Posted by admin at 29 September 2015

Category: Uncategorized

(From August 21 to September  10, 2015)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

23. No fund records for women schemes (8)

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

27. Alarming spurt in crimes against kids (14)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

38. 12 social workers challenge beef ban (7)

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

48. Christian Growth Rate High in State (7)

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

49. Villagers storm church, assault Father (7)

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

53. 19 Myanmar refugees moved to Kerala (13)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

68. Centre invites applications for CIC appointments (1)

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

73. Advocacy group demands RTE reforms (11)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

83. Protect fleeing refugees, says Jolie (21)

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

119. Custodial death: seven policemen suspended (1)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

135. Communal conflagration breaks out in Muzaffarnagar (7)

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

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

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

137. Justice continues to elude Kandhamal (7)

MBA Admission 2015-16 – 100% Online MBA! Approved & Accredited By UGC.Apply

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


148. Manipur records 65% UAPA cases (12)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

171. 14 minors rescued from jacket factory (1)

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

188. Farmers decry lip sympathy by government (20)

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

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

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

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

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

191. Vedike to stage dharna seeking compensation (20)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

195. Strife due to agrarian crisis worsens (20)

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

UNDAVALLI (Guntur Dt.): The villagers are apparently not happy with the State government’s announcement that it would withdraw the notices served under the Land Acquisition Act 2013. They vowed to fight until the government withdrew its plans to acquire lands– be it under LA Act or Land Pooling Scheme (LPS). Addressing a meeting organised by the 10 Left parties here on Sunday, the villagers Usharani and Polemma from Undavalli said that they don’t have any faith in the government promises. The government had miserably failed in keeping its promises made to farmers who had parted with their lands for the capital. The identification of “pensioners” who had parted with their lands was not scientific and comprehensive. Even those, who were lucky enough to find their names in the list, were not receiving any annuity or pension. The Government was making tall claims that it was paying pension to every farmer but it was far from reality. The same trick is being played here (Undavalli) as farmers haven’t agreed to LPS, they said. “We will not give away our lands either under the LPS or LA Act. If needed, we will approach the court.” CPI(M) State Secretary P. Madhu said. (The Hindu 31/8/15)

200. Gates of Narmada dam jammed by 3 saffron states (4)

GANDHINAGAR: The Gujarat government may be ahead of schedule in raising the height of Sardar Sarovar dam but it will still have to wait for the crucial, final permission from the Supreme Court for installing the dam’s erected gates as Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra, the two BJP-governed states, are yet to rehabilitate and resettle more than 1000 displaced families. At current pace, the rehabilitation and resettlement is likely to take at least three to five years. Soon after the BJP-led NDA government took charge at the Centre in May 2014, the new dispensation had given the nod to raise the height of Sardar Sarovar dam from the existing 121.92 metres to 138.68 metres. The work of installing the gates is likely to be completed by January 2017 by Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Ltd (SSNNL), which will have to wait for the permission from the apex court. At present height, available water is 1.27 million acre feet (MAF). Once the gates are installed and the SC gives the nod to close the gates, the total storage capacity will be 4.75 MAF (four times the present capacity). The Gujarat government, however, does not seem to be in any hurry to get the final resettlement and rehabilitation work done. Highly placed sources in the state Narmada department said, “We are at present dealing with some cases filed by Medha Patkar. Once the SSNNL completes the work of raising the dam height, we will apply before the Narmada Control Authority (NCA) and other agencies for the required permission to close the gates. A physical survey of the area going under submergence and of affected families has to be undertaken. Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra will have to resettle and rehabilitate around 1000 families. Both the states have been given tentative intimation but no process has been initiated. We may need to request the Centre to ask MP and Maharashtra to expedite the process.” Gujarat government and NCA have not yet started the survey process of Projected Affected Families (PAF) which will be required to get nod from the Supreme Court for closing the erected gates. Around 1000 families will have to be shifted from Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. Activist Medha Patkar has already filed a fresh petition in the Supreme Court claiming that the relief and rehabilitation of several families has not been done satisfactorily. Though the apex court has not taken any stand, but if the state government lags in giving proper relief and rehabilitation even after raising the dam height, Gujarat will not be able to close the gate for several years. (Times of India 1/9/15)

201. Dam oustees claim ownership of acquired land under Land Act 2013 (4)

INDORE: Following Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s announcement that there will be no fresh ‘Land Acquisition Ordinance’ and Land Acquisition and Rehabilitation Act 2013 will be implemented with few changes, farmers, labourers and fishermen gathered at collector’s office in Barwani on Wednesday asserting that they have become owners of their properties which were acquired 10-15 years ago for Sardar Sarovar Dam. Medha Patkar of Narmada Bachao Andolan said that the Supreme Court in 2014 and 2015 has rightly interpreted that under the section 24(2) of Land Acquisition and Rehabilitation Act 2013, the oustees, whose land were acquired but not used for years, will become the owner of the land from January 2014. On the 22nd day of Jeevan Adhikar Satyagraha, protestors claimed that acquisition of land stands cancelled since January 2014, as per section 24(2) of the New Land Acquisition Act 2013. Dam oustees demanded that the name of Narmada Valley Develoment Authority (NVDA) should be deleted and their names should be entered through mutation on the said property. Patkar said the said section is indeed a relief to the affected people whose lands, houses etc were acquired decades ago in lieu of meager compensation. “Lack of rehabilitation planning and land resources derails the policy, plans and promises. Oustees eventually become losers as they cannot start a new life at that time,” she said. She went on to say that 40,000 families residing in the submergence area of SSD in Madhya Pradesh have now becomes the owner of the land under the Act “Unless and until these lands are reacquired, no government can submerge the land or properties,” she said. (Times of India 3/9/15)

202. Maharashtra land Act, model for states : State Government (4)

Mumbai: With the highest compensation in the country on offer for land acquisition, the Maharashtra government is promoting its Land Acquisition Act as a ‘model Act’ and one that is better than the central Act. The state government has written to the Centre to adopt the state’s Land Acquisition Act to be implemented in other states too. The Act offers five times the compensation for the acquisition and approval is given only after the owners’ consent. The move from the state government came after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s announced the Land Acquisition Ordinance would be lapsed. It has also asked the state governments to implement the Act on their own. Earlier, there was ambiguity over the implementation of the Act, as the Centre’s Act was pending before Parliament for approval. However, the Opposition did not allow the amendments to pass and the Centre was left with no option but to leave the decision to the states. “Ours is the best Land Acquisition Act, as we are offering the highest compensation to land owners. We have asked the state government to replicate our Act for other states too,” revenue minister Eknath Khadse said. With the Centre’s decision, major infrastructure projects in the state such as Metro III, Trans-Harbour Link, coastal roads will get a boost. Also some minor projects of roads, irrigation, railway and airports will be revived. “The uncertainty is over. We have our own guidelines for land acquisition. It is true that a few projects were stuck due to the uncertainty about implementation of the law,” an official from the revenue department said. To a query on whether the state would come up with a new law, he said it was not decided. “There is no such discussion about bringing a new law for land acquisition. Maharashtra is the only state offering five times the compensation for land acquisition,” he added.  (Asian Age 7/9/15)

203. Govt. wins case over prime land in Chennai (4)

CHENNAI: After several rounds of litigations in various courts, the State government has finally won a case over a 1.62-acre prime land located opposite Raj Bhavan, which was acquired over 45 years ago for Rs. 33,941. Several orders in the Madras High Court and the Supreme Court had favoured the owners of the land, who had sought for re-conveyance of the property under Land Acquisition Act, 1894, inserted by way of Tamil Nadu Amendment Act 16 of 1997 on the ground that the lands were never put to use for the purpose for which they were acquired. Hearing three writ appeals, a review petition and a contempt petition, a Division Bench comprising Justices V. Ramasubramanian and K. Ravichandrabaabu recalled a Division Bench order delivered on January 23, 2013 on the matter. “Neither the learned single judge nor the Division Bench was apprised of the fact that what the respondents were seeking by way of re-conveyance of a prime property in the heart of the city of Chennai, now valued even as per the government guidelines, at more than Rs.100 crore..,” the Bench said. Noting that the 1.62 acre land is located on Sardar Patel Road, just opposite to the Raj Bhavan and adjoining the Anna University, the Bench said sustaining the order for re-conveyance of the land “would make justice, a casualty and allow Section 48B to be used as a weapon that could cause serious damage to public interest.” The State government had acquired the land in 1960 for constructing a hostel and buildings for the Central Co-operative Institute by invoking the emergency provision under Section 4(1) of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 and later fixed a compensation of Rs.33,941 to the owner — Manali Ramakrishna Mudaliar. About 45 years after the transaction, the wife and son of Mr. Mudaliar made representations seeking re-conveyance of the land. Hearing their writ petition, the High Court had in 2006 directed the government to consider their representation. A similar order was passed again a year later on another petition, after which the government rejected the request for re-conveyance, contending the land was already vested with it for more than 47 years. Since then, there have been several rounds of litigation in the High Court and in the Supreme Court on the issue. (Times of India 9/9/15)


204. Slum women show the way, ensure safe pregnancies (3)

New Delhi: Most women in slums deliver at home, with or without a skilled midwife or nurse. They risk bleeding to death during childbirth, something that can be easily prevented. A 34 year-old unlettered Shazda Khatoon took upon herself to make sure no woman dies due to medical negligence in Zakhira slum in central Delhi. With the help of an NGO, she got an opportunity to work as a ward assistant in Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital. Many women in her slum have now been following in her footsteps spreading awareness in jhuggis as community health volunteers. For 11 years, Shazda has been working to meet the medical emergencies in the slum. “A key way to spread the word is to ensure every woman has access to quality care throughout her pregnancy. When something goes wrong during labour or delivery, the presence of a skilled medical attendant can make the difference between life and death. Yet, many women, especially in our slums, still give birth without skilled assistance. This is the gap I wanted to close by being a health volunteer,” said Shazda. She works as a compounder for a private clinic in the evening and a ward assistant in the hospital during the day to support her family of six. “A decade ago, we couldn’t dream of having a fully furnished medical centre literally in the courtyard of our community. For an illiterate community like ours, working as a ward assistant and being a primary person of contact in case of any medical assistance is a huge thing,” said Shazda. Gyanwati, a resident of a slum in Kalkaji, is also associated with the same NGO, Asha Society which has a presence in 60 city slums. She lost her 18-month-old son to diarrhoea two years ago. Asha Society taught her how it could have been prevented. “At that time, I pledged not to let another child die in my community. Today, I can say that no child has died under my watch since 2013 in my area,” said Gyanwati. “I used to offer public classes at water pumps, queues at the grocer’s shop and wherever I got an opportunity to raise awareness among young mothers.” For the last 27 years, Asha Society’s healthcare programme has been addressing these issues. “The healthcare programme not only provides services but also empowers slum dwellers to act as agents of change in their communities. The work of empowerment means to mobilise the inhabitants to help them understand their rights and responsibilities. Thousands of women have been empowered and subsequently they have been able to transform entire communities,” said Dr Kiran Martin, founder of Asha Society. (Deccan Herald 22/8/15)

205. Unicef team visits Aurangabad district to review maternal, infant health (3)

AURANGABAD: In the backdrop of the ‘Call to Action Summit 2015′ aimed at ending preventing child and maternal deaths to be held on August 27-28, at New Delhi, a team from the Unicef visited three places in Aurangabad district including Patoda, Abdi Mandi and Daulatabad, to review the situation of mother and child care. Aurangabad district reproductive and child health officer Vivek Khatgaonkar said, “The team visited three places in Aurangabad district on Tuesday to review the situation of Janani Suraksha Yojana as well infant mortality.” “They visited Patoda gram panchayat (GP), which is an ISO-certified GP and also recognised as a model village. They visited anganwadis and also took stock of the mother and child care centre. They visited the flour mill, solar water heater plant and mineral water plant, which provides free services to the villagers. Patoda is the only village in the country to provide free hot water supply and mineral water to its villagers,” said Khatgaonkar. “The UNICEF team also visited health centres and anganwadis at Abdi Mandi and Daulatabad. They also asked the health workers to demonstrate various treatment methods such as handling high risk pregnant woman and use of HIV kits,” he said. The summit in Delhi will be co-hosted by the ministry of health and family welfare, Government of India, along with the ministry of health government of Ethiopia, USAID, UNICEF, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the Tata Trust. The two-day summit will be a confluence of health ministers from 24 priority countries committed to the Global Call to Action for Child Survival. State health ministers from India, international academic experts, health practitioners, and global leaders from diverse sectors will attend the summit. The summit will be a prelude to the United Nations Summit for the adoption of post-2015 development agenda that will be held as a high-level plenary meeting of the UN General Assembly in September 2015. (Times of India 27/8/15)

206. 51 babies die in 11 days – Central team and health minister revisit Sishu Bhavan (3)

Bhubaneswar, Aug. 30: The number of infant deaths at Sishu Bhavan, touched 51 in 11 days today, coinciding with Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressing concern over the current infant mortality rate in the country. Nearly 13 lakh children die in the country every year with Odisha standing third in the list of states with high infant mortality rate, according to a report of the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef). The Unicef’s ranking means in Odisha the infant mortality rate is 51 per 1,000 live births. The situation in Assam and Madhya Pradesh is even worse. With efforts on to ascertain the reasons for the deaths at Cuttack’s Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Post Graduate Institute of Paediatrics, popularly known as Sishu Bhavan, the only referral paediatric hospital in the state, health minister Atanu Sabyasachi Nayak today rushed there for the second time to take stock of the situation. “The issue should not be politicised. We are doing our best,” said the minister. The central team that arrived in the state yesterday visited the premier institute for the second time today to ascertain the reasons for casualties taking place almost every day. On the other hand, the BJP, which has been demanding resignation of the health minister over the issue, today announced its plan to organise a statewide agitation on September 2. Dr Arabinda Mohanty, who happens to be president of Paediatric Association of Eastern India (PAEI), said premature and low-weight births, neonatal infections such as neonatal sepsis (a blood infection that occurs in babies younger than 90 days) and birth asphyxia appear to be the main factors causing the deaths. Mohanty had led an eight-member delegation of doctors to Sishu Bhavan last Friday. Mentioning that PAEI was preparing a report on ways to check the deaths at Sishu Bhavan, Mohanty said a major problem at the hospital was infants being brought there in a critical condition from far-off areas without any life support. He suggested that a life support mechanism be installed in all ambulances carrying babies to hospitals. He also suggested that instead of rushing to only Sishu Bhavan for all kinds of cases, people should also go to the three government medical college and hospitals and other district hospitals that were well equipped. Paediatric specialist Arijeet Mohapatra, who was part of the delegation, said: “Being the only referral hospital for children, Sishu Bhavan receives a large number of patients in their terminal stages. Such cases are hard to tackle for any doctor.” He also pointed out that the patient flow at the hospital has gone up by around 50 per cent from 1,000 a day in 2012-13 to 1,500 now despite nearly no improvement in the infrastructure. The two intensive care units at Sishu Bhavan have 21 beds and there are 240 beds in the wards. This is too less considering the massive flow of patients. (The Telegraph 31/8/15)

207. 154 infants die in 4 months in Kandhamal hospitals (3)

Berhampur (Odisha): As many as 154 infants died in different hospitals in Kandhamal between April and July, reflecting the abysmal state of infant and child health care in the tribal-dominated district, which did not have even one paediatrician till last month. Of the 154 infants who died in different hospitals in the district during the four-month period, 62 were admitted to Special Newborn Care Unit (SNCU) at the district headquarters hospital in Phulbani, an official said today.  In 2014-15, the SNCU saw 142 deaths. Altogether 1,069 infants were treated at the unit, the official said. The deaths were attributed to low birth weight, lack of pre- and post-natal care, premature delivery, and reluctance among some tribal communities to go for institutional delivery. Infant mortality rate (IMR) in the district stood at 58 per 1,000 live births as against the state average of 51. Despite the abysmal IMR, the district did not have a single paediatrician till last month. Three paediatricians joined Phulbani hospital recently after Kandhamal Collector Yamini Sarangi wrote to the state government, requesting for doctors after 26 infants died in SNCU in May.  Chief District Medical Officer (CDMO) Sapaneswar Gadanayak admitted to the sorry state of affairs. There are no paediatricians in 12 community health centres, two area and sub-divisional hospitals in Baliguda. The district needs at least 19 to ensure proper child care, he said. The critical cases are referred to the 12-bed SNCU at Phulbani. It has a warmer, oxygen cylinder and a few other essential equipment, the official said. “We are trying to convince the tribals to go for institutional delivery. Last month, a tribal woman near Daringbadi refused to go to hospital even after being provided an ambulance. She delivered a baby at home. She was then taken to the hospital due to excessive bleeding, but the child died on the way,” the CDMO said. (Deccan Herald 3/9/15)

208. Government: Tests by private labs not reliable (3)

New Delhi: With the situation of dengue worsening recently, the city administration has said that many private hospitals and pathological labs were using test methods, which in most cases do not give reliable results, and directed people to choose the most reliable diagnostic test. Officials asserted that of the two types of antigen test kits — NS1 Elisa and NS1 rapid antigen test — the former is reliable, but the latter, being used in most private facilities, is questionable. Stating that due to panic, private hospitals were luring people with quick diagnostic of dengue using rapid dengue antigen test or on-the-spot test which gives result in an hour, the officials noted that the Elisa method for detection of dengue infection was sensitive, specific and reliable, while NS1 test sometimes gives false result which in turn may lead to inaccurate treatment. “NS1 rapid test in some hospitals is also costlier than Elisa.” According to municipal officials, there is a panic amongst people which private establishments are exploiting by offering faster diagnostics even though it is unreliable. “Whosoever contracts fever, thinks it to be dengue and rushes to get the tests done. They also want to know the results at the earliest. The city’s private hospitals are cashing in on this rush by offering faster diagnostics even though it is unreliable.” The Union health ministry is providing IgM ELISA kits to all the 33 sentinel surveillance hospitals and one diagnostic centre designated by the Delhi government in the national capital where one can undergo free tests for detection of dengue. Delhi has reported 831 dengue cases till August 29. Asking people not to panic, the civic officials said the management of dengue cases will not depend upon confirmation of diagnosis, irrespective of test method. (Asian Age 4/9/15)

209. New rapid TB tests could reduce mortality (3)

New York: Researchers have documented the accuracy of three new tests for more rapidly diagnosing drug-resistant forms of tuberculosis (TB) which could ultimately make treatments more effective and reduce mortality. “Our study shows that TB testing that once took two to three months can now be done in as little as a day,” said study co-author Richard Garfein, professor University of California, San Diego School of Medicine in the US. “This means we can put people on the right medications sooner, spare them the toxic effects of drugs that are ineffective and prevent the development of drug resistant forms of TB that can occur when the wrong medications are given,” Garfein noted. TB remains one of the world’s deadliest infectious diseases, causing an estimated 1.5 million deaths in 2013, according to the World Health Organisation. TB is also the leading killer of people who have HIV. For the study, sputum (a mixture of saliva and mucus coughed up from the lungs) from 1,128 study participants at TB clinics in India, Moldova and South Africa were examined using three rapid tests for detecting drug-resistant forms of TB. Two of these tests use molecular techniques to look for genetic mutations in the pathogen’s DNA that confer resistance to antibiotics. The third test employs a low-cost and easy-to-use version of the standard bacterial culture technique, making it suitable for resource-limited community clinics and hospitals. Results from the rapid tests were then compared to the reference standard technique for detecting resistance to seven of the most important anti-TB drugs. These comparisons showed that all three rapid assays accurately identified resistance to first- and second-line oral antibiotic treatments (isoniazid, rifampin, moxifloxacin and ofloxacin). They were less accurate but still very good at detecting resistance to injectable antibiotics (amikacin and capreomycin) typically administered to those with multi-drug resistant TB. The study was published online in the current issue of PLOS ONE. (New Kerala 4/9/15)

210. Over 500 complaints of medical negligence pending in Bengal (3)

Kolkata: Nearly ten months after his 12- year- old daughter Suhana Yasmin died at a State-run SSKM Hospital and he filed a police complaint of medical negligence, Ruhul Amin Mondal got a letter from Director of Medical Education (DME), Government of West Bengal. The letter signed by DME Sushanta Banerjee warns eight doctors and nine nurses of State run super specialty hospital of severe punishment if the negligence is repeated in future. The letter clearly states that the “patient died only for negligence of duty lack of imitativeness and inhuman behaviour of doctors and sisters involved in her treatment” “I had arranged blood but the doctors did not transfuse it for 24 hours. I lost my daughter and they have been left off lightly with only a warning,” Mr. Mondal told The Hindu from his residence at Swaroopnagar in State’s North 24 Parganas district. Suhana’s case is just one of the many cases where patients have alleged medical negligence. The website of West Bengal Medical Council (WBMC) lists 376 cases of medical negligence in Bengal till May 2015, which are at various stages of investigation. However, when approached Dilip Kumar Ghosh, the registrar of WBMC said that the number of complaints have crossed 500. “We are receiving more complaints and soon we will publish an updated list on website,” Mr Ghosh said. Meanwhile, in a recent reply to information sought under Right to Information, Act, 2005 it has been revealed that the WBMC has taken action against just four doctors in the past four years. Since 2000, action has been taken against 25 doctors, the RTI query filed by an organisation People for Better Treatment ( PBT) has revealed. Interestingly, in a note, members of the Medical Council of India have referred to three State Medical Councils including WBMC of not deciding the complains filed to them in a timely manner resulting in complainants directly approaching MCI directly. Commenting of the developments Kunal Saha, a doctor based in Ohio, US, who fought a long legal battle before Supreme Court in October 2013 directed a private Kolkata Hospital to pay highest ever compensation of Rs 11.5 crore for death of his wife said that it is important that statistics related to complaints made to the State Medical Councils come out. Dr. Saha said the complaints of medical negligence are not seriously looked by the State medical council as the appointments to these bodies most of the time are political in nature. (The Hindu 6/9/15)

211. Government plans to ban sale of dengue test kits (3)

New Delhi: The government plans to ban the sale of rapid diagnostic test kits used for “quick” detection of dengue infection as it does not provide accurate results, an official said on Tuesday. “Talks are going on with experts of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). We may ban the sale of rapid diagnostic kits, which are believed not to be reliable,” Director General of Health Services (DGHS) Jagdish Prasad told reporters here. The union health ministry has also decided to seek reports from individual hospitals in Delhi — including the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital and Safdarjung Hospital — to ensure that there is no fudging of dengue numbers reported in the national capital. Prasad said the ministry only recommends ELISA-based kits, which are provided by the National Institute of Virology (NIV) at 499 sentinel surveillance hospitals and 15 apex referral laboratories to facilitate free diagnosis. The decision comes a day after the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) said the city has witnessed 1,259 dengue cases with two deaths till September 5 — 38 times higher than 2014 during when, only 33 cases were recorded in the corresponding period. The number was 255 in 2013, 17 in 2012 and 104 in 2011. In 2010, however, the number was 1,512 till September 5. (Business Standard 8/9/15)


212. Palakkad First HIV/Aids Literate Dist in Country (3)

PALAKKAD:  Palakkad will be declared the first total HIV/ Aids literate district in the country on Monday. T N Kandamuthan, district panchayat president, said that in the last nine months a scheme titled ‘Jyothirgamaya’ was implemented under the district panchayat and a voluntary organisation KESS-HAPPI, towards making the district HIV/AIDS literate. He said that the programme was implemented with the co-operation of 91 grama panchayats and 4 municipalities. The aim of Jyothirgamaya was to educate people about AIDS in reducing stigma and discrimination, protecting and bringing the affected to the mainstream of life and rehabilitating them. Under Jyothirgamaya, Asha, anganwadi and Kudumbasree workers distributed notices in every household, conducted awareness classes, quiz competitions and rallies at the school and college level. Boards and wall writings were put up at all vantage points. A steering committee was constituted at the district panchayat, grama panchayat and block panchayat level to take forward the activities of Jyothirgamaya. He said that these activities were undertaken in the district from January 2015 to April 2015. (New Indian Express 22/8/15)

213. They help HIV patients lead dignified lives (3)

MYSURU: Self-confidence and moral support can beat all odds in life. A classic example is that of Keshava (name changed). The 42-year-old has been an HIV positive since 2004 and initially he was in a bad condition. Doctors too had given up on him. But today, Keshava is leading a dignified life. He could walk over 3km a day without any support. “I did not think I could live. It’s only because of self-confidence and moral support that I could survive,” says Keshava. Initially, he did not take treatment due to financial constraints. He owned a petty shop to sustain his family. In 2011, his health deteriorated and he was bedridden, unable to even move his hands. Doctors sent him back home losing all hope, he added. His mother Sathyavathi says she owes it all to the Swami Vivekananda Youth Movement (SVYM). “If my son is alive, it’s only because of SVYM and its volunteers’ moral support,” she says. Despite his failing health, he did small jobs like starting a mobile recharge shop to support his family. Thanks to the palliative care facility of SVYM, the bedridden patients and their families get support. The facility, apart from taking care of patients, also helps their family members to avail governmental benefits. “Now, I am receiving widow pension and my son is getting pension from the government. Palliative care volunteers helped me get these benefits,” said Sathyavathi. The CD4 count in HIV patients should be above 350 but if the count falls below that, patients may become bedridden and the risks are very high, says district AIDS controller Dr T Raghu Kumar. Keshava had CD4 count below 50 when palliative care volunteers visited him in 2012. Like him, more than 300 bedridden needy patients have availed palliative care. Today, some of them are leading a dignified life. “The goal is to improve the quality of life for patients and their families. The need of palliative care is essential in terminal and chronic diseases as they are incurable and result in physical, psychological, socio-economic strain to individuals and their families,” says palliative care volunteer Dr Deepak Murthy. The palliative care facility has served 345 bedridden patients suffering from cancer, paralysis, spinal cord injury, severe neurological disorders, hypertension, gangrene, kidney failure, cerebral palsy and other illnesses since 2011. Initially, 88 patients were inducted into the programme. Palliative care operates with a team approach consisting of doctors, nurses, counsellors, social workers and volunteers visiting each patient’s home and providing a holistic care for patients to improve the quality of life by using an array of skills at their doorstep. (Times of India 24/8/15)

214. Maharashtra: Tribal-dominated Melghat in the grip of dreaded HIV (3)

Mumbai: Notorious for its malnutrition deaths, this tribal-dominated district has now come face to face with another monster – HIV. Doctors and social activists attribute the rise in HIV positive cases among the adivasis to work-related migration and their lack of awareness of safe sex Thirty-year-old Naga Bedekar (name changed to protect identity) has abstained from sexual contact with his wife of 12 years. Four years back, the Bodu village farmer was told by a doctor in Amravati that he has a dreadful disease which can be passed on to his wife if he has sexual intercourse with her. He was asked to visit Amravati’s anti-retroviral therapy (ART) centre every month to collect his medicines, which he will have to take all his life. The father of two, who has studied till class IV, is unaware that he is suffering from HIV infection. In the last four years, he has lost 30kg. “I had fever, severe body ache and was unable to eat anything when I approached doctors at Churni four years ago. They conducted a few tests and then I was referred to Amravati’s Irwan Hospital. There, the doctor told me that I have to take medicines all my life. He also has asked me not to have sexual contact with my wife to ensure she doesn’t get the disease,” said Bedekar. Two months back, Bedekar stopped going to Irwin Hospital to get his monthly medicines. He claims to have got into a fight with the doctor as there was no improvement in his condition. “I threw all the medicines and case papers. Taking the medicines made no difference to my deteriorating health condition,” said Bedekar. Like other Melghat tribals, Bedekar then began relying on people coming from Madhya Pradesh, who claim to be doctors. “In the last one year, I have spent Rs 60,000-75,000 on private doctors, who administered IV fluids and injections to me. I felt better for a week and then I was back to square one. Now I only visit Bhagat Bomka (village priest) and offer prayers,” said Bedekar. He had taken a Rs50,000 loan for his treatment and is now worried about how to clear the debt. “I have to pay a monthly EMI of Rs1,500. I have 2.5-acre land, but no energy to do farming. My parents and brothers have disowned me. It is only because of my wife that I am alive,” said Bedekar. According to social activists working in Melghat, HIV/AIDS has come to the region in the last decade. They say there is an urgent need to carry out intensive screening and an awareness programme in Melghat as people here have no knowledge of it and that is making many prone to the dreaded disease. Rameshwar Phad, a social worker attached to NGO Maitri and someone who has been working for Melghat adivasis since 1998, said: “HIV was never a problem among Melghat adivasis. In the last ten years, we have started seeing HIV cases, which is worrisome. People like Bedekar suffer and go unnoticed due to lack of health facilities and awareness.” According to NGO MAHAN, which has been working in Melghat’s Dharni taluka, 20 people have died of HIV in the last four-five years. “When we talk about Melghat, we talk only of malnourished children. The tribal belt is synonymous with malnourishment cases. Adult health has got ignored. HIV cases are definitely on the rise. We had alerted the government 10 years ago, after which it started the first HIV detection centre in Dharni. Most of these cases are in the productive age group of 20-40 years,” said Dr Ashish Satav, president of NGO MAHAN. He said most of the HIV cases are detected late and come to the limelight due to secondary ailments/infection. “Recently, I had a 23-year-old woman who came with a severe TB infection. On testing, we found her positive for HIV. There was severe weight loss and she was not aware of her HIV status. She died on the second day of hospitalisation,” said Dr Satav. He said it was a known fact that tuberculosis and HIV go hand in hand. “Seventeen percent of the deaths in the 16-60 age group are happening due to TB,” said Dr Satav, who is presently treating three HIV patients….. (DNA 31.8.15)

215. Good news for HIV infected foreigners: Singapore revokes ban on short term visit (3)

Authorities in Singapore have now decided to partially revoke a decade old ban on entering HIV positive foreigners in the country. According to new rule, HIV positive foreigners can make a maximum of three months visit to the country. Singapore no more No Go Zone for HIV+ According to media reports, the ban was revoked on April 1. The ban will continue to be in force for long-term visit, reported The Straitstimes. “The policy on the repatriation and permanent blacklisting of HIV-positive foreigners was recommended in the late 1980s when the disease was new, fatal and no effective treatment was available,” a spokesman of Ministry of Health was quoted as saying. But the ban was lifted “given the current context with more than 5,000 Singapore residents living with HIV and the availability of effective treatment for the disease”. “Lifting the short-term travel restrictions… poses very low additional risk of HIV transmission to the local population,” added the spokesman. Read More: UP launches mobile application for HIV awareness “However, the public health risk posed by long-stayers is not insignificant, hence the restriction on long-term visits has been retained.” HIV, or the human immunodeficiency virus, attacks the immune system, making it harder for the body to fight infections. (One India 1/9/15)

216. HIV-positive, and now happily married (3)

PUNE: Arranging 500 marriages in seven years may not sound like a great achievement for a matrimonial website. But for it is no mean feat. Seven years ago, when city-based Regional Transport Office inspector Anil Valiv launched this matrimonial website dedicated to matchmaking of HIV-positive people, he never thought his initiative would get such a huge response. “We do not have the resources to follow up on our registered users, but we conservatively estimate that at least 500 marriages have been fixed among our users. The number can even be double of that,” Valiv said. Valiv was posted in Latur in 2006 when he heard about an HIV positive man looking for a bride and thought of starting a website that connects HIV positive people. Operating out of a small office in Mangalwar Peth, has emerged as a relative success story. It registers bride and groom-seekers for free, regularly organises matrimonial meets and has quite a few success stories to its credit. One such matrimonial meet was held in Mumbai on Saturday in association with the State AIDS Control Society. “We have had to convince potential users that we verify the users’ background regularly, and that their identities shall be secured to all possible extents,” Valiv said. Among the first marriages the website forged was that of an HIV-positive boy from Hyderabad, who was working in Singapore, with a London-based Indian girl who had divorced her husband after she found she had contracted the infection from him. She also had a daughter. Both had registered themselves on the website and after meeting and talking to each other, they decided to tie the knot. Administrators of the website say that the matrimonial process is fairly arduous and one that requires them to stay alert. There are many fake profiles and profiles of married people too, which is why they have to frequently revisit their databases and carry out background checks of users…. (Times of India 6/9/15)

217. Ostracised HIV Positive Couple Approaches Police (3)

JAGATSINGHPUR: An HIV positive couple of a village in the district has approached police for being ostracised by the villagers. They have also threatened to commit suicide, if remedial steps are not taken soon. Reports stated that a 48-year-old man of Khurant village in Kunjakothi panchayat under Erasama police limits, who was working in a cotton mill in Hyderabad for past seven years, contracted the disease from his wife after she developed an illicit relationship with a truck driver. Leaving her, he returned to the village and married a girl of Jajpur in February. She too has been affected with HIV now and is pregnant. Both of them said they have been ostracised by their families as well as villagers and are not allowed to draw water from tube well and use common pathways. The woman said they have not received any help either from the district administration or the Health department. A social activist, Prafulla Pattnaik, said it is unfortunate and disheartening that despite several awareness campaigns on AIDS, there has been hardly any change in the mindset of people. Instead of psycho-social support, the couple has been deserted by the family, he rued. Sarpanch of Kunjakothi panchayat Gadadhar Samanta said the family members of the couple are being counselled so that the issue can be resolved at the earliest. “Steps have been taken to provide pension and other benefits to them,” the Sarpanch added. IIC of Erasama police station Laxmidhar Swain said a case has been registered against the accused persons under Section 107 of the CrPC and further investigation is on. While nobody has been arrested in this connection, the village head has been requested to sort out the issue amicably, Samanta added. (New Indian Express 8/9/15)

218. New breakthrough? HIV pill protects 100% of participants in new study (3)

San Francisco: “Tremendously good news,” University of California-San Francisco researchers Kimberly A Koester and Robert M Grant said in a commentary accompanying the study published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases. Researchers following over 600 people who took an HIV prevention pill for more than two years have found that 100% of them remained free from the virus even in high-risk environments. The study conducted at Kaiser Permanente in San Francisco involved more than 600 high-risk individuals, most of whom were men who have sex with men. These individuals were healthy at the time of enrolment and were put on a daily regimen of a blue pill called Truvada as a pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). The study is “the first to extend the understanding of the use of PrEP in a real-world setting and suggests that the treatment may prevent new HIV infections even in a high-risk setting,” said lead author Jonathan Volk, a physician and epidemiologist at Kaiser Permanente San Francisco Medical Centre. In the study, 100% of the participants remained HIV-free. Not a single person in the study became infected while on the drug during the study period that included 2.5 years of observation, the Washington Post reported. “Tremendously good news,” University of California-San Francisco researchers Kimberly A Koester and Robert M Grant said in a commentary accompanying the study published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases. They said it was not clear from the study if the reported rate of sexually transmitted infections in the study is an increase or not and that further investigation is needed. They recommended that Truvada be combined with a parallel plan to prevent other STIs which may include the use of condoms, more frequent testing and discussions with prospective partners. There are several dozen other ongoing clinical trials worldwide using Truvada in different populations. (DNA 9/9/15)



Posted by admin at 10 September 2015

Category: Uncategorized

(From August 1 to 20 2015)


1. Dalits attacked for deciding to boycott panchayat polls (2)

MUMBAI: Eleven Scheduled Caste Buddhist families at Ansurda village in Osmanabad district of Maharashtra have been attacked by upper caste men as they decided to boycott the August 4 gram panchayat elections in protest a social boycott on them. In a report headlined “Dalit families in Maharashtra want to relocate” in The Hindu, June 5, the families had demanded that they be relocated because of the social boycott and threat of physical violence. The social boycott started after they took out a procession to mark the birth anniversary of Babasaheb Ambedkar on April 28 and played songs dedicated to the Dalit icon. A few weeks after the police protection given to them was lifted, the Dalit households were attacked on Friday night. Six of the injured have been admitted to a hospital in Osmanabad for treatment. District Collector Prashant Narnaware and Superintendent of Police A.B. Trimukhe have sought a report on the attack. The police have registered a complaint against the upper caste villagers. The first information report, however, does not invoke sections of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. “I have asked for a detailed report and posted a special officer to see that social harmony remains intact in the village,” Mr. Narnaware said. The sarpanch’s post is reserved for the Scheduled Caste category, and each of the two panels contesting the elections has chosen a candidate from the Chambhar caste for the post. “Despite the police protection, the social boycott continued. As a mark of protest, we decided to boycott the gram panchayat election and that angered the upper caste households,” Babasaheb Gharbudwe of one of the families told The Hindu on the phone. Another person, Anita Humbe, said: “They started beating us without provocation. We were secure till a police van was parked in the village. Their [upper caste] activities have begun as the police left here,” she said. “We know that this is a sensitive village. We will ensure that no untoward incident takes place,” Mr. Trimukhe said. (The Hindu 2/8/15)

2. SCs to be allowed to sell small piece of land to non-Dalits (2)

LUCKNOW: In a major change in the land law in the state, the UP government is likely to allow members of scheduled caste to sell their land to non-Dalits even if their holding is less than 3.5 acre. According to highly placed sources, the state cabinet in its meeting on Tuesday is likely to accept a recommendation to this effect made by a committee set up to present the Revenue Code Bill 2015. This recommendation is a key feature of the bill. As per the existing rules, a Dalit can’t sell his land to a non-Dalit if his holding is less than 3.5 acre. If the cabinet accepts the recommendation made by the committee formed under additional advocate general RBS Yadav, members of scheduled caste with smaller holdings would be able to sell their land to non-dalits. Subsequent governments in the state have been trying to effect this change, but have not been able to do so. Even SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav as cooperative minister in 1977 had initiated this move couldn’t be successful. A fresh attempt in this regard was made in 2012 when the SP came to power with full majority and set up a committee under Yadav for presenting the revenue code bill having many provisions for land reforms in the state. The committee strongly recommended for repealing the existing provision in favour of the non-Dalits and had met the chief minister last month who had asked the members of the committee to take feedback from different political parties and other sections of the society. Speaking to TOI, RBS Yadav confirmed that he has recommended for the same on the ground that in many cases members of the SCs need money for urgent matters like treatment of deadly diseases, but they don’t get buyers as their choice is restricted to selling it to the members of their own community only. “So, they have to go for distress sale and get peanuts for their land which is an injustice for them,” he said, adding “that’s why the committee has asked that the SCs should be allowed to sell their land to anyone whenever needed.” When asked about taking opinion of the major political parties as desired by the chief minister, the he said except BSP, most of the parties have agreed to his recommendations. Speaking to TOI, Leader of Opposition and BSP leader Swami Prasad Maurya retaliated that it was an onslaught on the rights of the SCs who are already socially, economically and politically weak and depriving them of their land would amount to snatching their livelihood and weakening them further. (Time of India 4/8/15)

3.  ‘Chalo Pathapally’ by Dalits today (2)

HYDERABAD:  ‘Chalo Pathapally’, the agitation programme called by the Struggle Committee for Caste Annihilation, protesting against the ‘atrocities’ of a section of society against Dalits in Pathapally of Pebbair mandal in Mahbubnbagar district is on. On Thursday morning, Anand Teltumbde, the grandson of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, the champion of the weaker sections, will reach the dharna camp that has been on for over three weeks now. He will be accompanied by social activists from the University of Hyderabad — Profs. K.Y. Ratnam and K. Lakshminarayana and General Secretary of the Struggle Committee, Bandari Laxmaiah. It all started this May 6, when members of the dominant ‘Boya’ community in the village forced themselves into the huts belonging to the minority ‘Madiga’ community and allegedly went on the rampage, throwing things out and pulling the huts down. The feeling among the Dalits is that the ‘Boyas’ did not like the scheduled castes being given land that was obviously prime, located as 16 plots are, in Survey No. 4 right next to the main road leading from Pebbair to Kollapur. Following this, the SCs were denied temple entry too and they stepped up the pressure launching an agitation, capping it off with a ‘Chalo Pathapally’ call. Efforts by the district administration to stave off the ‘Chalo Pathapally’ till late on Wednesday evening failed, with Mr. Laxmaiah and others unrelenting. On Tuesday evening, District Collector T.K. Sreedevi told them that having got a re-survey done nearby they would get them ‘pattas’ together with the 2 BHK houses announced by Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao. But Mr. Laxmaiah pointed out that part of the land that she promised to give them originally belonged to another dalit by name Parmanna, to whom 2 acres was allocated in the year 2007. When contacted, Superintendent of Police, P. Vishwa Prasad said they were all for an amicable solution to be thrashed out on Thursday, but added that they would be prepared if trouble broke out. “Additional SP D.V. Srinivasa Rao will be at the dharna camp,” he said. The district Collector Ms. Sreedevi later told The Hindu that she had imposed prohibitory order under Section 144 Cr. Pc. around the site of the dharna camp starting from the NH 44 at Pebbair and at the village too. (The Hindu 6/8/15)

4. Dalit families on dharna ‘convert’ to Islam, VHP protests (2)

New Delhi: Families from Hisar’s Bhagana village, who have been protesting at Jantar Mantar for the past two years over alleged atrocities and rapes by the upper-caste Jats, claimed to have converted to Islam at Jantar Mantar on Saturday. However, the VHP alleged that the conversion was an instance of “exploitation” of Dalit families and said they were able to “intervene in time” to stop it. The protesting families had been threatening to convert to Islam for the past week. “We have given up Hinduism. We are tired of waiting. We have met chief ministers and police and all we have received in return are empty promises. Not one person has done anything. What is the point of staying within this community when no one comes to you at the time of your need? We are treated like animals and that has not changed despite our protests,” said Jagdish Kajla, convener of Bhagana Kand Sangharsh Samiti. Countering the villagers’ claims, VHP Delhi spokesperson Vinod Bansal said, “Some of our workers reached Jantar Mantar after receiving information that certain individuals were exploiting the helplessness of these people and forcing them to convert to Islam. What is shocking is that this was happening virtually next to the Parliament. When our workers arrived at the spot and called police, they detained the workers. Later, more protesters arrived and we were able to intervene in time and stop the conversion.” The families explained that in February 2012, members of the Jat community had initially claimed a playground that the Dalit families used. This was followed by a period of routine sexual harassment and molestation. In May, Dalit families began protesting outside the district magistrate’s office in Hisar. In retaliation, the khap panchayat declared a social and economic boycott against the Dalits. On March 23, four girls were allegedly picked up and raped in the village, after which 80 Dalit families fled to the capital. Their conversion to Islam, the families said, was a mark of their protest. “We have been humiliated and tortured in ways which aren’t human. Our women have been raped and harassed. We no longer want to belong to this community. For two years, we have been waiting for and demanding justice, but to no avail,” said a woman, who claimed to have been molested. The VHP, however, maintained that the real issue at hand was the continued exploitation of the Dalit families by those who wanted to convert them. “The VHP demands action against the culprits, irrespective of who they are. But the real issue at hand is the fact that the agony of these suffering families is being exploited by those who want to make this a religious issue. The VHP will take action against this and ensure that at least in Delhi, this can’t happen,” said Bansal. A senior police officer of New Delhi district maintained that the protest was peaceful and no one was detained. “We have deployed adequate police personnel at Jantar Mantar as the organisers of the protest took prior permission. A PCR call was made, but we weren’t able to find anything,” the officer added. (Indian Express 9/8/15)

5. Dalit girl cremated, police arrest 3 more accused (2)

SANGRUR: The 16-year-old dalit girl, who had immolated herself after being harassed by four youths, was cremated on Wednesday after police nabbed the remaining three accused. The victim’s family had refused to cremate her earlier, demanding that all the accused youths be arrested. The victim’s body reached her village in Sangrur district around 11.30am and was taken for cremation soon after. However, once at the crematorium, some youths and representatives of several organizations carried the body outside to start a protest on the Lehra-Patran road. They demanded that police arrest all the accused in the case and threatened not to cremate the girl unless it was done. As her family remained firm on not cremating the body till police took action against the remaining three youths, Sangrur police announced their arrest around 2pm. The victim was cremated around an hour later. “We have arrested the other three accused on the basis of supplementary statement given by the victim’s brother. All of them are school students and have been charged under similar sections under which the first accused was arrested,” said Lehragaga deputy superintendent of police Bimal Sharma. The three accused were arrested and charged under sections 306 (abetment to suicide), 354 (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty), 354D (follows a woman and contacts, or attempts to contact such woman) and 511 of the IPC, and Section 4 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012. Police had arrested one accused in the case on Tuesday, saying the victim had mentioned only his name in her statement to the magistrate. However, the victim’s brother had claimed that three other boys had also harassed her and demanded that they too should be arrested. In a video clip recorded by the victim’s family a day before the girl died, she had named four youths in her statement. Police took Sanjeev Mintu, president of Krantikari Pendu Mazdoor Union, the victim’s brother and some other protesters to the police station to show them the arrested three youths. Barring chief parliamentary secretary Dr Navjot Kaur Sidhu, no other senior leader visited the family. Dr Sidhu and former MLA and senior CPI leader Hardev Arshi were present during the cremation. BJP leader Navjot Kaur, who joined the family in staging a protest, said she would urge the state government to install CCTV cameras in every police station so that there is a visual record of visitors and of police response to their complaint. She added that she would request the government to pay compensation of Rs 10 lakh to the victim’s family. “If the government fails to do so, I will provide financial help of Rs 10 lakh to the family from my MLA fund,” she added. If need be, she added, she would hold a protest in front of the office of the Punjab education minister to demand upgradation of the village school so that girls can pursue their studies easily. (Times of India 13/8/15)

6. Two Dalit habitations denied town bus facility (2)

NAGERCOIL: Two Dalit habitations – Kakkanpudur and Kattetri – situated 3 km from Parakkai panchayat in Rajakkamangalam Panchayat Union in Kanyakumari district were denied town bus facility for over three months, lamented the residents. Thanks to a big hole that has formed in a small culvert on the way to Kakkanpudur from Parakkai village three months ago. Repeated pleas fell on the deaf ears of the officials, the residents said. Due to this, the town bus operated by TNSTC on route 50 from Nagercoil to Kattetri was stopped for over three months forcing the students, officegoers to walk up to three km to catch a town bus to reach Nagercoil and other destinations. Over 300 dalit families residing in Kakkanpudur and Kattetri were depending on this bus service, as they have no other option of travel. The bus was operated on three return singles daily in the morning, afternoon and evening to cater to the needs of school going children, office goers and the general public. A road for a length of one km from Parakkai junction to Kakkanpudur was laid under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) at a cost of Rs. 69.96 in 2014. A hole had developed on the culvert near the Valikoli Amman temple and was left unattended by the officials, said a social activist. Farmers were unable to take their agriculture engineering equipment on this route. If the authorities set right the damage, buses can plied via Parakkai village, and it will benefit the students, he added. S. Sundar, President, Parakkai Panchayat could not be contacted for his comment. (The Hindu 16/8/15)

7. Tamil Nadu: Vanniyars attack Dalit procession, torch huts (2)

Chennai: At least 10 Dalit huts were torched and 15 people, including a SP and six other policemen, were injured when upper-caste Vanniyars attacked a procession of Dalits in Seshasamuthiram village of Tamil Nadu’s Villupuram district late on Saturday evening. Police said that the attack was a fallout of long-pending dispute over Dalits’ right to bring out a temple car procession through the village’s main road, which passes through a Vanniyar-dominated area. According to a police report, Seshasamuthiram has over 3,000 Vanniyars and only 400 Dalits.“The dispute has been pending for the past four years. Vanniyars had objected to the procession and the government, too, had been denying permission, citing law and order problems. But this year, the administration decided to allow Dalits to take out the procession. The Vanniyars responded by attacking the Dalits and torching the temple car. They set their huts on fire and also hurled petrol bombs at police,” said a senior police officer. Immediately after the violence broke out, large number of police teams rushed to the spot. “SP K S Narendran Nair rushed to the village with a police team, but they were not able to enter the area as the Vanniyars started pelting stones. The SP and six other policemen were injured. We had to fire several rounds in the air before we could enter the Dalit localities where huts had been set on fire. Even fire tenders were not allowed entry by the Vanniyar groups. They also disconnected power supply to the entire area,” said the officer. He added that tension is still prevailing in the area and over 400 armed personnel have been deployed to prevent untoward incidents. The officer further said that many of the attackers are supporters of the Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) and were returning from a demonstration organised by PMK leader and former Union minister Anbumani Ramadoss. Vanniyars are a core voter base of the PMK. (Indian Express 17/8/15)

8. Dalit girl sexually assaulted, her eyes and private parts stabbed in UP (2)

Hardoi: A day after Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav made shocking comments on rape, a 13-year-old Dalit girl was killed after being allegedly sexually assaulted, with the attackers brutally stabbing her eyes and private parts while she had gone out of her house here, police said on Thursday. The girl had stepped out of her house to buy medicine for her father when the incident happened, police said. Her body with stab marks on her eyes and private parts was found yesterday from a field under Sursa police station area, they said. The body has been sent for post-mortem examination, police added. The SP supremo had yesterday kicked a fresh controversy with his comments on rape, saying while one man commits rape, four are named to “settle scores” and that rape by four persons was not “practical”.This was not the first time that the former Uttar Pradesh chief minister has made shocking comments on rape. While opposing capital punishment for rape last year, he had sparked outrage by saying “ladke, ladke hain…Galti ho jati hai (boys will be boys…They commit mistakes).” Speaking on the law and order situation in the state at a function here, Yadav had said considering UP’s population, the crime rate was “very low”. (Zee News 20/8/15)


9. ‘Allow tribal people to cultivate forest lands’ (6)

WARANGAL : The State and Central governments should implement the Forest Act-2005 and allow tribal people to cultivate forest lands, which they have been doing so for over a decade, said retired High Court Judge B. Chandra Kumar. Addressing a convention organised by the Podu Land Farmers’ Samithi here on Friday, the retired judge said it was not proper to evict the tribal people from the forest lands in the name of ‘Haritha Haram’. The State government could promote greenery on either side of road, encroached lands and private lands. Former Minister D. Sridhar Babu said with a view to protect the interests of poor tribal people, the Congress regime brought the Forest Act. The present State and Central governments were not implementing the law and working against the interests of tribal people in the name of development. “As a responsible Opposition party, we will continue to play our role in support of tribal people,” he said. Samithi advisor Prof. K. Venkatanarayana, leader K. Lachanna, Azmeera Jampaiah and Peerla Srinivas said the State government had promised that it would distribute lands to poor tribal people in every district. According to government estimates, it was decided to allocate 80,000 hectares of forest land to poor in Karimnagar district, 1.20 lakh hectares in Khammam district and 17,000 hectares in Warangal district. However, it was not implemented so far. Congress leader G. Vivek, G. Venkata Ramana Reddy and others attended the convention. (The Hindu 1/8/15)

10. Tribal leaders oppose ST status for Dhangars (6)

MUMBAI: Tribal leaders and the Dhangar (shepherd) community in Maharashtra are locked in a fight over the latter’s demand for Scheduled Tribe (ST) status.The Dhangar community is currently included in the OBC category in the State. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), prior to the Assembly elections, had promised to fulfil the community’s demand for inclusion in the ST category. However, nine months into assuming power, the BJP has not acted on the demand and is now coming under fire from the community which stood behind the party and its allies during the elections. Meanwhile, tribal leaders of the State, cutting across party lines have written a letter to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, reminding him that inclusion of Dhangars in the ST category would go against the Constitution. “Dhangar is a caste and not a tribe. Some of their leaders are falsely claiming that Dhangad tribe and Dhangar are similar. This claim has not been proved since Independence,” said advocate K.C. Padvi, also a Congress MLA from Nandurbar district, in a letter to the Chief Minister. The letter is signed by all tribal MLAs belonging to the BJP, the Congress, the NCP, the Shiv Sena and the CPI(M). Dhangar representatives do not buy the argument. “A small mistake in nomenclature has deprived us of benefits given to the STs. We supported the BJP as it promised to fulfil our demand. We are confident that it will do it,” said Mahadev Janakr, a Dhangar leader and MLC from Rashtriya Samaj Paksha, an ally of the BJP. (The Hindu 3/8/15)

11. Tribals charge Modi with supporting corporate (6)

NEW DELHI: About 1,000 Adivasis (tribals) from across the country converged here on Wednesday to launch a unified campaign — Adivasi Adhikar Sangharsh Sammelan — against Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s pro-industry policies. The general sense in the crowd was that since Mr. Modi came to power last year, they have been losing their land and legal entitlements at a faster pace. According to them, Mr. Modi was muscling through a constitutional amendment that will help private companies take over their land and resources and eventually push them into a social apartheid. Several Adivasi activists shared anecdotes about how private companies had already “captured” large swathes of their land. An 11-member delegation of Adivasi activists also met President Pranab Mukherjee on Wednesday. The delegation led by Brinda Karat, a senior leader of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), told the President that all the State Governors, who are constitutionally obligated to safeguard tribal rights, are instead “conniving” with the private companies. Mr. Mukherjee, according to Ms. Karat, recognised the significance of all the constitutional entitlements that shield the land and resources of India’s tribal population from harmful business interests and “promised” the delegation that he would shortly call a meeting of all the Governors to address the issue. Before meeting Mr. Mukherjee, Ms. Karat spoke at the convention, criticising the BJP-led Union government for “crudely eliminating” the legally-guaranteed role of gram sabhas. “The Modi government is destroying the Gram Sabha,” Ms. Karat told The Hindu on the sidelines of the convention. “PESA, 5th and 6th Schedule and Service Rights Act, all say that you have to get the consent of the gram sabha for any project in tribal-dominated areas.” Dr. Hrushikesh Panda, former secretary at the Ministry of Tribal Affairs, a whistleblower who vehemently criticised the UPA government’s attempts to tamper with the tribal rights, appealed to the Adivasi community to attend workshops that will inform them about their rights and prepare them to deal with the government’s land-grabbing moves. Several speakers criticised the budget cuts and said the lack of funds has resulted in failure of public infrastructure and led to high dropout rates in schools. “The student hostels are in a bad shape,” said G. Selvan, an Advasi activist from Tirpur district of Tamil Nadu. “The stipend is meagre and there is no outside coaching available for the students who want to compete for professional colleges.” “As per the rules,” said Parse Ushindi, an Adivasi activist from Maharashtra, “Rs.40,000 crore should have been allocated to the Adivasi community, but we got only Rs. 20,536 crore.” (The Hindu 6/8/15)

12. Tribal people demand protection of their rights (6)

Ramanagaram: Urging the Union and all State governments to protect the constitutional rights of the tribal people, members of the tribal and indigenous communities passed a resolution listing out their various demands at Ramanagaram on Sunday. The Karnataka Adivasi Rakshana Parishad, a tribal welfare organisation, had organised a meet of tribals near the Government College on Bengaluru-Mysuru highway in the town in connection with 21st World Adivasi Day. Members of 50 tribal communities from across the State, owing allegiance to the parishad, attended the meet. The meet strongly opposed the alleged outright assault on the constitutional rights given to the tribal people, while it urged the State government to take measures to make the Western Ghats a naxal-free region. As per the 2011 Census, though at least 42.49 lakh tribal people are living in Karnataka, they are deprived of their constitutionally guaranteed rights. And, a majority of them are even today leading nomadic life, the speakers at the meet lamented. The State government should honour the achievers in the tribal communities with ‘Adivasi Siri’ award and constitute a board/corporation for the welfare of tribal people, was one of their demands. The others included launch of special schemes to uplift the primitive tribes ‘Jenu Kuruba’ and ‘Koraga’, announcing support price for forest goods, and construction of ‘Adivasi Bhavan’ in all the taluks and district centres. The meet also urged the Union government to accord the status of ‘Primitive Tribe’ to Chenchu (residing in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana), Irular (Tamil Nadu), Kathodi/Kathakari (Gujarat and Maharashtra), Kattunayakan (Kerala and Tamil Nadu), Thoda (Tamil Nadu) and some other tribes.One other major demand the participants put forward was that the government should establish a varsity at Kodagu or Chamarajanagar to study the tribal people and their lives. The government should withdraw all cases filed against tribal people, and issue them caste certificates, the participants added.Members of the Siddi, Jodugatte Irulaiga, Pardi, Malekudiya and some other communities mesmerised the audience with their scintillating performances of various forms of art. A rally depicting tribal culture was taken out from the KSRTC bus stand to the programme venue.Energy Minister D.K. Shivakumar inaugurated the meet and urged the tribal people to make use of the State government-sponsored programmes. The government is committed to working for the uplift of the tribal communities, he added. Malavalli MLA, P.M. Narendra Swamy, lauded Chief Minister Siddaramaiah for allocating Rs. 15,000 crore in the budget for the welfare of SC and ST communities. Professor K.M. Metry of Hampi Kannada University and parishad president M. Krishnaiah were among those present. (The Hindu 10/8/15)

13. Odisha inks MoU for sustainable livelihood of tribals (6)

Bhubaneswar: The Odisha government on Friday signed an agreement with the Asian Heritage Foundation (AHF) to initiate a project aimed at creating employment and sustainable livelihood opportunities for the unemployed and other marginalised sections of tribal communities. The state’s handloom, textiles and handicrafts department and the Asian Heritage Foundation, a Delhi-based organisation, signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the project which is aimed at creating employment and sustainable livelihood opportunities for reducing poverty amongst the unemployed people and other marginalised communities. Observing that the project would be implemented in Mayurbhanj and Koraput districts for a three-year period from 2015 to 2018, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said: “It will cover 1,600 vulnerable tribal artisan families, of which 70 percent will be women, and seek to improve their skill, earning capacity and number of days of employment.” The project would be implemented at an estimated cost of Rs.2.72 crore. He said the project would involve Primary Weavers Cooperative Societies, Primary Handicraft Cooperative and self-help groups in the process. It would set up clusters, conduct skill development workshops and train youth entrepreneurs to operate mobile kiosks while the government would provide all necessary support for the success of the project, said the chief minister. The project “Creating Inclusive Business Models for Marginalized Tribal Communities” is being implemented in the three tribal dominated states of Odisha, Jharkhand and Madhya Pradesh under a four-year World Bank and Japan Social Development Fund (JSDF) -supported programme, said a release from the Chief Minister’s Office. The Asian Heritage Foundation is implementing the project. Earlier, the organisation successfully implemented similar projects for the rural poor in Bihar, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. (Business Standard 14/8/15)

14. Maharashtra ST Bus Scrap to Serve as Classrooms in Tribal Areas (6)

MUMBAI: The Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) will donate the scrap of its buses to be used as classrooms at schools in tribal areas. Not an ounce of scrap of ST buses will be wasted. The MSRTC will fulfil its social responsibility towards the society and transform the ST Bus Corporation into a responsible social centre, Transport Minister Diwakar Raote said here. The corporation till now used to sell its scrap that added to the coffers of the Corporation. Now, Raote has decided to donate or sell the scrap at cheap rates to tribals as a part of social responsibility. “When a bus has no use left and is converted into scrap, we will give it in remote areas to be used as classroom for tribal students,” Raote said. “The tyres will be removed from the bus, some facilities will be provided inside the bus to make it suitable to conduct a classroom and it will be given a look which does not make it look like scrap,” he said. The minister said at least two such buses will be provided for each school in tribal areas. The tyres of such buses can also be used to build walls of dams (nullah bandh), in place of cement walls, he said. “The tyres will be used in place of the cement wall of a dam by putting one tyre over the other and the gap will be filled by mud. Later, the whole wall be covered by plastic so that water does not leak from the wall,” the minister said. He said Minister of State for Finance Deepak Kesarkar was inspired by one such dam wall built by Dr Vikas Amte in Varora of Chandrapur district. “Kesarkar has himself got constructed such type of a bandh on a nullah. This scheme will be promoted across the Konkan region by providing number of tyres from MSRTC. This kind of bandh will be cheaper than cement walls,” Raote said. “The corporation is already delivering its social responsibility by allowing concessions in fare to freedom fighters, senior citizens, physically disabled, journalists and legislators,” he said elaborating on the initiatives taken by his department. The transport department is changing its face and becoming more commuter-friendly Raote said, adding that STbuses are the only reliable mode of transport that reach even the remote areas of the state and offer services 24X7. (New Indian Express 16/8/15)

15. ST status eludes this tribal community (6)

Tribal chieftain Chinnaraj of Chandramala located deep inside the plantation country of Nelliyampathy has reasons to believe that his Gods have stopped smiling on him.Now in his late seventies, Chinnaraj has been waging a unique kind of war for the last two decades by knocking at every possible door to get Scheduled Tribe status for all the 107 families who consider him as their respected leader. On their part, the State government and the Kerala Institute for Research Training and Development Studies of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (KIRTADS) have found his demand just and written to the Union government several years ago to provide them Scheduled Tribe status. But the files are gathering dust in New Delhi and the most backward Malayali community to which Chinnaraj belong remains deprived of all benefits meant for them. “It may be a paradox of sorts that our Tamil speaking community is known as Malayalis. We are landless poor living at the mercy of powerful estate lobbies in Nelliyampathy, where our forefathers were brought by British planters more than a century ago from Kolli Hills, Klavarayan Hills and Vattal Hills in Western Tamil Nadu,” says Palanivel Murugan, one among the community members. Interestingly, Tamil Nadu has granted them Scheduled Tribe status long ago following recommendations of tribal research centre of Tamil university, Thanjavur. “In the past, we worked in tea plantations of Nelliyampathy where we felt easiness as climate and topography looked similar to that of Kolli Hills. The estates have allowed us to live in their quarters though not allotted any land. To avoid eviction after retirement at the age of 58 from quarters, we discouraged our children from going for higher education and forced them to work in the same estates with meagre salaries. Now the estates are in crisis and our children wish to have better education availing benefits our community enjoy in Tamil Nadu,” explains S Geetha, mother of two Plus Two students. Chinnaraj holds a huge file comprising letters from the State government and KIRTADS saying that their request was just and it was under final scrutiny of the union government. Though KIRTADS gave them status of other eligible community (OEC), it fails to provide educational and employment benefits to community members. “Our children learnt Malayalam in schools and we have not even vague memories of Kolli Hills. We all have been born and brought up here. Only the Scheduled Tribe status and small patches of land to construct houses can help us survive in the changed situation. As a primitive tribal group, these are our rights,” says K. Kamaraj, a community member. It was the estate lobby that spoiled an earlier attempt of the community to occupy a stretch of vacant land in Nelliyampathy to build houses. (The Hindu 17/8/15)

16. NHRC team in Kandhamal to check FRA implementation (6)

BHUBANESWAR: With the forest dwellers, especially tribals, complaining about apathetic approach of government machinery in recognising their rights under the Forest Rights Act, two special rapporteurs of the National Human Rights Commission have begun their field visits in Odisha’s Kandhamal district . NHRC special rapporteur (tribal issues) P. P. Mathur and special rapporteur (West Bengal, Odisha and Andaman Nicobar Islands) Damodar Sarangi started interacting with villagers to get first hand information about FRA implementation. The team is also scheduled to meet district administration to know reason behind weak implementation of the FRA. The Campaign for Survival and Dignity (CSD), which had spearheaded campaign for enactment of FRA, alleged that district level committees regularly ignored proposals forwarded by Gram Sahbas. As per the report of the State Level Monitoring Committee, by May 2015, as many as 60,346 Individual Forest Right (IFR) claims have been filed at the Gram Sabha level and 57,657 IFR titles issued over 87,227 acres of forest land. According to the CSD, Odisha, 49,096 IFR titles have been issued over revenue forest land and 8,561 have been issued over reserve forest land. “Most IFR titles have been distributed without proper demarcation of land,” alleged Manohar Chauhan, member of CSD, Odisha. In a serious violation of existing norm, massive teak plantation was taken up by forest department on 49 plots allotted to persons belonging to Kutia Kandh community at Burlubaru village in Kandhamal district, he said, adding it exhibited as to how people were made to suffer after distribution of final titles. “The Kandhamal district administration has failed to recognise habitat rights of Kutia Kandh, a particularly vulnerable tribal group. Moreover, 1,697 IFR titles were said to have been distributed to the PVTG without undertaking proper ground verification,” said CSD activist. (The Hindu 19/8/15)

17. Land for Tribal Folks of Attappadi in 3 Months (6)

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said on Wednesday that the landless adivasis in Attappadi will get land within three months. The officials have been asked to expedite steps so that the land could be distributed on Kerala Piravi Day on November 1. The Chief Minister gave the directions at a meeting held here to discuss various issues related to the region. Applications will soon be invited from landless adivasis, he said. More staff, if needed, will also be provided to complete the proceedings at the earliest, he said. Meanwhile, Ottapalam sub-collector told the meeting that 2,700 acres of land was ready for distribution. Apart from the land issue,  education of adivasi children was also discussed at the meeting. Through a special government order, the Chief Minister gave directions to give admission to those students who failed to get admission to Plus One course. The meeting also decided to entrust a sub-committee to look into ‘Zero Hunger in Tribal Habitat’ project prepared by M S Swaminathan Research Foundation. Minister for Welfare of Scheduled Tribes P K Jayalakshmi, N Shamsudeen MLA, Planning board vice-chairman K M Chandrashekar and others were present at the meeting. (New Indian Express 20/8/15)


18. DCW to study ‘increasing’ crimes against women, writes to Bassi (8)

New Delhi: Stating that the law and order situation in Delhi is deteriorating at an alarming rate, new Delhi Commission for Women chief Swati Maliwal on Saturday asked Delhi Police Commissioner B S Bassi to furnish information about increasing complaints of crimes against women.  In her two letters, Maliwal, who was handpicked by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal for the post, raised the issue of the brutal murder of a teenager girl Meenakshi in Anand Parbat area last month and said the incident which has “shamed” Delhi is not just the murder of an individual but reflects on the failure of entire system and society. “In light of the Meenakshi murder case and the increasing rate of crime against women in the state, we wish to undertake a study on women safety in Delhi and come up with recommendations for the central, state governments and Delhi police. “For this we will be taking Anand Parbat as a pilot area and would request you to the provide us with the details of all complaints received by the police station here,” it said. Maliwal also sought information on the number of complaints of crime against women and girls including rape, molestation and sexual harassment the city. She also sought information on total strength (rank-wise) of the police force in Delhi, out of this, number of women in police and list of police stations in which highest number of complaints of crime against women were reported in 2014-15. “The law and order situation in Delhi is deteriorating at an alarming rate. According to the latest figures of the National Crime Records Bureau, everyday Delhi is witnessing over five cases of rape and 12 cases of molestation,” the DCW chief noted. “Women security has become one of the most important issues in today’s time,” she said and asked the Delhi police chief to furnish the list of spots in the city where highest number of complaints of crime against women were reported in 2014-15. “Out of these, list of spots which are near schools, colleges and Universities,” the letter said. “We are conducting a study on women safety in Delhi. This data is crucial for the same and will assist in fulfilling our statutory mandate of giving recommendations to the Central and State government on the issue of women safety,” said DCW chief Maliwal in her letter. The DSW Chairperson also stressed on the need for cooperation between DCW and Delhi Police on the various functions of DCW and said she hoped to have a strong working relationship with the Delhi Police. The missives by Maliwal came amid an ongoing war of words between Kejriwal and the Police Commissioner. The Delhi Police comes under the Union Home Ministry and the Kejriwal Government has been demanding that it should have control over the force as it was not working effectively to check crime in the national capital. (Asian Age 1/8/15)

19. Panel to probe Delhi police inaction in crimes against women (8)

New Delhi: The Delhi assembly on Monday adopted a resolution to set up a three-member panel to probe the alleged police inaction in cases of crime against women. The moves comes in the wake of the brutal murder of a 19-year-old girl, Meenakshi, in broad daylight in Anand Parbat area of the city. The AAP government accused Delhi Police of “inaction” in the case. The resolution was tabled by Delhi Women and Child Minister Sandeep Kumar. The commission of inquiry will be chaired by a retired judge. The resolution will add to the acrimony between the Delhi Police and the AAP government of Delhi. (New Kerala 3/8/15)

20. ‘Non-institution rehabs needed for women’ (8)

PANAJI: There is a need for non-institutional rehabs in the state and besides rescuing them, attention must be paid to empowering victims of sexual exploitation. The suggestion was made at a public panel discussion on violence against women – role and responses from state and the civil society that was co-organized by the International Centre Goa and Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, India Office, held on Tuesday. “Most organisations are imposing their ideals on rescued victims,” said Arunendra Pandey, director, ARZ Goa. “Not all of those women wish to stay in an institution and follow a timetable,” he said. Pandey added that ARZ has drafted schemes for the rehabilitation of victims wherein they are entitled to a monthly allowance as soon as they exit commercial sexual exploitation. Thus, by being financially supported by the government, they are less likely to succumb to poverty or get lured into commercial sexual exploitation again. He further insisted that this scheme needs to be implemented so that the victims can live according to their own terms instead of following a hostel-like system. The panel comprised of experts from different walks of life who discussed crucial women’s issues. Bailancho Saad president Sabina Martins shed light on how despite various efforts to raise awareness, the Goa government has still not made any significant move to rectify violence and discrimination against women. “Till date, we are grappling to put sexual harassment committees in place,” she said.Vibhuti Patel, head of department, economics, SNDT women’s university, pointed out how cyber crime is also prevalent in rural areas of the country. She insisted that lack of awareness and social stigma associated with the repercussions often lead to victimisation in both, urban and rural India. Damyanty Sridharan, senior advisor, Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, insisted how we need to look at all aspects of violence and not only how it is manifested. “We have to be open-minded and look at a much larger canvas if we have to address issues of violence against women,” she said. The panel resolved that the state can strengthen its justice delivery system by allocating resources towards the rehabilitation and empowerment of victims of violence and abuse. Funds that have been allocated should be judiciously used. The state needs to ensure that all its units designated to help abused women are actively functioning and protection officers, counsellors etc are emphatic towards the victim. (Times of India 5/8/15)

21. DDC seeks opinion on women’s rights Bill (8)

NEW DELHI: Delhi Dialogue Commission (DDC) on Wednesday released a draft Charter of Women’s Rights Bill, 2015 for public consultation. The draft incorporates recommendations made by Justice J S Verma committee in the wake of the Nirbhaya rape case and has identified specific areas for women’s safety and empowerment that will be given priority. DDC, an advisory body to the AAP government, also proposed to strengthen Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) by giving it more administrative and judicial powers. Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal informed the assembly of the proposed bill during the special session held on Monday. The draft bill was uploaded on DDC’s website to get comments and suggestions from the public over the next four weeks. “People can also visit the DDC office to give suggestions and DDC will organize a round-table at the commission where each and every section of the proposed bill will be discussed,” DDC vice-chairman Ashish Khetan said. He added: “The bill was drafted after a round of consultations with all stakeholders. This is a first-of-its-kind law, which the state government will propose before the people intending that soon it will be made law. We have incorporated all the recommendations of Justice J S Verma committee, along with some expanded rights.” According to officials, the bill proposes to provide a comprehensive framework for women residing in Delhi to effectively enforce their fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution and various existing statutes, including protection against all forms of violence, the right to appropriate healthcare, the right to education, right to privacy and the right to equality. To enforce this bill, DDC also proposed that DCW will work as a single window to work and enforce women-related matters. “It is easy to frame a law but the government could not implement it. In the draft bill, we have identified 29 such acts for women’s security, which could not be implemented properly so we will have a public consultation on implementation of these,” Khetan said. DCW chief Swati Maliwal supported the initiative and said other governments could follow the module adopted by the Delhi government. “The bill guarantees implementation of rights of women. There are certain rights enshrined in the Constitution but in specific terms. This draft addresses the issue of implementation,” she said. DDC will take comments, suggestions from people, judiciary, civil society and government officials before completing and presenting the draft bill before the cabinet. “The draft bill enables a woman to seek redressal of legal grievances in a time-bound and effective manner against private individuals and the state,” Khetan added. (Times of India 6/8/15)

22. 28 arrested for harassing women at railway stations (8)

NEW DELHI: Mukesh, Ravi and Shiva had reached Delhi by train and while waiting at a platform at New Delhi railway station, they could not resist passing a lewd comment at a woman. They thought they would get away with it but were caught by Delhi Police on Saturday. The railway police have launched a massive drive against miscreants who indulge in sexual harassment on platforms and on trains. Flying squads have been formed to apprehend men ogling at women and passing lewd comments. In the past two days, 68 people have been detained and 28 arrested for groping and indulging in other cognizable offences. The drive has been intensified in all local and express trains, including Rajdhani and Shatabdi trains. DCP Sanjay Bhatia said most of the people arrested were found ogling at women at the railway stations or touching them in crowded trains. Police officials said these miscreants would usually stand near the exit doors of trains and grope women while deboarding. Some of them were caught red-handed during the drive. Two men arrested during the drive were found to be taxi drivers waiting at the Nizamuddin Railway station for passengers. Police said most of them were not even aware of their crimes as they had been doing it for a long time. They were detained under Section 65 of the DP Act and were counselled by religious leaders and experts after this. (Times of India 10/8/15)

23. Karnataka Panel Against Atrocities on Women Urged to Submit Report (8)

BENGALURU:  Members of an expert committee on sexual violence against women have complained to committee chairman V S Ugrappa about the delay in finalising the report. The panel was constituted in November 2014 by the Legislative Council to suggest measures for prevention of such atrocities. At its meeting held at Vikasa Soudha on Wednesday, at least three members said the committee has already taken a long time to study various facets of the issue. “We should not take any more time to visit schools, colleges or any other institutions. We have already taken enough time and we should submit our report without any further delay,” they said and urged Ugrappa to take an appropriate decision in this regard. Ugrappa, who assumed office after the committee’s earlier chairman M C Nanaiah quit the post three months ago, said the draft report was ready. A few members expressed displeasure at Ugrappa for taking the media along during his recent surprise visits to girls’ hostels to understand the plight of the inmates. The meeting decided not to conduct such visits under media glare in future. It would also take measures to ensure that the identity of the victim and the family is not revealed to the media whenever cases of sexual assault on students in schools or colleges are reported. (New Indian Express 13/8/15)

24. With trishul in hand, Radhe Maa turns up before police in dowry harassment case (8)

Mumbai: With a trishul in hand, self-styled godwoman Radhe Maa on Friday turned up at the Kandivali Police Station here in response to the summons issued by the Mumbai Police for questioning with regard to a dowry harassment case. Senior inspector Mukund Pawar said, “Presently I will not be able to tell anything with regard to the case and the statement of the accused as well as of Radhe Maa.” Her statement will be recorded today by police in response to allegations levelled by a 32-year-old woman that Radhe Maa instigated her in-laws, who are her followers, Radhe Maa instigated her in-laws, police said. The Kandivali police had last week issued summons to Radhe Maa and other six others in connection with the case filed on August 5 in which the woman alleged that she was physically and mentally harassed by her in-laws for dowry. A local court had yesterday denied pre-arrest bail to Sukhvinder Kaur alias Radhe Maa in connection with the case. Also, BJP MLA in Gujarat Vasan Ahir yesterday said he had written to the state Home department and demanded probe against the controversial godwoman in connection with a case where seven members of a family committed suicide in Anjar tehsil (Ahir’s constituency) of Kutch district in March 2014. Ahir alleged that the family had sold its entire land and given the godwoman Rs 1.35 crores because Radhe Maa had promised them place in heaven if they paid her the money and became her life-time disciples. After realising that they had been duped, they committed suicide, he alleged. Further in Mumbai, advocate Rajkumar Rajhans yesterday filed a complaint with the Airport police station, alleging that Radhe Maa had carried a trishul (trident) with her at an airport and on a flight during her recent travels. Police had not registered any case yet, however. In Thane, near Mumbai, an NGO called ‘Support’ claimed that the high-end car used by Radhe Maa during her recent visit to Aurangabad was purchased using fake documents. It demanded probe by the police (Asian Age 14/8/15)

25. Unsafe Abortions Killing a Woman Every Two Hours in AP (8)

HYDERABAD: Unsafe abortions are posing serious health problems among women, observe gynaecologists. All over the world about four crore women opt for abortions every year and half of them are unsafe abortions. As a result about 50,000 women are facing serious health problems while 68,000 women are dying. Though there is no specific data on abortions in India, the situation is no better as according to a study it is said that unsafe abortions are killing a woman every two hours here. ‘’I myself come across two to three unsafe abortions every week,’’ Dr D Padmavathi, a Hyderabad-based gynaecologist says. It is not just women from poor and uneducated background who are resorting to unsafe abortions but even well educated and working women are also falling prey to unsafe abortions. Lack of awareness and  social stigma associated with abortions is driving many women to go for unsafe abortions instead of approaching a qualified medical practitioner, observe gynaecologists. “Many women aged between 15 and 35 years opt for abortion either due to pregnancy before marriage or even unwanted pregnancy even after marriage. In spite of many advances and lot of cultural changes still a woman cannot assert that she wants an abortion openly,” opines Dr S Shantha Kumari, secretary, Obstetrics and Gynaecological Society of Hyderabad. The main health problems from unsafe abortions are reproductive health of woman will suffer drastically making her unable to bear a child again. In many cases where a woman uses a pill to terminate abortion, gynaecologist find that the pill may have terminated the foetus but some pieces might remain which might pose serious health problem in the future. (New Indian Express 16/8/15)

26. Government may set Rs 9,000 per month pay for full-time domestic help (8)

New Delhi: Hiring a full-time domestic help may soon be a costly affair, as they will have to be paid a minimum salary of Rs 9,000 per month, compulsory paid leave of 15 days annually and maternity leave for women. To safeguard domestic workers’ interests, the Centre is learnt to have drafted a national policy with these features, along with benefits like social security and provisions to check sexual harassment and bonded labour. The policy is likely to be presented before the Union Cabinet soon. The policy envisages the right of domestic helps to pursue education, enjoy a safe work environment and a means to redress grievances. Workers and employers will also have the right to form groups and engage in “collective bargaining”. (Asian Age 17/8/15)


27. 2270 cases of violation of child rights in 2015 (14)

PUNE: The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights has reported 2404, 3281, 3340 and 2270 cases of violation of child rights in 2012-13, 2013-14, 2014-15 and 2015-16 (till 30.06.2015) respectively. The National Commission for Women has registered 16584, 22422, 32118 and 9786 cases of violation of rights of women in 2012-13, 2013-14, 2014-15 and 2015-16 (till date) respectively. The reasons for violation of child rights include violations under the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009 and violation under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012. Child rights violations are also related to displacement, violence, trafficking, etc. The actions taken by National Commission for Protection of Child Rights include conduct of summon hearings and giving directions to concerned officials, giving recommendations to State Governments, etc. The government has also enacted several laws such as the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000, the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012, the Prohibition of Child marriage Act, 2006 and is implementing schemes for the protection of children such as the Integrated Child Protection Scheme, etc. The reasons for violation of women rights include: domestic violence, outraging the modesty of women, dowry harassment, property dispute, rape, etc. (Times of India 1/8/15)

28. Govt plans to punish parents if children found engaged in child labour (14)

New Delhi: The government plans to put in place provisions to punish parents whose children are found to be engaged in child labour, which has been seeing a declining trend. Union Minister Bandaru Dattatreya informed the Lok Sabha on Monday that the government has initiated multi-pronged action to eradicate child labour in the country. “The total number of working children in the age group of 5-14 years in the country has declined from 1.26 crore as per the Census 2001 to 43.53 lakh as per Census 2011,” the Minister of State for Labour and Employment said during Question Hour. Replying to supplementaries, he said a legal provision is going to be put in place whereby parents will be punished and penalised if their children are found to be engaged in child labour activities. Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation) Act 1986 prohibits employment of children below 14 years of age in 18 occupations and 65 processes. To curb the menace, inspections are conducted both by the Centre and the states. “The total number of inspections in the central and state sphere under Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation) Act, 1986 during the last three years — 2012, 2013 and 2014 were 1,89,018, 2,19,085 and 1,75,709, respectively,” he said. (Zee News 2/8/15)

29. Teenaged girl sold off for Rs. 2 lakh by dad, step-mom (14)

CHITTOOR: A 13-year-old girl, who was sold off by her father and stepmother to a thrice-married 40-year-old man for Rs. 2 lakh, was rescued from Gudipala mandal in the district, in a joint operation conducted by the Bangarupalem police and the Rural Organisation for Poverty Eradication Services (ROPES), here on Sunday. According to the police, the victim’s father Jayachandra, a farm labourer from Nallangadu village in Bangarupalem mandal got married to one Sumathi a few years ago, after his first wife had deserted him. Since then Sumathi had been harassing the girl and even forced her to quit school and take up menial jobs. Two months ago, Jayachandra and Sumathi struck a deal with one Krishnamurthy (40), a farmer from Gudipala mandal near Chittoor, and sold the girl to him for Rs. 2 lakh. The girl was handed over to Krishnamurthy on May 31 and he got married to her in a temple at Ratnagiri near Vellore in Tamil Nadu the same day. Police said Krishnamurthy, was married thrice in the past. His first wife had died, while the second one had deserted him. He was presently living with another woman, said to be his third wife. Meanwhile, the prolonged absence of the girl, who was studying in class VIII, from the school made her classmates suspicious and the neighbours too started inquiring about her from Sumathi. Sensing trouble, the neighbours alerted the police and the ROPES Childline, who rushed to Gudipala and rescued the girl. ROPES chairman K. Dhanasekhan said the girl would be handed over to the Children’s Home in Tirupati on Monday. She would be produced before the Child Welfare Committee (CWC) and referred to a hospital for medical examination. The Bangarupalem police said that a criminal case was registered against Krishnamurthy and steps would be taken to book cases against Jayachandra and Sumathi. (The Hindu 3/8/15)

30. Rights panel chalks out plan for child beggars (14)

CHANDIGARH: The Chandigarh Commission for Protection of Child Rights (CCPCR) has drawn an action plan for the city administration that includes guidelines for street children like creation of a special police team to rescue child beggars, more special homes for them, and de-addiction provisions to be made. The plan has been chalked out on the basis of mapping and survey of street children carried out by the commission. “After the survey, an analytical study on the subject has been done by the panel as presented in the report and the commission has made recommendations to the administration providing an action plan to make Chandigarh a smart city in its true perspective,” CCPCR chairperson Devi Sirohi said. The survey on child beggars was conducted by the students of Panjab University under the internship programme of CCPCR on the theme “eradicate child beggary in Chandigarh”. The students, who were divided into five teams, encountered 1,224 child beggars, with 793 males and 431 females, in the 10-day survey. The teams interviewed 455 child beggars, of which 275 were males and 180 were females. The CCPCR also stated in the action plan that the administration should organize health camps and night shelter homes for street children. It has suggested that police personnel should be sensitized on the provision of law for child beggars, action to be taken against adults instigating child begging and procedures required rescuing a child. The rights body has also given action plans for religious places and market committees as these are the places where maximum child beggars are found. The plan also includes meeting of all religious leaders and market committees on the issues of child begging, a sustained campaign to discourage child beggars in the identified places as per mapping, a social awareness campaign and drives against child labour. (Times of India 6/8/15)

31. Centre pushing for amendment to child labour laws (14)

New Delhi: The government on Monday said it was pushing forward an amendment to the country’s child labour laws, aimed at prohibiting children between 14 and 18 years of age to be employed in any hazardous occupation. “The government has introduced a bill in the Rajya Sabha to amend the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act 1986 which along with the proposed Official amendments, inter alia, covers prohibition of employment of adolescent (14-18 years) in hazardous occupations and processes,” union Labour and Employment Minister Bandaru Dattatreya said in a written reply in the Lok Sabha on Monday. He was responding to a question raised by Congress member Shashi Tharoor over a report by the International Labour Organisation which claimed India to be employing 2.4 million adolescents — the highest in the world — in hazardous jobs. The minister said the bill has provisions for punishment for employing adolescents in contravention of the act’s provisions. Creation of a Child and Adolescent Labour Rehabilitation Fund has also been proposed. (Business Standard 10/8/15)

32. 356 children in distress rescued in two years (14)

Hubballi: Girls outnumbered boys in the list of children who were in distress and rescued by the District Child Protection Unit. Of the 356 children protected by the district child protection unit officials in last two years, 180 are girls, and 176 boys. The unit has protected 169 girls and 165 boys in 2013-14 and 11 each in 2014-15 till date, stated a release. Most of such children fall under the category of migrated children (116 girls and 125 boys) followed by rag pickers (19 girls and 15 boys) and children engaged in beggary (12 each). Besides, seven girls and four boys engaged as child labourers, eight boys addicted to drugs were also rescued. The officials had rescued 27 children (23 girls and four boys) from the Hubballi railway station last year and one girl and seven boys from Dharwad railway station this year, the release added. (The Hindu 12/8/15)

33. Bring children up to age of 18 years under RTE Act: Activists (14)

MUMBAI: Bringing children up to the age of 18 years under the Right to Education (RTE) Act, was one of the main suggestions that has come up in a meeting organised by city-based NGOs working for child rights. The meeting was organised to discuss the provisions that need to be included in the Child Labour Amendment Bill that is under consideration at the centre. The activists plan to draw a charter of their demands and submit it to the government of India. “The main point that we all agreed upon was that children up to the age of 18 years should be in schools and nowhere else. While there is a debate that children up to the age of 14 years can work in family enterprises we are opposed to that. Children are also exploited in domestic work,” said child rights’ activist Santosh Shinde. He added that rescue and rehabilitation work should be clarified in the act. NGOs like Pratham, Yuva, Committed Communities Development Trust (CCDT), Child Rights and You (CRY), Childline, Save The Children participated in the discussion and have come up with suggestions that will strengthen the Act. (Times of India 13/8/15)

34. Six corporation schools to be home to street children (14)

CHENNAI: For generations, these children have lived on streets, with their families. While their parents find a livelihood in the vicinity, they go to a nearby school. But when they reach high school, reality hits. The academic burden and the state of being homeless come as a double whammy, and many of them drop out of school. To tackle the situation, Chennai Corporation is setting up six shelters for such children, within its schools. This decision was taken after a Chennai-based survey reported that while most street children attend primary and middle school, only 58% of them go to a high school. The survey released in July by NGO Information and Resource Centre for the Deprived Urban Communities (IRCDUC) studied six zones in Chennai that are hotspots for the homeless. It found that while there was a 19% of children dropped out between the age of six and 14, the rate went up to 42% in the case of children in the age group of 15-18 years. Street life was definitely not conducive for children to continue in school, the report said. The city corporation is responsible for providing shelters for the urban homeless under the National Urban Livelihood Mission. Chennai Corporation is planning to follow a model under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan that manages homes for out-of-school children. “We have begun the process of refurbishing the buildings. We have collaborated with six NGOs to maintain the shelters,” said a senior corporation official. In the first phase, four schools – two each for boys and girls – will come up in the zones of Royapuram, Anna Nagar and Teynampet. Once the corporation builds kitchens and toilets and sources study material and beds, the NGOs will frame rules for the administration of the shelters, tuition, appointment of wardens, food, and social activities. “The idea is to run the schools and keep the children happy,” the official said. The first batch of such residential schools will open this academic year. IRCDUC will help the corporation identify out-of-school children. “A residential school set up for urban homeless children will provide a school ambiance that motivates children to embrace education,” says Vanessa Peter, a policy researcher at IRCDU. “It costs less, and involves school headmasters, teachers, government departments and civil society. Participation of several stakeholders ensure transparency and guards against child abuse.” The corporation, meanwhile, is awaiting the chief minister’s appointment to open two residential facilities at its schools in Saidapet and Teynampet, where 60 boys and 60 girls of Classes 11 and 12 would live and study on the school premises. (Times of India 16/8/15)

35. NGO frees children from shackles of labour, leads them onto path of education (14)

MUMBAI: ” I was admitted to Class I six years ago, but just a few months later, I had to stop going to school because some other students stole the money my mother would give me,” recalled 13 year-old Nisha Pawar. Now a student of Class V at Colaba municipal school, she aspires to become a police officer in the future. Pawar was among the 132 children felicitated on Tuesday by Pratham, an NGO, to encourage them to continue schooling. The children, who were forced into child labour and found at traffic signals and railway platforms, were rescued by the Pratham Council for Vulnerable Children (PCVC) this year. Of the children being felicitated, many were rescued from places like Kurla station, Mankhurd and Malad. ” We started 20 years ago, with a vision to let every child go to school but we wanted to function with the government, not as an independent NGO. The authorities and government have done a wonderful job. School principals have cooperated whenever we went to them to seek admission for these children,” said Farida Lambe, co-founder, Pratham. A first year BCom student, Mohsin Shaikh, who learnt music and has earlier performed in Australia, had been rescued by the NGO at the age of 9. State education minister Vinod Tawde, also present at the ceremony, said, ” The work that is supposed to be done by the government is done by NGOs like Pratham. This is the first step towards a better society. There is a need to adopt methods to track students’ attendance to ensure they stay in school.” ” In 2014, the Mumbai police force rescued over 12,000 children. Many who fail exams turn to drugs, which can be curbed if these incidents are reported to us,” said Pravinkumar Patil, deputy commissioner of police (enforcement), who was also present at the function. (Times of India 19/8/15)


36. National body praises TN’s role in minority education (7)

TRICHY: As awareness about minority status and seeking the necessary funds is less among individuals across the country and also a need to address the issues of the members, a nationwide awareness on the minority affairs board is currently being created by the National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions. In an effort to improve awareness about the status of minority, the National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions (NCMEI) is currently conducting a nationwide awareness programme on the minority affairs board. Zafar Agha, acting chairman of NCMEI is on a country-wide trip, speaking to each of the state panel members on minority education. Speaking about the educational rights of minorities in India, the chairman said the country allocates a lot of money on minority education, but it is the people who should frame the right policies to obtain the necessary funds for the growth of the institution. Several states in the country have not come up with any procedure for the minority institutions to address their grievances. When asked about Tamil Nadu, Agha said with the formation of state minority commission to keep tab on all the educational institutions across the state, Tamil Nadu is faring well when compared to other states. He further said since 2004, the awareness programme has been providing fruitful results as over 35 applications seeking approval are coming in a day. Addressing the media, Agha said minority institutions that were established during the 18th century need to be renewed under the Amendment Act 2006. The chairman added several educational institutions in the country are using the minority status to their advantage and sell their seats for large sums. The Supreme Court had recently issued an order to check such institutions and the board has been keeping tab on such manipulations, he explained. Several institutions from the state participated in the event and an interactive session was held for them. (Times of India 2/8/15)

37.  “Implement Ranganath Misra panel recommendations” (7)

Dindigul: The Minorities Welfare Committee has appealed to the government to implement the recommendations of the Justice Ranganath Misra Committee for the uplift of poor minorities, according to Committee’s State deputy organiser Moosa. Addressing committee’s first district-level conference here on Sunday, Mr. Moosa said that employment and educational opportunities were denied to a large number of Christians and Muslims even now. Even as the committee recommended 10 per cent reservation for the minorities, only three per cent of reservation was implemented. Proper implementation of the Ranganth Misra Committee recommendations would help minorities get admission to educational institutions and get government jobs. Now schools and colleges did not follow reservations for minorities properly, he charged. Mr. Moosa also demanded abolition of capital punishment as it was against mankind. He strongly condemned both the successive Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party governments for not taking any initiative to abolish it. Even former President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam wanted abolition of capital punishment. All other political parties too supported its abolition, he noted. The banks should offer loans to minorities for trade and business activities without imposing stringent conditions. The district administration should expedite construction of a memorial for Tipu Sultan in Dindigul, he added. The conference demanded inclusion of Dalit Christians in the Scheduled Castes list and opening of a unit of Aligarh Muslim University. (The Hindu 3/8/15)

38. Citizenship soon for those who fled religious persecution (13)

NEW DELHI: In a move that will have far-reaching implications in Assam and some parts of north-west India, the Union Home Ministry will amend the Citizenship Act, 1955, to grant citizenship to undocumented migrants who fled religious persecution in Pakistan and Bangladesh. The migrants include not just Hindus but also Buddhists, Christians, Zoroastrians, Sikhs and Jains. Top Home Ministry sources have confirmed that a Bill is in the works to amend the Act and make changes to some provisions in the Foreigners Act, 1946, the Passport (Entry into India) Act, 1920, and the Passport (Entry into India) Rules, 1950. The Law Ministry has vetted the amendments. “This is an idea floated right after the Modi government came to power, but it was found that many people who fled into India fearing religious persecution do not have valid documents, or have their visas expired. Therefore, these people are illegal migrants and ineligible for citizenship,” a top official said. Several high-level meetings were held by the Ministry with the Law Minister, the Law Secretary and the Home Secretary to remedy the situation. “Basically, two changes need to be made to the Passport Act, 1920, and Passport Rules, 1950, to exempt people who fled religious persecution from Pakistan or Bangladesh from being termed illegal migrants and offer them long-term visas while their case for citizenship is being considered,” a source said. Citizenship issue can affect relations with neighboursThe cut-off date proposed for victims of religious persecution from Pakistan and Bangladesh who can apply for citizenship is December 31, 2014. Citizenship by registration (a minimum stay of seven years) and naturalisation (a minimum of 12 years) will be the two routes. The External Affairs Ministry has cautioned the Home Ministry that the move could hurt India’s relations with its neighbours. Nevertheless, the political call has been taken. The Citizenship Act, 1955, would have to be amended to reflect the exemption from the status of illegal migrant. “Section 2, sub-section 1’s clause (b) will have a proviso which will reflect this exemption,” a source said. The amendment to the Passports Act, 1920, and Passport Rules, 1950, will have to be notified and tabled in Parliament for two months to allow for objections, if any, before being deemed clear. The amendments to the Citizenship Act, 1950, will be cleared as a Bill after being debated in Parliament. On Monday, BJP general secretary Ram Madhav said in Silchar: “No person who came from Bangladesh because of persecution or harassment will have to leave Assam or India. The NDA government will soon bring in necessary amendments to the Citizenship Act.” “At his first public rally in Assam during the 2014 election campaign, Narendra Modi had said Hindu Bangladeshis would be removed from camps and given citizenship,” a senior BJP leader said. (The Hindu 5/8/15)

39. Scheme for skill devpt among minorities (7)

Patna: Union minority affairs minister Najma Heptulla on Saturday launched her ministry’s new ‘Nai Manzil’ programme aimed at skill development among minorities, at a function held at the convention hall on the campus of Sinchai Bhawan. Speaking on the occasion, she said, “Nai Manzil is truly a new direction and new goal for all out-of-school/dropped-out (minority) students as well as those who are studying in madrasas, where they will not be getting formal Class XII and Class X certificates, rendering them largely unemployed in the organized sector.” “The programme is aimed at this large group as an integrated intervention in terms of providing education as well as skill development,” she said, adding that the scheme would cover people in the age-group of 17-35 years from all minority communities. She said the scheme envisages educational intervention by giving bridge courses to the trainees and getting them certificates for Class XII and Class X through distance education. At the same time, it would provide them trade skills in four courses – manufacturing, engineering, services, and soft skills. “The new skill development scheme would benefit minority sections in Bihar in a big way, because the state, like Uttar Pradesh, has a large number of madrasas,” she said after the launch function of the ‘Nai Manzil’ scheme, adding that a large number of madrasas in Bihar have shown willingness to get benefits from the scheme. Heptulla said her ministry would provide equipment like computers and other accessories required under the scheme. She said her ministry has implemented the promises made by the BJP in its poll manifesto for the 2014 parliamentary election. As to the minority communities, the manifesto had seven promises, of which six were directly related to her ministry, Heptulla said, adding her guide for work on the schemes were the poll manifesto and the speeches of PM Narendra Modi. She also said she chose Patna to launch the ‘Nai Manzil’ programme, because it was here at Gandhi Maidan that Modi in his speech, delivered amid bomb blasts at Gandhi Maidan on October 27, 2013, had announced to take up programmes for the uplift of poor Muslims. (Times of India 8/8/15)

40. Only 6 pc students from minorities in technical education (7)

NEW DELHI:  Just a little over six per cent students belonging to minority communities were enrolled in various technical education programmes in 2014-15, notwithstanding the government implementing various schemes to increase their participation in the higher education. A comparison of the latest government data indicates that only a fraction of women (1.55%) belonging to minority communities were enrolled to the various technical education programmes across the country. Women, however, constituted a little over 23 per cent among all minority community students pursing technical education, according to data with the Human Resource Development (HRD) Ministry. Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, Sikhs, Parsis and Jains have been notified by the government as minority communities under Section 2(c) of the National Commission for Minorities Act, 1992. Out of a total 20,81,210 students enrolled to technical and professional programmes at higher educational institutions during 2014-15, only 1,36,765 students are from minority communities. The flash statistics on minority students in technical education indicate that majority of them preferred to take up engineering programmes over other technical and professional programmes like management, pharmacy, architecture and hotel management. Tamil Nadu witnessed the highest number of minority students (19,315) enrolling to engineering programmes, followed by Kerala (15,050), Telangana (12,149), Karnataka (12,014), Maharashtra (11,882) and Andhra Pradesh (5,819). According to the data, the percentage of literacy is lowest among Muslims though their population is highest when compared to Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Parsis. The percentage of literacy among Muslims is 59. 1, Sikhs 69.4, Buddhists 72.7, Christians 80.3 and Parsis 97.9. “Participation of Muslims in education is lowest because first their dropout rate is very high at secondary school level itself. They do not pursue their studies further because they cannot afford. Education loan is also not easy to get from banks,” M M Ansari, an economist and member of the University Grants Commission, told Deccan Herald. He also charged the government of having a biased approach towards educational development of minority community. “You have reservation for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, but nothing no similar measures for minorities. The government must have a scheme to offer financial assistance to those from economically weaker section to promote education among minorities, especially Muslims in view of their socio economic conditions,” Ansari added. (Deccan Herald 11/8/15)

41. Minority Report: Karnataka Tops in Higher Education (7)

BENGALURU: Karnataka tops the country in admitting students from the minorities to various professional courses. A report just released by the Union Ministry for Human Resource Development (MHRD) shows that more students from the minority communities enrolled for courses in Karnataka than in any other state. Karnataka institutions of higher learning have admitted more than 20 per cent from the minorities in all courses barring one — applied arts and crafts — for 2014-15. The highest number is in engineering, with students from the minorities bagging 15,050, or 24.9 per cent of the total seats. Of them, 5,314 are girls and 9,736 boys. The second highest enrolment is for management courses, with 1,026 students. That number comes to 22.8 per cent of all admissions. This trend continues in other courses as well. In pharmacy, the enrolment of minorities is 26.9 per cent while in MCA it is 29.2 per cent, hotel management and catering 27.6 per cent and architecture and town planning 21.2 per cent. The only course with less than 10 per cent is applied arts and crafts, with just 8 per cent of students coming from the minorities. The picture in other states offers a curious contrast. The minorities get the highest percentage of seats in hotel management and catering in Delhi (59.9), in pharmacy in Daman and Diu (31.6), and in architecture in Bihar (36.8). With these exceptions, Karnataka tops the country in all other courses. Experts attribute the numbers to strict monitoring and enforcement in Karnataka. Dr M S Thimmappa, former vice-chancellor of Bangalore University, told Express, “In some states, even if candidates apply under the minority quota, they are denied seats. But in Karnataka, the monitoring and enforcement is good and this attracts more students from the minorities to higher education.” Prof Abdul Azeez, noted academic, said, “My guess is that the minorities have realised the need to educate their children and take up courses with good job market. They have realised that education is the only way to survive, both in urban and rural areas.” Zero Admission StatesSome states show zero admissions in several courses. For example, in Andaman and Nicobar Islands, engineering and technology, applied arts and crafts and hotel management have no students from the minorities. A similar situation prevails in Arunachal Pradesh, where no student from the minorities was admitted to architecture and town planning, applied arts and crafts and hotel management courses. Manipur, Meghalaya and Mizoram have not enrolled even a single such student for any professional course. (New Indian Express 12/8/15)

42. Minority panel gives Gujarat a reminder (7)

New Delhi, Aug. 14: The National Commission for Minorities has issued its latest reminder to Gujarat to set up a state minority commission to redress the grievances of its minorities, who sources said are flooding the apex panel with complaints of harassment. Similar letters have been sent to the handful of other states that too lack their own minority panels, sources in the national commission said. “Every month we receive a large number of complaints from minority communities in Gujarat,” a senior official said. “A letter was sent to the Gujarat chief secretary last month asking him to speed up the process of establishing the state panel.” Among the other laggards are Goa, Haryana and some northeastern states (Assam and Tripura have state minority panels). A national commission official said that many of the complaints from Gujarat involved alleged discrimination, threats to life and irregularities in relief distribution among the 2002 riot survivors. Some Muslim traders from the state too have alleged harassment. Another official said that 10 Muslim hoteliers from Gujarat had last year complained that local politicians had forced them to close their businesses, with police failing to act despite court orders. “During my tenure I had written several times to the Gujarat government but they failed to set up a minority commission for unknown reasons,” former national commission chairperson Wajahat Habibullah told The Telegraph. “The existence of a state panel gives a lot of confidence to the minorities.” Habibullah said the national panel could “only request the states to constitute such a commission but the final decision lies with them”.The commission is a quasi-judicial body that can take cognisance of matters relating to minorities on its own and send a team to carry out an independent probe. Its recommendations to the government, however, are not binding. A commission official cited how the Narendra Modi government had ignored the panel’s recommendation for FIRs against BJP parliamentarians Sakshi Maharaj and Yogi Adityanath for their inflammatory speeches last year. Father Cedric Prakash, an Ahmedabad-based rights activist, said the Gujarat government had resisted demands to set up a minority panel even when Modi was chief minister. “We have been demanding a commission since the attacks on Christians in 2000 and the 2002 riots,” he said. “But the state government always said it did not believe in minority appeasement.” Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Jains, Parsis and Buddhists are the six notified minority communities in India. (The Telgraph 15/8/15)

43. Notice to Haryana over removal of minorities panel chief (7)

CHANDIGARH: The Punjab and Haryana high court on Monday issued a notice to the Haryana government on following a plea against its decision to remove the chairman and members of the state commission for minorities. The matter reached the high court through a petition filed by Tarlochan Singh, who was sacked from the post of the chairman of the commission . Terming his removal as illegal and arbitrary, the petitioner submitted that terms and conditions of the commission members stipulated the procedure of removal, but they were sacked by the state government without following any such process. Tarlochan sought directions to set aside the Haryana government’s order for his removal. He also accused the Haryana government for not even issuing them any notice before proceeding against them. In July 2014, the then state government had constituted Haryana State Commission for Minorities to safeguard the interests of minority communities of the state. Tarlochan, was appointed as chairman of the commission while advocate and local Congress leader from Mewat Ishaq Mohammed and two Congress leaders from Rohtak, Dr Stella Portar and Harbhajan Singh Khera, were appointed as members of the commission. The commission was authorized to examine, investigate and monitor all matters relating to the safeguards for the minority communities under the constitution. In March, the Manohar Lal Khattar-led BJP government had rescinded the commission. (Times of India 18/8/15)


44. India home to 180 million Muslims: Indian official (7)

Muslims account for 180 million of India’s 1.1 billion people, Indian Deputy National Security Advidor Arvind Gupta announced  on Saturday. The number was revealed in a meeting between Gupta and Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb, Egyptian grand Imam of al-Azhar and a prominent figure in the Muslim world. “Al-Azhar is an international institution, respected by the whole world, and we are interested to cooperate with it and to learn about its vision to counter extremism and terrorism,” Gupta was quoted as saying by the International Islamic News Agency. Similar figures for the number of Indian Muslims were revealed during last year’s general elections, leaving India to stand as the world’s third-largest Muslim population after Indonesia and Pakistan. Official figures indicate that Muslims, who make up around 13% of India’s population, are lagging behind in literacy and have complained about job discrimination. They account for less than 7% of public service employees, only 5% of railways workers, around 4% of banking employees, and there are only 29,000 Muslims in India’s 1.3 million-strong military. Conditions of the Muslim world and Al-Azhar’s role in dealing with the course of variable events in the Muslim world, came under discussion during the meeting. Gupta was said to be all praise for Al-Azhar and his efforts in fighting the Islamic State. (The Express Tribune 1/8/15)

45. Cong Muslim workers to run ‘Kanwar Sewa’ camps on highway (7)

MEERUT: In a confidence-building measure, the Youth Congress will post its Muslim workers at ‘Kanwar Sewa’ camps on highways in western UP. The camps will provide services such as food, water and first aid to devotees. Youth Congress national secretary Sitaram Lamba told TOI that the party is trying to “repair the secular fabric” of western UP. “Right now, only a few small camps have been set up at some locations but we are planning to set up many more camps along the highway. These will provide food, water, rest and first aid to devotees who are undertaking the Kanwar Yatra. The workers who will run these Kanwar Sewa camps will primarily be Muslims,” Lamba said. Lamba said the aim of these camps is to bridge the gap between the two communities that developed after the communal riots of 2013 in Muzaffarnagar. “The secular fabric of the region was ruptured in 2013 and we are trying to repair it. We know that communal forces will try to widen this gap for political gain considering the impending the state assembly elections. We are trying to pre emptively counter any such move. ,” he said. Speaking about the other major issue that the Congress has on agenda for the region, he said that reservation for Jats and communal harmony would be the two linchpins of our campaigns. “The way I see it, the two issues are linked very closely to each other. Jats were never supporters of the BJP. It was only after the Muzaffarnagar riots in 2013 that the saffron party started to gain some ground with the community. There was a simple divide and rule policy at play. Jats and Muslims, two communities who had hitherto co-existed in peace, were pitted against each other. This was an attempt by the BJP to make inroads with the Jats. Seemingly, they were successful at first till the Jats started to see their betrayal. The NDA government has completely forgotten about them but the Congress still stands with them.” Lamba said Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi is likely to visit western UP soon. “We don’t have a fixed schedule or itinerary yet but he plans to visit west UP while campaigning for the panchayat polls. If we notice, incidents of communal violence in the region rise as elections come closer. In a vulnerable time, a leader of Rahul Gandhi’s stature needs to go to the people and spread the message of communal peace. We will carry out our two-fold campaign under his leadership,” he said. (Times of India 5/8/15)

46. Modi govt giving ‘roti’ to minorities in place of ‘topi’: Najma Heptulla (7)

Patna: Prime Minister Narendra Modi might not be wearing skull cap and skipping ‘Iftar’ parties but his government, unlike others in the past, was “sincerely” doing work to provide livelihood to minority communities, Union minister Najma Heptulla on Saturday claimed. “Everybody in the past wore ‘topi’ but Prime Minister Narendra Modi government is the first which in place of ‘topi’ is working sincerely to provide ‘roti’ to minority communities,” she told reporters. The Union Minority Affairs Minister launched ‘Nai Manzil’ scheme in poll-bound Bihar today in a bid to reach out to minority Muslims in the election. She did not give much credence to the Prime Minister not attending an Iftar party recently hosted by President Pranab Mukherjee. “In truth the ‘Iftar’ parties hosted by the rich are mostly photo-op events. Does anybody organise such ‘Iftar’ parties in ‘garibo ki basti’ (areas of poor)”, she asked. In an apparent dig at the Congress, Heptulla said its leaders “wore” ‘topi’ and gave “Sachar committee report” but “none of its recommendations were sincerely implemented” to improve the lot of the minorities. On the other hand, Narendra Modi government had made seven promises to minorities on coming to power and six of them which involves Minority Affairs ministry were “achieved”, the senior BJP leader said. The Minority Affairs minister said Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and RJD president Lalu Prasad claimed themselves as champions of Muslim causes but in reality they “paid only lip service” to their upliftment. “Truth is that Muslims in Bihar today are economically worse than dalits,” she claimed. On the ‘Nai Manzil’ scheme, one of the promises of the Prime Minister, and which was announced by Union Finance Minister in his budgetary speech, she said, this scheme will help out-of-school or drop-out students of schools and madrasas get formal class 12 and class 10 certificates so that they get jobs. Such students would be offered bridge courses and the given certificates for class 12 and class 10 from distance education system. At the same time, they will also be provided basic training in manufacturing, engineering, services and soft skills. Heptulla said her ministry took pioneering initiative and helped a “large number” of Muslims open bank account to avail the Prime Minister’s ambitious ‘Jan Dhan’ yojna. The Union government provided 86 lakh students of minority communities scholarship for pre-matric and matric level, she said. (Zee news 8/8/15)

47. ‘Just 4 of 26 hanged since ’91 Muslims’ (7)

NEW DELHI: Just four of the 26 persons executed in India since 1991 belonged to the Muslim community, and yet a perception has been created by some media channels in the aftermath of the hanging of Yakub Memon that members of the minority community are being targeted, said government sources. An internal report by the I&B ministry has taken exception to the “tenor of discussion” in the four channels — Aaj Tak, ABP News, NDTV India and NDTV 24X7 — and argued it was a “serious threat to national security” and had “sown seeds of distrust between communities.” The common thread in their reporting was that Supreme Court had been unfair to Memon. The ministry feels that, at the very least, an explanation should be demanded from these channels. “Repeated examples of the death sentence of Beant Singh being commuted are being cited. Truth is both of them are on death row. Similarly in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, it was the Congress government that delayed consideration of the mercy petition that led to SC converting their death sentence to life imprisonment,” said a source who had reviewed the report.The channels have been charged with telecasting content that was denigrating to the President, judiciary, could incite violence and against national security. The ministry has prepared grounds for justifying their action against the channels pointing out that two Hindi channels broadcast wanted gangster Chhota Shakeel’s interview without editing out comments that clearly suggested unleashing of communal violence and made disparaging comments on the judiciary.”The world has seen what you did with Yakub Memon… We don’t believe in your judiciary. This was justice based on revenge. You people took revenge from one person…” Chhota Shakeel told Aaj Tak. And he told ABP News: “The world has seen how you have executed an innocent man… After Babri Masjid people had taken action and many things had happened. For every action, there is a reaction… there are many people besides us (who can take action).”The anchor on NDTV India described the order to hang Memon as “unfortunate” and said that the courts only found merit in the prosecution’s case while NDTV 24X7 in an interview of lawyer Majeed Memon broadcast remarks against the Indian judicial system. Memon was quoted commenting on the pardon given to accused Usmann Jaan Khan saying, “If you show this pardon to any person outside India, UK authorities or US authorities or the best brains in the world as far as criminal law is concerned, they will laugh at you. They will laugh at you; they’ll say is this justice? Usmaan Jaan Khan has played a role in this whole operation 10 times more than Yakub.”The ministry has also pointed out that former Congress minister Manish Tewari’s claim that no notices were issued under UPA government was incorrect.,,, (Times of India 11/8/15)

48. Attempts being made to impose vedic culture on Muslims: AIMPLB (7)

Lucknow: Charging that efforts were being made to impose Hindu culture on other religions through introduction of yoga in schools, the All India Muslim Personal Law Board has sought support of other community leaders to launch a campaign against such attempts. The Board would decide its strategy in its convention to be held in Bhopal tomorrow. Working general secretary of AIMPLB Maulana Wali Rahmani charged that as part of a conspiracy an effort was being made to “imprint Hindu culture in the mindset of children of other religions, including Muslims”.He alleged that this was being done by making yoga mandatory in schools. Rahmani said AIMPLB would launch “Deen aur Dastoor Bachao Tahreek” against this attempt to force “vedic culture” in which religious leaders and followers of different religions, including Hindu, Sikh and Christian, would be associated. “We believe that by associating leaders of different religious this campaign will become successful. Special deliberation will be made on this issue at the AIMPLB meeting tomorrow,” he told PTI. Charging that Brahmin religion was being implemented on new generation, he said, this is a threat to both ‘Deen-e-Islam’ and the Constitution. “Under Article 28 of the Constitution any religion and its tradition could not be forced on others,” he said. Rehmani said that the board was of the clear view that every person should follow his religion strongly, but it should not be forced on others. He said Imams of different mosques, madrassas, teachers, students and those who agree with the objections and apprehensions of the board have been invited in the convention. Earlier the AIMPLB had accused the NDA government of violating the Constitution and implementing the RSS agenda by introducing practices such as yoga. Reaching out directly to Muslim organisations and Imams, the apex body representing Muslims in the country, had said that the community should remain “cautious” as there are organisations that are “attacking” Islamic beliefs. The AIMPLB had slammed the government’s move to push for yoga, saying its a violation of the Constitution, which does not allow promotion of religious activities by the government. “In the present scenario, the government and under its garb several organisations and individuals are today violating the Constitution,” Maulana Wali Rehmani, the working general secretary of the AIMPLB, had said in a letter sent to various Muslim bodies and individuals. He had alleged that the celebration of ‘Yoga Day’ and introduction of ‘Surya namaskar’ and Vande Matram in the schools were aimed at implementing the RSS agenda. (eccan Herald 16/8/15)

49. Panel to study status of Muslims in Telangana (7)

HYDERABAD: The recently constituted Commission of Inquiry (CoI) will look into social, economic and educational status of Muslims in Telangana, commission chairman G Sudhir said on Tuesday. Addressing the media, Sudhir, a retired bureaucrat, said that the nine Terms of Reference (ToR) entailed that the commission conduct a detailed study on the socio-economic status of Muslims. “We will have to do a see what kind of problems there are and the level of attainment,” he said. Explaining the methodology of data collation, Sudhir explained that information from the both agencies of the state and Centre would be taken. Relevant data with the Census of India, National Sample Survey Organisation, Centre for Economic and Social Studies will also be used, he added. The CoI will also invite suggestions from the public. The CoI will embark on a tour of the districts of the state in the first week of September to understand the level of implementation of schemes and to interact with government officials and others. Here, the commission will visit Muslim populated areas and study development vis-a-vis neighbourhoods populated by members of other communities. The CoI has been given a timeframe of six month to complete the study. Seeking to explain the need for carrying out the study by asking questions, commission member and development economist Amirullah Khan said, “Data suggests that urban facilities across the country have improved. But have they also improved in Muslim-dominated areas? Every community in the last 10 years has seen an increase in enrolment in primary education. Muslim beneficiaries are as good as any other community. But by the time they are 11 or 12 years old, there is a 70 percent dropout rate. Is this the case in Telangana? The drop out rate among boys is more than that in girls in the Muslim community. It would be interesting to see find out why this is happening,” he said. The CoI will also study the trends in healthcare and political representation in the Muslim community. “All over India, health is not good. But there has been meagre improvement. It is only in the health indicator that Muslim children are better. But they join levels of other communities as they grow up. What is the reason for this positive handicap and why is it lost,” Khan, who was also a member of the Kundu Committee, said. Taking questions from TOI on whether the commission’s recommendations would stand in courts of law as only a Backward Class Commission has the constitutional right to recommend reservations, Khan said that CoI would ensure that it presents a strong report which will support welfare measures. Commission members also cited the prevailing 69 percent reservations in education and employment for backward classes in Tamil Nadu as a precedent. Telangana chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao was intent on providing reservations to Muslims, he added. Other members who spoke were Tata Institute of Social Science professor Abdul Shaban, also a member of the Mahmood-ur-Rahman Committee in Maharashtra, secretary, tribal welfare GD Aruna and MA Bari. (Times of India 19/8/15)


50. Five arrested over Pakistan church bombings (7)

Islamabad: Five suspected terrorist were arrested over their involvement in the deadly attacks on two churches in Pakistan earlier this year which claimed 15 lives, officials said on Saturday. A total of 15 people were killed and over 70 injured on March 15, when two Taliban suicide bombers attacked two churches in Lahore’s Christian-dominated area of Youhanabad, Dawn online reported. Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan’s (TTP) Jamaat-ul-Ahrar faction claimed responsibility for the attack. Police said weapons, explosive material and detonators were also recovered from their possession. The arrested suspects had links with a banned organisation, police added. (New Kerasla 1/8/15)

51. Dalit Catholics continue to battle upper caste aggression (7)

New  Delhi: Why do Dalits convert to Christianity? To break out of the Hindu caste system, you might say. Not completely true, as we found out in Harobele, just 60 km from Bengaluru. Christianity entered the region centuries ago. The Catholic mission here, one of the oldest in Karnataka, was established in 1675; 980 of the 1,000 families here are Catholics. Catholicism, however, has offered no escape from untouchability for Dalits like Arogya Swamy (37), whose family left Hinduism and settled in Harobele three centuries ago. For proof, we enter an untidy little tea shop pretending as if we don’t know each other. I am  served in a steel tumbler like everybody else and offered a chair. Swamy is served his tea in a disposable plastic cup. He hesitates to sit along with the other customers; he stands outside. As we sip our tea in silence, he gestures toward the barber shop next door. The barber flings a tennis ball into the distance and shoos away a group of boys with a stick. “Those boys were Dalit Catholics. The barber didn’t want them to pollute his shop with their ball,” says Swamy later. The last time dalits tried to force their way into hotels and barber shops, he says, upper caste Catholics boycotted the establishments until the old order was restored. Caste hostilities in this village came to a boil this January when more than a hundred dalit Catholic families were forced to spend a night in the fields to hide from a rampaging mob of upper-caste Catholics. The issue made it to the news only in February when activists of the NGO, All India Human Rights Council (AIHRC) complained to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) that the police had not registered an FIR even a month after the well-orchestrated riot. Although the intervention of the activists has ensured the registration of a case under the SC/ST Atrocities Act, a senior policeman at the local station says, on condition of anonymity, “They (victims) are Catholic. How can they claim relief under the Atrocities Act? They lost their Scheduled Caste status when they converted,” he says. “The attackers were abusing the dalits using casteist slurs. They kept repeating that dalits had forgotten their place,” says local priest, Fr Chinnappa, recalling the riot with horror. A Dalit from Tamil Nadu, Fr Chinnappa was ordered to stay away by violent Catholic men from the Vokkaliga (Gowda) and Golla caste as they attacked Dalit men, women and children, and destroyed houses. “They didn’t even spare the cattle and the dogs,” says Naveen Kumar whose father Uppar Raju was one of the first to be attacked. Chinnaraju Sandhyagoppa – a resident Vokkaliga Catholic, local appointee of the powerful Vokkaliga leader and Karnataka energy minister DK Shivakumar and prime accused in the January violence against dalits – feels all the trouble in the village started when “outsiders” turned up. Denying his role in the riot, he says there was “no enmity between higher castes and lower castes in the village till these NGOs started entering the village. They teach them about Ambedkar and Communism and try to draw them away from the church. Why do we need Ambedkar when we have Jesus?” “I have built roads for them, helped get them get jobs and start businesses,” Sandhyagoppa adds. “Instead of showing gratitude, they betray the community and misuse the Atrocities Act against us.” “Some people here are considered untouchable because of their caste. The burial ground is divided according to caste, Dalits are forced to cook and eat separately during community feasts and festivals. They were attacked because of their caste. If all these atrocities are being committed because of caste, how can it not come under the Atrocities Act?” asks Y Mariswamy of the AIHRC who came along for HT’s first visit to the village on May 6. When HT revisited the village on May 27, residents at both ends of the caste ladder confirmed Mariswamy’s claims about the barriers to common burial and inter-caste dining. The visit showed that the trouble in the village started generations before the so-called ‘outsiders’ entered…. (Hndustan Times 2/8/15)

52. IS releases 22 abducted Christians (7)

Damascus: A total of 22 abducted Syrian Assyrians were released by the Islamic State (IS) militants, who kidnapped them along with tens of Assyrians last February, Assyrian activists said. The released Assyrians reached on Tuesday the northern city of Hasakah and were in good shape, following their release, which came after strenuous negotiations conducted by the Hasakah-based Assyrian Church of the East, according to the Assyrian Monitor for Human Rights, Xinhua reported. The 22 Assyrians were kidnapped on February 23 this year when the IS stormed predominantly-Assyrian towns in the Hasaka province. According to the statistics, the IS is still capturing another 187 Assyrians, including women and children. The IS unleashed attacks on tens of predominantly Assyrian villages earlier this year, including Tal Hurmoz, Tal Shamiram, Tal Rumman, Tal Nasra and many more towns in the countryside of the Hasaka province, deprived many lives and kidnapped over 200 civilians. The attacks also displaced 690 families, not to mention the desecration of worship places and churches. (Business Standard 12/8/15)

53. Pope prays for victims of Tianjin fire disaster (7)

Vatican City : The Pope offered prayers on Saturday for the Chinese port of Tianjin, where a giant chemical explosion has left at least 85 people dead. “Those who have lost their lives as well as all those touched by this catastrophe are in my prayers,” Francis said during angelus prayers at St Peter’s in Rome during the Catholic Feast of the Assumption, which marks Christ’s mother Mary’s ascent to heaven. The gigantic series of explosions began after a fire in a warehouse in the northeastern city on Thursday, with more residents being evacuated Saturday over fears that highly-poisonous sodium cyanide had been released. The fire intensified at the hazardous goods storage facility on Saturday and a series of new explosions sent a thick black column of smoke into the air, the official Xinhua news agency said. (DNA 15/8/15)

54. Latin Church Softens Stand, Adani Project Set to Check into Vizhinjam (7)

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM:With the Latin Catholic Church softening their rigid stand against the proposed seaport project, the quarter-century-old Vizhinjam dream is all set to call on the state. The state government will sign the concession agreement for the `7,525 crore port project with the Adani Group on Monday. Ports Minister K Babu on Sunday termed it the next big project after the Idukki dam and the Cochin International Airport that was hapenning in the state. The LDF would stay away from the signing ceremony, protesting the terms and conditions of the concession agreement. The ceremony is scheduled to be held at the Durbar Hall, Secretariat at 5 p.m. James Varghese, Principal Secretary (Ports), will sign the agreement on behalf of the state government and Santosh Mohapatra, CEO, Adani Vizhinjam Ports Pvt Ltd, will sign on behalf of the Adani Group. Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, ministers and top officials including the Chief Secretary will be present on the occasion. The Adani Group will be represented by a team led by group chairman Gautam Adani. The group will have a concession on the port for 40 years, after which there is an option for extending it for another 20. According to the agreement, the construction is to be completed in four years, but the Adani Group has announced that it can be completed in two years. Construction, according to the state government, would begin on November 1, Keralappiravi Day.  The Vizhinjam port is designed to handle cargo vessels of 18,000 TEU (Twenty-foot Equivalent or the approximate size of a cargo container). The government will sign the agreement with the Adani Group despite stiff Opposition from the LDF, which has decided to boycott Monday’s ceremony.  An-all-party meeting convened by Chief Minister Oommen Chandy to iron out differences had proven inconclusive. The LDF leaders have stuck to their stand that the terms and conditions of the agreement are detrimental to the state’s interests. Opposition Leader V S Achuthanandan said on Sunday that it was essentially a real estate deal and port development enjoyed only secondary importance. (New Indian Express 17/8/15)

55. No more conversion by 2020: affiliate sets target (7)

New Delhi: Dharm Jagran Samanway Samtiti, an RSS affiliate, has resolved to stop conversion by 2020 and continue ghar wapsi (reconversion) so that the Hindu population increases by the next census in 2021. DJRS has pledged to reach in the next five years all areas that have seen people being converted, particularly to Christianity. This target was given to all DJRS state chiefs at a meeting in Mumbai from August 7 to 9, sources said. The sources quoted their national chief Mukund Rao Pansikar as saying that “we must fulfil our target of stopping all type of conversion activities and increasing efforts of ghar wapsi by 2020.” Pansikar could not be contacted by The Indian Express. The sources said many of the 100-odd delegates at the meeting expressed the view that ghar wapsi is more difficult in Muslim-dominated areas than it is among Christians, hence the focus on the latter areas. Also, they felt, most of those converted are from the lower castes and acceptability would not be a problem if they are “reconverted”. The meeting saw a PowerPoint presentation that compared the growth rates of Muslims and Christians with that of Hindus. The 40 state chiefs — the RSS breaks the country into that many states for convenience — spelt out their individual targets for preventing conversion. The DJRS is a core affiliate in which the RSS deploys 57 pracharaks, the highest for any RSS-related activity other than its own shakhas. It has many more whole-timers, who unlike pracharaks are paid an honorarium. The highest numbers of whole-timers, over 100, are posted in Chhattisgarh, where DJRS believes conversion among tribals to Christianity is the most rampant. (Indian Express  17/8/15)

56. ‘RPOs have stopped accepting marriage certificates issued by pastors’ (7)

JALANDHAR: All Pastors Association Punjab and Christian National Front have submitted a memorandum addressed to Prime Minister Modi alleging that regional passport offices (RPOs) had stopped accepting marriage certificates issued by pastors for issuing passports. The memorandum was submitted through deputy commissioner seeking directions for the Union ministry of external affairs. The memorandum stated that pastors issue the marriage certificates only after performing all the religious ceremonies and marriage certificate registers issued by the government were also being maintained by them. “The passport offices have refused to accept these marriage certificates even when they are countersigned by the concerned deputy commissioners of the district,” the memo said. “In such a situation, Christians have been facing inconvenience. According to the Indian Christian Marriage Act, 1872, the pastors have been issued the marriage certificate register by the concerned governments. The certificates issued by these pastors from the marriage certificate register are considered valid by the government of India, external affairs minister, and the state governments,” said the memorandum submitted by pastors led by Christian National Front president Lawrence Chaudhary. (Times of India 20/8/15)


57. Cry for Indian Citizenship (13)

Silchar, July 31: A human rights body will impress upon members of Parliament to pass a legislation to grant citizenship to the victims of Partition. A team of Citizens’ Rights Preservation Committee will soon go to Delhi to meet MPs of various political parties and urge them to draft a legislation to safeguard the citizenship status, rights and privileges of the people who migrated to Assam from Bangladesh (erstwhile East Pakistan) because of civil disturbances and religious persecution. The secretary-general of the committee, Sadhan Purkayastha, told reporters here today that they would continue their fight till the victims of Partition who came to Assam from East Pakistan after being harassed and tortured, were given citizenship. “We will not accept refugee status to these people as prescribed by the BJP. They should be granted citizenship status,” he added. Purkayastha said Jawaharlal Nehru, in his message to his countrymen on August 15, 1947, had clearly said that “there is no doubt, of course, that those d#isplaced p#ersons who have come to settle in India are bound to have their c#itizenship. If the law is inadequate in this respect, the law should be changed”. “Not only Nehru, even leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and others had made the commitment to the people during Partition that the victims would be given proper citizenship status and rehabilitation in free India,” he added. Mujamil Ali Laskar, an advocate, said with the Centre granting citizenship even today to the people who came from Pakistan, “why can’t it give the same status to the people who came to India from East Pakistan following civil disturbances?” “Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during his rally last year at Ramnagar here, promised to close down all detention camps if the BJP came to power. But the Modi government which has already completed one year continues to maintain silence on the issue,” he added. “The Vajpayee government took the decision to give citizenship to the Hindus and Sikhs from Pakistan and Afghanistan. But, it maintained silence on granting citizenship to the people who came to India from Bangladesh. It shows the apathy of the BJP towards Bengali-speaking people,” Laskar added. Swadesh Biswas, an adviser to the committee, said that if BJP came to power in Assam in 2016, the life of Bengalis would become more miserable. (The Telegraph 1/8/15)

58. Citizenship soon for those who fled religious persecution (13)

NEW DELHI: In a move that will have far-reaching implications in Assam and some parts of north-west India, the Union Home Ministry will amend the Citizenship Act, 1955, to grant citizenship to undocumented migrants who fled religious persecution in Pakistan and Bangladesh. The migrants include not just Hindus but also Buddhists, Christians, Zoroastrians, Sikhs and Jains. Top Home Ministry sources have confirmed that a Bill is in the works to amend the Act and make changes to some provisions in the Foreigners Act, 1946, the Passport (Entry into India) Act, 1920, and the Passport (Entry into India) Rules, 1950. The Law Ministry has vetted the amendments. “This is an idea floated right after the Modi government came to power, but it was found that many people who fled into India fearing religious persecution do not have valid documents, or have their visas expired. Therefore, these people are illegal migrants and ineligible for citizenship,” a top official said. Several high-level meetings were held by the Ministry with the Law Minister, the Law Secretary and the Home Secretary to remedy the situation. “Basically, two changes need to be made to the Passport Act, 1920, and Passport Rules, 1950, to exempt people who fled religious persecution from Pakistan or Bangladesh from being termed illegal migrants and offer them long-term visas while their case for citizenship is being considered,” a source said. Citizenship issue can affect relations with neighboursThe cut-off date proposed for victims of religious persecution from Pakistan and Bangladesh who can apply for citizenship is December 31, 2014. Citizenship by registration (a minimum stay of seven years) and naturalisation (a minimum of 12 years) will be the two routes. The External Affairs Ministry has cautioned the Home Ministry that the move could hurt India’s relations with its neighbours. Nevertheless, the political call has been taken. The Citizenship Act, 1955, would have to be amended to reflect the exemption from the status of illegal migrant. “Section 2, sub-section 1’s clause (b) will have a proviso which will reflect this exemption,” a source said. The amendment to the Passports Act, 1920, and Passport Rules, 1950, will have to be notified and tabled in Parliament for two months to allow for objections, if any, before being deemed clear. The amendments to the Citizenship Act, 1950, will be cleared as a Bill after being debated in Parliament. On Monday, BJP general secretary Ram Madhav said in Silchar: “No person who came from Bangladesh because of persecution or harassment will have to leave Assam or India. The NDA government will soon bring in necessary amendments to the Citizenship Act.” “At his first public rally in Assam during the 2014 election campaign, Narendra Modi had said Hindu Bangladeshis would be removed from camps and given citizenship,” a senior BJP leader said. (The Hindu 5/8/15)

59. Refugees as citizens (13)

None can object to the Union government’s move to grant citizenship to undocumented migrants who have come to India fleeing religious persecution in Pakistan and Bangladesh. Not just Hindus but also Buddhists, Christians, Zoroastrians, Sikhs and Jains are eligible for citizenship under the proposed amendment to the Citizenship Act. But ideally, so long as those seeking citizenship are able to prove they are victims of religious persecution in the neighbouring country, their religious persuasion should not be a criterion for grant of citizenship. Minority sects within Islam too face persecution, especially in Pakistan. The real difficulty, however, would be to distinguish between illegal migrants who came to India seeking work opportunities and a better life, and those who fled Pakistan or Bangladesh fearing persecution. In a situation where the Narendra Modi government continues to push for a tough stand against “infiltration” and illegal migration, the religious identity of the migrants should not be the basis for deciding their eligibility for citizenship. Given the past rhetoric of the BJP, which in the 2014 election manifesto described India as the “natural home of persecuted Hindus”, and the election speeches of Mr. Modi himself, in which he asked Bangladeshis to be ready to pack up and leave, the initial fears were that only Hindus, or at the most those adhering to Indian-origin religions, would be chosen for citizenship. That there has been some rethinking is a welcome sign. The government ought to make this religion-neutral. However, what needs to change more urgently is India’s attitude to refugees in general. India must remain open to all those seeking refuge, and not just those fleeing religious persecution. Although not a signatory to the 1951 UN Refugee Convention, under which it would have been obliged not to send refugees back to a territory against their will if they fear threats to life or freedom, India cannot escape its responsibilities under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to respect the rights and freedoms of all people in its territories. Article 14(1) is categorical in stating that “everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.” Any well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a social group, or political opinion qualifies for refugee status. Worries about the impact this would have on relations with Bangladesh at a time when a friendly government is in place are misplaced. In any case, India cannot compromise on its commitment to human rights and fundamental freedoms. If there is a problem with the proposals, it is that they do not go far enough. (The Hindu 6/8/15)

60. Gaza infant mortality rises for first time in 53 years: UN (13)

Jerusalem: The infant mortality rate in Gaza has risen for the first time in more than half a century, a new study by the UN aid agency for Palestinian refugees says. “The number of babies dying before the age of one has consistently gone down over the last decades in Gaza, from 127 per 1,000 live births in 1960 to 20.2 in 2008. At the last count, in 2013, it had risen to 22.4 per 1,000 live births,” a statement from the UNRWA relief agency released at the weekend said. “Every five years UNRWA conducts a survey of infant mortality across the region, and the 2013 results were released this week,” it said, adding that because of the data it would conduct a new Gaza-specific survey this year. It said that neonatal mortality in Gaza, the number of babies who die before four weeks old, rose from 12 per 1,000 live births in 2008 to 20.3 in 2013. The statement quoted Akihiro Seita, director of the agency`s health programme, as saying that the sudden upswing was unprecedented in the Middle East. “When the 2013 results from Gaza were first uncovered, UNRWA was alarmed by the apparent increase. So we worked with external independent research groups to examine the data, to ensure the increase could be confirmed,” he said. “That is why it took us so long to release these latest figures.” He suggested that Israel`s blockade of the coastal strip, where close to 45 percent of the population is under 14 years old, could be a contributing factor. “It is hard to know the exact causes behind the increase in both neonatal and infant mortality rates, but I fear it is part of a wider trend,” he said. “We are very concerned about the impact of the long-term blockade; on health facilities, supplies of medicines and bringing equipment in to Gaza.” Israel imposed its blockade on the Gaza Strip in 2006 after the Islamist militant group Hamas captured an Israeli soldier. It further tightened controls a year later when Hamas consolidated its rule there. A 50-day war between Israel and Hamas in July-August 2014 killed about 2,200 Palestinians and 73 on the Israeli side, and destroyed or damaged tens of thousands of homes in the impoverished coastal territory. Among the Gaza dead were more than 500 children. (Zee News 9/8/15)

61. Assam governor concerned over NRC update process (3)

Guwahati: Assam Governor PB Acharya on Thursday expressed his deep concern about the slow process of updating the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in the state. In a statement, Acharya appealed to all Indian citizens to expedite and without fail complete the application process for the NRC before the August 31 deadline. The governor said no Indian citizen will be left out of NRC for any reason. The updating of the NRC is being done under the direct supervision of the Supreme Court. “All tea tribes, Bengali Hindu refugees, orphanage inhabitants, jailed prisoners, Indians from neighbouring states, especially from Tripura, Indians from other states of our mainland who have migrated to Assam by marriage, jobs, business etc. are eligible to enter in NRC as per the Supreme Court judgment,” Acharya said. The governor met Pratik Hajela, state coordinator of the NRC, and discussed about the progresses and hindrances in the updating process. He strictly ordered that no foreigners should be allowed to get into NRC, either because of corrupt officials giving false birth certificates or by any fraud. Acharya stressed the need for all NRC Seva Kendras in the state to be very careful and not succumb under any pressure or fear. “The integrity and security of not only the northeast, but of India is very important and the patriotic citizens of Assam should take special care in this regard,” he said. He appealed to all political parties, student organisations, universities, Sahitya Sabhas, merchant chambers, NGOs, tribal and non-tribal social organisations to be in the forefront to assist and correctly complete the NRC process by August 31. “We have only seventeen days left for the last date for submission of applications,” he reminded. “Let all the patriotic Indian citizens take the pledge to safeguard the integrity and security of India. The first and the right step is the correct NRC.” (Zee News 13/8/15)

62. Illegal immigrants make city their home (13)

HYDERABAD: The arrest of illegal immigrants from Pakistan, Myanmar and Bangladesh in the city has revealed that several such foreign nationals have made Hyderabad their home and even obtained identity proofs. To put an end to this issue, Cyberabad police have begun recording the details of all Rohingya Muslim immigrants from Myanmar staying in Hyderabad. As per the data provided to Cyberabad police by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), till August 6, there are 1,761 refugees of various countries residing in the common capital of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. Among the 1,761 refugees, 1,518 are Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar, five are non-Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar, one is from Afghanistan, nine are from Greece, two from Iran, 31 from Iraq, three from Palestine, 168 from Somalia, 28 from Sudan and two are from Syria. All these refugees are staying in the city and doing various jobs to eke out their livelihood. But during a routine checking, Cyberabad police realized that there are several Rohingya Muslim families and individuals living in the city illegally, without registering themselves with the UNHCR. “To solve this problem, we have started collecting information about all the immigrants staying in the Cyberabad with the help of NGOs,” Cyberabad commissioner CV Anand said. As the population of Rohingyas comprise major share in immigrant population of city, Cyberabad cops began gathering their details with the assistance of NGO COVA, an implementing partner of UNHCR refugee project in the city. “We are preparing a database with all the details of the members of all Rohingya families, both registered with UNHCR and the illegal immigrants residing in city with their photographs and ID proofs. We will then issue an ID cards to them,” Shamshabad DCP AR Srinivas said. According to police, there are about 300 illegal Rohingya immigrants in the city and the registration work has started on July 31. Majority of the Rohingya refugees and the illegal immigrants stay in the Old City at Balapur, Babangar, Barkas, Royal Colony, Shaeen Nagar, Jalpally, Kishanbagh and work as daily wage labourers. Police said that the refugees from African countries are mostly those who arrived here on student visas and later sought refuge citing precarious living conditions back home. But unlike with Rohingyas, neither the police, nor the NGOs have much information about these refugees from African countries. As on August 13, there are 318 Pakistani nationals and 18 Bangladeshis staying in city on long term, short term and student visas. The dispute over illegal stay pertaining to three Pakistani nationals is pending in the high court. (Times of India 16/8/15)

63. ‘BJP committed to granting citizenship to Hindus’(13)

Guwahati: BJP MP from Assam Ramen Deka said granting citizenship to Hindus, who have taken shelter in Assam and other parts of the country following religious persecution in Bangladesh, is BJP’s national commitment and the party would fulfill it. Deka, who represents Mangaldoi constituency, said the Centre was seriously pursuing its commitment to give citizenship to Hindus who had suffered religious persecution in the neighbouring country. Several BJP central leaders including national president Amit Shah on April this year has promised that Hindus who had migrated to Assam would be granted citizenship. Shah had also reiterated Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s assurance in the run-up to the Lok Sabha polls that other states would share the burden of sheltering Hindu refugees who migrated to Assam due to religious persecution in Bangladesh. While BJP has been espousing the cause of citizenship to Hindu refugees in Assam, Congress is also advocating granting citizenship to the community. The Congress executive meeting in June this year had also decided to ask the Centre to grant citizenship to Hindus, Christians, Buddhists and other religious groups who came to Assam following religious persecution. With less than a year left for the assembly polls, Congress and BJP are both pitching their demand for citizenship for Hindu refugees. Deka, however, accused the ruling Congress of using the citizenship issue for Hindus as a tool for getting votes. “Chief minister Tarun Gogoi has made the issue of citizenship for Hindus a tool to get votes. For BJP, it is a national commitment and we will fulfill it,” Deka said. Deka, who is former BJP state president, also demanded a CBI probe into the bribery scam in the city’s water supply scheme involving US-based construction management firm Louis Berger Group. “If the government of Goa could promptly hand over the investigation to the CBI, what is preventing the Assam government from engaging the investigation agency for probe the scam in the state?” Deka asked. (Times of India 17/8/15)

64. Germany expects refugee numbers to increase four times to record 800,000 (13)

Berlin: The number of asylum-seekers and refugees to Germany will quadruple to a record 800,000 this year compared with last, more than twice as many as the 300,000 new arrivals forecast in January, the government said on Wednesday. Germany, which has become a magnet for refugees fleeing war, violence and poverty in Asia, Africa and the Middle East, has criticised European Union partners for not doing more as 218,221 people arrived seeking asylum in the first six months alone. “We’ve got to reckon there will be 800,000 people coming to Germany as refugees or seeking asylum,” said Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere who only three months ago raised the original 300,000 forecast to 450,000. “It will be the largest influx in the country’s post-war history,” de Maiziere told a news conference in Berlin, adding that Germany should expect high numbers for years to come. “It’s a challenge for all of us at the state, federal and local levels,” he said. “We can master this challenge. I don’t think this will overwhelm Germany. We can handle this.” Migrant numbers across the EU have shot up in recent months. Many undertake dangerous sea voyages to reach southern Europe, then make their way across the continent to countries where they hope to make a life for themselves. Germany has a long tradition of welcoming refugees, in part a response to its Nazi past when 500,000 Jews and opponents of Adolf Hitler’s Third Reich fled. Many found shelter in 80 countries, including former West German chancellor Willy Brandt. After World War Two, Germany took in some 13 million displaced persons and refugees fleeing west from Eastern Europe when the region came under Soviet domination. United Germany’s previous biggest annual intake was 438,191, in 1992, when it received large numbers of refugees fleeing conflicts resulting from the break-up of the former Yugoslavia. A year later, the German parliament changed the constitution to impose stricter rules on asylum. Numbers sank to a low of 28,000 in 2008 before they started climbing again. Along with a shortage of lodgings in cities including Berlin, Munich and Hamburg, Germany also struggles to process applications, which can take over a year. After Germany, Sweden takes in the most asylum-seekers in Europe. There have been arson attacks and unruly protests in Germany against the rising numbers of migrants. As well as refugees fleeing war in Syria and Iraq and elsewhere, there has been an influx of asylum-seekers from nations such as Albania and Serbia. Almost half of those who reached Germany in the first half of the year came from the Balkans — many of whom will be sent back. (DNA 20/8/15)


65. ‘RTI Act not for stalling govt’s work’ (1)

LUCKNOW: Contending that the RTI Act is meant to ensure transparency and accountability by allowing common man to have information in larger public interest and no way it should create a stumbling block in the functioning of the government, the state information commission disposed a bunch of cases filed by a research scholar against Lucknow University authorities. Information commissioner Arvind Singh Bisht said in his order that the applicant, Saurabh Gupta, filed as many as 41 RTI applications seeking mostly information about PhD admissions, nominations and upgradations. The commission clubbed all the applications to take a holistic view and avoid issuing different orders on appeals which were of similar nature. The commission observed that Gupta went on filing a barrage of RTI applications after the LU authorities refused to grant him upgrdation from a junior research fellow to senior research fellow citing anomalies in his papers. Citing a Supreme Court that ‘impractical demands of directions under the RTI Act for disclosure of all and sundry information would be counter-productive’, the commission said “while the university had a settled view that the applicant could not be granted the SRF upgradation, the applicant apparently appeared to have taken offence and nursed its grudge against it…this was neither ethically correct nor permissible under the provisions of the RTI Act.” (Times of India 3/8/15)

66. Can’t disclose infomation on Delhi notification, says MHA (1)

New Delhi: The Union home ministry has refused to give records related to notification issued by it on the jurisdiction of the Delhi lieutenant-governor saying the matter is sub-judice. Under the Right to Information Act, information of a sub-judice matter can only be denied if it is “expressly forbidden to be published by any court of law or tribunal or the disclosure of which may constitute contempt of court”. RTI Activist Subhash Agrawal had sought from the home ministry all the records related to notification issued on May 21 besides rules about officers in the Delhi government for making complaints against chief minister, council of ministers or any individual minister of the Delhi government to lieutenant-governor of Delhi. “In this regard, it is stated that the matter is presently sub-judice and details cannot be discussed at this stage,” the ministry said. In a gazette notification, the Union home ministry had said that the L-G will have jurisdiction over matters connected with services, public order, police and land and he may consult with the chief minister whenever he thinks necessary in issues of services using his own “discretion”. It is well established that where there is no legislative power, there is no executive power since executive power is co-extensive within legislative power, it had said. “Public order, police, land and services fall outside purview of Legislative Assembly of the NCT of Delhi and consequently the Government of NCT of Delhi will have no executive power” on such matters, according to the notification. It had also said that the ACB police station shall not take cognisance of offences against officials, employees and functionaries of these central government services. (Asian Age 4/8/15)

67. File online RTI applications with 431 public authorities: Govt (1)

New Delhi: People can now file RTI applications online with 431 public authorities, the government said on Wednesday. A RTI web portal has been started for easy filing of applications by Indian citizens, including those who are living abroad. An Indian citizen can file RTI application online through The prescribed fee for RTI application can also be paid online through a payment gateway of State Bank of India by way of internet banking of State Bank of India and its associate banks and by using Rupay card, debit or credit cards of Master and Visa. “This facility at present is available for 431 public authorities of Government of India,” Minister of State for Personnel Jitendra Singh said in a written reply in Lok Sabha. All the states have also been requested to explore the feasibility of implementing online RTI in their respective states. “National Informatics Centre has been requested to provide technical support such as software and source code to the state governments who desire to replicate the web portal for online filing of RTI applications at state level,” the Minister said. Singh said the government is committed to bring the benefits of the government’s pro-poor schemes and development plans to the doorstep of each and every citizen of this country and to offer them the right of demanding accountability. The Right to Information Act, which was enacted in 2005, mandates timely response to citizens’ request for government information. One has to pay a fee of Rs 10 for seeking information. (Zee News 5/8/15)

68. RTI plea seeks details of Naga pact from ‘clueless’ (1)

NEW DELHI: As the Congress and chief ministers of Manipur, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh question the ‘shroud of secrecy’ over the Centre-NSCN (IM) accord signed last Monday, an RTI application has been moved from Assam asking the Union home ministry for details of the “historic” agreement. Assam Pradesh Congress Committee secretary Bibhuti Bhushan Borthakur on Thursday sent a letter to the home secretary seeking details of the agreement signed between interlocutor for Naga talks RN Ravi and NSCN (IM) general secretary T Muivah. The letter sought to know why the signed agreement was not made public so far. Though sources indicated that such requests can always be turned down as the Right to Information Act exempts the government from making disclosures that can impinge upon national security, the home ministry may have to perforce reject this as it knows little about the terms of the “framework agreement” signed on Monday. Though Ravi did brief home minister Rajnath Singh and home secretary LC Goyal on the Naga accord on Thursday, explaining that it was only a “framework” to proceed with further negotiations on the terms of a final ‘accord’, this has done little to dispel confusion within the home ministry brass on the “agreed way forward”.In fact, its limited knowledge of contents of the Naga pact forced the home ministry to write to the interlocutor on Friday, seeking details of the accord and its impact on the ceasefire ground rules in force in Nagaland. This was after the Indian Army approached the home ministry for clarifications. As the home ministry deals with requests from the Army and even the affected states on details of the Naga accord, it would obviously like to know whether there is any change in the government’s or NSCN (IM)’s stand on some of the latter’s contentious demands. In 2011, negotiations had come unstuck primarily over two controversial issues: the NSCN (IM) demand that postings of officers within the Naga-inhabited autonomous areas be decided by the state governor and another seeking an integrated body to decide on issues like culture and language of the Naga tribes living in other states.Both these demands ran into opposition from states having Naga-inhabited areas, like Manipur, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh. Manipur chief minister O Ibobi Singh was livid at the thought of ceding his government’s right on postings and transfers, calling this a ploy to “create a state within a state”. The states also resisted the demand for an integrated body for Naga tribes, arguing that it would open a Pandora’s box with other non-Naga tribes also seeking a similar arrangement. Though the NSCN (IM) has dropped its demand for sovereignty and even ‘Nagalim’ (Greater Nagaland) comprising Naga-inhabited areas of states other than Nagaland, the home ministry would be curious to know if the latest ‘accord’ signed by Ravi and Muivah raises the aforesaid contentious demands or has agreed to set them aside. In case of the former, it also remains to be seen if Manipur and other states will show the magnanimity to accommodate the very demands that held up a settlement after an understanding was reached in 2011 between then interlocutor R S Pande and NSCN (IM). (Times of India 10/8/15)

69. 2010 exam done, Vyapam again printed 200,000 answer sheets (1)

New Delhi: Two months after the Women and Child Development Examination was conducted, the Madhya Pradesh Professional Examination Board, or Vyapam as it is popularly known, ordered the printing of another 200,000 answer sheets for the same examination, causing a loss of Rs.262,350, an RTI query has revealed. The reply to whistleblower Ajay Dubey from the Directorate of Local Fund Audit in July revealed that even though the examination was conducted on January 31, 2010, the Board asked Ruchi Security Printers on March 31, 2010, for another set of answer sheets for the examination. Moreover, it also revealed that the Board ordered that 200,000 answer sheets be printed for 94,139 candidates, to which the Local Fund Audit raised an objection – and also frowned on the additional 200,000 answer sheets being printed after the examination, leading to a huge loss to Vyapam. According to the audit, the board incurred a loss of Rs.262,350 for printing the answer sheets for the second time. “This is just the tip of the iceberg. Printing of the answer sheets for the same examination, which was already conducted, is testimony to the huge scam that followed in Madhya Pradesh. The exam was conducted for the Class III employees of the state’s women and child development department,” Dubey told IANS. Meanwhile, a comprehensive study in 2009 of the examination and evaluation systems of the Madhya Pradesh Professional Examination Board by the state’s School of Good Governance and Policy Analysis had given a good report to the now scam-tainted board. “In order to maintain the sanctity, effectiveness and transparency of admission procedures to various academic and professional courses in different institutions in the state of Madhya Pradesh and for ensuring fairness and equity in the recruitment process for different professional jobs in the state, the Madhya Pradesh Professional Examination Board has been conducting a variety of tests. “This process has been seen as a screening procedure to ensure that the basic competitive and competence threshold level is certified in the case of applicants in terms of their eligibility, suitability to the professional courses, jobs applied for and in the order of their performance and merit. The Madhya Pradesh Professional Examination Board has gained maturity, experience and confidence in the course of time,” the 2009 report stated. The MP Board, also known as Vyavsayik Pariksha Mandal or Vyapam, conducts examinations to recruit government employees 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 examination. Forty-five people associated with the Vyapam scam have died — mostly unnaturally or under mysterious circumstances. The CBI has already registered 55 FIRs and launched 11 preliminary inquiries into the scam. (Business Standard 11/8/15)

70. Mutilated body of RTI activist found (1)

Muzaffarpur: The mutilated body of an RTI and JP Movement activist Jawahar Tiwary of Bangara Nizamjat village under Sahebganj PS in Muzaffarpur district, who had been kidnapped four days ago, was found in the diara belt of Gandak river in Sohasa village under Deoria PS on Friday morning. It is believed that he was killed for exposing a huge bungling in the distribution of flood relief cash in Bangara Nizamat panchayat under Sahebganj block last year. He had organized a long-drawn dharna and ‘satyagraha’ on Sahebganj block office premises last year under the banner of Sahebganj Vikas Manch. The then DM Anupam Kumar had ordered a magisterial inquiry into the allegations. His house had been attacked by some goons and some shots too had been fired. Tiwary was returning from Paroo block to his village home on August 10 when he was kidnapped. According to Paru police, the body was found in five parts on Friday. Parts of the body had been strewn at different places and the head portion had been covered under sand. Locating and collecting parts of the body was a tough task for the police. Braj Kishore Singh, husband of Bangara Nizamat panchayat’s mukhiya , their kin Raj Kishore Singh, Satyendra Singh and others have been made named accused in the FIR lodged on the statement of Tiwary’s family members. But no arrest had been made till Friday. SSP Ranjeet Kumar Mishra said Braj Kishore Singh had earlier lodged a case of murder of his brother against Jawahar Tiwary. Meanwhile, in the connection with the murder of Md. Sarfaraj of Pankaj Market area in Sikandarpur on Wednesday night, the SSP said the Town police have arrested four of the seven named a0ccused so far and assured to nab the rest three also soon. (Timesa of India 14/8/15)

71. Madhya Pradesh CM spent Rs 3 crore on five-day US trip: RTI reply (1)

New Delhi: An eight-member delegation led by Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan spent close to Rs.3 crore ($465,000/$58,000 per head) on a five-day US trip in February, which included giving expensive gifts to investors, the reply to an RTI querry has revealed. The reply, received from the Madhya Pradesh Trade and Investment Facilitation Corporation Limited by whistle blower Ajay Dubey in July, revealed that on its visit to the US to meet American business leaders and potential investors, the delegation spent Rs.198,421 on gifts. It also mentioned that 10 woollen shawls worth Rs.119,990 (Rs.11,999 each) were gifted to the guests, apart from ties and silver idols worth Rs.78,431. The visit was from January 31 to February 4 on the invitation of the US-India Business Council to meet business community leaders and investors. The RTI reply also revealed that the expenditure for hotel rooms and air travel was Rs.30 lakh ($46,000) each ($5,750 per head), while Rs.25 lakh was spent on taxi rides, Rs.6 lakh went for daily perks and Rs.1.30 crore in rental for the ‘Friends of MP Conclave’ venue. Another Rs.75 lakh was spent on other promotional and miscellaneous charges. The total expenditure was Rs.2.96 crore over five days. Among the others who accompanied the chief minister were Yashodhara Raje Scindia, the minister for commerce, industry and employment, Mohammed Suleman, principal secretary, department of commerce, industry & employment; S.K. Mishra, principal secretary to the chief minister; Vivek Aggarwal, secretary to the chief minister; Anupam Rajan, MD, of the MP Laghu Udyog Nigam Ltd. (MP Small Scale Industries Corporation); Manish Singh, MD, Madhya Pradesh Audyogik Kendra Vikas Nigam (Indore) Limited; and Devhuti Bakshi of Ernst & Young. “The chief minister was planning another foreign tour to Sweden recently, but this was cancelled by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. To spend almost Rs.3 crore on a five-day tour to the US is huge. It is a lot of money for a state like Madhya Pradesh. Moreover, making a foreign tour to meet potential investors when Vyapam scam was at its peak is not acceptable,” Dubey told IANS. Madhya Pradesh has been mired in the Vyapam scam for years but the irregularities eventually came to light when 20 people were arrested in 2013 for impersonating candidates appearing for the 2009 medical entrance examination. Forty-five people associated with the Vyapam scam have died – mostly unnaturally or under mysterious circumstances. The CBI has already registered 67 FIRs and launched 12 preliminary inquiries into the Vyapam scam. (Busines Standard 17/8/15

72. Release information on judges’ plots: SIC (1)

AHMEDABAD: The State Information Commission (SIC) has issued an order to the ‘chitnis’ — revenue record-keepers — at the Ahmedabad collectorate to provide all details regarding plots allotted to judges to an RTI activist Mohit Soni from Devgadh Baria. The panel also issued a show-cause notice to chitnis officer Harshad Patel of the Ahmedabad district collectorate, seeking explanation as to why a fine of Rs 25,000 should not be imposed on him. The order was issued by information commissioner V S Gadhvi in connection with an RTI application filed by Soni. Soni had filed an application in August 2013 seeking details, including information regarding any payments made by the beneficiary judges. Controversy had recently erupted in the high court over allotment of plots to 27 judges with former acting CJ V M Sahai issuing notices to the beneficiary judges and the state government. Gadhavi held a special hearing on July 2 on the issue and was critical of the fact that despite two appeals filed before the collector, Soni was not provided the information in the last two years. “I had sought copies of applications made by the HC judges for the plots from the government, details regarding any payments made by the judges and subsequent allotment of the plots,” says Soni. The acting chief justice last week also directed the Ahmedabad district collector to supply copies of documents to whosoever desired to get the copies after applying for the same. This happened after a couple of litigants, who joined in the case as party-in-person, requested the court for related documents regarding plot allotment to HC judges. “The district collectorate took two years to act on my application. I am yet to receive a copy of the details,” says Soni. (Times of India 18/8/15)

73. 136 ‘fake degree’ cases registered in first quarter (1)

Mumbai: An RTI query by an activist from Pune has revealed that the number of enquiries for fake degree cases in the University of Mumbai has increased substantially in the current year when compared to the number of queries received by the university in the past three years. According to activist Vihar Durve, despite the process of procurement of fake degrees being an open secret, authorities have been turning a blind eye as a result of which it has been flourishing. Speaking about the responses to his RTI query from the Certificates Unit of the Examination section of the MU, Mr Durve said the number of such cases has risen sharply to 136 in the first four months of academic year 2015-16. “When compared with previous years, the number of such cases in 2014-15 was 274 and in 2013-14, 242 cases and 2012-13 was 252, which indicate that there is a higher number of fake degree cases being unearthed now as compared to previous years,” said Mr Durve. The RTI response also stated that the number of fake degree cases queries per month has also gone up to 34 against the 21 cases in 2012-13. The fake degrees cases were reported to MU through police complaints, correspondence and letters including e-mails from different offices, courts, police departments, other universities and citizens between 2012 and 2015. Mr Durve also said the MU department had replied in the RTI query that all the cases have been further reported to Bandra Kurla police station for further action. (Asian Age 19/8/15)


74. TN Ranks 2nd in Enrolment of SC Kids in KVs (11)

COIMBATORE: Enrolment of Scheduled Caste students in Kendriya Vidyalayas in Tamil Nadu is high compared with other States. Tamil Nadu has the second highest percentage of SC students studying in KVs. It next only to Punjab. In the 41 KVs in Tamil Nadu, there are 49,640 students, of whom 11,834 (23.84 percent) belong to the SC category. In KVs in Punjab, SC students account for 26.64 percent. It is 18.24 percent at the national level. In Tamil Nadu, there has been an increase from 23.51 percent in 2014 to 23.84 percent this year. Commenting on this, KV Coimbatore Principal Savithri T Rajan said, “Awareness about quota seats available under various categories is high among the public and people have started to utilise these quotas. Another reason could be admissions done under the Right to Education Act, where 25 percent free seats is allocated to SC/ST, economically weaker sections, those below poverty line and the non-creamy layer OBC students.” The performance of these students who join the KVs is also good, she added. However, enrolment of ST students and physically challenged students lower than the number of seats earmarked for them. While only 5.38 percent of KV students at the national level belong to the ST category, just 0.25 percent of them belong to the physically challenged category. This is even less in the case of Kendriya Vidyalayas in Tamil Nadu. Only 2.12 percent of KV students in Tamil Nadu belong to ST category and only 0.22 percent of them belong to the physically challenged category. According to admission norms followed in KVs, 15 percent of seats are earmarked for SC students and 7.5 percent for ST students. There are 1,778 Muslim students in Tamil Nadu KVs and 3,500 from other minority communities. (New Indian Express 1/8/15)

75. 99% of private schools not implementing RTE Act: panel (11)

SALEM: The Tamil Nadu State Commission for the Protection of Child Rights (TNSCPCR) has found out that 99 per cent schools have not filled the 25 per cent quota for weaker sections as mandated by the Act. The violations were noticed during the random inspection of private schools by several teams of the commission to verify admissions under the RTE Act as per the directions of the National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR). TNSCPCR sources told The Hindu that during the inspection many lacunae and irregularities of serious nature in the implementation of the Act   came to light. Ninety nine per cent of the private schools inspected in the State have not filled the 25 per cent quota with students under the RTE Act as per the norms.    What has shocked the TNSCPCR member teams is that these schools also seemed to have least respect for the Act. There have been many violations in the form of discrepancy in the income certificates of the beneficiaries and acts of some schools enriching themselves in the guise of implementing this scheme have come to light. Some of the schools are found to be running more sections than stipulated in the elementary classes without government permission. Cases of schools getting the reimbursement from the government under the 25 per cent category and at the same time collecting the regular fee from the beneficiaries too has also come to light, the sources said. All the violations noticed in the inspected schools are glaring and were discussed with the Collectors of these districts.The direction from the national commission came following serious allegation of malpractices in private schools in the State over RTE admission. An interim report will be submitted in a day or two, sources in the commission said. A team comprising T. Jayanthi Rani and S. Mowleesaran, both members of TNSCPCR, visited a few well renowned private schools in Salem district recently and verified the records connected with the admission under the above Act during the last three academic years. The Commission members inspected a number of private schools in 19 districts so far, including Salem, Tiruchi, Thanjavur, Madurai and Kancheepuram in the last couple of months. Education Department and District Child Protection Unit officials accompanied them during the inspection. The team visited the schools in Tiruchi, Thanjavur, Kancheepuram and Madurai districts too. Similar teams have completed random inspection of private schools in about 19 districts in the state so far. The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act 2009 requires all private schools to reserve 25 per cent of the seats for students belonging to the poor, disadvantaged and marginalised sections up to class VIII. The government reimburses the expenditure incurred for the education of these children. (The Hindu 2/8/15)

76. Education parliament protests ‘WTO offers’ (11)

NEW DELHI: There are many universities faring much worse than Delhi University. An Education Parliament, organized at Jantar Mantar by JNU students’ union, has brought together hundreds of students and teachers from as far as Pune, Patna, Allahabad and Lucknow. It’s much the same story everywhere —vacant teaching posts, insufficient infrastructure, dodgy appointments and a general curtailing of democratic spaces. But the main bone of contention right now is the “offers in market access” to higher education that the government has made to World Trade Organization. This coming-together, said Sucheta De of All India Students’ Association, is the beginning of a movement against the WTO offers that will run right till the meeting in Nairobi , Kenya in December. The meeting had representation from Lalit Narayan Mithila, Tilka Manjhi Bhagalpur, Patna, Savitri Bai Phule Pune, Panjab, Haryana Central and Andhra universities. University reforms, argue students and teachers, are being pushed through after and along with a systematic dismantling of students’ and teachers’ movements on campuses. The Lyngdoh committee recommendations have filled students’ unions with relatively inexperienced leaders; at many campuses, including Delhi’s Jamia Millia Islamia University and Varanasi’s Banaras Hindu University, there’s no union at all. The centralization of control—through a common syllabus—has raised fears of “saffronization”. Historian Harbans Mukhiya said the government and its supporters were encouraging a return to a form of historiography that was abandoned years ago—the practice of regarding history through the lens of religion. But the chief fight now is against the “offers” to WTO. “It means to make any law for the country, we’ll need permission from them; it means there’ll be an Independent Regulatory Authority—a single window clearance—for higher education that’ll be answerable only to the PM and finally, natural treatment,” said educationist Anil Sadgopal. (Times of India 6/8/15)

77. SFI protests against WTO entry into education sector (11)

Hassan: The Hassan district wing of the Students Federation of India (SFI) marked the anniversary of the launch of the Quit India movement here on Sunday, by staging a protest opposing the Union government’s decision to allow 160 member nations of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) enter the higher education sector in India. The protesters said the Union government had submitted its offer to open the education sector for WTO members in 2005. The proposal would be discussed during the 10th WTO ministerial conference to be held in Nairobi in December this year. The protesters said the government should withdraw its offer well in advance to safeguard the education sector from the WTO. Pradeep Kumar, district secretary of the SFI, said that if the country allowed foreign investment, it would dismantle the idea of Right to Education, and the WTO would decide all the aspects of the education sector. The number of foreign universities would increase, leaving the local education institutions to suffer. “We are appealing to the WTO to quit the Indian education sector, as our freedom fighters appealed to the British to quit India on this day in 1942,” Mr. Pradeep Kumar said. (The Hindu 10/8/15)

78. Bring children up to age of 18 years under RTE Act: Activists (11)

MUMBAI: Bringing children up to the age of 18 years under the Right to Education (RTE) Act, was one of the main suggestions that has come up in a meeting organised by city-based NGOs working for child rights. The meeting was organised to discuss the provisions that need to be included in the Child Labour Amendment Bill that is under consideration at the centre. The activists plan to draw a charter of their demands and submit it to the government of India. “The main point that we all agreed upon was that children up to the age of 18 years should be in schools and nowhere else. While there is a debate that children up to the age of 14 years can work in family enterprises we are opposed to that. Children are also exploited in domestic work,” said child rights’ activist Santosh Shinde. He added that rescue and rehabilitation work should be clarified in the act. NGOs like Pratham, Yuva, Committed Communities Development Trust (CCDT), Child Rights and You (CRY), Childline, Save The Children participated in the discussion and have come up with suggestions that will strengthen the Act. (Times of India 13/8/15)

79. RTE may span school education from nursery to grade X (11)

NEW DELHI: The right of children to free and compulsory education may encompass school education from nursery to class X, if CABE, a top body advising the Centre and states on education sector reforms, accepts a proposal in this regard. The Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE) will consider the report of its sub-committee on extension of the RTE Act and the controversial no-detention policy at a meeting to be chaired by human resource development minister Smriti Irani on August 19, official sources said. The meeting, which will engage in an “exhaustive deliberation” on the two issues, will be attended by education ministers from states besides academicians and distinguished people from several fields. The Act currently applies to children between six and 14 years studying from Class I to VIII. The CABE sub-committee in its report submitted in 2012, when UPA was in power, had identified issues such as entry age for pre-school under the extended framework, qualification and capacity building of teachers at the pre-primary level, age of children in secondary education and duration of secondary education. Chairing the last CABE meeting on the issue, the then HRD minister M M Pallam Raju had said it needed comprehensive discussion before a decision on extending RTE’s purview was arrived at. On its extension to the pre-primary level, the panel had suggested ensuring child-centered pedagogy, play-way method and holistic development as critical elements of pre-school education and stressed on the need for effective coordination with Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS). For RTE’s extension up to the secondary level, the sub-committee had suggested assessment of existing infrastructure, appointment of additional teachers and recommended consultations with all stakeholders including the state governments. The role and regulatory mechanism of the private sector and sharing of financial responsibility between the Centre and states were some of the other issues highlighted by the panel for detailed discussion.CABE would also deliberate on the report of another sub-committee on no-detention policy up to class VIII. The committee headed by the then education minister of Haryana Geeta Bukkal had recommended doing away with it as automatic promotion affected learning outcomes. A few states have already repealed the policy, which had come into effect with the implementation of RTE by bringing in necessary amendments to the state rules. The RTE Act, which makes education a fundamental right of every child between the age of 6 and 14, came into effect on April 1, 2010. It requires all private schools, except for minority institutions, to reserve 25% of seats for underprivileged children. (Times of India 16/8/15)

80. Panel for phased implementation of no-detention policy in schools (11)

NEW DELHI: Armed with a growing chorus against the no-detention policy at the elementary school level (up to Class VIII), the Union Human Resource Development (HRD) Ministry is likely to make a case for reconsidering – if not reversing — this provision of the Right to Education Act (RTE), 2009, at the first meeting of the Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE) under the Modi government’s watch this Wednesday. The report of the ‘CABE Committee on Assessment and Implementation of CCE [Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation] in the context of the No-Detention Provision under the RTE Act’ is one of the items on the agenda for Wednesday’s meeting. Headed by the then Education Minister of Haryana, the Committee had flagged certain issues with the provision and sought to draw linkages with the declining levels of learning. This sub-committee of CABE is learnt to have recommended that the no-detention policy be implemented in a phased manner so that all stakeholders understand what it entails instead of interpreting it as zero assessment. Further, the CABE Committee was of the view that it should be applied only till Class V instead of all the way up to Class VIII. Since the report was finalised in the last year of the UPA government, no action was taken then. But after Smriti Irani took over as HRD Minister, she has held a series of meetings including with school children in which the general opinion favoured – to the surprise of many – examinations; not just at the lower levels but also in Class X where the once dreaded Board exams had been made optional during the UPA regime. The main complaint against CCE was that it did not prepare students well for competitive examinations including school-leaving Boards. Alarmed by the growing demand for reversal of the provision – even from several State governments – educationists claim that the law should not be blamed for poor implementation.“The RTE Act clearly spelt out how CCE should be implemented. Just by failing children, you do not make them good learners,’’ said Anita Rampal, Professor of Education at Delhi University. Pointing to the manner in which “corporatised organisations’’ working in education are also pushing for a testing system – with some even offering to conduct the tests – she said there also appeared to be a corporate agenda at work. Also on CABE’s agenda will be RTE’s extension to cover education from pre-school to Class X; instead of just six-to-14 year-olds. Though not averse to extended RTE coverage, Madhu Prasad of RTE Forum wondered whether this was simply more posturing by a government that has already pared down the education budget. (The Hindu 18/8/15)

81. Govt meet fails to decide on revival of class X exams (11)

NEW DELHI: Despite a broad consensus to bring back class X board examination and revoke the ” no detention” policy, no decision could be taken in the 63rd meeting of the Central Advisory Board of Education on Wednesday. Though states wanted the no-detention policy to be scrapped in one go, Centre has asked states to formally provide their view in writing within a fortnight for the next course of action. Though HRD minister Smriti Irani refused to speculate on the future outcome, revoking of the no-detention policy will require amendment in the Right to Education Act. But class X board examination can be brought back through an executive order. Irani said the CABE sub-committee headed by Geeta Bhukkal, the then Haryana education minister, had looked into the issue of no-detention. Bihar education minister P K Shahi who was part of the committee told the meeting that during their interaction with students, teachers and parents the unanimous view was that no-detention till class 8th standard be scrapped. ” Today also they appealed that it be removed. Education minister of 19 states said no-detention has affected learning outcomes. We want states to give their views in writing,” she said. Asked about allegations of saffronisation of education, Irani said she has only received cooperation from states and there should be no politicization of education. CABE also decided to set up three sub-committees. The first to be headed by Upendra Kushwaha, minister of state, HRD, will look into out of school children and devise ways to enroll these children to schools. The sub-committee will consist of education ministers of Tripura, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana and senior officials of HRD ministry. Another sub-committee will look into improving infrastructure and performance of government schools. It will be headed by education minister of Punjab and will consist of education ministers of UP, Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Bihar and few CABE members. Third sub-committee will deliberate on measures to improve and enhance skilling and technical education in the school and higher education systems. All sub-committees will submit their report within a year. (Times of India 20/8/15)


82. India census exposes extent of poverty (21)

New Delhi (CNN)India’s latest Socioeconomic and Caste Census (SECC) paints a stark picture of widespread rural poverty and deprivation. Of the 300 million households surveyed, an overwhelming majority (73%) live in villages. Of this rural population, less than 5% earn enough to pay taxes, only 2.5% own a 4-wheeler vehicle and less than 10% have salaried jobs. Not only does rural India have miserable statistics on income and asset ownership, its literacy rates are low. Only 3.5% of students graduate and around 35.7% of residents can’t read or write. It comes as no surprise that the bulk of the Indian population is still overwhelmingly poor. Past surveys and experts have continued to emphasize the chasm between the two disparate pictures of India — one that owns ambitious space and nuclear programs, and boasts of billionaires and information technology prowess, and the one in the villages, of which 92 million households (51%) earn their living by manual labor. The self-reported data from the SECC survey will be used for targeting new and existing welfare schemes. Toeing the line taken by the previous administration, the government refrained from making caste data public…. (CNN 3/8/15)

83. NSSO: 73% of rural Bihar use kerosene for lighting (21)

NEW DELHI: For all the subsidy flowing towards selling kerosene through the public distribution system, it now emerges that the fuel is hardly being used in kitchens across India – in towns as well as villages – but remains a key source for lighting lamps and lanterns in rural areas, which either lack power connections or don’t get adequate supply. The latest survey released by the National Sample Survey Organization (NSSO) has revealed that in rural areas, subsidized kerosene was used in less than 1% of kitchens, which relied largely on firewood and chips as the primary source of energy for cooking during 2011-12. After firewood (67% share), cooking gas cylinders have emerged as the second most preferred kitchen fuel in rural areas, with a share of 15%. In urban areas, of course, they now fire over 68% of the stoves, while the share of kerosene is estimated at 5.7%, lower than firewood (14%).But when it comes to lighting homes in villages, the share of kerosene is estimated at 26.5%, with electricity’s share estimated at 72.7%. In urban India, 3.2% of households uses kerosene for lighting while the share of electricity is 96%.The data points to what several economists have argued for years: there is reduced dependence on kerosene despite the government doling out subsidized fuel, which is suspected to be used in large quantities for adulteration or finds its way into the open market, where there is no subsidy. Currently, the government pays Rs 18.51 as subsidy for every litre of kerosene sold through the public distribution system. The under-recovery on the sale of kitchen fuel by the oil marketing companies added up to Rs 24,800 crore during the last financial year, with the government taking over around Rs 5,000 crore of the burden and forcing the state-run companies to bear the additional burden. The government has been talking of reforming the subsidy delivery mechanism for several years and is contemplating extending the direct benefit transfer scheme to kerosene to check leakages. But the findings of the NSSO survey showed wide divergence in fuel used across states with those such as Bihar and Uttar Pradesh still relying on dung cake and firewood to a large extent. The use of firewood and chips for cooking has declined but slowly over the years in rural India. It declined from 78.2% of all rural households in 1993-94 to 67.3% in 2011-12. LPG use in rural households has grown relatively fast, from fewer than 2% of rural households two decades ago to 15% in 2011-12. Cow-dung cake remained one of the major fuels for cooking for rural households in Uttar Pradesh (33.4%) followed by Punjab (30.3%), Haryana (24%) and Bihar (20.8%).Tamil Nadu had the highest use of LPG among rural households, with over a third using it for cooking, followed by Kerala and Punjab. The use of LPG was least in Chhattisgarh (1.5%) followed by Jharkhand (2.9%) and Odisha (3.9%).When it comes to lighting, 73.5% of rural households in Bihar still use kerosene as primary source of energy for lighting, followed by Uttar Pradesh (58.5%) and Assam (36.8%).Bihar also tops the chart when it comes to use of kerosene for lighting in urban areas with 17.2% of households still depending on kerosene. Followed by Bihar were Uttar Pradesh (10.8%), Assam (7.9%), Gujarat (5.2%) and West Bengal (5%).However, over the past decade, the proportion of households using kerosene to light their houses has halved in rural India. The use of electricity was the highest in rural Andhra Pradesh, Punjab, Tamil Nadu and Kerala, where nearly all rural households used electricity to light their homes. In contrast, just 25.8% of rural Bihar and 40.4% of rural Uttar Pradesh households had electricity. (Times of India 3/8/15)

84. Over 7,000 face starvation in South Sudan (21)

Approximately 7,600 displaced families in South Sudan face starvation after humanitarian assistance ran out last May. “Individuals affected by the conflict subsist on leaves to stay alive in the Melut county of South Sudan, as humanitarian conditions have worsened for over 7,600 families,” Xinhua quoted Deng Kiir, head of the Dethoma camp, as saying on Tuesday. Kiir said humanitarian assistance ceased arriving as aid organisations suspended their activities after fighting erupted between government troops and opposition fighters last May. He called on the government and humanitarian organisations to provide urgent assistance to the displaced families. According to United Nations statistics, two-thirds of South Sudan’s 12 million people are in dire need of aid and 4.5 million face severe food shortages. The recent military clashes forced thousands of civilians to flee to safe areas and United Nations bases for protection. South Sudan secured its independence in 2011. However, it plunged into violent clashes in December 2013 as fighting erupted between troops loyal to President Salva Kiir and defectors led by his former deputy Riek Machar. The conflict soon grew into an all-out war, with violence taking on an ethnic aspect, pitting the president Dinka’s tribe against Machar’s ethnic faction. The warfare killed thousands of South Sudanese and forced 1.9 million individuals to flee their homes. (Business Standard 5/8/15)

85. Thousands of villagers face starvation; landslides cut off 25 villages in Chandel (21)

Kakching: : Thousands of villagers are on the brink of starvation as over 25 villages under Machi Sub-Division in Chandel District are totally cut off and remained inaccessible since the last one week due to the multiple landslides. To assess the situation of landslide affected area, a team of Kuki Chiefs’ Association (KCA) Machi Block, KSO Machi Block and Rural People’s development Federation (RPDF) along with media persons visited the spots on Friday. During the visit, the team found that landslides occurred at several places and many cracks developed along the stretch between Machi and Tengnoupal Sangshak road junction. Apart from washing away the portion of Tengnoupal-Sangshak Road in between Phalbung and Chehlep junction, two major landslides measuring about 2 kms in length also occurred near Simang Villages along the road.There were also landslide in the Inter Village Roads of Bongmol to Bongli, Kuljang to Sairel, Machi Lamkai to Samukom, Khoibu Centre to Parengtong/Charawanpham. Briefing media persons, Chief of Molpi (Nungtak) Village M.Letkhosei Haokip, who is also the Advisor of KCA Machi Block said that around 25 Villages of Bongli area were totally cut off from the rest of the State due multiple landslides which occurred on July 31 . Since then, the villages of that area remained inaccessible till date and the villagers were on the brink of starvation. Haokip further maintained that there is also a problem of electricity and safe potable water as many electric poles and water sources were recently washed away by landslides. Besides the need for clearing the mud and slush and reopening of all the roads, provision of essential commodities, medicines, drinking water and electricity is also the need of the villagers, added the Village Chief. However, the State Government and the elected representatives of the area have no concern for the villagers of the area till date and the authority failed to take up necessary action for reopening of the roads, said the Village Chief. While appealing to address the grievances of the villagers of the area, Letkhosei Haokip, Chief of Molpi Village drew the immediate attention of the State Government and authority for reopening of the cut off routes at the earliest. Khaineo Lupho, Co-ordinator of RPDF also said that most of the villagers of the area were living from hand to mouth as their primary occupation was selling of forest products besides engaging in shifting cultivation. He also maintained that even though the authority failed to provide the Public Distribution System (PDS) items earlier, at least they could make necessary arrangement to dispatch the essential commodities under the PDS during such time of natural calamities. Senpu Haokip, General Secretary of Kuki Chiefs’ Association (KCA) Machi Block and John Haokip, Secretary of Kuki Students’ Organisation (KSO) Machi Block also accompanied the team during the visit. (Manipur: E-Pao 8/8/15

86. ‘MGNREGS reduced poverty, empowered women’ (21)

The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) reduced poverty by up to a third and gave a large number of women their first opportunity to earn cash income, a new research has found. Officials from the Ministry of Rural Development (MoRD) and the National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER) released a new report Wednesday evening which used data from two rounds of the India Human Development Survey (IHDS) – 2004-5 and 2011-12. The survey was conducted by the NCAER and University of Maryland, involving over 26,000 rural households across the country. Comparisons between the two survey rounds found that the programme reduced poverty overall by up to 32 per cent and prevented 14 million people from falling into poverty. “Economic growth contributed to overall poverty reduction during this period, but we found that the MGNREGS also played a significant role,” Sonalde Desai, principal author of the study, said. The numbers show that the MGNREGS is likely to have had a much smaller impact on the rural job market and on rural wages than is commonly believed. At an all-India level, the average days worked under the MGNREGS is less than four, pointing to the relatively small impact of the scheme to the overall rural job market. “On the surface, MGNREGS has virtually no impact on rural employment patterns since it fails to add to the number of days that individuals work. But it seems to attract individuals who were previously employed in less productive work, thereby raising their incomes,” the report notes. Overall, while the period of 2004-5 to 2011-12 saw a sharp rise in rural wages, MGNREGS plays only a modest role in wage increases, the report notes. The United Nations Development Programme on Wednesday also released a review of recent research studies on the MGNREGS which found similarly, and found that the scheme’s uptake is far greater in the lean season that in the peak agricultural season. The part of the rural job market that the MGNREGS did seem to have a more significant impact on was for female work. About 45% of female MGNREGS workers were either not working or worked only on a family farm in 2004–05, indicating that the MGNREGS “may well be the first opportunity many women have to earn cash income”. As a result, there was a substantial increase in women’s control over resources — including cash in hand and the likelihood of having a bank account — and improvement in women’s ability to make independent decisions about their health, the report found. Children from MGNREGS households were likely to obtain higher levels of educational attainment than their non-MGNREGS peers, the report found, and were less likely to be working. While financial inclusion rose in general during this period and reliance of moneylenders declined, the effect was much greater for MGNREGS households, as was the decrease in the overall interest paid by the household. Simultaneously, accessing of formal credit grew. What holds the MGNREGS back is “work rationing” — the inability of all interested households to get 100 days of work — as a result of mismanagement or pressures, and affects the poorest the most, the report finds. “These findings clearly show that there is a large unmet demand for MGNREGS work,” Jugal Kishore Mohapatra, secretary, Ministry of Rural Development, said, adding that a paucity of funds at the level of implementations and erratic fund flows, particularly in 2014-15 had affected both demand and supply. “For the last four months, our job has been convincing everyone that the scheme is not going away and rebooting demand,” Mr. Mohapatra said. (The Hindu 12/8/15)

87. PM Modi’s Independence Day speech: 10 big quotes (21)

New Delhi: In his 90-minute Independence Day speech, Prime Minister Narendra Modi didn’t announce any major scheme for the country rather he focussed on presenting a report card of the schemes that he had announced last year from the ramparts of Red Fort. Here are the 10 big quotes from the PM’s speech: 1. This is a morning of hope of the dreams and aspirations of 125 crore Indians. This Team India is a team of 125 crore Indians. 2. Simplicity and unity are India’s strength, it should never be tainted or hurt. There is no place for casteism, communalism in the country. 3. Nobody wants to remain poor. Those who are poor want to move away from poverty. That is why, all our programmes must be for the poor. All our schemes must serve the poor. Be it MyGov, letters from citizens, Mann Ki Baat, communication with people ‘Jan Bhagidari’ is increasing on a daily basis. 4. Last time from the Red Fort I spoke about toilets and cleanliness. If there is something that has touched every person, it is the movement towards cleanliness. The children of this country are the biggest mascots of Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan. 5. We have change the way we look at workers in India and for that the government has introduced Shrameva Jayate Yojana. 6.I proudly say that the ‘give it up’ campaign for gas subsidy has been successful, 20 lakh people have given subsidy up. 7. There has been no accusation of even Re 1 corruption in the 15 months since this government was formed. 8. We must be Number 1 in startups. ‘Start-up India’ and ‘Stand up India’. A new start up should begin in every part of the country. Every bank should ensure that its every branch must give loan for start ups to at least one Dalit or tribal seeking to establish a start up. 9. Even after so many decades of independence there are nearly 18,500 villages that do not have electricity. We affirm our commitment to provide electricity to these 18,500 villages in next 1000 days. 10. The government has agreed in-principle to One Rank One Pension (OROP) for ex-servicemen. There are some issues which would be resolved soon. (India Today  16/8/15)

88. Telangana launches new scheme for village development (21)

Hyderabad: The Telangana government on Monday launched ‘Grama Jyothi’, a new scheme for empowering villages. Chief Minister K. Chandrashekar Rao formally launched the scheme at Gangadevipally, a village in Warangal district. The state government plans to spend Rs.25,000 crore for the development of villages over the next four years under this ambitious project.Different ministers and officials simultaneously launched the programme in other districts.Grama Jyothi is aimed at strengthening villages in areas like water and sanitation, health and nutrition, education, social security and poverty eradication, natural resources management, agriculture and infrastructure.It will ensure inclusive and holistic development of villages through people’s participation in planning and collective decision-making. Officials said the development would be achieved through transparency, accountability and incentivsation. Addressing a public meeting at Gangadevipally, the chief minister said the model village had proved what people could achieve by working together for the development of their village.He announced Rs.10 crore for undertaking various development programmes in the village. The chief minister said the scheme would strengthen panchayat raj system as gram panchayats would formulate development plans. Each village will be allocated Rs.2 crore to Rs.6 crore depending on their population. (New Kerala 17/8/15)

89. Digitization of ration cards in 26 states to plug PDS leakage (21)

NEW DELHI: In significant progress made by states to check leakage of foodgrains under the public distribution system (PDS), 26 states and Union Territories have completed 100% digitization of ration cards in the past one year. Six states have digitized the supply chain for better monitoring of grain moving from godowns to the doorstep of consumers. According to food ministry sources, the overall digitization of ration cards across the country is about 92% and they expect the process to be completed in the next 6-7 months. The states that have achieved 100% progress include Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Gujarat, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Chhattisgarh. They added Andhra Pradesh and Telangana have recorded 98% progress in linking Aadhar while Delhi has completed 100%. The achievement is more than 80% in the case of Himachal Pradesh, Chandigarh, Puducherry and Kerala. “Once we have the complete digitization and beneficiaries’ Aadhar numbers are linked, it will plug the leakage of highly subsidized grains that are meant for the needy. Completing these tasks will also ensure better implementation of the National Food Security Scheme (NFSA),” said a ministry official. (Times of India 19/8/15)


90. Modify Provisions to Meet Aim of Labour Legislations (14)

Outdated labour laws are major roadblocks for economic growth. The compliance systems as per Indian labour laws are more inclined towards encouraging inspector raj rather than serving the intent of legal provisions. Organised sectors, bigger companies, and multinationals usually do not succumb to illegal pressure of labour authorities. But some establishments are forced to meet extortionist demands, since it makes economic sense to compromise rather than comply with unreasonable show cause notices. Considering the population, literacy and other economic conditions, it is not advisable to completely bypass the checks and compliances in the garb of industrialisation. Rather, the provisions need to be modified so that the intent of legislation is met. Compliances with respect to regular employees in organised sectors, and big and medium-level companies are generally in order. Issues arise more with respect to contract labour, casual, daily wage, temporary workers, smaller establishments, etc. Various enactments under which monetary depositions are required are Provident Fund, Employees’ State Insurance, cess under building and construction workers, labour welfare fund, etc. Further, there are compliances with respect to contract labour, minimum wages, the Factories Act, the Shops and Establishments Act, and the like. These laws have innumerable provisions with respect to registration, licences, working conditions, maintenance of workplace, statutory payments, registers, records, service conditions, contractual obligations, etc. Though the intent of the provisions is incumbent to be met, the procedure and number of compliances as well as ambiguous interpretations needs to be simplified. Mala fide show cause notices include exorbitant demands for highly belated time periods, inconsequential compliances and misinterpretation of ambiguous provisions. Many a time, labour authorities grossly misuse criminal and penal provisions. The proceedings involve criminal prosecution of directors/CEOs, imposition of heavy damages and interests. Further, as per PF and ESI laws, even for filing an appeal against an adverse order, deposition of a percentage of liability imposed is statutorily required. In view of such provisions, companies are forced to either spend huge amounts on litigation or come down to paying under the counter. Contesting litigations takes years, and paying under the table only encourages illegitimate demands. None of the routes fulfil the intent of legislation. Scrapping these provisions in the name of economic growth will also only lead to mass contravention of provisions leading to exploitation of labour, especially in remote areas. We need amendments that can serve the purpose of provisions. For instance, managers responsible for compliances should also be made liable as per provisions. They should be trained in compliances, with set criteria for their appointment. This can be done for companies having a minimum number of employees. Further, though e-portals are being introduced, statutory compliances should be made electronic and website-based. Area labour inspectors should also be made responsible for ensuring regular checking of company records, giving reports. While raising a statutory demand, the inspector should be required to issue a reasoned and specific show cause notice, not casual notices on the basis of account books entries. For this, it should be made mandatory that records of all kinds of employees along with employee number, Aadhaar card details, etc. are made available electronically. Most importantly, statutory provisions need to be simplified. Crores of rupees stand collected in the coffers of labour authorities, while millions still fight for survival. Besides amendments, it should be ensured that depositions are utlised for the purpose they are made, rather than lying in cold storage. Proper application of labour laws can aid in escaping the clutches of poverty to a large extent. (New Indian Express 1/8/15)

91. Call to enforce labour laws (14)

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Trivandrum District Shops and Commercial Establishment Employees Union, affiliated to the AITUC, has called for steps to enforce the implementation of labour laws in commercial establishments. Inaugurating the district convention of the union here on Monday, AITUC State secretary K.P. Sankaradas said that the government should adopt effective steps to ensure job security for workers. (The Hindu 4/8/15)

92. Direct release of wages to MGNREGA workers okayed (14)

New Delhi: The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved release of wages directly to the accounts of the workers engaged under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA). The Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, approved the scheme for better implementation of the MNREGA and provide empowerment of states, sources said. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley last week allocated Rs 7,000 crore for direct benefit transfer under MGNREGA, while seeking Parliament approval for supplementary demand for grants. According to the scheme, the wage component of MGNREGA will be released following the State Employment Guarantee Fund window direct to the workers’ accounts based on a fund transfer order to be generated by states’ implementing agencies in accordance with procedures prescribed by rural development ministry. The proposed system would benefit all stakeholders and improve overall efficiency of implementation, and workers would be assured of payment of wages in the second day of the pay order generation, official sources said. Officials said while state governments would be able to spend more time in planning and improving the process efficiency without bothering to manage funds for implementation, the Central government would gain by releasing what is actually expendable. The gram panchayats would also be empowered to take up work according to the agreed labour budget, without struggling for release of funds. Sources say that despite implementation of the electronic fund management system (e-FMS), delays in payments have been increasing due to delays in release of funds by the central government, multi-level release system, continued parking of funds at various levels and inability of implementation agencies to get funds in time for payment. This, they added, called for further steps to improve the system to assure timely availability of funds according to demand. (Business Standard 6/8/15)

93. State focuses on converging NREGA and NRLM in four districts (14)

RANCHI: With an objective to bring economic prosperity in rural parts of the country, using the already existing infrastructure of NREGA, Jharkhand is all geared to toe the central line of converging rural schemes with the employment guarantee scheme. Supported by UNDP’s governance and accelerated livelihood support (Goals), rural development department of the state held a day long workshop to train officials with the objective of converging various schemes with NREGA. The convergence of MNREGA and National Rural Livelihood Mission (NRLM) aims at creating awareness and demand generation, identification and planning for works that converge with the livelihood plans, worksite execution and measurement, advance payment of wages to NREGA workers through funds devolved to CBOs, provision of capacity building and training for all stakeholders involved including PRIs, besides creation of Cluster Facilitation Teams (CFTs). Inaugurating the make plans for financial year 2015-16, rural development minister Neelkant Singh Munda said that executing constructive work under NREGA is a big challenge. “We are spending Rs.1800 crore under the scheme in state and if time bound initiatives are taken, Jharkhand would be among the developed states of the country,” he said. Additional secretary to government of India in the department of ministry for rural development Amarjit Sinha said that Goals scheme has been launched in four districts of the state Gumla, Palamu, Latehar and West Singhbhum as a pilot project. “Goals have been designed with a view to eradicate rural poverty and the villagers should be encouraged to draw their own plans so that the livelihood schemes do not fail, as it happens when imposed from outside,” he said. Sinha said that the NREGA infrastructure would help in disbursing money to the accounts of beneficiaries of various schemes directly which also includes the livelihood mission schemes of NRLM. Principal secretary, rural development department in Jharkhand government NN Sinha welcomed the guests and introduced to them the status of various rural development schemes like Indira Awas Yojna, water harvesting, NREGA and NRLM. He said that there has been a substantial progress in NREGA over the last year. “The districts which achieved 10-15% fund utilisation last year have performed satisfactorily this time but there remains huge scope for training and capacity building of the rural youth which can be achieved through convergence of the schemes,” he said. (Times of India 8/8/15)

94. ‘MGNREGS reduced poverty, empowered women’ (14)

The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) reduced poverty by up to a third and gave a large number of women their first opportunity to earn cash income, a new research has found. Officials from the Ministry of Rural Development (MoRD) and the National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER) released a new report Wednesday evening which used data from two rounds of the India Human Development Survey (IHDS) – 2004-5 and 2011-12. The survey was conducted by the NCAER and University of Maryland, involving over 26,000 rural households across the country. Comparisons between the two survey rounds found that the programme reduced poverty overall by up to 32 per cent and prevented 14 million people from falling into poverty. “Economic growth contributed to overall poverty reduction during this period, but we found that the MGNREGS also played a significant role,” Sonalde Desai, principal author of the study, said. The numbers show that the MGNREGS is likely to have had a much smaller impact on the rural job market and on rural wages than is commonly believed. At an all-India level, the average days worked under the MGNREGS is less than four, pointing to the relatively small impact of the scheme to the overall rural job market. “On the surface, MGNREGS has virtually no impact on rural employment patterns since it fails to add to the number of days that individuals work. But it seems to attract individuals who were previously employed in less productive work, thereby raising their incomes,” the report notes. Overall, while the period of 2004-5 to 2011-12 saw a sharp rise in rural wages, MGNREGS plays only a modest role in wage increases, the report notes. The United Nations Development Programme on Wednesday also released a review of recent research studies on the MGNREGS which found similarly, and found that the scheme’s uptake is far greater in the lean season that in the peak agricultural season. The part of the rural job market that the MGNREGS did seem to have a more significant impact on was for female work. About 45% of female MGNREGS workers were either not working or worked only on a family farm in 2004–05, indicating that the MGNREGS “may well be the first opportunity many women have to earn cash income”. As a result, there was a substantial increase in women’s control over resources — including cash in hand and the likelihood of having a bank account — and improvement in women’s ability to make independent decisions about their health, the report found. Children from MGNREGS households were likely to obtain higher levels of educational attainment than their non-MGNREGS peers, the report found, and were less likely to be working. While financial inclusion rose in general during this period and reliance of moneylenders declined, the effect was much greater for MGNREGS households, as was the decrease in the overall interest paid by the household. Simultaneously, accessing of formal credit grew. What holds the MGNREGS back is “work rationing” — the inability of all interested households to get 100 days of work — as a result of mismanagement or pressures, and affects the poorest the most, the report finds. “These findings clearly show that there is a large unmet demand for MGNREGS work,” Jugal Kishore Mohapatra, secretary, Ministry of Rural Development, said, adding that a paucity of funds at the level of implementations and erratic fund flows, particularly in 2014-15 had affected both demand and supply. “For the last four months, our job has been convincing everyone that the scheme is not going away and rebooting demand,” Mr. Mohapatra said. (The Hindu 12/8/15)

95. Haryana pays highest wage under job scheme (14)

Chandigarh: Unskilled workers in Haryana get the highest wage, under MGNREGA, in the country while those from Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh are the least paid. “Haryana is the only state to give the highest wage rate of Rs 251 per day to unskilled manual workers under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, 2005,” a spokesman of the government said here on Wednesday. A notification to this effect has been issued by the Union Ministry of Rural Development, according to which, unskilled workers in Nicobar are the second highest paid labourers among the states and union territories (UT) where they get Rs 241 per day, while in Chandigarh they get Rs 239 per day. The other states and UTs where a labourer was getting more than Rs 200 per day are Kerala (Rs 229 per day), Andaman (Rs 228), Punjab and Lakshdweep (Rs 210), Goa (Rs 208), Karnataka (Rs 204) and Scheduled Areas of Himachal Pradesh (Rs 203). Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh were among the states that were paying least to an unskilled labourer. They pay Rs 159 per day while Uttarakhand and Uttar Pardesh were paying Rs 161. Unskilled workers in Bihar, Jharkhand and unscheduled areas of Himachal Pradesh were getting Rs 162 per day, in Meghalaya they were getting Rs 163 per day. The wage rate of other states and UTs were Rs 164 per day in Jammu and Kashmir; Rs 167 in Nagaland, Sikkim, Tripura and Arunachal Pradesh; Rs 173 in Rajasthan; Rs 174 in Odisha and West Bengal; Rs 178 in Gujarat; Rs 179 in Assam; Rs 180 in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana; Rs 181 in Maharashtra and Daman and Diu; Rs 183 in Mizoram, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry; Rs 190 in Manipur; and Rs 196 in Dadra and Nagar Haveli, the spokesperson said. – PTI (The Hindu 13/8/15)

96. Modi: Govt. to simplify 44 labour laws (14)

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday said the government is converting 44 labour laws into four simplified codes. In his address to the nation on the occasion of the 69th Independence Day, Mr. Modi said Rs 27,000 crore is lying as unclaimed amount in the Employees Provident Fund (EPF), which will be utilised for the welfare of the workers. “Laws should be clear and precise. It is only then that the society progresses. There are 44 different types of labour laws in the country, which confuses the labourers on where to look for. “We have brought a change in them. We are converting 44 labour laws into 4 simplified codes, which will be easy to follow for the poor as well as the illiterate labourers to follow,” he added. The codes will relate to industrial relations, wages, social security and safety. “We are making special identity cards for labourers in the unorganised sector so that where ever they go, whichever factory they work, we will have their identity and details and we will utilise this Rs 27,000 crore for their welfare,” (The Hindu 15/8/15)

97. ISF to host world employment conference in India in 2016 (14)

MUMBAI: For the first time, the 49th Ciett World Employment Conference (WEC) will be held in India. Indian Staffing Federation (ISF), an apex body of flexi staffing industry in India, will be hosting WEC in May 2016, thus creating a ‘window of opportunity’ to showcase India in front of the global employment industry. Indian workforce has increased to 397.4 million in 2013 with 3 million erstwhile informal sector workers entering the formal sector employment, aiding in a significant surge of 7.2 million in the formal sector workforce. Nearly 12 million people enter the labour market every year but less than 10% land jobs; a large potential group of trained school students, who currently translate into 90% of the population are waiting outside the ambit of formal structured learning, to be available for employment and 2.5 mn graduates passing out of colleges each year, currently without adequate skills need to be trained. Through this global platform, ISF is bringing the global employment organisations to witness the talent and benefit from the unique advantages. Rituparna Chakraborty, President, ISF, said, “Around the globe companies see a lot of potential in India where they have seen a 20% growth in the Indian staffing market over the last 3 years. In spite of this potential, the biggest challenge for staffing companies remains finding the right talent for the client companies. This event is a great means to showcase India as an emerging talent powerhouse, building the confidence of investors across the globe who are waiting to reap dividends in the country through their investments here.” ISF said it is committed towards the enhancement of the labour industry. With a penetration of just 2%, ISF is championing this industry with 5 million jobs in last 10 years in formal sector with suitable and supporting regulation. The federation has also submitted a representation with 20 minimum provisions at the ILC 2015 to be included into national regulatory framework in order to develop decent work via contract staffing companies. (Times of India 19/8/15)

98. Stir by trade unions against labour official (14)

NAGERCOIL: Members of Construction Workers’ Association, General Workers’ Association, Tailoring Workers’ Association and a few other associations, affiliated to the CITU, staged an agitation against alleged anti-labour attitude of the Labour Welfare Officer in Nagercoil on Wednesday. The agitators alleged that Labour Welfare Officer D. Lakshminarayanan, who was handling social security schemes, failed to invite the CITU for the district-level monitoring committee meeting, and that he refused monetary benefits to the labourers for not filing their Aadhaar card, restricted entry of office-bearers of trade unions into the Labour Welfare Office (SSS) and threatened to foist criminal cases against them in case of violation of his orders. When contacted, Mr. Lakshminarayanan denied the allegations made against him, and said that some issues were pending before Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court. Over 200 members of various associations took part in the agitation. Former MP A.V. Bellarmin inaugurated the agitation. K. Chellappan of Construction Workers’ Association presided. CPI (M) district secretary N. Murugesan and office-bearers of various associations spoke. (The Hindu 20/8/15)


99. HC Stays Order on Quota for SC/STs by All the Varsities (25)

KOCHI: A Division Bench of the Kerala High Court on Friday stayed a Single Bench order directing that all the universities should make necessary amendments in the statute or frame statutes to ensure that appropriate reservation was made to SC/ST candidates for appointment to the post of teaching as well as non-teaching staff in aided non-minority institutes. A Division Bench comprising Justice Antony Dominic and Justice Shaji P. Chaly issued the order on the petition filed by the NSS college central committee challenging the single bench order. The Single Judge also held that no appointment should be made in the aided colleges until amendments are made to fulfil the SC/ST reservation for appointment of teaching and non-teaching staff. Counsel for the petitioner N Nandakumara Menon submitted that the reservation being an enabling provision under Article 16 in service of state alone, it cannot be implemented in a private aided educational institution whose service is not the service of the state. The government itself can implement reservation for SC/STs in the service of  state and other instrumentalities of state. Therefor an University by virtue of delegated legislation cannot implement reservation to SC/STs in the appointment of staff.  According to petitioner, the Constitution recognises private aided educational institutions as a separate species pursuant to TMA Pai case where the only reservation permissible is with regard to admission of students. (New Indian Express 1/8/15)

 100. “Implement Ranganath Misra panel recommendations” (7)

Dindigul: The Minorities Welfare Committee has appealed to the government to implement the recommendations of the Justice Ranganath Misra Committee for the uplift of poor minorities, according to Committee’s State deputy organiser Moosa. Addressing committee’s first district-level conference here on Sunday, Mr. Moosa said that employment and educational opportunities were denied to a large number of Christians and Muslims even now. Even as the committee recommended 10 per cent reservation for the minorities, only three per cent of reservation was implemented. Proper implementation of the Ranganth Misra Committee recommendations would help minorities get admission to educational institutions and get government jobs. Now schools and colleges did not follow reservations for minorities properly, he charged. Mr. Moosa also demanded abolition of capital punishment as it was against mankind. He strongly condemned both the successive Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party governments for not taking any initiative to abolish it. Even former President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam wanted abolition of capital punishment. All other political parties too supported its abolition, he noted. The banks should offer loans to minorities for trade and business activities without imposing stringent conditions. The district administration should expedite construction of a memorial for Tipu Sultan in Dindigul, he added. The conference demanded inclusion of Dalit Christians in the Scheduled Castes list and opening of a unit of Aligarh Muslim University. (The Hindu 3/8/15)

101. STs demand hike in quota (25)

VISAKHAPATNAM: The Government should increase the reservation quota for the Scheduled Tribes in tune with the increase in population and also enforce reservations in private sector as the Government is in favour of privatisation. Addressing media on the programmes lined up for the International Day of World’s Indigenous People being celebrated by the ST welfare associations under the umbrella of Girijana Aikya Karyacharana Samiti (GAKS) at Girijan Bhavan here, the representatives of tribes of Visakhapatnam district were keen that the Government address the genuine grievances of the tribal people at least on the occasion. Last year, Chief Minister visited the city and attended a Government programme which eclipsed the celebrations organised by the tribal people. With the Government not planning any official celebration here the tribal people were hoping they would be able to organise a proper celebration that highlights the rich tribal culture of the region with activities for all family members. The GAKS wanted the Government to strictly implement all the laws like 1 of 70, PESA and Forest Rights Act, among others, enacted to protect the rights of the Scheduled Tribes and appoint a knowledgeable tribal as chairman of the ITDA. They demanded that the Government immediately constitute the statutory Tribal Advisory Council. Charging the political parties with trying to undermine the tribal people, they wanted a stop to ‘political reservation’ for non-tribal people in the tribal areas. The representatives of tribal welfare association wanted the Government to allocate housing plots in the city for the tribal people working in different organisations here. They also demanded a special health package for them in the Agency area. L. Chitti Babu of Girijana Aikya Vedika, R.S. Dora of Adivasi Reservation Samrakshana Seva Sangam, representatives of Girijana Vidyardhi Samakhya and others were present. (The Hindu 6/8/15)

102. With 50 pc quota, it’s scramble among women for tickets (25)

Bengaluru: : This is for the first time the State government has mandated 50 per cent reservation for women in the BBMP Council. And, not many former male corporators are happy because many have lost an opportunity to contest the polls this time. All the three major political parties – the Congress, BJP and JD (S) are claiming that there are too many women aspiring for tickets. Among the 198 seats in the Palike council, 99  are for women. Till now, the reservation for women was 33 pc. Though political parties are claiming that there is no dearth for women candidates, it is men who are deciding who should decide from where. The scene is the same in all the three parties. KPCC women’s wing chief Laxmi Hebbalkar, when contacted by this newspaper, said that she became the president just 45 days ago, and hence requires more time to get involved in selection process of candidates. However, she said she would be involved in campaigning.“There were more than 2,000 women ticket aspirants. Candidates, be it men or women, are selected based on their winning ability. The selections are done based on the recommendations made by the seniors,” she said. One aggrieved former corporator is Rajendran R, who was Congress corporator from MS Nagar. The ward was reserved for the Scheduled Castes last time. Now, the seat has been reserved for women (B category). Rajendra has been forced to make way for a woman from his party. In all probability, Bhuvana, who is new to electoral politics, could be the choice of the Congress, according to Rajendran.How does he feel about the increase in reservation for women? Rajendra said: “I had nurtured the ward so well that I won four awards for my performance. One needs experience to function as a corporator because understanding the KMC Act and rules is very important. There is a vast difference between taking care of a single house and 5,000 houses, isn’t it?” “Whoever may become corporator from MS Nagar, I will have to keep a tab on developments because I belong to this ward,” he added. Like Rajendran, Pillappa, former BJP corporator from Doddabommasandra is not able to contest because the ward is reserved for women. He has sought ticket for his wife. “There was no need for such high percentage of reservation for women. Candidates should be selected on the basis of their merit. I hardly saw women corporators performing effectively in the last Council. Neither they did field work or nor participated in the meetings. Their work is done by their husbands. Of course, a handful were exception,” he said…..  (Deccan Herald 8/8/15)

103. Quota sought for Dalit Christians (25)

WARANGAL: Members of All India Christian Council led by Bishop Udumula Bala took out a rally and staged a demonstration at Ambedkar statue to observe ‘Black Day’. They demanded reservations for Dalit Christians which they say were denied by the 1950 Presidential Order. The Dalits, who were converted into other religions were denied privileges and rights guaranteed by the Constitution. Public interest litigation was filed in the Supreme Court, which was pending. Meanwhile, the successive governments agreed to extend reservations to Dalits, who were converted into other religions, but it remained a mere promise over the decades, said council secretary Franklin Sudhakar. (The Hindu 11/8/15)

104. Gujarat on verge of caste war: OBC panel advisor (25)

GANDHINAGAR: The thorny issue of reservation threatens to shred to ribbons the social fabric of the state. If Patidars (Patels) gave a clarion call for a maha-rally in Ahmedabad on August 25 as a show of strength, the Thakor, Chaudhary and other communities presently in the OBC category have declared major rallies of their own on August 27 and 30, to oppose the demand by the affluent Patidars for OBC status. These OBC social groups have also scheduled another major rally on September 17 — PM Narendra Modi’s birthday — in Ahmedabad. Experts say if the government doesn’t put a leash on this mass movement soon, a full-blown caste war is likely to break out in Gujarat in the coming months. Gaurang Jani, who is advisor to state’s OBC commission, said: “The rapidly growing demands of the Patidar community for OBC reservations and the wide opposition to it by OBC communities like Chuadhary, Thakor, Koli, Prajapati among others, along with and the ongoing war of words, are likely to convert in a violent caste war in the coming days if the state government doesn’t act now.”"Caste clashes of Patidars against Chaudhary, Thakor, Rabari or Koli communities are often seen at village or micro level and sometimes in cities, like the serious clashes between Patels and Rabaris in chief minister’s Ghatlodia constituency in Ahmedabad. In the coming days it seems the rhetoric for and opposition to Patidar OBC reservations will increase, as Patidars are likely to continue their stir and other communities will oppose them more aggressively. Villages will see caste wars and violent clashes like in 1981 and 1985. In 1981, it was mainly Patels versus dalits and scheduled tribes, while in 1985 it was Patels and other upper caste against OBC communities. “Cities will also face the impact of conflict between various castes after the Patidar stir. Ahmedabad, Surat, Rajkot, Vadodara and others will see increased caste identity clashes,” Jani added. (Times of India 14/8/15)

105. CBI should probe MP private medical college admissions: Supreme Court (25)

NEW DELHI: After being handed over investigations into the Vyapam scam in Madhya Pradesh, the central agency could soon be probing alleged massive irregularities in admissions to private dental and medical colleges in the state. Last month, the Supreme Court had ordered CBI probe into the Vyapam scam and over 40 deaths relating to it after the MP government requested the SC to refer the case to the central agency. The state was finding it difficult to douse the political fire ignited by the simmering controversy over massive irregularities in recruitments to government jobs. Appearing for the state, attorney general Mukul Rohatgi on Friday told the court the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government had no objection to any agency probing the dental and medical admission test (DMAT) scam. He said DMAT was conducted by a private body for filling 50% seats in private medical colleges and there was no involvement of the government or its officials. “It would be difficult to invoke Prevention of Corruption Act. In the absence of PC Act offence, the CBI could find it difficult to exercise jurisdiction to investigate the case. There is no FIR till date in DMAT scam. Let it be investigated by the state police. The CBI probe into Vyapam scam would cover admissions to 50% of the seats in private medical colleges which are filled from government conducted admission test,” he said. But the dice had been cast by none other than the CBI. It had intended to convey to the court that it was woefully short of manpower to take up the DMAT scam which the petitioners said was larger than Vyapam. It had wanted to tell the court that Vyapam scam probe would severely drain its human resources making it impossible for the agency to take up investigation of another big scam. In contrast, its counter affidavit in the petition filed by Dr Anand Rai conveyed that DMAT scam was much bigger than the Vyapam scandal, a point that was lapped up by a seasoned counsel like Kapil Sibal, who appeared for the petitioner and who had also appeared for different petitioners seeking CBI probe into Vyapam scam. Additional solicitor general Maninder Singh valiantly attempted to dispel the wrong notion created by the affidavit and said the agency had only quoted the petitioner’s version to convey to the court that it was not in a position to take up investigations into big cases as it was already saddled with huge scams like Vyapam and Saradha….. (Times of India 15/8/15)

106. SC Welfare Samithi to Stage Protest (25)

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Raising various demands, Pattikajathi Kshema Samithi(PKS) will stage a Secretariat march on Tuesday. Workers representing the committees from all the districts will participate in the march. CPM former general secretary and polit bureau member Prakash Karat will inaugurate the protest march, which will begin from Nanadavanam junction and end at the Secretariat at 10 am. The protest march is being taken out to pressure the government to implement three major demands. The demands include passing a new law for job reservation in private sector, drawing up a proposal to provide land and shelter for all the destitute belonging to the community and better educational benefits for SC. Addressing a press conference, the state committee secretary of PKS, K Somaprasad said that the committee is planning to hold the march to highlight government’s apathy towards fulfilling their long standing demands. “Though we had met the Chief Minister and other Cabinet Ministers several times seeking a redress to our problems, no positive actions have been taken by them. The welfare of the schedule castes and tribes is often getting ignored during the privatisation process taking place in the public sector since the past two decades. The employment opportunities for the backward communities has also taken a backseat if the volume of opportunities in private sector is considered now,” he said. In the press statement issued by the panel, the committee also raised apprehensions over the government’s refusal to disburse benefits in education sector. In aided schools across the state, of 1,01,965 teachers, only 355 teachers are from Schedule Castes and 51 are from Scheduled Tribe respectively. Hence, the government should enforce the High Court order on implementing reservation in the education sector at the earliest, the press statement said. The state secretary also added that the government should revive the EMS housing scheme or they should formulate a new package to provide shelter to the needy in the Scheduled Caste and Tribes. As part of the protest, PKS state committee began a campaign march to the Secretariat from Kasargod. The march was inaugurated by CPM central committee member and former minister A K Balan. CPM state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan will also address the march. (New Indian Expressd 18/8/15)

107. Patel community leaders start indefinite hunger strike in Gujarat (25)

Ahmedabad: Gujarat’s Patel community leaders, who are demanding reservations under the Other Backward Caste (OBC) quota, on Wednesday started an indefinite hunger strike at the Sabarmati riverfront, a day after the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) denied permission for a rally by them on August 25. Community leader Ketan Patel alleged that the denial of permission to hold the rally came at the behest of some political leaders, who did not want Patels to do so since more than 20 lakh Patels were expected to attend the event. “The AMC denied us permission claiming that the riverfront ground can’t be used to hold rallies, but we are firm that we will hold our mega rally by any means at the venue. Since we were denied permission, Patel leaders including me, sat on an indefinite hunger strike at the ground from this evening,” said Patel, who was accompanied by 10 other Patel community leaders. However, Gujarat Minister of State for Home Rajni Patel claimed that the administration never denied permission for the rally on August 25. “The civic body merely said that the rally can’t be organised at the riverfront. This does not mean that we have denied them to hold the rally at all. The permission may have been denied looking at the capacity of that venue or keeping in mind the law and order situation,” the minister said. “To find a solution, the government will hold a meeting with Patel leaders. We will make all efforts to arrange an alternate venue for their rally,” the minister said. Meanwhile, a seven-member committee formed to look into claims by different communities demanding reservations held separate meetings with Patel leaders of Surat and Saurashtra region. The committee, formed to consider representations from different communities demanding reservations, also met Kshatriya community leaders at Gandhinagar today. (Zee News 20/8/15)


108. Govt, civil societies agree on Naga issue (1)

DIMAPUR, Aug 1 – The Nagaland government and the Naga civil society groups have resolved to work together for an early solution of the Naga political issue and also endorsed the Nagaland Assembly resolution of July 27 on the issue. Briefing media persons after a day-long consultative meet among the state government, civil society groups and tribal hohos at Jotsoma near Kohima on Friday, Chief Minister TR Zeliang informed that the consultative meet was held against the backdrop of the July 27 House resolution urging the government of India for an early settlement of the Naga political issue. Assembly Speaker Chotisuh Sazo was also present in the press briefing. On the concluding day of the 9th session of the 12th Nagaland Legislative Assembly on July 27, the House unanimously resolved to reaffirm its resolutions on December 12, 1964, August 28, 1970, September 1994 and December 2003 on integration of all Naga contiguous areas under one administrative umbrella and urge upon the government of India and the NSCN(K) to resume the ceasefire agreement to create a conducive atmosphere for political negotiations. It was also resolved to urge the Centre for withdrawal of the Disturbed Area Act under AFSPA from the state, to appeal to all Naga political groups and civil societies to unite and work for an early settlement of the Naga political issue and permanent peace and to urge upon the government of India to expedite the Naga political dialogue so as to bring an early resolution to the Naga political issue. Zeliang said the government of India was apprehensive that the Naga people might turn down its offer that may result in a deadlock. So in order to remove such misgivings, another consultative meet was mooted with Nagas living outside Nagaland, he added. He said Assembly Speaker Chotisuh Sazo would fix a date after convening a meeting of the Political Affairs Committee. The chief minister said the Naga people deeply desire an early solution for peace and development and therefore Friday’s endorsement of the House resolution was unanimous where none of the tribal hohos or civil society groups disagreed with the House resolution. He said the endorsement of the government resolution by the tribal hohos and civil society groups would send a good message to the people of Nagaland including the government of India. Such interface meetings will have the Interlocutor and the Naga political groups to understand the minds of the people and that unity and solution should go together so that Naga people can achieve peace and economic independence. Zeliang asserted that “the Centre understood the whole Naga problem and was ready to solve the issue”. He said the Naga Legislators Forum would pursue the objective of getting all on board so that the government Interlocutor RN Ravi and the Naga political groups holding negotiations could understand the thinking of the Nagas . “We strongly believe that if we move on this path, solution will be achieved,” he said. “We will work for unity while the process for solution will also continue.” When queried about what was being negotiated by the NSCN(IM) with the government of India, Zeliang said there was no doubt that the leaders were for political solution and expressed optimism that the Naga leaders would do what is best for the people. Zeliang also said before finalisation of an agreement, consultations would be held with the Naga people on any offer made by the government of India. Asked whether sovereignty and integration were not on the agenda, he reiterated that could be the stand of the government of India but they remained as talking points. Zeliang reminded that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said that if 100 percent was not possible today, the doors will still be open for the remaining 10 percent or 20 percent in future. On the stand of the Eastern Naga People’s Organisation that unity precede solution, Zeliang said the former at Friday’s meet had reiterated that all should unite to pursue solution. (The Assam Tribune 1/8/15)

109. Delhi to get human rights commission (1)

NEW DELHI: The capital is set to get a State Human Rights Commission with the government having initiated the process for its establishment. Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Monday announced that the home department had forwarded the file to the CM’s office and work was on in full speed to establish the commission as soon as possible. The CM made the announcement during a special session on women’s safety while he was listing out initiatives taken by the government to makethe capital a safer place. “The Supreme Court had on July 24 expressed concern over the fact that there has been no State Human Rights Commission in Delhi since the past 22 years, after the Parliament enacted the Protection of Human Rights Act in 1993. Out of the 94,985 human rights violations reported in the country, Delhi recorded the most number of cases after UP. (Times of India 4/8/15)

110. NHRC notice on health centres (3)

NEW DELHI: National Human Rights Commission on Wednesday issued a notice to the city government over its alleged failure to revive 228 existing primary health centres and proposing 1,000 new “Aam Aadmi clinics” instead. TOI had highlighted the issue in a report titled “228 health centres in shambles” that had appeared on July 22. NHRC observed the existing primary health centres, 79 of which were operating from rented premises, are “struggling” to provide basic health services due to shortage of doctors, paramedical staff, medicines and lab facilities. The notice, returnable in four weeks, was issued to the principal secretary of the health department. “The proposed plan to set up new clinics is a gradual process which has to be welcomed. At the same time, it is of paramount importance that the existing healthcare infrastructure is made functional in all respects,” it said. TOI visited the health clinic in Valmiki Basti in ITO. The doctor on duty said they do not get more than 15 patients daily. “We do not have blood pressure medicines, antibiotics and many essential drugs. Why should the patients come here?” he said. (Times of India 6/8/15)

111. Militants killed 319 people in over 4 years in Assam: Minister (1)

Guwahati: At least 319 civil society members were killed by militants and 336 extremists during anti- insurgency operation in Assam from 2011 to July 31 last, the state Assembly was informed today. Since the NDFB (Songbijit) sponsored violence on December 23 last year, police, army and paramilitary forces killed 15 insurgents of the underground outfit and arrested 448 of them till July 31 last, Agriculture Minister Rockybul Hussain said on behalf of Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi in reply to a query in the Assembly. Stating there are eight active militant outfits in Assam, Hussain said 13 underground groups were in talks with the government. He was replying to a question by AGP member Kesab Mahanta. To another question, the minister said that during the last four and a half years 6,098 persons were killed in several other incidents, there were 8164 cases of rape, 20,441 kidnappings, 5230 instances of extortion demands, 45615 theft cases, 1188 dacoity cases, 15557 car theft cases and 54 witch hunting killings. There were 346 police stations and 220 police outposts across the state, he said, adding, there were 60,244 serving police personnel and 75503 sanctioned posts with 15259 posts remaining vacant. (Zee News 10/8/15)

112. Civil Society Forum releases people’s manifesto (1)

Bengaluru: A number of civil society organisations, under the banner of Civil Society Forum, on Friday released a people’s manifesto for the upcoming BBMP polls. The manifesto highlights a number of issues ranging from the contentious splitting of the BBMP to ensuring proper waste management in the City. “The BBMP should be restructured and not split,” the manifesto reads. Other recommendations on this issue talks about a three-tier structure on the lines of Panchayat Raj bodies comprising Greater Bengaluru Authority, zonal councils and ward committees, to name a few. With more than 60,000 children in the State suffering from the malnourishment, the manifesto further states that there is a need to strengthen all services of the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) scheme under the Department of Women and Child Development.  Anita, a member of Association for Promoting Social Action (APSA) said: “We need to make our wards more child-friendly and corporators should ensure that this goal is achieved.” Representatives of various political parties discussed a number of points mentioned in the manifesto. One of the points raised during the discussion was provision to invoke ‘Right to Recall’ for non-performing corporators. Veteran freedom fighter H Doreswamy acted as the moderator of the discussion. As many as 19 organisations such as Citizens Voluntary Initiative for the City (Civic), Center for Amenities, Rehabilitation and Education (CARE) and 17 others, under the umbrella of the Civil Society Forum, have played their part in drafting the manifesto. (Deccan Herald 15/8/15)

113. NHRC for debate on human rights versus animal rights (1)

NEW DELHI: Taking suo motu cognisance of reports on the stray dog menace in Delhi, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has called for a debate by the civil society on whether the human rights should weigh above animal rights in a situation where human lives are at risk due to attack by animals. The Commission has issued notices to the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and Delhi Chief Secretary calling for reports within four weeks to ascertain their views on the issue as well as on a recent incident when a five-year-old child was mauled by five stray dogs in Jamia Nagar here. The NHRC’s observations have also come in the light of other reports on the efforts of the Capital’s municipal bodies to deal with the menace of stray dogs. Municipal corporations, with the help of non-government organisations, catch the dogs, sterilise them and drop them back from where they are caught. Even in this job, the municipal bodies are reportedly struggling to cope up. The Commission said while the measure of sterilisation might help contain the increase in the dog population, it did not save or shield people from the bites of existing dogs. “It looks like human rights versus animal rights battle. This is not a problem of Delhi alone,” observed the Commission. As the NHRC has come across similar incidents in several other parts of the country, it said the situation assumes alarming proportions if the stray dogs were linked with their contribution to rabies disease. “According to some estimates, more than 50,000 deaths take place in India annually due to rabies. Most of the victims are children. According to some reports, the scarcity and exorbitant cost of anti-rabies serum also are serious issues,” observed the Commission. The Commission has issued notices to the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and Delhi Chief Secretary, callingfor reports within four weeks to ascertain their views on the issue (The Hindu 16/8/15)

114. Provisions in Police Bill arbitrary, say activists (1)

BERHAMPUR: Human rights activists demanded Odisha Police Bill 2015 to be referred to Select Committee of the Assembly. The demand was made during a seminar organized by Civil Society Forum on Human Rights (CSFHR) in Berhampur on Sunday. It was attended by state convener of the Forum Chandranath Dani, human rights activists Prafulla Samantra, Bhagaban Sahu, B.C.Sadangi of CPI-ML (New Democracy), Prakash Patra of CPI, Kailash Sadangi of CPI (M), Pitabas Panda of Congress, and P. Mohanty of AAP among others. The Bill was placed in the Assembly in March. All speakers opposed the Bill in its present form alleging that it did not match with the directives of the Supreme Court and accepted norms of human rights. It was alleged that there was no transparency in drafting the Bill. They demanded the Bill to be modified through consultative processes and collection of inputs from legal experts, police officials and other sections. They objected to the provision in the new Bill that even a police officer of the rank of inspector would have power to prohibit any assembly or procession. Sub-clause 63(2) of the Bill permits any police officer to take anyone who commits any of the listed offences into custody without a warrant. This provision authorizes police to arrest any person without assigning any reason, and there is no safeguard against misuse of this power by the police, they said. Human Rights activists feel the Police Complaint Authority would become a government nominated body, without having a reasonable scope for enquiring into complaints against Police. The Bill must have clear-cut provisions to ensure independent, impartial and fair procedures to consider complaints against Police officials, they said. Clause 30(1) of the Bill requires the state government to establish a State Security Commission within six months of imposition of this legislation. Mr Dani alleged that composition of State Security Commission under the new Bill does not fully adhere to any of the three suggested models of the Supreme Court. The Leader of the Opposition in Assembly and retired judges have not been included in the Commission. He added that the State Security Commission in its present form is dominated by government officials. (The Hindu 17/8/15)

115. NHRC team in Kandhamal to check FRA implementation (1)

BHUBANESWAR: With the forest dwellers, especially tribals, complaining about apathetic approach of government machinery in recognising their rights under the Forest Rights Act, two special rapporteurs of the National Human Rights Commission have begun their field visits in Odisha’s Kandhamal district . NHRC special rapporteur (tribal issues) P. P. Mathur and special rapporteur (West Bengal, Odisha and Andaman Nicobar Islands) Damodar Sarangi started interacting with villagers to get first hand information about FRA implementation. The team is also scheduled to meet district administration to know reason behind weak implementation of the FRA. The Campaign for Survival and Dignity (CSD), which had spearheaded campaign for enactment of FRA, alleged that district level committees regularly ignored proposals forwarded by Gram Sahbas. As per the report of the State Level Monitoring Committee, by May 2015, as many as 60,346 Individual Forest Right (IFR) claims have been filed at the Gram Sabha level and 57,657 IFR titles issued over 87,227 acres of forest land. According to the CSD, Odisha, 49,096 IFR titles have been issued over revenue forest land and 8,561 have been issued over reserve forest land. “Most IFR titles have been distributed without proper demarcation of land,” alleged Manohar Chauhan, member of CSD, Odisha. In a serious violation of existing norm, massive teak plantation was taken up by forest department on 49 plots allotted to persons belonging to Kutia Kandh community at Burlubaru village in Kandhamal district, he said, adding it exhibited as to how people were made to suffer after distribution of final titles. “The Kandhamal district administration has failed to recognise habitat rights of Kutia Kandh, a particularly vulnerable tribal group. Moreover, 1,697 IFR titles were said to have been distributed to the PVTG without undertaking proper ground verification,” said CSD activist. (The Hindu 19/8/15)


116. Rape violates human rights of victim: Supreme Court (19)

NEW DELHI: Terming rape as an assault on human rights and personal sovereignty of a woman, the Supreme Court has said that no sympathy should be shown to persons committing such heinous crime. A bench of Justices Dipak Misra and Prafulla C Pant awarded 10-year imprisonment to two convicts for raping their 14-year niece in Sirsa in Haryana. It said that case depicts a sordid situation where the relatives betrayed the trust of a minor girl who was subjected to gang rape. “It has to be borne in mind that an offence of rape is basically an assault on the human rights of a victim. It is an attack on her individuality. It creates an incurable dent in her right and free will and personal sovereignty over the physical frame. Everyone in any civilized society has to show respect for the other individual and no individual has any right to invade on physical frame of another in any manner,” it said. The court that there is no justification for awarding lesser punishment as they had taken advantage of their social relationship with the victim who innocently trusted them. “It is not only an offence but such an act creates a scar in the marrows of the mind of the victim. Anyone who indulges in a crime of such nature not only does he violate the penal provision of the IPC but also right of equality, right of individual identity and in the ultimate eventuality an important aspect of rule of law which is a constitutional commitment,” it said. “The perpetrators of the crime must realize that when they indulge in such an offence, they really create a concavity in the dignity and bodily integrity of an individual which is recognized, assured and affirmed by the very essence of Article 21 of the Constitution,” it said. The court also turned down the plea of convicts who submitted that the victim was above 16-years of age and she consented to get into physical relation with them. “The mental and physical condition of a young girl under the dominion of two grown up males who had become slaves of their prurient attitude can be well imagined. The consent, apart from legal impressibility, cannot be conceived of,” it said. (Times of India 4/8/15)

117. Bombay High Court amends PIL filing rules (19)

The Bombay High Court has made an amendment to the Bombay High Court Public Interest Litigation Rules, 2010. The court may, at its discretion, direct the petitioner to deposit a sum, by way of security deposit, in the court, which shall be subject to final or interim order of the court. The notification, issued on July 10, also states that if the court finds that a petition is vexatious, motivated or not pro-bono-publico, the amount so deposited shall be forfeited and this shall be in addition to the exemplary costs, if any, which may be imposed by the court. It also said, “The court may, if it finds that petition was frivolous or filed with oblique or ulterior motive, in its discretion, direct that Public Interest Litigation filed by such petitioner/s shall not be entertained or registered by the registry for such time which the court may deem fit or proper. If the court finds that Public Interest litigation filed by such person/s raises an important issue of public interest, then, in that case, the court may appoint an amicus curiae to represent the petitioner/s and, after such amicus curiae is appointed, may entertain the petition.” (DNA 6/8/15)

118. Cabinet clears amendments to remove anomalies in HC judges’ pensions (19)

NEW DELHI: The Union Cabinet on Wednesday cleared the proposal to amend the High Court Judges Act removing anomalies in pensionary benefits of HC judges. Once the Act is amended by Parliament, a HC judge elevated from the bar will have his 10 years of practice as advocate added to his service tenure for calculation of pensionary benefits. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley called the report ‘one-rank-one pension for judges’ as mischievous. It is only that 10 years deemed service will be added to those who are elevated from the Bar. Till now, a judge’s pension has been based on the number of his service years, thus putting those elevated from the Bar at a disadvantage compared to those from the judicial service. By moving the amendment, the government has also followed a Supreme Court judgment of last year which had asked the government to remove the anomalies. In the apex court had in its judgment also said that to remove arbitrariness in the matter of pension of HC judges elevated from the Bar, the relief should be reckoned from April 1, 2004. The government will bring a bill in Parliament amending the law relating to high court judges salaries and conditions in service. The Cabinet also cleared the amendments to the Arbitration and Conciliation Act. The arbitration bill, to be tabled in Parliament in the current session, is intended to signal the international business community that prolonged arbitration proceedings in India will soon become a thing of the past. One of the proposed amendment provides for settlement of cases within nine months, with very less intervention from courts. Another amendment proposes that the fee structure of the presiding arbitrator will be decided in the first sitting itself. (Times of India 6/8/15)

119. MACT lawyers protest “victim-unfriendly” amendments to law (19)

MUMBAI: Office bearers of Bar Association of Motor Accident and Claims Tribunal recently submitted a representation to Sanjay Nirupam pointing out pitfalls of the proposed amendments to Motor Vehicles Act. Veteran accident claims advocate NS Pawar said that members representing Accident Victims before the Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal in Mumbai were concerned about the proposed Road Transport and Safety Bill 2015 on the Website of the Transport Ministry which is to be introduced before the Parliament in the ensuing Monsoon Session. “We have found several anomalies which we would like to point out by this representation,” said Pawar later to TOI who said some of the proposed amendments were “victim unfriendly”.. The Association had made several representations pointing out various anomalies in the proposed bill earlier but having received no response they finally approached Congress leader Nirupam. The amendments are “very harmful and against the interest of accident victims. This move of the Government has created resentment and unhappiness amongst the General public against the proposed Road Transport and Safety Bill,” they said seeking measures to safeguard the interest of accident victims. One of the flaws the association said concerned the no fault liability. “On verifying the provisions of proposed Bill it has been observed that the provisions about the No Fault Liability(Section 140 of M.V. Act 1988), has been deleted.” The provisions about no fault liability was introduced in 1982 as being essential by the Parliament so that accident victims get immediate relief to sustain their livelihood. The other contentious provisions concern third party definition and their rights. The Supreme Court in the case of Jayprakash v/s. National Insurance Co. Ltd. reported in 2010 had given a direction that a Third Party should be defined to cover any accident victims (other than the Owners) but in the proposed Bill under Section 225 (h) Third Party has not been defined as per the directions of the Apex Court. The advocates said the definition must be included to safe guard victims. (Times of India 10/8/15)

120. Verification of all lawyers soon, Sadananda Gowda says (19)

NEW DELHI: The Bar Council of India has introduced an exhaustive mechanism for ascertaining fake and non-practicing lawyers and with that purpose it has already framed the BCI certificate and Place of Practice (verification) Rules 2015, law minister Sadananda Gowda said on Thursday. The minister said the BCI has already formed state level committees with the help of state bar councils to implement the verification drive and has set a deadline of seven months to complete the process. “The BCI has informed that within a period of 6-7 months, the entire verification process will be completed and fake lawyers will be identified,” Gowda said in response to a question in Lok Sabha. The minister, however, clarified that since it has not yet been exactly verified how many lawyers are registered with a fake degree, their exact percentage cannot be given. The BCI chief had last month told a lawyers’ meet in Chennai that at least 30% of all lawyers in India are holding fake degrees. He asserted that there is a need to discipline these fake lawyers as 20% of practicing lawyers in courts are those who have fake degrees. He said these fake lawyers are degrading the profession and there is a need to filter them. The BCI rules have been framed in order “to check and stop the occurrence of the use of such fake degrees or to stop the non-practicing persons enrolled with the state Bar Councils from getting benefit or any welfare schemes.” The BCI has also proposed to set up its own Lawyers’ Academy on the lines of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India to bring in professionalism and maintain ethical standards among practicing advocates. The process of identifying fake lawyers began after the BCI received several complaints regarding fake degrees and unethical standards adopted by many of its practicing lawyers. During the recently-held advisory council meeting in the capital, chaired by the law minister, the Bar Council vice-chairman sought government’s financial assistance to set up such academies at the Centre and in states. The government has asked the BCI to send its proposal and assured assistance. The Lawyers’ Academy will be responsible for conducting mid-career training of advocates and ensuring that certain professional and ethical standards are maintained. The government has also extended its help in training of lawyers at the existing judicial academies where judges are trained for mid-career training. Meanwhile, the BCI has been asked to use the infrastructure of various judicial academies for training of advocates. (Times of India 14/8/15)

121. Modi: Govt. to simplify 44 labour laws (19)

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday said the government is converting 44 labour laws into four simplified codes. In his address to the nation on the occasion of the 69th Independence Day, Mr. Modi said Rs 27,000 crore is lying as unclaimed amount in the Employees Provident Fund (EPF), which will be utilised for the welfare of the workers. “Laws should be clear and precise. It is only then that the society progresses. There are 44 different types of labour laws in the country, which confuses the labourers on where to look for. “We have brought a change in them. We are converting 44 labour laws into 4 simplified codes, which will be easy to follow for the poor as well as the illiterate labourers to follow,” he added. The codes will relate to industrial relations, wages, social security and safety. “We are making special identity cards for labourers in the unorganised sector so that where ever they go, whichever factory they work, we will have their identity and details and we will utilise this Rs 27,000 crore for their welfare,” (The Hindu 15/8/15)

122. ‘Law such as Sec 66 (A) of IT Act not needed (19)

MUMBAI: A discussion held at St Xavier’s College on Saturday during its ongoing cultural festival, Malhar, focussed on the issue of an individual’s right to freedom of speech and expression. The ‘right’ was discussed in the context of the recent Supreme Court observation on the need for a new law to check the misuse of social media and internet. Malhar Conclave, in association with the Times Lit Fest, organized the discussion on ‘Post.Like.Share’ that was moderated by Anahita Mukherji, assistant editor with The Times of India. Shreya Singhal, student of faculty of law, Delhi University, the first to challenge Section 66(A) of the Information Technology Act in Supreme Court, which allowed arrests for offensive comments online, and Karuna Nundy, advocate at Supreme Court, participated in the conclave. Singhal said law such as section 66 (A) of the IT Act was not needed as there are many laws already that encompass such offences. Nundy said that 66A was only brought in in 2008 as an amendment to the IT Act and it was originally brought in to curb spam. “For no good reason, it became something that would send somebody to jail for three years for being annoying or inconvenient in their speech online.” She said when political leaders make controversial statements in public, there is no action against them. “But we see Shaheen Dhada, a young girl who had the courage to say something that was not even problematic, she has to go through all this,” said Nundy. (Times of India 16/8/15)


123. ’28 cases of alleged human rights violation against Army personnel in High Courts of North-Eastern states’ (1)

New Delhi: There are 28 cases of alleged human rights violation – rape, torture, killing, disappearance and custodial deaths – against defence personnel pending in High Courts of North-Eastern States pertaining to year 2012 to 2015, the government said on Friday. In a written reply to Lok Sabha, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said, during the last three years, only one Officer, three Junior Commissioned Officers (JCOs) and one Other Rank (OR) have been punished under departmental action for procedural lapses in Assam. He said that information related to cases filed in all the courts is not centrally maintained. “However, there are 28 cases of alleged human rights violation (such as rape/torture/killing/disappearance/ custodial deaths) against defence personnel pending in High-Courts of North-Eastern States pertaining to year 2012 to 2015, he said.  (Zee News 1/8/15)

124. Naga groups endorse Assembly views for lifting AFSPA, unifying Naga-inhabited areas (1)

Guwahati: “Representatives of all the civil society groups have unanimously endorsed the five-point resolution passed by the state assembly on July 27. This is a clear indication that Naga people by and large want peace and an early solution to the Naga political issue,” chief minister Zeliang said in Kohima. Zeliang described as “good sign” the civil society and tribal bodies’ endorsement of the Nagaland Assembly resolution and said it was a “good message” to the Naga people as a whole and also to the government of India. “The government of India wants to bring out a formula for a solution (to the NSCN issue) but they are apprehensive that Naga people may turn it down, resulting in a further deadlock including abrogation of ceasefire, thus letting in the armed forces,” Zeliang was quoted as having said. Keeping this in mind, Zeliang also suggested holding a series of consultations with people outside Nagaland too. Other civil society groups that took part in Friday’s consultation were Eastern Naga People’s Organization, Eastern Naga Women Organization, Angami Public Organization, Ao Senden, Chakhesang Public Organization, Chang Khulei Setshang, Khiamniungan Hoho, Konyak Union, Kyong Hoho, Phom People’s Council, Pochury Hoho, Rengma Hoho, Sangtam Likhum Pumji, Sumi Hoho, Yimchunger Tribal Council, Zeliangrong Baudi, Eastern Naga Students’ Federation and the Forum for Naga Reconciliation. (Indian Express 1/8/15)

 125. ‘Reform Delhi Police or give us control’ (1)

New Delhi: Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal demanded the union government to either reform Delhi Police within six months or give the control over it to the Delhi government. Addressing a day-long special session of the Delhi Assembly on women safety, Kejriwal said: “Either reform Delhi Police within six months, else give us the control over Delhi Police.” During the special session, the Delhi Assembly passed a resolution to set up a Commission of Inquiry to probe into crimes against women in the national capital. The Resolution was tabled by Sandeep Kumar,  Women and Child Welfare Minister, and was adopted by a voice-vote. The commission would be set up as per the Commissions of Inquiry Act, 1952, consisting of not more than three members, including a retired judge who will be its chairman and will be set up by the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi. The commission would receive unheeded complaints regarding crimes such as violence, sexual harassment, stalking, voyeurism, that are committed against women since February, 2013. It would recommend and suggest the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and CrPC (Code of Criminal Procedure) on the basis of recommendations made by the Justice Verma Committee and suggest action to the Government of NCT of Delhi and would also recommend welfare measures to improve the working conditions of the real foot soldiers in the law enforcing agencies. Earlier in the day during the assembly session, the opposition, including BJP MLAs Vijendra Gupta, Om Prakash Sharma and Jagdish Pradhan, walked out of the assembly in protest against the commission of inquiry and termed it ‘illegal’. “As per the 239(A) (A) of Constitution of India, Delhi Police cannot be divided with the state government. The assembly does not hold any legality to set up the commission of inquiry as it is beyond the jurisdiction of the assembly, and hence it is illegal,” Gupta said. “By setting up a commission is only a drama to mislead people and calling one-day special session is wastage of time and money,” Gupta added. Earlier, the session was scheduled to be held on July 28, but was postponed due to unexpected death of former President Dr APJ Abdul Kalam. DCW Chief Swati Maliwal attended the session. Meanwhile, Bharatiya Janata Party’s(BJP) Delhi MLAs met Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung earlier in the day on women issues. (The Statesman 4/8/15)

126.  Man Found Hanging in Police Custody in Shillong (1)

SHILLONG: The body of a man arrested on the charge of burglary was found hanging inside the lock up of Jowai police station in Meghalaya’s West Jaintia Hills district, police said today. Cleophas Nongkhlaw (32) committed suicide using his vest inside lock-up of Jowai police station last evening, Superintendent of Police R Muthu said. Hailing from Iawmusiang locality in the district headquarters, Nongkhlaw was arrested on July 30 on charges of burglary and was under police remand. Muthu said when the accused was found hanging, his wife was present at the police station. A magisterial inquiry have been ordered to probe the incident. Nongkhlaw, a drug user, had been arrested on several occasions in the past, police said. (New Indian Express 5/8/15)

127. ‘Indian Civil Society to Launch Anti-AFSPA Campaign’ (1)

SRINAGAR: Indian Civil Society will launch an anti-AFSPA campaign from September 21 next month. Hindu scholar and renowned civil society member Swami Agnivesh told CNS that the campaign will be kicked off from Jantar Mantar in New Delhi and through India, the peace loving people and Indian civil society members will stage and organize a non-violent movement against the draconian Armed Forces Special Powers Act. “It is a bitter truth that despite being one of the greatest democracy in the country, India has been turning out to be a police state where the space for the common people especially civil society members has shrunk and they are being detained even for organizing peaceful protests, “Agnivesh said. He said that 90 per cent people in India oppose the invoking of AFSPA and yet the Government has implemented this act in Jammu and Kashmir and in North East States. “People are the ultimate source of power and government must respect the sentiments of the people. When people in Kashmir demand the revocation of AFSPA, then it must cease to exist,” he said. He added that the campaign that will be launched by civil society from New Delhi will be non-violent but an organized one. “We have started invited the like-minded peaceful people and we will go to every part of India to make people aware about the ugly face of AFSPA,” he said adding that the marches will be organized to generate public opinion for the withdrawal of the law from Jammu & Kashmir and the North East states. (Kashmir Life 10/8/15)

128. Girl’s custodial death sparks violence in U.P. (1)

LUCKNOW: The reported suicide by a girl in the Mahmudabad police station in Sitapur district of Uttar Pradesh triggered violence, with a mob fighting pitched battles with the police on Monday, throwing stones and torching a police vehicle. The police used force to bring the situation under control. The police said the girl was found hanging in the toilet of the police station. But her family members said the police were floating the suicide theory to conceal the real crime. IG (Law and Order) A. Satish Ganesh told journalists that the girl, daughter of Maqbool Ahmed, was spotted by Amar Singh Chauhan, a sugar mill employee, on Monday morning when she was allegedly trying to jump into a canal. He handed her over to the nearest police picket around 6 a.m. Policemen at the picket reportedly took her to the Mahmudabad station. The girl wanted to go to the toilet; as there was no response after 10-15 minutes, the door was opened. “She was found hanging from the skylight with her dupatta,” Mr. Ganesh said. He said the girl’s family members were informed of the autopsy at Sitapur District Hospital. Instructions were given that the post-mortem should be video-graphed. On receiving the information, the family members and hundreds of people blocked traffic near the police station, throwing stones and setting a police vehicle ablaze. (The Hindu 11/8/15)

129. Mumbai hotel raid: State Human Rights Commission initiates probe against police conduct (1)

Mumbai: As Mumbai police faced more flak for its raids on hotels in which couples were allegedly harassed, the Maharashtra State Human Rights Commission has initiated a probe into the conduct of the policemen and they could face action if any violation of law was found.As Mumbai police faced more flak for its raids on hotels in which couples were allegedly harassed, the Maharashtra State Human Rights Commission has initiated a probe into the conduct of the policemen and they could face action if any violation of law was found. Police sources said today that if the policemen were found to have intruded into the privacy of people and violated laws they would face departmental action even as the Human Rights panel mulled registering a case. Slamming the act of moral policing as very “funny and stupid”, former Mumbai Police Commissioner Julio Ribeiro sought to know under which rules the hotel rooms were raided. The Mumbai Police, meanwhile, said a preliminary inquiry report into the raids conducted by Malwani Police at hotels, resorts and lodges in Madh Island and Aksa beach here on August 6 will be submitted in the next few days. Striking a different note, state Finance Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar said said there is “no moral policing” and that police must be encouraged for “good things.” Mumbai Police Commissioner Rakesh Maria had on Sunday directed ACP (North) Fatehsingh Patil to carry out an inquiry into the raids. Maria issued the orders after the raids sparked public outrage with many raising questions as to why consenting adults cannot stay together. Taking suo motu cognisance of the police action, the Human Rights panel initiated a probe and promised action if innocent people were found to have been harrassed. “Yes, on the basis of a report published in a daily, we have initiated an inquiry into the conduct of police officials and would seek details of action (raids) from Police Commissioner,” MSHRC Chairmam Justice S R Bannurmath told PTI. “I have to make an inquiry and call for the report from the Police Commissioner. If we come to know that innocent persons were troubled unnecessarily, we will take further action,” he said. The MSHRC has received a few complaints through e-mails from some concerned citizens but not from the victims so far, Bannurmath said, adding “we are proposing to register a case and inquire into the incident.” Patil said he has started inquiring with the policemen who were involved in the raids. “Considering the magnitude of the raids by police, the scope of inquiry becomes very wide.” “I will also have to talk and inquire with managers or concerned staff of hotels, resorts and lodges where the raids took place,” he said. A preliminary report on the probe will be submitted in a few days, but the final report will take time, the ACP said while refusing to divulge further details of the inquiry. The raids were conducted by a team of Malwani police station officials led by DCP (Zone XI) Vikram Deshmane. Later, 61 people, including 13 couples, were arrested under section 110 (indecent behaviour in public) of Maharashtra Police Act. However, they were let off after being fined Rs 1,200 each with an undertaking that they will appear before the local magistrate when required. Police had also rescued three women under Prevention of Immoral Trafficking Act and sent them to shelter home. (DNA 12/8/15)

130. Police lock-up suicide: Higher aid ordered (1)

HYDERABAD: The NHRC has taken up the suicide of a man in police lock-up in Kurnool and directed that Rs 1 lakh be paid to his family. Boya Mandala Srinivasulu hung himself in the bathroom of Nandyal One Town police station on May 7, 2010. The Kurnool district administration had paid Rs 20,000 to the family of Srinivasulu as compensation.NHRC found fault with the police, saying that there was no proper surveillance in the police station, thus making it possible for Srinivasulu to commit suicide. The AP state government has asked Kurnool district collector to disburse an additional Rs 80,000 to the family. (Times of India 13/8/15)

131. Notice to Mizoram government over student’s killing (1)

Aizawl: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has asked Mizoram to submit a report within four weeks on the reported killing of a student in police firing, an official said here on Monday. “The NHRC has taken suo motu cognizance of media reports about the student killing in police firing in Mizoram on August 4. The commission has asked the state Chief Secretary and state police chief to submit a detailed report within four weeks on the issue,” a home department official said. He said: “The NHRC has observed that the incident raises questions regarding violation of human rights of the young student victim.” According to media reports, over 300 protesters had gathered in front of Chawngte police station in southern Mizoram on August 4 to protest over alleged unfair recruitment of 100 employees in Chakma Autonomous District Council (CADC). In order to control the mob, police had to open fire, that resulted in the death of Agosh Chakma, 20, on the spot and injured 15 others. The members of Mizoram Chakma Students Union had organised the protest demonstration. After the death of the student, the agitating crowd ransacked and damaged many houses belonging to top politicians, including chief executive member of CADC Buddha Lal Chakma, executive members and elected members of the autonomous body. The CADC later provided Rs.10 lakh as an ex-gratia to the family of the student and conducting a fresh recruitment process. (New Kerala 17/8/5)

132. Chhattisgarh’s torture cells exposed (1)

NEW DELHI: No food and water for two days while being produced in courts, no doctor to treat sick inmates, no possibility of meeting or speaking to family members. These are some of the observations made by former National Commission for Women (NCW) member Shamina Shafiq on the condition of women prisoners lodged in Central Jail in Raipur, Chhattisgarh, in December 2012. The report, accessed exclusively by The Hindu , kept hidden from the public until recently, was released in response to RTI queries from women’s rights groups working in the State. Adivasi schoolteacher and political leader Soni Sori says that since nothing much has changed in Chhattisgarh’s prisons over the past few years, the findings of the NCW report remain relevant. The NCW team found a total of 140 women prisoners lodged in Central Jail, Raipur, against a capacity of 80. They also found no female doctor in the jail, no armed guards to accompany the undertrials to court leading to inordinate delays in settling cases, and poor access to legal aid for the mostly illiterate prisoners. The NCW report also notes with concern that in the absence of a magistrate, despite video conferencing facilities in Raipur prison, tribal women feared to depose before jail authorities, and that “such an atmosphere was not conducive for holding trials.” The women prisoners are not even provided soap or sanitary napkins, the report says. The statement of 22-year-old Kawasi Hidme, released from Jagdalpur prison in Chhattisgarh earlier this year, after a seven-year illegal detention, offers a glimpse into the lives of adivasi prisoners here. Narrating her experiences in Delhi on Tuesday, Hidme recalled being only 15 years old when she was picked up by the police on charges of being a “Naxal”. Beaten and raped by the police in custody, she developed severe abdomen pain and vaginal bleeding. But during her time in Jagdalpur prison, when she sought medical care for this, prison authorities denied it initially. She was later moved to a hospital and an operation was performed on her, although details of the nature of the surgery remain unknown, as per Hidme’s testimony. After being shunted between Jagdalpur and Raipur prisons, in March this year, the Sessions Court in Dantewada released her when no charges were found against her. The latest 2014 National Crime Records Bureau statistics puts Chhattisgarh among the States with the highest number of complaints – 3,105 — against the police for human rights abuses. However, only in 924 cases have judicial or magisterial inquiries been instituted. Eminent lawyer Vrinda Grover faults the systemic bias of the State police against the tribal poor in the Maoist insurgency-hit areas, which explains the large population of undertrials here. While conducting research in the southern regions of Chhattisgarh, she found that between 2009 and 2014, the prison population swelled rapidly, with overcrowding figures now standing at 261 per cent above capacity. In Jagdalpur prison last year, women inmates managed to get a community kitchen after negotiating hard with the jail supervisor. But these minor improvements don’t go a long way in improving their overall lives, as the harassment they suffer at the hands of both prison supervisors and the police leave them shattered for a lifetime, she says. “Look at Hidme. At the young age of 22, her health is so poor; she cannot do any work that a normal person of her age does. The multiple rapes she suffered at the hands of policemen during custody has devastated her, both physically and mentally,” she says. (The Hindu 20/8/15)


133. Journalist family to withdraw murder charges against Minister (1)

Meerut: The stage is being set to give a clean chit to Ram Murti Verma, Uttar Pradesh Backward Classes Welfare Minister, who was accused of getting the social-media journalist Jagendra Singh burnt to death for publishing reports against him. The Shahjahanpur police are in the process of giving the clean chit in its report to the DGP about the burning and subsequent death of the journalist, a reliable source told The Hindu . The report is likely to conclude that Singh had committed suicide, a theory which the police held as a likely possibility. “The report will be ready in a week. Analysis of all the evidence gathered from the spot point that Singh, in all likelihood, committed suicide,” said the source. The Senior Superintendent of Police, Shahjahanpur, Babloo Kumar, however, said reaching a conclusion about the police investigation would not be “appropriate.” “We will take about a week or so,” he said. The family has decided not to pursue the complaint. In fact, Rahul, Singh’s son, told The Hindu that they may move the local court to quash the first information report against the Minister. The Akhilesh Yadav government gave the family Rs. 30 lakh and promised jobs for the two sons of Singh. The government cleared the ancestral land of the family, running to several acres, of encroachment. Singh was set on fire allegedly by a group of policemen and goons allied with Mr. Verma on June 1 and died on June 8. In the dying declaration, Singh blamed Mr. Verma and the policemen for the incident. Four policemen were suspended and Mr. Verma was booked after Singh’s family filed a complaint. (The Hindu 2/8/15)

134. Bengal Journalist Goes Missing After College Corruption Story (1)

KOLKATA: Days after he reported about irregularities and corruption in the admission process in a college, a journalist with a Bengali daily in West Bengal’s Alipurduar district has gone missing. Chayan Sarkar, a correspondent with the Uttarbanga Sangbad, is missing since Sunday morning, days after he lodged a complaint with police in Alipurduar alleging that he was being threatened. While his family members filed a police complaint, the matter has now been handed over to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID). “We have launched a manhunt for him. We have questioned several people in this regard and we are looking for him. We cannot say at the moment if he has been abducted,” Deputy Inspector General (CID) Dilip Kumar Adak said on Monday.Confirming that Sarkar filed a police complaint alleging threats, another police officer said the journalist started getting threats after he reported about malpractices concerning admissions to Alipurduar College. While the Alipurduar and Jalpaiguri Press Club members alleged that Sarkar was abducted by those involved in the admission racket, the opposition Left Front and the BJP pointed fingers at the ruling Trinamool Congress. Members of the press clubs during the day took out a protest march before the police chief’s office in Alipurduar demanding action against the abductors while the family members of the journalist blocked a road demanding he be immediately traced. Leader of Opposition and Communist Party of India-Marxist state secretary Surjya Kanta Mishra alleged involvement of a Trinamool leader. “The government should act and rescue Sarkar. The main culprit, a Trinamool leader, must be arrested,” Mishra said on a social networking site. Left Front chairman Biman Bose said those whose interest were hurt by Sarkar’s report were behind his abduction. “The administration should try to trace him in an urgent manner. It is possible that those whose interests have been hurt by the news done by the newspaper they may be behind this abduction,” said Bose. The Bharatiya Janata Party claimed that Sarkar’s house was attacked by ‘Trinamool goons’ after the story on the admission malpractices was published. (New Indian Express 3/8/15)

135. Banning entry of journalists and NGOs in prisons: Is India on the path of China? (1)

Ever since the Bharatiya Janata Party came to power at the Centre, it has been embroiled in several controversies relating to bans imposed by it. Right from banning beef to curbing foreign funding for supposedly anti-national NGOs to blocking porn sites, the list is endless. However, among the most controversial was the banning of BBC documentary ‘India’s Daughter’, which led to a huge outcry in the country. While one section of the society advocated free speech, another strongly protested against allowing the documentary in India arguing that it maligned India’s image. Furthermore, there have been serious curbs on Indian as well as foreign journalists and researchers who wish to report on human rights violations and other issues. Priya Pillai, of Greenpeace India, was offloaded from her flight to London. She was on her way to address British parliamentarians on alleged human rights violations by Indian multinational Essar in the Mahan forest. The Ministry of Home Affairs also blocked Greenpeace’s bank accounts. It appears that the government is prepared to go to any extent to prevent any possibility of exposing injustice. Recently, the Home Ministry released a set of guidelines that effectively banned the entry of NGOs and journalists into prisons.No private individual/ Press/NGO/Company should ordinarily be allowed entry into the prison for the purposes of doing research, making documentaries, writing articles or interviews, etc. These guidelines shall be applicable to all the visitors, whether foreigner or Indian, including individuals, companies, press, researchers, filmmakers. However, the notification listed three provisions under which the state/UT government may consider giving permission. These included: The State/UT government feels that a particular documentary/article/research is for the purposes of creating positive social impact. The proposed work is relating to prison reforms. The State/UT government itself decides to invite press/filmmakers to cover a particular event. The nature of these provisions indicates that from now on, virtually no one would be allowed entry into prisons. However, it does not end here. There are many other rules and regulations that a visitor must adhere to, in the rarest of rare cases, if he is allowed entry.After the visit is complete, the visitors shall handover all their equipment like handycams, dictaphones, cameras, tape recorders or any other equipment to the Jail Superintendent for a period of three days. All precautions should be taken to ensure that the visitor does not leave the jail premises with the recordings……  (Yahoo News 6/8/15)

136. 3 channels get show-cause notice on coverage of Yakub Memon hanging (1)

NEW DELHI: Unhappy with the coverage related to hanging of 1993 Mumbai blasts convict Yaqub Memon by three leading news broadcasters, information and broadcasting ministry has issued show-cause notice to them, asking why action should not be taken against them. Official sources said that it was felt that some parts of the coverage of these news channels were inappropriate following which they have been asked to explain how their coverage does not violate the sections of the Programme Code. Officials said that sections of the Programme Code lay down that no programme should be carried which contains anything obscene, defamatory, deliberate, false and suggestive innuendos and half-truths. As per other sections of the Code, no programme should be carried which is likely to encourage or incite violence or contains anything against maintenance of law and order or which promote anti-national attitudes. Another sections also tells channels not to carry anything which contains aspersions against the integrity of the President and judiciary. Officials said that in view of these provisions of the Programme Code, the ministry felt that there was a need to seek explanation from these channels. A unit under the I&B ministry, Electronic Media Monitoring Centre (EMMC), monitors the content of around 600 channels. Two of the broadcasters to whom notices have been sent had reportedly aired phone-in interviews of underworld figure Chhota Shakeel. Another channel is learnt to have telecast remarks of Memon’s lawyer. (Times of India 8/8/15)

137. The other side of right to freedom of speech (1)

Freedom of speech and expression guaranteed under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution has long been regarded as the second most important after the right to life of a citizen. In recent times, it appears to be the most misused right in India, especially on the internet. Take, for example, the Yakub Memon hanging case. Views expressed on the issue were sharply divided on merits and veered to religious lines. It led to clash of ideologies, open spats, painting those who favoured execution as ‘bloodthirsty’ and those who opposed it as ‘traitors’.Freedom of speech on the internet is scaling new heights every day with complete disregard for the restrictions specified under Article 19(2). Netizens are always in a rush. They post their views the moment they come across a statement. Mostly, it either gets a thumbs up or derisive criticism. The degree of controversy attached to an issue increases the severity of cuss words.If one advocates stay of hanging of a terrorist, he gets slammed as a left-leaning activist fed on foreign funds. If one argues for the hanging, the ‘activists’ slam him as a bloodthirsty right-winger. By indulging in such slanderous accusations, ostensibly in exercise of right to freedom of speech, are the two groups not infringing upon the right to life of each other? For, right to life includes a life with dignity. People may not agree with each other on a certain issue, but does it prevent them from being civil and secular while expressing their views? If a person has objection to such abuse on internet, does he have an effective legal remedy? Is it not cumbersome and a waste of time to go after those who use cuss words? And was this the intention of the Constitution-framers, and later the Supreme Court, to give such wide meaning and interpretation to freedom of expression? In Shreya Singhal case, the Supreme Court recognized the problem that could arise if every person aggrieved by abusive criticism of his view on the internet was to make a request directly to the service provider to take down the offending comments. It had read down Section 79(3)(b) of the Information and Technology Act contemplating action against service providers for abusive comments on websites hosted by them. It had said such action could be taken against the service provider only if it failed to comply with the court order directing it to take down the material which had been held to be abusive or offensive on the basis of a complaint. “This is for the reason that otherwise, it would be very difficult for intermediaries like Google, Facebook etc to act when millions of requests are made and the intermediary is then to judge as to which of such requests are legitimate and which are not,” it had said. But who will have the time and energy to pursue a case in a court of law by filing a complaint against persons who used abuses to criticize his view? The type and kinds of names under which comments are posted on websites these days would make it extremely difficult for a complainant to find out the actual name and address of the author who violated his dignity and reputation. And when there is a systematic group attack against a view, it is better for the person to silently stomach the abuse. The absence of protection against abuses, invectives and cuss words expressed freely to register dissenting view is the deterrent for many in society from using their real names to express views on the internet…..  (Times of India 10/8/15)

138. Veteran journalist hits out at commercialisation of media (1)

BELAGAVI: Veteran journalist and president of Patrakar Vikas Akadami, Belagavi Subhash Dhume took a dig at the rapid commercialisation of news media, particularly the print media, and called for introspection by both the owners and journalists. Speaking at a press meet convened to announce the annual awards of the Akadami here on Monday, he said the ghost of commercialisation had become omnipotent to the extent of eliminating the role of “Editor” in a newspaper. Nowadays, a newspaper could be run without an Editor and only by reporters, sub-editors and other workers engaged in production, publication, and circulation, he said. In sharp contrast with to ethical practices in the past, today there was great pressure on reporters to get advertisements for their respective newspapers. On the other hand, low wages for reporters working in district and taluk centres had forced them to explore additional avenues to make both the ends meet amid increasing cost of living. The Akadami announced that five Belagavi-based journalists would be honoured this year. The awards are not based on call for nominations; the Akadami forms a committee to undertake a thorough screening of works of journalists and photojournalists. The award carries cash reward and public felicitation. The recipients of the award this year are: Shamrao Deshpade of Veerdwani bi-weekly (Baburao Thakur Memorial Award), Bhimgouda Desai, Correspondent of Lokmat Marathi Daily and Yuvraj Patil (Budding Talented Journalists), and Chetan Kulkarni, Photographer with Deccan Herald, said secretary Prasad S. Prabhu. The Akadami, which has adopted various welfare measures for scribes, said it would include newspaper hawkers under its purview from this year. It selected five hawkers with low income and gave them bicycles worth Rs. 3,800 each. (The Hindu 11/8/15)

139. ‘Law such as Sec 66 (A) of IT Act not needed (1)

MUMBAI: A discussion held at St Xavier’s College on Saturday during its ongoing cultural festival, Malhar, focussed on the issue of an individual’s right to freedom of speech and expression. The ‘right’ was discussed in the context of the recent Supreme Court observation on the need for a new law to check the misuse of social media and internet. Malhar Conclave, in association with the Times Lit Fest, organized the discussion on ‘Post.Like.Share’ that was moderated by Anahita Mukherji, assistant editor with The Times of India. Shreya Singhal, student of faculty of law, Delhi University, the first to challenge Section 66(A) of the Information Technology Act in Supreme Court, which allowed arrests for offensive comments online, and Karuna Nundy, advocate at Supreme Court, participated in the conclave. Singhal said law such as section 66 (A) of the IT Act was not needed as there are many laws already that encompass such offences. Nundy said that 66A was only brought in in 2008 as an amendment to the IT Act and it was originally brought in to curb spam. “For no good reason, it became something that would send somebody to jail for three years for being annoying or inconvenient in their speech online.” She said when political leaders make controversial statements in public, there is no action against them. “But we see Shaheen Dhada, a young girl who had the courage to say something that was not even problematic, she has to go through all this,” said Nundy. (Times of India 16/8/15)

140. PCI for two-minute silence in newsrooms on November 2 (1)

NEW DELHI: To protest against states’ failure to bring to book perpetrators of violence against journalists, the Press Council of India (PCI) wants media to protest symbolically by blacking out news for two minutes on November 2 every year. “The PCI may proclaim November 2 as the National Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists and ask all newsrooms across the country to observe two-minute silence in newsrooms,” it said in an affidavit filed before the Supreme Court in the case of UP journalist Jagendra Singh’s murder. Requesting the SC to lay down guidelines on safety of journalists, the PCI said, “Journalists reporting sensitive stories are in the position of whistleblowers who are entitled to protection. Safety of journalists requires the highest priority to protect the freedom of speech as also the freedom of information available to every citizen under article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution.” The print media regulatory body said around 80 journalists were killed in the last two decades but almost all cases were pending trial. “In states like Assam, Andhra Pradesh, Manipur, Jammu and Kashmir, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand, not a single person was convicted for killing or attacking journalists. In these states, more than 60 journalists were killed in the last two decades,” it said. The PCI said it has recommended to the government for enacting a law to deal with crimes against journalists. It said in the absence of a specific law, cases relating to such offences keep pending in trial courts, which are already inundated under an avalanche of pending cases. After a four-year study, the PCI said, “Most of the journalists felt that whenever a journalist was killed, the state government concerned, including chief minister and political leaders, react and promise stringent action. After the din and noise die down, no further action is taken. Most state governments never come forward to compensate the families of the slain journalists.” Apart from using violence to silence the media, the PCI appeared worried by the recent trend of journalists threatened with character assassination using names of women. “Incidents of using names of women for character assassination of journalists and to pressurize them are increasing each day,” it said. The council said similar tactics was used by UP police in Jagendra Singh murder case. “Police repeatedly mentioned the presence of Anganwadi worker Shalini in Jagendra’s house but they did not care to find her and record her statement,” it said. It said the Shahjahanpur district administration has not shown seriousness to investigate the murder of the journalist. “In view of the seriousness of the case and the delay in conducting inquiry, the UP government should get this case thoroughly investigated by an impartial agency,” the PCI said. (Times of India 19/8/15)


141. Communal violence increased in first half of 2015: Home ministry (7)

New Delhi: Incidents of communal violence in the country have increased in the first six months of 2015 according to data released by the Home ministry, with 330 total riots and a death toll of 51. According to Home ministry data, there were 330 incidents of communal violence between January and June, 2015 in comparison to 252 in the first six months of 2014. Altogether 51 people have lost their lives and 1,092 others injured in communal violence so far this year. As many as 33 people had lost their lives in first six months of last year. There were 644 riots during the entirety of 2014 in which 95 people were killed and 1,921 injured. Samajwadi Party-ruled Uttar Pradesh had the highest number of 68 such incidents in which 10 people were killed and 224 injured. There were 133 riots in UP in 2014 in which 26 people lost their lives and 374 wounded. JD(U)-ruled Bihar has witnessed 41 incidents till June 2015 in which 14 people lost their lives and 169 others were injured. There were 61 riots in Bihar in 2014 in which 5 people were killed and 294 others injured. BJP-ruled Gujarat has reported 25 incidents of communal violence between January and June 2015 in which 7 people were killed and 79 others wounded. In 2014, there were 74 incidents of riots in Gujarat in which 7 people lost their lives and 215 others were injured. Maharashtra, another BJP-ruled state, saw 59 incidents of communal violence in the first half of this year in which 4 people were killed and 196 injured. There were 97 riots in Maharashtra in 2014 in which 12 people were killed and 198 injured. Congress-ruled Karnataka saw 36 such incidents in which two people were killed and 123 others injured. In 2014, there were 73 cases of riots in Karnataka in which 6 people lost their lives while 177 were injured. (Hindustan Times 2.8.15)

142. 2002 Gujarat Riots: State’s job to repair masjids, Centre tells Supreme Court (7)

New Delhi: Narendra Modi, 2002 Gujarat Riots, Gujarat Riots, 2002 Godhra Riots, Godhra Riots damage, Godhra Riots masjids damage, masjids repairing, bjp government, gujarat govt, gujarat masjids repair, Supreme court, gujarat news, india news, nation news In its earlier hearings, the apex court gave an option to the Gujarat government for formulating a scheme for repairing religious places damaged during the riots. When Narendra Modi was the chief minister of Gujarat, the state government had appealed against a high court order, directing it to repair and restore mosques, dargahs and other religious sites damaged in the 2002 post-Godhra riots. Now, when he is the Prime Minister, the central government has told the Supreme Court that it has no obligation regarding restoration of religious places damaged in the communal riots and that the accountability has to be fixed with the state government. In its first affidavit into the matter, the Centre has said: “It is primarily the responsibility of the state government to maintain law and order in the state and to provide security, relief, rehabilitation and to compensate riot victims.” Putting the onus on the Gujarat government, the Ministry of Home Affairs has said that the ‘public order’ and ‘police’ are state subjects and hence the state government was answerable to the queries of the top court regarding repairs and restoration of mosques, dargahs, graveyards, khankahs and other religious sites. “The central government, however, has provided ex-gratia to the victims of Gujarat riots in cases of death, injury and damages to residential and uninsured commercial properties, on the pattern of the package announced for the victims of anti-Sikh riots of 1984,” it stated. The Home Ministry added that the report of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on the post-Godhra riots was forwarded to the Gujarat Chief Secretary for taking necessary action after placing it in the state legislature. “Hence, the main contesting respondent is the state of Gujarat,” it said. The affidavit has been filed by the Ministry in the appeal by Gujarat government against the 2012 High Court order, directing it to repair religious places damaged in the post-Godhra riots. While pulling up the state government for its “inaction and negligence” during the riots, the high court had also ordered compensation for over 500 places of worships in the state on a PIL by Islamic Relief Committee of Gujarat, an NGO. After the high court had criticised the state government for not tabling the NHRC report within six months of it being prepared, the 2002-03 report was tabled in Gujarat assembly in March 2012, nearly 10 years after the subsequent riots. In its report, the NHRC had censured the state. In its earlier hearings, the apex court gave an option to the Gujarat government for formulating a scheme for repairing religious places damaged during the riots on the lines of its earlier order where it had asked the Odisha government to formulate a scheme for repairing churches damaged during the 2009 Kandhamal riots. The  case will be heard next on August 19. (Indian Express 5/8/15)

143. Communal violence higher in Jammu (7)

SRINAGAR: While Jammu and Kashmir has witnessed fewer  riots than the average national level, but around four to five cases of riots get reported on average daily in the state. A total of 72,126 cases of riots were reported in India in 2013, with Bihar reporting the maximum 11,931 cases. Kerala was second, reporting 10,042 riot cases followed by Maharashtra 9,610, Karnataka 7,237 and West Bengal 6,142. According to the official details of the police department available with The Kashmir Monitor, 1714 cases of riots were reported in 2013 in Jammu and Kashmir. During 2014, 1524 such cases were reported in the state. A riot is a form of civil disorder commonly characterized by a group lashing out in a violent public disturbance against authority, property or people. Riots involve vandalism and the destruction of property, public or private. Police sources said unlike states like Bihar, Gujarat, and Uttar Pradesh, less number of communal riot cases have been reported from the Muslims dominated Jammu and Kashmir. “In Valley, most of the rioting cases that have been reported are vandalization of shops, cars, offices, during anti-India protests,” a senior police official told The Kashmir Monitor.  He said some of the separatists are also facing charges of rioting. “These leaders have been found involved in destructing public and private property during protests in the Valley,” the police official said. However, he said barring few sectarian clashes, the Valley didn’t witness any sectarian or communal riots over the years. One such was the Budgam incident, where the sectarian clashes broke out following dispute between two sects over construction of a village road. Then there were incidents of arson during clashes prompting authorities to impose restrictions. “But maximum cases of communal riots have been reported from the Hindu dominated Jammu region,” the official said.  During 2013 and 2014, one major incident of communal riots was reported in Kishtwar district of the Jammu region. The communal riots sparked in Kishtwar on Eid Day after two communities started targeting to each other. The pro-Hindu groups had alleged that the then MoS Home Sajad Ahmad Kitchloo was behind these riots. However, the Muslim groups claimed that some pro-Hindu groups had targeted shops and houses of Muslims in the district during these clashes. (The Kashmir Monitor 6/8/15)

144. IFTU blames Hindutva forces for clash at Khajuri Khas (7)

New Delhi: Likening it to the communal clashes that erupted at Trilokpuri last year, and demanding a High Court-monitored probe into the incident, the Indian Federation of Trade Unions (IFTU) has blamed “Hindutva forces with police collusion” for a clash between two communities at Khajuri Khas last Friday. On July 31, several local residents and some policemen had been injured during a mini riot at a spot just a stone’s throw away from the local police station. The police had attributed the incident to a gradual build up of tension between the two communities which was triggered in the aftermath of the interception of a vehicle transporting animal skins and meat products. “The workers (living in the locality where the incident took place) had left in the morning for their work place that day and returned only at night. However they told the IFTU team that some incident had occurred because people protested as the Muslims ’had cut up’ a cow. When asked if they had met anyone who had seen this, or whether this routinely happened, they retracted,” the report states. “The police is fully hand in glove with those Hindutva elements who attempted to provoke communal violence. With a police beat box, a PCR van present in the area, a crowd cannot unnoticed block a road and march up to the chowk and then beat up two Muslims and set two bikes on fire. The police chose not to intervene,” the report, penned by Rajesh, secretary, Jai Prakash, joint secretary and Raja, west Delhi IFTU, stated further. According to the IFTU fact-finding mission, the Aam Aadmi Party-led (AAP) Delhi government’s silence on the matter despite its willingness to “to take on the police and the Centre when AAP legislators or their appointees are involved” was also suspect. The IFTU demanded why the AAP government had not questioned “the veracity of the police story” attributing it to the party’s role in the Trilokpuri incident where the local MLA was missing in action. A senior Delhi Police official denied the allegations levelled against the force by the workers’ rights body. “Arrests of those found involved in the incident were made soon after and local police personnel went beyond their limited briefs to quell tension in the area – of any kind; further investigation is still underway and those found guilty of alleged hate-mongering will be brought t book as and when their role is established,” said a senior police officer. (The Hindu 6/8/15)

145. 1989 Bhagalpur riots: Inquiry report blames Congress, police (7)

New Delhi: In what could provide the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) much needed ammunition against the Congress ahead of Bihar Assembly polls, a report prepared by the inquiry commission probing the 1989 Bhagalpur riots has blamed the then Congress government and police for the massacre of nearly 1000 people. The 1989 communal riots in Bhagalpur had claimed nearly a thousand lives and left in its wake a trail of devastation. From the Archives: Bihar policemen go unpunished for role in Bhagalpur riots The Justice NN Singh Inquiry Commission report, which was tabled in the Bihar Legislative Assembly on Friday, holds the inaction by the Congress government led by Chief Minister Satyendra Narayan Sinha responsible for the deadly clashes. The 1000-page report also raised a question over the state police administration hinting towards a communal bias.More than 50,000 people were displaced as a result of the riots which started on 24 October 1989, and continued for next two months. The violence affected the Bhagalpur city and 250 villages around it. Soon after the report was introduced in the Bihar Assembly, BJP questioned chief minister Nitish Kumar’s decision to ally with RJD and Congress. Senior BJP leader and former deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi asked Nitish Kumar to explain his ‘secularism.”Kumar must explain his secularism as well as his party – JD(U)’s alliance with RJD and Congress as Bhagalpur riots had taken place during Congress regime in which hundreds of Muslims were killed by the rioters, some of whom were absolved of all charges in police probe during RJD rule in late 1990s,” Kumar Modi told reporters. “Doesn’t Kumar’s secularism stand exposed as he finds himself aligned with a party during whose rule the sordid incident had taken place and another party which had given clean chit to some of the perpetrators,” he asked. Modi also questioned chief minister Nitish Kumar’s intent for tabling the judicial report on the riots case in the Assembly at the fag end of his term and claimed that the latter was trying to kill two birds with one stone, he said referring to the RJD chief Lalu Prasad and Congress, both of whom espoused secularism. …  (India Today 8/8/15)

146. Communal Tension in Jalalabad Town of Uttar Pradesh (7)

SHAHJAHANPUR (UP): A day after protests were held over teasing of a minor girl allegedly by two youths in Jalalabad town of the district, cousin of one of the accused was shot at by some unidentified men. Additional Superintendent of Police Rajesh Kumar said that the cousin brother of an accused was shot at by some persons from the other community. He said that the youth, who sustained bullet injury on his back, has been admitted to a hospital and the matter was being investigated. The police officer said that Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) continues to be deployed in the area. Yesterday, protests were witnessed in the town after the girl was allegedly teased and assaulted by two youths of a community. One of the accused was arrested and PAC was deployed in the area. The youths teased the girl, and later, when they failed to molest her they tore her cloths, police said. Agitated over the incident, members of a community assembled at Khandahar police outpost and held protest. The protestors also alleged that a police officer assaulted a youth of the agitating community, after which they blocked Bareilly-Kanpur highway. Later, senior district administration officials and police officers reached the spot and pacified protesters. (New Indian Express 13/8/15)

147. Low intensity bomb explodes in Jamshedpur, no damage reported (7)

Jamshedpur: A low intensity bomb exploded in a dustbin behind a temple in Jamshedpur, Jharkhand Sunday late evening causing panic in the steel city which recently saw a communal riot. The explosion ripped apart the iron walled dustbin scattering the garbage around a radius of 10 to 15 meters. “This seems handiwork of some uncouth element to disturb peace of the city,” said deputy superintendent of police Jacinta Kerketta. She said an explosive expert is collecting parts of the explosives. “A team of experts have also left from Ranchi and would be reaching here late night”,  she said. There has been no damage to life or property. Police said they will soon be able to locate the culprits. Jamshedpur had witnessed communal riots last month following clashes over some youth harrasing a girl from another community after which curfew had also been imposed in some parts of the city. (Hindustan Times 17/8/15)


148. Day before ‘jalabhishek’ in Varanasi, chief of Hindu Mahasabha arrested (26)

Lucknow: To allegedly prevent pro-Hindu outfit Akhil Bharatiya Hindu Mahasabha (ABHM) from performing ‘Jalabhishek’ on Monday at Shringar Gauri — a religious place near Gyanvapi Masjid and Kashi Vishwanth Temple in Varanasi — its national president was arrested from his office in Lucknow’s Naka area on Sunday. While Kamlesh Tiwari was arrested, raids were also conducted in Gorakhpur to arrest ABHM state president Piyush Kant Verma, who was to lead the programme in Varanasi Monday. At Shringar Gauri, performing religious rituals is not allowed. The area remains barricaded for the public with CRPF personnel camping nearby. ABHM had given a call to its workers from across the country to reach Varanasi on August 3 and perform ‘Jalabhishek’ at Shringar Gauri, as part of its campaign — ‘Islam Mukt Bharat’ — and take a pledge for getting the mosque removed from Kashi Vishwanath Temple’s area. For the event, it had chosen August 3 — the first Monday of the month of Saavan. Several lakh devotees visits Kashi Vishwanath Temple on the day.  ABHM office-bearers had not sought permission from the Varanasi district administration for the programme, claiming they don’t need permission from any authority to offer prayers at a Hindu religious place. Before his arrest on Sunday, Tiwari told The Indian Express that ‘Jalabhishek’ was aimed at launching an agitation to “free Gyanvapi area from Muslims”. “Any illegal programme planned through any such call or propaganda will not be allowed. The police was keeping watch on ABHM workers,” said ADG (Law and Order) Daljeet Chaudhary. Superintendent of Police (Security), Kashi Vishwanth temple, Arun Kumar Pandey, said: “Nobody will be allowed to perform any ritual other than what is the tradition. If ABHM workers try to enter the temple area, necessary action will be taken against them.” Police personnel from other districts have been called in to take necessary steps to stop ABHM workers, said Varanasi SSP Jogendra Kumar. “Other preventive steps would also be taken if they reach Varanasi.” Naka police Station Officer Ram Pradeep said: “ABHM president Kamlesh Tiwari was arrested to stop him from reaching Varanasi to perform Jalabhishek. He will remain under arrest for at least 24 hours.” After Tiwari’s arrest, ABHM spokesperson Shishir Chaturvedi said while police have raided state president Piyush Kant Verma’s residence in Gorakhpur, he had escaped as he left home early in apprehension. “Several workers have been arrested in Gorakhpur but we are still firm on our decision. Workers from other districts will reach Varanasi on Monday to perform Jalabhishek,” he said. To seek the masses’ support, ABHM had prepared posters with various slogans — “Chalo Kashi, Islam mukt Bharat hamari zid hai, hamara adhikar hai”, “Kashi Vishwanath me namaz nahin, ab ghoonjega kewal Om Namah Shivay”, “Hindutva jai maan bharti, khoon se tilak karo goliyon se aarti,” among others. It also plans to contest the state Assembly elections in 2017. Meanwhile, Shiv Sena on Sunday announced that it will perform the ritual at the same site (in Shrigar Gauri temple in Varanasi) either on August 22 or 23. Its state president Anil Singh said party’s Aurangabad MP Chandrakant Khaire will lead the programme. “Shrigar Gauri is a religious place of Parvati but the administration does not allow Hindus to offer prayers there in Saavan month,” Singh said. (Indian Express 3/8/15)

149. IFTU blames Hindutva forces for clash at Khajuri Khas (26)

New Delhi: Likening it to the communal clashes that erupted at Trilokpuri last year, and demanding a High Court-monitored probe into the incident, the Indian Federation of Trade Unions (IFTU) has blamed “Hindutva forces with police collusion” for a clash between two communities at Khajuri Khas last Friday. On July 31, several local residents and some policemen had been injured during a mini riot at a spot just a stone’s throw away from the local police station. The police had attributed the incident to a gradual build up of tension between the two communities which was triggered in the aftermath of the interception of a vehicle transporting animal skins and meat products. “The workers (living in the locality where the incident took place) had left in the morning for their work place that day and returned only at night. However they told the IFTU team that some incident had occurred because people protested as the Muslims ’had cut up’ a cow. When asked if they had met anyone who had seen this, or whether this routinely happened, they retracted,” the report states. “The police is fully hand in glove with those Hindutva elements who attempted to provoke communal violence. With a police beat box, a PCR van present in the area, a crowd cannot unnoticed block a road and march up to the chowk and then beat up two Muslims and set two bikes on fire. The police chose not to intervene,” the report, penned by Rajesh, secretary, Jai Prakash, joint secretary and Raja, west Delhi IFTU, stated further. According to the IFTU fact-finding mission, the Aam Aadmi Party-led (AAP) Delhi government’s silence on the matter despite its willingness to “to take on the police and the Centre when AAP legislators or their appointees are involved” was also suspect. The IFTU demanded why the AAP government had not questioned “the veracity of the police story” attributing it to the party’s role in the Trilokpuri incident where the local MLA was missing in action. A senior Delhi Police official denied the allegations levelled against the force by the workers’ rights body. “Arrests of those found involved in the incident were made soon after and local police personnel went beyond their limited briefs to quell tension in the area – of any kind; further investigation is still underway and those found guilty of alleged hate-mongering will be brought t book as and when their role is established,” said a senior police officer. (The Hindu 6/8/15)

150. There are 1-2 terrorists in Parliament’, says Sadhvi Prachi, stokes another controversy

ROORKEE: Firebrand VHP leader Sadhvi Prachi triggered another controversy on Thursday by alleging there are “one or two terrorists” in Parliament in remarks that appeared to be targeting MPs who were against hanging of 1993 Mumbai blasts convict Yakub Memon. Prachi’s controversial outburst that sparked an outrage also saw her asking the Centre to hand over the Pakistani terrorist Mohammed Naved Yakub arrested in Udhampur on Wednesday to Hindu organizations so that he is taught a “good lesson”.The saffron leader was speaking to mediapersons in Roorkee when asked about some opposition to death penalty for Memon who was hanged on July 30 in a Nagpur prison.”It is a big misfortune that in the Indian Parliament, we have one-two terrorists sitting there. I do not think there can be a bigger misfortune for India than this as they who, are disobeying the judgment of a court, because the court has proved that he(Yakub) is a terrorist. When the court has already proved so, those supporting the terrorist are terrorists themselves I believe,” she said. Shortly after Yakub’s execution, Congress MP Shashi Tharoor said he was saddened by the hanging of the lone death row convict in the 1993 Mumbai blasts case and said that the “state-sponsored killing diminishes us all by reducing us to murderers too.” Tharoor also argued against the death penalty. “Yakub Memon hanged. Exemplary urgency and commitment has been shown by Govt and Judiciary in punishing an accused of Terror,” said another Congress leader Digvijaya Singh, a Rajya Sabha MP. Congress took on the sadhvi for her remarks against parliamentarians and demanded action against the Hindutva leader. “The Parliament belongs to all of us. The Constitution has said that Parliament is the temple of democracy. And if someone calls those sitting inside it, as terrorists, then it is not just an insult to the Parliament but also the Constitution. I think it is the right time that Speaker Sumitra Mahajan takes action,” Congress leader Pramod Tiwari said. The sadhvi also wanted the Pakistani terrorist captured yesterday to be handed over to Hindu organisations after questioning. “It is my humble request to the Centre that after the security agencies are through with their necessary investigations the arrested Pakistani terrorist should be handed over to Hindu outfits which alone can teach him a good lesson,” she added. Be it calling for a boycott of films starring Bollywood stars Shah Rukh Khan, Aamir Khan and Salman Khan and asking right-wing Hindu outfits to make a bonfire of posters of their films or calling Mahatma Gandhi a British agent, the sadhvi has been at the centre of a series of controversies. (Times of India 6/8/15)

151. Notice to VHP leader Sadhvi for ‘terrorist MPs’ remark (26)

New Delhi: The Rajya Sabha secretariat on Tuesday issued a notice to right-wing Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader Sadhvi Prachi for her controversial remarks that there were “terrorists in Parliament”. The secretariat has sent a letter to Prachi asking her to explain the “terrorists in Parliament” remark after lawmakers in the Upper House moved a privilege notice against her. Several MPs had moved a privilege notice, asking chairman Hamid Ansari to proceed against her. The sources said the secretariat has sought her comments before proceeding further on the notice. Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad, CPM MP Sitaram Yechury and TRS member K Keshav Rao were among 20 members who had given the privilege notice against Prachi saying her remarks had “violated the dignity” of Parliament and privilege of MPs. Prachi had last week said in Roorkee that there were “one or two terrorists” in Parliament, a jibe at MPs who opposed the hanging of 1993 Mumbai blasts convict Yakub Memon. (Hindustan Times 11/8/15)

152. No more conversion by 2020: affiliate sets target (26)

New Delhi: Dharm Jagran Samanway Samtiti, an RSS affiliate, has resolved to stop conversion by 2020 and continue ghar wapsi (reconversion) so that the Hindu population increases by the next census in 2021. DJRS has pledged to reach in the next five years all areas that have seen people being converted, particularly to Christianity. This target was given to all DJRS state chiefs at a meeting in Mumbai from August 7 to 9, sources said. The sources quoted their national chief Mukund Rao Pansikar as saying that “we must fulfil our target of stopping all type of conversion activities and increasing efforts of ghar wapsi by 2020.” Pansikar could not be contacted by The Indian Express. The sources said many of the 100-odd delegates at the meeting expressed the view that ghar wapsi is more difficult in Muslim-dominated areas than it is among Christians, hence the focus on the latter areas. Also, they felt, most of those converted are from the lower castes and acceptability would not be a problem if they are “reconverted”. The meeting saw a PowerPoint presentation that compared the growth rates of Muslims and Christians with that of Hindus. The 40 state chiefs — the RSS breaks the country into that many states for convenience — spelt out their individual targets for preventing conversion. The DJRS is a core affiliate in which the RSS deploys 57 pracharaks, the highest for any RSS-related activity other than its own shakhas. It has many more whole-timers, who unlike pracharaks are paid an honorarium. The highest numbers of whole-timers, over 100, are posted in Chhattisgarh, where DJRS believes conversion among tribals to Christianity is the most rampant. (Indian Express  17/8/15)

153. Sadhvi Prachi threatens dharna outside min’s office (26)

BAREILLY: VHP leader Sadhvi Prachi has threatened to stage a dharna at Union minister Santosh Gangwar’s office if the BJP fails to release her staff and supporters, who were arrested on July 27 in connection with the unsuccessful mahapanchayat at Shergarh. “Have I committed a crime by going to Bareilly in support of the 200 school girls who were being harassed by goons with no political party, including the local unit of BJP willing to take up their cause. My sole mission was justice for these girls and look what I have got in return. My supporters including my drivers are languishing in jail since July 27 when they were arrested by local police in false cases,” Prachi said. She added that the matter had been brought to the notice of BJP’s national organizational secretary Shiv Prakash, who she said has promised to take up the matter with party high command. Santosh Gangwar, on the other hand, said “I am not aware about her decision and would only be able to comment on the issue after ascertaining facts.” (Times of India 17/8/15)

154. Gender balance: RSS working to get more women in its ranks (26)

New Delhi: The RSS, which has so far kept women out of its shakhas, has of late been striving towards a gender balance. It has stepped up efforts to get more women enrolled in its affiliates and asked these to appoint women as office-bearers too. A series of four events with this objective began on Independence Day, with a two-day meeting of the Delhi units of prominent RSS affiliates in Vrindavan (Mathura). Delegates of various affiliates submitted details of the representation of women in their ranks. A meeting of six organisations — Akhil Bharatiya Itihas Sankalan Yojana, Pragya Pravah, Sanskar Bharti, Vigyan Bharti, Sahitya Parishad and Adhivakta Parishad — called will be held on September 5-6 in Delhi. Each affiliate has been asked to try to send at least two women to the event, called Vichar Samooh, which is expected to have around 60 participants. RSS-menA special two-day conclave organised by Mahila Samanway will follow in Ahmedabad on September 12-13, with around 300 delegates (mostly women) expected from various affiliates. From December 24 to 26, Akhil Bharatiya Itihas Sankalan Yojana (ABISY) will hold a three-day conference in Mysore, where around 1,000 delegates will discuss “Women in Indian culture: through the ages”. “We will discuss their strength and their importance in various phases of Indian history. Women in Rig Vedic times enjoyed a high status in society but due to several reasons their status began to decline,” said Balmukund, an RSS pracharak working with ABISY. Sources say an RSS meeting in Nainital discussed the gender ratio in RSS affiliates (see chart). “Representation of women is gradually increasing in our organisations. At the Ahmedabad conclave, we will discuss several aspects of women empowerment and their role in our organisations,” said Mahila Samanway  chief Geeta Tayi Gunde, who coordinates among the affiliates on women’s issues. Though RSS shakhas don’t allow women, a separate organisation called Rashtra Sevika Samiti holds women’s shakhas on the lines of RSS shakhas. (Indian Express 17/8/15)

155. VHP activists ‘worship’ live cobra despite HC ban (26)

KOLHAPUR: A group of Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) on Thursday conducted a pooja of a live cobra at Battis Shirala in Sangli district despite Union environment minister Prakash Javdekar’s appeal last month to avoid any public display of live cobras on Nag Panchami. Shirala was famous for Nag Panchami celebrations, where hundreds of live cobras once used to get displayed and exhibited in the festival procession. The tradition was banned by the Bombay high court a decade ago and strict implementation of the prohibition was started in 2013. But this year, around 15-20 VHP activists violated the ban and conducted the pooja at Ambabai temple in Shirala and vowed to face consequences. The activists claimed they revived the age-old tradition of worshiping cobras on Nag Panchami and said they would do it every year if the Centre government does not change the law. In July, a group from Shirala met Javdekar in Pune, demanding the minister to allow pooja of live cobras. During the meeting, Javdekar assured them that the Union government will make the necessary changes in the Act in a year so that Shirala’s tradition can be secured. He also appealed to the group not to exhibit the cobras in procession and appealed people not to violate the ban this year. Despite the violation of the HC order, no action was taken against the activists till late night by forest department. Instead, the local officers said they have not reported any such incident till evening. Some of the police personnel were at the temple, when the activists brought cobra in a bag and started pooja. But none objected to their action. Maharaj, the Kolhapur district working president of VHP, said he and his associates have conducted the pooja and were ready to face the consequences. “This pooja was part of our protests against the ban. The tradition of the pooja is banned for the last 12 years and we revived it today. Hindu religion worships everything in nature and our Constitution has given us right to perform pooja,” he told TOI. He added that if the Union government fails to change the act by next year, VHP will not hesitate to violate the ban again and again. “If they (forest department) files cases against us for today’s pooja, we are ready. It’s a proud moment for us to revive the tradition,” he said. The forest department had deployed 10 patrolling squads and over 100 forest employees were in Shirala on Thursday to make sure that ban was not being violated. Besides, more than 350 police personnel were deployed in the village. However, all of them claimed they were unaware of the incident. “We have not received any complaint from any person about the violation of ban. Our teams are on roads to avert any untoward incident. We have talked to every Nag Mandal and they assured us that they will not display live cobras. If anything has happened, we will inquire and act accordingly,” S B Chavan, the deputy forest conservator of Sangli, said. Nature-lovers have objected the pooja of live cobra and demanded the district administration and forest department to take immediate action. Ajit Patil, honorary wildlife warden and the petitioner of the public interest litigation (PIL 75/2011) filed in the high court, said the forest department must file cases under the Wildlife Protection Act against the people involved in the pooja of the live cobra. “The ban was strictly imposed in 2013 and 2014. Last year, none of the mandals exhibited live cobras in the procession. It was a positive sign. But this year,the strict imposition of act was missing. The department must act fast to make sure those who are guilty are charged,” he said. (Times of India 20/8/15)


156. Police bust Hizbul Mujahideen sleeper cell in Jammu and Kashmir (12)

Srinagar: A sleeper cell of banned terror group Hizbul Mujahideen has been busted here with police arresting its chief, a UK-based Kashmiri physiotherapist. “Police have busted a sleeper cell of Hizbul Mujahideen functioning illegally under the command of self-styled commander Mohammad Shaheen Baba alias Zaid-bin Tariq,” a police spokesman said. Baba, a resident of Chadoora in central Kashmir’s Budgam district, along with other members of the cell had planned to carry out “sensational acts of terror by way of IED blasts”, the spokesman said. “One Chinese pistol with magazine, 25 live rounds, incriminating documents and a mobile phone were seized from the cell members,” he said. Giving details, the spokesman said Baba had been working in the UK as a physiotherapist and living in London since 2006. He married an American national of Pakistani origin and visited Pakistan, where he got in touch with commanders of Hizbul Mujahideen. “On their (commanders’) directions, (he) established the sleeper cell. The group was planning to carry out IED blasts in the Valley especially in Srinagar city,” he added. The other members of the group have been identified as Mudasir Ahmad Baba alias Auranzaib, Basharat Hussain Baba, Uqab Ahmad Wazir and Manzoor Ahmad, he said. The spokesman, however, did not specify if any other member of the cell other than Baba had been arrested. Further investigations are going on which may lead to more arrests, he said adding a case under section 13 of Unlawful Activities Act has been registered in Police station Sadder here, the spokesman said.  (Zee News 3/8/15)

157. NIA takes over probe of Udhampur terror strike (12)

Srinagar: The NIA on Thursday took over the case of Wednesday’s terror strike outside the garrison town of Udhampur in which two Border Security Force jawans were killed and 15 others wounded. One of the Pakistani militants involved in the attack was killed in retaliatory fire and the other was captured alive by villagers. Meanwhile, Pakistan on Thursday rejected the assertion that Naved was of Pakistani origin and asked India to refrain from making “accusations”. “We have also seen media reports and I will not offer any comment on that issue. We expect the Indian authorities to share information with us on the claims that are being made in the media,” Pakistan foreign office spokesperson Syed Qazi Khalilullah said on the LeT militant’s arrest. He added, “We have said many times that making immediate accusations on Pakistan is not correct. These things should be based on facts. We expect that whenever Pakistan is being accused of something, it will be accompanied with correct evidence,” He also said that the Indian claim was baseless. “We have repeatedly asked India to refrain from accusations.” Separately, a Pakistan government source was quoted by the Express Tribune newspaper as saying, “National Database and Registration Authority record shows Indian claims of an arrested person, Usman Khan (Muhammed Naved Yakub), originating from Pakistan are totally baseless.” An NIA team has been camping in winter capital Jammu since Wednesday. Headed by IG Sanjeev Kumar Singh, the team on Thursday visited Samruli-Narsu Nallah area in Udhampur-Kathua districts of Jammu and Kashmir, where the attack took place. Mr Singh has been dealing with several terror-related cases, including the Burdwan blast (in West Bengal). The NIA is empowered to deal with terror-related crime across India without special permission from the states. The NIA team later interrogated captured militant Muhammad Naved Yakub in two sittings at a joint interrogation centre in Jammu, official sources said. A case under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, Arms Act, the Foreigners Act and various sections of the Ranbir Penal Code, particularly Section 121 (waging war against the country), has been registered against him. The J&K government on Thursday gave sanction to prosecute Naved for waging war against the country. A formal prosecution order issued by the Udhampur district magistrate, Dr Shahid Iqbal Choudhary, said, “It has been established beyond reasonable doubt that an offence of criminal conspiracy has been committed by the terrorist which attracts the provisions of Sections 121 and 121-A RPC.” It added, “Sanction is hereby accorded as per the provisions of Section 196 CrPC for prosecution in the court of law following due procedure established under law.” While RPC Section 121 deals with waging, or attempting to wage war, or abetting waging of war, against the government of India, Sec. 121-A concerns conspiracy to commit offences punishable by Sec. 121. CrPC Sec. 196 deals with prosecution for offences against the state and criminal conspiracy to commit such offence. The NIA team will also examine BSF personnel who were part of the convoy ambushed by the two militants along the Srinagar-Jammu highway, members of a CRPF road opening party which was in the area at the time of the attack and took part in the counter-attack against the militants, and the villagers, particularly those three who were taken hostage by the fleeing militant Naved but displayed exemplary bravery in overpowering him. The captured militant is learnt to have given the NIA and other security agencies, including the J&K police, which are interrogating him, a “vital” lead on his journey to Udhampur from Kashmir Valley’s southern Kulgam district. He has reportedly said that he and his slain accomplice, Noaman, were dropped at Samruli by a truck driver from Kulgam. He took them to Patnitop, a hill station along the 294-km Srinagar-Jammu highway, and after a night halt at Tamatar Mode, between Patnitop and Kud, they travelled to Samruli on Wednesday morning. The truck driver dropped the two at Narsu Nallah and returned to the Kashmir Valley, Naved has reportedly told his interrogators. He also said that at Narsu Nallah he and his accomplice had tea at a roadside dhaba before launching the attack. Official sources said a massive manhunt has been launched for the unnamed truck driver. The investigating authorities have also obtained CCTV footage of vehicular movement during the mentioned timings through Jawahar Tunnel — between Qazigund and Banihal on NH 1A. Sources said Naved seems to be an “extremely hardened and highly indoctrinated terrorist”. He has constantly changed his statements during interrogation. He was interrogated through Wednesday night and also on Thursday, during which he changed his name from Qasim Khan to Usman Khan to Muhammad Naved Yakub. He also made contradictory statements about his age and for how long he had been in J&K. The only detail consistent in his statements, so far, has been that he is from Ghulam Muhammadabad in Faisalabad, the third-largest city in Pakistan after Karachi and Lahore, and that he was imparted arms training by Lashkar-e-Tayyaba, the sources said. He has reportedly told his interrogators that he had undergone two training modules — “Daur-e-Aam (general period)” and “Daur-e-Khas (special or exclusive period)” — of the LeT. Officials involved in counter-insurgency said that while the first module teaches the LeT cadre physical fitness, mountaineering and use of small arms, in the second they are trained in the use of assault rifles and the manufacture of small explosives…. (Asian Age 7/8/15)

158. Wipe out extremist ideologies from state, Centre tells police (12)

Guwahati: The ministry of home affairs (MHA) has asked the Assam Police to launch a ‘counter-radicalization’ programme to eliminate fundamentalist extremist ideologies in the state. The directive came following a recent intelligence report that marked Assam as ‘vulnerable’ to radical extremism. Besides Assam, 11 other states were marked as vulnerable. A senior police official said, “Counter-radicalization efforts would include counselling of youths, convincing community elders to persuade the younger generation to not get influenced by any extremist ideology, monitoring social media sites and taking preventive steps.” Union home secretary LC Goyal has called a high-level meeting on August 1 to frame strategies to combat radical militancy with senior police and home department officials of all the sensitive states. The MHA instruction has asked the state police to create a mechanism for quickly responding to any report of youths planning to join terror groups like ISIS or other radical outfits. A home department official said the department has been working on a robust system to counter radicalization of local youths. “The presence of Jammat-ul-Mujahedeen of Bangladesh (JMB) in the state has triggered a huge concern. Now, the report of ISIS ideology spreading in the state is surely a matter of serious concern. The state police have been asked to alert all its forces to keep a sharp eye on any such activities,” the official said. The MHA has also directed the state police to constantly monitor the social media websites and create a list of suspicious account holders. (Times of India 7/8/15)

159. Bangladesh police asks bloggers not to ‘cross limit’ (12)

Dhaka: Bangladesh police have asked secular bloggers not to “cross the limit” while writing on religious issues, even as authorities failed to make any headway in the brutal murder of a fourth blogger who hacked to death by suspected al-Qaeda-linked Islamists. “Do not cross the limit. Do not hurt anyone’s religious belief,” Inspector General of Police AKM Shahidul Hoque said. The “freethinkers” should keep in mind that hurting someone’s religious sentiment is a criminal offence, Bdnews quoted Hoque as saying. On the killing of blogger Niloy Chakrabarty Neel, Hoque said police were investigating it “with top priority”.Neel was hacked to death by four assailants inside his flat in the capital’s Goran area on Friday. He is the fourth blogger to have been killed this year. Hours after the gruesome attack, Ansar-Al-Islam, the Bangladesh chapter of al-Qaeda in the Indian subcontinent, had claimed responsibility for killing 40-year-old Neel, terming him an enemy of Allah, but police said involvement of the banned outfit cannot be confirmed yet. Meanwhile, a team of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) of the US met detectives in Dhaka yesterday. The FBI team wanted to share their technical expertise with local detectives in the investigation, Deputy Commissioner (Detective Branch) Mahbub Alam of Dhaka Metropolitan Police told reporters after the meeting. They also talked about the progress of investigation into the murder of secular writer Avijit Roy, he added. Police had primarily ascertained that the email claiming responsibility for Niloy’s murder was sent from inside Bangladesh, Mahbub said. Replying to a query, Mahbub said the bloodstained T-shirt found at the crime scene was left behind by the killers. “It is a vital piece of evidence.” Industries Minister Amir Hossain Amu yesterday said the blogger killings had political motive behind them. “We strongly believe that these are planned murders. Those who wanted to destabilise the country with violence are behind the killings,” said Amu. Apart from Neel, other bloggers killed this year are Avijit Roy, Washiqur Rahman and Ananta Bijoy Das. (Deccan Herald 10/8/15)

160. NIA shifts Udhampur terror accused to Delhi (12)

Jammu: The National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Thursday shifted Udhampur terror attack accused Muhammad Naveed alias Usman to New Delhi from Jammu and Kashmir. “A special team of the NIA, headed by senior superintendent of police Atul Goel, shifted the accused today (Thursday) to New Delhi in a BSF helicopter,” police sources told IANS in Jammu. The NIA obtained a 14-day remand for the custodial interrogation of the accused from a special NIA designate court in Jammu on August 10. “NIA Director General Sharad Kumar reviewed the progress of the case during his two-day visit here. The DG was also present during one questioning session of the accused,” sources said. Naveed and another terrorist had attacked a BSF bus on August 5 at Narsu Nallah in Udhampur district, killing two troopers and injuring 11 others. While Naveed’s accomplice was killed in the gunfight with BSF troopers, he managed to escape to Samroli, 15 km from the attack site on the Jammu-Srinagar highway. He later took three people hostage in a house in Chirdi village. The Lashkar-e-Toiba terrorist was, however, overpowered by his hostages and handed over to local police. The NIA team brought Naveed to the Valley last week to establish his terror links. The NIA rounded up around a dozen people who allegedly sheltered the terrorist and facilitated his passage from the Valley to the terror attack site. A local businessman, alleged to have given Rs.5 lakh to Abu Dujana, the LeT mastermind of the Udhampur attack, is still absconding.  (New Kerala 13/8/15)

161. Attempt to blow up rail track foiled, KLO ultra killed (12)

Kokrajhar: On the eve of Independence day, a joint Army and police team foiled an attempt by Kamtapur Liberation Organisation (KLO) militants to blow up a stretch of rail track between Korajhar and Guwahati railway stations in Assam. A KLO militant was killed in the subsequent encounter between security forces and ultras. Based on specific intelligence, the Army and the police had launched an operation at Rabha Para village late last night and spotted some KLO militants trying to plant an Improvised Explosive Device on the track, sources said. The militants opened fire and the security team retaliated, injuring a KLO militant who later died in hospital, the sources said. A 7 kg IED with detonator, a 7.65 mm pistol, a pistol magazine, some fired cases and live rounds and two hand grenades were recovered from the spot, the sources said. The ultras were planning to blow up the track which falls under North East Frontier Railway to disrupt Independence Day celebrations, the sources said. (Deccanm Herald 14/8/15)

162. Pakistan Punjab minister, 18 others killed in suicide hit (12)

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Punjab province’s home minister Shuja Khanzada, known for his tough anti-Taliban stance, was assassinated when two suicide bombers blew themselves up on Sunday at his ancestral house in Shadi Khan village of Attock district, killing at least 19 people and injuring several others, officials said. Seventy-one-year-old Khanzada and a senior police officer were among the 19 people killed when the suicide bombers attacked his political office in his native village. At least 23 others were also injured in the attack. Three critically injured people died later, increasing the toll to 19. The suicide bombers entered the house disguised as visitors and blew themselves up. Due to the blast, roof of the house caved in burying the minister and about 30 to 40 other people. Khanzada, a retired Army colonel, was holding a jirga (reconciliatory meeting with his area people) at his house. Deputy superintendent of police Shaukat Shah and Khanzada’s driver Ghareeb Nawaz were also among thise killed in the attack. The Punjab government revealed that Khanzada had been receiving threats over past few days. “The hall of the building where the meeting was underway collapsed in the blast and over three dozen people, including the minister, were trapped in the rubble,” Punjab province law minister Rana Sanaullah said. Inspector-general of the Punjab police Mushtaq Sukhera said the security personnel of the minister were with him, but the suicide bomber managed to enter the house of the minister. “There were two suicide bombers, one stood outside the boundary wall and the second one went inside and stood in front of the minister. The blast by the bomber standing outside ripped the wall which caused the roof to fall flat on the minister and people gathered there,” Mr Sukhera said. It is still not clear whether the suicide bomber inside the building also detonated a bomb. Rescue operations are still underway at the scene of the attack and there has been no official statement on the fate of the two suicide bombers as yet. There were rival claims for the suicide bombing — Lashkar-e-Islam and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi claimed credit. Taliban-affiliated Lashkar-e-Islam is based mainly in the tribal areas along the Afghan border and it claimed the attack was retaliation for military operations again-st them. Banned outfit Lashkar-e-Jhangvi also claimed responsibility and linked it to the recent killing of its chief Malik Ishaq in July. It was unclear whether the attack was actually carried out by either outfit, or they were just taking credit for it. Khanzada was given cha-rge of the provincial home department in October last year. PM Nawaz Sharif strongly condemned the blast. He said that such kind of acts cannot degrade the nation’s determination and its war against terrorism…. (Asian Age 17/8/15)

163. NIA hints at Maharashtra officials helping terror convicts leave jail, flee (12)

NEW DELHI: A terror financing convict, who was on the run after securing a furlough from Nashik Central Jail in Maharashtra, has been arrested by National Investigation Agency (NIA). The convict and one of his associates had escaped jail a few months ago after obtaining furlough even though rules do not allow furlough to terror convicts. Curiously, the convict was granted furlough a good seven months after his associate had absconded and an FIR lodged against him. The incident prompted NIA director general Sharad Kumar to write to Maharashtra chief secretary Swadhin Kshatriya last month where he asked the top bureaucrat to take strict action against officials who had facilitated the furlough. Hinting at complicity of certain officials, Kumar expressed surprise at how two convicts were granted furlough one after the other even after the first one had absconded after leaving jail. He wrote, “Convicts cannot be allowed to flee like this.” Ravi Dhiren Ghosh and Nuruddin Islam, along with four others, were convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment by an NIA special court last year on charges of terror financing under Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA). The accused were arrested by Mumbai Police for smuggling 3.50 lakh fake Indian currency notes (FICN) in 2009. The NIA not only proved through scientific evidence that the notes were printed in government press in Pakistan, but also for the first time proved charges of terror financing in an FICN case. However, an allegedly lax administration in Maharashtra, through its divisional commissioner, granted a three-week furlough to Islam on June 23 last year. Islam never returned and an FIR was filed against him on September 23. Not having learnt any lesson, the divisional commissioner granted another three-week furlough on February 21 this year, this time to Islam’s associate Ravi Dhiren Ghosh, who followed his associate’s footsteps. An FIR was duly lodged against him on March 31. This, the NIA chief pointed out in his letter, was against the Bombay Furlough and Parole Rule, 1959 under Prisons Act, 1894. As per rule 4 (13), no furlough can be granted to convicts of dacoity, terrorism, kidnapping and drug smuggling. Ghosh was arrested by NIA from Gulabganj in Malda, West Bengal on Sunday. Sources in Maharashtra administration said his custody would now be taken by state police and he would be questioned on the whereabouts of his associate. …(Times of India 18/8/125)


164. Students urge Naxals to join mainstream (12)

Raipur: For the first time in one-and-a-half decades, local tribals, including school students, on Friday took out a huge rally in Chhattisgarh’s south Bastar zone of Konta, a Naxal stronghold, asking Maoists to leave their area. Virtually throwing a challenge to the Naxals in their own den, hundreds of tribals and school students, drawn from nearly a dozen surrounding villages, assembled at Konta in south Bastar district of Sukma and staged demonstration in protest against the martyrs’ week being observed by the ultras currently. The demonstrators were seen waving placards calling upon the Leftwing insurgents to either join the mainstream or leave their area to restore normalcy and peace in the region. The placards and banners dotting the rally read: “stop killing innocent tribals”, “stop demolishing bridges and schools in Bastar” and “we want development, not mindless violence”. “The rally was a manifestation of pent up anger among local tribals against Maoists. Adivasis from a dozen villages participated in the rally. The enthusiasm of the demonstrators can be known from the fact that school students came forward to join the rally,” Sukma district additional superintendent of police (Naxal operation), Santosh Singh, said. “This was the first time, local tribals, perhaps emboldened by waning Maoist influence, dared to take out rally against Naxals in Konta since Leftwing insurgency visited Bastar nearly two decades ago,” a police officer told this newspaper. “This clearly indicates erosion of base of Maoists in south Bastar. This was no doubt an encouraging development for security forces battling ultras in the region,” he added. Adequate security was provided to the rally to avert a possible attack by Maoists. (Asian Age 1/8/15)

165. Naxal, involved in attack on police party, arrested in Delhi (12)

NEW DELHI: A Naxal leader, who was allegedly involved in an attack on a police party in Jharkhand’s Chatra last December, has been arrested by Delhi Police’s special cell. A senior police officer on Monday said that the arrested Naxalite, Nagina, has been a ‘sub-divisional commander’ of Chatra area and was active in Aurangabad, Chatra and adjoining areas. On specific units, a team of special cell arrested him from South West Delhi Sunday night, he said. He was allegedly involved in a Maoist assault on a police party at Itkhori in Chatra district in which one constable was killed and two others were injured in December, 2014. An award of Rs 5 lakh was declared by Jharkhand Police on his arrest. (Times of India 3/8/15)

166. DG CRPF takes stock of Maoist situation in Balangir (12)

Bhubaneswar: Director General (DG) of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) Prakash Mishra on Wednesday visited the Maoist-hit Balangir district in Odisha. Mishra visited a CRPF camp at Harishankar and discussed the Maoist issue with the field staff there and also with senior officers. The CRPF DG felt the need for additional deployment of jawans in Balangir district in view of its vulnerability. (Zee news 5/8/15)

167. Six Maoists including ‘area commander’ arrested (12)

Aurangabad: The Bihar Police have arrested six alleged Maoist operatives including an area commander from two different places in Aurangabad district and claimed they were trying to commit a big incident there on the occasion of their bandh call across three States on Thursday. Aurangabad Superintendent of Police Babu Ram said among the arrested Maoists, one identified as Vijay was arrested from Mali village, while five others were nabbed from Bamhauli village under Deo police station limits. “Vijay is the commander of Koel-Sone area and was involved in several incidents of Left-Wing Extremism. Among the other five arrested Maoists, three are from Palamu district in neighbouring Jharkhand, while two are from Aurangabad district,” Mr. Ram said. Mr. Ram said the six were suspected to have been planning to execute some big plan in the wake of Chhattisgarh-Jharkhand-Bihar bandh called by the CPI (Maoist) on Thursday to protest the death of their commander Dr. Shivanand Bhagat alias Sylvester Minz in an encounter with the security forces in Gumla district of Jharkhand. The SP added the arrested persons were being interrogated about their plans and involvement in the past incidents of violence. – PTI (The Hindu 7/8/15)

168. M.P. to raise special force to fight Naxals (12)

NEW DELHI: Madhya Pradesh has decided to form a Special Indian Reserve Battalion (SIRB), a force, that can be deployed across the country for maintaining law and order and fighting naxalism. A total of seven companies and 1,107 posts will be created in the special force. “The SIRB is being established in MP to combat the naxalites. Its headquarters will be at village Kanki of Balaghat district, neighbouring naxal-hit Chhattisgarh,” state Home Minister Babulal Gaur told reporters here. He said the force will be available for other states to help them in maintaining law and order related issues. “In this case, the reimbursement of the expenditure will be done by concerned state government,” Mr Gaur said. The central government will provide Rs 19 crore for arms and ammunition, among others, he said. Mr Gaur, however, refused to answer questions on Vyapam scam. “The CBI is probing the case. Then matter is also subjudice,” he said. Hesaid his department is also implementing a scheme to ensure on-the-spot registration of FIR. Dial 100, a project with total cost of Rs 632.94 crore, will be launched from November 1, this year with an aim to ensure quick response of police to help citizens in time of crisis. Under this scheme, 1,000 special vehicles will be deployed in all the 51 district of Madhya Pradesh. These vehicles will be deployed at the major public places in cities and rural areas, the Home Minister said. These vehicles will be on the road 24×7. “One vehicle will be given to every police station under the scheme. Thus 40 vehicles each to Bhopal, Indore and Gwalior, 20 each to Jabalpur and Ujjain will be given,” Gaur said. The vehicles will be equipped with Global Positioning System (GPS), first aid kit, accident extraction kit and fire extinguisher, among others, he said. – PTI (The Hindu 13/8/15)

169. Salwa judum’s death gives lease of life to village (14)

The decade-long desertion of Bhejji has now come to an end as its natives, who fled the village in the aftermath of salwa judum militia clash, have started returning and resettling in one of the worst Naxal-hit places in Chhattisgarh. Nearly 1,500 villagers had left their homes in Bhejji village of Sukma district in a state of shock and fear when the erstwhile anti-Naxal movement salwa judum was launched in 2005. The villagers were settled at the government-aided “relief camps” at Dornapal and Konta. “We always wanted to come back to our very own land. It’s like our dream come true,” Bhejji village sarpanch Guddu said. Guddu is among the 150 people — around 64 families — who have resettled in Bhejji in the last one month by erecting kuchcha houses (made of natural material like mud, grass, bamboo, thatch or sticks). Deriving its name from Goddess Bhejji Dai (mother) temple located in the village itself, Bhejji lies around 60 km away from the district headquarters. When salwa judum movement was launched in 2005, it was believed to be a ground-breaking solution to the intractable Maoist problem in the state, but contrary to the expectation it triggered an unending violence, Guddu said. “Leaving the ancestral land was never an easy task for us, but we had no option to go for the sake of our lives and see our children alive,” he said. “During ten years of exile, we suffered a lot. But, now gradually things are transforming. The climate of fear and violence is changing, thanks to security forces as well as administration,” the sarpanch said. So far we have succeeded in convincing nearly 150 people, but gradually all 1500 will be brought back to their native land, he said exuding confidence. Equally delighted with the move, villager Hunga said,“In camps, we had to survive on bare minimum food, little water and not much in the form of basic amenities. Those who have migrated to other states to escape the spiral of violence are in a miserable state.” “The resettlement will not only provide us shelter back in our place, but also provide us opportunity to take up farming and other activities for earning livelihood, he said. Remembering the village back then, he said, “Once there was a cooperative bank, a post office, two schools in the village, but everything crumbled in the crossfire. We have came back to the village with a ray of hope to get all those things back and even more than that,” he said. Considered a strategically important place in the Naxal hinterland of Sukma, Bhejji is located around 15 kms away from Injram, situated on Sukma-Konta road — a patch on NH-30 that connects Jagdalpur (district headquarters of Bastar) to Vijaywada in Andhra Pradesh. Three Central Reserve Police Force camps have been set up between Injram and Bhejji, in Etegatta, Gorkha and Kottacheru villages, besides a police station in Bhejji that was constructed long back. Meanwhile, the police sees the resettlement of villagers as their achievement. “With the new deployment of security forces, we have been able to win the confidence of people. Definitely it is our achievement that people from the camps are resettling in their villages braving Maoist threat,” Sukma additional superintendent of police Santosh Singh said. Thousands of tribals are living in camps in different districts of Bastar region since past several years. Now it’s our duty to ensure them a safe and peaceful environment at their native places which they had abandoned, he said. “We are gradually making efforts to motivate them to settle back on their own land and begin their life in a new way without any fear and shock,” the ASP said. (Asian Age 14/8/15)

170. Ranchi SSP, two others injured; 1 constable dead in Naxal encounter (12)

RANCHI: Ranchi SSP Prabhat Kumar and two other policemen were injured in a gunbattle with Left wing extremists at Dulmi village on the border of Ranchi and Khunti districts on Tuesday evening, DIG Ranchi Arun Kumar Singh said. According to reports, one police constable lost his life in the gunbattle. Kumar sustained bullet injuries in his armpit. “I had a talk with Kumar after he sustained bullet injuries. He is out of danger,” Singh said. An anti-Naxal operation was launched after police got intelligence inputs that Maoists were hiding in the border areas. The police officials have rushed the SSP and the injured officials to hospital in Ranchi. The policemen were not able to give official version of the encounter because most of them are occupied in the rescue operation. (Times of India 18/8/15)

171. Body of tribal found; allegedly killed by Maoists (12)

BERHAMPUR: Bullet-riddled body of a tribal allegedly killed by the Maoists was located on a village road near Telarai under Motu police station limits in Malkangiri district of Odisha on Monday morning. According to police sources, the deceased was identified as Gurumurthy Madhi, a resident of Telarai village. The area residents informed the police about the body after they found it. Family members of the deceased said Gurumurthy had been abducted from his home by a group of ultras at late night on Aug 15. The assailants had left behind handwritten posters in the name of outlawed Maoist organisation near the body. Through the posters the leftist extremists had alleged that Gurumurthy was a police informer and was involved in motivating Maoist supporters of his area to renounce violence and return to mainstream. It may be noted that in recent months there have been series of surrender of Maoist elements in Malkangiri district. Following this incident, security has been heightened in the area with increased combing operation to track down the assailants. Senior police officials denied about the links between the deceased and the police force. They claimed that the deceased was a soft target for the Naxalites, who had killed him only to terrorise the tribals living in remote areas. (The Hindu 18/8/15)

172. Maoist pamphlet warns Ministers, oil company (12)

NALGONDA: The Viplava Karmika Samkhya (VPS) of the CPI (Maoist) has sent a pamphlet to a newspaper office in Nalgonda warning the management of Oil Country Tubular Limited (OCTL) located at Narketpally, Ministers T. Harish Rao and Nayani Narasimha Reddy and Nakrekal MLA Vemula Veeresham on the issue of “removing about 500 employees from the company”. Signed by VPS Secretary Azad, the two-page pamphlet alleged that the TRS government had colluded with management of the OCTL. According to the pamphlet, the management had been exploiting the workers for e 30 years without following basic labour laws such as payment of minimum wages and holidays. The VPS alleged the OCTL had not even allowed the workers to form trade unions in the industry. About 25 officers working in six departments, belonging to high castes, were harassing the workers, the pamphlet said. When some workers had formed a trade union, the management had removed about 500 workers from the duties nine months ago, the pamphlet said. These workers had staged protest a number of times during these nine months and also met the Nakrekal MLA, the Irrigation Minister and the Home Minister, but they had refused to intervene in the matter, it said. The pamphlet warned Executive Chairman of OCTL Kamineni Suryanarayana and manager Venubabu saying that they would get the punishment of what the exploiters of workers had been given in the past. The VPS asked the newspaper to highlight “secret understanding of the TRS with industrialists from Andhra”. The pamphlet asked the management and the TRS leaders to be prepared to face the punishment in public court. The VPS called upon people to respond on the injustice done to poor workers. (The Hindu 20/8/15)


173. Bastar police acts after ST/SC commission’s notice, 3 held for trafficking of Bijapur girl (1)

RAIPUR: Taking cognizance after notice issued by National Commission for Scheduled Tribes to Chhattisgarh police for delay in lodging FIR and furnishing details, Bijapur police in Bastar finally lodges FIR and arrested three persons, weeks after rescue of Bijapur tribal girl who was trafficked as minor to Delhi. TOI had prominently raised the issue soon after which notice was issued wherein no action was taken against the employers too, who had put the girl in confinement at Autromline in New Delhi. Talking to TOI, Bijapur SP KL Dhruve said that team of police personnel now plan to arrest the employers from Delhi soon after roads would open with end of Maoists’ martyrs week on August 3. Chhattisgarh police was issued notice by National Commission for Scheduled Tribes on June 26 soon after rescue of tribal girl from Bastar after eight years of confinement from a house in New Delhi, whom TOI had named Leela to seal her identity being minor. While the notice demanded police to furnish facts and figures about girl’s right age, reason for delay in lodging FIR and why the provisions of ST/SC Atrocities (Prevention) Act and Bonded Labour Act were not invoked against accused. Delhi-based NGO Shakti Vahini had also complained against the cops for not registering case of bonded labour, illegal confinement, forced labour and violation of provision of SC/ST Act 1989, despite the girl’s statement. SP said that immediately on June 27, FIR was lodged against employer Subhash Sharma, trafficker Vijay Lakda and his two aides in placement agencies in Delhi and a manhunt was launched. He explained that as the girl’s parents had died, police waited for her legal guardians to file FIR, as the cause of delay. Accused Vijay Lakda was arrested recently under Section 363, 370, 368 of the IPC, Section 17 of Bonded Labour Act and Section 9 (1), (2) of Chhattisgarh private placement agencies Act, 2013. Subsequently, Vijay Kullu of placement agency in Delhi who hailed from Odisha, along with Sebastian aleas Buddhu from Odisha were also arrested. However, FIR against Subhash Sharma and wife who had kept the 16-year-old girl in confinement for more than seven years in Delhi, was also lodged. SP said that while interrogating Lakda, it was found that traffickers like Lakda identify minor girls and boys who are poor and have weak family background and lure them to work in Delhi. Most of them never return, but Leela as she raised, she realised it was confined life she was leading, and alerted a neighbour. Meanwhile, officer on duty, CID child cell said that request has been sent to department of women and child to pay relief compensation to Leela of Rs 20000. Bastar has lately been emerging as hub of child trafficking from where children are enslaved not only for domestic work in metro cities but also forced into child labour in chilly picking, thread weaving, brick kiln and poultry farming in places including Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh and Goa. About 552 children were reported missing in last three years of which Jagdalpur, Kanker, Bastar, Kondagaon, Dantewada and Narayanpur are among most affected regions. However, data maintained by Anti-Human Trafficking Unit shows 159 children trafficked in Bastar division. According to police records, at least 79 children were rescued following a tip off in November 2014 from an egg factory in Tamil Nadu. Children were enslaved for picking eggs and were abused during night by senior contractors. In 2014 more than 300 children were rescued from factories in Goa, Bangalore in Karnataka, Badrachalam in Telangana, Erode, Namakkal in Tamil Nadu, Renukoot in Uttar Pradesh and Goa. (Times of India 1/8/15)

174. ‘Girl may have been trafficked to Pak’Kelly Kislaya,(1)

RANCHI: The 23-year-old Indian girl living in Pakistan for the past 10 years could be a trafficking victim from Jharkhand, social activists and experts. Rishi Kant, a social activist and member of Delhi-based NGO Shakti Vahini, said, “As Jharkhand is a trafficking prone state, if the girl is from Jharkhand then she was probably trafficked and she managed to escape from the clutches of placement agencies and landed in Pakistan. However, her citizenship should first be checked and the Government of India should investigate the matter thoroughly.” Giridhari Ram Gaunjhu, former head of tribal and regional languages department at Ranchi University and a tribal culture expert, feel the same way. “Jharkhand has always been a trafficking hub and if the girl really is from Jharkhand then probably she was trafficked to Delhi or Punjab from where she escaped and crossed the border,” he said. Geeta alias Guddi is staying at a shelter home in Pakistan run by NGO Edhi Foundation. Talking to TOI on phone from Pakistan, Faisal Edhi of Edhi foundation said, “She was found by Pakistan rangers when she crossed the border and as she was only 12-13 years old at the time, and as she was deaf and mute, the rangers handed her to us on humanitarian grounds.” The girl uses Devnagiri script but what she writes is not Hindi. CID IG Sampat Meena said the photographs of her writing would be circulated among SPs of all districts to find out if it is a local language or not. “First we need to make sure if she is from Jharkhand. I will be forwarding the images of her scripts to all SPs to know if it is a local language or not and if it is then we will at least get to know the area she belongs to,” she said. While the Pakistani NGO knew that the girl was from India, it was only three days ago that her Jharkhand connection was revealed. “One person came to visit her and showed her a map of India. She pointed at Jharkhand and Telangana. By her gestures she explained that her father is from Jharkhand and mother from Telangana. She points somewhere towards the south of Ranchi,” said Edhi. The NGO members also informed that Geeta wrote down a number 193, which is possibly the number of her house. Edhi said, “The girl gestures that there is a river and a railway station near her house. She is a devoted Hindu and in her room she keeps an Idol of Ganesh and a photograph of Shiva which she worships regularly.” Edhi claimed that in past they had contacted the Indian Embassy but as the girl carried no documents she was not sent to India. Meanwhile, Ansar Burney, a leading Pakistani human rights activist, has also launched a movement to reunite the girl with her parents and tweeted minister of external affairs, Sushma Swaraj about the search to which Swaraj had replied on twitter on Monday, “I have asked Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan Dr TCA Raghavan to go to Karachi with Mrs Raghavan and meet this girl.” (Times of India 4/8/15)

175. 27 Nepalese trafficking victims return from India (1)

Kathmandu: Twenty-seven Nepalese women rescued in New Delhi when they were to be trafficked to Dubai have returned home. The women, who had been promised lucrative employment opportunities, were rescued by Indian police two weeks ago, reports Xinhua news agency. The women, aged between 20 and 35 years, were taken to New Delhi on different dates. Most of these women were from earthquake-hit districts of Nepal. (Business Standard 6/8/15)

176. Father among six held for child trafficking (1)

COIMBATORE: Police have arrested six persons in connection with the trafficking of a one-year-old girl of Sowripalayam in Coimbatore City. The arrested include the child’s father Raman (28) and couple from Thengapattinam in Kanyakumari district, to whom the child was sold. On Saturday, the Peelamedu Police and the Anti Human Trafficking Wing Police returned from Kanyakumari with the child who was handed over to her mother Meena. Shalini, who was reunited with her mother after a gap of 11-days, is the third daughter of the couple. Raman had lamented to Thangasamy and Kumarasamy from Kanyakumari that faced difficulty in managing the family. The duo had suggested that he give away his youngest daughter. Though Raman initially refused, he gave in after they offered him money. Meanwhile at Kanyakumari district, Vijayakumar (42) a mason and his wife Raniprabha (38) who did not have a child for more than 15 years approached a nurse Rita (35) – a friend of Thangasamy and Kumarasamy – for a child. After negotiations, Thangasamy, Kumarasamy and Rita plotted with Raman to take the child to Kanyakumari. The family of five went to Kanyakumari on July 27. There, Raman gave money to Meena and asked her to take the elder daughters for shopping and offered to take care of one-year-old Shalini. Raman later told Meena – who returned from shopping – that Shalini was missing. After searching for the child they returned to Coimbatore. Meena grew suspicions of her husband as he had a lot of money. Later Raman confessed to selling their daughter. Meena lodged a complaint with the city police who registered a case and launched a search for the missing child. Inquiries revealed that Thangasamy, Kumarasamy and Rita bought the baby for Rs. 65,000 from Raman and sold her to Vijayakumar and Raniprabha for Rs. 2.25 lakh. The police arrested Raman, Thangasamy, Kumarasamy, Rita, Vijayakumar and his wife Raniprabha and remanded them in judicial custody. (The Hindu 9/8/15)

177. Rescued trafficking victims to interact with Kailash Satyarthi (1)

RANCHI: Victims of human trafficking and child labour will soon get a chance to interact directly with the governor of Jharkhand Droupadi Murmu and Nobel Laureate and founder of Bachpan Bachao Andolan NGO, Kailash Satyarthi. Jharkhand commission for protection of child rights (JSCPCR) will be organizing a Baal Jan Samvad in the first week of September in which the trafficking and child labour survivors will directly share their experience, problems and plans with the governor and Satyarthi. JSCPCR member Sanjay Mishra said, “We have been planning to call Satyarthi to Jharkhand for a long time but he has had a busy schedule. However, this time the programme is final and he will confirm us the date soon.” However, tracing down all survivors will be a challenge for the commission. “We have a list of addresses and contacts of 779 rescued children and they will all be called for the dialogue. This apart, we will include the children rescued during Operation Muskaan of CID. Also we will be contacting the other NGOs and also the child welfare committees of the state to provide us with the list of children who have survived trafficking and child labour,” Mishra said. Satyarthi will also be interacting with selected students from various institutes of the state like Xavier Institute of Social Service (XISS), XLRI and IIM Ranchi. Mishra said, “We will soon be contacting these institutes to shortlist the names of students who will participate in the programme. These students will discuss options to provide a better life to the rescued children and chalk out plans for the same.” (Times of India 12/8/15)

178. U.P. to form task force to check human trafficking (1)

Lucknow: The Uttar Pradesh government has decided to constitute a task force to check human trafficking on the directive of Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, official sources said on Thursday. It has also been decided to strengthen anti-human trafficking units and give a serious consideration to give them status of police stations, an official spokesman said here. The decisions were taken during State-level advisory committee held on Thursday. It was decided to study rules framed by the other States relating to placement agencies and migrant labour and frame a new rulebook for U.P. For better training of employees involved in checking human trafficking and maintain uniformity it was decided to follow standard operating procedure. It was directed to register complaints relating to missing child on priority basis. – PTI (The Hindu 13/8/15)

179. Gang which trafficking girls from Bengal busted (1)

NEW DELHI: A gang of traffickers who used to sell girls to be married off to men in Haryana has been busted by the crime branch. According to police, the gang used to drug the girls and bring them to Delhi from North Dinajpur district of West Bengal. They would be sold for about a lakh to the prospective groom. TOI had first reported about the gang after one of girls managed to call her relative in West Bengal and got a dealer arrested. However, the kingpin of the gang managed to evade police. Recently police got a tip-off that two girls would be brought to Delhi and offered for sale to a farmer in Haryana. The deal would take place at the house of a dealer named Ram Bhawan who was arrested earlier. “A team led by DCP D K Gupta was formed and trap was laid during which Raju, the kingpin, was arrested. He admitted that he had trafficked girls,” said Ravindra Yadav, joint commissioner, crime. During investigation, it was found that one of their victims were sold at Rewari through Ram Bhawan and his wife Laxmi. It was also found that the recent transaction took place 10 days ago where a man named Ashok who is a resident of Rewari had bought a minor girl for Rs 80,000 and married her at a court. Police said Raju (29) along with a woman Wasabi Barman (35) and Suraj had drugged both the victims and brought them to Delhi. They were first confined at Ram Bhavan where the grooms had to pay Rs 2500 to spend a day with the girls they wanted to buy and later pay the rest of the money to get married. Officers say that accused admitted that they used to take an advantage of the declining sex ratio of Haryana and sell the girls to the households where they would be treated as slaves. They would be forced into physical relationships with several men at a time, to bear children. Such circumstances have led to difficulties in finding matrimonial match for the landless and unskilled males. Therefore, they have been indulging in illegally procuring poor girls from other lesser developed states for marriage, said a police officer. (Times of India 19/8/15)


180. Vyapam scam: CBI files five more FIRs (5)

New Delhi: The CBI on Monday registered five new FIRs in connection with its ongoing probe into the Vyapam scam in Madhya Pradesh. The first case was registered against two people on charges of cheating by impersonation in the constable recruitment examination 2013 (II). The second First Information Report was registered against some unknown people on the charge of leak of question paper in the patwari recruitment examination 2008 held under Vyavsayik Pariksha Mandal (Vyapam), or the Madhya Pradesh Professional Examination Board (MPPEB). The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) registered the third case for cheating by impersonation against 24 accused in the police constable recruitment examination conducted by Vyapam in 2012. The fourth case was registered against four people for impersonation in respect of three candidates in constable recruitment examination-2013. The fifth case was registered against two persons for impersonation by certain persons in respect of one candidate in constable recruitment examination-2012. The FIRs were registered on charges of cheating, criminal conspiracy, and under the Information Technology Act, Prevention of Corruption Act and the Madhya Pradesh Recognised Examination Act. The CBI has already registered 27 FIRs and launched 11 preliminary inquiries into the Vyapam scam. The Supreme Court on July 9 handed over the Vyapam cases to the central agency from July 13. Over 40 people linked with the scam have died under mysterious circumstances or committed suicide. (New Kerala 3/8/15)

181. Parliament logjam continues, LS Speaker Sumitra Mahajan suspends 25 MPs (5)

New Delhi: There seems no respite in the ongoing impasse in the Parliament as no work was carried out for the tenth day on Monday and as many as 25 Congress MPs of the Lok Sabha were suspended by Speaker Sumitra Mahajan. Amid ruckus and continuous protests by the opposition, both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha were adjourned for the day without any work. Earlier in the day, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj tried to defend herself over the allegations levelled against her for helping former Indian Premier League (IPL) commissioner Lalit Modi to procure travel papers to UK. I wanted to clarify this from the very beginning but the opposition is not ready for any discussion. They only resort to ruckus and chaos. I did not ever request UK government to arrange the travel papers for Lalit Modi, Swaraj said even as the oppositions created chaos in the Upper House. However, the Congress said that Sushma Swarajs statement should not be taken on record as it was done without notice. Retaliating back, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said, I agree with Congress demand that anything spoken against permission of Chairperson should be removed from the records. Whatever was said against Sushma Swaraj in last few days should be removed from the record. Anand Sharma wants to put censorship on media coverage of House proceedings as the Minister is ready to respond, he accused in turn. Deputy Chairperson of Rajya Sabha PJ Kurien also asked the House to maintain order if they wanted a ruling, warning that the House shall be adjourned otherwise. He said, If a minister responds to the allegation being made by opposition, then nothing to take cognizance to it. The Opposition made allegation and the minister responded, why to worry. The Congress-led opposition parties continued to demand the resignation of Swaraj and Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje for their alleged help to disgraced cricket tycoon Lalit Modi and of Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan over the Vyapam recruitment scam. However, the government ruled out the resignations stating that no FIR has been filed against any of their ministers. Ministers of UPA resigned not because BJP is demanding. There was an FIR in one case. PM believes in zero tolerance towards corruption. There is not an iota of charge against these ministers, said Union Minister M Venkaiah Naidu. In Lok Sabha, similar kind of ruckus took place where at one point Speaker Sumitra Mahajan named Congress leaders who held placards and asked them to keep aside the posters and take their seats. Opposition members entered the well of the House. Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh once again said the government was ready for a debate but ruled out any resignations. We are ready for discussion. Opposition cannot be ignored in democracy. I clarify that there is no FIR against any of our minister, nor any complaint with CVC, so there is no question of any resignation, said Singh. But with ruckus continuing, Mahajan suspended 25 Congress MPs, including Gaurav Gogoi, Deepender Singh Hooda, MK Raghavan, Venugopal amongst many others, for disrupting the House proceedings for five consecutive working days. Earlier, assailing Prime Minister Narendra Modi for being silent on scandals involving his party colleagues, Congress President Sonia Gandhion Mondaymade it clear that her party would continue protests in the Parliament until the ruling BJP agreed to remove its leaders caught in various controversies. We will fight against the brazen attitude of the government, she said at the Congress Parliamentary Party meeting. The PM has been very free with his promises yet he seems totally incapable of delivering on them – for its silence on acts of monumental corruption, its willful violations of law and gross misdemeanors on part of its leading lights, she said. The Mann ki baat man appears to retreat into a Maun Vrat whenever there is a scandal involving his colleagues, she said. Her sharp reaction came ahead of an all-party meeting that was scheduled to be held later in the day to discuss a way out of the deadlock that has stalled business in Parliament since the Monsoon session began. However, the Congress rejected the debate and said Swaraj should resign first. Sonia Gandhi said: Today, we have to listen to sermons on parliamentary behaviour from those who not only defended but also advocated disruption as a legitimate tactic when we they were in the opposition. (New Kerala 3/8/15)

182. Vyapam scam whistle-blower’s wife transferred again (5)

MUMBAI: There seems to be no end to the harassment of Vyapam whistle-blower Anand Rai and his family. Weeks after the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government in Madhya Pradesh shunted out doctor Anand Rai from Indore to Dhar, his wife, a gynaecologist, has now been transferred to the same district — her second transfer in one month. Gauri Rai was transferred from the civil hospital at Mhow in Indore to Ujjain district hospital in July. Dr. Rai said the persistent hounding of his family was to “demoralise and destabilise” him. It was also an attempt to influence the CBI probe into the recruitment scam. “The government is aware that the whistle-blowers are good resource for the CBI. To ensure that we play no part in the probe, we are being pressured and entangled in a legal battle to divert our resources and attention,” Dr. Rai told The Hindu. Dr. Gauri Rai, 33, was suspended in January for seeking childcare leave. Despite filing for a childcare leave she received no reply from her department for over six months. She moved the Indore High Court. Though she was reinstated, she was last month transferred to Ujjain even as four other doctors suspended along with her were promoted. On July 31, Dr. Gauri Rai was summoned by the Principal Secretary (Health), Gauri Singh, who asked her to withdraw her PIL in the childcare case. Dr. Rai, who has a young child to nurture, says the transfer would pose serious health and security issues for her. Dr. Rai is under police protection. The Rais have challenged the transfers in the Indore High Court. Mr. Rai, a former RSS office-bearer who has played a vital role in exposing the scam, was shunted to Dhar — a tribal belt — just days after he lodged a complaint against senior BJP leader and former Union Minister Vikram Verma. Dhar, in the Malwa region, is Mr. Verma’s home turf and Neena Verma, his wife, is the local MLA. “I feel unsafe. I can be attacked anytime. I will have no one to go to,” Mr. Rai said while lamenting the ineffectiveness of the Whistle-blowers Protection Act. In his complaint to the CBI on July 17, Mr. Rai alleged that the BJP leader used his power and influence to get his daughter, who was pursuing MBBS in a college in Uttar Pradesh’s Ghaziabad, transferred to the Gandhi Medical College in Bhopal. (The Hindu 4/8/15)

183. No HC reprieve for former KPT chairman in corruption case (5)

AHMEDABAD: Gujarat high court on Thursday rejected the discharge pleas filed by former chairman of Kandla Port Trust (KPT), A Janardan Rao and other officials in connection with the charges of cheating, criminal conspiracy and corruption leveled against them by the Central Bureau of Investigation in 2008. Justice J B Pardiwala turned down the petitions on the ground that only circumstantial evidence can establish conspiracy and for that the prosecution should be given enough chance. At the time of framing of charges, it is not necessary for CBI to establish beyond all reasonable doubt that the accusations are true. This stage is not expected to be dress-rehearsal of a trial. CBI had registered an FIR against Rao, two other KPT officials and two private firms as well on charge of irregularities in awarding contracts and in allotting lands. CBI alleged that the officials conspired with the private companies and concealed facts to change the purpose of land and transferred land at rates much lower than prescribed one. CBI filed chargesheet in 2011 and Rao and other accused sought discharge from the special CBI court in Mirzapur court campus in the city. When the special court rejected the discharge pleas, they moved the high court. The HC observed that Rao’s approval for transfer of lease hold rights in respect of plots by itself would not constitute an offence. At the same time, failure to recover transfer fees and ground rent keeping in mind the policy and guidelines issued by the Centre itself would also not constitute an offence. “But it is the conglomeration of all the circumstances which creates strong suspicion regarding a well hatched conspiracy,” the court observed. (Times of India 6/8/15)

184. Chhattisgarh PDS scam: Approach HC, SC tells petitioners (5)

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday asked petitioners seeking a court-monitored CBI probe into the public distribution system (PDS) scam in Chhattisgarh to approach the high court as it was in a better position to address the issue. A bench of Justice T.S. Thakur, Justice V. Gopala Gowda and Justice R. Banumathi said “the high court will be in a better position to examine the matter and record the findings”.”If you have any difficulty, you can always come to us. It will not be right (for the apex court) to listen to everything, grab and not let the high court function,” the bench told the petitioners. At the outset of the hearing, when Justice Thakur asked counsel Kapil Sibal, appearing for one of the petitioners, to go to the Chhattisgarh High Court, he replied: “In this case, top authorities are involved. You name them, they are there.” Telling the court “Why I said what I had said”, Sibal added that even the head of the Anti-Corruption Bureau has said in a video that some dimensions of the PDS scam reaches a place which they cannot investigate. When high dignitaries are involved, what investigation will take place, Sibal asked, and quoted the ACB chief as saying: “There are certain people we can’t reach.” The counsel said investigators have got a diary that contains all the names. As Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for Chhattisgarh, sought to dispute what was being attributed to the Chhattisgarh ACB chief, Sibal took out a mobile phone, urging the apex court to listen to the video recording of what the ACB chief said. Sibal said the state corporation was purchasing paddy from farmers and giving it to rice mills, and they in turn were returning third rate rice which beneficiaries under PDS were refusing to take. The court witnessed some frayed tampers as the attorney general said the entire matter was “politically motivated”, while Sibal retaliated saying “politically motivated at your end”.As one of the lawyers told the court that in the FIR, 26 people were named but it came down to 16 in the charge sheet, Rohatgi said: “Go back to the special judge and tell him that these are the people.” (New Kerala 12/8/15)

185. Rs 6,500 crore disclosed so far under new black money law (5)

New Delhi: Vowing to make India corruption-free, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on August 15 said Rs 6,500 crore of undeclared foreign assets have been brought to book since framing of a tough blackmoney law and the drive will continue despite ‘side-effects’. Another Rs 4,500 crore has come through action under Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) during the last 10 months, he said outlining the series of steps taken by the government to tackle the menace of black money. In his address to the nation from ramparts of the Red Fort on the 69th Independence Day, Modi said several important steps including agreements with countries like the US for real time sharing of information on Indian nationals holding assets abroad, have been taken. The government has enacted a new foreign black money law with stringent punishments, which some have termed as too harsh that may lead to inspector raj. “Sometimes when disease is very dreadful, then injections are needed. When injection is administered, doctors say there may be side-effects. But, this bitter pill is the only cure for this ailment,” he said. Modi said Rs 10,000 crore was recovered in 10 years since framing of PMLA. Of this, “Rs 4,500 crore has come in the last 10 months,” he added. “We have not showed our commitment to fight corruption by holding a press conference, but by taking action on ground. And we have achieved results. We have tried to change system,” he said. Promising a “corruption-free” India, he said, “corruption is a termite” that continues to persist at lower levels. Modi said that immediately after coming to power in May last year, the BJP government constituted a Special Investigation Team (SIT) on black money and later enacted a Black Money (Undisclosed Foreign Income and Assets) and Imposition of Tax Act, 2015. The new law provided for a 90-day compliance window ending September 30 to foreign assets holders to declare undisclosed assets, pay a total of 60 per cent tax and penalty to escape jail term of up to 10 years. The tax and penalty on income declared under the window has to be paid by December 31. Speaking on the response to one-time window provided to blackmoney hoarder to comply with the new law, he said, “people may not agree but it (compliance window) is working. People have declared undisclsoed income of about Rs 6,500 crore. This money will come into the treasury and will be used for betterment of the poor.” “The process to bring back blackmoney is long but the work is continuing… benefits have started to accrue. No one can now dare to send blackmoney abroad,” he said. (Asian Age 15/8/15)

186. CBI registers one more case in Vyapam; total cases 71 (5)

New Delhi: CBI on Monday registered one more case in connection with the alleged cheating, forgery and irregularities in the conduct of examinations by Vyapam in Madhya Pradesh, taking the total number of cases filed to 71. “A case has been registered u/s 120B r/w 417, 419, 420, 467, 468, 471 of IPC and Section 3(d)/4 of MP Recognised Examinations Act, 1937 against eight accused persons relating to an alleged illegalities committed in the Police Constable Recruitment Test 2013 conducted by Vyapam,” CBI Press Information Officer R K Gaur said. CBI is fast-tracking taking over of cases related to Vyapam after it was pulled up by Supreme Court which had also asked it to file a report by August 24. Allegations of rampant corruption surfaced in professional examinations conducted by Madhya Pradesh Professional Examination Board (MPPEB), also known as Vyapam, after RTI queries showed alleged involvement of top functionaries of state government offices. Former state Education Minister Laxmikant Sharma and several top bureaucrats are currently in jail in connection with the scam. (Zee News 17/8/15)

187. CBI registers DA case against A. Raja  (5)

New Delhi, Aug 19 (PTI): The Central Bureau of Investigation has registered a disproportionate assets case against former Telecom Minister A. Raja and 16 others, including his family members and friends. After registering the case in special CBI court, the agency on Wednesday carried out searches in Delhi, Chennai, Coimbatore, Tiruchirappalli and Perambalur. The sources said during the probe of 2G spectrum allocation scam against Raja they have come across assets which were disproportionate to the known sources of the former minister. The charges, they said, levelled against Raja in the present FIR are under provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act Raja is already facing CBI investigations in the 2G telecom spectrum allocation scam of 2008, in which trial is going on. The Enforcement Directorate is also probing the case in this regard. Raja had declared assets worth Rs 1.45 crore in his election declaration in 2014, while that of his wife worth Rs 93.93 lakh. His daughter holds assets worth Rs 18.15 lakh. (The Telegraph 19/8/15)

188. Corruption taint on BJP in Gujarat, Goa (5)

AHMEDABAD: A special anti-corruption court in Gandhinagar on Wednesday ordered criminal prosecution of Gujarat minister for animal husbandry Purshottam Solanki, former minister Dilip Sanghani and five retired bureaucrats in connection with the alleged Rs 440-crore fisheries scam. The court order followed a complaint against Solanki and others by a businessman, Ishaq Maradia, who accused him of arbitrarily awarding fishing contracts for 58 reservoirs in 2008. The court got the case probed by the police and on the basis of the probe report submitted in May 2014 and material given by Maradia, additional sessions judge Rizwana Ghoghari concluded that there were sufficient grounds for a trial. She directed the court registry and criminal branch to launch criminal prosecution against the seven accused under provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act. The bureaucrats who would be tried include then secretary of fisheries and co-operatives department Arun Sutaria and former deputy secretary Victor Kharadi. Complainant’s advocate Vikram Thakore said Maradia approached the Gujarat high court in 2008, alleging irregularities in awarding fishing contracts to certain groups by not following rules laid down by the state government in 2004. The rules make it mandatory for a department to invite tenders for awarding a contract to a private party. The high court concluded that there were real irregularities in the awarding of contracts by Solanki and cancelled them. Following the HC order, Maradia approached the trial court for initiating criminal prosecution against Solanki and Sanghani on corruption charges. But the then state government, led by under Narendra Modi, denied permission for prosecution. Subsequently, Maradia approached the high court again. (Times of India 20/8/15)


189. Activists launch agitation against GM mustard (9)

New Delhi: A group of activists and civil society outfits on Friday vowed to resist the entry of genetically modified (GM) mustard into India, a statement said. Pledging to work towards ensuring seed sovereignty, biodiversity conservation, protecting farm livelihoods and food safety in the country, the group launched the “Sarson Satyagraha (mustard agitation)” at Rajghat here. “The current opaqueness around GM mustard shows that they have something to hide,” the statement issued by the Alliance for Sustainable and Holistic Agriculture, one of the participating organisations said. “If the government does not keep the interests of citizens, their health and environment at the top of its decisions, citizens will be forced to intensify their satyagraha,” it added. While raising questions around the genuineness of the research claims around GM mustard, the experts cited data on the increased illnesses in countries like the US after the advent of GM foods. The group also sent a letter to Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar raising important concerns related to GM mustard while deciding to initiate a public debate on the issue through public awareness creation. The central government is yet to take a call on introduction of Genetically Modified (GM) crops in the country including GM mustard, first genetically engineered food crop in the country. The GM mustard ‘DMH 11 (Dhara Mustard Hybrid 11)’ has been developed by the Centre for Genetic Manipulation of Crop Plants, University of Delhi. (Business Standard 1/8/15)

190. Citing India, Obama unveils clean power plan (9)

Washington: President Barack Obama unveiled a plan to reduce emissions from coal-fired power plants citing how global climate changes were affecting the world with more storms, droughts and floods and decimating crops from India to Africa. “This is our moment to get this right and leave something better for our kids,” he said calling his Clean Power Plan “the single most important step America has ever taken in the fight against global climate change.” “Climate change is no longer just about the future we’re predicting for our children or our grandchildren, it’s about the reality that we’re living with every day – right now,” said Obama pointing to stronger storms, deeper droughts and more frequent floods. The White House says the revised Clean Power Plan seeks to increase the required cuts in carbon emissions from the power sector, demanding they be slashed 32 percent from 2005 levels by 2030-up from the 30 percent requirement in the original draft regulation. Obama said such a reduction means “we’ll be keeping 870 million tons of carbon dioxide pollution out of our atmosphere.” Earlier addressing the Young African Leaders Initiative Presidential Summit Town Hall, Obama said “Global climate change will affect everybody.” “And because the changes could be so severe, frankly, the countries that are most likely to be adversely affected are the poorer countries because they have less margin for error.” “So if you have changing weather patterns in, let’s say, the Indian Subcontinent, and the monsoon rains shift, suddenly you could have millions of people whose crops completely fail,” Obama said. “Well, the same is true in Africa-if rain patterns and drought starts changing, subsistence farmers are completely vulnerable,” he said. Asked how Obama’s Clean Power Plan relates to world climate summit in Paris in December, his press secretary Josh Earnest cited “lot of success” in getting significant commitments from several countries including India, China and Brazil. “We have had a lot of success in getting other countries to make significant commitments alongside the United States when we make important domestic commitments when it comes to reducing carbon pollution.” During Obama’s visit to China last November, China had made a significant commitment to “cap carbon emissions in China on or around 2030.” “We saw a similar dynamic when President (Dilma) Rousseff of Brazil visited the White House, where both Presidents made a commitment to reduce carbon emissions,” he said. “We saw commitments from India when it comes to the deployment of renewable energy technology.” (Business Standard 4/8/15)

191. Toxic air choked 35,000 to death in 10 years: Ministry (9)

NEW DELHI: Union environment ministry, which generally avoids sharing details of air pollution-linked deaths, made an exception on Thursday when it said in Parliament that more than 35,000 people had died due to acute respiratory infections (ARI) across India in close to 10 years. More than 2.6 crore cases were reported every year during the period. Although international studies have attributed far more deaths to air pollution in India, this was a rare official admission that pollution could be causing deaths on a large scale. The number of annual ARI cases reported by environment and forest minister Prakash Javadekar was high by any measure. “Air pollution is known to be one of the aggravating factors for many respiratory ailments and cardiovascular diseases,” Javadekar stated, sharing the data provided by the health and family welfare ministry. According to the data, 3.48 crore cases came to light in 2014, which means more than 95,000 Indians of all ages were reporting acute respiratory infection every day. Responding to a Parliament question on impact of air pollution, the minister in his written response in Rajya Sabha stated, “Asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, chronic bronchitis etc are the diseases caused by exposure to increasing air pollution.”… (Times of India 7/8/15)

192. Govt brings in green policy to combat depleting rainfall (9)

Mumbai: Taking note of the depleting amount of rainfall in the state in recent years and the current dry spell, the government has come out with a new green city policy that has been operational since July 31. The policy lays emphasis on afforestation on private and land reserved for community purposes, protection and increasing of biodiversity. It places the responsibility of drawing up plans for afforestation on local self-governing bodies. As per the National Forest Policy, 1988, the state should have a forest cover over 33 per cent of its total land area. An official from the state forest department said that keeping the national forest policy in mind, the government has drawn up the concept of Green Maharashtra, wherein trees will be required to be planted on vacant land. However, the government did admit that finding vacant land in urban areas is difficult as there is 45 per cent urbanisation in the state due to rapid industrialisation, commerce and rise in employment opportunities. “The local self governing bodies will have to seek assistance from enviromentalists and ecology experts while formulating plans to planting trees in open spaces, in the vicinity of water bodies and along both the sides of the roads,” the official said. He also added that the civic bodies would have to implement this policy by utilising their existing manpower. “The civic bodies may also select from among Forest Development Corporation of Maharashtra (FDCM), non-governmental bodies and voluntary organisations working in forest and environment sector to help them in working out the green policy,” the official said. As per the guidelines, the civic bodies will have to take into account the local situation, climate, soil quality, rainfall, availability of water and other factors while selecting quality and sturdy plant species for plantation. “While planting trees care should be taken that there is a mix of fruit bearing trees, shade providing trees, trees of medicinal value and ornamental plants. After plantation of the trees in order to ensure that at least 80 to 90 per cent of it survives for the next five years and protect it from animals and damage. The civic body shall be permanently responsible for protecting and preserving it. To provide the plants with sufficient water and other measures,” the official said. He said that from next year, the civic bodies, in order to ensure availability of tree saplings, shall develop their own plant nurseries. For this, the civic bodies shall consult the social forestry and forest department for seeds, fertilisers, medicines and other aspects, he said. “The civic bodies are expected to raise funds for the programe through their budgets, district plans, MP and MLA local area funds, corporate social responsibility, national rural employment guarantee scheme and Maharashtra rural employment guarantee scheme and funds allocated by the urban development department,” the official said. (Asian Age 8/8/15)

193. ‘Violation of environment laws are increasing’ (9)

Keri: The Goa government has been involved in various violations of environmental laws and rules under the guise of development work. If citizens fail to restrain the increasing incidents of environmental violations, then they will have to pay a heavy price for it, said Norma Alvares, an environment lawyer. Alvares was the chief guest at a function held for the distribution of certificates to participants of trekking programmes at Menezes hall in Mapusa. She spoke of how Goans are not allowed to enjoy the beauty of its beaches as they are prevented entry. The government should take steps to get access to beaches without any interruption and obstacles. Work on an entertainment park and a wedding destination in Vagator is going on without necessary clearances and those fighting against illegalities have been threatened, she said. Durgadas Parab, one of the founders of Eco-Trek, said that while organizing trekking expeditions priority is always given to inculcating environmental values and ethics. (Times of India 12/8/15)

194. Consistent efforts made to tackle air pollution: Govt (9)

New Delhi: The Government has been making consistent efforts to address the issue of air pollution in Delhi and National Capital Region (NCR), an official statement said. Minister of State (Independent Charge) of Environment, Forest and Climate Change Prakash Javadekar has adopted a consultative and cooperative approach to tackle the air pollution in and around Delhi. The Minister has taken three review meetings with the Environment Ministers of Rajasthan, Haryana, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and with the concerned senior officers of municipal bodies and police from these States. The first meeting was held on April 6, 2015 at Vigyan Bhawan, while the second meeting was held on April 13, 2015 at Paryavaran Bhawan. The third meeting was held on July 24, 2015 at Parliament House. The pro-active approach adopted by the Ministry got a positive response from the States. It translated into the setting up of short-term prevention measures like stopping and burning of bio-wastes, initiating work for major up-gradation of Pollution Under Control (PUC) system, issuing challans of over-loaded goods vehicles, enhancing of parking slots availability, installation of waste to energy plants and strict monitoring of polluting industries, the statement claimed. At the meeting held on July 24, it was decided that all the States concerned will come out with an annual plan of initiatives to prevent air pollution and also come out with a long-term plan. As pollution cannot be tackled only through government efforts, the Centre will soon launch a massive people-oriented awareness campaign to check air pollution, it added. (New Kerala 13/8/15)

195. Concern over rapid warming of Indian Ocean (9)

Thiruvananthapuram: The rapid warming of the Indian Ocean could be responsible for the uncertainties of the Asian monsoon and the reduced rainfall over the Indian sub continent, according to monsoon meteorologists and ocean scientists participating in a national workshop on Climate Change and Sustainable Development. Director, Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS) Dr .Satish Shenoi said the Indian Ocean was warming faster than other oceans. Latest studies had revealed that the excess heat sequestered by the Pacific Ocean from greenhouse gas emissions was transported to the Indian Ocean through an ocean current known as the Indonesian Throughflow. Consequently, upper ocean heat content had been slowly decreasing in the Pacific. The Indian Ocean, he said, was now home to 70 per cent of all the heat taken up by oceans across the globe. This unprecedented heat uptake since 2003 had the potential to change atmospheric circulation, affecting the Asian monsoon and impacting on the marine ecosystem. The rise in Sea Surface Temperature (SST) in the western Indian Ocean during the period from 1901 to 2012 coincided with a weak monsoon circulation and reduced rainfall over the Indian sub continent. The mean Sea Level Rise (SLR) recorded in oceans across the world rose from 1.5- 2 mm per year in the 20th century to 3.1 mm per year during the last decade. However, the rate of SLR in the Indian Ocean during the last decade was as high as 4.12 mm per year. Dr. Shenoi said the El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) representing a warm phase was found to have a strong relationship with the lesser number of cyclones generated in the Bay of Bengal during the period from October to December. The decrease in the number of monsoon depressions over the Bay of Bengal translated into lesser rainfall for the sub continent. INCOIS, he said, was strengthening its network of tide gauges to quantify sea level rise along the Indian coast. He stressed the need for more studies on ocean acidification and increase in dissolved inorganic carbon in surface waters. Noted monsoon researcher P.V. Joseph said the uncertainties posed by climate change factors could have disturbed the cycle of dry and wet epochs dictated by the performance of the Asian monsoon. He said India faced multiple problems due to climate change issues like sea level rise, glacier melting, increased frequency of severe weather, decrease in rainfall, increased frequency and intensity of heat waves and pollution of air, water and food sources. The workshop was organised by the National Centre for Earth Science Studies (NCESS) in collaboration with the Centre for Climate Change Research (CCCR) under the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), Pune. Dr.M. Sudhakar, Director, NCESS, Dr. M.Rajeevan, Director, IITM and Dr. R.Krishnan, Executive Director, CCCR were among those who led the sessions. (The Hindu 20/8/15)


196. ‘Adopt integrated farming system to avoid crop loss’ (20)

Mysuru: Expressing concern over farmers’ suicides even in the irrigated regions like Mandya district, A.B. Patil, Director of Extension, University of Horticultural Sciences, Bagalkot, has said that integrated farming is the only solution to avoid crop loss. He advised farmers to use special nutrients for banana crop and proper chemicals for ripening the fruit. Mr. Patil also mooted the idea of creating a farmers’ portal on banana so that growers can interact among themselves and know the present marketing trends besides benefitting from one another’s best farming practises. (The Hindu 2/8/15)

197. Six farmers commit suicide in Karnataka (20)

Bengaliri: Six farmers ended their lives in the State on Sunday. Two of them are from Mandya district.

Thirty-year-old Umesh committed suicide by hanging himself from a tree in Karalakatte village of Malavalli taluk in Mandya district. Umesh and his brother jointly owned four acres of land. He had taken up silk farming and planted banana on the said land, both of which did not fetch him remunerative price. He is said to be having loans to the tune of Rs four lakh. Devaraj alias Devu (24) hung himself to death from a tree at his land in Chikkabyadarahalli village of Pandavapura taluk in Mandya district. He had borrowed Rs 30,000 from a bank and more than Rs three lakh from private persons. According to the complaint lodged by his father, Devaraj ended life fearing inability to repay loans. Srinivas (42), a farmer from Chikkahonnavalli village in Tiptur taluk of Tumakuru district hung himself to death on Sunday. He owned three acres of land and had borrowed farm loans from banks in the name of his mother. He is also said to have taken loans from private persons. According to the complaint lodged by his wife, Srinivas ended his life owing to debt burden and crop loss. A 35-year-old woman farmer, who had consumed poison on Saturday, breathed last on her way to hospital on Sunday in Gujanur village of Yadgir taluk. Tayamma Gunjalappa, a resident of Babala village in Shahpur taluk, had obtained a lease of 24 acres of farmland in Gunjanur two years ago. She had taken loans of Rs five lakh for agricultural activities.  According to her family members, the crops failed due to paucity of rains because of which Tayamma was dejected and ended her life. Eshwarappa Doddappa Ammapura (57) of Mudanur K village in Surpur taluk of Yadgir district committed suicide by consuming poison. He owned 3.5 acres of land and had suffered losses by growing paddy for the last two years. He is said to have borrowed a total of Rs three lakh. A debt-ridden farmer ended his by life by consuming poison at Nidoni village in Vijayapura taluk. The deceased has been identified as Nagappa Agasara (40). Nagappa had grown sugar cane and grapes on his three acre land and is said to have loans to the tune of about Rs four lakh. As many as 32 farmers have committed suicide in the six districts of North Karnataka during the period April-July 2015. Prof Sangeetha Kattimani, an economist from Kalaburagi, says that, going by the media reports, a majority of these farmers had borrowed loans from private money lenders.  Most of these are small and marginal farmers and are in the 22-45 age group (Deccan Herald 3/8/15)

198. Over 5,600 farmers committed suicide in 2014 (20)

New Delhi:  Over 5,600 farmers committed suicide last year, Minister of State for Home Affairs Haribhai Parathibhai Chaudhary said on Wednesday. Replying to a question by Communist Party of India-Marxist member C.P. Narayanan in the Rajya Sabha, the minister said a total of 1,31,666 people committed suicide in 2014. “These included 5,650 farmers, 20,148 housewives, 8,068 students, 2,308 debt-ridden people and 7,104 mentally ill,” he said. He said major mental health problems like depression, schizophrenia, addiction to alcohol, affective disorders, drug dependence, adjustment disorders, mood and personality problems were identified as reasons among those who committed or attempted suicide. (Business Standard 5/8/15)

199. Meeting focuses on reasons for farmers’ suicides (20)

SANGAREDDY: Increasing input costs, farmers’ dependence on farming without going for dairy and backyard poultry, no insurance, lack of rainfall, inability to decide the cost of their produce from farms, psychological stress, distress due to crop loss and financial collapse were stated as some of the main reasons for suicides by farmers. Justice M. Kanakadurga, secretary, District Legal Services Authority (DLSA), held “All stakeholders meet on prevention of farmers’ suicides” on Wednesday. The meeting was attended by officials from revenue, agriculture, animal husbandry, lead bank, NABARD, DRDA, District panchayat office, horticulture departments, farmers, farmers’ organisations and NGOs. It elaborately discussed the problems being faced by farmers and the steps need to be taken to arrest the tendency. It was decided to hold some more meetings to discuss and decide on future course of action. Addressing the meeting, Justice Kanakadurga said, “A complaint on a small white paper is enough to move the concerned departments and see that the required help will reach you.” She was responding to the request presented by Salavva and Renuka, wives of two farmers from Elakapally, who informed that they did not get any compensation from the government. V.S. Prasad Sastry, president, Tenant Farmers’ Association, has alleged that GO 421 is not being implemented in letter and spirit and all the other benefits are not being extended to the families of farmers who committed suicide. Jayaraj, General Secretary, Rytu Sangham, suggested farming of Joint Liability Groups (JLB) to extend loans to tenant farmers as they were unable to get loans from banks. Dr. Phani Kumar, psychologist, said: “Identify farmers who are behaving abnormally and counsel them. Farmers’ suicides are becoming epidemic not only in Telangana but across the nation.” (The Hindu 6/8/15)

200. Mathura farmers want to commit suicide on I-Day (20)

Mathura: Farmers here, protesting against alleged official callousness, have urged President Pranab Mukherjee to permit them to commit mass suicide on Independence Day. The appeal has unnerved district officials who fear possible self-immolation by some farmers of Mahavan area whose land has been consumed by the Yamuna river in the Gokul Barrage catchment area. The farmers have been on a relay fast for the past two weeks to highlight their grievances. Kisan Sangh, a farmer leader, accused the district authorities of ignoring the interests of the affected farmers. The farmers want compensation for the land lost at four times the circle rate and immediate withdrawal of cases against farmers, many of whom are still in jail following protests in December on the Delhi-Agra highway. Said another farmer, Roop Singh: “We have lost all and want to end our lives. We want the president’s permission.” Officials have identified around 30 farmers who need to be compensated. The Allahabad High Court is seized of the matter, and a decision is likely in a few days, an official said. The farmers are demanding compensation for damage to standing crops which were submerged as a result of rising level of water in the barrage. “For more than 16 years now, we have not been compensated for the land acquired from us for the barrage,” another farmer said. (Business Standard 11/8/15)

201. Farmers’ suicides: association lodges complaint with national rights panel (20)

MYSURU: The issue of the unrelenting wave of farmers’ suicides in Karnataka has now reached the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) in New Delhi. Accusing the State government and the Centre of doing nothing to stop farmers from resorting to the extreme step, the State Sugarcane Growers’ Association lodged a complaint with the commission seeking its intervention. Farmers’ leaders Raghunath R. Patil from Maharashtra, R.V. Giri from Tamil Nadu, and Satnam Singh from Punjab are the other signatories to the complaint. Claiming that 250 farmers had committed suicide in 50 days in the State, association president Kurubur Shanthakumar alleged that farmers’ suicides had not been taken seriously by the governments. Mr. Shanthakumar urged the commission to direct the State and Union governments to take immediate measures for the wellbeing of farmers. “Even Maharashtra and Punjab had reported farmers’ suicides. It has become a national issue,” he told The Hindu . “There has been gross neglect despite unremitting suicides in the last four months in Karnataka,” he said. In the complaint, it is alleged that the State had failed to prevail upon the sugar factories to pay dues to farmers. “In the absence of scientific pricing for farmers’ produce, farmers have resorted to this alarming path, Mr. Shanthakumar said in a press release. (The Hindu 14/8/15)

202. Sugarcane growers observe ‘Black Day’ (20)

KALABURAGI: The Karnataka State Sugarcane Growers’ Association on Saturday observed Independence Day as ‘Black Day’ protesting against the indifferent attitude of the State governments towards the farmers and the failure of the government to ensure that sugar factories cleared dues. Members of the association and sugarcane growers across the district took out a silent procession covering their mouths with a black cloth from Jagat Circle to the Deputy Commissioner’s office and submitted a memorandum addressed to the Chief Minister. District president of the association Jagadish Patil Rajapur criticised Sugar Minister H.S. Mahadev Prasad for slighting the issue of farmers’ suicides and demanded that the Chief Minister drop him. Referring to dues from sugar factories, he said that the State government should direct them to clear the dues. Demanding that the Union government announce a Vidharbha-model package to tackle the farm crisis in the State, Mr. Rajapur said that the Centre should release a package of Rs. 10, 000 crore to the State. The government should provide a package of Rs. 10 lakh as working capital to the families of the farmers who had committed suicide. He also wanted the State Administered Price for sugarcane for 2015-16 and the crushing schedule of different factories to be announced in advance. (The Hindu 16/8/15)

203. Five farmers with debts commit suicide (20)

KALABURAGI/Sirsi/Chitradurga/Hubballi: The unending saga of farmers committing suicide continued in the State with five fresh cases being reported. In Kalaburagi, two more debt-ridden farmers ended their life by consuming pesticide, taking the number of such suicides in the district to 15. While Shamrao Chavan (30) of Polakpalli Tanda in Chincholi taluk in the district, who consumed pesticide in his house on Sunday, died at the Government General Hospital on Sunday night after failing to respond to treatment, another farmer Sharanappa Bommanna Jogi (38) of Ballundigi village in Jewargi taluk in the district, who consumed pesticide on Saturday, died at a private hospital in Bijapur district on Monday. The reason for the suicide of both the farmers is attributed to mounting debts and failure of crop. Shamrao Chavan, who owned eight acres of land, had availed himself of a loan of Rs. 1 lakh from a nationalised bank. However, it was said, he was unable to repay the loan due to the failure of crops. Sharanappa Bommanna Jogi had taken loans, in all, Rs. 4 lakh, from private moneylenders to raise crops in his six acres of rain-fed land. He had also the burden of repaying another loan of Rs. 95,000 taken from a nationalised bank by his father who died two years ago. In Chitradurga. Unable to pay his debt, a farmer from Shivapur village in Holalkere taluk hanged himself to death at his farm on Monday morning. The police gave his name as Somshekhar (34), a resident of Shivapur village. According to police sources, the farmer had four acres of land and had borrowed Rs. 4 lakh loan, in all, from nationalised banks and Rs. 1 lakh from private moneylenders. In Uttara Kannada. Seetaram Belagu Ager (40), a farmer of Karlagadde near Hillur in Honnavar taluk of Uttara Kannada district, committed suicide on Saturday by consuming poison at his home, according to a report reaching here on Monday. He had taken a loan of Rs. 80,000 from a local bank. He was worried about repayment of loan as he had received recovery notice from the bank. He is survived by his wife, a son and a daughter. Tahsildar Lanjekar and Circle Inspector of Police Arun Kumar visited the house. Honnavar police have registered case. In Hubballi, A farmer, Linganagouda Fakiragoudar (58) of Ballur village in Navalgund taluk, committed suicide allegedly due to financial distress on Sunday night. A small land holder, he had reportedly borrowed around Rs. 3 three lakh from private moneylenders and Rs. 60,000 from the local credit cooperative society. Navalgund MLA N.H. Konaraddi gave away Rs. 25,000 to the farmer’s family. (The Hindu 18/8/15)

204. Compensation alone will not end farmers’ suicides in the country: BSP (20)

Hassan: Members of the district unit of Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) staged a protest here on Tuesday, urging the State government to waive farm loans to end farmers’ suicides. Members of the party, who staged a dharna outside the Deputy Commissioner’s office here, said that mere payment of compensation to families of farmers would not put an end to the continuing suicides. The root cause for farmers’ plight was the impact of globalisation, liberalisation and privatisation. The changing economic scenario was ruining the agricultural economy and forcing the farmers to take the extreme step, the protesters said. B.C. Rajesh, president of the district unit of the party, said the State government had decided to celebrate the birth centenary of the former Chief Minister Devaraj Urs this year. “Celebrations will not carry any meaning if the government fails to respond to the problems of the downtrodden sections of society,” he said. Party’s State committee member Kumar Gowrav, leader A.P. Ahmed and others took part in the protest. (The Hindu 19/8/15)


205. Parliamentary Panel on Land Bill Agrees to Withdraw Six Amendments to Land Bill (4)

Parliamentary panel on land bill agrees to withdraw six key amendments including dealing with consent clause. After much protest over the controversial bill, it is believed that the government has accepted most of the clauses demanded by the Congress party. However, the government would debate relating retrospective, land return, review clauses. Until 2013, the land acquisition in India was governed by The Land Acquisition Act 1984. In 2013, the UPA government passed the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Resettlement and Rehabilitation Act to repeal the 19th century act. The UPA Act was aimed at ensuring the land is acquired strictly for public welfare projects and land owners are adequately compensated and rehabilitated. The protests and outrage began after the Modi government decided to brought in following amendments to the RFCTLARR Act . 1. Removal of ‘consent’ clause: As per the UPA law, land could be acquired only with approval of 70% of land owners for PPP projects and 80% for private entities. However, the amendment, brought in by the NDA removed this provision of ‘consent’ for acquiring lands for five purposes – Industrial corridors, Public Private Partnership projects, Rural Infrastructure, Affordable housing and Defence. This has drawn much of the criticism not only from political circle but also from activists like Anna Hazare who has launched a mass protest against the bill. 2. Return of unutilized land: According to the Act 2013, if the land remains unutilised for five years, then it needs to be returned to the owner. But according to the ordinance promulgated by the NDA government, the period after which unutilised land needs to be returned will be five years, or any period specified at the time of setting up the project. 3. According to the 2013 Act, land can be acquired by any private company. But according the recent ordinance, land can be acquired by any private entity. 4. As per the new law, if any government official commits an offence during the process of acquisition, he/she cannot be prosecuted without prior sanction from the government. 5. The amendments propose to include 13 legislations that are currently exempted under the purview of the Act in the compensation, rehabilitation and resettlement provisions. This is, however, seen as a pro-farmer move as there was no uniform central policy of rehabilitation and resettlement. Why NDA brought the amendments Ever since this government came to power, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been vigorously campaigning for the ‘Make in India’ vision which aims to boost the domestic manufacturing. Though Modi is wooing the foreign companies to invest in India, land acquisition is a major problem for these firms with many of them dropping their investment plan over the past few years. Though there are suggestions from some corners that the industrial enterprises should purchase land directly from farmers, it doesn’t seem feasible in India as the records of land holding cannot be easily verified in the country. This may open the possibility of disputes after the purchase. However, the government mediation in the transfer of land has not proved fully successful to compensate and rehabilitate the displace people. The draft of the government’s National Policy for Rehabilitation states that a figure around 75% of the displaced people since 1951 are still awaiting rehabilitation. According to Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, the ordinances were aimed at speeding up development in five areas: development of industrial corridors, social infrastructure such as education, rural infrastructure such as roads and power, housing for the poor, and the country’s defense capabilities. The ordinance makes land acquisition easier in these areas by exempting them from several provisions of current law. (New Indian Express 3/8/15)

206. Odisha government wants PM to review Posco (4)

BHUBANESWAR: In a delayed move, the Odisha government plans to approach the Centre for a review of the Posco project by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. State steel and mines minister Prafulla Mallick here on Monday said chief secretary (Gokul Chandra Pati) will soon write to Union mine secretary and the Prime Minister’s Office for a review at the highest level. “If not the PM, the cabinet secretary should hold discussions with the company,” he told reporters here. Stating that he is optimistic, Mallick said the project’s fate would be clear after the Centre’s evaluation. The state government’s initiative comes a fortnight after the South Korean steelmaker decided to put the project on hold, sparking speculation about its imminent withdrawal. Posco CEO Kwon Oh Joon had said until Indian PM “offers better deals” it would not resume. Amid increased uncertainty over the fate of the 12 million tonne per year project (which was later scaled down to 8 mtpa), several local residents recently started reconstructing their flattened betel vines in the proposed site in Jagatsinghpur district. The government filed FIRs against 18 villagers in Abhayachanapur police station last week. Prolonged delay in land acquisition and dispute over iron ore reserves kept the project uncertain ever since the state government signed a MOU with it in June 2005. Apart from the global steel market slump, the amended Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 2015, which ruled out preferential mining lease to the company, were hurdles added to the project taking off. The BJP described the state government’s latest move as too late. “The state government has already missed the bus by not acting for the past 10 years,” said BJP spokesperson Suresh Pujari. (Times of India 4/8/15)

207. Modi sees land bill freeze loss for east (4)

New Delhi, Aug. 6: Prime Minister Narendra Modi believes that the biggest losers of the deadlock over the Centre’s land acquisition bill would be Bengal, Odisha and Bihar, sources close to him have said. Whether the bill is blocked or passed in a watered-down version, it will hobble his ambitions of bringing the eastern states on a par economically with the western states, they explained. If the Modi government fails to evolve a consensus on its version of the land law, it plans to allow the states to enact their own land laws according to their own thinking that the Centre would green-light. In that case, the western and eastern states are expected to go their separate ways. Currently, the western states have BJP or BJP-led governments – a circumstance the Centre factored in while deciding to give the states pretty much a free hand. In Modi’s reckoning, the “gainers” will be the western swathe of Haryana, Rajasthan, Punjab, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Goa which, the sources said, are gearing to make land acquisition for industrial and commercial use easier. “The east is still hampered by an anti-industry and anti-land acquisition mindset,” a source remarked. A joint committee of Parliament on the land bill has reportedly advised a virtual switch-back to the UPA’s 2013 land law, now superseded by an NDA ordinance that the bill looks to ratify. Congress sources on the committee have said that even the BJP members agreed to the idea of withdrawing the partial relaxations of the provisions for a social impact assessment (SIA) and consent that the NDA had introduced in its bill. But nobody in the BJP would speak on the subject, privately or officially. Sources said Gujarat chief minister Anandi Patel had directed her revenue department to draft amendments to the state land law so that the certification of non-agricultural land became faster, transparent and time-bound instead of the buyer having to run to multiple agencies…. (Telegraph 7/8/15)

208. Land Bill panel meets today to finalise draft (4)

New Delhi: With the deadline closing, the parliamentary panel that is examining the contentious Land Acquisition Bill will meet on Monday to reach a consensus on key issues. It has already struck a consensus on six other contentious issues, included consent and social impact assessment. The panel will seek members’ views on returning acquired land back to owners if not used for five years. BJD leader Bhartruhari Mahatab had sought time till August 11 to submit the report, and it is likely to be presented to Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan on Tuesday. Rural development minister Choudhary Birendra Singh has already said the government is open to the changes suggested by the panel. The ruling NDA appears to have developed cold feet over the aggressiveness to push the amendments to the Land Bill after coming across spirited opposition, including from RSS-affiliated organisations. The 30-member joint committee is headed by senior BJP member S.S. Ahluwalia. The panel must also take a view on the provision that the Land Acquisition Act 1894 will continue to apply where an award has already been made as well as in cases where an award was made five years or more before the enactment of The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (LARR) Act 2013 and physical possession of land had not been taken or compensation not paid. The current amendment, as stated in the ordinance, spells out that in calculating this time, any period during which the proceedings of acquisition were held up due to a court stay order, or a period specified in the award of a tribunal for taking possession, or any period where possession has been taken but compensation is lying deposited in a court or any account, will not be counted. The panel will also form a view on the issue of acquisition of 1 km of land on both sides of industrial corridors as proposed in the bill. (Asian Age 10/8/15)

209. Sardar Sarovar: Right Livelihood Award Foundation urges UN to intervene (4)

INDORE: The Right Livelihood Award Foundation, on behalf of over 40 Laureates of Right Livelihood Award, appealed on Friday to the government of India, United Nations and its allies to review Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP) and ensure human rights are protected. The appeal has come as a big support from international community for the dam oustees, who are on indefinite satyagraha for last three days at Barwani to oppose government decision to increase water level of Sardar Sarovar Dam from 122 metres to 138.68 metres, which is likely to submerge land and houses of thousands of people in 245 villages in Narmada valley. The foundation in its letter has urged the government of India to immediately halt the ongoing construction work to increase the height of the dam, and not to put up gates on Sardar Sarovar Dam. “A review is the need of the hour and it must involve all the government agencies concerned, the UNHRC, representatives of the people’s movement, member of the civil society, experts and independent social and other human rights bodies,” the letter stated. Laureates of Right Livelihood Award has said that they stand united in their opposition to the unlawful submergence of 245 villages and firmly uphold the inviolable human rights and environmental justice for thousands of families in the Narmada Valley. Highlighting the side effects of dam, foundation observed that project has disastrous implications for the sustenance of indigenous communities in the Narmada Valley and that of other riverine populations, which have, for centuries, built flourishing lives and livelihoods around the Narmada River. “The Indian government, under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has always championed the dam height increase and never the cause of the displaced, has taken a decision to increase the height of dam posing grave threat to the lives and livelihoods of all these families,” the foundation stated. The appeal has come as a big support from international community for the dam oustees, who are on indefinite satyagraha for last three days at Barwani to oppose government decision to increase water level of Sardar Sarovar Dam from 122 metres to 138.68 metres (Times of India 15/8/15)

210. Naidu hints at land acquisition for remaining 2,500 acres (4)

VIJAYAWADA: Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu on Monday said he would explore options available for acquiring lands for the construction of the capital city in the wake of growing opposition to the Land Acquisition Act. Nearly 31,000 acres have already been parted by farmers voluntarily, and those owning 2,500 acres are against land pooling. “All efforts are being made to convince farmers to part with their lands under the land pooling scheme, and if they still resist, then alternative measures will be invoked,” Mr. Naidu said here. On Jana Sena Party president Pawan Kalyan’s suggestions to spare unwilling farmers, Mr. Naidu said: “We respect Mr. Kalyan’s opinions, but what can the government do? Ninety-five per cent farmers have agreed, and only 5 per cent are opposing due to political instigations.” Confirming his trip to New Delhi on Thursday, the Chief Minister said a meeting had been fixed with Prime Minister Narendra Modi at 4 p.m. Several aspects, including special status to the State, are likely to be discussed at the meeting. On the controversy over the granting of special status, he said the Centre had extended support but not at the expected level. “Special status alone will not serve the purpose, the Centre should consider extending special assistance to AP. All these issues will be brought to the notice of Mr. Modi during the meeting,” he asserted. (The Hindu 18/8/15)

211. Project hit write to PM, demand review of rise in SSP dam height (4)

INDORE: Project affected people from Sardar Sarovar dam are continuing with their indefinite satyagraha in Barwani district to oppose increase in height of dam from 122 meters to 138.68 meters. With support from global community, villagers have written to PM urging him to review decision to submerge villages. Project affected are on a protest since August 12, but government has not taken any initiative to end the protest. Residents of affected villages — Aavli-Segawa, Nisarpur, Pichhodi, Avalda and Bhadal joined protesters on Sunday and alleged government is making false claims of rehabilitation. Urging Prime Minister Narendra Modi to review the decision to increase height of Sardar Sarovar dam, every village, which is going to get submerged, wrote letters to PM. Villagers in their letter highlighted hundreds of families engaged in fishing, labour work, farm work, small trade are yet to be rehabilitated as per law, but have already faced submergence in the previous years. “We shall fight for our rights till our last breath,” said dam hit from Aavli-Segawa village. During the protest a fishermen couple, Saava and Bharat from Pichhodi village, who fought for their rights and obtained an order from Grievance Redressal Authority for registering a “displaced people’s fishing co-operatives” shared their experience. Couple highlighted everyday fight and plight of thousands of fishermen, who were dependent on Narmada for their livelihood. “NVDA has been committing gross atrocities on adivasis,” alleged Gemtiya, a project affected. Medha Patkar of NBA said residents of villages, facing submergence, celebrated Azadi Utsav to call for real independence where villagers will have right to lead their life as they wish. (Times of India 19/8/15)


212. ’75% of Indian population unaware of hepatitis’ (3)

New Delhi: With over 75 per cent of people in India being unaware about the existence of Hepatitis, the leading gastroenterologists of the country have decided to start an online data registry detailing the rising number of hepatitis patients. “The need of setting up a registry was felt as over 75 per cent of the people in India do not even know that a disease like hepatitis exists,” said a senior doctor at New Delhi’s All India Institute of Medical Sciences. “The aim is to keep a record of the number of people suffering from hepatitis and other liver diseases caused by it in the country,” the doctor said. The registry will be part of the newly formed Indian National Association for Study of Liver and Current Perspective in Liver Disease constituted by the leading gastroenterologists of the country. The association will also disseminate information to the regional hospitals and help the health centres located in remote areas of the country get the medicine supply. Talking about lack of awareness about the deadly disease, the experts said that Hepatitis was 28 times more dangerous than AIDS due to the absence of symptoms, even as the disease spreads gradually in the patient. As many as 400,000 people die due to liver diseases, a result of hepatitis, in India every year. The states most affected by the disease are Punjab, Haryana, Odisha, Uttrakhand and Himachal Pradesh among few others, they said. “Seventy-five per cent of the hepatitis, may it be B or C, is curable at the initial stage. However, as the symptoms are not felt, the person gets to know about it only when the virus causes liver cancer,” said S K Acharya, head of gastroenterology at AIIMS. Through the registry, Acharya said, the hotspots of Hepatitis across the country can be brought into lime light and accordingly medical healthcare in those areas can be improved, precisely the treatment for liver diseases. Rakesh Agarwal noted that pregnant women are more likely to get Hepatitis E virus infection which may result in acute liver failure. (Business Standard 1/8/15)

213. ‘16 kids died every day from 2008 to 2012’ (3)

MUMBAI: In a shocking revelation by the state government, Mumbai has witnessed deaths of 16 children every day between 2008 and 2012. In his written reply during question hour in the assembly, health minister Deepak Sawant said around 16 child deaths were registered during the period. According to Sawant, these deaths were occurring due to non-availability of proper medication at a proper time. He said in Mumbai alone, 32,664 child deaths were registered between 2008 and 2012. An RTI by Chetan Kothari had revealed four SoBo wards alone had an infant mortality rate (IMR) worse than the national average. The RTI details on infant births and deaths for Mumbai between April last year and March this year have shown that wards C, G, E and M have fared the worst when it comes to newborns. In simple terms, there were 216 deaths in the area for 253 births. The overall city’s IMR has fallen to 28 from 29.5 in 2011, 33.5 in 2009 and 35 in 2005.— Chittaranjan Tembhekar (Times of India 1/8/15)

214. 2,573 dengue cases in State (3)

Bengaluru: As many as 2,573 positive cases of dengue have come to light in Karnataka so far, out of which 787 are from the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) limits, alone. So far, the department of Health and Family Welfare has confirmed four deaths in the State. As part of an awareness campaign on dengue and chikungunya, a walk was organised from the MG Road by the BBMP recently. The event saw participation of Justice Shubro Kamal Mukherjee and also the officials of the Health department. The State reports 916 cases of chikungunya, of which 237 are from the City. The Palike has been conducting a door-to-door survey in areas where most of the cases are reported. At least a 100 cases have been reported from Bengaluru South, 88 in Bengaluru West, 75 in Bengaluru East and 142 in the other zones, according to the BBMP officials. A case of suspected dengue death was reported from Madanayakanahalli in Nelamangala in the City on Tuesday. Praveen (18), an engineering student, is suspected to have died of dengue at a private hospital in the City. (Deccan Herald 5/8/15)

215. NHRC notice on health centres (3)

NEW DELHI: National Human Rights Commission on Wednesday issued a notice to the city government over its alleged failure to revive 228 existing primary health centres and proposing 1,000 new “Aam Aadmi clinics” instead. TOI had highlighted the issue in a report titled “228 health centres in shambles” that had appeared on July 22. NHRC observed the existing primary health centres, 79 of which were operating from rented premises, are “struggling” to provide basic health services due to shortage of doctors, paramedical staff, medicines and lab facilities. The notice, returnable in four weeks, was issued to the principal secretary of the health department. “The proposed plan to set up new clinics is a gradual process which has to be welcomed. At the same time, it is of paramount importance that the existing healthcare infrastructure is made functional in all respects,” it said. TOI visited the health clinic in Valmiki Basti in ITO. The doctor on duty said they do not get more than 15 patients daily. “We do not have blood pressure medicines, antibiotics and many essential drugs. Why should the patients come here?” he said. (Times of India 6/8/15)

216. UNICEF team studies nutrition scheme (3)

VISAKHAPATNAM: A nutrition scheme for pregnant and lactating women is being implemented in the district under 15 project units. While 11 projects cover the Agency mandals, four are for the rural mandals of Kasimkota, Narsipatnam, Kota Uratla, and V. Madugula. The scheme called ‘Amrita Hastam’ provides one nutritious meal a day and iron tablets to 28,774 pregnant and 29,428 lactating women. Additional Joint Collector D. Venkat Reddy shared details of the scheme to a UNICEF team from Bhopal that came to study its implementation. He said malnutrition was addressed, bringing down maternal and infant mortality rates to a large extent because of the implementation of the scheme. ICDS Project Director Chinmayidevi made presentation on the implementation of the scheme. The delegation later went for a visit to Araku and Anantagiri mandals. The delegation from Bhopal comprised Principal Secretary, Tribal Welfare, B.R. Naidu, Commissioner J.L. Malpani, Director Renu Tewari, UNICEF CFO Manish Madhur, communication specialist Anil Gulati, among others. (The Hindu 13/8/15)

217. 25% of Indians may die of lifestyle diseases before they are 70: Study (3)

NEW DELHI: With increasing prevalence of life-style diseases in India, one out of four Indians is at risk of dying from non-communicable diseases like diabetes, cardio-vascular ailments or cancer before the age of 70, according to estimates of various global and domestic organizations. The findings are part of a white paper released by the Confederation of Indian Industry and academia on Wednesday. “Every year, roughly 5.8 million Indians die from heart and lung diseases, stroke, cancer and diabetes. In other words, 1 in 4 Indians risks dying from an NCD before they reach the age of 70,” the white paper said.14-15% of people in India suffer from arthiritis, experts say Experts say the government needs to urgently build awareness programmes for NCDs in line with that for HIV and tuberculosis. “Prevalence of NCDs is a result of lifestyle patterns which have changed significantly over the last decade. The government’s programmes so far have been focused around HIV and tropical diseases. But with the increasing NCD burden, awareness needs to be created and ramped up from community level to across the country,” said Kevin L. Walker, Executive Director, Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease, a global organization working towards raising awareness about how to counter diseases like diabetes and cardiovascular disabilities. Many other global organisations including World Health Organisation and other agencies of the United Nations have now carved out specific strategies to tackle the rising disease burden due to changing lifestyle and eating habits. The government said it is set to roll out a preventive and promotive programme in six districts to spread awareness about the disease. (Times of India 14/8/15)

218. Over 3,400 Students Test Positive for Malaria in Odisha (3)

BERHAMPUR (Odisha): As many as 3,434 students of government-run residential schools in Kandhamal district of Odisha have tested positive for malaria. “The affected students have been administered drugs. The health officials are keeping a watch on their condition,” said Kandhamal District Collector Yamini Sarangi.  Blood samples of 19,767 students of 214 residential schools run by ST and SC development department in the tribal-dominated district were tested between July 6 and August 3.  The Collector directed the health officials to conduct the tests after 65 of 143 students of a primary residential school at Ranipathara were found suffering from the vector-borne disease last month.       The Collector launched a three-month malaria, dengue and diarrhoea awareness drive last week and said the focus will be on school children. “The accredited social health activists and other health workers will follow up the programme. They will immediately refer such cases to government hospitals,” said Chief District Medical Officer (CDMO) Sapaneswar Gadanayak.  The students will be sensitised on the causes of the vector-borne disease, he added.    The programme will start with indoor residual spraying (IRS) in all hostels and schools to check malaria outbreak. “We will provide medicated mosquito nets to the inmates and persuade them to use these,” said district consultant, National Vector Borne Diseases Control Programme, Kumuda Chandra Sahu.      Kandhamal has recorded two deaths due to malaria this year. Six persons had died of the vector-borne disease the previous year, while two persons had tested positive for dengue in 2014, sources said.   (New Indian Express 18/8/15)

219. 277 dengue cases reported in Capital (3)

NEW DELHI: Delhi has reported 277 cases of dengue till August 14, which include two deaths. This year, the city is up by 251 cases compared to what was recorded last year by this time. While the maximum number of cases have been reported in North Delhi Municipal Corporation (118 cases), South has recorded 82 cases, East has 19 cases, New Delhi Municipal Corporation has reported 31 cases, and 15 cases have come in from outside Delhi. While the health department has said that it is creating awareness of dengue prevention, the Mayor of South Delhi Municipal Corporation, Subhash Arya, claimed that he has instructed officials to work round the clock and implement all the guidelines for controlling dengue and malaria. The Mayor said emphasis has to be given for stepping up awareness. He appealed to RWAs and people to come forward and contribute in controlling dengue. He also asked the zonal officials to take strict action against defaulters. Officials said that institutions or individuals found violating for breeding of larva on their premises would be prosecuted. “Till now 81 prosecutions of government institutions and premises have been done, and this action will continue, ” said Mr. Arya. (The Hindu 18/8/15)


220. Sharp increase in HIV-positive cases in Kapurthala Jail (3)

Jalandhar: The number of HIV-positive inmates at Kapurthala Central Jail has witnessed a sharp increase in the past three years. As per the information procured by Hindustan Times from the Kapurthala Central Jail superintendent under the Right to Information Act, the number of HIV-positive cases which were only seven in 2012, increased to 17 in the next year (2013). In 2014, the prisoners affected with HIV infection increased to an alarming level (118), and in 2015 till July 9, their numbers have already reached 56. The gloomy picture about the condition of inmates in the jail does not end here, as two other deadly diseases–Hepatitis C, and B–have also considerably increased among them. In 2013, there were 24 inmates affected with Hepatitis C which increased to 30 in 2014 and till July 9, their number was 10. Similarly, 18 inmates were diagnosed with Hepatitis B in 2013, and 15 were affected by the disease in 2014. The jail sources said prevalence of deadly HIV has been consistently increasing among drug addict inmates who were mostly injecting drug users (IDU). “The drug addict inmates prefer syringe to administer drug directly into the body, rather than inhaling. They get syringe from corrupt jail officials and share the same syringe to take a drug, which increases the risk of HIV and other diseases,” they added. The more shocking revelation which the jail authorities gave in writing was that the HIV patients (prisoners and undertrials) were being kept in separate cells called “security wards”, which was in violation of the specified guidelines and human rights laws. Sources said none of the prisoners came forward fearing that if they tested positive of HIV infection or any other disease, they would be sent into these cells and others would easily acknowledge him or her affected with this deadly disease. As per National AIDS Control Organisation, it prohibits discrimination of HIV/AIDS patients in public as well in private places. It prohibits discrimination of an HIV/AIDS patient in matters of employment, education, healthcare, travel, insurance, residence, and property, etc, based on their HIV status. In its reply, jail authorities claimed that special diet was being regularly provided to the patients in these wards by the jail staff. Further, HIV screening is conducted inside the jail by Integrated Counselling and Testing Centre (ICTC) mobile van from Kapurthala civil hospital on every Tuesday and after screening and diagnosis, the patients are being referred to Jalandhar Civil Hospital. It has been learnt that the jail authorities also do not send prisoners to the local anti-retroviral therapy (ART) centre on time, which leads to delay in treatment of such HIV-positive patients. When contacted, Jail minister Sohan Singh Thandal said he hasn’t got any such report and asked the correspondent to contact the jail superintendent. Hussan Lal, project director, Punjab State AIDS Control Society, said, “If HIV-positive inmates are being kept in separate cells in the jail, it is matter of concern.” He said he would personally look into this matter. When asked over the sharp increase in HIV positive cases in jails, he asked to contact the jail department. Jail superintendent Paramjit Singh was unavailable for comments despite repeated calls. (Hindustan Times 1/8/15)

221. Despite measures, AIDS spreads alarmingly in U’khand (3)

NAINITAL: In an illustration of how fast HIV is spreading in Uttarakhand despite the government spending crores in AIDS-control measures, a query by a Haldwani-based RTI activist has revealed that the state spent almost Rs 5 crore in curbing the disease and spreading awareness in last 10 years, while 652 deaths due to the dreaded virus were reported in the last 13 years. Meanwhile, despite government claims of success, the number of HIV-positive cases have continued to spiral, with a staggering 858 registered in 2014-15, against 37 in 2002-03. Officials of the Uttarakhand State AIDS Control Society (SACS) offered a reason behind the disturbing growth. Rajendra Pandey, additional project director, USACS said, “Diagnosis is possible now on a large scale, hence increased numbers of the infected. When we started 13 years ago, only a few centres were available throughout the state for diagnosis. Now we have more than 50. Also, there are screening facilities in every community health centre.” An RTI application filed by Gurvinder Singh Chaddha, a resident of Haldwani, has revealed the sorry state of affairs of failed preventive measures to check HIV infection in the state. The patients also include minors of less than 14 years and pregnant women, along with transgenders. The number of infected among minors less than 14-years of age and pregnant women has registered an alarming growth in the last 13 years. In 2002-03, only five such minors were infected by the lethal virus, whereas not a single pregnant woman was found infected throughout the state. In 2014-15, a total of 64 minors below 14 years of age and 51 pregnant women have been found infected. A total of 523 such minors and 381 pregnant women were infected over these years. Over the same period, 29 transgenders were found to have HIV. The infection was found only in two Uttarakhand districts in 2002-03 — Dehradun and Nainital. It has since spread to every other district. In the last decade, according to the RTI information, more than Rs 2.88 crore has been spent in care, support and treatment of HIV-positive people under low-cost AIDS care schemes by Uttarakhand SACS. The body has also spent more than Rs 1.8 crore in advertisements in newspapers and magazines for prevention and control of the virus in the last ten years. (Times of India 5/8/15)

222. HIV grows ‘silently’ despite treatment (3)

London: Casting doubts on finding a cure for HIV anytime soon, British researchers have found that the virus can grow ‘silently’ in patients who are thought to be responding well to treatment. Advances in anti-retroviral therapy given to HIV patients over the past 30 years mean that most patients can have their virus suppressed to almost undetectable levels and live a long and healthy life. It had been thought that after many years of successful treatment, the body would naturally purge itself of the virus. “This research shows that sadly, the HIV virus has found yet another way to escape our treatments,” said lead researcher Anna Maria Geretti, professor at University of Liverpool. For the study, the researchers followed patients undergoing uninterrupted treatment for up to 14 years. “The good news is that we did not see any worsening over time, but the bad news is that these findings really cast doubt over whether HIV can be ‘cured’ by increasing immune cell responses against it – a strategy that now looks like it will eventually fail,” Geretti noted. The researchers found that during treatment for HIV the virus hides in blood cells that are responsible for the patient’s immune response. The virus does this by inserting its own genetic information into the DNA of the blood cells, called CD4 Tlymphocytes. The study measured the levels of integrated HIV in the CD4 cells of patients undergoing uninterrupted treatment for up to 14 years, and compared patients receiving treatment for different lengths of time. The researchers discovered that the amount of HIV found to be integrated in the CD4 cells was undiminished from year one to year 14. The research demonstrates that whenever a CD4 cell multiplies to produce more cells, it copies itself and also copies the HIV genes. This process – a sort of silent HIV replication – means the virus does not need to copy itself, produce new virus particles, and infect new CD4 cells – but is automatically incorporated at the birth of the cell, the study noted. The findings were published in the journal ‘EbioMedicine’. (Business Standard 5/8/15)

223. New low-cost HIV drug launched in Uganda (3)

Kampala: Marking an advancement in its fight against the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), the Ugandan government on Sunday launched a cheaper one-pill-a-day drug for HIV treatment. The single-dose Trioday treatment, which costs only USD 13 per month, replaces the cumbersome 12-drug cocktails that used to be the only option for people with the fatal human immunodeficiency virus, Xinhua reported. “We are reaching the phase of the end of the HIV epidemic in Uganda and the region. We had never dreamed about this in 30 to 40 years back,” said Ugandan Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda, who launched the drug on behalf of President Yoweri Museveni. The new drug, a triple cocktail anti-retroviral (ARV), is manufactured by Cipla Quality Chemical Industries, Ltd, in Uganda. Uganda still falls short of its goal of ensuring that 80 percent of people living with HIV receive ARVs by the end of 2015. At present, just half of the 1.5 million in need of HIV treatment in the country are on the life-prolonging ARVs, according to Uganda AIDS Commission statistics. At least 137,000 new HIV infections were recorded in Uganda in 2014, according to the Health Ministry. (New Kerala 10/8/15)

224. Police ‘afraid’ to deal with drug addicts (3)

New Delhi: Their caution stems from the belief that several of them are HIV positive While the Aam Aadmi Party questioned police’s integrity in dealing with drug addicts and dealers in Kashmere Gate area, policemen said they are cautious about taking on such elements. Their caution stems from their belief that several of the drug addicts living in the area are HIV positive. Since these addicts often share syringes to inject the Avil drug, an anti-allergy medicine taken for recreational purposes, the policemen suspect them of being AIDS-infected. “Whenever we catch anyone supplying or consuming drugs, the addicts threaten to pierce us with used syringes. So we generally keep away from them,” said a policeman. Officers in the area said there have been instances when addicts chased policemen with used syringes. “One such incident took place only three-four months ago. The policemen are scared of taking them on,” said an officer on condition of anonymity. In another incident, a drug addict had pierced himself with a needle and sprinkled it in the eyes of a constable who had approached him. The constable was left fearing for his life despite being aware about how HIV spreads. Police claimed that there is little role for drug dealers in these areas populated by thousands of homeless and poor persons. Homeless drug addicts in the area said they opt for cheap drugs such as the Avil injections and intoxicating inhalants which can be procured from chemists and hardware shops. The Kashmere Gate area in north Delhi is sought after by almost one-fourth of the city’s homeless due to availability of shelter homes, free food and vast open areas for defecation, says an NGO working for the homeless in the area. (The Hinmdu 10/8/15)

225. Global movement votes to adopt policy to protect human rights of sex workers (3)

MANGALURU: A crucial vote to protect the human rights of sex workers was passed on Wednesday in Dublin at Amnesty International’s decision-making forum, the International Council Meeting (ICM). Delegates from around the world adopted a resolution which authorized the International Board to develop and adopt a policy on the issue. “Sex workers are one of the most marginalized groups in the world who in most instances face constant risk of discrimination, violence and abuse. Our global movement paved the way for adopting a policy for the protection of the human rights of sex workers which will help shape Amnesty International’s future work on this important issue,” said Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International in a press statement. Sex workers are one of the most marginalized groups in the world who in most instances face constant risk of discrimination, violence and abuse. The resolution recommends that Amnesty International develop a policy that supports the full decriminalization of all aspects of consensual sex work. The policy will also call on states to ensure that sex workers enjoy full and equal legal protection from exploitation, trafficking and violence. “We recognize that this critical human rights issue is hugely complex and that is why we have addressed this issue from the perspective of international human rights standards. We also consulted with our global movement to take on board different views from around the world,”said Salil Shetty in the release. The research and consultation carried out in the development of this policy in the past two years concluded that this was the best way to defend sex workers’ human rights and lessen the risk of abuse and violations they face, the release stated. The violations that sex workers can be exposed to include physical and sexual violence, arbitrary arrest and detention, extortion and harassment, human trafficking, forced HIV testing and medical interventions. They can also be excluded from health care and housing services and other social and legal protection. The policy has drawn from an extensive evidence base from sources including UN agencies, such as the World Health Organization, UNAIDS, UN Women and the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health. We have also conducted research in four countries. The consultation included sex worker groups, groups representing survivors of prostitution, abolitionist organizations, feminist and other women’s rights representatives, LGBTI activists, anti- trafficking agencies and HIV/AIDS organizations. Amnesty International considers human trafficking abhorrent in all of its forms, including sexual exploitation, and should be criminalized as a matter of international law. This is explicit in this new policy and all of Amnesty International’s work. “This is a historic day for Amnesty International. It was not a decision that was reached easily or quickly and we thank all our members from around the world, as well as all the many groups we consulted, for their important contribution to this debate. They have helped us reach an important decision that will shape this area of our human rights work going forward,”added Salil Shetty in the release. (Times of India 12/8/15)

226. Drug shortage troubles HIV/AIDS patients (3)

CHENNAI: On Monday, when Krithika*, a resident of Ambattur when to the Tambaram sanatorium to pick up her second-line anti-retroviral therapy (ART) drugs, she was only given enough for a few days, and asked to come back on Friday for more. “I was told that they didn’t have any more drugs to give me,” said the 42-year-old. Her daughter, who also takes second-line ART drugs, said she too was given only enough for 10 days. For the last few weeks, people living with HIV/AIDS and activists have been complaining about a shortage of second-line ART drugs at some centres in the State, leading to drugs being provided for only a few days instead of a month. They have even alleged that some patients, on whom the first-line drugs have failed, are not being started on second-line drugs due to the stock-out position. A total of 88,168 patients are on ART drugs at the 52 centres in Tamil Nadu. Those who have failed first-line ART drugs are started on second-line drugs. Four nodal centres – in Chennai (Tambaram), Madurai, Tirunelveli and Salem — identify patients in need of second-line ART. The drugs are then given at the nodal centre or the patient’s own ART centre. In Tamabaram alone, 1,082 second-line cases have been identified. “We have raised the issue of drug stock-outs repeatedly but it continues to be a problem. Many patients go to the centres travelling long distances, taking a day off work, to get their medication. Going there more than once a month is extremely difficult for them, especially for daily wage workers. This can lead to problems with drug adherence,” said Daisy David, an advocacy officer with World Vision India, an NGO. It takes Jeyarani* an hour to travel from her home in Poonamallee to her centre at Government Kilpauk Hospital, where she was given her drugs for 15 days. “The last time I came, I was given only a week’s supply. I was told stocks have not yet come,” she said. The problem is acute at centres where a lot of patients go such as Tambaram and Palani, said A. Paulraj, president, Dindigul Network of Positive People. “In fact, in Palani, some patients were sent away without drugs. We have held meetings with officials and informed them about the problem and they assured us it would be taken care of,” he said. Tamil Nadu State AIDS Control Society officials however maintained that there was no problem now. “New stocks of the drugs have arrived on Tuesday and the allocation has already been done. In any case, if there is a problem at one centre, drugs are diverted there from centres that have excess,” an official said. The issue, another official explained, was that every month, there are new cases and the demand increases. This time, it was more than what was predicted. Drug supply problems have plagued the ART programme in several States across the country for over a year now, leading health experts to worry about the effect this will have on patients. In 1986, the first HIV positive case was detected in Tamil Nadu. In 1993, the State AIDS Cell was formed, which in 1994, became TANSACSTamil Nadu has 52 ART centres. Of these, 21 are in medical college Institutions, 27 in government hospitals and 1 in a private institution. There are also 105 link ART centres which function as drug dispensing units. On November 30, 2003, the government of India announced a plan to provide ART through public hospitals in the country from April 1, 2004. Second-line ART was launched in Tamil Nadu in January 2008 at the Government Hospital for Thoracic Medicine in Tambaram. Subsequently three other centres in Salem, Madurai and Tirunelveli too provided the treatment. At present, according to a TANSACS official, while patients are admitted and assessed at these four centres by an expert team to decide whether they need second-line ART, the drugs can be picked up by the patients at any one of the ART centres. A total of 88,168 patients are on ART drugs at 52 centres in Tamil Nadu. Those who have failed first-line ART drugs are started on second-line drugs. In Tamabaram alone, 1,082 second-line cases have been identified. (The Hindu 17/8/15)

227. Tourist spots more vulnerable to AIDS, says NACO official (3)

PANAJI: The States which attract more tourists, especially foreigners, are more vulnerable to AIDS infection, Naresh Goyal, Deputy Director-General of the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO), said here on Tuesday.  At a press conference organised by the AIDS Society of Goa and attended by Union Minister of State for Health Shripad Naik here, he said that though the entire country attracted tourists, places such as Goa, Jaipur and Delhi which attracted more foreign tourists were more vulnerable to the dreaded disease. “There are vulnerabilities such as drug-trafficking, excessive flow of migrants and alcoholism. Whether it is through taking drugs through injection or having unprotected sex, the root cause is same. Even border areas where drug trafficking is more are also vulnerable to the disease,” he said. He said 51 AIDS cases were detected in Goa in 2013, 47 in 2014 and only 19 in the first seven months of the year. He said though HIV infection was prevalent in all parts of Goa, a majority of the cases were reported in the coastal taluks of Salcete (14 per cent), Mormugao (12.5 per cent), Tiswadi (4.7 per cent) and Bardez (15.4 per cent) during 2014. He said that Goa has achieved zero per cent transmission of AIDS to infant from mother while the same continues to be 4-5 per cent in the country. (The Hindu 19/8/15)


Posted by admin at 21 August 2015

Category: Uncategorized


1. Khap Panchayat Excommunicates Dalit Couple (2)

Madurai: Khap panchayat by Ramesh Babu, a caste Hindu, has ostracized a family from Arunthathiyar community for questioning his authority at Kattunayakanpatty village near Bodi in Theni district.  The last six months for Paramasivam, his wife Lakshmi and their three children who were forced to live in a makeshift thatched hut in a bushy area by the village tank bunds have been a nightmare. “We have been spending sleepless nights for months fearing for our lives. Snakes and other reptiles often enter our house at night. My children are scared of snakes and they refused to sleep in the house. They are now at my father’s place,” said Paramasivam. Though nearly 224 Arunthathiyar families live in the village, they refused to give a house on rent to the couple. They are scared of Ramesh Babu’s wrath. He is also the vice president of Theni panchayat union. “Twice I paid advance to my community members to rent a house, but they returned the money after Ramesh Babu threatened them,” claimed Lakshmi. As the khap panchayat passed an order directing the villagers not to speak to the couple; not to allow them to walk on the village roads or collect water from public taps; and sell grocery to them, the couple has been struggling for drinking water. “I am walking nearly 3 kms a day to collect water from Venkatachalapuram village,” Lakshmi said. “We have to face this hardship because my husband dared to question Ramesh for misusing the panchayat for his personal gain. Though the village panchayat president Panthanam belongs to our community, he keeps silence,” she said. After the couple petitioned the district police repeatedly, the police filed an FIR against Ramesh Babu under the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act on February 2015, but so far they haven’t arrested him, said A Kathir, executive director, Evidence, a Madurai-based NGO working on Dalit issues. “Everything happens in the village as ordered by the khap panchayat,” said Kathir, adding that Evidence had sent a report to the DGP demanding immediate action. When Express contacted a senior police officer, he denied there were khap panchayats in the village. “Two caste Hindus tried to use Dalits for their personal reasons. We have found it was a mistake of fact and closed the case. The report has been sent to the collector,” he claimed. Kathir on the other hand claims, “Without asking the Dalit couple still living near the tank, how is it possible for the police to close the case as a mistake of fact? Nowadays Theni police close cases booked under the SC/ST Act as a mistake of fact. The police should re-probe the case to unearth the truth.” (New Indian Express 21/7/15)

2. Dalit groom seeks protection to ride horse to his wedding (2)

AJMER: Fearing an attack by people from upper castes, a youth from Dalit community has asked the district administration for protection during his wedding procession on Saturday in village Danta of Nasirabad block of the district. No Dalit in this village has ever been allowed to sit on a horse for the procession by the upper castes. On receiving this complaint, the district administration asked the Nasirabad police to intervene in the matter. Dalit villagers said they have earlier tried taking out retirement and wedding processions but they were beaten by the high caste groups every time. “Two months ago, a Dalit groom sat on a horse and wedding procession left for the venue but angry villagers tossed stones at them,” said Ramesh Bansal of Centre for Dalit Rights who visited the village. Rakesh is set to marry a girl from the same village on Saturday and lunch will be organized for the guests on Sunday. “We are have been told by the upper castes not to sit on a horse during the procession and have been threatened with consequences,” said Jasraj, Rakesh’s brother. He added that there have been several such incidents when the groom and his relatives have been beaten and punished for breaking village’s this law. About one dozen Dalit families came to Ajmer on Thursday and registered their complaint with the district administration seeking protection for the wedding procession and also for the ceremony. “A team of Centre for Dalit Rights visited the village and found that Dalits are not allowed to organize processions in the village. They found several instances when grooms were beaten or villagers threw stones from their terraces injuring groom’s relatives,” added Bansal. These families asked the administration to provide security during the procession as well as for the ceremony and lunch on Sunday. Meanwhile, administration directed police to control the situation and provide security to the Dalit family. Sources said that Rakesh’s family agreed to follow the village’s rule but the groom put his foot down to riding the horse to his wedding. “Since there are chances that the groom or his relatives can be harassed for breaking the rule, most of Rakesh’s relatives do not want to attend the wedding,” said one of the groom’s relatives. Danta village is highly populated with Gujjars and there are 275 houses of this community, 25 families of Rajputs, 25 Daroga families, 30 Mali households, 40 of Kumhars and 15 of Meghwals. Rajputs and Gujjars lead the village and pass laws for the village. “There is no threat to any community in the village and we simply ask them not to disturb the peace during any function,” said Katar Singh Gujjar, a resident of the village. (Times of India 25/7/15)

3. Woman Held for Chopping Fingers of Dalit Youth (2)

MANGALURU:  An upper caste woman was arrested on Monday in connection on charges of chopping the fingers of a dalit youth in Belthangady. The arrested is Pushpalatha of Kataje in Neriya village. The main accused Gopal Gowda, husband of Pushpalatha, is absconding. Belthangady police sources said the victim Sundar Malekudiya had objected to Gopal Gowda mowing grass on a piece of land in Neriya, claiming it belonged to him, on Sunday evening. A quarrel ensued that led to Gowda attacking Sundar with mower. As the machine was switched on, Sundar’s fingers were chopped off. It is alleged that Pushpalatha and Gowda’s sister Damayanthi threw chilli powder on Sundar and his family members during the incident. (New Indian Express 28/7/15)

4. Dalits Attacked During Temple Fest; 12 Booked (2)

THOOTHUKUDI: Owing to the fallout of caste clashes during a temple festival at Vadaku Konarkottai near Kayathar, 12 caste Hindus were booked for allegedly attacking Dalits, on Wednesday. As part of the celebrations at Kommandi Amman and Pudhuveetu Amman temples on Tuesday night, Dalits of Vadaku Konarkottai carried germinated plants- Molapari- in a procession  through Mettutheru inhabited by caste Hindus. They also burst crackers in the street as part of revelry. As one of the crackers fell in front of a caste Hindu’s house, some caste Hindu youth pelting stones in retaliation. With some of them sustaining injuries in the attack, Dalits too hit back. Police claimed that caste Hindus verbally abused the Dalits using the names of their castes. However, owing to the intervention of the village elders, the Molapari procession continued unhindered. Immediately, a police team headed by Kovilpatti ASP, Murali Ramba, rushed to the spot and carried out investigations. Dalits too submitted a petition at the Kayathar Police station on Wednesday morning and demanded action against the Caste Hindus. Following the probe Murali Ramba booked 12 Caste Hindus namley  Mani, Murugan, Sangilipandi, Muthusamy, Murugan, Mahendiran, Veerapandi, Veilpandi, Murugan, Veeriah, Mahendiran and Vijayapandi under the Scheduled Castes/Tribes(Prevention of Atrocities) Act. on Mednesday afternoon. Following the registration of the case against the caste Hindus , a peace committee meeting was conducted by officials of the revenue department during which  caste Hindus promised not to attack Dalits in future. Religious Outfits’ Members Booked for Hate MessagesA case has been registered against members of Hindu and Christian outfits for alleged hate messages against each other religions at Kurumbur on Wednesday. Police said that members of both tcommunities spoke ill of each other’s religion. Based on complaints from both sides, they were booked under 107 of IPC. (New Indian Express 30/7/15)


5. ST status sought for Kaithi Lambadas (6)

ADILABAD: The Telangana State ST Commission headed by S. Chellappa began its three day visit to Adilabad district on Tuesday visiting Nirmal and Adilabad towns during the day. The Commission is here to accept representations from concerned sections of society on the question of admitting Kaithi Lambada community, also known as Mathura community and Valmiki Boyas into the list of Scheduled Tribes. Mr. Chellappa received representations from the leaders of the Kaithi community which supported the proposed move of the government to include the community in the ST list. On the other hand, various Adivasi organisations submitted representations opposing any such move by the government. At Adilabad, activists of Adivasi organisations such as Tudum Debba, Adivasi Teachers’ Association and Adivasi Samkshema Parishad made a vain bid to protest at the time of the entry of the Commission Chairman and members into the Collectorate where it conducted its proceedings. The slogan raising aboriginal tribal however, had to be content with staging the protest at the gates of the building as the Commission members made their entry through a different entrance. The Mathuras gathered in good number, including scores of women who came sporting traditional attire. The Commission will visit Utnoor, the ITDA headquarters and also the famous Jodeghat on Wednesday before ending its proceedings at Mancherial on Thursday. (The Hindu 22/7/15)

6. 1,347cr spent on tribal welfare but results missing (6)

THRISSUR: In the last five years, the Centre and Kerala government together have spent a whopping Rs 1,347 crore for the development of tribals in the state. However, though several welfare programmes have been tried, they have been found wanting, information received by an RTI activist in Thrissur has revealed. For example, the highest fund allocation of Rs 254 crore was for the education sector. Yet only 40% of tribal students in schools made it to SSLC, only 20% joined the Plus 2 stream and a mere 1.3% acquired degree-level education, a survey by the Kerala Institute of Local Administration (KILA) has revealed. Housing comes next with an allocation of Rs 248 crore, as per information collected by K Venugopal of Eravu in Thrissur using RTI. But again, a KILA survey shows that 16,027 tribal sub-families are being compelled to stay with their ancestral families as they do not have own land or a house. Of the existing houses, 55.32% are dilapidated, the survey found.  Yet another example of the skewed nature of allocation for tribal development is that while just Rs 1,000 has been provided to tribal women for buying autorickshaws, Rs 7 crore was spent on training the tribals to drive autos, Venugopal said. A closer look at the health standards of the tribals also paints a grim picture. Tribals in the state fare very poorly healthwise despite Rs 24 being spent on this front. The KILA survey found that 7,789 tribal families do not have access to any form of healthcare facilities. There are about 24,044 differently abled tribals in the state. Of these, 14,036 are physically challenged and 2,386 are mentally challenged. Activists say most of the funds have been pocketed by middlemen and very little has reached the tribals. “Unfortunately, the much-hailed decentralisation initiative of Kerala has only strengthened the bureaucratic regime in tribal welfare activities,” said M Geethanandan, leader of the Adivasi Gothra Maha Sabha (AGM). (Times of India 24/7/15)

7. SC/ST atrocities Act to be made more stringent (6)

NEW DELHI: “Touching a Dalit or tribal woman in a sexual manner without consent” or “acts/gestures of sexual nature” against them would invite the stringent provisions of the Prevention of SC/ST Atrocities Act (POA). The Centre has decided to amend the POA along the lines of UPA’s ordinance, with the objective of strengthening the special law by including more crimes under the head of “atrocities”.In an important addition, the bill provides for presuming caste motive behind a crime and puts the onus on the accused to prove otherwise. As the legislation is set to be taken in Lok Sabha, minister for social justice Thaawar Chand Gehlot told TOI, “There is no change in the bill that was tabled in Lok Sabha (in July 2014). There is no dilution.” The proposed amendments have been a source of political wrangling ever since the newly-elected BJP government tabled the bill to turn UPA’s ordinance into law, but allowed it to lapse. Congress then accused BJP of trying to dilute the changes. Congress chief Sonia Gandhi recently wrote to PM Narendra Modi demanding the immediate passage of the bill. While sexual assault is part of the existing law, the bill makes it stringent by including “intentional touching without consent” and “using words or gestures” under assault of women. It also includes actions under the outlawed Devadasi system. According to experts, the additions under atrocities, by laying out new acts in specific terms, would curb the scope of misinterpretation by police or the accused. “These actions are criminal in nature but the atrocities law provides for stronger provisions: there is more protection for victims and witnesses, and there is a bar on anticipatory bail,” Dalit activist S Prasad said. The POA states that any non-SC/ST public servant who neglects his duties on crime against Dalits would be punishable with a jail term of six months to one year. Now, the changes specify the official’s duties as registering an FIR, reading out information given orally before taking the signature of the informant and providing a copy of the said complaint. In place of POA provision that a sessions court be deemed a special court to try offences, the bill states that exclusive courts be established in districts to dispose of cases within two months while appeals in high courts should be disposed of in three months. Also, it would be the duty of the state to provide protection to the victims and witnesses. (Times of India 28/7/15)

8. Tribal consent cannot be verified before giving away forests: Centre (6)

New Delhi: Whether consent from tribal village councils is essential before using forests could hinge on a case being heard by the National Green Tribunal on the Thoubal multipurpose dam project, which has been under construction since 1989 in Manipur. The tribal affairs ministry has told the court it does not have the power or a mechanism to verify claims of state governments that consent of tribals had been sought under the Forest Rights Act, 2006, before handing over forests to industry. An affidavit stating its position was submitted by the tribal affairs ministry to the tribunal in July 2014. This has become the main point of contention in the court hearings. The statement of the tribal affairs ministry is contrary to its position stated repeatedly over the past year to the prime minister’s office and the environment & forests ministry. The petitioners in the case, claiming the Thoubal project had come up without requisite clearances, pleaded through lawyer Ritwick Dutta the statement of the tribal affairs ministry be reviewed, as it would set a precedent over use of tribal forests. The court is set to hear more on this at its next hearing on August 4. The tribal affairs ministry is the nodal ministry for implementation of the Forest Rights Act. The environment & forests ministry issues clearances to industries to use forest land under the Forest Conservation Act, 1980. As the Forest Rights Act supersedes all previous laws, the clearance process was brought in conformity by the environment ministry in 2009. The environment ministry ordered that the rights of all must be settled on a piece of land before it could be diverted, and the consent of village councils, the statutory authority under the Forest Rights Act, must be sought. Gram Sabha resolutions giving consent and the district authorities’ confirmation that all rights had been settled were to be sent to the environment ministry to be checked before any project was allowed on forest land. This process of seeking village councils’ consent became part of the Vedanta mining judgment of the Supreme Court during the United Progressive Alliance regime. After the National Democratic Alliance assumed office at the Centre, the environment ministry asked the Prime Minister’s Office that such consent be done away with through an executive order. But the tribal affairs ministry repeatedly held consent provisions could be done away with only by amending the Forest Rights Act. “The Forest Rights Act does not provide for any exemption to its provisions (of requiring prior consent from tribal people) for any category of forests, projects, persons, etc, in order to prevent any violation of law,” the tribal affairs ministry wrote…..  (Business Standard 30/7/15)


9. State closer to letting women work night shifts at factories (8)

MUMBAI: As a part of its Make-in-Maharashtra initiative, the state government is all set to officially allow industries and even factories to depute woman employees in night shifts—between 6pm and 7am, and all employees to work in extended or additional shifts to make more money. A copy of the Bill, which is an amendment in the Factories Act 1948, in this regard was released by the government on Monday, which is soon likely to be tabled for approval in the state assembly. TOI had reported in May the state cabinet’s decision to amend the Factories Act, paving the way for women to work at night. Following the amendments, factories with up to 20 workers will be able to operate even at night to maximize production by using cheaper electricity—power costs less at night than during peak hours. The Bill stressed that adequate safety measures—such as safe transport facilities for women—be in place before factories switch over to such practices. The Bill also proposes to enable workers to be eligible for paid leave after working for 90 days in a year instead of 240 days or more. Further, they do not need to take the management’s permission for overtime, the limit for which in three months will be increased to 115 hours from 75. “Increased use of technology and new innovations in the manufacturing sector has necessitated the changes regarding the safety and health of the workforce. To meet the rising need for increasing employment in the manufacturing, industry and capital goods sectors and to ensure ease of doing business for investors, the amendments aim at ensuring maximum benefits to workers, besides industrial and economic growth,” said a state official. The increase in the number of work hours for women will not only provide them equal opportunities, but also more employment opportunities. The Bill proposes proper monitoring of these establishments to ensure all safety precautions are in place, and leave and work hour benefits are passed on legitimately, without exploitation. “The chief inspector of factories will have powers to monitor the establishments and in case of breach of law, penal action would be taken,” said a source. (Times of India 21/7/15)

10. ‘Alcohol, Drug Abuse Triggering Domestic Violence’ (8)

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: To spread awareness on the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence (PWDV) Act 2005, the Kerala State Social Welfare Board (KSSWB) has come out with a documentary, which was released on Thursday by Social Justice Minister M K Muneer. The minister said that 61 per cent of domestic violence cases was due to alcohol and substance abuse in families. He said that 16 per cent of the cases was attributed to extramarital affairs, 15 per cent to the influence of social media and 8 per cent to other causes. He said that dowry, which was once the primary reason for domestic violence, was at present counted in the 8 per cent. “The critical issue in the present times is alcohol and drug abuse,” he said. He said that earlier though alcohol and narcotic substances were readily available, it was when joint families gave way to nuclear families that the situation worsened. He said that the new family structure only led to parents and children growing estranged – the reason why old age homes was mushrooming, he said. Muneer said that a World Bank programme in which panchayats would be declared women-friendly and child-friendly, was about to be implemented. Towards that, cases of domestic violence and child abuse, as well the standards of health and nutrition, would be studied. He said that the government was planning an amendment in which Jagratha Samithis, panchayat-level committees to keep a watch on domestic violence, would be made mandatory. Ward members failing to take the initiative would be disqualified and would not be allowed to contest for five years, he said.“Most of the people do not know the provisions in the PWDV Act even though it was enacted in 2005,” said Kerala State Social Welfare Board chairperson Qamarunnisa Anwar. (New Indian Express 24/7/15)

11. 19,615 dowry harassment cases (8)

Thiruvananthapuram: As many as 19,615 cases of dowry harassment of women have been registered in Kerala over the last four years, the Assembly was told on Friday. As many as 2,596 cases were registered in Malappuram district, 2,402 in Kollam, 2,181 in Thrissur, 2,149 in Thiruvananthapuram, 1,893 in Kozhikode, and 1,252 in Ernakulam, Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala told K.V. Abdul Khader in a written reply. As many as 192 cases of cybercrime had been registered in Kerala this year till July 14, Mr. Chennithala told E.P. Jayarajan in a written reply. He said 466 cybercrime cases were registered in 2014, 390 cases in 2013, and 324 in 2012. (The Hindu 25/7/15)

12. Antenatal complications induced by domestic violence on the rise (8)

Hyderabad: Pregnant women facing natal complications caused by domestic violence is on the rise in the city, a closed group study done by an NGO revealed. The study that was done on 100 pregnant women who are under treatment in five different hospitals in the city revealed that domestic violence caused varied levels of complications to about 15 per cent of the women. The women who were monitored belong to all social and economic categories as there were engineers, nurses, teachers, farm and domestic workers among them, officials of Chaitanya, the NGO working out of Ranga Reddy district said. The antenatal complications faced are untimely bleeding, abrupt show placenta, inter uteral fetal death and also abortions. “While in most cases women failed to report domestic violence, maternal complications revealed these instances. Bleeding was the most commonly found result of domestic violence,” Ramya Reddy, the NGO spokesperson said. In most cases, the women were into their second or third pregnancy, she added. Marital problems and discord within the family lead to such cases, activists said. “Unwanted or accidental pregnancies cause conflict between couples and violence during the nine months. Most women do not talk about it unless the doctor pointedly asks,” said Anahita Mukherjee, a city-based activist dealing with maternal domestic violence. The study was done even as several gynaecologists are seeing a spurt in such cases. “There are several women who come us with such complications,” said Shanta Kumari, city-based gynaecologist. (The Hindu 27/7/15)

13. MCP cards made mandatory for private clinics too (8)

LUDHIANA: The Directorate of Family Welfare has made it mandatory for pregnant women all over the state to produce a ‘mother and child protection (MCP) card’ issued by the area’s auxiliary nurses and mid-wives (ANM) at the ultrasound centre for conducting the scan. Previously, pregnant women were required to show an identity card and ultrasound centres were also required to retain a copy of the same, along with the form. However, as many well-to-do families prefer to get mother and childcare treatment from private institutions, they did not bother to get the MCP card issued from the area’s ANM, thus hampering the registration of pregnancies with the Health Department. The new rule has been made to keep a check on illegal abortions and other malpractices. Civil Surgeon Dr Renu Chattwal said: “Pregnant ladies and their families can get the card from any of our government centres. This is now mandatory for patients going to private centres too. Whenever a new pregnancy comes to the notice of the AMN in a particular area, it becomes her responsibility to keep a track of the same.” The new circular will help the health department tally the number of pregnancies registered with the number of child births in a particular area in order to find out about any case of sex-specific illegal termination. Dr Neelam Sodhi, past president of Doctors Opposing Sex Selected Termination (DOSST), said: “This is a good step taken by the government. But it should do it with a fool-proof plan. Pregnancies should be registered before three months, because it is after three months that sex determination tests start. Moreover, there should be designated centres like civil surgeon’s office or any dispensary where ANMs can be reached for getting MCP cards.” This card can also be used for procuring birth certificates. (Times of India 30/7/15)


14, Operation Muskan Saves 58 Street Children in City (14)

HYDERABAD:The North Zone police have rescued 58 children from Railway and Bus terminals, as well as establishments and roads as part of Operation Muskan programme. Deputy commissioner of police (DCP), North Zone, N Prakash Reddy said that 14 of the 58 children were handed over to their guardians/parents. The rest were sent to rescue homes. Meanwhile, 14 cases were booked against the owners of various establishments which were employing the rescued minors. Operation Muskan was launched on July 1 in all police limits of the North Zone with the intent to rescue missing children and minors who were forced into beggary, child labour, prostitution etc. The DCP has instructed all ACPs and inspectors of North Zone to serve notices to all establishments warning them about the consequences of employing children for work. Child Welfare Department is running a Toll Free Number 1098 for the rescue of children victimised under various issues. If any person notices minors under the above mentioned conditions, they should inform the toll free number 1098 or the Zonal nodal Officer of North Zone D Balaji, inspector of police, Cell No: 9490616030, the deputy commissioner of police said. (New Indian Express 22/7/15)

15. TS And AP Top List of Child Rights Violators in Country (14)

HYDERABAD:Forcing a child to stand in the Sun or kneel down for hours or caning him or her to instill discipline continue to be accepted as a common form of corporal punishment in schools. Despite government ban on corporal punishment and directives to follow guidelines set under the Right to Education (RTE) Act, continued violation of child rights is a cruel persisting truth. The State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (SCPCR) has registered 91 cases of violation of child rights across the two Telugu speaking states in 2014-15. Out of these, 63 pertain only to corporal punishment. The Commission has pointed out that these were the cases that had turned “sensational” and thus taken up suo motu. State-wise statistics issued out by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) for 2014-15 is a shocker. When it comes to complaints relating to Right to Education (RTE) received by NCPCR as on 31 December 2014, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana together registered a whopping 796 cases of the total 1391 from across the country! The Telugu States are followed by Delhi which has 98 pending complaints on the same date. Similarly, NCPCR’s statewise details of complaints relating to Child Rights Violations or Deprivation during 2014-15 say 49 and 32 complaints were received from Andhra Pradesh and Telangana respectively. Of these, 17 and 21 are pending as on December 31, 2014. There are 56 types of punishments that are considered corporal by law and banned, says Achutha Rao, member of the SCPCR. According to him, the menace of corporal punishment is most prevalent in the Telugu States. “In every case, victim is the child. Private school managements, local politicians, education officers and policemen form a party and go against the victim’s parents,” he said, asking for strictest punishment for teachers involved in such cases. As of today, punishment for indulging in corporal punishment is imprisonment from 6 months to 3 years and a fine of Rs 25,000. “More than brutality in the name of punishments, a bigger threat is sexual offences. Only strictest of punishments can help innocent tiny tots,” he added. (New Indian Express 24/7/15)

16. 50% garden kids drop out: Study (14)

Guwahati, July 24: A study carried out by Save the Children, a child rights NGO, has painted a gloomy picture of the education scenario in the tea garden areas of Assam. A baseline study conducted by Save the Children along with two voluntary organisations of Sonitpur district – People Action for Development and Promotion and Advancement of Justice, Harmony and Rights of Adivasis – has revealed that about 50 per cent children do not attend schools regularly. Sharing excerpts of the study, state programme manager of Save the Children, Chittapriyo Sadhu, today said about 40 per cent school management committees are non-functional and only 30 per cent schools have separate toilet facilities for girls. The study also found that educational opportunities in the tea garden areas are limited to lower primary levels and most of the schools do not conform to the pupil-teacher ratio according to the RTE Act, which is 30:1. Sadhu said despite being associated with an industry that commands a significant share in the world tea market, a huge population of tea garden workers still live below the poverty line and are secluded from mainstream development. He said the culture of exclusion is also rooted in the history of seclusion of the tea garden communities from larger social fabric of the state. “Children are the worst sufferers as they are often caught in the vicious cycle of limited scope for quality education, dearth of opportunities for age appropriate life skills and vocational skill development and exclusion from social protection mechanism,” he said. Sadhu, quoting the baseline study, said only 14 per cent of the girls and 12 per cent of the boys up to the age of three years access the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) services while just 19 per cent of the children access pre-primary education in ICDS centres, also known as Anganwadi kendras. There are 950 tea estates in the state accommodating approximately 60 lakh people, which account for 20 per cent of the state’s population. Almost 24 lakh children live in the tea gardens of Assam. “Children are affected by poor health conditions, which can be largely attributed to inadequate water and sanitation facilities, lack of awareness about health care practices and poor nutritional gain. Hence, incidences of under nutrition and infectious diseases are widely prevalent,” he said. According to a National Family Health Survey, about 60 per cent of the children are underweight and over 90 per cent of adolescent girls are reported anaemic. Manoj Kalinda, a Class X student from a tea garden at Gohpur area in Sonitpur district, rued the absence of an Anganwadi centre in their area. He said alcoholism among tea garden workers is a major problem that affects their children. (The Telegraph 25/7/15)

17. US highlights Satyarthi’s ‘relentless work’ for children (14)

Washington: Indian Nobel Peace Prize winner Kailash Satyarthi’s “relentless work” and “peaceful struggle” to keep children in school, rather than in the workforce, has been highlighted in a new US report. “For more than four decades, Satyarthi has worked relentlessly for the rights of children and waged a peaceful struggle to keep children in school, rather than in the workforce,” said the US State Department’s Trafficking in Persons Report 2015. “He has helped to free children trapped in bonded labour, assisted them with vocational training and education, and challenged public discourse in India on child labour and child trafficking,” it said. “His contributions have not only affected India, but have also changed the world,” it said. In 1998, he organised the Global March Against Child Labour, the world’s largest campaign against child labour that led to the adoption of ILO Convention 182 on the worst forms of child labour, the report noted. The world was formally introduced to “Satyarthi and his work fighting child labour when he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014, together with child activist Malala Yousafzai”, the report said. But in 2007, the US State Department, it recalled, recognised Satyarthi’s contributions to the global fight against forced child labour by selecting him as one of 10 Trafficking in Persons Report Heroes. In January 2015, President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle Obama met Satyarthi and his wife Sumedha. Obama, the report recalled, said “… true measure of Kailash’s efforts is not a single prize he has been awarded, but the tens of thousands of people who today live with freedom and dignity thanks to his efforts”.In 1980, Satyarthi founded Bachpan Bachao Andolan (Save the Childhood Movement), which has removed more than 80,000 children from exploitation. Satyarthi also founded Good Weave in 1994, which now implements a certification scheme to ensure no child labour is used in the production of carpets in India, Nepal, and Afghanistan. (New Kerala 28/7/15)

18. RTE, laws against child labour have failed, says judge (14)

KALABURAGI: Principal District and Session Judge B.V. Patil has said that the Right to Education Act and the existing laws against child labour have failed to achieve their objective. Inaugurating a round-table conference on child labour, school dropouts and the present education system, organised by the Department of Public Instruction and Margadarshi Samsthe, a non-governmental organisation, on Wednesday, Mr. Patil said children were our greatest assets and their educational empowerment would strengthen India to face future challenges. Mr. Patil said that the high incidence of poverty in rural areas was one of the main reasons for the increasing incidents of child labour and raising number of school dropouts. “Children are forced to discontinue their studies and work to support the needs of their family. According to a survey, around 57 lakh children dropped out after completing their high school in India every year,” he said. Referring to the life of the former President A.P. J. Abdul Kalam, he said the way in which Dr. Kalam overcame abject poverty in his family through educational empowerment should be a model for every student in the country. (The Hindu 30/7/15)


19. National Commission for Minorities asks Punjab Government to implement various schemes for minorities more effectively (7)

LUDHIANA: Ajaib Singh, Member of National Commission for Minorities, has urged the Punjab government to implement various schemes started by the Centre government for the benefit of minorities more effectively. He today visited the city and held a series of meetings with members of minority communities, officers from civil and police administration, besides others at Circuit House, here. While addressing a press conference here today, Ajaib Singh said that he also visited Mansa and Bathinda districts during his three-day visit to the state and met members of minority communities there. He said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has started a 15 Point Programme for the welfare of minorities and his main aim of this visit is review of the schemes in Punjab. He said that due to lack of awareness amongst members of minority communities, they are not able to avail benefits under several government schemes. He said that he would compile a detailed report in this regard, which would be sent to the Chief Minister Punjab Parkash Singh Badal for necessary action. Ajaib Singh said that the Punjab government should take serious steps for creating awareness amongst members of minority communities regarding different schemes. He said that due to lack of awareness, it is the people who suffer. He said that the state government should print pamphlets in Punjabi language and should distribute amongst members of minority community. He said that Minority Welfare Officers should also be appointed at all district headquarters of the state, who should deal with cases related to only the minorities. He said that the members of Muslim and Christian communities brought to his notice that there is shortage of burial grounds. He said that the state government should take steps so that this problem is redressed at the earliest. He also asked the government officers to compile a detailed report about the status of ongoing schemes for minorities in the state and submit it with the National Commission for Minorities. He added that in his meeting with Deputy Commissioner Ludhiana Rajat Agarwal, he has been assured that that the process of redressing several problems related to minorities is already underway. (Times of India 23/7/15)