Advocate Ajay Kumar Mishra. When asked about issues pertaining to increasing number of search operations, assistant labour commissioner J S Uday said, “Lack of time and coordination with other departments are the reasons why we are not able to carry out frequent rescue operations. However, we are getting good results from our task force established two years back”.In charge, Childline in Indore, Vaseem Iqbal said, “Girls who are forced to work as maids are sometimes sexually abused. We have seen that 99.9% of the girls employed for domestic work are harassed in one or the other form”.On other hand, district administration cited work pressure as the reason for not increasing number of rescue operations. “We are continuously working for children. Due to other assignments we have chosen only four days for rescue operations. We will take strong action to save girls from exploitation,” said district collector P Narahari. We are continuously working for kids. Due to other assignments we have chosen only four days for rescue operations. We will take strong action to save girls from exploitation (Times of India 19/7/15)

MINORITIES – GENERAL

19. No ‘separate clusters’ for Kashmiri Pandits in Valley (7)

New Delhi: The Union ministry of home affairs is moving ahead with resettlement of Kashmiri pandits in the Valley while paving the way for minorities to purchase houses in the area, putting to rest all concerns about creating “separate clusters” for the Kashmiri pandits. The National Building Construction Corporation (NBCC) has submitted a detailed project report on building of colonies for the Kashmiri pandits at three to four locations in the Valley. Once the NBCC proposal is cleared by the ministry, it will be put up for the approval of the Union Cabinet. Sending a signal, the government is going to make it possible for the local population, particularly the minorities, to purchase houses in the colony. As for the pandits supposed to be rehabilitated, the Centre will bear the expense. The move to allow the local population, particularly the minorities, is aimed at ending the separatists’ criticism that the Centre is trying to set up “exclusive zones or ghettos for Kashmiri pandits”. Before the ministry of home affairs puts up the final proposal for Cabinet approval soon, it is also all set to clear another move — to create 3,000 more jobs for Kashmiri migrant youth in the Valley. In March this year, the Jammu and Kashmir government had approved 3,000 supernumerary posts for providing employment to migrant youth in the Valley under Prime Minister’s package for the return and rehabilitation of Kashmiri migrants. “Another proposal, for 3,000 more jobs, is ready and is set to be cleared soon,” an official said, explaining that the government was keenly aware that job-creation for the migrant population was the first step towards giving them permanent residentship in the Valley. After major Opposition parties and separatist groups in Jammu and Kashmir had slammed the PDP-BJP state government on its “composite township” plan, saying the proposal would divide the people and pose security risks, Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mufti Muhammad Sayeed had given an assurance in the state Assembly that there were no plans for a separate cluster for Kashmiri pandits. The PDP-BJP alliance in the state has mentioned rehabilitation of Kashmiri pandits in its common minimum programme. The Centre had already earmarked `580 crore in the Budget for 2015-16 for the rehabilitation of migrants who had left the Valley when militancy began over two decades ago. (Asian Age 12/7/15)

20. Centre seeks data on govt jobs for minorities (7)

NEW DELHI: The Narendra Modi government has asked all central ministries and departments to furnish data on recruitment of minorities during 2014-15, and give reasons for any decline in percentage of such recruitment. This is part of the review of the prime minister’s new 15-point programme for the welfare of minorities. Though the ministries/departments were scheduled to submit such data to the department of personnel and training by April 30, many have failed to do so despite two reminders after expiry of the deadline, on May 13 and May 26. Now, in a fresh reminder dated July 10, the DoPT has asked secretaries of all central ministries and departments to look into the delay and “direct the concerned to kindly furnish the consolidated annual data on recruitment of minority communities for the period 01.04.2014 to 31.03.2015 in the prescribed proforma at the earliest.” The data will give the number of Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhist, Zoroastrians (Parsis) and Jains recruited by the government of India in the last financial year. In case there is a decline in percentage of recruitment of minority communities with reference to such recruitment in the previous year, reasons for such decline are to be examined and intimated by the respective departments/ministries. Evaluating the percentage of minorities’ recruitment in the government of India figures at No. 10 in the PM’s new 15-point programme for welfare of minorities. (Times of India 15/7/15)

21. Sikh Protest Blocks Road Outside British Parliament (7)

LONDON: Hundreds of Sikhs protested outside the British parliament on Wednesday, calling for the release of what they said were Sikh political prisoners in India. Demonstrators also raised the case of octogenarian Bapu Surat Singh Khalsa, who is on hunger strike in India to press the same cause. The demonstration, which blocked the roads outside the Houses of Parliament in London, was called by the Sikh Federation (UK), the largest Sikh organisation in Britain. Its chair, Bhai Amrik Singh, said British Prime Minister David Cameron and Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond “were asked to urgently take up the issue of the release of Sikh political prisoners in Indian jails who have completed the terms of their sentence. But we have had no answers. “It is a sad reflection that the present UK government is turning a blind eye to human rights violations of minorities in India fearing various trade deals could be jeopardised,” he said. “We have been forced to peacefully demonstrate at the lack of courage and action by the UK government on behalf of British Sikhs.” More than 430,000 people (0.7 percent of the population) said they were Sikhs in the last British census in 2011. (New Indian Express 16/7/15)

MINORITIES – MUSLIMS

22. 25 per cent Muslim inmates have no lawyers (7)

Mumbai: It has emerged that more than 25 per cent of Muslim prisoners in Maharashtra do not have a lawyer to represent their cases. This was revealed in a report published in 2011 by the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS). Four years on, the government has taken cognizance of the report and promised to work on it. (The study was focussed on the inmates from the Muslim community and so the comparative data is not available.)  The study says the education level among them was also low with 26.8 per cent being illiterate and 48 per cent not having any employable skills. The low education background may have forced them to become low earners as 42.7 per cent of them earn between `2,000 to `5,000 only per month, the study noted. A number of prisoners have reportedly pointed out that the police were prejudiced against them, which made them vulnerable to the corrupt system. The report, based on a survey conducted in 15 prisons across the state in the year 2010 on the request of the state minorities commission, has thrown light on the socio-economic conditions of the prisoners and come up with various statistical data of Muslim inmates in the state. It has cleared certain misconceptions about Muslims and seeks to prove that they are vulnerable to crimes due to their poor economic and social background. At the time of study, there were 3,086 Muslim prisoners in 15 jails across Maharashtra of which 2,154 (69.7 per cent) were under trials and 932 (30.2 per cent) were convicts. Of the 3,086 Muslim prisoners, 339 inmates were interviewed for the study. “At least 25.4 per cent of the respondents did not have a lawyer to represent them in their case. Among 148 respondents, 70.2 per cent had financial support from their family. This indicates that most respondents are receiving support from their families as far as legal fees are concerned. This reinforces the finding that most respondents are not connected to criminal gangs; otherwise they would most likely have had lawyers financed by these gangs,” the survey said. Prof. Vijay Raghavan of the Centre for Criminology and Justice, School of Social Work at TISS, who carried out the study along with his colleague Dr Roshni Nair, highlighted the need to increase the honorarium paid to legal aid lawyers. “We have suggested to increase the honorarium for legal aid lawyers in order to provide effective legal aid to under trial prisoners,” he said. It has emerged from the study that 52.3 per cent of respondents’ bail applications were rejected and only 25.6 per cent were granted bail. “Of the respondents whose bail was rejected, 48 per cent did not know the reasons behind the rejection,” said the survey. In most of the cases, it was difficult for the inmates to find suitable sureties to get released on bail. Judiciary is sometimes reluctant to release under trial prisoners on personal bond and they end up stuck in prisons, Mr Raghavan said. Noting that the education levels were also low among the Muslim inmates, it said, “26.8 per cent of them were illiterate, 38.3 per cent had education till primary level and only 0.6 per cent could pursue post graduation. Also, 48 per cent of the inmates have no skills.” The study further said, 31.9 per cent of the inmates have technical skills like carpentry, mechanical skills, AC repair, refrigerator repair, fabrication, fitter skill, tailoring, computer or machine operating skills, driving, electrical repair, interior designing skills, welding, plumbing, electronics repair, painting, etc. Majority of the inmates who had technical skills were neither technical graduates nor diploma-holders and had learnt the skills through on-the-job training, the study said. There are mainly two categories under which Muslim inmates were charged: bodily offences and offences against property. The study found that 52.8 per cent of the inmates were charged under sections relating to offences against human body i.e. charges of murder, attempt to murder, assault, rape, kidnapping, etc. This implies that majority of respondents are charged under violent offences. Analysis of case studies and the interviews revealed that most of these violent offences were the result of inter-personal disputes arising from relationship problems or property-related issues. “This trend matches with the reasons for violent crimes committed by most people, especially in rural areas”, Mr Raghavan said. 26.3 per cent of the inmates are arrested under the sections relating to offences against property i.e. theft, robbery and dacoity, the study revealed. (Asian Age 11/7/15)

23. Campaign demanding 12% quota for Muslims takes off (7)

HYDERABAD: Let down by the promised 12% quota for Muslims in education and employment not finding a mention at chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao’s Dawat-e-Iftar held on Sunday, a group of activists launched a campaign on Monday asking for reservation. Stating that about 1.07 lakh vacancies are expected to be created in the state in the near future, Aariz Mohammed of the Muslim Empowerment Movement (MEM), noted that the Muslim community would stand to lose its 12 per cent share 12,929 jobs across categories unless the Telangana government chalks out firm plans before issuing a notification. “It was on July 16 last year that the chief minister had promised reservation. However, at the Iftar party at Nizam College grounds on Sunday, the issue was conspicuously absent in the speech,” Mohammed told TOI on Monday. Explaining the process behind creating these reservations, he said that only a Backward Class (BC) Commission could recommend them. “The BC Commission based on data takes a decision on reservations. However, no new commission has been constituted thus far. Further, the 4 per cent reservation issue is still with the Supreme Court. The Telangana government should ensure the implementation of 12 per cent reservations,” he said. For this, there is a need to establish beyond doubt the backwardness of Muslims as this is being challenged in courts of law. Activists said that with different groups, apart from Muslims, such as SCs and STs demanding a combined reservation of around 26 per cent and the BCs asking for around 50 per cent, the government should work towards comprehensive reservation policy. It should also provide empirical evidence pertaining to the backward socio-economic conditions of these communities, especially the Muslims. Others like Ali Asghar said that apart from rolling out a reservation policy, the government should also keep its promise of providing free education by means of the KG to PG scheme. In addition to this, the government must ensure maximum utilization of budgetary allocations. “While Rs1,030 crore was allocated to the MWD last year, rules for various welfare and development schemes were not prepared even till the end of the financial year,” he said. Though there was a hike in the allocation of pre-matric scholarships in the scheme, it was not notified in FY 2014-15 and the disbursement of scholarship amounts under the central government scheme for the same year began only in May 2015, after the academic year ended, he claimed. The MEM is scheduled to embark on the awareness campaign by organizing meetings, creating posters and representing the matter to the government. (Times of India 14/7/15)

24. Odisha: Muslims take part in Rath Yatra festival in Kendrapara (7)

Kendrapara: For 67-year-old Shaukat Ali, it has become customary to catch a glimpse of the triad of deities- Jagannath, Balabhadra and sister Subhadra- as they emerge out of their temple abode every year. Ali says he is an ardent participant in the annual festivities because of tradition and mutual respect. “I along with family members celebrated Eid festival on Saturday. Later in the day, I went to the grand road to watch the car festival. Every year, we never miss the car festival,” quipped Ali. “When I was a teenager, I first witnessed the event. Since then, it has become an annual ritual for my family. Hindus appreciate our participation in the festival. The trend has passed on to the next generation. Now my grand children watch the pulling of chariot every year,” remarked Ali. Like him, many from the Muslim community play a part in chariot festival with melting of religious barrier. As the chariot slowly makes its way through the streets, the grand event continues to evoke enthusiasm among Muslims. And this spirit of amity is not restricted to the rath yatra alone. Hindus also participate in festivals observed by Muslims. “Hindus join in our Eid and other festivals. The two communities also attend each other’s marriages and other ceremonies,” said Mir Obeda, a local resident. “Kendrapara is enriched with legacy of communal amity and brotherhood,” said Mohammad Akbar Ali, former chairman, Kendrapara municipality, Odisha. Muslims comprise around one/third of population in urban areas here. Leaving aside stray cases of disharmony, both the ommunities respect each other’s religious practice, he said. Though there is a strict restriction on non-Hindus from entering the world famous temple in Puri, there is no bar on them from participating in the car festival,” said Nrusingha Patri, a servitor. “I actively participate in rath yatra. I have pulled the chariot. I derive immense pleasure in doing so,” said Shabir Khan from Jayipura locality Kendrapara. (Indian Express 20/7/15)

MINORITIES – CHRISTIANS

25. SC Christians Allege Caste Discrimination (7)

COIMBATORE:  Alleging caste discrimination and untouchability by the bishop, dioceses, churches and Christian institutions, a group of people belonging to the Scheduled Caste Christian community staged a protest at St Michael’s Cathedral in Coimbatore, where 21 Bishops from 18 Dioceses were participating in the council meeting on Sunday. They also alleged that Bishop Jebamalai Susaimanickam deliberately blocked Michael Raj from being appointed as deacon, thus blocking his chances of becoming a priest. The deacon is the position below the priest. The protesters demanded that Michael Raj be appointed as priest of the Sivagangai constituency. They also alleged that, even though the scheduled caste Christian community constitutes 75 per cent of the total Christian population, they have been discriminated against and have not been allowed to participate in the decision making process in the church and dioceses. “Michael Raj underwent training at a seminary for 12 years and was on the verge of being appointed deacon, which will make him eligible to become a priest soon. It would have been a proud moment for us, but he was sacked from the seminary without any reason,” said PJ Xavier, one of the protestors. Explaining the developments that led to his ouster, Michael Raj told Express, “There was a function at the seminary in Tiruchy to welcome the novices. The very next day, six mikes that were used for the function went missing. Later, the mikes were found in a well inside the seminary. I and five others were blamed for it and all six persons were sacked from the seminary. A few days later the culprits confessed and the authorities were forced to take back all the six.” However, Michael Raj was asked to go abroad to practice as a priest and the other five were appointed as priests elsewhere, said Michael Raj. He raised the question that if he could be a priest abroad, why shouldn’t he get the opportunity here. “The dioceses and Bishop always discriminate us and it is the reason why 13 people who finished their training in various seminaries have not become priests,” he added. Staff from the Bishop’s office told Express that there was no logic behind the allegations. They said the Bishop would convene a press conference on Wednesday to clear all concerns. (New Indian Express 13/7/15)

26. Teen arrested for vandalism at church school (7)

New Delh: A 19-year-old man has been arrested for his alleged involvement in a break-in followed by vandalism at a missionary school in south Delhi’s Vasant Vihar earlier this year, police said on Monday. Rahul Moirangthem, who hails from Manipur, and two of his friends, had raided Holy Child Auxilium School as a drunken afterthought after an outing in mid-February. Union Human Resource Development Minister Smriti Irani, an alumnus of the school, had reported the matter to police. After the incident on February 12 night, it had triggered political hue and cry across the capital with members of the Christian community alleging vindictiveness towards minorities and communal undertones to it. Delhi Police had then declared a cash reward of Rs 50,000 to catch the perpetrators, two of whom still remain at large. The case was transferred to the Special Task Force (STF) of south district police for further investigation. “Even as investigation continued, a similar incident was reported from Mount Carmel School on May 29, in connection with which Rahul was arrested, but later released on bail,” said R S Krishnia, Joint Commissioner of Police (South-East Range). Rahul happened to be in Manipur when the forensics team of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on June 30 informed police that his fingerprints matched with fingerprints picked up by their team from Holy Child Auxilium School. “The STF’s investigation in the case was commendably technical in nature,” Krishnia added. According to police, Rahul was summoned for questioning on July 11 and confronted with the fact that his thumb print had been recovered from the desk drawer of the missionary school’s principal, following which he was formally placed under arrest. Rahul told police that while he had decided to break into Mount Carmel School, of which he himself was an alumnus, on a whim and to avenge the fact that he had a compartment in his Accountancy paper in class 12, his decision to target Holy Child Auxilium School too was driven by vendetta. Rahul disclosed during questioning that on the evening of the incident, he was visiting Vasant Vihar market along with his friends and had watched a movie at PVR Priya. Holy Child School was located nearby on the route. After consuming liquor, they decided to execute the break-in. In fact, Rahul and his friends had also attempted a break-in at DTEA Government School in Nanak Pura a month ago, but the incident was not reported to police. (Deccan Herald 14/7/15)

27. World’s first ever church built in Kerala: Rajnath (7)

NASHIK: Union home minister Rajnath Singh on Tuesday heaped praise on the country’s rich cultural heritage and claimed that the first ever church in the world was built in India. He was speaking during the flag hoisting ceremony on the inaugural day of Kumbh Mela in Trimbakeshwar. “Brothers and sisters, the first ever church in the world was built in Kerala around 2,000 years ago. This is the specialty of Indian culture,” Singh said. He, however, did not mention where in Kerala the church was built. The minister even repeated the same thing at a press conference held at the government guest house later, before returning to New Delhi. Singh went on to underline the “greatness” of the country saying that the Parsis, who were routed out of Iran and were wandering to find a place found India as a safe place. “The Parsis were honoured in India, so were the Jews who were forced out of their nation and exploited. India provided shelter to them. Israel historians too have said that Indians gave them respect as human beings,” he said. “The country has always welcomed people from across the world. It is largely because of the sadhus who have been guiding the people. The leadership of sadhus led to the cultural saying ‘vasudhaiva kutumbakam’, which means the entire world is our parivar (family),” he added. (Times of India 15/7/15)

28. 39 Christians ‘converted’ to Hinduism in Kerala (7)

ALAPPUZHA: The Viswha Hindu Parishad (VHP) on Sunday ‘converted’ 39 people from 11 dalit Christian families to Hinduism as part of its controversial ghar wapsi programme in Kerala’s Alappuzha district on Sunday. The ceremony was held from 6 am to 10 am at Nallaveetil Bhadrakali temple near Cheriyanadu in the district. Several VHP and Arya Samaj leaders were in attendance. Ganapathi homam and shudhi homam were done for the ‘purification’ of the converts and they were also told to recite Gayathri Manthra as the final step of the ritual. “We are moving ahead with our initiative and more families from other religions will be reconverted to Hinduism soon. We are being approached by many people who want to come back to their original faith,” said VHP Alappuzha district chief Prathap G Padickal, the main organizer of the event. The district has been the nerve centre of such activities with the first ghar wapsi in Kerala held near Haripad on December 21 last year where 30 dalit Christians officially embraced Hinduism. dalit Christians, most of whom belong to Pentecostal and other non-Catholic and non-Syrian Christian denominations, are denied reservations that Hindu dalit communities avail of, and are hence a soft target for the VHP. After a spate of conversion programmes by VHP in various places in the state, the UDF government created a Rs 5 crore corpus to set up a commission to find ways to integrate ‘converted Christians’ into the social mainstream. Alappuzha Bishop Stephen Athipozhyil’s office informed TOI that the church has decided not to air any statements in connection with ghar wapsi. “We do not want to give any importance to this issue. So we want to keep away from commenting on this programme,” a spokesperson said. (Times of India 20/7/15)

REFUGEES/ MIGRANTS

29. Manipur govt gives in, withdraws ‘migrant’ Bill (13)

Imphal: The Manipur government on Sunday withdrew the controversial Manipur Regulation of Visitors, Tenants and Migrant Workers’ (MRVTMW) Bill, 2015, which was one of the primary demands of the agitators seeking implementation of the inner line permit (ILP) system to restrict and regulate migration of ‘outsiders’ to the state. The Bill, which was passed by the state assembly on March 16, has been termed ineffective by the Joint Committee on ILPS System (JCILPS). The governor had reserved the Bill for consideration with the President of India. The decision comes after five days of intense agitation spearheaded by JCILPS, a conglomerate of civil society organizations, and a day after chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh submitted at a security review with Union home minister Rajnath Singh in Guwahati that the ongoing agitation for ILP in his state was a genuine demand and the Centre needed to find a solution. JCILPS has also been demanding that the government scrap the MRVTMW Bill and replace it with a fresh one, which restricts and regulates influx of ‘outsiders’ to the state. Taking into account the JCILPS demand and the people’s movement, the government has decided to withdraw the MRVTMW Bill. To this purpose, a special assembly sitting would be convened soon, said chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh in a hurriedly summoned media conference at his office secretariat on Sunday evening. “The assembly sitting schedule would be decided at a state cabinet meeting to be convened on Monday morning at 10,” the CM added. The ILP agitation intensified after student protestor Sapam Robinhood was killed in police action here on Wednesday, which compelled the district magistrates (Imphal East and Imphal West) to immediately clamp indefinite curfew as a precautionary measure. District magistrates (Imphal East and Imphal West) on Sunday relaxed curfew for seven hours from 5 am to 12 noon during which people thronged Imphal markets to procure essential commodities. On the other hand, police have moved migrant workers, staying on rent on the outskirts of Imphal, to Dharamsala here in Imphal city for their safety in view of the intense agitation. As in the past four days, ILP protesters engaged in a pitched clash with police in several parts of the twin capital districts, while women demonstrated in various parts defying the curfew. Women have also been bringing out widespread torch rallies in the night across the four valley districts including Bishnupur and Thoubal. There have been reports of injuries being inflicted on both the protestors and police as a result of the pitched clashes…. (Times of India 13/7/15)

30. Seal porous Bangla border: Supreme Court to govt (13)

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court today directed the Centre and Assam government to take effective steps on the ground to prevent influx of illegal migrants from Bangladesh observing that making policies is not sufficient to check the menace. After going through the report filed by Supreme Court appointed commissioner who visited the border areas, a bench of Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Rohinton F Nariman said that the report highlighted lots of deficiencies in the measures taken by governments in handling the situation. The bench said fencing of international border has not been completed and sufficient number of police and BSF personnel have not been deployed near the border to check entry of illegal migrants. “Court directs Centre and Assam government to take all corrective steps. They should take steps for improvement of border roads, electrification of flood lights on border areas. This is the least what they owe to the nation,” the bench said. The court ordered the government to send its officials to visit the area to get a first hand account of ground realities. In May, the court had appointed senior advocate Upamanyu Hazarika as court commissioner to do an on- ground assessment of the eastern border. It had asked him to file a report on whether steps are being taken by governments to implement its direction for fencing the India-Bangladesh border and for maintaining strict vigil through effective patrolling to prevent influx of illegal migrants. The court in its judgment passed in December last year had said Assam’s culture was being eroded and peace and harmony of the area disturbed as it got swamped by persons “who have no right to continue to live in this country resulting in periodic clashes between citizens and migrants”.”Not only is there an assault on the life of the citizenry of the state of Assam but there is an assault on their way of life as well. The culture of an entire people is being eroded in such a way that they will ultimately be swamped by persons who have no right to continue to live in this country,” it had said. (Times of India 15/7/15)

31. Govt readies Rs 2,000 crore rehabilitation package for Kashmiri Pandits (13)

New Delhi: A Rs 2,000 crore rehabilitation package for the Kashmiri Pandits is being readied by the Home Ministry under which 3,000 government jobs and 6,000 new flats would be offered to the displaced community. A note is being prepared for the approval of the Union Cabinet for the Rs 2,000 crore package for the return and rehabilitation of Kashmiri Pandits, who had to leave their homeland following rise of militancy in late 1980s, in Kashmir valley, a government official said. Under the proposal, 3,000 government jobs will be provided to educated youths of the community and 6,000 new flats will be offered as transit accommodation along with a longterm plan of constructing two-three composite townships in the Valley. The Jammu and Kashmir government has already assured to provide land for the proposed flats. These jobs will be in addition to the 3,000 jobs already offered to the Pandits under the previous UPA government’s 2004 package of Rs 1,618 crore and 5,242 two-room tenements constructed in Jammu and allotted to the migrants. The new flats to be built in the Valley will not be on twin-sharing basis as earlier so as to enable migrants to move back with their families. The Home Ministry is also working on a Phase-II plan which involves permanent rehabilitation of Pandits in two-three composite townships of 2,500 families each to be built near Srinagar and Anantnag. Currently, there is a small transit accommodation of 200 flats in Sheikhpura, Budgam in the Valley. (Zee News 15/7/15)

RIGHT TO INFORMATION

32. Make public RTI replies to stop repeated queries: Centre (1)

New Delhi: To check wasteful duplication of effort while responding to RTI queries, the Centre has asked all departments to do an analysis of information sought often by applicants and suo-motu make such details public. The move comes following a recommendation by a Parliamentary Standing Committee in this regard. “The Committee feels that all ministries, departments or organisations themselves must encourage suo-motu disclosure of relevant information. The Committee suggests the publishing of RTI requests and their replies on the websites of the departments so that duplicity of requests is avoided. “All departments must make an analysis of information which is sought most often from applicants and provide it on their website as suo-motu disclosure,” Parliamentary Standing Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances, Law and Justice had said in its report. The Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) on Thursday wrote to all ministries seeking “strict compliance” of the Committee’s recommendations. The DoPT has been asking all central government departments to suo-motu make public governance-related information being held by them. “Despite directions, not all ministries have followed it. Some ministries have started putting RTI queries and their response on their websites. Action will be taken if they do not start doing it,” a senior DoPT official said. The DoPT had earlier this month asked all departments to put information related to employees’ transfer and posting in public domain promptly to reduce the number of RTI applications. “Access to information should be made user-friendly for which appropriate information technology infrastructure should be suitably designed, developed and operationalised,” it had said. The Right to Information (RTI) Act guarantees time-bound response to citizens’ queries on matters of governance. (Zee News 12/7/15)

33. CIC raps MoEF for withholding information about Chaturvedi (1)

New Delhi: The Central Information Commission (CIC) has pulled up the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) for withholding information about the “controversy” surrounding whistleblower bureaucrat Sanjiv Chaturvedi’s frequent postings and details of the “Haryana Government’s wrath and harassment” faced by him to a Right to Information (RTI) activist. In his order on July 9, Information Commissioner Madabhushi Sridhar Acharyulu questioned the legal validity of, and referred to as “lame”, the denial of the MoEF’s Chief Public Information Officer (CPIO) of information about the 2002-batch Indian Forest Service (IFS) official to Delhi-based activist Subhash Chandra Agrawal. “The CPIO’s denial of information in this case is not legally correct,” Mr. Acharyulu said. “The information sought is not at all personal information of Mr. Chaturvedi. It is only a lame excuse put forward by the CPIO just to deny the information,” he said. Mr. Acharyulu further questioned why the CPIO, if he was confident about his contention that it (the information sought) was private information, didn’t initiate the process of obtaining Mr. Charutvedi’s views, and observed that the CPIO’s bona fides, in this instance, were “doubtful”. The CPIO’s contention that information could be denied to Mr. Agrawal under Section 8(1)(e) of the RTI Act based on the claim of having received in fiduciary relationship were also termed “baseless” by Mr. Acharyulu. On October 22, 2013, Mr. Agrawal had originally filed an RTI request with the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) to know details such as communications between the PMO and the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT), file notings, and similar documents related to the controversy surrounding Mr. Chaturvedi’s transfers reported in newspapers. The CPIO’s reply, provided in August 2014, but finally furnished to Mr. Agrawal in March this year was found to have been delayed by as many as 10 months. Mr. Agrawal’s first appeal in the matter only resulted in the receipt of a letter, dated October 11, 2013, from Mr. Chaturvedi via the CPIO stating that any disclosure would harm him. This letter, the Information Commissioner observed, pre-dated Mr. Agrawal’s RTI application and could not be considered as an objection from the third party. Neither the CPIO nor the First Appellate Authority, Mr. Acharyulu said , had tried to seek Mr. Chaturvedi’s views as required under Section 11…. (The Hindu 14/7/15)

34. Seeking transparency, activists apply for top posts in RTI panel (1)

CHENNAI: Upset over the lack of transparency in the selection of information commissioners, RTI activists have submitted their candidacy for the post of commissioners to the Tamil Nadu personnel and administrative reforms (P&AR) department, which is the nodal agency for the RTI Act. According to the RTI Act, the P&AR department should invite applications for the post from the public and upload the list of shortlisted candidates on its website. However, the government has neither invited applications from the public nor uploaded the list of shortlisted candidates, even though the post of state chief information commissioner has been lying vacant since April when K S Sripathi retired. The number of appeals pending before the state information commission is nearly 20,000. Siva Elango, an RTI activist who applied for the post of information commissioner, said, “The RTI Act is being sabotaged by the Tamil Nadu government. There have been no efforts to fill vacancies of Chief Commissioner and six commissioners so far. The successive governments have maintained secrecy over the appointments of commissioners. But we don’t want any political nominees or retired bureaucrats who have favoured the ruling party during their tenure in the panel”.”I have been creating awareness on the RTI Act for more than seven years. I have also asked other activists to apply for the posts as the performance of the Tamil Nadu information commission is worse compared to its counterparts in Karnataka and Maharashtra. But the state government is reluctant to appoint RTI activists as commissioners as they don’t want a transparent panel” he adds. Activists say the details of applications received, grounds of rejection and candidate’s background, experience and expertise should be disclosed on the website. “I have applied for the post of chief information commissioner. The government now cannot say that nobody else applied for the post. The government will also have to explain on what grounds eligible candidates were rejected,” said V Gopalakrishnan, an RTI activist. When contacted, P&AR department principal secretary P W C Davidar was unavailable for comment. Section 15(5) of the RTI Act states, “The state chief information commissioner and the state information commissioners shall be persons of eminence in public life with wide knowledge and experience in law, science and technology, social service, management, journalism, mass media or administration and governance.” The P&AR department is responsible for short listing candidates before presenting the list to an appointment committee, which is headed by the chief minister. Other members include the leader of the opposition in the legislative assembly and a cabinet minister nominated by the chief minister. (Times of India 16/7/15)

35. Vyapam scam: No audit of exam process in 45 years (1)

New Delhi: Ever since the Madhya Pradesh Professional Examination Board was formed in 1970, the state government has never conducted an audit of its confidential account, an RTI query has revealed. The confidential account of the board deals with the details of the entire examination process – how the examination is conducted, who will set the question papers, where these will be printed, their transportation costs and which experts will be recruited for the evaluating the OMR (Optical Mark Recognition) sheets, as also the payments made to the question paper setters, experts and the printing press. Only the chairman of the Board and the controller of the examination are privy to the details of the confidential account of the Board. The RTI reply, given to whistleblower Ajay Dubey, shows correspondence between the deputy director of the Local Fund Audit and the commissioner, revealing that there is no mention of the audit of the confidential account of the board in their rulebook. “The board conducts about 40-50 examinations every year leading to expenditure of crores of rupees. Although the audit of external activities of the board was done, the confidential account of the board was never audited since its inception. We have requested the state government to conduct an audit of the confidential account,” Dubey told IANS. Another RTI reply received from the Directorate of Local Fund Audit revealed that there were gross irregularities in 2008 in maintaining the records of the OMR sheets in the strong room — storage where the sheets are kept. “The functioning of the strong room was hijacked by the racketeers and it was managed by them. It led to mismanagement and the credibility of the strong room was compromised. No proper data with regard to the supply status of the OMR sheets, bill numbers and challan numbers were maintained,” Dubey said. The MP Board, also known as Vyavsayik Pariksha Mandal or Vyapam, conducts examinations to recruit government employees in the state and holds admission tests for medical courses. It has been mired in controversies for years, but the scams eventually came to light when 20 people were arrested in 2013 for impersonating candidates appearing for the 2009 medical entrance examinations. According to reports, the admission and recruitment scam involving politicians, senior officials and businessmen in Madhya Pradesh could be pegged at Rs.20,000 crore involving about 30,000 people. Forty-five people associated with the Vyapam scam have died – mostly unnaturally or under mysterious circumstances. The investigation into the scam was recently handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation by the Supreme Court. The CBI had registered three first information reports (FIR) on Friday – including one related to the mysterious death of Namrata Damor – so far being treated as a suicide, but now converted into a murder case. Earlier, the CBI had registered five cases – taking to eight the number registered by the agency in connection with the scam. (Business Standard 18/7/15)

RIGHT TO EDUCATION

36. Forum to protest against education tagged as ‘service’ (11)

COIMBATORE: The All India Forum for Right to Education (AIFRTE) has chalked out a six-month plan to stage demonstrations and protests across the country against the central government, to prevent it from treating education as a ‘service’ in the World Trade Organization- General Agreement on Trade Services (WTO-GAST). India, after having been offered to include education as a service in its agreement with the WTO in 2005, may commit the same to the WTO in the 10th ministerial meeting scheduled to be held between December 15 and18, at Nairobi. The WTO-GAST is an agreement framed by the WTO in 2000, and expects its 160 member countries to commit sectors like education and health as ‘services for trade’. This, if a country commits, will allow that sector to be traded for money to other member countries. For example, if India commits for education as a service available for trade, then foreign institutions will be allowed to open their centres in India, will force students to join colleges in other countries for a higher fee, and allow teachers from other countries to enter Indian institutions and teach students. Ramesh Patnaik, organising secretary of AIFRTE said, “The agreement calls the students as ‘customers’ and colleges and universities as ‘service providers’. If we allow education to be traded for money to other countries, the economically backward and disadvantaged sections may lose access to education completely.” He added, “In India education is a constitutional right, and we have introduced an Act for primary and middle-school level education. But, all these will be nullified if it is termed as a service for trade.” Prince Gajendra Babu, south zone secretary of AIFRTE, said this will also reduce the powers of the apex bodies of higher education like the University Grants Commission (UGC), All India Council for Technical Education, Medical Council of India, Central Board for Secondary Education (CBSE), Bar Council of India, Architecture Council and other related bodies. “If there is a problem that pertains to a university or a school or a college, the public will not be able to raise complaints with the state or the central government, or any of these governing bodies. This is because after committing to the WTO, we will have to follow rules set by WTO for education,” said Gajendra Babu. The AIFRTE held its fourth annual meeting in June, and decided to hold a series of protests until the 10th ministerial meeting of WTO at Nairobi between December 15 and 18 this year. On August 9, they will hold demonstrations and talks in educational institutions across India, on Sept 28 and Oct 2, protest at the district headquarters of all AIFRTE centres, from Nov 1 to 10, demonstrations at state headquarters and from December 13 to 18, AIFRTE will hold resistance protests in Delhi. A delegation of AIFRTE will go to Nairobi to join the protest with organizations across the globe. (Times of India 12/7/15)

37. Slum kids living edu dreams via RTE (11)

JAIPUR: Every morning over 20 children dressed neatly, with holding new bags and new pair of shoes head towards elite private schools in Jagatpura may look normal to anyone. They, however, comes from Madari-ki-Basti, a slum area in Jagatpura occupied by rag pickers, jugglers, magicians and rickshaw pullers. Until a month back, these children were either picking rags or learning the art of juggling. Education in an elite private school was a distant dream for these kids but they achieved this due to Right to Education Act (RTE). Six-year-old Malik Bano has been a part of her father’s juggling profession from the past two years. She has covered every corner of the town performing acrobatics skills on the roadside juggling shows. Living in a 6*10 feet shanty with plastic cover on the top, Bano’s parents has never dreamt of her going to a school where children come from bungalows has come true. Since July 4, Bano is a student of Duckling International School in Pratapgarh thanks to the RTE Act. Bano wakes up early, takes a bath, dresses up and happily walks towards the school singing nursery rhymes. “I love my school. It is very big. And I don’t have to do any painstaking acrobatics anymore,” said elated Bano, whose father has now decided not take her in his roadshows anymore. Madari-ki-Basti slum is surrounded by posh localities. It literally has no drainage system, proper roads and dumping ground. Here most of the children aged under 10 are malnourished and waterborne diseases are very common. Reportedly 16 other students from shanties and khucha houses have been selected in the lottery of RTE conducted by the state government. Another success story comes from the two room kucha house at the corner of this slum. Sons of differently abled parents –Nischay and Nishant — were spending most of the time playing in the garbage until they were admitted in private schools Krish Cambridge and Ankit Public School, respectively under this Act. It is very early to access the change but their parents say that they now love to spend time at home painting, drawing and learning alphabets and numbers. Mukesh, a father of the duo has polio and earns a livelihood by driving auto rickshaw. He earns barely enough to feed his family two meals a day. Seeing them going to school is a unimaginable moment for him. The winds of change blowing here are results of a group of individuals headed by a law student Pranjal Singh who has disseminated the information about the RTE admissions, assisted them in filing online and offline admissions and now ensures that these children go to school. “This slum existed from last 35 years but nothing has changed. With these kids getting quality education will change the face of this slum.” He informed that 40 students from this slum were selected for the admissions more than half of them failed to submit the documents on time. (Times of India 15/7/15)

38. Quality education still a challenge, says Nitish (11)

PATNA: Expressing concern over “poor quality” of teaching in state, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Thursday said despite the state government spending 25 per cent of its budget on the sector, quality education still remained a challenge for it. He was inaugurating 475 educational buildings constructed under various schemes here on the fifth foundation day celebrations of Bihar State Educational Infrastructure Structure Development Nigam. The state government was running training programme for teachers with assistance from the World Bank to this end, the Chief Minister said, according to an official release. Mr Kumar said besides working on improving quality of education, efforts were made to work on each and every aspect associated with it. To facilitate higher education for children, plus-two schools were being constructed in panchayats, he said. Batting for education of girls, Mr Kumar said, their studying would have far reaching benefits for society including checking population and stopping social ills like child marriage and feticide. He asked building construction department to pay special attention towards safeguard against earthquake as the state falls in seismic zone. – PTI (The Hindu 17/7/15)

39. State govt plans to enact pre-primary education law to control fee structure (11)

MUMBAI: Taking cognizance of the various complaints related to pre-primary school education and the fees charged for nursery and kindergarten (KG), education minister Vinod Tawde has said that the government is considering enacting a law for pre-primary education. At present, there is no state control over pre-primary education and its fee structure. The government controls school education and fee regulation issues from standard I. All private, aided, government and semi-government schools come under the purview of the Right to Education Act, 2009. On Friday, opposition members in the legislative council, Dr Apoorva Hire, Manikrao Thakre, Bhai Jagtap, Husnabanu Khalife, Rajendra Mulak and six others brought up the issue of pre-primary education. Bhai Jagtap told TOI that the government should control pre-primary education and its fee structure. “Private schools take undue advantage of parents while charging fees for pre-primary education. Many private English medium schools behave adamantly and even refuse admissions. Wards of businessmen get admission, while those of the poor are turned away,” he said. In a written reply, Tawde said that the government is considering a law to regulate pre-primary school education across the state. “I am paying Rs 25,000 in fees for my child, as there is no option but to pay. There should be state government control on pre-primary education and fees,” said the parent of a pre-schooler. The previous government had set up a 21-member committee under the leadership of Fauzia Khan, the erstwhile minister of state for education, which had submitted its report, but no action was taken by the Congress-NCP government. (Times of India 19/7/15)

RIGHT TO FOOD/ HUNGER

40. Combining social protection with pro-poor investments can eradicate world hunger by 2030 – UN (21)

New York: According to a new joint United Nations agency report, an additional USD160 per year for each person living in extreme poverty would end chronic hunger – and additional investments of an estimated USD267 billion annually in social protection and in rural and urban areas would sustainably eradicate world hunger by 2030. The report, prepared by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD) and the World Food Programme (WFP), was presented in Romeon Friday ahead of the Third International Conference on Financing for Development, which will be held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia from13 to 16 July 2015. Entitled, Achieving Zero Hunger, the report notes that despite decades of progress, nearly 800 million people, mostly in rural areas, still lacked enough to eat while underscoring that, on average, USD160 annually would enable them access to food and improved livelihoods. Eliminating chronic undernourishment by 2030 is a key element of the second proposed sustainable development goal of the new post-2015 agenda, which will be up for adoption at the UN General Assembly in September. It is also at the heart of the Zero Hunger Challenge supported by the Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. FAO Director-General Jos Graziano da Silva saidthe message of the report was clear: If we adopt a business as usual approach, by 2030, we would still have more than 650 million people suffering from hunger, which is why we are championing an approach that combines social protection with additional targeted investments in rural development, agriculture and urban areas that will chiefly benefit the poor. Noting that a total investment of some USD267 billion per year over the next 15 years would eradicate world hunger, Grzaiano da Silva stressed, given that this is more or less equivalent to 0.3 per cent of the global GDP, I personally think it is a relatively small price to pay to end hunger. We wont see gains in reducing poverty and hunger unless we seriously invest in rural people, said IFAD President Kanayo F. Nwanze. Given the right kind of tools and resources, small-scale agricultural producers and rural entrepreneurs can transform struggling communities into thriving places. We need a dramatic shift in thinking to help the worlds poorest break the cycle of hunger and poverty by 2030. We cannot allow them to be left behind, said WFP Executive Director Ertharin Cousin. We must invest in the most vulnerable and ensure that they have the tools they need not only to overcome hunger, but to enhance their resources and capabilities….. (New Kerala 11/7/15)

41. Mizoram to implement Food Security Act (21)

AIZAWL, July 11 – Mizoram would implement the National Food Security Act, 2013 from October this year, State Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs Minister John Rotluangliana said in the Assembly on Thursday. Rotluangliana, after laying the Mizoram Food Security Rules, 2015 and the Guidelines for Selection of Beneficiaries under the National Food Security Act, 2013, in the Assembly, said that the Food Security Scheme was imposed on the State by the Centre. He said that only 7.06 lakh people of more than 15 lakh population would be covered by the Food Security Scheme, which included around 1.36 lakh people under the Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) scheme. As determined by the Centre, 81.88 per cent of the people living in the rural areas (4.33 lakh) and 48.60 per cent of people residing in the urban areas (2.73 lakh) would be covered by the scheme, he said. The AAY families would receive 35 kilos of rice per family per month while around 5.7 lakh people would be entitled to receive five kg of food at the rate of Rs 3 per kilo in a month under the scheme, he said. He, however, added that eight kilos per adult per month being distributed by the State Government was insufficient. The State Government, therefore, decided to add another three kg to those who were entitled under the food scurity scheme making the ration at eight kilos a month for those covered under the scheme. The Minister said that for those 5,03,704 people left out by the scheme, the State Government would make arrangement to give eight kilos of rice per month at the rate of Rs 15 per kilo. – PTI (Assam Tribune 12/7/15)

42. 670 million in rural areas live on Rs.33 per day (21)

New Delhi, July 13 (IANS/IndiaSpend) Seventy-five percent of rural households in India have a monthly income of less than Rs.5,000 ($79), 51 percent of households make a living from manual labour, 28 percent (over 50 million) of households do not have mobile phones or any form of communication. More than 70 million rural households face some form of exclusion, either from assets or socio-economic benefits, according to data released by the Socio-Economic Caste Census (SECC) survey last week. As many as 833 million Indians, or 69% of the population, live in rural areas. The SECC report comes at a time when global credit rating agencies such as Moody’s have warned that slow growth in rural India may cripple the overall economy. Rating agencies have laid stress on speeding rural reforms. More than half of rural households depend on manual labour for livelihood, and 75 percent of the rural population, or 133.5 million families, earn less than Rs.5,000 per month. “A preliminary analysis reveals a grim picture of rural areas with three in four rural households earning less than Rs.5,000 per month and almost 90 percent of households have incomes of less than Rs.10,000 per month,” Himanshu (he uses only one name), an agricultural economist with Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University wrote in Mint, citing the findings of the Arjun Sengupta committee (2007), which identified 77 percent of India’s population as poor. “Overlooked by the media, these numbers are very close to the estimates of poor and vulnerable derived from other estimates based on the consumption surveys of the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO). Rs.5,000 per month per household with an average household size of five would also mean an income of Rs.33 per person per day in the rural areas,” wrote Himanshu. Although it is not meant to be a comparison of poverty estimates, the SECC data reveals that about 670 million Indians in rural areas alone live on Rs.33 per day (75 percent of rural households is around 134,373,569 households; five members per household gives us a total of 671,867,845 people). .. (Business Standard 13/7/15)

43. Centre, States Must Move Together to End Poverty: PM Modi (21)

NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who chaired the second meeting of the governing council of Niti Aayog  here on Wednesday, said that Centre and states must move together to end poverty. Prime Minister Modi said the political deadlock over Land Acquisition is seriously impacting rural development, including the creation of schools, hospitals, roads and irrigation projects. He reiterated that as far as paying enhanced compensation is concerned, there are no differences in the stands of the Centre and States. Reiterating the vision of his government that state units should be the focus of all development efforts, as part of ‘Team India’, the Prime Minister recalled that the Chief Ministers had always felt that development policies at the Centre should be framed in consultation with the states. Prime Minister Modi said that the last one year had been a good beginning, with states being taken on board in the planning process and the Chief Ministers taking the lead in sub-groups of the Niti Aayog. The Prime Minister said that after formation of his government, several states had raised concerns with regard to the implementation of the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013. He said many states had felt that development work was suffering due to the provisions of the 2013 Act; and some Chief Ministers had requested for changes in the Act, and sent letters to this effect. The Prime Minister said that the ordinance was brought about in response to these development concerns of the states and also to ensure that farmers continue to receive their legitimate due. Prime Minister Modi appealed to everyone that political considerations should not come in the way of a solution that would facilitate development of the rural areas and greater prosperity for the farmers. He said the matter is now before the Parliamentary Standing Committee and, therefore, ahead of the upcoming Parliament Session, it was appropriate that the suggestions of the states be listened to, once again. Concluding the meeting, the Prime Minister thanked the Chief Ministers for their participation and said that their suggestions would be welcomed. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Wednesday said that certain non-BJP chief ministers skipping the Niti Aayog meeting in New Delhi was “against the spirit of federalism”. “Those who chose to boycott (Niti Aayog meeting) must introspect whether not attending the meeting is in tune with the spirit of federalism,” Jaitley said at a press conference here after the Aayog meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi concluded.  (New Indian Express 15/7/15)

LABOUR/ MGNREGA

44. ‘Labour parliament’ will see effort to get trade unions to back reforms (14)

NEW DELHI: To take trade unions on board over proposed labour reforms, the Union labour ministry has decided to discuss the proposed labour law amendments at the two-day Indian Labour Conference (ILC) scheduled to begin on July 20. The agenda for the conference, to be addressed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, will include labour law amendments proposed or implemented by the Centre or state government and amendment to the Bonus Act. The meet will also take up the issue of social security for workers both in organized and unorganized sectors, employment creation and review on implementation of recommendations from earlier conferences. The agenda was decided by the standing labour committee, chaired by Union labour minister Bandaru Dattatreya. This will be the 46th session of the ILC and will be held for the first time after the BJP government came to power. The party has been pushing key labour reform legislation which has annoyed trade unions. The conference, termed as ‘labour parliament’ of the country, will be attended by state labour ministers, representatives of central trade unions, employers and Union government officials. (Times of India 11/7/15)

45. Centre to simplify, rationalize labour laws: Union minister (14)

AHMEDABAD: The Union government is initiating labour reform and a more simplified and rational labour law is in the pipeline, said Union minister for labour and employment (independent charge) Bandaru Dattatreya in Gandhinagar, on Monday. Dattatreya was speaking at the regional-level state labour ministers’ conference in the city which was inaugurated by the Gujatrat chief minister Anandiben Patel and Dattatreya. The conference was attended by the states of the western region consisting of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Goa, Gujarat and the UT of Daman & Diu. The main objective of the meeting was seek views of the states on the proposed reforms in various labour laws, issues of enforcement and implementation of labour laws, demands of Central Trade Unions in respect of minimum wages etc. The Union minister said, “Union government, under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has initiated process of simplifying, rationalising and amalgamating the age-old labour laws. We are bringing major labour laws reforms.” “we are coming out with four new codes namely code of wages, code of industrial relations, code of social securities and code for working conditions and safety of workers. Ease of doing business through reforms in labour laws is our motive,” he said. The minister said, “Central government is working on a plan to focus on unorganised workers which are 93% of the labour force.” “Centre is working on starting a new scheme of national career counselling centres which will help 4.10 crore registered unemployed persons in getting information about the jobs,” he said. The minister also said that the Centre will increase the financial assistance for labour to construct house from present Rs40,000 to Rs 1 lakh shortly. He also said that soon through an amendment in the Child Labour(Prohibition) Act employing a child labour below 14 years will become a criminal offence. A fund for the rehabilitation of child workers will also be created. Chief minister in her address mentioned that labour has become vital in the development. She specifically highlighted the plight of women workers and gaps in their health care. Welcoming the participants, Vijay Rupani, Gujarat minister for labour, gave a brief overview of the recent developments in the field of labour administration in the state. (Times of India 14/4/15)

46. No separate registration for migrant workers (14)

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Separate registration for migrant workers working in Kerala is not possible and will turn detrimental to Keralites working in other States, Minister for Labour Shibu Baby John told the Assembly on Wednesday. Replying to questions in the House, the Minister said citizens of the country had the right to work anywhere and it was not possible for the Labour Department to carry out separate registration. The proposed Kerala Migrant Workers Social Security Act will enable the registration of those who bring in these workers from other States. The minimum wages are not being denied to them here. In fact, the Minister said, better wages and prompt payment are what attract them to Kerala. Law and order issues created by them need to be tackled. Intervening in the debate, Minister for Home and Vigilance Ramesh Chennithala said the Home Department was keeping a vigil on them. The Special Branch was monitoring their activities. The police are interacting with migrant workers at Perumbavoor, Aluva, and Angamaly.

47. Modi meets labour leaders, differences persist (14)

New Delhi: Even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi met labour leaders on Sunday on the eve of the 46th Indian Labour Conference, differences persisted between central trade unions and the government over the contentious issues of contract labour and minimum wages. The meeting over tea on Sunday followed extensive consultations that these leaders had with an inter-ministerial team headed by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley earlier in the day. Union ministers Jaitley, Bandaru Dattatreya, Dharmendra Pradhan, Piyush Goyal and Jitendra Singh were present at the meeting, an official statement said. The trade unions represented at the meeting included the All India United Trade Union Centre, All India Central Council of Trade Unions, Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh, the Centre for Indian Trade Unions, Hind Mazdoor Sabha, Hind Mazdoor Sangh, Indian National Trade Union Congress, Labour Progressive Federation, National Front of Indian Trade Unions, Self-Employed Women’s Association, Trade Union Coordination Centre, and United Trade Union Congress. “The government is trying to change the labour laws without speaking to trade unions. We have made it very clear that this is not acceptable to us,” Gurudas Dasgupta, general secretary of the AITUC and a former Lok Sabha member, said after the meeting. “We have said that we totally opposed the government’s move on changing labour laws of the country. This will hurt the interest of the workers,” he said. “Since there is no assurance, we will stick to our stand of a strike on September 2,” Dasgupta added. “The good thing is that the finance minister is is heading the committee. We felt good when he briefed us in front of the prime minister,” said Brijesh Upadhyay, general secretary of the BMS, which is affiliated to the Bharatiya Janata Party. “The government has shown some positive approach on the issues raised by us. We have hope. Something will be done,” he added. Talking to reporters after the meeting, Labour Minister Dattatreya said: “There is consensus on the issues of recognition of trade unions, Bonus Act and matters related to social security of workers. There is gap on issues related to contract labour and minimum wages. Discussions are in progress on these issues.” However, D.L. Sachdev, secretary of the AITUC, contradicted the minister. “There is no consensus or agreement on any issue. We have not come here with any expectation of having consensus on any issue with this government,” he said. “The issue of central trade unions’ call for a day-long strike on September 2 was not discussed so we have not responded on that. Our resolve to go ahead with the strike on September 2 has not changed,” he added. The unions have been raising issues related to labour law amendments and a 10-point charter of demands that includes a minimum wage of Rs.15,000 per month across the country, up from Rs.5,000 to Rs.9,000 in different states and similar wages and services conditions for contract labour as for regular employees. At a meeting earlier, trade unions unanimously decided to oppose certain proposed amendments to labour law like easing of retrenchment and unit closure norms. “We have decided not to change our stand on certain labour law amendments which are not in the interest of workers,” Upadhyay said, adding at this meeting, it was also decided that unions would listen to government’s view on different issues during the two meetings. (New Kerala 19/7/15)

RESERVATION

48. New USSC free structure for general, SC/ST candidates (25)

DEHRADUN: Weeks after the state Government constituted the Uttarakhand Subordinate Services Commission (USSC), the Congress government has come up with a new fee structure for candidates appearing in examinations for various posts of Class-2 and Class-3 in different portfolios. As per the new fee structure, general category candidates will have to pay Rs 300, while Rs 150 would be charged from Scheduled Caste (SC) and Scheduled Tribe (ST) candidates, respectively. The decision to finalize the fee structure for candidates for posts such as lower division clerks (LDCs), upper divisional clerks (UDCs) and assistants, or other posts at par with these posts, was taken at a meeting of USSC officials chaired by chief minister Harish Rawat on Saturday. Urging the officials to fight corruption, Rawat asked them to maintain transparency, accountability and fairness while selecting candidates. “As the commission was set up to do away with rampant corruption while recruiting candidates for different posts of Class-3 and Class-2, its functionaries, including chairman R B S Rawat, should discourage corruption while conducting these job-related examinations”, said Rawat. He also issued instructions to all state government departments to send the list of vacancies to be filled out by the commission. Meanwhile, state Congress committee and state BJP leadership have hailed the state government’s decision to recruit all these posts through the newly constituted commission. “Candidates will be selected purely on the ground of their merit and performance and not through leader malpractices and other unfair means”, said a senior BJP. (Times of India 11/7/15)

49. Why special quota for Jats, HC asks state (25)

CHANDIGARH: Punjab and Haryana high court on Monday asked the Haryana government to explain as to why it is providing reservation to Jats under the specially backward class (SBC) category even after the Supreme Court had rejected the recommendations of the state backward class commission favoring quota. Hearing a bunch of petitions filed by Murari Lal and others against the inclusion of Jats and four other castes in the category of SBC and providing them quota in government jobs, a division bench headed by Justice S K Mittal asked the state government to file its reply by July 20. During the hearing of the case, counsel for the petitioners informed the court that the SC had rejected the recommendations of Justice K C Gupta-headed Haryana State Backward Class Commission favouring quota for Jats. Verma further argued that despite the setting aside of the commission’s report by the apex court, the state government has been giving quota to Jats in government jobs. The counsel also produced copy of a recently issued advertisement of Haryana government providing reservation to Jats under SBC. Hearing the arguments, the bench directed the state government to file a detailed reply on the issue. According to the petitioners, on January 24, 2013, Haryana government had declared five castes, including Jats, as SBC, and 10% reservation in jobs under government/government undertaking and local bodies as well as in educational institutions was given to them. This reservation under SBC was provided in exclusion to the already notified 27% quota provided to backward classes, exceeding the limit of 50% total reservation. The petitioners also submitted that on September 23, 2013, the state government issued another notification providing reservation to economically backward persons belonging to general category in state government jobs and admissions in government and government-aided educational institutions. The said reservation was also provided above the already notified 27% quota to backward classes and 10% reservation given to SBC, resulting into exceeding the ceiling limit of 50% total reservation. Seeking directions to quash the notifications, the petitioners have been demanding that the reservation in educational institutions and public employment of Haryana state has been increased up to 70%, which is in complete contravention of constitutional provisions according to which quota cannot go beyond 50%. (Times of India 14/7/15)

50. SC notice to Centre on MP medical colleges scam (25)

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday issued notice to the Centre and the Madhya Pradesh government on a petition seeking a CBI probe into the Dental and Medical Admission Test (DMAT) scam for entry to private medical colleges involving 42 percent of government-quota seats. The bench of Chief Justice H.L. Dattu, Justice Arun Mishra and Justice Amitava Roy, while issuing notice returnable in two weeks, said it may be worse than the Vyapam admission and recruitment scam. “May be it is worse than Vyapam,” observed Justice Mishra, as the court also issued notice to the CBI. At the outset of the hearing, counsel Kapil Sibal, appearing for petitioner Ashish Kumar Chaturvedi, urged the court to hand over the probe to the CBI as things were not moving. Initially, the apex court appeared reluctant to hear the matter as it asked Sibal to approach the Madhya Pradesh High Court to deal with the issue. “We agitated the matter in the high court but (it is) not moving,” he told the court. On a batch of petitions, including one by Congress leader Digvijaya Singh, the apex court on July 9 handed over the investigation into the Vyapam scam to the Central Bureau of Investigation involving government medical colleges. It will hear the CBI on July 21 on the plea for court monitoring of the probe into the Vyapam scam. The court also asked the two petitioners Anand Rai and Ashish Kumar Chaturvedi to move an application seeking transfer of other related cases to the apex court. It would be appropriate if the CBI investigated the matter, counsel Prashant Bhushan appearing for petitioner Anand Rai told the court adding that it would make no sense if the admission scam involving 42 percent state-quota seats was to be investigated separately. Referring to the statements by the Vyapam controller and others involved in the conduct of Vyapam examinations, Bhushan told the court that the modus operandi used in the DMAT examination conducted by the Association of Private Dental and Medical Colleges (APDMC) was the same as in the Vyapam case. Bhushan told the court that the candidates who paid the money were told to leave the optical mark reading sheets blank which were later filled up. The court was told that under the modus operandi, students pursuing MBBS would take the examination and upon being successful, take admission and later surrender on the last date of admission and that seat would be negotiated and given for a huge consideration to another candidate who had taken the admission test and succeeded but was not on the merit list. Describing the DMAT examination as “just a sham” where “criminality is all pervasive”, Bhushan told the court that in the “dual kind of scam” in four years between 2010 and 2013, out of 1,533 state quota seats as many as 721 (47 percent) were given by the private medical colleges illegally. (Deccan Herald 16/7/15)

51. Tribal sabhas warn Dispur (25)

Kokrajhar, July 17: The Indigenous Tribal Sahitya Sabhas of Assam today said the immigrants who came to Assam between 1951 and March 24, 1971, should not be given administrative, legislative and constitutional safeguards as provided in Clause 6 of the Assam Accord. A 14-member delegation representing eight indigenous Tribal Sahitya Sabhas of Assam met Union ministers in Delhi, includinghome minister Rajnath Singh, tribal affairs minister Jual Oram and minister ofstate, sports and youth welfare, Sarbananda Sonowal on various issues,includingthe NRC.In a statement today, the convening committee, Indigenous Tribal Sahitya Sabhas, Assam, said the team had urged the Centre to specify theterm”Assamese” as “indigenous tribal people of Assam” and”indigenous Assamese people of Assam (indigenouspeople of Assam)”, to protect the tribal people by evicting the encroachers from the tribal belts and blocks and to include Chapter X of Assam Land and Revenue Regulation Act, 1886, in the Ninth Schedule of the Constitution. The team also demanded relaxation of base year and mandatory submission of documentary evidence for inclusion of tribal people of Assam in the NRC and to ignore the cabinet decision of the Assam government toincludeall people of Assam in the NRC based on theelectoralroll of 2014. “Theimmigrantscoming between 1951 and March 24, 1971 should not be given administrative, legislative andconstitutional safeguards as provided in Clause 6 of the Assam Accord, 1985,” one of the delegation members said. The team urged the ministers to keep intake of the existing 10 per cent and the 5 per cent reservation quota earmarked for the Scheduled Tribes (plains) and Scheduled Tribe (hills) respectively of Assam and not to club it with the reservation quota of other communities now seeking the ST status. The team also urged the government not to extend the benefits provided under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution and other autonomous councils meant for indigenous tribals of Assam, to other communities seeking ST status. The other demands include adoption of a comprehensive tribal language policy for preservation, protection anddevelopmentof the tribal language of Assam withprovisions forappointmentofa sufficientnumber of teachers. (The Telegraph 18/7/15)

HUMAN RIGHTS/ CIVIL SOCIETY/ NHRC

52. ‘Half of human rights cases not maintainable’ (1)

AMRAVATI: Stating that 50% cases received by the State Human Rights Commission are non-maintainable, Justice SR Bannurmath, chairman of the commission, exhorted people to understand the limits, scope and the nature of complaints that can be filed under Human Rights Protection Act 1993 before approaching the commission with their grievances. Addressing an awareness programme at the divisional commissionarate here, Justice Bannurmath said that of the complaints received by the commission, 50% come from Mumbai and Thane regions while the rest come from other parts of Maharashtra. He said that such awareness programmes were being organised at all six divisional headquarters in the state to make people aware about non-maintainable cases and also to bring into reality the concept of ‘justice at your doorsteps’. “It is essential for people to understand what constitutes human rights. They must understand the commission’s functioning, its limitations and scope. They need to be made aware about the kind of cases that fall under the purview of the commission,” he stated after describing human rights as rights to let man live like man, protecting their freedom and social esteem. Later, sensitizing the government officers at a workshop, Justice Bannurmath asked the officers to handle the Act with great sensitivity. He advised them to work with positive attitude while dealing with the human rights cases, respond promptly to the correspondence done by the commission and take action as per the directives of the commission. (Times of India 10/7/15)

53. More than 50 Islamic State child soldiers killed in Syria in 2015 (1)

Beirut: More than 50 child soldiers recruited by the Islamic State group in Syria have been killed since the beginning of this year, a monitoring group said Wednesday. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said it had documented the deaths of 52 child soldiers, all under the age of 16, who had been part of IS`s “Cubs of the Caliphate” program. The programme provides intense military and religious training to children throughout IS`s areas of control in Syria, the Britain-based Observatory said. As many as 31 were killed in July alone, in explosions, clashes, and air strikes by Syria`s regime and the US-led coalition. The child soldiers are used to man checkpoints or gather intelligence from areas outside IS control, but IS has been increasingly using them to execute prisoners or conduct suicide attacks. So far this year, IS has used eight children as suicide bombers, most recently in its fight against Kurdish militia in northeastern Syria. “This shows that Daesh is exploiting the suffering of the Syrian people,” said Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman, using the Arabic acronym for IS.  ”When a child reaches the point of becoming a suicide bomber, this means that he`s been completely brainwashed,” Abdel Rahman told AFP.  The Observatory said it had received information on dozens more children killed, but that it could not confirm their deaths. Since the beginning of 2015, IS has recruited more than 1,100 children. Also on Wednesday, Human Rights Watch criticised the Kurdish People`s Protection Units (YPG), which is fighting IS in Syria, of failing to meet a commitment to stop using children in combat. It said the YPG had demobilised some children since June 2014, but that it was still using both boys and girls under 18 as fighters. “The YPG promised to stop sending children to war and it should carry out its promise,” said Fred Abrahams, HRW special adviser. “Of course the Kurdish forces are fighting groups like IS that flout the laws of war, but that`s no excuse to tolerate abuses by its own forces.” HRW said many armed groups in Syria were using child soldiers, but that it hoped the YPG would “do more to stop the practice.” Syria`s conflict began in 2011 with anti-government protests, which degenerated into a civil war that has killed more than 230,000 people and forced millions to flee. (Zee news 15/7/15)

54. NHRC team inspects mental hospital (1)

Nagpur: Following the directives of the Supreme Court of India, a central government team visited the Regional Mental Hospital (RMH) in city on Wednesday to check the status of the hospital, take stock of the medical, infrastructural and manpower availability and the treatment available to the patients. The SC had directed inspections of all the major mental hospitals in the country following a PIL which had raised concern over the inhuman conditions in which patients were being treated and handled in a mental hospital in Uttar Pradesh. As part of the mandate given by the Supreme Court in 1997, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) initially began monitoring the functioning of three mental health hospitals at Agra, Gwalior and Ranchi. The NHRC is doing this through special committees formed in different states as per the requirement. The teams not just see the medical treatment available to patients in the mental hospitals but also see the physical treatment given to them. “At some hospitals mentally ill or psychiatric patients are still tied to prevent them from any violence. They are kept hungry. They are even given physical punishments. In many hospitals they don’t even have proper clothes to wear. The NHRC is just ensuring that the mentally ill patients are treated with same dignity as patients of any other disease,” said a team member. Sources in the public health department told TOI that though they told the visiting team about their requirement of new building, better clothing and certain other deficiencies of manpower etc the team expressed overall satisfaction about the hospital. The team also visited the Day Care Centre in the RMH. The state authorities also sought support from the centre in starting certain professional courses under ‘occupational studies’ course so that the patients could remain engaged in these activities and earn some money. The team was told that the average period of stay of patients in the hospital was about nine years. Generally relatives leave the patients and never come back. (Times of India 16/7/15)

55. NHRC seeks report from UP government on Jaunpur jail clash after death of an under-trial

LUCKNOW: The National Human Rights Commission has issued a notice to the chief secretary, government of Uttar Pradesh after taking suo motu cognizance of a media report that a 35-year-old, under-trial prisoner, Shyam Kumar Yadav, died due to alleged assault by prison guards at district jail in Jaunpur on July 4, 2015. The Commission has observed that the contents of the media report, if true, raise a serious issue of violation of human rights of the victim. The state government has been given two weeks’ time to submit a factual report in the matter. According to the media report, Shyam had allegedly attempted sexual assault on a female warden, prompting the guards to attack him. His death resulted in a clash between prisoners and guards. Police had to be called in to control the situation. The clash left several prison inmates and police officials injured. Two FIRs were lodged at Line Bazar police station and a judicial enquiry had been ordered into the incident. (Times of India 20/7/15)

JUDICIARY/ LAW

56. Swamy writes to PM about ‘poor judgement’ of Central law officers (19)

NEW DELHI: Bharatiya Janata Party leader Subramanian Swamy has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi about “poor judgment” by the Centre’s law officers — Attorney-General and Additional Solicitors-General — in crucial matters before the Supreme Court. In the July 9 letter, Dr. Swamy highlighted how Attorney-General Mukul Rohatgi made “personal remarks” about woman judges in the National Judicial Appointments Commission case, which had angered the Bar and the judiciary. He said those who stood for the democratic fibre of the country were shocked to find the government defend Section 66A of the Information Technology Act, 2000, which allowed the police the power to arrest persons for making “annoying” social media posts, brought in by the previous United Progressive Alliance government. The Supreme Court struck down the section as unconstitutional recently. The letter said that similar to what happened in the Section 66A case, the government was trying to defend the criminalisation of defamation. Dr. Swamy, who is the lead petitioner arguing for quashing Sections 499 and 500 (criminal defamation) of the Indian Penal Code on the ground that they throttled free speech, said the government, through its law officers, was again defending the wrong cause and that it was prone to embarrassment in case the Supreme Court quashed the penal provisions and made defamation a civil liability. He complained of how the law officers were seeking one adjournment after another in the Supreme Court in a petition filed by him to improve amenities for visitors to the Ram Janmabhoomi disputed site. Noting that the Supreme Court has already issued notice on his petition and asked him to submit a proposal to improve conditions, Dr. Swamy said the case was listed before the court in the first week of August. He said the Prime Minister should direct the Law Ministry to ensure that an affidavit was filed before July 25. (The Hindu 13/7/15)

57. Rajya Sabha urges Delhi HC to dismiss PIL on appointment in Secretariat (19)

New Delhi: The RS Secretariat’s response came in pursuance to the notice issued by the court on April 22 seeking response on the plea filed by an NGO challenging the validity of clause 6A of the Rajya Sabha Secretariat (Methods of Recruitment and Qualifications for Appointment) Order, 2009. The Rajya Sabha has said that a PIL questioning the appointment of some senior officers in its Secretariat is not “maintainable and deserves to be dismissed with costs” in the Delhi High Court. “The present petition as framed is not maintainable and deserves to be dismissed with costs. The dispute raised in the PIL relates entirely to selections and appointments made by Secretariat which is purely a service matter,” Joint Director in Rajya Sabha Secretariat informed the bench headed by Chief Justice G Rohini. Advocate Zubeda Begum, appearing for RS Secretariat, while filing an affidavit said, “The petition has not been filed bonafidely but for oblique purposes and to further interest of one S N Sahu, an in-service officer of the Secretariat who has already filed four petitions and 25 applications before this Court. PIL is, therefore, devoid of any merit or substance deserves to be dismissed with cost.” The RS Secretariat’s response came in pursuance to the notice issued by the court on April 22 seeking response on the plea filed by an NGO challenging the validity of clause 6A of the Rajya Sabha Secretariat (Methods of Recruitment and Qualifications for Appointment) Order, 2009. The PIL filed by Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL) had also sought an order directing an inquiry into all the appointments made in Rajya Sabha Secretariat since 2008. RS Secretariat further said that the petitioner has not challenged the aforesaid rule and therefore, Clause 6A which flows from the ’1957 Rules’ is not open to challenge. “All the persons appointed to the post of Joint Secretary and above since 2008 have distinguished and outstanding records and were eminently suitable to hold the post for which they were appointed,” the affidavit states. In April, the Supreme Court had asked the petitioner to approach the high court first saying, “In case the court below refused to entertain your plea, then come to us.” Alleging that there is absence of rules, the petitioner also sought a direction to the government to follow Lok Sabha Recruitment and Conditions of Service Orders, for making appointments, both through deputation and promotion, for the posts of joint secretary and above in the Rajya Sabha till the rules were framed… (DNA 14/7/15)

58. Deaths continue but witness protection law still a far cry (19)

DELHI: Despite cases of intimidation of key witnesses being a routine, there is still no law in India on witness protection or to deal with threat to their life and otherwise from criminals and those in positions of power. Many witnesses died under mysterious circumstances in the Vyapam scam. In Asaram case, too several witnesses came under attack. Not long ago in the Jessica Lal murder case, several witnesses turned hostile, leading the court to start perjury proceedings against them. After the case, the Delhi high court had asked for framing of a comprehensive witness protection scheme. But, that has not yet led to any legislative initiative. The Law commission had made several attempts to draft a witness protection law and recommended to the Centre stressing its need, but to no avail. The last law panel report was sent to the government in 2006. After the Delhi high court’s direction, the state legal services authority drafted a ‘Delhi Witness Protection Scheme’ but that too has been pending since 2013. Surinder S Rathi, additional district and sessions judge posted with the Delhi state legal services authority (DSLSA), told TOI that Delhi was the first to draft such a law in the country. He said he has met chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and briefed him about the importance of such a law. “The CM has promised to notify it immediately once it is passed by the assembly,” Rathi said. The Delhi draft law—which can be a model for a federal law or other state governments—has been based on the best practices followed in the US and European countries. Dealing with vulnerability of witnesses, the Delhi draft law proposes adequate security to witnesses facing intimidation and threat to their life. It has provision for change of identity of the witness to relocation, providing housing, police protection, regular patrolling around the witnesses’ house, expeditious recording of deposition during trial and even providing financial aid and a sustenance allowance to vulnerable witnesses… (Times of India 15/7/15)

59. Cabinet OKs repeal of 295 acts (19)

NEW DELHI: The Union Cabinet on Thursday approved the introduction of the fourth edition of Repealing and Amending Bill in the Lok Sabha that proposes repeal of 295 acts which were earlier identified by different ministries. The cabinet also approved the second phase of ecourts project to modernize courtrooms. The government had earlier introduced the Repealing and Amending (Third) Bill in the Lok Sabha on May 13 for repealing of 187 obsolete acts. As an ongoing process, the Repealing and Amending Bill is one of the periodical measures by which enactments which have ceased to be in force or have become obsolete or where there retention has become unnecessary are repealed. Last year in November, a 2-member PMO-appointed committee had identified 1,741 Central Acts for repeal out of total 2,781 central acts existing as on 15th October, 2014. After this report, the law ministry had written to the ministries and departments concerned to send their comments, if they had any, on deletion of these acts from the statute books. The government had also taken into account the suggestions made by the law commission on repeal of obsolete laws. On Thursday, the Cabinet also approved the starting of the second phase of e-courts project for modernising court infrastructure. The second phase of the poject is estimated to cost Rs 1,670 crore. It is meant to connect courts through universal computerisation, use of cloud computing, digitization of case records and enhanced availability of e-services through e-filing, e-payment gateways and mobile applications among other things. (Times of India 17/7/15)

POLICE/ AFSPA/ CUSTODIAL DEATHS

60. Amnesty International advocates repeal of AFSPA in northeast (1)

GUWAHATI: A day after the Union Home Minister talked about a possible scaling down in central forces’ deployment in the northeast, Amnesty International on Sunday said it must lead to a rethink on the use of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act in NE states. “On July 11, Union Minister of Home Affairs Rajnath Singh discussed a possible reduction in deployment of central forces in a meeting with chief ministers of northeastern states… (and) that the security situation has improved in the region,” Amnesty International India Media Officer Himanshi Matta said in a press statement. “Worryingly, there was no discussion on the AFSA, 1958, which is in force in several north-eastern states,” the statement claimed. The Amnesty International India stated “The Justice Verma Committee set up to review laws against sexual assault had said the AFSPA legitimises impunity for sexual violence.” “The Justice Santosh Hegde Commission set up by the Supreme Court to investigate cases of fake encounters in Manipur described the law as ‘a symbol of oppression…” it said. “Several international bodies and experts, including the UN Special Rapporteurs on violence against women, extra-judicial executions and human rights defenders, have also called for the repeal of the law,” the statement added. (Times of India 12/7/15)

61. Dalit’s ‘custodial death’ turning into political issue (1)

Kochi: The death of a Dalit youth, allegedly due to custodial torture, is threatening to snowball into a political issue in view of the upcoming panchayat-municipal elections in Kerala. While all political parties have come out to condemn the death of 40-year-old Sibi of Marangttupilly in Kottayam district, the Left Democratic Front has called for a hartal on Monday. Sibi, arrested on June 29 evening by the Marangattupailly police for a drunken brawl, had allegedly been tortured in police custody. He died in the medical college hospital at Kottayam after being in intensive care for days. He had suffered fatal injuries to the brain. The police had got Sibi, who had collapsed unconscious, admitted to a government hospital. As his condition turned worse, he was taken to the medical college hospital. The police, who initially claimed that Sibi had collapsed because of high blood pressure, later alleged that the death was due to an injury caused in a brawl with a teenager. A 16-year-old boy was booked for attempted murder, which drew sharp ridicule from child welfare organisations and political parties. Following the death, the station house officer has been suspended, a crime branch investigation is on and the Kerala State Human Rights Commission has filed a suo motu case of custodial torture. Sibi’s death, along with the attempt to pass the blame to a teenager, has put the police, Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala and the Oommen Chandy Government on the defensive, particularly with local body elections just three months away. (Business Line 12/7/15)

62. Committee on women wants AFSPA repealed (1)

New Delhi: A high-level committee, constituted by the government to study the status of women to evolve policy interventions, wants the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) repealed, gay sex decriminalised and at least 50 per cent reservation for women at all levels of legislature, right up to Parliament. The High Level Committee on Status of Women was set up by the UPA government in 2013 to do a comprehensive study on the status of women since 1989, and to evolve appropriate policy interventions based on a contemporary assessment of economic, legal, political, education, health and socio-cultural needs of women. The first such committee was set up 42 years ago in 1971 on the request of the United Nations. The present committee submitted an interim report in 2014 and recently submitted its final report to the Ministry of Women and Child Development. In the section dealing with violence against women, the committee headed by Pam Rajput, called for several legislative interventions. Describing AFSPA as an instrument that gives unbridled power to security forces in areas where the Act is imposed, the panel called for repealing it and also recommended that efforts to criminalise same sex relationships should be eliminated. The report emphasises the need to devise mechanisms for dealing with cases of extra judicial killings and arbitrary detention of women by state officials and security forces. Calling for 50 per cent reservation of seats for women in the local bodies, state legislative assemblies, Parliament, cabinet and all decision-making bodies of the government, the committee noted: “Gender parity in governance and political participation is a pre-requisite to the realisation of gender equality. A 33 per cent reservation for women is ensured through Constitutional amendments. In some States it is 50 per cent. However, there is nothing like ‘natural transition’ from the Panchayats to the State Assemblies and the Parliament, where the representation of women continues to be dismal.” The committee in its report also called “India’s missing girls”, the problem of skewed sex ratio due to cultural preferences for sons, a “national shame”. While proposing a gender score card for all those in public life, it also recommended that all elected representatives — MPs, MLAs and members of Panchayati Raj Institutions and Urban Local Bodies — should be accountable for the sex ratio in their respective constituency, district and village, inviting rewards and recognition for progress, and prosecution for negligence, inaction, and complicity. It cited the example of Haryana and Himachal Pradesh governments that recently announced incentives for villages with improved sex ratio. … (Indian Express 17/7/15)

63.  ‘18 custodial deaths in six months’ (1)

MADURAI: Eighteen persons, who were taken to police stations for interrogation, had died in the last six months in the State, said human rights activists here on Thursday. Speaking at a discussion on ‘Continuance of custodial deaths in Tamil Nadu’ held on the premises of People’s Watch, a non-governmental organisation, M. Britto, a lawyer and Director of Vaanmugil, said that from January to June this year alone, 18 deaths in police custody — suspects had died under mysterious circumstances. Horrifying was the recent killing of 20 tribals in Seshachalam forests by police in the nearby State of Andhra Pradesh. Even in this case, the Tamil Nadu government had not taken any tangible steps to get legal recourse for the affected family members. It had not even make effort to obtain post-mortem reports of the victims, Mr. Britto said and urged the activists to knock the doors of judiciary as directions from National Human Rights Commission too had not been respected. A. Kathir, Executive Director of Evidence, another NGO, said that only after the activists raised voice on the custodial death in the S.P. Pattinam police station case, the government had arrested the Sub-Inspector of Police for gunning down a youth while being taken to the station for interrogation. Like the S.P. Pattinam case, the other death in police custody cases must be taken up before the judiciary. Cautioning that except for a few instances, a majority of custodial death cases had gone in favour of the police, Mr. Kathir called for conducting awareness programmes among the public about laws since most of the victims were Dalits. He said that Dalit women were not only exploited but also exposed to crimes. R. Krishnamurthy, Trustee, CPSC, presided. (The Hindu 18/7/15)

MEDIA/ FREEDOM OF SPEECH

64. Swamy, Rahul Against Centre on Criminal Defamation in SC (1)

NEW DELHI: BJP’s Subrmanian Swamy and Congress’ Rahul Gandhi came out in unison to assail the criminal defamation law before the Supreme Court which said that lodging of cases for political speech and debates under the controversial provisions should be avoided. “Political debates may not come under the definition of criminal offence for defamation,” a bench comprising Justices Dipak Misra and Prafulla C Pant observed while hearing a batch of petitions challenging the constitutional validity of section 499 and 500 of the IPC which deals with criminal defamation. Swamy and Gandhi advanced their arguments on the issue by saying that the two provisions have an “inhibitive effect” on freedom of speech and expression, particularly political speech, rather they operate for the protection of reputation. The two leaders, who have been charged with criminal defamation under section 499 and 500 of the IPC for their political speeches in Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra, contended that the colonial law enacted in the 19th century has become “unreasonable and arbitrary” in independent India and was continuing without debate or a test on its constitutionality. Along with them, Delhi Chief Minister and Aam Admi Party leader Arvind Kejriwal, who is facing cases under the same provisions lodged by BJP’s Nitin Gadkari and others, has also challenged them and sought de-criminalisation of defamation law. Their stand that defamation be treated as a “civil wrong” has been opposed by the Centre which has advocated retaining sectiond 499 and 500 in the IPC, saying that criminal defamation will work as deterrent against growing tendency to defame people through social media. Leading the arguments against the Centre’s stand, Swamy said the two sections have been used as a tool by the state to settle political scores and referred his case lodged by Tamil Nadu Government to “harrass” him. He said Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa herself did not  file a case but the state was allegedly used to lodge the FIR. “Jayalalithaa should have been in the witness box for cross-examination but here the state took the case,” he said, elaborating that the criminal defamation case against him was lodged for his statement in which he referred the names of the AIADMK chief, her close associate Sasikala and others including DMK’s T R Balu in connection with fishing boats. Taking note of Swamy’s submission, the bench told the counsel for Tamil Nadu that “prima facie, we find that if this will amount to defamation, I say these (section 499 and 500 of IPC) is not meant for it”.While senior advocate P P Rao, on behalf of Congress Vice President, was advancing arguments similar to Swamy’s, the bench remarked that “political debates may not come under the definition of criminal offence”.Rao, on behalf of Gandhi, submitted that “it would be unreasonable to make speeches made by leaders during election while canvassing for candidates of their respective polictical parties, a crime punishable with imprisonment which affects the voters’ right to know the views of the leaders on matters of public interest”. He submitted that the Constitution recognised the importance of freedom of speech in Parliament and state legislature vide Article 105(1) and (2) and Article 194(1) and (2) which grant immunity from legal proceedings. Both leaders in their propositions harped on the concept of truth as a complete defence in criminal defamation. “Truth is not a complete defence in criminal defamation. For a nation with a national motto of Satyameva Devata it is ironic. It was for colonial convenience to require [First Exception to Section 499] that it is defamation even if the imputation is the truth unless it is for the ‘public good’  to disclose the truth. This colonial convenience continues even today in a free India,” Swamy submitted. This view was shared by Rao, who said truth was always for the public good. However, the accused who has spoken the truth is also subjected to the harassment of summons, obtaining bail or otherwise suffering arrest or detention, attending all hearings of the case, engaging a lawyer involving considerable expenditure and made to wait for the trial to proceed to the stage of defence evidence. “And ultimately acquitted after proof of truth, is wholly irrational, unjust, unfair and arbitrary prohibited by Articles 14, 19 and 21,” he submitted.   (New Indian Express 14/7/15)

65. Hill journalist orgs condemn attack on scribes (1)

Ukhrul, July 14 2015 : Manipur Hill Journalists Union (MHJU) and Ukhrul District Working Journalists Association (UDWJA) joined the chorus of condemnation against the alleged assault on State journalists and disrupting their duties by protesters and police personnel during the ongoing ILPS movement in several parts of the State. In a separate press releases issued by MHJU and UDWJA it was said at a time when the State is fighting for implementation of the ILP system for the long deprived indigenous people, hampering duties of journalists covering the movement by resorting to physical attack against them would only lead to deprivation of news for public. The way some ILPS protesters put journalists through unwarranted ordeals at various parts of the State amounts to disrespecting the whole press fraternity. Journalists are working for dissemination of news to the public at cost of their lives in covering various life threatening incidents happening in our society As for the police, their high handedness is all too well known. It is quite unbecoming of the guardians of law to breach the rights of journalists stipulated by the Indian Constitution by subjecting them to unreasonable questioning despite journalists identified themselves with press ID cards. While vehemently condemning the incidents, UDWJA fervently hopes that the government take exemplary actions against those guilty police personnel and the protesters mend their ways so that such incidents not to repeat in future. (Manipur: E-Pao 15/7/15)

66. Scribes must get superior freedom, says Kejriwal (1)

NEW DELHI: Two months after threatening to prosecute journalists critical of ministers in the Aam Aadmi Party government, Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Wednesday sought superior freedom of expression right for mediapersons and requested the Supreme Court to quash criminal defamation provisions, Sections 499 and 500, of Indian Penal Code. Facing criminal defamation cases against him by BJP leader Nitin Gadkari and senior advocate Amit Sibal, Kejriwal’s counsel Rajeev Dhavan told a bench of Justices Dipak Misra and P C Pant that the IPC provisions were framed in 1860 under a colonial regime and had lost its relevance in a democracy. In his written submissions to the court through advocate Trideep Pais, Kejriwal said, “The imperial doctrine that journalists and those who are part of the media have no greater rights than those of any other person in society is incorrect and should be overruled in the light of constitutional dispensation.” The Delhi chief minister said freedom of speech and expression, as guaranteed under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution, “is a priority right” and included freedom of press even though the media rights was not specified in the Constitution. “Freedom of speech and expression is not just a right but a duty to further democracy,” Kejriwal said. On May 14, the Supreme Court had stayed Delhi government’s decision to initiate criminal cases against those, including the media, who level defamatory charges against the CM and his ministers. The Delhi government’s May 6 circular had asked its officials to lodge a complaint with the principal secretary (home) if they came across any news story that damaged the reputation of the chief minister or the government, so that further action could be taken. (Times of India 16/7/15)

67. Two more arrested for journalist’s murder (1)

Mumbai: Two more persons have been arrested in connection with the murder of a local journalist in Mira Road on Friday. Two persons, including the owner of a local bar, were arrested earlier. Raghvendra Dubey, 44, who owned and wrote for a local weekly, was found in a pool of blood less than a kilometre away from the Mira Road police station around 5.30 am Friday with multiple stabs wounds and injuries to his private parts. Dubey, who was out drinking late Thursday night, was called to the police station around 2 am to help officers trace one his colleagues who had been assaulted by employees of White House Bar that the police had raided around 1 am on Friday. Police identified the four accused as Mahesh Shetty, owner of Love Bird Orchestra Bar; Bhavesh Morani, floor manager at the bar; Samadhan Mari and Avinash Mishra, both Shetty’s friends. While Shetty and Morani were arrested earlier, Mari and Mishra were picked up from Kandivali Saturday. “Dubey was with some staffers from Love Birds Thursday night. He was at the police station from 2 am and left in an autorickshaw with the two around 5 am. All four accused followed Dubey’s rickshaw and killed him. We have those two persons as key witnesses to the murder,” said Additional SP (Thane Rural) Avinash Ambure. Officers privy to the investigation said the accused were carrying chilli powder, an iron rod, a knife and a stick. “Our investigations reveal that Shetty and Dubey had differences. Shetty said this was his opportunity to settle the score with the journalist who had reportedly harassed him for over a year making demands for money. We are verifying Shetty’s claims of extortion,” Ambure added. (Indian Express 20/7/15)

COMMUNAL RIOTS

68. Haryana: A month after communal violence, Atali lies deserted (7)

Atali, Haryana: A month after communal clashes engulfed Atali village in Haryana, all its Muslims and most of the Hindu men have fled fearing more violence or the police. Only a few hundred Hindus are still left in the village that once had a population of over 5,000, located 12 km from Ballabhgarh town in Faridabad district that borders Delhi. Elderly men, young boys and women make up for most of the Hindus still in the village, residents told an IANS correspondent. As for some 300 Muslim residents of Atali, all have abandoned their homes and taken refuge in nearby villages to escape a communal conflagration the village had never seen. Hindus still here complain of a “brutal police crackdown” following a spate of clashes between them and Muslims over the construction of a mosque. Muslims have said that the mosque was coming up on land belonging to a Muslim and Hindus should not have objected. Hindus insist the mosque was illegally located on a Hindu’s land. Like in most parts of Haryana, Atali is a neatly laid out village, boasting of numerous two-storey brick-and-mortar houses, each house having electricity connection. Some houses have inverters too. The streets are cemented or laid with bricks — and clean. Atali is primarily divided into three quarters — one for Dalits, another for Muslims and the larger area populated mainly by Jats. Violence over the mosque first erupted in May. Tensions were rekindled when members of the two communities clashed again last week, around the same time as serious communal clashes erupted at Palwal in Haryana. Amid criticism that Haryana’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government was biased towards Hindus, police and paramilitary forces launched a crackdown on July 4, detaining many. Nine men were formally arrested. All of them were Hindus. While the Muslim population had already fled, it was now the turn of Hindus to flee from Atali. Villagers said those who have stayed back are staring at serious financial losses. Labourers refuse to come to Atali and work on their fields. A farmer lamented that his and others’ yields were going waste as it had become difficult to find vehicles to transport the produce to the nearest towns. All four private schools and two government schools here remain shut.”The policemen didn’t spare even the old and minors,” said a villager who did not want to be identified by name. Sanni, a labourer, sounded desperate when he said that his 16-year-old son had run away. “I don’t know what to do to persuade him to come back.” Rajwati, a sweeper, said she pleaded with the police not to take her 15-year-old-son away when they broke the door of their house. Around 200 security personnel remain deployed in the village, a grim reminder of what Atali witnessed. The seniors among them declined to speak to IANS. “This violence has finished off the village,” moaned Mangal Singh, 29, who recently started growing unseasonal vegetables after taking a bank loan of Rs 1 crore. He puts his losses at Rs 6-7 lakh. Muslims too have suffered grave losses. When Noor Mohammed, 65, fled the village with his extended family of over 35, they not only left behind their belongings and farm yield but also three buffaloes. “I have lost so much money,” he told IANS on telephone. His six sons and two daughters and their families are now scattered in neighbouring villages. The two communities still blame each other for stroking the violence. Village elders said they see no immediate end to the tensions. Contractor Haji Shakir, 41, accused Hindus of boycotting Muslims. “If they don’t want to talk to us, what can we do?” Shakir told IANS. Mohammed said the BJP was to blame for the unrest. “Some pandits (Hindus) think it is their government, so they can do anything.” (Hindustan Times 10/7/15)

69. Communal clash in Belagavi: 10 injured including 6 police (7)

BELAGAVI: More than 10 people including six police personnel were injured and over 12 vehicles damaged, including four cars, in a communal clash that took place in the areas of Gandhi Nagar, New Gandhi Nagar, Durga Mata Road and Zakriya Mohalla on Sunday late night. Police arrested around 55 people of both groups in the background of clash till Monday morning. Clash began at around 11.30pm and continued till Monday 1am. Police used eight tear gas shells and fired into air to disperse miscreants and take situation under control. Police blocked Pune-Bengaluru National Highway-4 for an hour diverting its traffic, as a group of over 100 people engaged in stone pelting on vehicles passing on highway. Meanwhile, miscreants damaged Cheeta vehicle of police department parked in-front of Sankam hotel using large stones and set it into fire. After the clash began, MLA Firoz Sait reached spot and appealed both groups to maintain peace. Speaking to the TOI, S Ravi said reason behind incident is quarrel between children playing Cricket at government school ground in Gandhi Nagar on Sunday afternoon. Till evening, silly reason grown up bigger and took communal shape. “We are also finding it is the only reason or any other”, commissioner said. Arrested have been booked under sections 307, 353 (A), 336, 153 (A) and 149 IPC and Karnataka Prevention of Destruction and Loss of Property Act-1981. City has fallen into tense after the incident during the time of holy Ramzan Eid celebrations. Coincidentally, last time communal clash occurred on the next day of concluding of legislature session in Belagavi in the month of January-2014 when around 30 vehicles had damaged and many people injured. This time, communal clash again haunted city immediately after monsoon session concluded on Friday. (Times of India 13/7/15)

70. 1 dead, 30 cops hurt in Harsul riots (7)

Nashik: Riots broke out in Harsul in the Trimbakeshwar tehsil in Nashik district on Tuesday in which many shops, vehicles, and property was torched. One person died in the police firing, while 30 policemen, including two additional police superintendents were injured in the stone pelting. Earlier on Tuesday, the Simhasth Kumbh Mela flag hoisting ceremony was held in Trimbakeshwar town in the presence of Union home minister Rajnath Singh. The trouble started on July 8 when the body of Bhagirat Choudhary from the Adivasi community was found in the well belonging to a Muslim farmer. The deceased’s relatives claimed that Choudhary was a good swimmer and could not have drowned and suspected murder. They demanded that the police conduct a post-mortem and announce the cause of death. After this there were small skirmishes and unrest between the Adivasis and Muslims in Harsul. On Tuesday, the situation boiled over when the Adivasis decided to have a morcha and call for a bandh. The situation turned violent after the morcha began. The police tried to pacify the mob but when it began to get out of control, used tear gas and lathicharged them. The rioters began pelting stones at the police in which 30 policemen were injured. The police then fired, killing one man identified as Ramdas Gangaram Buth (26). Mukthar Sayyed, a contractor who lost two excavator vehicles in the rioting said, “Cloth shops, grocery stores and even roadside carts were not spared and torched by the rioters. Roof tiles of several houses were broken in stone pelting,” he said. Many in the town said that since the atmosphere was tense for the last few days, many Muslim families had moved to other towns temporarily. Nashik (rural) SP Sanjay Mohite and other officials are in Harsul. Mr Mohite confirmed one death in the police firing. “We are patrolling the area and the situation is under control,” he said. (Asian Age 15/7/15)

71. Nashik riots spread to Maharashtra hamlet (7)

THANAPADA (Harsul): Even as riot-hit Harsul was limping back to normalcy, trouble-makers shifted their focus to a neighbouring hamlet of Thanapada in Maharashtra’s Nashik district. Several houses of those from the minority community including that of Tausif Shaikh, who reportedly works for the Rashtriya Muslim Manch and is an office-bearer of the BJP’s minority cell, were damaged. The police said a restaurant in the hamlet, which was set ablaze on Wednesday night, was again on fire on Thursday along with a bakery. The hamlet, which is located 11km from Harsul, has a population of 4,000 people. The police said about 100 adivasis (tribals) descended from the hills behind the hamlet on Wednesday night and damaged 25 houses belonging to Muslims. Shaikh’s house was ransacked and burnt down. Shaikh and his neighbours had taken shelter in a mosque, now guarded by the police after violence had broken out in Harsul. They were about to end their fast on Wednesday evening when they heard that their houses had been attacked. “I went to my house but saw it had been ransacked. I called for police help and personnel were sent there. Despite this, the house was set ablaze by miscreants later in the night,” he said. “Why Thanapada? Whatever happened in Harsul was an issue between two families and not a communal matter. And why target me? I am the one who started Shiv Jayanti celebrations in the hamlet,” Shaikh said. Rafiq Shaikh Mohammed, cleric of the mosque, said that several Muslim families were rushed to Nashik after the violence broke out in Harsul. “We are also trying to ensure that the mosque here is safe. The mosque was damaged during riots in 1982. We are the very much natives of this land and village and our forefathers have been living here since about 250 years. Better sense should prevail,” he said. Two police platoons rushed to Thanapada on Thursday after hearing about the attack on the restaurant and bakery. The police fired plastic bullets and five rounds of teargas in an attempt to disperse the miscreants. However, the adivasis used catapults to throw stones at the police. The police chased them up into the hills from where they had come but they disappeared into the woods. One policeman was injuredMore than 200 police personnel, the fire brigade and a quick response team have camped in the hamlet. District superintendent of police Sanjay Mohite asked the hamlet-dwellers to ensure that no outsiders were present in the village at any point of time unless required. “There is a mob of around 400 people in the woods up in the hills who are likely to create problems. The people of this hamlet know who these miscreants are,” he said.Mohite said non-cooperation by people living the hamlet was the reason for the violence spreading from Harsul to elsewhere. Thanapada sarpanch Maya Sable promised all support to the police. “Hundreds of people marched on the hamlet last night. The police did not do anything when they hurled stones at houses near the mosque. How can you expect the villagers to face the mob? However, we will take all measures to ensure that outsiders do not come here. But we need help from the police,” Sable said. (Times of India 17/7/15)

COMMUNALISM

72. CM Vasundhara Raje is pseudosecular, VHP says (26)

NEW DELHI: Agitating against demolition of temples in Rajasthan, VHP on Thursday accused chief minister Vasundhara Raje of being “pseudosecular” in targeting Hindu places of worship. The RSS affiliate said it took to the streets to protest razing of temples as the “last resort” and will take the agitation to a “logical end”.VHP also said it has not abandoned its “core issue” of constructing a Ram temple in Ayodhya, which is “very much on the agenda”.”Why only temples have been targeted … This partiality, discrimination will not be allowed. That is why the local unit of VHP has opposed the demolition and it is natural … Taking to the streets was only the last resort. One wonders if a person is trying to be secular and is becoming anti-Hindu,” VHP joint general secretary Surendra Kumar Jain said. When asked if Raje was trying to be pseudosecular, he said, “Probably.” “And in this attempt, one is trying to woo outsiders who do not become their own, but one loses confidence of one’s own people,” he added. He said, “Our fight is not against any person, but by the person’s actions”.Asked if the Ram temple issue was not in focus, he said, “It was always in VHP’s focus. It was never put off. This pledge of temple construction is not of VHP, but of the entire Hindu community. Even if VHP wants to stop, people will not allow it.” The VHP leader said it was unfortunate that only temples were being targeted in Rajasthan, even those temples which are 150-200 years old. “Only Hindu temples are attacked and removed. No religious places of other religions have been even touched. The historicity of the temples should be kept in mind (before targeting them),” Jain said. He said, “We have started this agitation. The result should be good. We will take this agitation to its logical end.” It also hit out at the BJP government in Haryana led by Manohar Lal Khattar for not taking stern action against anti-social elements, especially infiltrators from Bangladesh and Myanmar, who were trying to create social and communal tension in parts of the state by targeting Hindus. (Times of India 10/7/15)

73. Now, Bajrang Dal wants review of HC decision on Ganeshotsav (26)

MUMBAI: A day after the BJP opposed the Bombay high court’s decision barring roadside pandals during Ganeshotsav, the Bajrang Dal said it will file a review petition against the order as well. Bajrang Dal’s Mumbai convenor Umesh Gaikwad said, “We believe the order on barring roadside pandals during Ganeshotsav and dahi handi will threaten the existence of Maharashtra’s two main festivals. We are preparing to file a review petition and will approach the Supreme Court if required. Social change in community matters cannot take place overnight. It must be gradual and in consultation with all affected parties. Mandals should have been given a hearing at least.” However, activists dismiss the Dal’s arguments. Dr Yeshwant Oke, who has led the campaign against noise pollution, said, “They are free to approach the courts, but my guess is that it will be futile. The Supreme Court has already passed a sound, well-reasoned judgment on noise guidelines. The high court verdict is consonant with it. In fact, the SC may ask why compliance of its order is slack.” The organisation has written to CM Devendra Fadnavis, seeking single-window clearance for Ganpati mandals so that it can comply with the law. TOI has reported that no less than 21 permissions are required, including BMC, police, fire safety, traffic authorities and the cultural department. “The red tape that binds multiple permissions causes them to circumvent the rules. We support the legitimate guidelines against noise pollution. The aim is not to disturb public peace. Mandals should, and are, celebrating with traditional musical instruments rather than loud DJ music,” Gaikwad said. The Dal has offered to work with mandals and government to stem the commercialisation of Ganeshotsav and dahi handi. Gaikwad said, “We suspect that certain forces inimical to the majority community are behind the move to crush festivals. The law should apply equally for all.” Dr Oke denied the allegation, saying the Supreme Court judgment did not make references to a specific religion. (Times of India 12/7/15)

74. RSS pushing its own men into important government offices (26)

New Delhi: It may not officially have a say in drafting government policy but the RSS is gaining a foothold in the NDA regime by appointing people close to the Sangh to state-run institutions and personal staff of several ministers. Sources said BJP parliamentarians have been asked to not make direct nominations to ministries for appointments in official bodies, panels, institutions or committees. Any such recommendation has to be sent to the local or state unit of the BJP, which will clear it in consultation with an RSS leader at the appropriate level. “Our recommendations have to be routed through the BJP district unit to the central unit and then cleared by the RSS and BJP’s the organisational secretary,” a BJP MP told HT. Another MP said legislators were not even supposed to recommend any names for admissions in state-run Kendriya Vidyalayas on their own and it had to be done in consultation with the party. Sources said the BJP’s organisational secretary, Ram Lal, as well as Sangh joint general secretaries Krishna Gopal and Dattatrey Hosbole were the key people who scrutinised the recommendations and appointments were made only after their clearance. The influence of the RSS in the functioning of the government has been at the centre of controversy for over a year with repeated allegations by the Opposition that the RSS was trying to pack important academic bodies and institutions with its own people. A string of controversial appointments of people with RSS links to the Indian Council of Historical Research and the Film and Television Institute of India have also triggered a storm of criticism, with opponents saying the Sangh was trying to rewrite history and acquire academic muscle. But the Hindu organisation seems unfazed by the criticism. It recently intervened to get Nagpur-based leader Chandrakant Ghatore appointed to the Censor board, in the middle of a raging controversy over the Sangh’s role in nominating actor Gajendra Chouhan to head FTII. “Do you expect us to appoint people from the Left or the Congress? This is normal practice, when a party comes to power, people close to its ideology are appointed to high places in the government. Even most of the ministers come from the same RSS background. What is the big issue in it?” a senior RSS leader asked HT. Such intervention by the BJP’s ideological fountainhead is not new. Since Prime Minister Narendra Modi stormed to power last May, the RSS has placed more than 30 of its people in important ministries. People associated with the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, the RSS’ student wing, the BJP and other affiliates are part of the personal staff of 20 ministers. The list includes social justice minister Thawarchand Gehlot, agriculture minister Radha Mohan Singh, health minister JP Nadda and labour minister Narendra Singh Tomar. “When I had to appoint my personal secretary, I was recommended some names from the BJP headquarters and was asked to pick one of them,” one of these ministers told HT. Even offices of junior ministers like Gen VK Singh, Sanjeev Balyan, Dharmendra Pradhan and Sripad Yesso Naik are run by people with an RSS background. Many of them were trained at the Surya Foundation , a Haryana-based charitable organisation close to the Sangh. (Hindustan Times 15/7/15)

75. 39 Christians ‘converted’ to Hinduism in Kerala (7)

ALAPPUZHA: The Viswha Hindu Parishad (VHP) on Sunday ‘converted’ 39 people from 11 dalit Christian families to Hinduism as part of its controversial ghar wapsi programme in Kerala’s Alappuzha district on Sunday. The ceremony was held from 6 am to 10 am at Nallaveetil Bhadrakali temple near Cheriyanadu in the district. Several VHP and Arya Samaj leaders were in attendance. Ganapathi homam and shudhi homam were done for the ‘purification’ of the converts and they were also told to recite Gayathri Manthra as the final step of the ritual. “We are moving ahead with our initiative and more families from other religions will be reconverted to Hinduism soon. We are being approached by many people who want to come back to their original faith,” said VHP Alappuzha district chief Prathap G Padickal, the main organizer of the event. The district has been the nerve centre of such activities with the first ghar wapsi in Kerala held near Haripad on December 21 last year where 30 dalit Christians officially embraced Hinduism. dalit Christians, most of whom belong to Pentecostal and other non-Catholic and non-Syrian Christian denominations, are denied reservations that Hindu dalit communities avail of, and are hence a soft target for the VHP. After a spate of conversion programmes by VHP in various places in the state, the UDF government created a Rs 5 crore corpus to set up a commission to find ways to integrate ‘converted Christians’ into the social mainstream. Alappuzha Bishop Stephen Athipozhyil’s office informed TOI that the church has decided not to air any statements in connection with ghar wapsi. “We do not want to give any importance to this issue. So we want to keep away from commenting on this programme,” a spokesperson said. (Times of India 20/7/15)

TERRORISM

76. Pakistan to Install Tracking Chips in Feet of 1,600 Terror Suspects (12)

LAHORE: For the first time in Pakistan, ‘tracking chips’ will be installed in the feet of 1,600 terror suspects in Punjab province by the end of this month to monitor their movements. The terror suspects have been placed under Fourth Schedule of Anti-terrorism Act, 1997 that lists all the known suspects belonging to banned militant or sectarian groups who could pose a threat to public peace and security. “For the first time in the country’s history, the law enforcement agencies will start ‘electronic surveillance’ of 1,600 terror suspects by installing a tracking device at their ankles (commonly known as ankle-band) to monitor their movements,” a senior official from Punjab Counter-Terrorism Department told PTI. “We have bought the tracking devices from a couple of countries and by the end of this month the process of installing them in the ankles of the terror suspects will begin. The suspects who have been allowed to stay in restricted areas will be summoned and the tracking chip will be installed,” the official said. The use of this modern technology would not only help the law enforcement agencies to keep an eye on the suspects’ movements but also help reach ‘hard core terrorists’, he said. After installation of the ankle-band it would be difficult for the suspects to leave the restricted area, he said. The government decided to install the ‘ankle-band’ after reports that a number of high-profile members of the banned groups were flouting its order to ‘stay in a restricted area’. Militant outfit Lashkar-e-Jhangvi chief Malik Ishaq, who was on the Proscribed List, reportedly managed to leave the country for Saudi Arabia to perform religious ritual, Umrah, in the past without the permission of the government. Under the law, a suspect of the Fourth Schedule may leave the ‘restricted area’ after taking permission from the government. (New Indian Express 11/7/15)

77. NIA files charge sheet over December massacre in Assam (12)

Guwahati: Six months after Bodo militant outfit NDFB massacred close to 80 innocent civilians in a series of attacks in Assam, the NIA on Monday filed a charge sheet, naming four leaders of the insurgent group. The National Investigation Agency (NIA) in Guwahati filed the charge sheet before the Special NIA Court here and named the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) anti-talk faction’s self-styled commanding officer Ajay Basumatary alias B. Buhum, deputy commander Nitul Daimary, assistant forest secretary Dilip Basumatary and second lieutenant Khamrei Basumatary as accused. A statement issued by the NIA said the four have been charged under various sections of the Indian Penal Code and under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, Explosive Substances Act, and Arms Act. On December 23 last year, the NDFB faction opposed to talks fired indiscriminately at civilians in five locations in Kokrajhar, Chirang and Sonitpur districts, leading to death of 78 people and injuries to many others. The charge sheet pertains to the attack on Adivasis in Sonajuli village in Biswanath Chariali in Sonitpur district, which led to the death of 30 civilians. The NIA was able to collect evidence on the basis of field investigation as well as technical and forensic tools. The Assam government had handed over the probe to the NIA and the investigating agency’s chief Sharad Kumar visited the violence affected areas in Kokrajhar and Sonitpur districts in January. Following the December 23 attack, security forces deployed in Assam including the army intensified their operations against the NDFB, particularly along the Bhutan border. Assam Director General of Police Khagen Sarma earlier said the intensified operations led to the killing of 10 senior cadres of the NDFB and the arrest of over 300 cadres and linkmen in the past few months. He said the continued operation also resulted in improvement in the law and order situation and seizure of over 100 sophisticated arms and 62.5 kg of explosives. (Business Standard 13/7/15)

78. Indian still detained, 6 Britons deported (12)

Beijing : Six Britons who were detained along with an Indian and 13 other foreigners in China for their alleged “terror links” have been deported to UK while Indian embassy officials were expected to have consular meeting with Rajiv Mohan Kulshrestha, who remained under detention. Six Britons, who were detained have been deported, state-run Global Times reported on Thursday. They were among 20 foreigners who were detained at Ordos Airport in Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region on July 10 on suspicion of terror links. They allegedly watched promotion videos of a banned terror group in their hotel rooms. All the 20 members were linked to the South Africa-based charity, Gift of the Givers, founded by Indian-origin Imtiaz Sooliman. Of the 20, nine are British nationals and two are dual British-South African nationals in the group. Others included eight South Africans and one Indian, the Daily report said. The group was on a 47-day tour to “explore the ancient China” before being arrested. “Six have been deported, and the remainder [British nationals] are still detained. Consular staff have visited the group to provide assistance and we are liaising with Chinese authorities,” a spokesperson of the British embassy told the Global Times. Indian officials were expected to meet Mr Kulshrestha after the formalities related to consular access, officials said. Chinese think-tanks defended the detention and deportation saying it was warranted as they violated Chinese law by watching a terror-related video. Li Wei, who specialised in counter-terrorism with the Chinese Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, told the daily that those who watched the terror video violated China’s law on countering terrorism. (Asian Age 17/7/15)

NAXALS/ MAOISTS

79. Maoist Activities Thrive in Wayanad Tribal Hamlets (12)

KOCHI: Even as the police are taking every effort to curb Maoist operations in the State, there have been reports that Maoist activity is rampant in the Wayanad area. Police records reveal that 18 Maoist-related cases were registered in Wayanad alone, and the main accused in almost all the cases was Maoist leader Roopesh who was arrested recently. According to the police, Wayanad is the worst affected district in the State by the Maoist menace, where as many as 17 crimes were registered in 2014-15. As far as the Mananthavady sub-division is concerned, 12 crimes were registered during the period, of which 8 were under the Vellamunda police station. Besides, the Thalapuzha police recently registered a case in connection with the visit of five armed Maoists to the Kurichia tribal colony in the area. According to the police, the geographical peculiarities of Wayanad, which is surrounded by thick tropical forest, is the primary factor that makes the area conducive for Maoist activities. Another favourable factor is the fact that the district shares its border with Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. “The Maoists often take advantage of the  extreme backwardness of the tribal people, and make the villages the breeding ground for their armed rebellion against the government,” says the police. In Wayanad, Vellamunda is the worst hit, with the local police registering a number of cases recently, including the one related to an incident in which gunshots were fired at the police force directly by Maoists. It is learnt that the Maoists have formed combined zonal committees for Kerala and Tamil Nadu. For augmenting the joint destabilisation activities in Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu, a new committee titled the ‘Western Ghats Special Zone Committee’ has been formed. Under the committee, various sub-divisions have been created with separate chieftains. Intelligence reports reveal that the Maoists operating in Kerala and the neighbouring sates have adopted a peculiar kind of interaction with the public. As a concerted strategy, Maoist cadres first identify NGOs that fight for some social cause and then interact with the public through such agencies.  “After identifying the frontline leaders of social organizations, they canvass them and induct Maoist ideologies into them gradually. Ultimately, the Maoists start using the social organisations for implementing their ideologies, by conducting camps, demonstrations and classes under schemes such as ‘Njattuvela’, ‘Janakeeya Manushyavakasha Prasthnam’ and ‘Youth Dialogue.” state the reports….  (New Indian Express 13/7/15)

80. 4 police officials abducted by Naxalites in Chhattisgarh (12)

RAIPUR: Four police officials, recruited by the state police as auxiliary personnel, were on Monday evening abducted by suspected Naxalites in the Bijapur district of Chhattisgarh. Officials said that the personnel were abducted from a civilian bus plying in the Kutru police station area of the said district. Additional director general of police (anti-Naxal operations) RK Vij confirmed the development to PTI, saying that the personnel were in the rank of assistant constable. The four personnel have been identified as Jaydev Yadav, Mangal Sodhi, Raju Tela and Rama Majji. These personnel are inducted to assist state police in conducting anti-Naxal operations and are also called as ‘followers’. Bijapur superintendent of police, KL Dhruv, said, “An armed group of Naxalites stopped a passenger bus in which the four assistant constables were travelling and abducted them under Kutru police station limits this evening.”  Officials said that special police and paramilitary reinforcements have been rushed to comb the jungles where the incident was reported and no communication has been received till now about their whereabouts. “It is suspected that Maoists were conducting a search on some civilian vehicles in the said area and finding these men in a bus they took them away with them,” a senior official said. (Times of India 14/7/15)

81. Maoists warn 30 tribals on bauxite mining (12)

VISAKHAPATNAM: Thirty Girijans from eight villages in Visakha Agency where the government is proposing to take up bauxite mining, have been warned by the CPI (Maoist)’s east division committee to come out of the bauxite rehabilitation committees and support the local people’s struggle against bauxite mining. They and their families would face boycott or physical action if they failed to surrender to the people and avoid promoting bauxite mining, secretary of the east division committee Kailasam said in a press release sent to reporters in Agency area. The statement has names of 30 Girijans on it and alleged that they had fallen to the government’s plan to divide the Girijans to facilitate bauxite mining in an easy way. Apart from the 30 persons named in the list some others are working secretly but all have been warned in the past through Praja courts, posters, banners and paper statements. In Jerrela alone Praja court was held three times but they failed to change their stand. They cannot bring disaster to their own people just for the sake of receiving a salary of Rs. 14,000 a month, Kailsam said and warned the government that would be held responsible for any action taken against the people the party had listed or those working secretly. (The Hindu 16/7/15)

82. Maoists kill 4 abducted cops in Chhattisgarh (12)

Raipur: Maoists on Wednesday brutally killed four policemen they had abducted in Chhattisgarh’s south Bastar district of Bijapur a couple of days ago. Naxals murdered four auxiliary constables — Jaidev Yadav, Mangal Sori, Raju Tela and Rama Majji — with sharp weapons and threw their bodies on the road near Gudma, barely one km from a paramilitary camp, a senior district police officer told this newspaper. The fate of another auxiliary constable, Madvi Soma, abducted by Naxals in Pollampali in neighbouring Sukma district four days was still unknown. “Four policemen abducted by the ultras were killed. Their bodies were found at a place between Gudma and Kutru villages,” additional director general of police (ADG) (Naxal operation) R.K. Vij said. “This is a brutal act (by Maoists), since all the four policemen were unarmed,” he added. The four auxiliary constables, former special police officers (SPOs), were abducted at gun point by the ultras when they were going to Kutru from district headquarters town of Bijapur on Monday afternoon. While two of them were travelling in a passenger bus, two others rode on a motorcycle. National Park Area Committee of CPI (Maoist) has taken the responsibility of the killing. In a leaflet left near the corpses, Maoists said the four cops were punished with deaths for committing excesses on the innocent tribals during their association with disbanded Salwa Judum, an anti-Naxal vigilante force. The auxiliary constables, local tribal youth, are usually used as “guides” by security forces. (Asian Age 16/7/15)

TRAFFICKING

83. Outgoing US Consul expresses concern over trafficking (1)

KOLKATA: On her last interactive session in Kolkata, Helen LaFave, the outgoing U.S. Consul-General in Kolkata, expressed concern over the human, especially women, trafficking, in the region. “Persons are trafficked. Men, women and children…everyone is trafficked, but majorly women are pushed into trafficking,” she said highlighting the issue of trafficking. She said that India along with the neighbouring countries of Bangladesh, Burma and Nepal should bring together ideas in order to stop trafficking. Moreover, the issue of “rescuing and redemption” plays a major role as the sufferer needs to be pulled out of the trauma, she said. “Poverty is one of the major reasons for people being pushed into trafficking as they are vulnerable. They should be provided with opportunity and support so that they do not feel vulnerable,” she said. Speaking on the other major issues, she said one of President Obama’s policy priority had been to increase the economic and security engagements between the Central and the South Asia. She also said that other part of the policy is to boost the engagement between the South and the South-East Asia. Helen LaFave began her assignment as Consul-General in Kolkata in August 2013. After exactly two years in Kolkata, Ms Lafave will leave for Tunis in September and eventually join the U.S. Mission in the largest city of Libya, Tripoli, as the Deputy Chief of the Mission. (The Hindu 11/7/15)

84. Manhunt on for Bangladesh Human Trafficking Kingpin (1)

KOLKATA: The kingpin of South-East Asia’s largest network trafficking women has fled Bangladesh to seek shelter in West Bengal, according to a report sent by the Dhaka unit of the Indo-Bangla joint task force against human trafficking. Shaheen Khondakar gave the slip to Bangladesh’s Rapid Action Battalion which raided his apartment in a highrise building at Turag in Dhaka last week, from where he ran a placement agency for women. Though the kingpin could flee, his aide Seema Akhtar alias Mousumi and five persons were arrested. The police rescued nine women, out of which six were supposed to be trafficked to Central Asia while three were to be sent to Chennai. The state CID has launched a manhunt for Shaheen and issued an alert for him all over the country after the report reached the Secretariat,”Nabanna”. According to sources in the Home Department, under the guise of the placement agency, Shaheen and Seema had over the last few years trafficked thousands of Bangladeshi young women to different parts of India, where they were forced into prostitution or sold to rich Arabs. “In India their favourite destinations were Mumbai, Pune, New Delhi, Bangalore and Chennai. They would assure these women, many of whom could speak English, of lucrative jobs as receptionists in big hotels or medium-sized corporate houses. But once in India, they would be sold by Shaheen’s agents to pimps who forced them into prostitution in big cities,” a CID official told Express. The CID is the nodal agency for West Bengal’s anti-human trafficking unit and its representatives regularly attend the meetings of the joint task force of the two countries. At a meeting held in Mumbai, names of 556 Bangladeshi human traffickers and 514 agents were handed over to the neighbouring country. Dhaka was also given a list of Shaheen’s “dens” in Bangladesh — Khulna, Rajshahi, Borishal, Chittagong — other than the country’s capital. New Delhi has also expressed concern about Dhaka’s not being able to nab Shaheen and his associates, who have links with arms and gold smugglers from both the countries as well. In West Bengal, Shaheen’s network operates in almost all districts which share a border with Bangladesh. Its agents have connections in the police administration and political parties. (New Indian Express 13/7/15)

85. Trafficking cloud on boy kidnap (1)

The disappearance of Bunty Kumar near his Balwant Tola home in Maner turned murkier with police claiming the four-year-old boy could fall prey to a child trafficking racket even as four of his relatives were arrested on Thursday. Patna senior superintendent of police (SSP) Vikas Vaibhav said the cops had started an extensive search in the village. “The case is turning mysterious. Four persons have been arrested in connection with the ransom demand. However, the child has not been recovered as of yet and it is a cause of worry for us. The village also has a pond and the police have been told to search it too with the help of divers,” the SSP said, indicating that they were fearing a worst-case scenario. The four persons who have been nabbed and sent to jail have been identified as Bal Kishan Singh, Ranjay Kumar, Lori and Sugriv. While Bal Kishan and Ranjay are residents of the same village and are relatives of the victim’s family, the other two live in the neighbouring Singhara village and are Ranjay’s brothers-in-law. “The SIM card from which the ransom call was made belongs to Bal Kishan. When he was questioned, Bal Kishan said his cellphone had a dual SIM facility and while he was asleep, Ranjay took out one of the cards from his phone. With the card being destroyed, the police found out the cellphone from which the call was made belonged to Ranjay. They all will be taken on a three-day police remand,” Vaibhav said. “We have also come to know that some children have mysteriously disappeared from the area. One of them, a one-and-a-half-year-old boy, had been recovered around two months ago while at least three are still missing. The police suspect that some child trafficking gang is active in the area and it can be their handiwork,” Vaibhav said. (The Telegraph 17/7/15)

86. Traffickers sell woman for 10 lakh; three arrested in Ahmedabad (1)

AHMEDABAD: Following a rap by Gujarat high court (HC) directing police to act in an alleged case of human trafficking, women cell of the city crime branch on Friday night arrested three including two women for allegedly selling off a 25-year-old woman in marriage to a Himmatnagar-based youth for Rs 10 lakhs. Police have arrested Meena Mishra running a dance class in Isanpur area of Ahmedabad, her friend Rita Bangali and Ishwar Malhotra. “There are 10 other accused in the case including Sanjay Patel, a 35-year old bachelor, to whom the woman was sold and forcibly married after money allegedly exchanged hands. Sanjay’s uncle Dr Dixit Patel had allegedly given the girl medicine for abortion. He is also an accused,” said assistant commissioner of police, women cell, Kanan Desai. The victim has also alleged that she was confined and raped for one month by Sanjay. The woman belonged to the minority community and had changed her religion after she fell for a Hindu boy. She was also living with the boy’s sister in Isanpur. In fact, she is reported to have continued living with her even after the boy broke up with her. “The complainant has alleged that the boy’s sister was in touch with Meena for the past few years. Meena was contacted by agents Vijay and Gunjesh to find a girl for Sanjay who was not being able to find a bride in his community. They promised handsome remuneration. This is a social manifestation of skewed sex ratio in Gujarat where many men are unable to find brides in their own community,” said a police official. Meena convinced the boy’s sister and lured her to send the victim with her for marriage. The girl has alleged that she was sold off to Sanjay who married her forcibly. “The victim has alleged that she was then confined and raped for one month. Later, when she became pregnant Sanjay’s uncle Dr Patel gave her abortion tablets,” said the official. The victim later escaped from the custody of her tormentors and approached a lawyer who took her to different police agencies. “However, as no action was taken we were compelled to knock the doors of Gujarat high court which directed women cell to file an FIR,” said advocate Zahid Pathan. (Times of India 19/7/15)

CORRUPTION

87. Vyapam scam: Whistle-blowers virtually on their own (5)

NEW DELHI: What should a person do if he gets hold of incriminating evidence of corruption against the Chief Minister of a State? With the rules for the existing Whistle-blower Protection Act not notified as yet, and which therefore, renders the available whistle-blower protection law a paper tiger, there is no safe reporting or speedy investigative mechanism in place to address such a situation. This was the dilemma faced by Prashant Pandey when he first got hold of about 40 GB of data from Madhya Pradesh Vyavasayik Pareeksha Mandal (Vyapam) office computers in Bhopal, containing incriminating evidence against Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and his wife in the now headline-grabbing Vyapam scam: he did not know where to report it. The freelance digital security expert, also an ethical hacker, was encouraged by leaders of the Congress to hand over the details to them, but he told The Hindu, “I was clear that such sensitive information must not be handed over to anyone else other than a court or a specialised agency such as the CBI investigating the case.”Both Pandey and Ashish Chaturvedi, another whistle-blower in the Vyapam case, have been harassed by the Madhya Pradesh police during various stages of uncovering the details of the scam, with Pandey’s family being attacked by a truck 40 km from Indore as recently as May this year. Chaturvedi told The Hindu that even after he was provided security by the State, there have been six attempts on his life with medical students involved in the scam, attacking him in the open. The trials and tribulations faced by Pandey and Chaturvedi, show how the absence of a functioning whistle-blower protection regime in India is putting both the person possessing such information, and the data serving as evidence, at risk. When Pandey had handed over the incriminating evidence he found to the Madhya Pradesh Special Task Force, they did nothing with it, he told The Hindu. Frustrated, he went to the media with the complaint. But the current whistle-blower protection law in India does not even recognise the act of exposing corruption through the media as an act of whistle-blowing. Venkatesh Nayak, Access to Information programme coordinator for Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, said the amendments being proposed by the Centre to the 2011 Whistle-blower Protection Law will only further prevent people from coming forward to blow the whistle. It exempts from the scope of whistle-blowing everything that is exempted from section 8 (1) of the Right to Information law, including cases seen as “compromising national security.” The 2011 law as it is, is not without its limitations. Eminent lawyer and anti-corruption activist Prashant Bhushan told The Hindu that though he had demanded the anonymity of the whistle-blower in the 2G case in the Supreme Court, anonymity could not guarantee the safety of the whistle-blower or the information serving as evidence of corruption, in such cases as Vyapam, where corrupt government staff members know who the informant is. (The Hindu 11/7/15)

88. BCCI suspends Mumbai cricketer for breaching anti-corruption code (5)

New Delhi: The Board of Control for Cricket in India suspended Mumbai Ranji cricketer Hiken Shah on Monday for making a “corrupt approach” to a fellow player during the IPL and referred the matter to its disciplinary committee for further action. “BCCI would wish to inform that Mumbai cricketer, Hiken Shah, has been suspended with immediate effect. He was found guilty of breaching BCCI’s Anti-Corruption Code for participants,” the BCCI said in a statement issued by board secretary Anurag Thakur. “His involvement in any form of cricket, affiliated with the BCCI stands suspended till the time the disciplinary committee of the BCCI passes appropriate orders,” it added. Shah’s long-term fate will now be decided by the committee. The 30-year-old batsman, who is not part of any IPL team, has played 37 first-class matches for Mumbai and has 2,160 runs at an average of 42.35. “Hiken Shah made a corrupt approach to one of his colleagues from first-class cricket, who is also a member of one of the IPL teams. The approached player immediately informed the incident to his franchise team. The franchise team followed the process of informing the incident to the Anti Corruption Unit of the BCCI,” the BCCI stated. A source said the player approached by Shah was Rajasthan Royals’ Pravin Tambe, who promptly took the matter to the BCCI. “Based on the information, BCCI president, Mr Jagmohan Dalmiya, instructed the ACU to conduct an immediate enquiry into the matter. After a detailed inquiry into the reported incident, the inquiry commissioner found Hiken Shah guilty of ‘committing breach of Articles 2.1.1; 2.1.2; and 2.1.4 of the BCCI Anti-Corruption Code for participants and recommended their provisions to the BCCI President’,” the board stated. Rajasthan is not alien to the threat of spot-fixing after former India paceman S Sreesanth and two other cricketers from the team were arrested in 2013 on suspicion of taking money to concede a fixed number of runs. Sreesanth, who denied any wrongdoing, was subsequently banned for life by the BCCI. The move comes ahead of the Supreme Court-appointed justice Lodha committee’s verdict that would announce the quantum of punishment for Gurunath Meiyappan, Raj Kundra and their respective Indian Premier League (IPL) franchises vis-a-vis the spot fixing and betting scandal that rocked the Twenty20 tournament in 2013. Chennai Super Kings (CSK) team official Meiyappan and Rajasthan Royals co-owner Kundra were found guilty of betting in the 2013 edition of the Twenty20 cricket tournament. Sources said that the verdict of the committee will be rendered on July 14. (Hindustan Times 13/7/15)

89. CBI court orders framing of charges against Madhu Koda, eight others (5)

NEW DELHI: A special CBI court on Tuesday ordered framing of charges against the former Jharkhand Chief Minister Madhu Koda, the former Jharkhand Chief Secretary Ashok Kumar Basu, the former Coal Secretary H.C. Gupta and six others. They will face trial on charges of corruption, criminal conspiracy and cheating. This particular case is related to the alleged irregularities in allocation of Rajhara North coal block in Jharkhand to Kolkata-based Vini Iron and Steel Udyog Ltd (VISUL). The court of Special CBI Judge Bharat Parashar ordered the formal framing of charges on July 31. He told all the accused, who were earlier granted bail, to be present in court on that date. The accused had been summoned after the court took cognisance of alleged offences under sections 120-B (criminal conspiracy) read with 420 (cheating) and 409 (criminal breach of trust by public servants) of the IPC and under provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act. The CBI has accused Mr. Gupta of concealing facts from the former Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh. Mr. Koda, Mr. Basu and two other public servants were accused of conspiring to favour VISUL in the coal block allocation despite the State government having recommended two other firms. Earlier, Mr. Gupta had accused Dr. Singh of approving the allocation, stating that the final decision to allocate the blocks rested with him. (The Hindu 15/7/15)

90. CAG finds financial irregularity, poor quality blight mid-day meal scheme (5)

NEW DELHI: CAG’s performance audit report of Mid-Day Meal has not only found financial mismanagement by the HRD ministry but it has also discovered states having indulged in diversion of funds to the tune of Rs 123.29 crore meant for the scheme. But what the CAG found most disturbing is the total disregard to quality of meal being given to children. The system of involving mothers in the process of cooking has not worked. In Andhra Pradesh, 86 out of 120 schools test checked found no involvement of mothers; in Odisha in 103 schools mothers were not involved to supervise preparation of meals. To add to this, CAG said sanctioned calorific value was not being maintained in meals. In Chhattisgarh, Meghalaya, Sikkim, Tripura and Andaman no record was maintained to ensure minimum calorie and protein content. In Delhi, Sri Ram Institute for Industrial Research tested samples of cooked food of 37 service providers and 89% of them failed to meet the prescribed standards. In nine states, shortfall in supply of foodgrains in the meals served to children against prescribed quantity was noticed in selected districts. In Karnataka, CAG says, ISKCON which supplied mid-day meals to children of 304 schools in two taluks of Bellary district “used 1.04 lakh kg less rice than the prescribed norms in preparing MDM”.CAG also discovered excess payment has been made to few a non-governmental organizations. It mentions how ISKCON, Mumbai lifted only 21,511.6 quintals of rice against the requirement of 68,561.18 quintals but “it was seen that payment for cooking cost was made to ISKCON at full rate during 2010-14 resulting in excess payment of Rs 11.67 crore to ISKCON.” CAG said test results of 187 meal samples prepared by ISKCON during 2010-14 revealed that meals failed to meet the prescribed standards. (Times of India 19/7/15)

ENVIRONMENT/ CLIMATE CHANGE

91. Bhima carrying polluted water into Karnataka (9)

PUNE: The discharge of untreated sewage and industrial waste into rivers has emerged as the major cause of pollution in 16 of the 40 rivers studied by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) on interstate borders. The study found the water unfit for any use. The Bhima river, which has Mula, Mutha, Pavana and Indrayani as its tributaries, too was found polluted at two locations — Takli in Solapur and Jewargi in Gangapur in Karnataka. About 85% locations of the 40 rivers, monitored between 2005-2013, showed total coliform content crossing the prescribed limits. The coliform content of Bhima river (at the two locations) too was quite high. The coliform count is a water quality parameter that acts as an indicator of pathogens that most commonly cause diarrhoea, typhoid and a host of enteric diseases. The rivers were studied between 2005 and 2013. Many of these rivers have been the bone of contention between states with pollution being one of the prime reasons for conflict. The most polluted river in the country is Ghaghar which passes through Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab and Rajasthan. Though the pollution levels of interstate rivers in Maharashtra such as Vardha, Mahi, Tapi, Bhima and Krishna were found high, their condition is still better when compared with other rivers observed. The CPCB report states that rivers that had comparatively good water quality at every location were Sarsa, Vardha, Mahi, Chambal, Betwa, Sone, Tapi, Bhima, Krishna, Damodar, Ramganga and Subarnrekha. The water quality monitoring results were analyzed with respect to indicators of oxygen consuming substances such as bio-chemical oxygen demand (BOD) and dissolved oxygen (DO), indicator of pathogenic bacteria i.e. total coliform and fecal coliform, total dissolved solids (TDS) and chemical oxygen demand (COD). The water quality of these rivers was assessed as per the primary water quality criteria for bathing. However, the CPCB clearly states that their water is unfit for any designated usage. The coliform range exceeded the maximum prescribed limit in Satluj, Beas, Ghaghar, Markanda, Ganga, Yamuna, Chambal, Dhela, Kosi, Kitchha, Wainganga, Krishna, Tungabhadra, among others in the country…. (Times of India 12/7/15)

92. India may be hotter by 8 degrees, lose $200bn per year: Study (9)

New Delhi: Global warming is at a much faster pace than estimated. The visible impact would be temperature crossing 50-degree mark by the turn of the century and water stress in the northern part of India, a new global study released on Monday in London and Mumbai said. Climate change could cost India US $200 billion per annum if it fails to ensure adequate adaptation measures and the countries fail to reduce their carbon emissions, the study — Climate Change: A Risk Assessment — conducted by climate advisors to the governments in United States, United Kingdom and China, the world’s biggest carbon emitters, said. They analysed data from across the world to arrive at the conclusions. “The water stress will increase in coming years and will have implications on India’s food security,” said Arunabha Ghosh, chief executive officer of Council on Energy, Environment and Water, the Indian partner for the study funded by UK foreign office.   The authors have clearly outlined the northern part of India, including Delhi, Chandigarh, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, as high impact zone of climate change in India. In the report, they said, said high heat stress can have various implications, including restrictions on outdoor work and sports and not getting sound sleep. Different scenarios presented in the report say the temperature could rise 8 degrees Celsius, crossing the 50-degree mark in cities like Delhi, Jaipur and Chandigarh during summer. The study reiterated the fact that extreme rainfall will increase in India and sounded an alarm that frequency of floods will increase in the Gangetic plains. Its implication will be on India’s food security with an estimated loss of up to US $200 billion per year by the turn of this century. This is in tune with the assessment made by the Indian Agricultural Research Institute. The report for the first time also showed internal security risks arising because of climate change. It is well documented that a reason for rise of IS in was back to back droughts and food crises, the study said. (Hindustan Times 14/7/15)

93. Mumbai: High particulate matter during monsoon ring alarm bells (9)

Mumbai: Particulate Matter, mumbai monsoon, monsoon particles, SAFAR,Ultra-fine particulate , monsoon, PM1, cardiovascular disease, mumbai news, city news, local news, maharashtra news, Indian Express “PM1 is inevitable given vehicular traffic in Mumbai. Levels should be below 5-10µg/m3. But it is already high during monsoon. Mumbai has unusually high levels of PM1 (Particulate Matter) in monsoon, according to the government’s latest air quality monitoring system figures. Ultra-fine particulate matter is considered dangerous to health. The System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research (SAFAR) found PM1 levels on certain days peaked to 30 microgrammes per cubic meter (µg/m3). “PM1 is inevitable given vehicular traffic in Mumbai. Levels should be below 5-10µg/m3. But it is already high during monsoon. Generally, monsoon is the least polluted season and levels only rise in winter and summer,” SAFAR director Gufran Beig said. Unlike PM10 (coarse particles) that can go up when there is dust, PM1 levels remain high even in wet weather, because the fine particles are not easily washed away during rains. There is no safe standards for PM1 because there is no level that can protect everyone from its health impacts, said SAFAR director Gufran Beig. This is the first time that PM1 levels are being monitored in the city. Studies show PM1 is the cause of pollution-linked cardiovascular disease. “Being finer than other pollutants, PM1 particles can easily penetrate into lungs,” said head of chest medicine department and environmental pollution research centre at KEM hospital. Vehicles are major contributors of PM1, particularly diesel vehicles. PM1 levels in the past three months were recorded at pilot stations of Colaba and Chembur. SAFAR project now includes Automatic Weather Stations at Borivali, Malad-Malvani, Bhandup, Varsova, Andheri, Sakinaka, Kurla, Dharavi, Mahim, Worli, Byculla, Mahul, and Mankhurd. Data from SAFAR stations showed that the city’s air quality index was ‘moderate to poor’ in May, and was upgraded to ‘good’ in June. Until June 9, UV radiation was in the ‘moderate to high-risk’ range. SAFAR is hopeful PM 1 level will go down during monsoon. (Indian Express 15/7/15)

AGRICULTURE/ FARMERS SUICIDES

94. Farm crisis: trade unions to stage protests across the country (20)

RAICHUR: Trade union activists will stage demonstrations across the country on July 30 to express their solidarity with farmers in distress. Prasanna Kumar, State secretary of the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), said that the Union and State governments were responsible for the crisis and farmers’ suicides. “The National Commission on Farmers headed by M.S. Swaminathan had recommended that the minimum support price for an agricultural produce should be at least 50 percent more than the weighted average cost of production. No government has, however, taken interest to implement it,” he said. Mr. Prasanna Kumar alleged that successive governments continued to misuse the Sugarcane (Control) Order,1966, to impress sugar producers at the cost of sugarcane growers. “Sugar mill owners are well organised under the Indian Sugar Mills Association and they pressure policy makers whereas the growers remain largely unorganised. The governments bend to the powerful and mete out injustice to the weaker,” he said. According to Mr. Kumar, over 39 percent of the country’s cultivable land will fall under easily acquirable category if the proposed amendments to the Land Acquisition Act are passed in Parliament. (The Hindu 12/7/15)

95. Farmers who sought permission to kill self get their dues (20)

Nagpur (Maharashtra): The dues of seven farmers who sought permission to commit suicide have been cleared, an official said on Wednesday. “We have disbursed the amounts and deposited them directly in their bank accounts,” Wardha collector Ashutosh Sahil told IANS. He said that the problems arose mainly because the district administration did not have the correct bank details of the seven farmers, but the entire issue has now been amicably resolved. “We welcome the collector’s prompt steps in the matter which has helped save the lives of these seven distressed farmers. We hope they take up other pending cases with similar seriousness before more lives are lost,” said Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti President Kishore Tiwari. The seven farmers, including three women, of Wadad village wrote to the authorities seeking ‘permission’ to commit suicide as they were not given the aid money since January. The bemused district officials not only accepted the letter, but gave acknowledgement which was submitted to the collector office, with copies to high-ranking officials in Mumbai. The farmers are: Kishore Ingale, Bhanudas Wadadkar, Pankaj Gawandi, Shankar Khadse, and the women – Kundabai Lonkar, Kamala Warhade and Vasanta Gingavkar. Collector Sahil said that as per norms, these farmers have been disbursed an average of Rs.9,000-Rs.13,000 depending on the crop losses they suffered in the hailstorms last year. Tiwari, however, pointed out that around Rs.300 crore amount is lying undisbursed within the Amravati division which should be cleared immediately to prevent more farmers from ending their lives. In July so far, the number of farmland suicides in the states stands at 27 and activists fear the situation may worsen if the existing dry spell continues in the state. (Deccan Herald 15/7/15)

96. Six more debt-burdened farmers commit suicide (20)

Bengaluru: Six debt-burdened farmers, including a woman, committed suicide in the State in the past 24 hours. A 48-year-old farmer from Timkapur in Piriyapatna taluk of Mysuru district ended his life by consuming pesticide at his farm on Thursday. The deceased has been identified as T K Shivanna. His relative Kantaraju, in a complaint lodged in Piriyapatna police station, said Shivanna had taken a loan of Rs 5 lakh from the Abburu branch of SBI Bank. Unable to repay debts, Shivanna took the drastic step. He is survived by his wife Shailaja and a minor son. A chilli farmer from Annigeri in Navalgund taluk of Dharwad district committed suicide by hanging himself on Thursday. Heavy debts and crop failure drove Dawalsab Mohammadsab Nalavadi (52) to suicide.A woman farmer from Akkigund tanda near Lakshmeshwar in Gadag district ended her life by hanging herself from the ceiling of her house in the early hours of Thursday. The deceased Veeravva Dhansingappa Lamani (55) had availed crop loans from a nationalised bank in Lakshmeshwar. There was no one to cultivate the two-acre dry land which is in the name of Veeravva as her husband was bedridden, while her three sons are working as daily wage labourers in Goa.A debt-stressed farmer from Kalli in Sirsi taluk of Uttara Kannada district ended his life by jumping into a well near his house. It is learnt that the victim Dyavya Era Naik (65) had taken farm loans on his two-acre farm from taluk co-operative agricultural and rural development bank. The bank had served recovery notice to the farmer recently. Banavasi police have registered a case of unnatural death. Unable to repay the debts, Gurunath (49), a farmer Naraganahalli in Mayakonda hobli of Davangere district, committed suicide by hanging himself from the ceiling of his house.Mayakonda police have registered a case. A 55-year-old farmer from Kamanahalli in Hanagal taluk of Haveri district attempted suicide by stabbing himself with a sharp weapon. Halappa Yellappa Hulagannavar, who was rushed to KIMS in Hubballi, is said to be in critical condition.On Thursday, the farmer, who is reeling under heavy debts, took the drastic step after a fertiliser shop owner refused to give him the pesticide on credit. (Deccan Herald 16/7/15)

97. Karnataka Governor Vala Seeks District-wise Report on Farmer Suicides (20)

BENGALURU: Governor Vajubhai Vala has sought a detailed report on the sudden spurt in farmer suicides in the state. In a letter to Chief Secretary Kaushik Mukherjee on Thursday, Vala has expressed deep concern over the increasing number of farmer suicides. “He (Governor) has sought a district-wise report on the reasons for the suicides and the steps taken by the government to address the issue. The report has to be filed in one week. The government is already on the job and will submit the report by next week,” a source in the chief minister’s office said. In the last one month, more than 70 farmers have committed suicide in the state and most cases were reported in Mandya and Mysuru districts. Sources said the governor has also written a letter seeking a status report on the number of officials against whom the Lokayukta had sought sanction for prosecution and also the number of officials against whom the permission was given. In his letter on Wednesday, Vala is said to have asked the government to give reasons for not giving permission for the prosecution of some officers, despite repeated reminders from the Lokayukta. Asked about the governor’s letter on the Lokayukta issue, Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister T B Jayachandra said he was not aware of receiving any such letter. As many as 105 cases are pending before the government seeking sanction for prosecution. Lokayukta Justice Y Bhaskar Rao, in his annual report submitted to the governor recently, had raised the issue while seeking Vala’s intervention. The High Court had sought case-wise explanation from the state on the delay in according sanction for prosecution. (New Indian Express 17/7/15)

LAND ACQUISITION/ DISPLACEMENT

98. Two land acquisition proposals withdrawn (4)

KOLHAPUR: The face-off between corporators and civic administration in the general body meeting of Kolhapur Municipal Corporation (KMC) on Monday led the officials to recall the proposals related to acquisition of land reserved for primary schools and change in land use. The development plan (DP) approved in 2000 had earmarked the reservations of the primary school at Takala and Ramanmala area. However, owing to the apathy of the civic officials and lack of funds, the land plots were not acquired for the last 15 years. The owners had issued purchase notices to the KMC appealing it to acquire the land or else the reservation would be lapsed. The plots would be transferred to them as per rule 127 of Maharashtra Regional Town Planning Act (MRTP), 1966. The KMC had pegged the acquisition cost to Rs 10 crore. The corporators alleged that the land plots were not longer required as the purpose specified in the DP would not be met. Jayant Patil, corporator of Jan Surajya Shakti Party, said, the proposal of acquiring land at Takala is illegal as it has already been sold to another party. “The purchase notice issued by the original owner is not as per the rules. Also, the proposal involves land dispute and the KMC would not be able to afford the land acquisition now,” he said. According to the rules, the owners can issue purchase notice only after ten years of the existing DP. Once the notice is issued, the general body has to take the decision within 90 days, else the municipal commissioner is entitled to take the decision. The corporators feared that once the deadline to approve the notice ends on July 18, the officials would not hesitate to pay the amount. NCP corporator Bhupal Shete said, “The purchase notice issued for acquiring land plot from Ramanmala is misleading as the person serving the notice has not provided the documents of the ownership but rather the power of attorney. Also, the document of the plot measurement done in 2002 has been provided and the officials have not verified its size before finalising the amount to be paid.” The corporators even showed the documents showing differences among the officials while drafting the proposals and said the some officials had questioned the plot ownership but it was turned down by the higher authorities. Also, the officials agreed that the officials had not conducted any hearings of the persons objecting the purchase notices. Municipal commissioner P Siva Sankar agreed to take the proposals back. “I will enquire about the proposals and conduct the hearings before tabling in the meeting for approval,” he said. (Times of India 13/7/15)

99. High Court seeks report on land acquisition for Arkavati Layout (4)

Bengaluru: The Karnataka High Court on Tuesday directed the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) to submit reports on the methods followed in acquiring land for Arkavati Layout based on guidelines issued by the Supreme Court in its 2010 verdict. Justice Ram Mohan Reddy issued the direction while hearing petitions filed by land owners questioning issuance of fresh/revised acquisition notification in 2014 after the Supreme Court had asked the BDA to relook acquisition of land in some villages. The petitioners claimed that their properties are situated away from the main area of Arkavati Layout and cannot form part of the layout under the apex court’s guidelines. The Supreme Court, in Bondu Ramaswamy and others v/s BDA (Arkavati Layout case), had noticed that in villages like Venkateshapura, Nagavara, Hennur and Challakere, some small pockets of land, which were surrounded by land not acquired for the layout, were notified for the layout, and had asked the BDA to stop acquisition of such land. Also, the petitioners have claimed that their land can be acquired only through the new Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013, and not as per the old law. The BDA has justified the acquisition based on the old law while contending that the notifications issued in 2014 were not for fresh acquisition but continuation of the earlier process that commenced in 2003, and based on court orders. (The Hindu 15/7/15)

100. Congress sticks to its guns on land Bill (4)

New Delhi: The Congress remains adamant that it will not concede ground on provisions relating to the consent clause, social impact assessment and some other critical portions of the Land Acquisition Act, 2013. In a note submitted to the Joint Parliamentary Committee on the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (Amendment) Second Ordinance, 2015, the party members make clear its unwillingness to accept at least eight of the 15 government-sponsored amendments to the Act, while agreeing to accept the remaining seven that are of a trivial nature. In its note, the Congress opposes the Modi government’s efforts to replace private companies with private entities, as that would broaden the list of parties for whom land can be acquired to include proprietorships, partnerships, non-profit organisations or any other entities that would be able to make a request to the government to acquire land for a public purpose. The 2013 Act only permitted acquisition for government agencies and private companies (if consented to by those affected). Objecting to the creation of a special category of projects that are exempt from consent and social impact assessment, a review by an expert group and the bar placed on acquisition of multi-crop and agricultural land, the note points out that by placing five items in the special category — including defence, industrial corridors and infrastructure projects, including projects under public-private partnership, — the NDA government has ensured the nullification of all safeguards in the 2013 law as most acquisitions will fall in these categories. The Congress objects to the government’s expansion of the definition of industrial corridors to include land up to one km on either side of the designated road or railway line. The Congress describes the government’s inclusion of an amendment that says it will first try to determine if the land being acquired is the “bare minimum” required for the project in question as a “cosmetic” addition that it has taken from the social impact assessment process. Pointing out that thousands of farmers had benefited from the retrospective clause in the 2013 Act that ensured the return of acquired land if unutilised for a long period of time, the note says the NDA government has amended that clause to exclude the time spent under litigation where a stay order has been passed from the period an applicant is required to satisfy, nullified the definition of ‘compensation paid’ laid down by the Supreme Court, while saying that any amount paid into any “designated account” shall be sufficient to disqualify a person from having his land returned even if the person has not accepted the compensation. (The Hindu 15/7/15)

101. No end to Narmada oustees’ struggle (4)

NEW DELHI: The 30th anniversary of the Narmada dam oustees’ struggle for rehabilitation and resettlement underlines the need for a just land acquisition Bill that makes the consent of owners and a proper Social Impact Assessment (SIA) mandatory. The people displaced by dam projects in Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat, sitting on dharna at the Jantar Mantar here, questioned the government about the rehabilitation of people displaced by large projects and the use of acquired land. They said the Chief Ministers of the political parties now fighting for consent and SIA in Parliament had ignored these features from the Narmada package and forced cash compensation on the oustees. “Those who fought for participatory rehabilitation practices are still struggling. First, the cash offered was paltry, and then those who fell for it blew it up and now have nothing for their future,” the protesters said. People in the struggle have grown old. “I was a young woman when the waters submerged our land. We have lost our only means of livelihood,” said Bhagwati, 51, of Nisarpur. “Why should we be made to sacrifice our all and why not the haves who want the land for sporting activities and recreation,” asked Devrambhai, 61. The struggle has reached a decisive stage with the government deciding to raise the height of the Narmada dam to its final height of 138.6 metres. Latika Rajput of Maharashtra says there is no recognition for families facing submergence or those displaced. Raj Kachroo, a former hydrology professor at the National University of Ireland, said there was no law for reservoir operation. In rivers with several dams, water was released without warning, affecting those downstream. Medha Patkar, leader of the National Alliance of People’s Movements, said: “There cannot be land acquisition without a participatory approach. The government cannot take away the best of agriculture land.” (The Hindu 20/7/15)

RIGHT TO HEALTH

102. Health dept launches programme to control maternal deaths (3)

JAIPUR: Striving to achieve the millennium development goal, the health department on Saturday launched Kushal Mangal Karyakram (KMK) with an aim to bring down maternal mortality ratio (MMR) in the state. Under the new scheme, the health department would identify high-risk pregnancies. These are such pregnancies which turn into mortality and add up to maternal mortality ratio. Women who are anaemic, suffering from high blood pressure, diabetes, kidney disease, obesity and HIV/AIDS could be at high risk of mortality during pregnancies. According to the health department figures, the state reports 208 deaths over one lakh deliveries due to complications. As per the millennium development goal, the MMR should be brought down to 181 deaths over one lakh deliveries. While launching KMK at an event organized on World Population Day on Saturday, health minister Rajendra Rathore said, that out of total pregnancies, it is estimated that 10% of pregnancies develop complications and they are called high-risk pregnancies. The high-risk pregnancy risks the life of mother or the foetus. Rathore said that in Rajasthan every year 19 lakh women give birth to babies. But, out of a total of 19 lakh deliveries, 1.9 lakh pregnancies are high-risk and they should be addressed with special attention. Now, the health department has launched KMK for their proper medication. A system will be developed to identify high-risk pregnancies. After identification, they would be referred to higher centres. The health department officials will conduct follow-ups and keep tracking high-risk pregnant women. They would be encouraged for institutional deliveries. The health department officials hope that the effort would bring down MMR in the state significantly. The health department is trying to reduce MMR by taking various measures ensuring availability of required equipment and consumables for improvement in quality antenatal care (ANC) check-up, identification and free referral transport, management and follow up of high-risk pregnancies. The department is making efforts to strengthen delivery points in terms of infrastructure, equipment and training. They are also ensuring 48-hour stay of pregnant women in hospital. Moreover, the health department has started social audits of all maternal deaths in the state to prevent such incidents in futures. (Times of India 12/7/15)

103. Honour for State’s efforts to lower infant mortality rate (3)

Chennai: The State government’s Health Department has been awarded the ‘Award for Child Survival’ for its effort in lowering infant mortality rate. At a national summit on best practices in public healthcare system held in Shimla recently, Tamil Nadu’s schemes to reduce mortality in the 1-5 age group, came in for praise. Under the programme, 66 specially equipped ambulances exclusively for neonates; 64 neonatal intensive care units; 14 newborn stabilisation units; and 24-hour comprehensive emergency obstetric and neonatal care centres were made operational. (The Hindu 14/7/15)

104. Malnutrition glare on Gujarat (3)

New Delhi:  For 10 months, the Narendra Modi administration withheld from the public the findings of a study by India’s government and Unicef that charts “unprecedented” improvement in child malnutrition over the past decade but shows Gujarat in an unflattering light. Under pressure after The Economist reported the findings a fortnight ago, the government last week released the national-level data from the Rapid Survey on Children. But it is still withholding the state-wise figures, questioning their accuracy. Unicef has not expressed any concern about the data’s correctness, though, and media speculation has it that the figures have been held back because they show the state Prime Minister Modi ruled for 13 years as lagging many poorer ones. Government sources said the UPA government had commissioned the survey in November 2013 and the final report reached the Modi government in September last year. But Dipa Sinha, a right to food campaigner, told The Telegraph an RTI query she had moved six months ago received a response only on June 30, saying the government had just a provisional report. The Congress today released the full findings, including the state-wise data. According to the study, the national percentage of underweight children below the age of five has fallen from 42.5 a decade ago to about 29 – gains that Unicef’s nutrition adviser for South Asia, Victor Aguayo, has been quoted as terming “unprecedented”.In Gujarat, the figure has dropped from 44.6 to 33.5 per cent, which is worse than the national average. “While UPA was winning the battle against malnutrition, Gujarat was losing it,” the Congress crowed. In absolute terms, India is far behind Africa, where 21 per cent children are underweight. Gujarat also lagged the national average at 42 per cent for “stunting” (when children are unusually short for their age), 18.5 per cent for severe stunting, and 18.7 per cent for “wasting” (when children weigh too little for their height). While the immunisation coverage in the country rose from 61 per cent in 2009 to 65.2 per cent, that in Gujarat fell from 56.6 to 56.2 per cent…..  (The Telegraph 17/7/15)

105. 5 die of Encephalitis in Bengal (3)

Siliguri: Five persons have died of Japanese Encephalitis in the North Bengal Medical College (NBMC) Hospital here in the past 24 hours, taking the total number of deaths in the State since January 31, a senior official of the Health Department said on Saturday. The five, who were under treatment at the hospital in Siliguri for the past several days, turned critical yesterday and showed symptoms of frequent convulsions and high fever, he said. Nineteen persons have died of the mosquito-borne disease since July 1 at the hospital. Thirty-one died since the outbreak of the disease in January first week, the official added. Altogether 38 persons are now undergoing treatment, he said, adding, patients were from Jalpaiguri and Darjeeling district. The hospital authorities recently opened a 16-bed special ward for Japanese Encephalitis patients but with the number of cases on the higher side, the hospital has to refer some patients, afflicted with the disease, to other wards, the official said. – PTI (The Hindu 19/7/15)

HIV/AIDS

106. HIV+ man kills rival RTV driver’s mother (3)

New Delhi: Earlier this year, a RTV driver reportedly killed his rival’s mother after suspecting that the latter was responsible for him contracting the HIV virus. The driver allegedly revealed this information before police after he was arrested on Tuesday, almost three months after he stabbed the woman to death in outer Delhi’s Vijay Vihar area. Shanti Devi was found with stab wounds and a disfigured face on April 21. Police were initially clueless about the identity of the suspect, until an eyewitness emerged. The eyewitness claimed to have seen RTV driver Shyam (name changed) stab the woman with a pair of scissors before crushing her face with a rock. Shyam continued to be on the run until earlier this week when police learnt that he was in his native village in Bihar’s Khagadiya district. A police team then brought him to Delhi after obtaining a transit remand. The accused reportedly told police that he was HIV positive and blamed a rival RTV driver, Anil, for deliberately getting him infected. “Shyam had learnt of his infection during a visit to Baba Saheb Ambedkar Hospital a few months ago. Since he complained of kidney pain, several blood tests, including that for HIV infection, were conducted. He was found to be HIV positive,” said Vikramjit Singh, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Outer) on Friday. Soon, the word spread. “Once during a quarrel over picking up passengers, Anil taunted Shyam saying that he had deliberately sent a HIV positive sex worker to pass on the disease to him. The two frequently visited brothels,” the DCP added. Shyam believed that Anil was out to harm him. However, since Anil had moved to Sivan in Bihar, Shyam targeted Anil’s mother who was in Delhi and worked as a maid in Vijay Vihar, police said. Police, however, are not accepting all of Shyam’s claims. “It is unlikely that Anil sent any HIV positive sex worker to Shyam or even knew one. Infected sex workers generally don’t reveal about the disease for fear of losing customers,” said the DCP. (The Hindu 11/7/15)

107. New HIV infections down by 20 per cent in India: UN (3)

UNITED NATIONS: India has been able to achieve a more than 20 per cent decline in new HIV infections between 2000 and 2014, reversing the spread of the virus, according to a UN report that says the world is on track to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030. According to the report titled “How AIDS changed everything – MDG 6: 15 years, 15 lesson of hope from the AIDS response”, the world has exceeded the targets contained in the Millennium Development Goals (MGD) to halt and reverse the spread of HIV. New HIV infections have fallen by 35 per cent and AIDS-related deaths by 41 per cent, while the global response to HIV has averted 30 million new infections and nearly 8 million AIDS-related deaths since 2000, when the MDGs were set said the report that was released in Addis Ababa yesterday by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS). “The measure of success for the United Nations is not what we promise, but what we deliver for those who need us most. When it comes to halting and beginning to reverse the AIDS epidemic, the world has delivered,” UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon said following the report’s launch. Ban said 15 million people on HIV treatment meant that the world was on its way to an AIDS-free generation. It also means that nearly 75 per cent of all pregnant women living with HIV have access to antiretroviral medicines that improve the quality of their lives and protect their children from HIV, he said. The report noted that India “literally” changed the course of its national HIV epidemic through the use of strategic information that guided its focus to the locations and population approach. “This placed communities at the centre of the response through the engagement of non-state actors and centrally managed policy and donor coordination,” it said. HIV treatment coverage for people living with HIV and TB has also increased and in terms of numbers of patients, the largest increases in antiretroviral therapy among people living with both HIV and TB have occurred in India, South Africa, Tanzania and Zambia. India accounts for more than 60 per cent of the Asia Pacific region’s people living with HIV-associated TB. The report noted that currently nearly 85 per cent of the antiretroviral medicines for HIV treatment come from India. It said the Indian government had also succeeded in preserving the legislative and policy spaces that permit Indian companies that make generic medicines to consolidate their exporting capacities to other developing countries. Currently, however, India is under pressure from several companies and governments of developed countries to dilute these provisions in free-trade agreements being negotiated with them, it said. (Times of India 15/7/15)

108. Haryana Man Declared Free of AIDS by Guwahati-based Doctor (3)

GUWAHATI: Guwahati-based medical practioner Dr. Dhaniram Baruah, has claimed that he has cured a middle-aged man from Haryana of AIDS with the help of genetic engineering research. Dr. Baruah said that he has been involved with genetic engineering for the past two decades, and has acquired the tools to treat HIV-AIDS. Vijender Singh, the middle aged man from Haryana, who had tested positive for AIDS, is now claiming that he is completely cured. At a press conference here on Wednesday, Dr.Baruah, presented Vijender Singh in front of the press, and also launched a two-volume book that he has authored on the subject of AIDS. The book is titled “ Reaching the Unreachable with Baruah Combat Genes”. Sharing his experience, Vijendra singh said that some seven years back he had somehow got to know about Dr. Baruah and contacted him for his AIDS treatment. He said that he was given only five injections for cure from the disease. Professionally an autoricksaw driver, Singh had undergone a medical test in Rohtak, where he was found to be HIV positive and was unable to get up from his bed while being treated by Dr.Baruah. But now, his medical reports have shown that he no longer suffers from the disease. Dr. Baruah said there are enough awareness programmes about HIV-AIDS as also precautionary measures, but no proof of giving relief. Dr. Baruah said that the treatment has been found and the cure lies in his medicine which he has named as “BARUAH COMBAT GENES”, which is prepared from herbs. (New Indian Express 16/7/15)

109. 8,000 HIV Patients at Risk in Eastern Ukraine: UN Envoy (3)

VANCOUVER: Some 8,000 people with HIV in war-torn eastern Ukraine face a critical shortage of medicine and their supply will run out in mid-August unless a blockade is lifted, a UN AIDS envoy has warned. Speaking to AFP ahead of the International AIDS Society (IAS) conference, which opened Sunday, Michel Kazatchkine called on key nations to intervene as soon as possible. “I am calling on the United States, Germany, France, Ukraine and Russia to do something,” said Kazatchkine, the UN Secretary General’s special envoy for AIDS in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. He said 8,000 patients are “caught in the political crossfire between the Ukrainian government and Russian-supported fighters” because they need both antiretroviral treatments and opioids, which are now blocked at border check points. The looming crisis is centered in the mostly Russian-speaking Lugansk and Donetsk regions. The area once housed 25 percent of Ukraine’s HIV-positive population, but thousands have ready fled, said Kazatchkine. The 8,000 who remain are mainly injection drug users whose addictions are being treated with opioid substitution therapy (OST), and who are also taking antiretroviral drugs to keep their HIV infections under control. He said the treatments are already paid for and the aid group Doctors Without Borders has pledged to deliver and oversee treatment. But Ukraine will not allow the drugs to be shipped and argues the opioids require armed convoys, said Kazatchkine. Russia bans the use of opioids to help wean addicts off drug addiction. (New Indian Express 20/7/15)

 

Posted by admin at 21 July 2015

Category: Uncategorized

DALITS/SCHEDULED CASTES

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TRIBALS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WOMEN

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CHILDREN/ CHILD LABOUR

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MINORITIES – GENERAL

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

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

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

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

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

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

MINORITIES – MUSLIMS

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

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

22. RSS shakha spooks NE Delhi Muslims (7)

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

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

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

MINORITIES – CHRISTIANS

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

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

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

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

REFUGEES/ MIGRANTS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

RIGHT TO INFORMATION

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

RIGHT TO EDUCATION

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

RIGHT TO FOOD/ HUNGER

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

LABOUR/ MGNREGA

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

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

 

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

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

44. Labour laws take centre stage (14)

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

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

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

RESERVATION

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

HUMAN RIGHTS/ CIVIL SOCIETY/ NHRC

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

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

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

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

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

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

53. India’s directional change (1)

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

JUDICIARY/ LAW

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

POLICE/ AFSPA/ CUSTODIAL DEATHS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MEDIA/ FREEDOM OF SPEECH

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

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

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

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

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

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

COMMUNAL RIOTS

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

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

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

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

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

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

70. Prohibitory orders in Ambur (7)

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

COMMUNALISM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TERRORISM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NAXALS/ MAOISTS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TRAFFICKING

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

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

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

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

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

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

CORRUPTION

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ENVIRONMENT/ CLIMATE CHANGE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

AGRICULTURE/ FARMERS SUICIDES

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

LAND ACQUISITION/ DISPLACEMENT

99. Amendments unacceptable, says RSS outfit (4)

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

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

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

101. Land acquisition worries Bhogapuram plot purchasers (4)

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

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

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

RIGHT TO HEALTH

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

HIV/AIDS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Posted by admin at 10 July 2015

Category: Uncategorized

DALITS/SCHEDULED CASTES

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TRIBALS

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

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

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

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

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

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

10. Tribesmen to Intensify Fight for Rights (6)

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

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

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

WOMEN

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CHILDREN/ CHILD LABOUR

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

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

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

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

20. 25 children rescued (14)

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

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

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

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

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

MINORITIES – GENERAL

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

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

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

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

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

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

MINORITIES – MUSLIMS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MINORITIES – CHRISTIANS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

REFUGEES/ MIGRANTS

34. India observes World Refugee Day (13)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

RIGHT TO INFORMATION

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

RIGHT TO EDUCATION

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

RIGHT TO FOOD/ HUNGER

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

LABOUR/ MGNREGA

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

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

52.  “Adhere to labour laws” (14)

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

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

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

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

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

RESERVATION

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

HUMAN RIGHTS/ CIVIL SOCIETY/ NHRC

59. NHRC serves notice to Surendranagar collector (1)

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

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

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

61. NGOs oppose Criminal Procedure amendment (1)

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

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

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

JUDICIARY/ LAW

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

POLICE/ AFSPA/ CUSTODIAL DEATHS

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

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

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

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

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

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

71. Compensation for custodial torture (1)

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

MEDIA/ FREEDOM OF SPEECH

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

76. Pak journalist shot dead in Balochistan (1)

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

COMMUNAL RIOTS                           

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

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

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

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

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

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

COMMUNALISM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TERRORISM

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

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

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

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

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

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

87. Kuwait Terror Attack Killed Two Indians (12)

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

NAXALS/ MAOISTS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TRAFFICKING

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

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

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

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

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

94. Consultation on child trafficking issues held (1)

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

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

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

CORRUPTION

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ENVIRONMENT/ CLIMATE CHANGE

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

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

101. Amaravati faces risk of industrial pollution (9)

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

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

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

AGRICULTURE/ FARMERS SUICIDES

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

LAND ACQUISITION/ DISPLACEMENT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

RIGHT TO HEALTH

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

HIV/AIDS

115. This vaccine could help block HIV (3)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

119. Saviour Couple for HIV Patients (3)

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

 

Posted by admin at 30 June 2015

Category: Uncategorized

DALITS/SCHEDULED CASTES

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

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

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

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

3. Ambedkar statue vandalised; Dalits protest (2)

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

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

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

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

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

TRIBALS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WOMEN

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CHILDREN/ CHILD LABOUR

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

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

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

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

18. Total prohibition of child labour stressed (14)

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

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

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

MINORITIES – GENERAL

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MINORITIES – MUSLIMS

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

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

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

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

26. Muslims to participate in SoBo event (7)

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

MINORITIES – CHRISTIANS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

REFUGEES/ MIGRANTS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

RIGHT TO INFORMATION

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

RIGHT TO EDUCATION

39. Inmates reform lives with education (11)

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

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

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

41. Statewide Congress stir against education business (11)

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

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

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

RIGHT TO FOOD/ HUNGER

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

LABOUR/ MGNREGA

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

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

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

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

50. Protest against denying jobs under MGNREGS (14)

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

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

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

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

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

RESERVATION

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

HUMAN RIGHTS/ CIVIL SOCIETY/ NHRC

57. NHRC sends notices to Tihar authorities (1)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

JUDICIARY/ LAW

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

POLICE/ AFSPA/ CUSTODIAL DEATHS

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

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

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

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

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

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

68. Report sought on Palamau killings (1)

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

MEDIA/ FREEDOM OF SPEECH

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

COMMUNAL RIOTS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

COMMUNALISM

77. National Hindu meet wants Hindu nation (26)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TERRORISM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NAXALS/ MAOISTS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TRAFFICKING

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CORRUPTION

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ENVIRONMENT/ CLIMATE CHANGE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

AGRICULTURE/ FARMERS SUICIDES

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

LAND ACQUISITION/ DISPLACEMENT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

RIGHT TO HEALTH

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

HIV/AIDS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by admin at 19 June 2015

Category: Uncategorized

DALITS/SCHEDULED CASTES

1. Dalit deaths trigger concern (2)

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

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

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

3. Dalit families want to relocate (2)

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

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

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

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

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

TRIBALS

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

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

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

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

8. Tribals flee home to escape torture (6)

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

9. Tribals oppose mining in Odisha (6)

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

WOMEN

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NEW DELHI — Syeda Hameed, former member of the Planning Commission, extended her support for the repeal of the draconian AFSPA and called for policies that bring about a healing touch to the people of Kashmir. She was speaking at a symposium titled “Waiting Women of Kashmir”  after the presentation of the  research report titled, “Vulnerabilities of Half-Widows of Jammu and Kashmir: Role of the Judiciary, State, Civil Society and Community” held at Indian Social Institute, New Delhi.During the last three decades, Kashmir has witnessed immense human suffering on account of militancy and militarization.  Since the beginning of the insurgency, thousands of Kashmiris have gone missing. Among the disappeared men, there were many who were married, leaving behind wives now known as ‘half-widows’.  These ‘half-widows’, estimated to be over 1,500, are struggling to cope and adjust themselves to their new identity derived from the conflict in the region. Many of these vulnerable women are left to rebuild their lives and to face the struggle of everyday existence in the absence of male members in the family. The issue of ‘half-widows’ is symptomatic of how women in conflict zones are the most vulnerable object, of both, the patriarchal and traditional society and a militarized state.  The study conducted by Dr. Paul D’Souza, in collaboration with AMAN Trust, is based on responses from 150 households of half widows geographically spread across nearly 140 villages and towns in Poonch district of Jammu region and eight districts of the Kashmir valley, namely Baramulla, Pulwama, Srinagar, Shupiyan, Kupwara, Baandipora, Budgam and Ganderbal. It investigates the multiple vulnerabilities experienced by half-widows and how they been impacted, through the framework of “multidimensional vulnerabilities”. The framework explores mainly five Dimensions of Vulnerability, i.e. Gender, Social, Economic, Cultural and Health, and the degree of vulnerability in each case. The study also examines various supports for women caught in conflict from social networks, state actors and non-state actors during different situations in their state of vulnerability and presents recommendations for various stakeholders like the judiciary, state, civil society, and community for positive interventions in mitigating the vulnerabilities of half-widows.The findings of the study reveal that “half widows” experience moderate to high vulnerability in all the dimensions covered. Interestingly, they experienced high vulnerability on account of their gender (71%) and their economic condition (67%), while they experienced moderate vulnerability in their social milieu (83%), cultural practices (77%) and health related issues (55%). The plight of “half widows” is best captured in the words of a young mother: “I don’t know how to make him ( 6 year old son) understand the reality (of the disappearance of his father) because I told him that he has gone out of Kashmir for work. I don’t want him to experience the trauma I am experiencing.” Half widows are mainly among the economically poor and households at the bottom rung of society in rural areas even as their economic condition worsen day by day.  In a patriarchal society, they are not considered the head of the household, restricting their right to property