Posted by admin at 9 November 2015

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HR NEWS: OCTOBER 1 TO 20, 2015


1. Dalit man, 90, hacked, burnt to death in UP (2)

JHANSI: A drunk allegedly killed a 90-year-old dalit in a village in UP’s Hamirpur district on Wednesday after the latter refused to part with his money. Accused Sanjay Tiwari later set the body on fire. On Friday, Hamirpur police said the killing took place in Bilgaon village when Khimma Ahirwar was going to a temple. He was accompanied by his wife, Basanti, and a relative. On the way, they encountered a drunken Tiwari, who demanded money from Ahirwar. When Ahirwar refused, the accused attacked him with an axe. Basanti and the relative fled from the spot. After Ahirwar died, Tiwari burned the body. Alerted by Basanti, villagers went to the crime scene, overpowered Tiwari and handed him over to the police. The police denied an earlier report that Ahirwar was killed because he was entering a temple. They lodged an FIR against Tiwari and three of his associates under the IPC and SC/ST Act. “The accused was under the influence of alcohol at the time he committed the crime,” Hamirpur SP Muniraj G told TOI. “We’ve arrested him and are further investigating the matter.” According to villagers, Tiwari is a drug addict and a troublemaker. He was reported to the police several times, but no action was taken against him. (Times of India 3/10/15)

2. Dalit Student Thrashed by Government School Teacher for Touching Plates During Mid-day Meal

In a shocking incident, a lower caste Dalit student of a government school in Jodhpur city Rajasthan was beaten up by his teacher for touching plates being used to serve mid-day meal on Thursday. Although, India banned caste-based discrimination in 1955, its 170 million Dalits continue to face prejudice in every sector from education to employment, because of their traditional occupations such as street sweeping and grave digging. The episode happened in Government Higher Secondary School in Osian town of Jodhpur, where mid-day meal was being served. It also came to fore that separate plates were kept for Dalit students and those belonging to a higher caste, Jats. Malaram, father of the Dalit student, was also allegedly beaten up when he came to pick up his son from school. A complaint has been filed against the teacher but police is yet to take any action against him. Nisha Siddu, a child activist from Jaipur on Saturday expressed concern over the incident of discrimination that happened in a state-run institution, regarding the government-funded mid-day meal scheme, which provides free lunch to school children. (New Indian Express 4/10/15)

3. Situation tense in U’khand village after Dalits refused entry in temple (2)

GABELA(DEHRADUN): The otherwise peaceful mountain village of Gabela, nestled in the picturesque hills of Saiyya, about 130 km from Dehradun, was on Wednesday simmering with tension that began a day earlier after a group of Dalits were denied entry into the %village temple. The agitating Dalits sat on a hunger protest outside the village saying that they will convert to another religion if they are not allowed entry to the temple of Kukarshi devta, a local diety. They added that they would offer prayers only after they are taken to the temple with “poorna samman” (due respect). With both sides sticking to their stand, heavy police force has been deployed in the area with senior district officials on the spot trying to resolve the issue. According to sources, the matter flared up when Daulat Kunwar, a resident of Quansi village, under the aegis of his organisation Aaradhna Gramin Vikas Kendra, took out a 10-day procession for “the welfare of Dalits.” He first reached Quanu village where he was reportedly denied an opportunity to address a gathering following which he reached Gabela on Monday evening. A high voltage drama was witnessed at the village as a group of locals who claimed they were “directed by the village god to do so” did not permit the procession to enter the temple. “Hundreds of villagers gathered at the spot claiming that the almighty did not want them to enter what was a holy place,” said an eyewitness. Reiterating the villagers’ stand, Jeetendra Ram Sharma, the gram pradhan of Gabela, told TOI, “We cannot do anything in the matter. It is the order of our god.” He added that Kunwar had “political aspirations and he was trying to mislead Dalits of the entire area.” “Dalits make for 50% of the village population and we have never stopped them from entering the temple, therefore the question of stopping anyone does not arise. But at the same time we cannot go against the wish of our god,” he said. On his part, Kunwar claimed that it was a deliberate attempt on the part of few people to “humiliate Dalits”. “If we are not allowed to enter our temples, then it is better that we convert to another religion where we are treated better,” he said. He claimed that residents of Gabela had misbehaved with his wife Saraswati and minor daughter, too, when they tried to enter the temple. “Our lives are under threat here, but we will not look back. We will continue with our hunger fast till the time the district authorities take us to the temple with due respect.” Meanwhile, A K Pandey, SDM Chakrata, maintained that efforts were on to convince Kunwar to call off the protest. “We have spoken to both parties. The residents of Gabela have agreed to permit them inside the temple, but Kunwar and his team are still adamant and we are making best possible efforts to end the deadlock at the earliest,” he said. (Times of India 7/10/15)

4. Evicted from Gabela, Dalit group protests at Doon (2)

DEHRADUN: Evicted out of Gabela village, the group of Dalits that had started a protest in the village after they were denied permission to enter the village temple, sat on a hunger protest outside Dehradun’s Gandhi Park on Thursday morning. Meanwhile, the district administration has stated that it will not allow members of the Jaunsar Bawar Parivartan Yatra (JBPY) to enter the village. After a written complaint from the villagers, the police arrested the protestors and released them later on personal bonds. The entire matter took a political turn when Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) members and some social organizations extended support to the protestors claiming “atrocities on Dalits will not be tolerated.” On October 5, Daulat Kunwar, under the aegis of his organization Aaradhna Gramin Vikas Kendra, took out a 10-day Jaunsar Bawar Parivartan Yatra for the “welfare of Dalits.” The yatra in which some meeting with the Dalits and visits to a few temples had been planned, was to pass through some villages of the area. After being denied a chance to hold a meeting in Quansi area on October 5, the yatra arrived at Gabela village. However, the group was prevented from entering the temple by a group of people, who claimed that they were under the control of the spirit of village god. Annoyed, Kunwar and his team sat on a protest and were said to be “forcefully” removed from the village late on Wednesday night. On Thursday morning, the group came to Dehradun and held the protest. Kunwar told TOI, “We will continue our protest till we get entry in the temple with the respect we are due, or we will have no other option than to convert to some other religion which grants us the permission to offer prayers before our God.” Kunwar alleged he was beaten and forcefully removed from the protest venue. Kunwar’s wife Saraswati claimed that her bag with valuables and documents was missing. “Derogatory remarks were hurled at us, police stood as mute spectators while the villagers insulted us,” she added. Meanwhile, the district administration has made it clear that JBPY members will not be allowed inside Gabela. “The yatra members are disturbing peace and harmony of the village. Residents, including those of the Dalit community, have submitted a report to the administration demanding JBPY not be allowed into the village as it affects the harmony of the area,” said district magistrate Ravinath Raman. According to sub-divisional magistrate Ashok Pandey, none of the 250 Dalit families of the 600 families of Gabela participated in the yatra or showed an inclination to visit the temple. Pandey also denied allegations that the district administration allowed the matter to fester for three days without taking any action. BSP and some social organizations have come forward in support of the Dalits. BSP leader Usha Devi maintained that everyone has the right to go to a temple. Members of Dalit Shoshan Mukti Manch took out a march from the old bus stand on Rajpur Road to Lansdowne Chowk in support of the Dalit group. (Times of India 9/10/15)


5. Cases against Dalits booked for Indu Mills agitation to be withdrawn (2)

Mumbai: The state government has decided to withdraw all criminal cases registered against Dalits who had agitated for building the Ambedkar memorial at Indu Mills compound over the last 15 years, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said on Sunday. “All those who took to the streets to see the grand memorial of Ambedkar should be thanked for their contribution, But the earlier government tried to silence their voices by slapping criminal cases against them and holding them in prisons,” Fadnavis said. The chief minister said that his government has set aside a budget for social justice and skill development to pursue Ambedkar’s path. While thanking Prime Minister Narendra Modi for helping to facilitate the transfer of land at Indu Mills to the state government for the memorial, Fadnavis said that the previous Congress-NCP government had been giving excuses. “They cited how land for the Ambedkar memorial would require an amendment in the Act which had to be passed in Parliament. They cited environmental hurdles. But the BJP-led government raised the issue with the Prime Minister who called Union textiles minister Santosh Gangwar and other officials and got it sanctioned. In three days, I was called to Delhi and an MoU was signed. Today, all environmental clearances have been given.” Fadnavis added. The chief minister attacked the Congress and the NCP saying, “They could never treat Dalits beyond vote bank politics. They failed to allocate even 1.25 inch of land for the Ambedkar memorial.” On the eve of the 125th birth anniversary of Ambedkar, the state government has set aside Rs 125 crore for the development of socially oppressed and suppressed sections of society. The memorial will be built at an estimated cost of Rs 475 crore. (Indian Express 12/10/15)

6. 2 Dalits Hacked to Death; Another Injured (2)

Tirunelveli, Tamil Nadu:  Two Dalit men were hacked to death and another seriously injured by a six-member armed gang in Tirunelveli on Monday night, police said. The gang followed the three men, who were travelling on a two-wheeler, waylaid and attacked them near a petrol station on the Tenkasi road. Police said Shanmugam (54) and Mariappan (33) died on the spot, while Rajkumar was seriously injured and admitted to hospital. The reason for the attack is under investigation, police said. Tension prevailed at Paraiyadi where the deceased lived and armed policemen have been posted in the area. Special teams have been formed to nab the culprits, police added. (NDTV 13/10/15)

7. Dalit girl allegedly gangraped in Rohtak (2)

CHANDIGARH: A dalit girl studying in class 9 was allegedly gangraped by five persons, including a resident of her own village in Rohtak. Police have started the investigation after registering the case at Sadar police station, and are yet to make arrests. Police claimed to have sent teams to apprehend the accused. The incident allegedly occurred on Tuesday when the girl was returning home after collecting a passbook from a bank. Meanwhile, Deepak, who also lives in her village, allegedly offered her a lift. Instead of taking her home, he allegedly took her to some fields, where his four friends were already waiting. They then allegedly drugged her and sexually assaulted her throughout the night. In her statement to police, the girl said that after sexually assaulting her through the night, Deepak and his friends abandoned her outside her school and threatened her with dire consequences if she told anybody about the incident. She reached home and informed her parents, who took her to police station. (Times of India 15/10/15)

8. Dalit man hacked to death in UP village (2)

A 46-year-old Dalit man was hacked to death allegedly by unidentified persons in Parikhara Takarsan village in Bansdeeeh road area here, police said today. Bheem Ram was hacked yesterday night by some persons while he was asleep, they said. Dalit man hacked to death in UP village The probe is underway to find out the motive behind the incident. No arrests have so far been made in this connection, police said. (Oneindia 18/10/15)

9. Bihar Priest Beaten for Pushing Dalit Woman Out of Temple (2)

PATNA: A priest was beaten up by a group of men after he pushed a Dalit woman and forcibly stopped her from offering prayers at a temple in Bihar’s Muzaffarpur district, police said on Sunday. Rishikesh Jha, the priest of the Sankatmochan Hanuman Baba Anandeshwar Mahadev Mandir in Muzaffarpur, about 70 km from here, pushed her out of the temple, police said. “The priest’s behaviour angered Dalits so much that they attacked him,” police said. The woman, Anita, has also lodged a a police complaint against Jha, who, however, denied the allegations against him. (New Indian Express 19/10/15)

10. Socio-economic backwardness is the main issue troubling Dalits: writer (2)

Bagalkot: Dalit writers said that the sixth national Dalit Sahitya Sammelan, which concluded in Bagalkot on Sunday, provided a platform to raise crucial issues related to the community. The two-day event was organised by the Dalit Sahitya Parishat to discuss many civic/social issues. However, while a section of people felt that the event did not gain significance at the national level, the writers said that the mere presence of people was not a criterion to term the event national or not. Dalit writer B.M. Puttaiah, who participated in the event, told The Hindu that though a limited number of people attended, the issues discussed were of national-level importance. He, however, admitted that the issues raised should have been presented more effectively. “When we talk of Dalit issues, we tend to confine it to their food habits such as eating beef. In reality, these are not the issues primarily faced by Dalits. Socio-economic backwardness of the community is the main issue. More discussion should be held on this and efforts made to find a solution,” Mr. Puttaiah asserted. Meanwhile, during the event, the writers unanimously opposed RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat’s proposal to revisit the reservation system in the country. They also opposed the shrinking space for rationalists in the society and the murder of writer M.M. Kalburgi. L. Hanumantaiah, president of Kannada Development Authority, expressed apprehension over the Dadri incident and said right-wing elements may beat up even Dalits for consuming beef. He called upon progressive thinkers, Dalits, backward and minority communities to join hand to fight anti-social elements, which were destroying the social fabric in the name of religion and nationalism. (The Hindu 20/10/15)


11. Tribal girl gangraped in Bihar, locals stage protest (6)

KATIHAR: A 16-year-old tribal girl was allegedly gangraped by anti-social elements at Hapla Siraniya village in Katihar district of Bihar triggering mass protest by the locals and tribals on Saturday. The girl, hailing from West Bengal, was allegedly gangraped on September 22 last after being abducted by two motor-cycle borne persons when her bicycle developed some problems while she was returning to her relative’s house at Hapla Sirniya village. The two persons approached her and asked her whether they would drop her at her relative’s residence. The duo then abducted her and took her to an isolated place where they along with some other persons allegedly gangraped her, the police said. A case was lodged with Mufassil police station against three named accused persons and six unnamed persons on September 24 last after the girl identified one of the two motor-cycle borne persons, the police said. Several thousand protestors comprising locals and tribals from Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal gathered in the village today and protested against the police’s failure to nab the culprits. They took out a procession to the District Collectorate, 15 km away from the village, which hit life in Katihar town for several hours. Sub-divisional Officer Rakesh Raman said that a five-member delegation from the area has been called to discuss the issue with District Magistrate Sanjay Kumar. Superintendent of police Sidharth Mohan Jain said that warrants have been issued against the accused persons and an operation has been launched to nab the culprits. The SP said that they would get orders from the court by Monday to attach the properties of the accused persons. (Times of India 3/10/15)

12. Talks on controversial ‘anti-tribal’ bills inconclusive (6)

IMPHAL: The first round of talks between Kuki Inpi Manipur (KIM) and the Manipur government on three contentious bills recently passed in the state assembly achieved no breakthrough. During the meeting on Friday evening, KIM – the apex body of all Kuki civil organizations in Manipur – told chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh that amendment and additions to, or consensus on, the three bills should be brought about in consultation with all stakeholders, from both the hills and the valley. The talks ended inconclusively, a senior leader of KIM told this reporter on Saturday. Attended by an eight-member delegation of KIM, led by its president Thangkhosei Haokip, the meeting with the state government began from 2pm and ended at around 8pm. Amid stiff opposition from tribal civil bodies, the Manipur assembly had passed three bills, including the Protection of Manipur People’s Bill, 2015, on August 31. On the same night, violence had broken out in the Kuki-Chin-Mizo-dominated Churachandpur district headquarters as angry protesters, who termed the bills ‘anti-tribal’, torched the residences of health minister Phungzathang Tonsing, Lok Sabha MP Thangso Baite and five MLAs. At least nine protesters had been killed in the protests; six died in police action. Tribal communities in the five hill districts of Manipur have continued to voice their opposition to the bills. They have categorically sought the withdrawal of the statutes and setting up of a separate administration in the hill districts. The bodies of the nine protesters are still lying unclaimed at the mortuary of a government hospital at the district headquarters. Meanwhile, a team of Manipur University Tribal Union (Mutu) on Friday visited Churachandpur and paid tribute to the nine ‘martyrs’. Besides extending monetary aid to the bereaved families, the union expressed solidarity with the growing anti-bill movement. The Joint Philanthropic Organization (JPO), Lamka, Churachandpur, conveyed its gratitude to civil bodies, churches and individuals for extending assistance to the bereaved families and those who sustained injuries during the protests. On the other hand, a team of Citizens Committee, Manipur, (CCM), headed by its chairperson and former chief minister Radhabinod Koijam, visited Churachandpur on Saturday and held a meeting with JPO leaders to bring about peace in the trouble-torn district. (Times of India 4/10/15)

13. Tribal allegedly killed by Maoists (6)

BERHAMPUR: A tribal Arjun Khara (50) was murdered by Maoists at Kandhabuda village under Mathili police station of Malkangiri district in Odisha. His bullet ridden body was located in the forest near Kandhabuda of Madkapadar panchayat on Sunday morning. A handwritten letter in the name of outlawed Maoist organization was found near the body. Through the letter naxalites alleged that the victim was a police informer for which he had been punished. The Maoist letter also alleged that Arjun was behind encounter between security forces and Maoist near Madkapadar panchayat in the past in which a Maoist cadre had been killed. According to sources this encounter had occurred around a year back. A group of around 20 armed Maoists had reached the village at the village at Saturday midnight. They had dragged away Arjun from his home to the nearby forest, said son of the victim Mangalu Khara. Later the villagers had heard gun shot but had not dared to enter the forest till morning. Following this incident security forces have intensified combing operation has been intensified in the area. Speaking to The Hindu, Malkangiri Superintendent of Police (SP) Mitrabhanu Mohapatra reiterated that Arjun was a commoner having no links with police (The Hindu 5/10/15)

14. Forest officials rope in tribals to protect Similipal (6)

BHUBANESWAR: The wildlife wing of the forest department in collaboration with an NGO has hit upon a unique idea to protect the wildlife and flora and fauna in Similipal Tiger Reserve (STR) in Mayurbhanj district. On Wednesday, the Baripada division of STR and an NGO jointly launched an awareness campaign by gathering 70 Santhal and Bhumija tribals, who for ages have been worshipping nature and animals. According to tradition, the tribals select an exclusive place in the forest that looks like a green canopy for nature worship. They call the place ‘Jahira’, which is considered sacred. They make animals out of clay, install them under the green canopy and worship those. “This is for the first time we brought these tribals into our fold to remind them that their god is nature and they shouldn’t exploit it. Modern culture has made some tribals stop nature worship. Through the 70 selected persons, we will spread the messages on wildlife protection among all tribals living in Mayurbhanj district,” said honorary wildlife warden and secretary of the NGO Sangram Mitrabhanu Acharya. He further said of late the nature-loving tribals have been found indulging in poaching and tree felling. “We want to capitalize on their belief so that they become sensible. Many tribal leaders and wildlife lovers are also part of the awareness camp,” he added. Last year, the state government took up a special initiative to ensure protection of ‘Jahira’, which are being ruined due to rapid urbanization. There are around 400 such sacred forests in Mayurbhanj district. STR field director H K Bisht said the wildlife wing will also help tribals save ‘Jahira’ from destruction. “If the Jahiras are protected, the tribals won’t deviate from their culture. The awareness camp will also go a long way in making sure that tribals help the forest department protect the rich bio-diversity of STR,” said Bisht. (Times of India 8/10/15)


15.  ‘Select candidates from vulnerable tribal groups’ (6)

KALPETTA: The Kerala Adivasi Forum, a tribal movement in the State, has urged political parties to make a declaration of rights to ensure the rights of tribespeople in the forthcoming local body elections in the State. Speaking to mediapersons here on Sunday, Sreejith Munderi and Divya Panamaram, president and secretary of the organisation respectively, said that the political parties had favoured only forward communities among the tribal people such as Kurichiya and Mulla Kuruma sects so far. They were yet to select candidates from vulnerable tribal communities such as the Paniya, Kattunayakka and Adiya tribes. The political parties should consider giving proportional representation to all tribal communities in the election. All the local administrative bodies in the State should constitute special standing committees for the welfare of tribespeople and the chairman of the committee should belong to tribal communities, Ms. Divya said. The utilisation of government funds for the welfare of the tribespeople should be on the basis of population in each wards. Special measures should be adopted to conserve and rejuvenate the tribal art forms and tribal medicine, she added. They also raised demands such as effective implementation of Forest Rights Act; launching of new enterprises in the tribal sector to procure and market minor forest produces; start poverty alleviation schemes similar to Kudumbasree to empower tribal women; launch pre-primary schools in tribal language at all tribal hamlets to curb school dropouts; protect tribal burial grounds; and make all tribal colonies free from alcohol, for which all liquor outlets in tribal areas should be closed. Ms. Divya said the organisation would support the political parties who would favour their demands. (The Hindu 12/10/15)

16. Tribal people rally for carving out Adivasi district (6)

KHAMMAM: The demand for carving out an Adivasi district with the Fifth Schedule areas of Khammam district is fast gaining pace as the activists of the Adivasi Samkshema Parishat (ASP) staged a rally and demonstration here on Tuesday in pursuit of their demand. Adivasis from different corners of the district participated in a demonstration held under the aegis of the ASP district committee at the Dharna Chowk in front of the Collectorate here. Addressing the demonstrators, the ASP district general secretary Easala Suresh said that the creation of Adivasi district holds key to prevent endless exploitation of natural resources including mineral wealth in Agency areas and safeguard the interests of Adivasis. The government should fulfill the long cherished aspirations of Adivasis by carving out an Adivasi district as part of its proposed move to reorganise the districts in Telangana State, he said. Krishna Sagar in Burgumpadu mandal near Bhadrachalam would be an ideal choice for serving as the headquarters of Adivasi district due to availability of abundant government lands in the area among other factors, he contended. The ASP district president Soyam Kamaraju and others spoke. (The Hindu 14/10/15)

17. India to soon have first ever data on health of tribal population (6)

NEW DELHI: Government is expected to have data on health status of tribal population by end of this year. An expert group constituted to review health situation and formulate guidelines to improve services among tribal population has compiled health data at the national level and is expected to submit its report to the government by end of 2015. “The expert group has conducted visits to various states to review the existing situation and has for the first time, compiled health data for tribal people at the national level. It is expected to complete its report and recommendations by the end of this year,” the Union health ministry said on Thursday. The expert group on tribal health, constituted jointly by the health ministry and the Ministry of Tribal Affairs in October 2013, includes representatives from the central government, state governments, research organizations and the civil society. The panel was given a mandate to review the existing health situation in tribal areas, suggest interventions, formulate strategic guidelines for states and develop a national framework to improve healthcare services among the tribal population. India has a tribal population of over 100 million with health problems ranging from malaria and maternal mortality to fluorosis and human resource constraints. (Times of India 16/10/15)

18. Indigenous People’s Parliament in Imphal (6)

GUWAHATI, Oct 17 – As part of its efforts to unite the indigenous communities of the North East, Assam Sanmilita Mahasabha is organising a ‘Khilonjiya Janaganor Sangsad’ (Indigenous People’s Parliament) at Imphal from November 13-15. The Mahasabha has already held a series of discussions with various indigenous bodies of Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur and resolved to find a solution to the ills plaguing the indigenous communities of the Northeastern region based on the United Nation’s Declaration on the Rights of the Indigenous Peoples-2007. (The Assam Tribune 17/10/15)

19. Rival fronts trade charges on tribal welfare (6)

Kozhikode: : Kodenchery distinguishes itself from other local bodies by its highest concentration of Scheduled Tribe settlements. Naturally, the electioneering here centres on the welfare schemes and packages for the tribespeople. The surprise factor, however, is that the situation has remained the same even after a five decade-long administration of the United Democratic Front (UDF). As usual, political and non-political reasons are projected as campaign planks in this settler farmers’ belt. Antony Mathai, the incumbent president of the panchayat, believes he has done everything possible for the progress of the 16 tribal settlements in the region. “We have even attempted to improve the education standards. Those who criticise our efforts should firstly introspect whether we have done anything inimical to the cause,” he said. Mr. Mathai points out that the tribal community has its own way of life where no one can forcefully introduce any change. “Illicit liquor brewing and consumption are rampant in all the settlements. It is a reality that many of the development projects implemented have proved futile due to this trend,” he explains. LDF leaders claim the condition of around 500 tribal families in the panchayat is still very poor and the projects implemented with much fanfare have been found ineffective. They alleged that Kodenchery panchayat was very backward in the utilisation of funds for tribal welfare. It has introduced newer schemes for the well-off segment only, they say. “This is the best time to take a close look at the plight of the Ambedkar colony in Chembukadavu. Recently, the district administration had to intervene to address their concerns and examine the ailing members,” said Shibu Puthiyedathu, one of the four incumbent LDF members in the panchayat. The UDF can definitely boast works done for the welfare of the affluent segment, but, they would not be able to face the poor segment this time. Even rebels have surfaced in some wards,” he claimed. The panchayat has 21 wards and the UDF is leading in 17 wards with its continuing alliance with the IUML. For a change, this time, the presidentship is reserved for women along with the other 35 grama panchayats in the district. (The Hindu 20/10/15)


20. ‘Make domestic violence law gender neutral’ (8)

New Delhi: At a time when AAP MLA Somnath Bharti’s domestic violence case has hit the headlines, an NGO has suggested that family laws should be made civil in nature and there should be no police role in counselling in such matters. Childrens Rights Initiative For Shared Parenting (CRISP), which is observing October as the National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, claimed that more men suffer domestic violence at home than women so the Act should be made gender neutral. CRISP President Kumar Jahgirdar demanded, in a statement, speedy trial of DV cases and said all family cases pertaining to dowry, DV, child custody and maintenance should be brought under one roof in the same court complex preferably with CCTV facility. Jahgirdar, who is currently holding workshops across north India, also sought the implementation of the Law commission of India recommendation to make shared parenting mandatory. “The government should take steps to pass the bill as soon as possible to prevent thousands of fathers – involved in matrimonial cases with estranged wives – from committing suicide,” he said. He also demanded the setting up of evening and weekend family courts to reduce the pending cases in child custody matters. “There could also be special guardian courts to address disputes regarding child custody, shared parenting and visitation rights,” said Jahgirdar. He said CRISP is creating nationwide awareness about the problems faced by men with regard to matrimonial disputes. “It is now well established that family disputes and domestic violence is the number one killer for married men in India as 24 per cent of suicides are directly attributed to such cases,” he said. The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) in its latest statistics showed that 89,129 men have committed suicide in 2014 as compared to  42,537 women, he said. (Deccan Herald 5/10/15)

21. Support cell for women entrepreneurs launched (8)

AHMEDABAD: FICCI Ladies Organization (FLO) on Monday launched ‘Swayam’, a support cell to encourage and support women entrepreneurs. On this occasion, a book ’30 Women in Power’ edited by Naina Lal Kidwai, chairman India director, HSBC Asia Pacific, was also launched. Swayam will be a cell for women entrepreneurs seeking support for nurturing, setting up and managing their business. Swayam will direct these women with the best and relevant resources available to add to their awareness through mentoring, guiding and assisting them into new small and big business ventures. Dr Rachna Gemawat, convenor of Swayam, Ahmedabad Chapter, said, “We at FLO believe that every woman deserves a fair shot towards achieving a decent, fulfilling and economically secure life. Swayam is one such initiative that is looking to support aspiring and existing women entrepreneurs. Swayam panel consists of specialists who understand the needs of start ups. Our panelists are handpicked to be able to guide and assist you.” She said, “You may have come across many incubation centers for startups. Swayam is unique in a way that is targeted only towards women entrepreneurs and is backed by FICCI FLO — one of India’s premier business associations. A panel discussion was held with Avani Davda, CEO, Tata Starbucks, Mirai Chatterjee, social worker and coordinator, SEWA, and Anjali Bansal, partner and MD, TPG Growth. (Times of India 6/10/15)

22. Over 46 Per Cent Women do Not Report Cyber Harassment: UN (8)

CHENNAI: If you’re active on social media, you may have come across obscure pages like ‘Chennai girls’ or ‘College girls’. Even the uninitiated would know what lurks behind these pages. It is horrifying. Your friend, daughter, college-mate, cousin or a neighbour could well be the pin-up star of these pages that carry obscene titles like ‘18-year-old aunty ready for sex’. The worst part about this is that your trusted social media site may leave you to the wolves if its a page that is popular. Just by being a girl and having a social media account with photos of themselves has become an everyday risk one faces. Following the rise of these pages and groups, a few social-media users and activists took up these incidents seriously and have started to eliminate these perverts off the cyber-space. One of the administrators of these ‘vigilante’ pages Radhika, talks about how numbers matter for even getting the page to be reported. “Some of these pages have over 11,000 likes and even if 100 of us report is, it doesn’t satiate the ‘Community standards’ Facebook has. These pages with less hits are easy to get rid of, but for the more popular ones we report picture-by-picture to get it all removed,” she added. The truth is that more of these pages keep sprouting even while others are taken down. “I saw my photo in a page called Chennai Prostitutes, and immediately got all my friends to report it. But this is not the first time. When I used to use another social media site, there were fake profiles of mine that I had to get rid of. These elements exist everywhere,” says 22-year-old Nandini (name changed). “I don’t trust the site to always help me out, so I try to be careful with my information and lock my photos.” This is only one variety of cyber harassment. While a UN report states that over 78 per cent of women who access social media have faced some form of harassment — be it online stalking, image morphing, exposing to graphic content, soliciting, impersonation and blackmail. Nearly 20 cases of cyber sexual harassment complaints are reported everyday in the city, according to police statistics. The steady volume of complaints reaching the commissioner’s office everyday are mostly complaints registered by college-going girls, affirms a senior police official. “There is a lot of stigma in approaching the police, but these days we see more girls coming up to talk about it,” they state. The latest UN report from September 2015 on understanding broadband, with regard to gender calls for an urgent global need to ramp up cyber security measures. Preventing girls from using social media  is not a feasible solution, as even those not on social-media could be harassed without their knowledge. Online or not, the report states that almost 18.3 per cent of women in India aren’t even aware they are being harassed, besides there is a shocking 46.7 per cent who don’t report cyber harassment. (New Indian Express 8/10/15)

23. Implement 33 % reservation for women in police force: Maneka Gandhi (8)

NEW DELHI: Union minister for women and child development Maneka Gandhi on Thursday appealed to states and Union territories to implement 33 per cent reservation for women in police force to address the problem of crimes against women saying that all-women police station can not address the problem alone. “States need to push 33 per cent reservation for women in police forces. Women police station is not a complete solution,” Gandhi said while addressing a workshop on schemes related to women and child. Appreciating Gujarat and Bihar government for implementing the reservation, the minister urged other states to follow the suit. Gandhi said that Union territories have been ordered to implement the reservation by ministry of home affairs though none has done it so far. She, however, said that exceptions can be given to states with a problem of insurrection as it becomes difficult for women to deal in such situations. “There are Maoist areas in state like Chattisgarh where women cannot be sent. But all states do not have such problem. They should at least start implementing it,” she said. (Times of India 9/10/15)

24. No place for girls in ‘educated’ Chandigarh (8)

CHANDIGARH: Ironically, Chandigarh, where education level is considered high, has the fourth lowest child sex ratio in the country after Haryana, Punjab and Delhi. Girl sex ratio above the age of seven years is third lowest after Daman, Diu, Dadra and Nagar Haveli. The national average for child sex ratio is 914 while Chandigarh has 867 girls to 1,000 boys. There is not much difference between the urban population, which has 867 girls and rural population, comprising 862 girls. Prof Rajesh Gill of the department of sociology, Panjab University said, “Chandigarh is different from Punjab and Haryana. It has many educationists and bureaucrats. But the low child sex ratio is due to high income and more awareness. After conducting a study in Haryana and Punjab, we found that more educated and aware people make such gender choices.” Medical literature supports the fact that a girl has more chances of survival from when she is in the womb to later stages of life. But the social preference for a boy often leads to foeticide. “Genetically, women are stronger survivors. Even if there is a complication during delivery, a male child has lesser chances of survival as compared to a female. But the social pressure of raising boys must be eased. There has been tremendous improvement over the years and giving social security to women can help overcome the limitation,” said Dr Ritambhra Bhalla, a city based gynecologist. “What kind of education have we imparted if we have not been able to inculcate these teachings in their minds yet? Those who are affluent and educated often go for abortions. Many studies conducted by our department support this fact,” said Prof Pam Rajput, former head of the Centre for Women’s Studies and Development, PU. (Times of India 11/10/15)

25. PU proposes changes in sexual harassment panel (8)

CHANDIGARH: Panjab University (PU) has proposed changes in its anti-sexual harassment panel in order to make it in consonance with the Sexual Harassment of Women At Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013. As per the proposal, the Panjab University Committee Against Sexual Harassment (PUCASH) should be constituted by the employer (PU in this case) in keeping with the Act and no complaints of sexual harassment will be entertained at the departmental level. The discussions were held in view of the complaint against the PU vice chancellor with members arguing whether the panel can hear a complaint against the institution’s head, who is superior to most members of the committee. The proposals will be tabled in the PU syndicate meeting to be held on October 18. As per the changes proposed by a committee that met in August, there will be no departmental committees on sexual complaints and all complaints will be forwarded by chairpersons to PUCASH. The decision was taken in order to maintain confidentiality in sexual harassment complaints. The committee also resolved not to have a provision for any apex committee. It has also been proposed that the PUCASH will make proposals that will be carried out/approved by the appropriate forum – syndicate or senate – to modify or reframe the PU police on complaints against sexual harassment. (Times of India 13/10/15)

26. A case for empowerment: Rural women’s role in democratic, policy-making process stressed

Women activists and representatives from rural areas demanded greater participation in democratic and decision-making process as well as development of the country. These and other demands were made by over 1,000 women representatives who had gathered at the Lok Virsa to participate in a two-day annual conference on rural women, organised by Potohar Organisation for Development Advocacy (Poda). The conference laid stress on giving due respect to domestic women workers, ensuring their rights and participation in the local government elections, an end to domestic violence and government support to rural women. A session was also dedicated to using radio as a tool to create awareness about gender-based violence and exploitation. Aqeela Naz, Veeru Kohlan, Nazeeran Jamali, Suria Bano, Kishwar Naheed, Khawar Mumtaz and Neelam Toru were among prominent women leaders and advocates who addressed the conference. While sharing the objective and outcome of the event with The Express Tribune, PODA Executive Director Sameena Nazir said that the gathering brought together 1,600 rural women from 107 districts who are activists and leaders in their respective communities. She said they had been organising the conference for the last eight years to highlight the role of rural women, who are the largest section of the population, in the development of the country, and secure their rights as equal citizens,” she said. “Each woman present at the conference is a movement in herself,” she said She said it was unfortunate that the money in district budgets goes to roads and construction and not directed towards rural women issues. “No funds are allocated for women health; breast cancer is on the rise in rural areas and the government is doing nothing,” Nazir said. “Thousands of girls pass primary level schooling every year, but stop study because of limited high schools in rural areas. Lok Virsa Executive Director Dr Fouzia Saeed said “women are the soul and the backbone of Pakistani culture; their rights and status should be protected,” she added. Saeed said they had planned to promote the cultural diversity of Pakistan and highlight the oft-neglected regions of Balochistan and Gilgit-Baltistan. “I strongly feel that Lok Virsa should facilitate to bring back the folk art and progressive traditions in the lives of the people.” She said that this should be done in a way, that it gave a deeper meaning and a pride to our identity. She said that they were engaged in revamping the heritage museum’s social media profile to reach out to the youth. “We are making plans to put our audio and video archives online,” she added. National Commission on the Status of Women (NCSW) Chairperson Khawar Mumtaz said that in the past five years the parliament had formulated several laws for the protection and empowerment of women. “However, there is still a need to make procedures and allocate funds to ensure implementation of these laws.” “NCSW is taking concrete steps to realise these rights”, she added. National Assembly Member Marvi Memon said that women were playing an important role in the agriculture sector and the national economy. (Express Tribune 16/10/15)

27. Emotional Abuse Amounts to Domestic Violence (8)

The Hyderabad High Court has made it clear that if an act of a person is likely to impair the health or development of a particular person or if such person is openly put to humiliation, then it attracts Section 3 of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005. The expression ‘physical abuse’ is explained in Section 3 of the Act as causing bodily pain, harm or danger to life, limb or health or impair the health or development of the aggrieved person. Similarly, the expression ‘verbal and emotional abuse’ is explained in inclusive terms as insult, ridicule, humiliation, name-calling, etc. Justice Nooty Ramamohana Rao made these observations while dealing with a petition filed by Ravindra Prasad (first petitioner) and his grandfather of Visakhapatnam seeking quashing of the proceedings in the DVC (Domestic Violence Cases) pending against them before the IV Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate, Visakhapatnam.  The respondents included Prasad’s legally-wedded wife (R2; respondent two) and daughter (R3). The two respondents are the petitioners in the above DVC. As for the case details, Prasad and the second respondent got married in 2003 and, at the time of marriage, Prasad was working with an oil company at Visakhapatnam drawing a fairly handsome salary. It is alleged that Rs 6 lakh in cash was paid as dowry apart from gold jewellery but Prasad and his family had not treated his wife properly. The woman gave birth to a girl  in 2004. A year later (2005), Prasad was transferred from Visakhapatnam to Anantapur  and he, along with his wife and daughter, moved to Anantapur. After four months of living together, he sent his wife and daughter away to Visakhapatnam on some pretext and sent a telegram later asking them not to return to Anantapur for certain reasons. The case of his wife and daughter is that Prasad has not made any attempt to take them back to Anantapur even after seven months. The woman lodged a police complaint  that it had become difficult for her to even trace his place of residence. An offence under Section 498-A of IPC (subjecting her to cruelty) and other sections of Dowry Prohibition Act was registered rime against Prasad. The I Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate at Visakhapatnam acquitted the accused persons due to absence of any evidence from independent witnesses and   prosecution’s failure to establish the guilt of any of the accused beyond reasonable doubt. In 2007 Prasad’s wife moved the Family Court in Visakhapatnam seeking restitution of her conjugal rights. She, along with her daughter, filed a case seeking maintenance from her husband. The lower court ordered  payment of a monthly maintenance of Rs 2,000 to his wife and Rs 1,000 to daughter. Prasad then filed a petition seeking dissolution of the marriage but it was dismissed by the Family Court. Against the decree of restitution of conjugal rights passed by the lower court, Prasad moved the High Court in 2009 and the latter passed interlocutory order suspending the restitution of conjugal rights. He also preferred an appeal against the dismissal of divorce. The counsel for Prasad argued that his wife and daughter had lodged the complaint in 2012, seven and a half years after the alleged desertion of the two by him. As the lower court had acquitted the petitioners herein, the question of drawing the very same allegations all over again in the above DVC is impermissible. On the other hand, the counsel appearing for the respondents submitted that th e case is moved under Sections 17, 19 and 20 of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act and hence the question of quashing the present DVC against the petitioners would not arise. After perusing the material on record, justice Ramamohana Rao found that Section 3 of the Act has attempted in very broad and wide terms as to what constitutes domestic violence and hence tried to cover the various acts, omissions or commissions or even conduct of a particular person to constitute domestic violence and hence couched the language in far and wide terms. “I am, therefore, of the opinion that if an act of a particular person is likely to impair the health or development of a particular person or if a person is openly put to humiliation, the expressions ‘physical abuse’ and ‘verbal and emotional abuse’ get attracted in the above context. After carefully studying the contents of the complaint lodged by Prasad’s wife, the humiliation heaped upon her by the petitioners is, prima facie, made out”, the judge observed. While dismissing the petition, the judge made it clear that the grounds urged by the petitioners for quashing DVC are not available. The judge also vacated the stay order passed by the court earlier on the ground that the DVC has made out a prima facie case requiring prompt and immediate attention for securing the reliefs. The judge directed the lower court to dispose of the case herein as expeditiously as possible. (New Indian Express 19/10/15)



28. ILO plans to eradicate child labour in Myanmar (14)

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) is planning to eradicate child labour in Myanmar by running a pilot project next year, media report said on Saturday. The four-year model pilot project will be implemented in three areas — Yangon, Ayeyarwady regions and Mon state, focusing on over 3,600 children and their family members, Xinhua news agency cited the Myawady daily as reporting. Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Security in cooperation with ILO is compiling a report on child labour which is to be released in November. Most of the children, from poverty-stricken families, are employed at tea shops in cities like Yangon and Mandalay. (New Kerala 3/10/15)

29. Govt urged to adopt child protection policy (14)

VISAKHAPATNAM: Following the tragic death of six-year-old Ch Sai Lavanya Aditi at HB Colony after she was washed away in a drainage canal, the child rights activists and civil society groups, including RTE Forum, AP Alliance for Child Rights, Dhimsa Foundation, Nature, and Bala Vikas Foundation (BVF) have urged the state government to instruct gram panchayats to adopt a child-friendly protection policy to ensure safety and protection of children between 0-18 years of age. Such incidents are in violation of child rights that are ensured by the Constitution and therefore the government should see to the safety and protection of lives of children, who comprise 35% of the population of the state. Adoption of child protection policies alone will safeguard the rights of children, said BVF secretary N Prakasa Rao. While drafting the child rights protection policy, the issues that should be taken care of include mapping of child rights violations and vulnerable areas, convergence among child welfare institutions to maintain safeguards and standards, display of grievance redressal mechanisms in all child related institutes (catering to those from 0-18 years), review and follow-up of existing child rights protection mechanism and laws in true spirit, proper utilisation of statutory structures and bodies by the administration, declaration and practicing of Child Protection Intervention Protocols and rescue operations through intra-sectoral cooperation and accountability, supporting law enforcement wings for proper implementation of existing policies and laws, promotion and greater involvement of public and civic groups in highlighting child protection and safeguard issues such as defunct manholes and risky areas through periodical consultations. “Sensitisation of the community, service providers and duty bearers on child rights protection mechanisms and role of stakeholders is also warranted,” said S Balaraju, founder-director of NGO Nature. (Times of India 4/10/15)

30. 741 child labourers to be enrolled in schools (14)

KAKINADA: The Department of Labour has identified 741 child labourers in East Godavari district and is making arrangements to enrol them in schools, according to Deputy Commissioner of Labour Y. Krishna Reddy. Addressing a review meeting on child labour at the Collectorate here, Mr. Reddy said a district-level resource committee had been formed with 20 officials to ensure rehabilitation to child labourers. The District Collector is the chairman of the committee. He said it was an offence to engage children in the age group of 6-14 years, and that employers would be booked, besides levying fine on them. He said in the last three years, the department had rescued more than 3,500 children, registered 220 cases and levied a fine of Rs. 16,400 . (The Hindu 7/10/15)

31. Kailash Satyarthi will write to all heads of governments (14)

New Delhi: Nobel peace laureate Kailash Satyarthi said on Wednesday that he will write to the heads of government of all 193 member countries of the United Nations, asking them to ensure adequate financial and human resources for the effective implementation of child-friendly sustainable development goals. “The world has again acknowledged and reaffirmed that sustainable development is not possible without seriously addressing the issues of children. We are going to write to the government leaders of all 193 member countries of the UN to act vis-à-vis prioritising the child-friendly SDGs to ensure adequate financial and human resources for their effective implementation.” “We will also reach out to each state in India to implement child-friendly initiatives,” said Mr Satyarthi, who shared the Nobel Peace Prize for 2014 with Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai. He added that civil society should come out more strongly in this regard and ensure that these SDGs related to children are accomplished. Last week, the Nobel laureate had addressed the United Nations General Assembly’s sustainable development goals (SDGs) summit where he highlighted the need for the governments to put children first and prioritise the child-related SDGs. Talking about the roadmap for facilitating effective implementation of the SDGs, Mr Satyarthi said he plans to involve 100 million youth for the cause. (Asian Age 8/10/15)


32. Stats show child abuse big in Goa (14)

PANAJI: Statistics made available by Goa police’s victims assistance unit show over 50 child abuse cases are reported in Goa every 2-3 months. Since the unit was set up in April last year, 324 cases of child abuse have been reported (till July). Of these, over 86 are of physical abuse, over 80 of sexual abuse, over 71 kidnapping cases, besides cases of child labour, begging, murder and corporal punishment. In the late 1990s, Goa gained infamy as a paedophile destination after British national Raymond Andrew Varley and late German-national Freddy Albert Peats allegedly molested hundreds of orphaned children at a shelter home. While cases of paedophilia have dropped, physical assault and sexual abuse of kids have risen, said sources. Speaking to STOI, victims assistance unit’s coordinator Emidio Pinho said children today face physical assault in school, at home and even from neighbours. “Parents in Goa are also being booked for child abuse,” he said, adding that sexual assault cases include children being raped or molested. The unit’s figures also show that female children are more abused than their male counterparts. Pinho said 56% of the victims are female children, 44% are males, and most cases are reported from North Goa. As per the statistics, most child abuse cases are reported from within the jurisdictions of the Mapusa, Panaji and Old Goa police stations. The unit’s members follow up on cases till the accused are chargesheeted, said Pinho. Offering an explanation for the statistics, Audrey Pinto of NGO, Scan-India, said child abuse cases appear to be on the rise because these are now being reported. “It is not that child abuse was not happening before. It was, but it was not reported.” She added that people are ready to report cases because there is now confidence in justice delivery. Goa state commission for protection of child rights chairperson Sushma Kirtani added that socio-economic conditions, single-parent, alcoholism, and drug addiction are some of the causes for the physical abuse of children. (Times of India 11/10/15)

33. 51 child labourers rescued in Delhi (14)

New Delhi: A team of Delhi government officials on Tuesday rescued 51 child labourers during raids at factories in the national capital, police said. Police said all the rescued children were aged under 16 and were trafficked to the capital from Bihar and West Bengal. “A team led by a sub-divisional magistrate of south-west Delhi today (Tuesday) raided Delhi’s Naraina area near Kalu Sarai and Sagarpur area near Janakpuri, following a complaint by non-governmental organisation Bachpan Bachao Andolan (Save Childhood Movement),” an official statement said. Children aged between 10-16 were involved in industries ranging from electronics (mobile charger manufacture) to toys (doll-making). “All the rescued children are currently housed in Kirbi Place near Delhi cantonment,” police said. (Business Standard 13/10/15)

34. Child abuse case being hushed up: Rights panel (14)

ALWAR: Bharatpur’s district child welfare committee alleged that the social justice department is trying to hush up the case of two children’s sexual exploitation in juvenile correction home. The committee’s chairperson Alok Sharma said, he, along with tehsildar, had prepared a report on the incident. “We have submitted the report to higher authorities. The report has statements of the victims. Despite that, no action has been taken against the accused in the case,” Sharma said. He said victim’s statements are sufficient for taking action against the accused. But, no action has been taken yet against the accused in the case. The chairperson said the doctors are also under pressure from the authorities for not showing any evidence of sexual exploitation in their report. Now, the report of FSL (forensic science laboratory) is still awaited. Reportedly, the incident of alleged sexual offence happened one and a half months ago. Bharatpur police on Tuesday had registered a case against eight inmates of a juvenile correction home under various sections of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) for sexually exploiting their juniors over a period of time. The incident came into light when two ‘junior’ inmates, who were recently admitted at RBM hospital, revealed their plight to district officials. Of the eight senior inmates, some are convicts while others are accused criminals. They had alleged that the seniors used to force them to take psychotropic substances like ‘bhang’ and then sexually exploit them, besides coercing them to ask for cash from their families to buy peace with them. However, a day after the case came to light, Hansa Singh Deo, director, department of child rights, visited the juvenile correction home and confirmed that all children had faced violence but she denied the charges of children being sexually exploited. (Times of India 17/10/15)

35. Clamp down on child porn, demands rights panel (14)

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The State Commission for Protection of Child Rights, which has suo motu initiated proceedings based on a news report about a Facebook page that promoted paedophile activities, has stated that though child pornography is a serious crime, there is no effective system in place in the State to investigate the crime and book the culprits. The commission, which had issued a notice to the State Hi-tech Crime Enquiry Cell, said that it was told that the cell did not have the power to register crime and conduct investigation, and that since the alleged page was already removed, no further investigation was done. The commission noted that the present procedure of handling issues such as child pornography or any other child-related Internet offences needed to be reviewed urgently. The agency which conducts the full-fledged investigation should be able to receive complaints from the public, especially of child pornography and child-related Web offences as in any other crime investigation, which was not happening now, it said. The commission pointed out that there was no regular or effective mechanism in the State to scan and locate child pornography websites, as is being done by the Special Branch CID of the police and the Police Intelligence wing for content that are against the State or against chief functionaries of the State. It noted that provisions of the Information Technology (Guidelines for Cyber Cafe) Rules, 2011, were yet to be effectively implemented in the State. Accordingly, the commission has recommended that the State Police Chief modify an earlier directive and make it possible for the Cybercrime police station (CCPS) to receive complaints on child pornography and related offences from the public. Local police stations are to immediately forward such complaints to the CCPS for registration of crime and investigation. It also called for undercover cyber patrol operations by the CCPS to identify those engaged in transmitting child pornography. The CCPS was also to constantly scan child pornographic websites and social sites such as Facebook for child pornography content. The commission has also asked the SPC to register a crime and investigate the Facebook page mentioned in the news report and for the SPC and the Additional Chief Secretary (Home) to file an Action Taken Report within 45 days. (The Hindu 19/10/15)



36. Minorities panel takes up issue (7)

NEW DELHI: The National Commission for Minorities (NCM) has taken cognizance of the Dadri incident and has termed it a “cowardly and reprehensible” attack. NCM chairman Naseem Ahmad also spoke to Dadri district magistrate and sought a report from him. “The chairman asked DM to send a report at the earliest. After receiving the report we will take up the matter with the Union home minister and the UP chief minister Uttar Pradesh. It will also be discussed in the next weekly meeting,” the commission said. (Times of India 1/10/15)

37. Dadri lynching: Those guilty will be punished, says Akhilesh Yadav (7)

Lucknow: Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav on Sunday met the family of the man lynched in Dadri over rumour that he had eaten beef, assuring them of justice and dismissed criticism of his government with the assertion that his party will “never do politics” over such incident. Akhilesh also announced raising the financial assistance to the victim Ikhlaq’s family to Rs 30 lakh from Rs 20 lakh as well as Rs five lakh each will be given to his three brothers. “The government is with the family in this time of grief. No one can imagine what they have gone through. I have assured the family that justice will be done and legal action will be taken against the accused,” Akhilesh told reporters here after meeting Ikhlaq’s mother Asgari, brother Mohammed Afzal and daughter Shaista. They had arrived in Lucknow on Saturday evening for the meeting accompanied by Muradnagar MLC Ashu Malik. Yadav, whose government has drawn flak over the incident, said Samajwadi Party will never do politics on the issue but alleged that attempts were being made to vitiate the atmosphere since it came to power in the state. “Those doing politics can level any allegation… but I want to assure that Samajwadis never do politics on such things. Since SP government came to power there are some forces trying to create one or the other atmosphere,” he alleged. “I could not go to the village and so I felt it would be appropriate if I meet them here… The family is in a state of shock. Nothing can make up for their loss. We can share their grief, but cannot erase the scene they witnessed,” he said. “The village where they have lived for so long and have good relationship…they never imagined that something like this could happen.” He said that brotherhood and community amity were the strength of the country and the secular fabric should not be disturbed. Assuring all help for the victim’s son who was injured in the attack, he said, “Best possible treatment will be ensured wherever the family wishes. We will also provide house, complete security and if required job to one family member of the family.” He said that the government would provide support if the family wanted to live with their relatives. On a question regarding family deciding to migrate, he said, “It is up to them.” The CM, however, refused to comment on the ongoing investigation. He was accompanied by Urban Development and Minority Welfare Minister Mohd Azam Khan and PWD Minister Shivpal Singh. During the meeting the CM called the DGP also. Ikhlaq’s elder brother Afzal thanked the Chief Minister and said that they were sure of getting justice. 50-year-old Iqlakh was beaten to death and his 22-year-old son Danish son was critically injured by a mob which barged into their house on Monday night following rumours that the family had consumed beef. Iqlakh’s other son Sartaj serves in the Indian Air Force. The incident drew sharp condemnation from political parties. A magisterial inquiry had been ordered. (Asian Age 4/10/15)

38. ‘Minority representation in media needs to rise’ (7)

RAICHUR: Accusing the media of inadequate representation of the problems of the minority communities, Dinesh Amin Mattu, media adviser to the Chief Minister, stressed the need to strive for significantly increasing the representation of the oppressed sections. He was addressing a workshop at Pandit Siddarama Jambaladinni auditorium here on Saturday. “There are several reports that pointed out that the representation of Dalits, backward castes and minorities in the press is inadequate. It is negligible in case of top positions. It was the major reason for issues related to oppressed sections getting either downplayed,” he said. Mr. Mattu pointed out that the representation of the minority sections was relatively better in sectors where reservations were provided. “Anna Bhagya scheme directly benefits around 1 crore households and 4 crore people, most of whom belong to the minority sections. But, there has been a systematic campaign in the media against the scheme ever since it was launched,” he said. “The American Society of Newspaper Editors found that only 4 per cent of African-American citizens were in the media even though their share in the population was 36 per cent. The society took various measure such as holding special training, workshops and other initiatives to prepare African-American journalists and increase their representation in media. As a result, the representation of African-Americans rose to 14 per cent within a short period. We need to take similar initiatives in India too,” he added. (The Hindu 4/10/15)

39. Minorities’ Religious, Social Rights Safe in India: Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi (7)

New Delhi:  Amid widespread criticism of the lynching of a Muslim man after rumours that he ate beef, Minister of State for Minority Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi today said religious and social rights of minorities were safe in India. He also said “politics of hatred” of “professional and traditional hate mongers” needs to be defeated through unity and harmony. Mr Naqvi, who met a large number of Muslim clerics and members of the community, said the government will protect the safety, dignity and prosperity of minorities from becoming victims of “narrow-minded politics of self-proclaimed champions of secularism”.According to a ministry statement, Mr Naqvi assured members of the Muslim community that “religious and social rights of minorities were absolutely safe in India”.The meeting took place over a week after the lynching of Mr Mohammed Akhlaq in Dadri area of Uttar Pradesh over rumours that he ate beef. His family has denied the allegations. His 21-year-old son Danish was left critically injured and is in hospital. Mr Naqvi said some unfortunate incidents cannot affect the peace, unity and harmony of the country. “The conspiracy to block the country’s progress has been exposed. Those elements who want to destroy the nation’s harmony, prosperity and security can be defeated by our unity only,” Mr Naqvi said, without taking any names. He said people should not fall into the trap of anti-national and anti-social forces. Mr Naqvi said the time has come to “stop hurting sentiments for votes” and that people of the country have repeatedly given this message to “political champions of secularism”.”It is the responsibility of all to protect the safety and the socio-economic concerns of people of the country especially the minorities. Narrow political interests should not be allowed to come in the way of fulfilling this responsibility,” he said. Mr Naqvi said steps taken by the government for development of weaker sections including minorities have created an atmosphere of trust among them. “Some merchants of votes are not able to digest this positive environment,” he said. Mr Naqvi said the government was moving ahead with its commitment to inclusive growth and good governance. “India’s unity is strength for (its) progress and if this unity is broken, this will destroy the fabric of development. We can’t compromise with safety and social harmony of the country,” he said. Mr Naqvi said the Bharatiya Janata Party wants to take the country ahead on the path of development. “We believe in politics of development, positive politics. We condemn divisive politics which create confrontation in society. We will have to fight unitedly against those forces whose intentions are to destroy the country’s social harmony,” he said. (NDTV 7/10/15)


40. ‘Minorities are shedding inhibitions about BJP’ (7)

Nagpur: Jamal Siddiqui came to Nagpur from his native Uttar Pradesh to study engineering in a city college in the late 1980s. He liked his adopted city so much that he stayed on and also entered public life. For last eight years, he has been with the BharatiyaJanata Party. His hard work has been suitably rewarded with various posts in the organization. Last week, he was made member of the powerful state parliamentary board of the BJP. In August, he had been appointed as chairman of the state minorities wing of the party. The ‘communal’ tag that the BJP was given had for decades kept members of minority communities, mainly Muslims and Christians, away. Till date, they see this party with suspicion. The distrust may be waning after the massive victory in May 2014 that was seen as a vote for Narendra Modi cutting across all political and communal divisions. Siddiqui says minorities are now increasingly joining the BJP and in the recent membership drive, 2.15 lakh Muslims have given their nod in Maharashtra to work actively for the party which was once a political untouchable for them…. (Times of India 11/10/15)

41. BJP uniting Hindus with hatred against minorities: Yechury (7)

AGARTALA: The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) at the Centre is trying to unite Hindus by fomenting hatred against religious minorities, CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury said here on Sunday. “As BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) is a political arm of RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh), it is trying to unite Hindus in the country on the basis of hatred against religious minorities,” said Yechury while addressing a convention here on anti-communalism. The Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) member of the Rajya Sabha said the BJP, following the RSS ideology, was doing the dirtiest vote bank politics on communal line. “This narrow-minded political tactics is aimed to divert the people from basic economic issues including soaring price rise. A distorted history is being depicted before the nation.” “Before coming to power, the BJP highlighted ‘love jihad’, after coming to power it raised ‘ghar vapsi’ (homecoming) issue and now they campaign for ‘gau-raksha’ (save cow) issue,” the CPI-M leader said adding that these systematic plans would only weaken India’s foundation of secularism. During his speech, Yechury said that in the past 17 months of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government, “several thousand communal riots have taken place in different parts of the country”.Expressing concern over growing intolerance to the central government’s policies, Yechury said tolerance was “the need of the hour and it is indispensable to take everybody into consideration and develop the nation”.”The killings of writers such as Narendra Dabolkar, Govind Pansare and M.M. Kalburgi show that tolerance has decreased to its ugliest level. The BJP government has created a situation of writers versus rioters,” he said. Yechury claimed that the present government at the Centre was trying to run the University Grants Commission and all prominent national institutions in line with the RSS ideology. “Narendra Modi, during the 15 months of his prime ministership, has made 29 foreign trips. We asked the BJP leaders to first bring the PM to parliament then bring back the black money to the country. The prime minister every so often keeps changing his dress; six times a day like the hero and heroine of Hindi movie,” the CPI-M leader remarked. He observed that when 55 percent households in India have no latrines and 60 percent have no electricity connections in their homes, the country’s 100 billionaires have Rs.66 lakh crore-worth movable and immovable assets, comprising a reasonable portion of the country’s gross domestic product. Tripura Chief Minister and CPI-M politburo member Manik Sarkar and Lok Sabha member Sankar Prasad Datta also addressed the gathering. (Times of India 12/10/15)

42. Minorities panel meets Akhlaq’s family (7)

GREATER NOIDA: A three-member team of the National Commission for Minorities visited Bisada on Thursday and met the family members of Mohammad Akhlaq. The team was led by chairperson Naseem Ahmad. The team met Akhlaq’s mother Asgari and his daughter Sahista as well as other residents, and urged them to maintain peace and communal harmony in the area. Senior officials, including Gautam Budh Nagar DM N P Singh and SSP Kiran S accompanied the commission members. The team has reportedly sought a report from the district police and administration on the incident. According to police, a team from the National Human Rights Commission is also likely to visit Bisada on Monday. (Times of India 16/10/15)

43. Minority rights should not act as a privilege for them: Ex-SC judge (7)

TRICHY: Minority rights are meant to ensure that minority groups are not trampled by majority. It should address their problems and should not act as a privilege for minorities, said Justice KT Thomas, former Supreme Court Judge, at Sastra University Law School in Thanjavur district on Thursday. Justice Thomas spoke on ‘minority rights and Indian constitution’ at the annual moot court competition, “tarkasastra”. He called for a change in the jurisprudential discourse on minority rights with a scientific and democratic method instead of the existing numerical method. Thomas talked about the numerical strength of Parsis, Jains, Atheists, Sikhs, Christians and Muslims in India. He said minority rights should be given to numerically small, Parsis and Jains, and not for strong Christians and Muslims. Justice Thomas said the 93rd amendment of the Indian Constitution and its last limb of Article 13 was against the spirit of the constitution. He emphasized on the importance of constitution in a diverse country like India and highlighted on the dimensions of socio-political life in a republic. “Over 20 law schools, including six National Law Schools, from across the country competed on the topic, Article 26 and the right to own and administer temples, on Thursday and Friday at the fifth edition of Tarkasastra centres,” said the student coordinator, Karthik Subramaniam, in a statement. (Times of India 19/10/15)


44. NCRB data: 21% undertrials lodged in jails are Muslims (7)

New Delhi: Muslims make up for over 21 per cent of all undertrials lodged in various jails in the country even as their population is just over 14 per cent of the country’s total population, the latest data on prisons by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) showed. An analysis of NCRB’s prison data of states with significant Muslim population also revealed that in some states the ratio of percentage of Muslim undertrials in jails to that of the population is almost 2:1.In states such as West Bengal, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Rajasthan, Muslims have almost double the share in undertrial population in prisons than their actual share in population. In Bengal, where Muslims make up for 27 per cent of the population as per to the 2011 Census, they account for 47 per cent of undertrials in jails. The figure is shocking as it shows that almost half of all undertrials in Bengal are Muslims. The situation is worse in Maharashtra. With a population share of just 12 per cent, Muslims make up 26 per cent of all undertrials in jails. Gujarat fares just as poorly with Muslims making 23 per cent of all undertrials in the state against a population share of just 10 per cent. In Rajasthan, percentage share of Muslim undertrials in jails (18 per cent) is double their share in the population (9 per cent). Jharkhand and UP, both with sizeable Muslim population, have disproportionate Muslim representation in jails. While the minority political outfits often blame police bias, sociologists cite poor socio-economic condition of Muslims as one of the reasons. In north India, Bihar fared well. With a significant population of Muslims at 17 per cent, the state had 18 per cent jail inmates from the community. Kerala was the only Hindu-majority state with a significant Muslim population that bucked the trend. Against a Muslim population of 27 per cent, the state had only 23 per cent undertrials coming from the community. In Karnataka, the representation of Muslim undertrials in jails (13 per cent) was exactly proportional to their population. Andhra Pradesh (united) had 15 per cent Muslim undertrials in jail against 10 per cent share in the population. The data also showed Delhi and Madhya Pradesh in poor light. With 13 per cent Muslims in Delhi, the community accounted for 22 per cent in jail. In MP, with a share of 7 per cent in population, Muslims made up for 13 per cent of all undertrials in the state. (Indian Express 5/10/15)

45. Surge in attacks on Muslims in UP, say activists (7)

AGRA/MEERUT: In a three-part video that went viral in June this year, a group of Hindu men can be seen beating and parading a Muslim youth in Shamli, announcing “this fate awaits all cow slaughterers”. Dozens of onlookers watched the man, later identified as Riyaz, being thrashed with a belt. In the video’s third part, police arrive on the scene and arrest the victim instead of his attackers. Thousands have shared the video uploaded on June 27 — a topic of heated discussion on social media. On February 19, in Saharanpur, Jahangir (24), died after a group of Hindu youths assaulted him. On June 15, one Haidar Ali was severely beaten up, tied to a motorcycle and dragged for several metres in Pilibhit, allegedly after a scuffle with Hindu youths. Mohammad Akhlaq’s murder in Dadri has the country talking,butMuslim groups say attacks againstthem have seen a steep rise in UP of late. According to Mashkoor Alam, coordinator of NGO Action Aid thathas provided data to National Commission for Minority Rights, the number of such attacks in the past year stands at 130. The home ministry, too, said UP saw over 100 “communal riots” last year. In December 2014, Union MoS for home Kiren Rijiju told Lok Sabha 90 people were killed in 561 incidents of communal violence across India till October 2014. Of these, the maximum — 25 — were killed in UP. The national crime records bureau report of 2014 has stated western UP had the highest instances of riots in the state. Muslims across the restive belt have been saying trade in beef or its consumption are increasingly being used as an excuse to assault the minority community. Or there is the sensitive issue of ‘love jihad’ used as a ruse. On June 28, a 25-year-old man waskilled and about a dozen injured in cross-fi ring after communal clashes in Rampur-Maniharan locality of Saharanpur that, eyewitnesses said, were triggered by a “molestation” incident. Before that, on May 4, five members of Tablighi Jamaat, a religious movement that started as an offshoot of the Deobandi movement in 1927 and has now spread to millions across countries, were attacked in a Delhi-bound train in Shamli. Tension erupted in the region after a mob clashed with police at the local Kandhla police station. Such attacks are concentrated in west UP but not confi ned to the region. The Muslim community observed a peaceful bandh in Faizabad on August 24 to protest a case of alleged arson in which unknown miscreants are said to have hurled petrol bombs at a place of worship. Some unidentified persons tried to set a mosque, also the local office of Jamiat Ulema Hind, on fi re on August 17. An FIR was lodged but no arrests followed. Maulana Khalid Rashid, from Lucknow’s Firangi Mahal, said fear among Muslims is apparent these days. “PM Modi should discourage this kind of politics. Vitriolic comments of Yogi Adityanath and Sakshi Maharaj affect the youth and we have 20-yearolds attacking us.” The police partly blame social media for the “mischief”. State ADG Daljeet Singh Chaudhary told TOI, “Some groups constantly try to foment communal tensions… Trouble mongers excessively use social media to disturb peace. To counter it, we have set up a social media monitoring lab in Meerut.” (Times of India 3/10/15)

46. Better-off Muslims targeted: Report (7)

NEW DELHI: A ground report prepared by a team of faculty and students of JNU and Hindu College has raised questions over the temple priest who went missing after Akhlaq’s lynching in Dadri. The report terms the incident “an extension of the new genre of low intensity, high impact communal tension targeting better-off Muslims and instilling fear of brute power of the majority community.” The report also raised concern over banning media from Bisada village. On October 2, a team of Janhastakshep, led by academics Vikas Bajpai from JNU and professor Ish Mishra of Hindu College along with students, went to Bisada to investigate the incident. Releasing the report, Rahul Jalali, president of Press Club of India, slammed the political class for playing politics over the incident and banning media. “There has been a pattern since the last few months of targeting media. This is an extension of the same intolerance.” The team found a prospering of dubious ‘senas’ in the area of which some are Rashtravadi Pratap Sena, Samadhan Sena and Ram Sena. “It is our opinion that these organizations have been consistently laying the preparatory ground for an event like the lynching,” the report states. Bajpai said, “The village dates back to around 500 years and there has been no overt communal tension. The appearance of a mob amid all harmony is disturbing.” (Times of India 7/10/15)

47. PM Modi skirting ‘real issue’: Congress (7)

New Delhi: The main Opposition Congress party on Thursday said Prime Minister Narendra Modi has “skirted the real issue” in the wake of the Dadri lynching incident while appealing to Hindus and Muslims to work together to fight poverty. “The Prime Minister has skirted the real issue. He has appealed to Hindus and Muslims to fight against poverty…By this statement, he has not condemned Dadri incident and those in BJP playing the communal card on the issue,” AICC spokesperson R.P.N. Singh said. Asked about his reaction on the Prime Minister’s statement, Mr Singh said, “Why can’t the PM ask Hindus and Muslims to live in peace?” and deplore those MLAs, MPs, party (BJP) office bearers and Union ministers who continue to spread communal venom. While the PM is not disapproving the Dadri lynching, Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav broke his silence on this issue saying it was a “pre-planned” conspiracy hatched by three persons of a particular party and that they were also behind the 2013 riots in Uttar Pradesh’s Muzaffarnagar district. While non-BJP chief ministers are maintaining silence on this issue and a debate on cow slaughter, eating beef, the return of Sahitiya Akademi Award by Ashok Vajpeyi and Nayantara Sahgal in the middle of the Bihar elections is not a good development for the government. The Congress said hardliners in the BJP cannot be checked as they are backed by the top. The non-BJP chief ministers, especially Mamata Banerjee, Naveen Patnaik and Jayalalithaa, have not reacted strongly to the Dadri lynching yet. Although the CMs of the Congress and Left too are not vocal on this issue, their parties have taken a clear position on it. Though Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav has spoken about it, R.P.N. Singh views that the Samajwadi Party and the BJP are working in tandem in Uttar Pradesh thinking that the communal polarisation would ultimately help them in elections. He also asked why hardliners in the BJP, including ministers and MPs, continue to raise polarising issues; is it not because they are backed by the top? Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed on Wednesday asked the Centre to take steps for curbing such incidents. (Asian Age 9/10/15)


48. 22 Indians among world’s influential Muslims (7)

The Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre (RISSC), an international non-governmental institute based in Amman, Jordan, has brought out “The Muslim 500: The World’s 500 Most Influential Muslims” 2016 edition, which lists out these influential men in 13 distinct categories. Incidentally, this is the seventh annual publication from the Centre, an affiliate of the Royal Aal al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought. The RISSC points out that there are 1.7 billion Muslims across the world today, making up approximately 23 percent of the world’s population. Being citizens of their respective countries, they also have a sense of belonging to the ‘Ummah’, the worldwide Muslim community. The annual publication sets out to ascertain the influence some Muslims have on this community, or on behalf of the community. It defines an ‘influential person’ as one who has cultural, ideological, financial and political power or otherwise make a change that would have a significant impact on Muslims. Such an impact can either be positive or negative, depending on one’s perspective…. (Times of India 11/10/15)

49. “Don’t call buffalo meat beef, it confuses most”, says Muslim body (7)

Bhopal: A Muslim body in Bhopal has said that buffalo meat shouldn’t be termed as beef, because it creates confusion among the minds of a large section of Hindu populace, gives a wrong impression to the society and leads to communalism. The Bharatiya Muslim Sangh, a body of Muslim clerics, has decided to launch a campaign and tell people that Muslims don’t eat beef because of Hindu sentiments and there should be complete ban on cow slaughter and export of beef in India. “Indian Muslims don’t consume beef. Even Mughal rulers prohibited cow slaughter and the last Mughal Emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar had said that anybody guilty of cow slaughter would be punished with death sentence”, said Noor Ullah Yousufzai, the general secretary of the body. Yousufzai said that many people unknowingly use the term ‘beef’ for buffalo meat which is widely consumed in India, but use of the term beef for buffalo meat leads to confusion. “In foreign countries, they might use the word beef for cow, buffalo and bullock’s mutton, but in India, it affects sensibilities and people feel that beef is being served in hotels in Muslim dominated localities, which is not the case. This is buffalo mutton. This is a very serious issue and so the word buffalo meat should be used”, Yousufzai said. “We will print posters, send letters to politicians, approach Hindu organisations and will use social media to clarify this”, he added. The Sangh, a non-political group, said when ‘buffalo meat’ is consumed, it is termed beef, which is wrong. It said that even Darul Uloom, Deoband has issued fatwa against cow slaughter. (Hindustan Times 13/10/15)

50. Beef row an ‘artificial crisis’, Indian Muslims don’t eat cow meat: Mark Tully (7)

Agra: Renowned veteran journalist Mark Tully today called the controversy over beef that has taken centrestage in the country a “manufactured” issue and an “artificial crisis”, adding that very few Indian Muslims ate cow meat in any case. Tully, who has covered major landmarks in Indian history during his stint with the BBC, from Indo-Pak conflicts to the Bhopal gas tragedy and Operation Blue Star, Indira Gandhi’s assassination and its aftermath, said, “I have been living in the Nizamuddin area in Delhi for more than a decade, in what is the national capital’s most densely populated Muslim area, but never came across any Muslim who preferred to eat cow meat.” Commenting on the peace-loving nature of Indians, Tully said, “There are communities who eat the flesh of canines, but they respect the sentiments of people like me, who are animal or dog lovers. Similarly, Muslims in India too respect the sentiments of other communities and avoid food cultures which may hurt others.” Condemning the Dadri lynching incident, Tully said, “The entire incident was based on a rumour and the Indian government should bring justice to the victims, while media should bring nothing more than truth.” Tully was in Agra for the SAARC Nations ​Summit organized by Folklore Research Academy (Amritsar) to give a lecture on challenges before South Asia and the role of India and Pakistan. Speaking to the audience of nearly 600 in which Steve Jacob, Pankaj Pachauri, Bangladeshi journalist Munni Shah, Suba Rao, Qamar Agha,​ Jatin Desai and many more writers, journalists and activists from SAARC nations were present, Tully said, “Conflicts between two nations can only be solved ​by ​public diplomacy, in which citizens are given the right to decide.” Responding to a question on the recent incident in Mumbai, in which members of the Shiv Sena attacked Sudheendra Kulkarni and smeared his face with black ink, Tully said, “It was a disgraceful act ​and brought shame to a country which is known for its tolerance and unity in diversity.” He added that the post-Emergency period, after the 1977 elections, was the best period for India and Morarji Desai was one of the many good prime ministers he had come across. M(Times of India 17/10/15)

51. Mumbai Police thrashed two young Muslims, asked them to go to Pakistan (7)

Residents of Mahim, two 19-year-olds Asif Shaikh and Danish Shaikh were allegedly detained and tortured by a few Bandra police officers on suspicion of being Pakistani terrorists or ISIS agents on Saturday, a leading daily reported. Asif who works as a gym trainer was with Danish near Bandra Reclamation on the way back home from Bhabha Hospital, when they were allegedly picked up by the police. Victims’ relatives and neighbours allege that both Asif and Danish were detained and grilled for over three hours and were beaten badly. They were even asked to “leave India and go to Pakistan” by the police, they said. Asif was hit with belts and batons and Danish slapped and punched, after which the police finally made a call to their parents to take them back. It is not clear whether the detention of Asif and Danish was made an official entry in police records. Asif’s photo published in the news report shows the brutality he was treated with, but the police is yet to make comment on the incident. (DNA 18/10/15)


52. Church voice for Palestine wall cry (7)

New Delhi, Oct. 1: Indian Church leaders today highlighted the hardships Palestinians face because of the Israeli West Bank Barrier, a wall Israel is building to guard against attacks. The worries were voiced at the annual solidarity prayer meet of the National Council of Churches in India (NCCI) – an umbrella body of Protestant churches – at the Palestinian embassy. It was the first time the event was held at the mission. Sentiments against Israel have been rising among Indian Christians who form the majority of 35,000-odd Indians travelling to Israel and Palestine every year, mostly on pilgrimage. “I knew of an Indian who had his anal cavity searched at a checkpost. We understood what Palestinians must be going through everyday,” said NCCI general secretary Roger Gaikwad, adding he and some others were made to wait for hours at the checkpost on the pilgrim route. NCCI executive secretary Samuel Jayakumar said “the majority of the Indian Christians believe the establishment of the modern state of Israel is the fulfilment of a biblical prophecy”.”We have developed a syndrome of going on ‘Holy Land Tours’ without recognising the reality of the occupation.” Palestinian ambassador Adnan Abu Alhaijaa said, however, “the tide is turning” even in the US and other Protestant-populated countries” which have backed Israel. The envoy recalled the US’s Presbyterian Church – which has historic links with the Mizoram Presbyterian Church Synod – last year became the first such group in America to back movements against Israel. (The Telegraph 2/10/15)

53. Group protests Church’s bid to discuss gay rights (7)

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: A believers’ group belonging to the Catholic Church began a two-day protest prayer here on Friday demanding that the portion dealing with gays in the family document be not taken up for discussion at the special synod beginning at Rome on October 4. The synod, the second in a row to discuss the same document, convened by Pope Francis, is expected to deal with issues like simplifying procedures for annulling marriages and treating persons with homosexual tendencies and their families with compassion. “We are launching a protest because the leaders of the Church in India are silent on the document. Homosexuality is against Christianity and true believers can’t accept it.We are stunned to learn that the family document has suggestions to accept gay marriages and it is likely to be accepted in the synod,” said Sebastian T J, the coordinator of the group, Spirit in Jesus ministries. He quoted the Bible (Book of Genesis) to say that brimstones and fire were rained by God on the towns of Sodom and Gomorrah for harbouring homosexuals. “Though the holy Bible is that much clear on the topic, our bishops pretend ignorance,” he said. The protests began with a retreat at the Panchayat Hall here on Friday . On Saturday evening, members of the Spirit of Jesus from various parts of the state will stage a japamala (rosary) rally from LMS Junction to East Fort via MG Road. Brother Tom Zacharia and Sister Catherine Mariam who give spiritual leadership to the group will lead the protest. Next week, they plan to stage a similar prayer protest in front of the Vatican embassy in New Delhi. The Spirit of Jesus’ demand, however, has failed to move the church leadership.”There are fundamental ele ments in all religions and they try to interpret holy books in their own ways. It leads to serious problems too,” said Syro Malabar Church spokesperson Fr Paul Thelakkat. “My understanding is that the fury of God against the residents of Sodom and Gomorrah relates with the mistreating of guests,” he said. “The synod is going to discuss a resolution. It is so sad to say that the Church should not even discuss the issue. Gays are human beings and they need consideration,” he said. Fr Thelakkat said Spirit of Jesus is a group which has split away from the Catholic Church and the Church leadership doesn’t approve their arguments. (Times of India 3/10/15)

54. Christian pastor survives knife attack at home in Bangladesh (7)

DHAKA, Bangladesh: A Bangladeshi pastor survived an attempt on his life by three men who came to his home pretending to want to learn about Christianity, police and the victim said Tuesday. The attempt follows two killings of foreigners last week in the predominantly Muslim country grappling with violence claimed by hard-line Islamic groups. The Islamic State group claimed it had carried out last week’s attacks on a Japanese agricultural worker and an Italian aid worker. The IS claim has been rejected by Bangladesh’s government, which accused the opposition of trying to destabilize the country. On Monday, the Rev. Luke Sarker, 52, suffered minor injuries when three men attacked him with a knife at his home in the northwestern district of Pabna, police official Siddikur Rahman said. Sarker, the pastor of Faith Bible Church, said the men had phoned him about two weeks ago saying they wanted to visit him to learn about Christianity. After they arrived at his home on Monday, the men suddenly attacked him with a knife and tried to slit his throat, Sarker said by telephone. But as he shouted, his wife came to his rescue and the men fled. Police later recovered a motorbike from outside his home. On Tuesday, police arrested a member of the Islami Chhatra Shibir, the student wing of the opposition Jamaat-e-Islami political party, related to the attack on the pastor. Obaidul Islam was detained in a raid at his home at Ishwardi in Pabna, local police official Biman Kumar said. “We are questioning him,” Kumar said. Meanwhile, police said they have arrested two suspects in Saturday’s attack on Japanese agricultural worker Kunio Hoshi in northern Bangladesh. Local businessman Humayun Kabir Hira and opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party activist Rashedunnabi Khan Biplob were produced before a magistrate and arrested, said local police Chief Rezaul Karim. Biplob, Hira and three others were detained soon after the killing but were not initially named as suspects. The others are still being questioned but so far are not considered suspects, Karim said. Hira owned a fishery near the farm where Hoshi was producing high-yielding grass as cattle feed and had helped the Japanese man lease the land he was farming, Karim said. The Islamic State group issued a statement claiming responsibility for that attack, according to the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors jihadi postings online. The report could not be independently confirmed. The Islamic State also claimed responsibility for the Sept. 28 killing of Italian aid worker Cesare Tavella in Dhaka, Bangladesh’s capital. Foreign Minister A.H. Mahmood Ali brushed aside the Islamic State allegations while briefing foreign diplomats Tuesday. “We don’t have any proof (about IS claim). we don’t have any credible information. The U.S. is also working to verify the claim,” the United News of Bangladesh agency quoted the minister as saying. Robert Gibson, British high commissioner to Dhaka, said that they discussed the overall situation. He said the government assured them of a fair investigation. “We’re assured by the government that no stone will be left unturned,” the agency quoted Gibson as saying. The government has blamed the country’s main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party and its key ally, Jamaat-e-Islami, for the attacks, accusing the groups of trying to destabilize the country. The BNP denied the allegations. Bangladesh has been struggling in recent months with a rise in violence claimed by hard-line Islamic groups, banning several that have been blamed for killing four secular bloggers this year. (Times of India 6/10/15)


55. More burial grounds for Christians soon: State minorities panel chairman (7)

LUDHIANA: Punjab State Minorities Commission chairman Munawar Masih on Monday said plans were under way to provide land to members of the Christian community for burying their dead near areas where they live. Chairing a meeting of district officials at the circuit house here, Masih said with this, a pending demand of the community would be met. “Christian community holds a special place in the state and their demands would be redressed on priority basis,” he said. At the meeting, Masih directed senior officials to hold a survey for identifying land for the burial grounds. “Keeping in view the population of Christians in Ludhiana, Khanna, Samrala, Mullanpur, Jarg, Ladhowal and Rampur, land should be provided there on priority basis,” he said. On a demand by the community for appointing a separate marriage registrar in the city, Masih said the issue would be resolved soon. He also directed officials to not force Christians for getting scheduled caste certificates for getting benefits of government schemes. (Times of India 13/10/15)

56. VHP seeks anti-conversion law in Jharkhand (7)

Ranchi: Jharkhand to roll out food law in 8 districts from July 1 VHP demands ban on beef in Jharkhand Senior Cong leader claims Jharkhand minister met riot accused Steps taken to fast-track Jharkhand development : CM Minor girl prevents marriage with CM’s help in Jharkhand After a large number of tribals reportedly converted to Christianity in Jharkhand’s Gumla district, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) has sought an anti-conversion law in the state. “Anti conversion law should be formulated in Jharkhand. Christian missionaries are silently working on their agenda, converting tribals,” VHP leader Pramod Mishra told IANS. “In the last 15 days, over 300 people belonging to Asur, one of the nine primitive tribes, have been converted to Christianity,” he added. According to sources in the Gumla district administration, around 100 people from Ghaghra and Visunpur blocks embraced Christianity. The local media has said the figure may be more. The administration has ordered a probe into the reported conversion. Stating that Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh had anti-conversion laws, the VHP demanded one from the Jharkhand government too. It also sought details about the funding of the missionaries. Asked about the VHP’s ‘Ghar Wapsi’ (homecoming) programme, Mishra said: “In Ghar Wapsi, people return to their original faith. We do not force people to convert to Hindu religion.” (Business Standard 13/10/15)

57. ‘Language controversy may communally polarise Goa’ (7)

Panaji: A brewing controversy over instruction of medium in schools, where factions backed by Goa’s Roman Catholic Church and the RSS are at loggerheads, could polarise Hindu and Catholic communities, Padma Shri awardee Maria Couto has warned. Expressing fear that the prevailing air of intolerance could do an “irreparable damage” to Goa’s secular fabric, the 2010 Padma awardee in a statement, said: “I pray they do not get derailed into converting their stated position on MOI (medium of instruction) into an ugly polarisation between Goa’s two major communities.” “Intolerance which is vitiating the air nationally will do irreparable damage to Goa’s legendary secular ethos,” the noted writer and academic said. Two groups, Forum for Rights of Children to Education (FORCE) backed by the influential Roman Catholic Church, and the Bharatiya Bhasha Suraksha Manch (BBSM) supported by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) are currenly at loggerheads in Goa over the choice of language of instruction in junior schools. While the former group backs English, the RSS-led faction is advocating for indigenous languages. The BJP, which won the 2012 state assembly elections, thanks to a strategic alliance with leaders of the Catholic community – is now caught between promises the party made to the minority community and the BBSM over the issue of medium of instruction. According to the 2011 census, 25 percent of the 1.5 million population is Christian, while 66 percent are Hindus. The Christian population is “almost entirely Catholic” and Goan Catholics form a significant ethnoreligious group. After coming to power, the Manohar Parrikar-led Bharatiya Janata Party government via an ad hoc decision in 2012, had decided to give grants to only minority institutions which were using English as a medium of instruction, with new schools being denied the privilege. The RSS-backed BBSM believes that the Parrikar in his pursuit of political pragmatism, let them down. Couto fears the prevailing atmosphere of intolerance over sensitive issues like beef ban and murder of rationalists and writers, could infiltrate Goa’s congenial social space. “Debate and dissent by all means but do not vilify an entire community and its leaders. The communal virus if allowed to infiltrate the Goan psyche will not leave a Goa we wish our children to inherit,” Couto said in the statement. (New Kerala 17/10/15)



58. UNHCR plans for 1.4 million Mediterranean refugees in 2015-16 (13)

GENEVA: The UN refugee agency expects at least 1.4 million refugees to flee to Europe across the Mediterranean this year and next, according to a document seen by Reuters on Thursday, a sharp rise from initial estimates of 850,000. “UNHCR is planning for up to 700,000 people seeking safety and international protection in Europe in 2015,” reads the document, a revision to the agency’s existing appeal for funds. “… It is possible that there could be even greater numbers of arrivals in 2016, however, planning is based for the moment on similar figures to 2015.” UNHCR launched the appeal on Sept. 8 with preliminary plans for 400,000 refugee arrivals in 2015 and 450,000 in 2016. But the 2015 figure was surpassed within days of its publication, and by Sept. 28, 520,957 had arrived. The revised appeal totals $128 million, a sharp increase from the initial appeal for $30.5 million, and UNHCR asked donors to allow their funds to be allocated flexibly because of the “very volatile operational context”.The appeal is also broadened to include transit countries in the Middle East and North Africa, to enable refugees to get help from UNHCR at an earlier stage of their journey. Although the vast majority of recent arrivals have traveled from Turkey through Greece, Macedonia and Serbia, possible alternative routes mapped out by UNHCR include the sea route from Turkey to Italy, from Greece through Albania to Montenegro or Italy, and from Montenegro by boat to Croatia. Most are fleeing the Syrian civil war, with many others seeking to escape conflict or poverty in Iraq, Afghanistan, Iraq, Africa or elsewhere. The revised appeal covers plans to scale up the emergency response to protect and give aid to the higher numbers of refugees, but a further revision may be published later in the year to reflect additional needs for European contingency planning, the document said. (Times of India 1/10/15)

59. Burmese refugees demand dues from govt (13)

VISAKHAPATNAM: Members of the Burma AP Repatriates Association have demanded that they be given their dues as promised by the state and central governments ever since they came to India way back in 1962. Speaking to mediapersons here on Monday, the association members said that the state government had promised much but delivered little. They pointed out that post 1964, both the governments passed several GOs, which were yet to be implemented. The members said that 7,522 families had settled down in Visakhapatnam after fleeing Burma and till date they had not even been provided with proper housing facilities. Association president D Satyanarayana said, “On paper, the governments promised to provide us with more than 27,000 sq yd land in Pedagantyada, the value of which runs into crores of rupees. But only 50% of the land is with the refugees as the rest has been illegally occupied by those with political influence.” President of the Pedagantyada Burma Colony, B Venugopala Goutam, said, “We have approached every official and public representative, but they do not seem to be moved by our plight.” (Times of India 5/10/15)

60. 3 million more refugees could leave Syria, Turkey warns  (13)

BRUSSELS: Turkey has warned the European Union that 3 million more refugees could flee fighting in Syria as the EU struggles to manage its biggest migration emergency in decades. Around 2 million refugees from Syria are currently in Turkey, and tens of thousands of others have entered the EU via Greece this year, overwhelming coast guards and reception facilities. EU Council President Donald Tusk told lawmakers Tuesday that “according to Turkish estimates, another 3 million potential refugees may come from Aleppo and its neighborhood.” “Today millions of potential refugees and migrants are dreaming about Europe,” Tusk said at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France. He warned that “the world around us does not intend to help Europe” and that some of the EU’s neighbors “look with satisfaction at our troubles.” Tusk also lashed out at countries for failing to fully respect EU asylum and border rules, naming Hungary, Italy, Slovakia and Greece. “We have to respect commonly agreed rules,” he said, adding that when countries say they intend to flout the laws “they undermine the essence of solidarity and our community.” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan held talks with senior officials in Brussels on Monday, and the EU’s executive Commission was due to unveil later Tuesday a memorandum detailing the way the bloc and Turkey plan to cooperate on migration. Erdogan has sought European backing for the creation of a safe haven and no-fly zone in northern Syria, saying that such moves are key to ending the refugee crisis. Meanwhile, Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann is heading to the eastern Aegean island of Lesbos with Greece’s prime minister to view the impact of the refugee crisis and tour the facilities set up to handle the new arrivals. Faymann and Greece’s Alexis Tsipras are due on Lesbos around mid-day Monday and are to tour the reception center set up to register and process refugees and migrants. About 400,000 people have arrived in Greece so far this year, most in small overcrowded boats from the nearby Turkish coast. The vast majority don’t want to stay in the financially troubled country and head north through the Balkans to more prosperous EU states. (Times of India 6/10/15)

61. 73 Sri Lankan refugees return home (13)

CHENNAI: Nine-year-old Arunraj and his younger sister Rakshana are excited about their journey on Thursday. For the first time in their lives, they would be travelling by an airplane and both want to have a window seat. The children, born to a Sri Lankan refugee couple in a special camp at Adiyanuthu in Dindigul district of Tamil Nadu, are among the 73 who left the special camps for Sri Lanka with the assistance of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) on Thursday, to start a new life on the island. “We fled Vavuniya in 1990 fearing for our lives. I was nine years old when we came to Mandapam by boat. We want to go back because all our relatives are there,” says the children’s mother S. Theresamma. Her husband returned to Lanka five months ago to see whether the situation in Mannar was conducive to them to resettle there. “He said jobs in Ceylon are a problem. But we are confident of finding some livelihood as I have learnt tailoring. We will send our children to school there.” For 26-year old M. Prakash of Mandapam camp in Rameswaram, who came to Arichamunai by boat in 2007, concern over his future prompted him to decide to return. “I have studied only till Class 10. Though there are schools here, my situation did not allow me to study and so I worked in a fishing company for a daily wage. I have saved some money but I can’t buy any land here as I will be a refugee as long as I live here,” the native of Jaffna points out. He intends to look for jobs in Malaysia or Singapore, once he returns to Sri Lanka. Though the conflict between the government and the rebel forces ended on the island in May 2009, about 1.02 lakh refugees from Sri Lanka still remain in special camps across Tamil Nadu. “We assist Sri Lankan refugees, who voluntarily decide to return to their home country. We help them in their documentation and facilitate and financially support their travel. On their arrival, UNHCR Sri Lanka provides some support to assist them in settling down,” UNHCR India’s spokesperson Shuchita Mehta said. Between 2002 and 2014, UNHCR India has assisted about 12,500 Lankan refugees in voluntary repatriation. Since January, a total of 315 refugees returned home. (The Hindu 9/10/15)

62. Europe sees record surge of child refugees (13)

KENT, England: The bags are packed, the goodbye hugs done. The Afghan, Eritrean and Sudanese boys are on the move again, but this time it’s a happy occasion: After months of hardship traversing continents, the teenage refugees are finally on the way to English homes where they can settle down for a long dreamed-of life in Europe. The dozens of boys are unaccompanied child refugees who have come to the end of a long, risky journey by boat, foot, truck and train. Upon reaching the shores of Dover they were brought to a reception center in Kent, southern England, where they were given temporary shelter. As the teenagers leave for more permanent social housing or foster homes, they are seen off by another group of boys who are eagerly awaiting their turn. Europe’s migrant crisis has seen a record surge of unaccompanied child asylum seekers fleeing civil war, conscription and poverty at home to countries including Britain and Sweden, which have scrambled to provide care for thousands of newly arrived minors. Most are boys aged between 14 to 18 hailing from Syria, Afghanistan, Eritrea and Sudan. “I’m happy to leave today,” said Sadiq, a shy 17-year-old Sudanese, who said he wanted to become an engineer. Like all the refugees interviewed at the center, his full name cannot be reported because they are minors under government care. Like the other youngsters, Sadiq had made it to Europe alone after leaving behind his family, and may never see his loved ones again. He lowered his head when asked about his homeland, where a years-long conflict has killed thousands and driven millions from their homes…. (Times of India 11/10/15)

63. Hundreds of refugees rescued by MSF in Mediterranean (13)

New York: The Doctors Without Borders (Medecins Sans Frontieres) have rescued hundreds of refugees in the Mediterranean travelling to Europe in two different rescue operations. The MSF run boat, the Argos, first rescued 242 people and later 460 others who were travelling in two different wooden boats to Europe. Media Relations Manager for MSF Sandra Murillo told the ABC News that the rescuers were provided with basic necessary amenities including food blankets, clothes and medical care by the MSF. They have been taken to Italy to undergo Italian entry procedures, she added. Thousands of people have died by drowning in the Mediterranean Sea while travelling to Europe to escape the hostile situation in their countries. (New Kerala 12/10/15)

64. Communal violence leads to migration, ghettos: Panel (13)

 Mumbai: This was emphasised by panelists who had gathered at the Phirozeshah Mehta Bhavan of University of Mumbai during the launch of the book Communal Violence, Forced Migration and the State: Gujarat since 2002 by Sanjeevani Lokhande on Wednesday. The panelists further said that the current government rather than addressing the issue was only encouraging it by not taking punitive action against trouble-makers who incite people into communal violence in the country. Ms Lokhande said during her doctoral research she found that human displacement was an insightful lens to view the inherent bias and disparity in society. “In a democracy, the migration of large swathes of population isn’t just an aberration. Apparently it has larger implications.” With reference to the Gujarat riots, she said that due to the way the tragedy was reported and viewed by the state, victims of the riots decided to migrate, which resulted in the rise of ghettos in Ahmedabad. “Such a phenomenon could have been avoided if the state played a proactive role in rehabilitating the riot-affected,” said Ms Lokhande who is also a professor in the civics and politics department of the MU. Senior journalist Kumar Ketkar, while speaking about the current scenario wherein communal violence was on the rise unabated, said, “We are sitting on the edge of a volcano. The migration crisis can erupt in violent outbreaks any moment in this country.” Dr Howard Spodeck, a professor at Temple University in United States, said, “The migrants often refuse to return to their homes, as they are afraid of their neighbours. Instead, they choose to live in ghettos and as a result, develop a very different world view.” (Asian Age 15/10/15)

65. Germany, Turkey hail progress in handling refugee crisis (13)

ISTANBUL: German chancellor Angela Merkel and Turkish prime minister Ahmet Davutoglu on Sunday hailed a better understanding between Ankara and the European Union in dealing with the refugee crisis, as thousands more migrants poured into Slovenia headed for western Europe. Merkel held talks in Istanbul with Davutoglu and was meeting president Recep Tayyip Erdogan on a critical one-day visit which came as Germany was shaken by a bloody knife attack on a pro-refugee politician. The European Union wants Turkey to do more to tighten its border security and help contain the historic influx of people from Syria, Iraq and other conflict zones seeking shelter in the 28-nation bloc. In return, Ankara wants greater recognition for its role in hosting over two million Syrian refugees, an increase in financial help and an acceleration of its long-stalled bid for EU membership. After the talks, Davutoglu praised a “better approach” from the European Union lamenting that “unfortunately Turkey was left alone by the international community in terms of burden sharing.” “We are very pleased there is a better approach now. The issue of sharing going forwards is very important,” said Davutoglu. Germany has been Europe’s top destination for refugees, most of whom travel through Turkey and the Balkans, and is expecting to register up to a million asylum requests this year. Davutoglu hailed Merkel for “not turning a blind eye” to the refugee crisis. “Many others said refugees should be sent back (from the EU). She displayed a humanitarian position,” he added. Merkel said that the fact Turkey had accomplished the immense task of looking after over two million Syrian refugees on relatively little funding had led to a “migration pressure” which resulted in the influx of migrants into Europe. “Turkey had little international help until now for the huge contribution it has made,” said Merkel. … (Times of India 18/10/15)



66. Government blocks Memon hanging details (1)

MUMBAI: The BJP-Shiv Sena government has blocked all information related to the hanging of Yakub Memon, one of the conspirators of the 1993 serial blasts, on the grounds that it would affect the sovereignty, unity and security of the country. Interestingly, information related to hanging of Mohammed Ajmal Kasab, the Pakistani terrorist caught during the 26/11 terror attacks, was provided by then Congress-NCP Democratic Front government. Activist Anil Galgali, who had filed queries about Memon under the Right to Information Act (RTI), was denied the information. Yakub Memon was hanged to death in Nagpur jail on July 30, 2015. His body was buried in Mumbai. Kasab was hanged to death on November 21, 2012, at the Yerawada jail in Pune and his body was buried there. Galgali said the Public Information and Desk Officer of the Home Department, Deepak Zadiye informed him that all information related to death sentence of Yakub Memon has been refused under clause 8(1)(c) of the RTI Act 2005 by the Maharashtra government. “Under the clause, any such information that will disturb the sovereignty, unity and security of the country can be withheld,” he said. Galgali then filed an appeal on the order with Deputy Secretary J L Pawra.  “The previous government in 2012 had provided information on a similar query related to Kasab and now the BJP-Shiv Sena government is trying to hide this information, which is very surprising. That the inference of law can change as per convenience can be seen from this case, that how things have changed with the change in the governments at the Centre and Maharashtra,” the veteran RTI activist said. He appealed to Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis to ensure transparency and provide the details. (Deccan Herald 2/10/15)

67. Kerala Experts Seek More Teeth for RTI Act (1)

KOCHI:The Right to Information (RTI) Prosecutors’ Assembly and the RTI Knowledge Meet held here on Sunday underscored the need to use the Act more effectively to ensure transparency, and also called for measures to widen scope of the 10-year-old landmark legislation for the benefit of the public. “Currently, most of the government departments and those which indirectly control the government are out of the purview of the RTI Act. I do not subscribe to the view that certain departments should be kept out of the purview of the RTI Act,” said Minister for Forests Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan, who inaugurated the RTI Prosecutors’ Meet. “As in the case of direct control over the government, indirect control is also of great importance, and the citizens have the right to know about them as well,” the Minister said, while supporting the argument that political parties should be brought within the ambit of the Act. He also called for constructive debates to further strengthen the RTI Act and to widen its scope.   Addressing the meet, former bureaucrat Dr Nivedita P Haran said a change of mindset among administrators and empowerment of the people were needed to make the most of the RTI Act, which envisages proactive disclosure of information. “Government departments are supposed to post all the latest information on their respective websites, frequently. Unfortunately, it is not happening. The administrators have evolved a strategy of evading RTI queries, rather than providing information to the public,” said the the former Additional Chief Secretary. “The Right to Service Act introduced by the State Government three years ago is also in an unenviable position. As many as 77 departments have been notified under the Right to Service Act. Yet, nobody has been penalised under the Act ever since it came into force. It does not mean that people are getting services without delay, but the officials have evolved a method to bypass enforcement of the legislation. The Right to Service is more important and closer to the common man. Unfortunately, it has become almost a dead Act,” Nivedita said, and suggested that RTI training be made compulsory in officers’ training programmes. The RTI Knowledge Meet and Prosecutors’ Assembly were organised jointly by the Directorate of Prosecutions and Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CWHRI), New Delhi. Director General of Prosecution T Asaf Ali, Director of Prosecution V C Ismail and Venkatesh Naik of the CWHRI, among others, addressed the meet. (New Indian Express 5/10/15)

68. Students highlight RTI discrepancies in HC (1)

NEW DELHI: A group of law students here has raised the issue of discrepancies in the Delhi High Court’s RTI rules with the Right to Information Act, 2005, while affirming that the lack of compatibility had led to denial of access to information available under the law. The issue also affects a fundamental right of citizens, according to them. In a representation addressed to High Court’s Chief Justice G. Rohini, the students have pointed out that the provisions for exorbitant fee and filing of separate applications for unrelated information as well as the lack of provision for supply of information free of cost had rendered the High Court’s rules, framed in 2006, inconsistent with the RTI Act. While the RTI Act prescribes Rs. 10 as application fee and Rs. 2 per page for providing physical or photocopies, the High Court’s rules have laid down the application fee of Rs. 50 and Rs. 5 per page for copies. There is no provision in the RTI Act for filing of separate applications in case of unrelated information, but Rule 3 of the High Court’s rules states that for each piece of information sought, a separate application should be made. “This is creating unnecessary financial loss in terms of extra paper, extra application fee, extra delivery charges as well as a more time-consuming process for both applicants and the public information officer,” said the representation. Besides, there is no provision in the High Court’s rules for supply of information free of cost to the citizens falling under the below poverty line (BPL) category. The representation was signed by law students Aastha Sharma, Ishwin Mehta, Paras Jain and Kumar Shanu. Two of them reside in Noida, while one lives in Civil Lines and another in Rohini. All of them are pursuing the law course in a private university here. Seeking the Chief Justice’s intervention, the students requested her to harmonise the High Court’s RTI rules with the Central legislation in order to uphold and promote the objective and spirit of the RTI Act. Significantly, the Union Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pension had on July 10 this year written to the chief secretaries of all States, registrars of all High Courts, and the Supreme Court registrar with the request to review their RTI rules and bring those in consonance with those notified by the Union government. It had pointed out that the fee should not become a disincentive for using the right to information. (The Hindu 8/10/15)

69. Districts spent Rs 20 crore on Modi’s Sadbhavana fasts (1)

AHMEDABAD: After being in a state of denial, it took the state government almost three years to cough up details on the actual expenses it had incurred on the much publicized 36 Sadbhavana mission fasts which former chief minister Narendra Modi had embarked on in 2011-12. The general administration department (GAD), protocol division, after initially denying that it had any information on the expenses, finally submitted before the state chief information commissioner, Balwant Singh, a detailed list of Sadbhavana expenses. While replying to an RTI application filed by Kirit Rathod, the GAD claimed that various districts had together coughed up Rs 19.96 crore for organizing these fasts. All of these expenses were met from the ‘district contingency fund’ -funds that are generally reserved for meeting expenses during disasters or emergencies. In a detailed list of expenses, the GAD revealed that a major chunk of the expenses — Rs 16.36 crore — went towards paying rent for hiring state transport buses. In the 36 Sadbhavana fasts undertaken by the chief minister, projects and financial assistance of Rs 39,769 crore were announced by the chief minister. The GAD, however, claimed that it had no knowledge of how much of these projects had realized. “For close to three years, the government kept denying the existence of any such expenses. What appears interesting is that all districts were asked to use their contingency funds for organizing these fasts. I have filed an RTI to know under what circumstances can a collector use such contingency funds,” says Rathod, who participated in the weeklong RTI anniversary celebrations organized by Mahiti Adhikar Gujarat Pehel at Kochrab Ashram. A government notification, enlisting an eight-point agenda, signed by deputy secretary GAD, protocol division, Jayant Gandhi, to all districts had categorically mentioned that every district should ensure “a large participation of youngsters and women” in the Sadbhavana fasts. (Times of India 9/10/15)

70. Govt does not have info on definition of ‘Hindu’ (1)

Indore: Union Home Ministry does not know the definition of the word ‘Hindu’. In reply to an RTI query by Neemuch resident Chandrashekhar Gaur, the Ministry said it does not know the definition of the word Hindu. “To my query under RTI about the meaning and definition of the word Hindu in the light of the Indian Constitution and the law, the Home Ministry in its reply on July 31 said the Central Public Information Officer (CPIO) doesn’t have information regarding it,” said Mr. Gaur, a resident of Neemuch district in Madhya Pradesh. Mr. Gaur had also sought to know on what grounds a community was considered Hindu, and why Hindus were considered to be a majority community. The government’s reply was baffling, he said. “If the government doesn’t know the meaning and definition of the word Hindu, on what basis did it enact the Hindu Marriage Act?” he questioned. (The Hindu 11/10/15)

71. Govt apathy, lack of ICs take sheen off RTI Act (1)

JAIPUR: Though the nation celebrated the 10th anniversary of Right to Information (RTI) Act on October 12, its birthplace Rajasthan is struggling to implement the basics of the Act with just one information commissioner (IC) handling the affairs when the state can have a maximum of 10 at a time. As a result, over 15,500 appeals are pending before the IC. The RTI experts have estimated that every appeal takes 2-3 years before it is resolved due to shortage of ICs. The delay is also acting as a deterrent for others to file RTIs. Another challenge the state is facing is the implementation of ‘proactive disclosures’ applicable for every government office. Even after the repeated orders from the Rajasthan High Court directing the state government to implement the ‘suo motu disclosure’ (information regarding everything like deals, projects, proposals, employee status etc) in a stipulated period of time, nothing has happened till date. It is mandatory under the Act to disclose such information for public consumption. The dismal attitude of the state government in promoting the RTI Act is evident from the fact that many departments have deputed ill-informed public information officers (PIOs) or the posts are vacant. Rarely it happens that the information seeker gets the information within the stipulated time of 30 days. The seriousness of the PIOs in releasing the required information can be seen from the fact that the IC has imposed a penalty of around Rs 2.49 crore on PIOs for delaying the release of information. In fact, a survey done a few years back showed that 23% of the applicants receive information after visiting the office thrice. And 47% applicants are those who visit twice to get the information. Kamal Tak, an RTI activist, said, “This is a deliberate move by the state to discourage its populace from using this tool. It is being done to minimise the use of this tool which is exposing corrupt practices.” Underlining the callous attitude of consecutive state governments in appointing adequate number of ICs, Nikhil Dey, a noted activist, said, “Earlier, the Rajasthan High Court had imposed a penalty of Rs 10 lakh for not appointing a chief information commissioner. Instead of making the appointment, the state government had brought a stay from the apex court.” Even the higher education directive for all varsities (public and private) to have an RTI link on their websites has been dishonoured by many. Figures released by RTI activists state that over 40 lakh people exercised the right to receive information annually in the last 10 years. Still, cases of PIOs not accepting the applications in rural India are very common. (Times of India 13/10/15)

72. Centre changing RTI Act to make it ineffective: Roy (1)

JAIPUR: Social activist Aruna Roy has accused the Centre of questioning the RTI activists who were invited to attend a one-day seminar to mark the 10 years of RTI in New Delhi on Friday. Roy flayed the government officer’s intention for asking questions like what is your ideology? Your leanings are with which political party? Are you affiliated with any political party? What is you take on the new Central government? The activists were questioned while they were entering to attend the RTI programme. “Even asking them about their family background indicates the Central government’s move to repress the activists,” said Roy while addressing a press conference in Jaipur. She said that government is scared of the fact that 80 lakh activists across the country are using this RTI right committed to bring transparency and good governance. “Possibly the government is perturbed over the manner in which these RTI activists are coming up with the information making them uncomfortable,” said Roy who further accused the Central government of bringing changes in the Act to make it ineffective. Notably, Roy along with other senior RTI activists had boycott the conclave in protest of inviting just seven activists while ignoring many seniors on October 15. When Roy was asked the reason for boycott, she said, “Out of 80 lakh activists, they had invited just seven while ignoring many others who represent different regions and bodies to get the holistic picture in the RTI conclave. Secondly, the manner in which intelligence bureau officers visited the place of those invited and questioned them clears their intention to influence the activists,” said Roy. Another activist, Megha Patkar, who was also present in the press conference, expressed her concern over the rising religious intolerance, communal discords and corruption cases. “The open endorsement of mob violence and killings of writers by the leaders of the incumbent party is further threatening the situation. The statement of Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Dadri incident was very late and weak which in unacceptable,” said Patkar adding that people of Rajasthan especially of Jalore and Barmer who are awaiting bare minimum water from the Narmada dam will come at the cost of 2.5 lakh rural people displacement. “Modi government is violating norms to increase the height of the dam so that water can be given to corporates,” said Patkar who also urged the youths of Rajasthan to support the former MLA Girusharan Chabra indefinite hunger strike demanding complete ban on liqor in the state. (Times of India 17/10/15)

73. On Virbhadra statement, RTI application filed (1)

SHIMLA: After witnessing Himachal Pradesh chief minister Virbhadra Singh making announcements to make public the derails of properties owned by former chief minister and leader of opposition Prem Kumar Dhumal within and outside Himachal Pradesh, an RTI activist has filed an application seeking details of information on which Virbhadra Singh was making statements. Dev Ashish Bhattacharya who has filed the RTI application said that statements of Virbhadra Singh appearing in the media suggest that he knows about the property details Dhumal. He said that on this basis he filed an RTI application on October 13 and sought the copies of the records on the strength of which the chief minister issued such statement. He said that on October 15 he wrote a letter to Virbhadra Singh elaborating the consequences of his statements. “I asked the chief minister that he cannot remain a silent spectator if he has all the documentary evidences against Dhumal and that he is duty bound to initiate action against him,” he added. Bhattacharya said that in the letter he further told that if would not initiate any action against the Dhumal then it will be presumed that Virbhadra Singh is using black mailing tactics on Dhumal so that he should remain silent on the wrong doings of the chief minister. He said that contents of the oath and the constitutional responsibilities of the chief minister are bound to be obeyed in any case. (Times of India 19/10/15)


74. 12% girls’ dropout in 2014-15: Report (11)

JAIPUR: Protests, school lockouts and rallies by school students from tender age of 8 to senior ones demanding teachers, toilets, drinking water and books have become order of the day in country’s biggest state, Rajasthan. Since the new session started in June, over 300 schools, a significant number of them girls’ schools have demonstrated over similar basic demands which the state is mandated to provide all basic facilities under Right to Education Act-2009. The indifferent attitude of consecutive governments for girl students is responsible for 12% girls’ dropout, recorded in 2014-15, which is highest in the country. The state doesn’t just lead the country in the dropouts but gender divide is also shameful. The number of girls in the state government schools is decreasing since last three years. For the 2013-14 period, in primary section, for every 100 boys, the ratio of girls enrolled was 87, said the District Information System for Education (DISE) survey. The gap widens in senior classes with 69 girls for every 100 boys in Classes XI to XII. This is less than the national average of 93 girls for 100 boys. The state’s performance is poorer compared to states like Bihar (98), Uttar Pradesh (95) and neighboring Madhya Pradesh (91), which have poor infrastructure. The wide gender divide is evident from the number of girls/ women in the government jobs, especially in teaching. Figures point out that off 6.33 lakh teachers, 4.1 lakh were males and 2.1 lakh were female in the year 2014-15 among 1.06 lakh schools in the state. The Census report 2011 on education released recently has only reiterated the facts mentioned above. It slapped the consecutive governments for having 11.35 lakh girl population in the age group of 15-19 years recorded out of the schools (dropouts). The dropout figures constitute for about 15% of the total population of 73 lakh in the same age group, which is second highest among BIMAROU states and below the national average of 14%.These figures may be recorded in the past but future also doesn’t look bright. The brutal lathicharge by police on protesting girls in Tonk is one among several such incidents which took place in the state in the new session. In all such episodes, state reaction is very peculiar with deputing teachers in the effected school leaving vacuum at other schools. Since the new government takeover, they have been engaged in several educational reforms starting from rationalization of teachers, merger of schools, staffing pattern and also teachers’ evaluation scheme, introducing comprehensive and continuous evaluation and transfers but has failed to address the problems girls have been demanding. (Times of India 4/10/15)

75. RSS-linked body launches survey on Indian education system (11)

AHMEDABAD: An RSS-affiliated organization has embarked on a nationwide survey with a view to know what people think about the present education system in the country. The survey is part of a larger project envisaged by RSS “to bring reforms into the Indian education system and to suggest ways to Indianize the education”.Gujarat-based Punarutthan Vidyapeeth, which is a research-oriented body, claims to be an independent institution and taking “only guidance” from Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS). It has launched the survey based on which it will prepare a report. Chancellor of the Vidyapeeth Indumati Katdare said, several questionnaires have been prepared for participants divided into ten different categories, including housewives, parents, youngsters, teachers, students and elected representatives, among others. “Before providing a solution to a problem, we first need to have a real picture about what is going on in the society. We don’t want to do it as per our own imagination. Therefore, we have decided to conduct a survey about what people think about the present education system,” Katdare told PTI. “The survey is part of the larger project envisaged by RSS to bring reforms into the Indian education system and to suggest ways to Indianise the education,” she said. “After our deliberations at the RSS head office in Nagpur recently, we have decided to take up this survey, having simple questions for every category. We want every citizen’s involvement in this process. We want people’s consensus on this issue,” Katdare added. Till now, volunteers have already distributed questionnaire forms to more than 5,000 respondents across various categories in the state. These forms will be collected back by the end of this year. Similar exercises have been conducted in various other parts of country, Katdare said. Each form has around ten questions in it. Some of the questions asked to housewives are: Is the current education system helpful in bringing unity among family members? Will you allow your daughter to be career-oriented? Is higher education important for a woman to be good housewife? Some of the questions posed to parents are: How much time your children spend watching TV? Do you want your children to study in English medium or mother tongue? Katdare said the survey is an independent project and has no RSS influence on it. “I condemn those who allege that we are doing it to impose RSS agenda in education. This is injustice to us and our work. If we all are Indians, then why shy away from inculcating Indian values in education? We are asking people what they want, hence, there is no question of doing what only we want,” she clarified. According to her, the findings of the survey will be released in five volumes after two years. “The findings of the survey will be released in five volumes on Gurupurnima in 2017. It will be titled as Bharatiya Shikshan Granthmala. These findings will also be used to make reference material which can be used by students and education institutes,” Katdare said. (Times of India 5/10/15)

76. JNU proposes short-term courses on Yoga, Indian culture (11)

New Delhi: Against the backdrop of a raging controversy over saffronisation of education, JNU has proposed to introduce short-term courses on “Indian Culture” and “Yoga” to propagate the spiritual and mythological aspects of the country and establish Indian values in the world. The varsity has a proposal ready in this regard and a draft of three such courses has been circulated among various schools and departments of JNU for their feedback. The matter will be placed before the JNU academic council (AC) on October 30. The HRD ministry officials, however, feigned ignorance over such development. According to the draft, the course on Indian culture aims to expound the importance of the country’s culture as well as explore the etymological, social, spiritual, cultural and mythological aspects. The course will contain the texts, thoughts and traditions of different cultures and include things like religious systems in Indian culture among others. Besides, it will have portions from Vedas and selections from “epics and Jatakas” and suggestions on readings of Hindu epics like the Ramayana. “Indian values play a huge role in promoting peace and brotherhood. The course will include a basic study of Indian culture to establish Indian rituals and values in the world and derive ways from these sources to make human life better,” a senior varsity official said on the condition of anonymity. Similarly, a course in Yoga will also be offered with its focus not only on meditation and spirituality but also for good health. “These courses will be offered part-time and whether or not they will be credit courses is yet to be decided. Details about the school offering them and the duration will also be worked out post the AC approval,” the official said. (Hindustan Times 7/10/15)

77. Human Rights Clubs introduced in Madurai govt schools (11)

MADURAI: Sensing the importance of creating awareness on human rights, an NGO in co-ordination with directorate of school education has come up with Human Rights Clubs in selective number of government schools in the state. The club was inaugurated at Gandhi Museum in Madurai on Saturday. Human rights education was started in 1995 in a few schools in Tamil Nadu. It was extended to other states, and now over 5,000 schools in 18 states have the programme in its curriculum. For the initiative, Tamil Nadu bagged the UN award for human rights during the regime of previous AIADMK. “Human rights education is the need of the hour. Teachers are facing many challenges as caste disputes have entered schools,” said Henry Tiphangne, executive director of Institute of Human Rights Education (IHRE). Human Rights Club will allow students to interact and work on issues relating to human rights and resolve them, he said. The club will initially be opened in 120 government schools in six districts – Madurai, Dharmapuri, Erode, Tirunelveli, Virudhunagar and Sivaganga. Students from Class 6 to 8 will be members of the clubs and will be guided by their social science teachers. They will be given awareness on their rights from the village level. This will enable them to identify human rights violations in everyday life. Students will be made to discuss on human rights issues reported in media. They will be taken on regular field trips to local ration shops, panchayat office and other places. “It is a move to help children to become crusaders of human rights and bring about a human rights based culture in the society,” said Tiphangne. All the member of the club will be given a kit, containing 10 books on various aspects of human rights and UN declarations on the same. Apart from school students, 30 volunteers from five villages also participated in the sensitization programme held on Saturday. Exercises relating to human rights will be conducted for stakeholders of the communities as well. (Times of India 11/10/15)

78. CBSE helps promote RSS ideologues through educational contests (11)

New Delhi: The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) under the HRD ministry is playing a key role in promoting students’ interest to know more about the RSS ideologue and Bharatiya Jan Sangh leader Deendayal Upadhyaya, whose birth centenary is being celebrated this year. According to HRD officials, the competition was carried out last month, the second such exercise. A similar one was held in September last year during his birth anniversary. Last month, the CBSE held an essay competition on Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya wherein students were asked to write essays on the topic ‘independence can be meaningful only if it becomes instrument for expression of our culture’. Though the exercise was voluntary, students were given a cash prize of Rs 2500 to ensure a number of them participated while everyone got a certificate of participation. A circular was let out among all the schools across the country that read: “CBSE is committed to the holistic development of students and feels that students must be made aware of selfless and valiant services of the women and men who have served the nation.” The contestants from classes 1 to 5 were asked to write an essay or drawing on ‘Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya: A multi-faceted personality’, ‘Independence can be meaningful only if it becomes instrument for expression of our culture’ for classes 6 to 8 and ‘Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya: A great advocate for indigenous economics and administration models’ for classes 9 to 12. The exercise was held between September 25 and 27. “Our series has received a very good response and we decided to hold another one for Upadhyaya, a renowned thinker and a philosopher,” said a senior HRD official. The board is also carrying out a similar exercise for freedom fighter and social reformer Jayaprakash Narayan. The contest is open for students from classes 1 to 12. It is divided into three categories — classes 1 to 5, classes 6 to 8 and classes 9 to 12. (Hindustan Times 13/10/15)

79. RTE Act to include teachers’ redressal (11)

COIMBATORE: The Right to Education Act (RTE) will now have a grievance redressal mechanism for teachers. The amendment made to Rule 21 of the Act will include a new Section, 21A, which describes the redressal mechanism for teachers’ complaints. The rules, called Right to Free and Compulsory Education (Amendment), 2015, was published by the Union ministry of human resources and development on Wednesday. Under the amendment, which came into effect on October 5, the Centre has framed four levels of grievance redressal options. The first is at the school level where the existing management committee will play the role of the redressal authority. Members of the school, public, local administration and police would comprise this committee. Experts hailed the move, saying it was essential to protect teachers also under the Act as several of them fall victim to false complaints. (Times of India 15/10/125)

80. Hyderabad teachers seek exemption from non-teaching tasks (11)

HYDERABAD: Conducting baseline tests, updating student’s performance as per the continuous and comprehensive evaluation system, census and election duty have left teachers in the city with insufficient time to teach in the class. Citing this, members of teachers associations have urged the school education department to exempt teachers from the duties of updating of National Population Register to be held from November 16 to December 15. According to Right to Education Act, 2009 no teacher should be deployed for non-educational purposes except population census, disaster relief duties or elections. Although the updating process is a part of the census, teachers rue that it’s an added burden apart from the academic work. “During the peak time of academic year, teachers have to serve as enumerators and survey nearly 150 families each. Although they have been asked to do it post working hours, it leaves them tired that eventually affects the academics of students,” said Chava Ravi, general secretary of Telangana State United Teachers Federation. He said that over 65,000 teachers have been asked to take up the duty of surveying families across the state. In the representation given to the school education department, the teachers associations have pointed out the dropout rate in Telangana and poor performance of students in government schools. Teachers fear that they may not be able to complete the syllabus on time due to delay in rationalisation process and added duty of survey. “The rationalisation process caused academic year delay due to which many of us couldn’t start the academic year on time. There is also a lack of text-books in many schools which is affecting the classroom teaching,” said B Rajitha, a government school teacher from Borabanda. Even the report by the HRD ministry highlights that over 12,000 teachers across the state were involved in non-teaching assignments in academic year 2014-15. An average of 11,365 teachers in rural Telangana and 824 in urban Telangana took up non-teaching assignments. (Times of India 19/10/15)


81. Food security deadline over; UP, TN, Kerala to pay dearly (21)

NEW DELHI: Three big states – Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Kerala – may pay a heavy price since they seem in no position to implement the Food Security Act even by December. Though government did not extend the deadline for food security law beyond September 30, sources said it is likely to continue allocate subsidized food grains for families living below poverty line (BPL) and those above poverty line (APL) till this year end. Beyond January, states have to buy grains at higher price, which is nearly three times more than the price at which PDS grains are supplied. Any other state or Union Territory, which also fails to implement the law by then, will also end up paying much higher prices for PDS grains. Sources said a Cabinet proposal has been moved by the food ministry following a number of requests from the state governments. They added there is also a proposal that the food ministry will release grains for both BPL and APL category of beneficiaries at the minimum support price (MSP) rate beyond December to the defaulting states. “It will be up to them to face the public ire. We don’t want to take the blame of their ineffectiveness,” said a food ministry official. At present 16 states and Union Territories are implementing the Food Security Act. While Uttarakhand and Telangana are likely to launch it in the next two months, bigger states including Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh and Kerala may not be able to roll out the scheme. The ministry had earlier issued similar warning to the states and had said while it won’t touch the allocation meant for BPL and Antodyaya (poorest of the poor) families, it would stop allocating cheap grains to the APL families, who are also targeted beneficiaries of the Food Security Act. Buying grains at the minimum support price will put the state governments at a huge disadvantage as they would end up spending more on food subsidy. For example, the present rate of rice under APL category is Rs 7 per kg while it will touch Rs 18 per kg if it is provided at MSP. In case of wheat, MSP rate will be around Rs 14.50 per kg against the APL rate of Rs 6. But the National Food Security Act entitles every identified beneficiary or person to get 5kg of subsidized food grains per month at Rs 1-3/kg. This covers two-third of the country’s total population. (Times of India 3/10/15)

82. Zero Hunger Hour campaign started in Coimbatore (21)

COIMBATORE: City boy launches ‘Zerohungerhour’ campaign in the city which would be celebrated on October 16, as part of World Food Day celebrations. A G Padmanabhan, who runs Spice Foundation, an NGO, and has already garnered support internationally for his No food Waste campaign, has written to several NGOs globally seeking their support for the initiative. He has received replies from several of them. “We have written to United Nations as well. We are hopeful that if we launch it successfully in the city this year, it would get international support soon,” he said. Corporation commissioner, K Vijayakarthikeyan launched the hashtag and also the online application. “This campaign is the need of the hour campaign and we plan to extend full support to it,” he said. The website portal of the campaign was also launched. “Through this portal people across the globe could log in and share their activities on World Food Day with us. This is more like a movement to eradicate hunger as there are more than 130crore deaths of children every year due to hunger,” said Padmanabhan. Vanitha Mohan, Managing trustee of Siruthuli said that such campaigns by youngsters would definitely drive people towards change. “The portal and applications are available online and on mobile phones. People could feed the hungry between 12:30 and 1:30pm on October 16 and become a part of the ‘Zerohungerhour’ campaign,” said A G Padmanaban adding that they could motivate their friends to do the same. “The aim is to create a community that is against hunger and food wastage,” he said. (Times of India 6/10/15)

83. World Bank estimates show fall in India’s poverty rate (21)

NEW DELHI: The World Bank has revised the global poverty line, previously pegged at $1.25 a day to $1.90 a day (approximately Rs. 130). This has been arrived at based on an average of the national poverty lines of 15 poorest economies of the world. The poverty lines were converted from local currency into U.S. dollars using the new 2011 Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) data. In its latest report ‘Ending Extreme Poverty, Sharing Prosperity: Progress and Policies’, authors Marcio Cruz, James Foster, Bryce Quillin, and Phillip Schellekkens, note that world-wide poverty has shown a decline under these new estimates. The latest headline estimate for 2012 based on the new data suggests that close to 900 million people (12.8 per cent of the global population) lived in extreme poverty. Compared with 2011, this number represents continued poverty reduction, as the headcount estimate then, using 2011 PPP data, was 987 million people (14.2 percent of global population). Further, tentative projections for global poverty in 2015 suggest that the global headcount may have reached 700 million, leading to a poverty rate of 9.6 per cent. With the Sustainable Development Goals adopted in September, seeking to end all forms of poverty world over, the World Bank Group has set itself the target of bringing down the number of people living in extreme poverty to less than 3 per cent of the world population by 2030. The 2015 Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) counts 1.6 billion people as multi-dimensionally poor, with the largest global share in South Asia and the highest intensity in Sub-Saharan Africa. Though home to the largest number of poor in 2012, India’s poverty rate is one of the lowest among those countries with the largest number of poor, a latest World Bank report notes. Also in the case of India, with large numbers of people clustered close to the poverty line, poverty estimates are significantly different, depending on the recall period in the survey, the authors note. Since 2015 is the target year for the Millennium Development Goals, the assessment of changes in poverty over time is best based on the Uniform Reference Period consumption method, which uses a 30-day recall period for calculating consumption expenditures, as per the report. This method, used to set the baseline poverty rates for India in 1990, shows India’s poverty rate for 2011/12 to be 21.2 per cent. By comparison, the Modified Mixed Reference Period (MMRP), which contains a shorter, 7-day recall period for some food items, leads to higher estimates of consumption and, therefore, lower poverty estimates. “We expect that the MMRP-based estimate (currently at 12.4% for India) will set the baseline for India and global poverty estimates,” a World Bank spokesperson told The Hindu . More country-specific details will be available once the Global Monitoring Report, using the new estimates, is launched in Washington DC on October 7. (The Hindu 6/10/15)

84. ‘Hindu, Muslim Should Join to Fight Poverty’ (21)

PATNA:  Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday broke his silence on the Dadri lynching case by strongly advocating communal harmony and brotherhood in the country, saying Hindus and Muslims should stand together and fight poverty. Campaigning in Bihar, the Prime Minister said Hindus and Muslims should work together to fight the common enemy — poverty. “I have said it earlier also. We have to decide whether Hindus should fight Muslims or poverty. Muslims should decide whether to fight Hindus or poverty.” “I want to tell the people that because of politics and for petty gains, people are making irresponsible statements. I appeal to citizens not to take them seriously. Even if Narendra Modi himself says something like that, don’t listen to him,” said Modi during his Nawada rally. He also referred to President Pranab Mukherjee’s recent speech in the backdrop of Dadri incident, asking the people of the country to follow it as “there can be no bigger thought than that, there is no bigger guidance, there is no bigger message, no bigger direction.”  “The country has to stay united,” Modi asserted while he invoked Mukherjee, who underlined the need to maintain India’s core values of diversity, tolerance and plurality. Meanwhile, SP Chief Mulayam Singh Yadav on Thursday alleged that the incident had been a conspiracy and that three persons, who were also involved in the Muzaffarnagar riots, were behind it. The three will be punished “even if we have to sacrifice the government,”… (New Indian Express 9/10/15)

85. Achieving food security is the biggest challenge, says expert (21)

Bidar: K.M.L Pathak, Deputy Director-General, Animal Science, Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), has said that the biggest challenge before the country is how to achieve food and nutritional security of the world. Talking to veterinarians in Bidar on Saturday, he said there was a need to alleviate poverty by producing more food that is safe, especially from animal origin. “We need technological breakthroughs to achieve this against a shrinking genetic diversity of animals and their increasing global trade,” he said. He was delivering the convocation address at the Karnataka Veterinary, Animal and Fisheries Sciences University (KVAFSU) in Nandinagar. Availability of affordable food of livestock origin would go a long way in helping to overcome the challenge of chronic hunger and protein malnutrition, he said. According to him, livestock production needs to more than double in the developing world to meet the demand for meat and milk in the coming 20 years. There is a huge mismatch between demand and supply of food, he said. He listed out new technologies such as cloning through nuclear transfer technology, exogenous growth hormones synthesised by bacteria that increase milk and meat yields, transgenic sheep and goat that express foreign protein in milk, and stem cell and recombinant DNA technology that could lead to improved fodder crops and better animal breeds, which were helping scientists address malnutrition issues. Fish is a cheaper and easily available source of nutrition and we need to work on increasing production, he said. Karnataka however, is yet to fully exploit its potential in fisheries. It ranks number one in the country with inland fisheries resources but 10th in inland fish production, he pointed out.Globalisation and climate change have forced a restructure in veterinary education. “We need to introduce newer areas like nuclear medicine, cryosurgery, bioinformatics, value addition to indigenous dairy products, fishery biotechnology, and others in the curriculum. We also need more undergraduate degree courses in livestock business management, animal biotechnology, food science and technology and MBA in related fields,” he said. He asked the universities to use IT to improve the quality of education. “We need campus-wide networks, virtual lectures and digital libraries, online programmes. There is a need to work with overseas universities in this regard,” he said.The university should focus on research to create disease-free zones, development of diagnostic kits, wildlife research, social problems like stray dog menace, value addition and reduction of post harvest losses, and making farming more remunerative, he said. Governor and Chancellor Vajubhai Vala, Vice-Chancellor C. Renuka Prasad, members of the board of management, officers and others were present. (The Hindu 11/10/15)

86. India’s poor may soon get a taste of biryani (21)

New Delhi: The country’s poorest may get their first taste of world-famous basmati rice, a favourite of biryani connoisseurs. The government may sell basmati rice at Rs 3 a kg through ration shops to the country’s poorest people as it has started purchasing paddy after rates fell below the minimum support price. The food ministry has allowed the Food Corporation of India (FCI) to purchase Pusa 1509 and Pusa 1121 basmati rice, the world’s longest grains post-cooking, as Punjab and Haryana have requested for it, a government official said. “Earlier too, FCI used to buy higher grade, but basmati was never bought as it earned a premium,” he said. There are two options before the government – either to sell it through the public distribution system (PDS) or in the open market sales scheme (OMSS), the official said. FCI began purchasing the new crop from October 1 and will continue to buy as long as farmers sell it, the official said. The OMSS offtake is very poor as only 38,600 tonnes could be sold out of 6.73 million tonnes on offer since April this year, according to official data. If the government decides to sell it through PDS, many poor people may, for the first time, get a taste of biryani, which goes best with basmati rice, constituting a big gift from the Modi government. The government purchases paddy from farmers at Rs 1,410 per quintal for common variety and Rs 1,450 per quintal for higher grade. After processing, it sells rice to states for distribution through ration shops. Rice is sold at Rs 3 per kg to the poorest of the poor under the antyodaya anna yojna and to all beneficiaries under the National Food Security Act. However, the population below poverty line (BPL) category gets it at Rs 5.65 per kg and those above poverty line (APL) get the common variety of rice at Rs 7.95 a kg. In addition, a higher grade is available at Rs 8.30 per kg. Currently, farmers in Haryana are selling Pusa 1509 variety of paddy at Rs 1,550 per quintal, which is sold at Rs 1,350 in Punjab. Prices in Haryana improved only after FCI started buying the grain, said Vijay Setia, former president of All India Rice Exporters Association…..  (Asian Age 13/10/15)

87. ‘Hunger is more than a lack of food – it is a terrible injustice,’ says Ban (21)

New York: On World Food Day, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is underlining that “hunger is more than a lack of food—it is a terrible injustice,” while reaffirming the global community’s commitment to work together “to end hunger in our lifetime.”This years observance of World Food Day follows the landmark adoption by world leaders of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including a set of 17 goals to guide our work towards a future of dignity and prosperity for all on a healthy planet, Ban said in a message. He stressed that how people choose to grow, process, distribute and consume the food they eat has a profound effect on people, planet, prosperity and peace. Delivering on the promise of the 2030 Agenda will not be possible without rapid progress towards ending hunger and undernutrition, he continued. In the same way, delivering on the commitment to end hunger forever, for all people, will not be possible without major gains across the new Agenda. Sustainable Development Goal 2 summons the global community to end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture. Ban noted that the world has achieved important progress, highlighting that since 2000, the proportion of undernourished people has declined by nearly half. At the same time, in a world where nearly a third of all food produced is lost or wasted, and where we produce enough food to feed everyone, almost 800 million people still suffer from hunger, he warned, adding that the path out of poverty is proving to be too slow for too many. Meanwhile, the theme for this years World Food Day Social Protection and Agriculture: Breaking the Cycle of Rural Poverty highlights the crucial role of cash transfers, insurance, pensions and other social protection programmes in enabling vulnerable people to better manage risks and build profitable livelihoods. The Zero Hunger Challenge that I launched in 2012 underscores the need for national leadership in tandem with wide-ranging multi-stakeholder partnerships, the Secretary-General explained, adding that ending hunger is everyones responsibility, which includes farmers, scientists, international organizations, activists, businesses and consumers. In addition, Ban stressed that building inclusive, resilient and sustainable food systems also demands that women farmers be empowered, that young people be provided opportunities, and that investments be made in smallholder farmers. (New Kerala 18/10/15)

88. Supreme Court seeks details of BPL families having toilets in Haryana (21)

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court has taken note of one of the minimum criteria that a person must have for contesting panchayat elections in Haryana — a toilet in the house — and asked the state government to file an affidavit giving details as to how many poor natives have the facility. “You (Haryana) file an affidavit as to how may below poverty line families have toilets in their households,” a Bench comprising justices J. Chelameswar and A. M. Sapre said. The court’s direction came when Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for Haryana, justified fixation of minimum criteria including that a candidate should have a toilet and said around 7 lakh BPL households, out of total 8.5 BPL homes, have toilets. “Almost 80 to 85 per cent BPL families have the toilet facilities and hence, this pre-requisite cannot be said to be bad,” the AG said, adding that the representatives should “lead by an example“.Besides fixing minimum educational criteria for aspiring candidates, the Haryana Panchayati Raj (Amendment) Act, 2015 also said that any candidate desirous of contesting panchayat elections will also have to file a self-certified statement that there is a functional toilet in his or her residence. Earlier, Haryana had defended the recent amendment in state law fixing minimum educational qualifications and other criteria for candidates of panchayat polls saying the representatives should lead by example as they need to perform various governmental functions. The Bench is hearing a plea assailing the Haryana Panchayati Raj (Amendment) Act, 2015 which fixes minimum educational qualifications for candidates of panchayat (village administration) polls. The apex court had stayed the amended provisions of the law and sought the state’s reply in four weeks. The amended law fixes matriculation as essential qualification for general candidates contesting panchayat elections, while the qualification for women (general) and Scheduled Caste candidates has been fixed at Class VIII. However, in case of a woman candidate belonging to SC category contesting election for the post of Panch (panchayat head), the minimum qualification would be Class V. – PTI (The Hindu 20/10/15)


89. Women tea pluckers to scale up stir for ₹500 daily wage (14)

As the plantation labour strike continued for the third day across Kerala, Pompilai Orumai, a loose coalition of women tea-leaf pluckers at the Tata Tea-controlled Kanan Devan Hills Plantations in Munnar, has announced it will scale up its agitation from Thursday.Tension gripped Munnar where two streams of agitations pressing for raising the daily wage from ₹232 to ₹500 were staged. One stream was led by the joint council of organised trade unions in the plantation sector and the other was led by Pompilai Orumai. While the Pompilai Orumai had not joined in the trade unions’ strike for the first two days, it took to the strike path independently on Wednesday following Tuesday’s failure of the government-brokered talks in the tripartite Plantation Labour Committee. Pompilai Orumai, which was formed in the wake of the successful nine-day agitation seeking 20 per cent bonus by women leaf pluckers earlier this month, refused to align with the organised unions and wanted to carry on its own agitation. Enraged by the ‘anti-trade union’ attitude of the new organisation, members of the joint council barged into the Orumai dharna and allegedly stoned the women workers. They also allegedly hurled stones at mediapersons, whom they accused to be partial to Pompilai Orumai, and policemen. Four media persons, a policeman and a woman worker suffered minor injuries and the police carried out a lathi-charge to avert a confrontation. During their nine-day strike earlier this month, the women tea-leaf pluckers of Kanan Devan had kept the organised trade unions out alleging that trade union leaders worked against the interests of labourers. Fearing loss of their grip on the plantation sector, the trade unions later launched the indefinite strike for higher wages. The State government has called the next round for October 5. At the first round of talks, agreements had been reached on housing benefits and health insurance. The government has decided to set up a committee headed by a senior bureaucrat to study the issue. Trade union sources told BusinessLine that the strike, which has crippled the plantation sector in which nearly three lakh workers were engaged, would continue ate least until next Monday when the third round of talks in the PLC would be held. They hoped a decision on wage hike would be thrashed out at the next talks. If not, they warned, the agitation would continue indefinitely on the tea, rubber, cardamom and other plantations. (Business Line 1/10/15)

90. First in India: Job guarantee scheme for dairy farmers in Thiruvananthapuram (14)

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Thiruvananthapuram Regional Co-operative Milk Producers Union (TRCMPU) under Milma has come up with a first-ever employment guarantee scheme in the country for dairy farmers with an aim to promote dairy farming and increasing the participation of women dairy farmers. As per Dr V Kurian Memorial Milma Employment Guarantee Scheme, 2,000 dairy farmers under the union, including 1,000 women, will get Rs 10,000 per annum if they work for 100 days. The employment guarantee scheme was launched by chief minister Oommen Chandy on Friday. He lauded the efforts of the union and said that it will promote dairy farming and self-sustenance in this sector. The union has secured a fund of Rs 2 crore for the scheme. As per the scheme, the union will shortlist 2,000 dairy farmers from poor background. They will be given Rs 100 per working day for 100 days in a year as bonus. This will be in addition to the price of milk they obtain from selling it to societies. The union hopes that more farmers will be interested in dairy farming if such an incentive scheme is in place. The union has also allocated Rs 32 lakh for the Milma Bhavanam project, in which two economically backward dairy farmers from Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Alappuzha and Pathanamthitta districts each will be granted Rs 4 lakh to build houses. The state now imports about 1.5 lakh to 1.75 lakh litres of milk from other states, which was 7 to 8 lakh litres four years ago. Minister K C Joseph said that the scheme could be expanded proportionately to Milma’s revenue as the dairy farmers are yet to be included in the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme. Joseph received the Nanniyodu Rajan memorial award comprising a cash award of Rs 25,000 and plaque from the chief minister. Kozhivila Vijayan memorial award for best dairy society and Bhaskaran memorial award for best dairy farmer were also presented at the event. Chairman of TRCMPU Kallada Ramesh, national dairy development board (NDDB) chairman T Nandakumar, MLA K Muraleedharan and chairman of Kerala Co-operative Milk Marketing Federation (KCMMF) P T Gopala Kurup were present. (Times of India 4/10/15)

91. Draft industries Bill: BMS wants provision axed (14)

New Delhi: Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS), an RSS-affiliated central trade union (CTU), on Tuesday strongly pitched for the removal of a provision in the draft Bill on the Industrial Relations Code that bars outsiders from becoming office-bearers of a trade union within an establishment. With a view to ensuring the “ease of doing business”, the labour ministry has proposed to disallow outsiders to be trade union office-bearers in the organised sector establishments. However, in the unorganised sector, outsiders can continue to be office-bearers subject to a cap of two persons per registered union. “I, on behalf of BMS, spoke of maintaining the current provision of keeping one-third of trade union office-bearers in the organised sector from outside and 50% in the unorganised sector,” Pawan Kumar, Delhi zonal organising secretary, told reporters on the sidelines of a tripartite meeting on the industrial relations code that merges three extant Acts. He said BMS also opposed the provision that allows a firm employing up to 300 workers to resort to retrenchment or closure without government approval, as against the current 100. BMS is also against the provision that allows one executive member of a trade union within the organisation to be on the conciliation board. BMS ia also against the provision in the draft Bill that proposes to vest the negotiating right of workers with one trade union which will have more than 50% of the total permanent workers as members, saying for every 15% of members, there should be one representative.“The new bill proposes that once negotiations are on, there will be no strike for any sector as has been the case with public utilities like banks and railways now. We oppose these provisions,” Kumar said. BMS’ stance, particularly after its last-minute back-out from the September 2 general strike, however, raised a few eyebrows among other CTUs. A senior CTU leader the BMS’ move could also be seen as an attempt to show solidarity with others in the first chance it got after backing out from the strike. Sources present in the meeting said all central trade unions protested against many provisions of the revised draft industrial code as these are still very ambiguous and in certain cases, give different interpretations. Labour secretary Shankar Aggarwal said that the ministry would consider the proposals put forward by the CTUs and the employees’ organisations, but the reform process would be carried forward as proposed. (The Financial Express 7/10/15)

92. ASHA workers demand payment of incentives (14)

Shivamogga: The Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHA) on Tuesday staged a protest under the aegis of All India United Trade Union Centre (AIUTUC) condemning the delay in payment of special incentive by the Central and State governments. Addressing the protest meet, Nirmala Patil, district unit president of Karnataka State ASHA Workers Association, said Rs. 1,000 was paid as special incentive by the Centre for the service ASHA workers render under the National Rural Health Mission, and another Rs. 1,000 as matching incentive by the State government. It is unfortunate that the amounts had not been released for the past seven months, she said. AIUTUC functionary Manjunath Kukkuwada said that at present, a paltry amount was being paid as monthly honorarium to ASHA workers. He urged the government to regularise their service. Mr. Kukkuwada said that demands such as mobile phones, uniform, Rs. 5 crore to pay compensation to family members of workers who die in service and to meet medical expenses of terminally ill workers, had not been fulfilled. He urged the government to bring ASHA workers under the purview of the Vajpayee Arogyasri health insurance scheme. As part of the protest, ASHA workers took out a procession from the Government McGann Hospital premises to the Deputy Commissioner’s office. (The Hindu 7/10/15)

93. Despite warning, poverty forces Indian maids to work in Gulf (14)

PONDICHERRY : An advisory by the foreigners’ registration officer of the commissioner of police in Trichy just a week before the brutal assault on an Indian domestic maid by her employer in Saudi Arabia had given indication on the plight of Indian maids employed overseas. The officer in the advisory said the Indian embassies have stopped attesting employment contract of women domestic workers following large number of complaints of mental or physical abuse by the employers. However, absolute poverty continued to force several women from India including, Kasthuri Munirathinam from Vellore, whose arm was chopped off by her employer, to take up overseas employment. Many of Indian housemaids in the gulf countries have been forced to work long hours – around 60 to 100 hours a week. There have been frequent appeals from rights groups in various gulf countries that maids from Asia are underpaid, unable to freely change employers, and often suffer from abuse. Diplomats in the gulf said the Indian diplomatic missions receive regular complaints from house maids about non-payment of salaries, long working hours, inadequate living conditions, physical harassment and refusal of leave. Diplomats in the GCC countries, which comprise Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, said there are nearly 90,000 Indian house maids working in the six gulf nations. Each Indian diplomatic mission in these six gulf nations receives at least a dozen complaints from documented house maids, about unpaid wages and ill treatment, diplomatic sources said. According to the Indian Embassy in Abu Dhabi on an average a little over a 100 Indian housemaids are going to the UAE every month after getting clearance from Indian emigration authorities. Diplomats said some employers in the gulf countries make the house maids leave India on a visit visa, which does not need emigration clearance and then change the visa to employment visa once the maid arrives in the gulf country in order to circumvent the regulations.The Indian authorities will have no record of the maid having gone to the gulf country to work as a house maid when employers adopt this strategy. Saudi Arabia and Kuwait have refused to implement the $ 2,500 bank guarantee that the foreign employers are expected to deposit with the Indian embassy in Riyadh before approaching recruitment agents in India. The bank guarantee was planned as part of a recommendation of the inter-ministerial meeting held in June 2007.The union government has taken a number of measures to protect interest of women including imposing age restriction of 30 years for allowing them to go to the Gulf region and some other countries for employment under Emigration Check Required (ECR) category. The brutal attack on Kasturi has propelled the Indian government to consider a total ban on recruitment of housemaids by Saudi Arabia…. (Times of India 11/10/15)

94. Ceiling of MGNREGS works on individual lands enhanced (14)

Ramanathapuram:  Giving a major boost to land development activities and material component works involving Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS), the Tamil Nadu government has enhanced the ceiling of the MGNREGS works on individual land from Rs. 1.5 lakh to Rs. 5 lakh. Acting on the recommendations of several District Collectors, including Ramanathapuram Collector K. Nanthakumar, the government issued a Government Order on September 3 (GO No. 119) fixing the maximum ceiling limit per job holder at Rs. 5 lakh, official sources here said. The labour-material ratio should be maintained at 60: 40 and the selection of private land for taking up developmental works should be made in a transparent manner, the GO said. The MGNREGS guidelines with regard to labour-material ratio, initially insisted that only 100 per cent labour-oriented works should be taken up and material components should be dovetailed with other schemes of Rural Development and other departments. The State amended the guidelines and issued a GO in July 2012 stating that along with labour-oriented works, material component works could also be taken up on the lands of Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribe farmers, small and marginal farmers and other beneficiaries. Now, the State government issued a fresh GO amending a guideline in respect of the ceiling limit. The District Rural Development Agency (DRDA) could now take up construction of more material component works, said A. Palani, Project Director, DRDA. “Now we can take up construction of foodgrain godowns, anganwadis, block panchayat service centres, village panchayat service centres, cattle shelters, and goat and poultry shelters for beneficiaries belonging to the vulnerable category, he told The Hindu . The DRDA could focus on material component works as the labour-material ratio of 60: 40 should be maintained for the district as a whole and not for individual works. It also ensured wages (for assured 100 days in a year) to the individual job car holders without any pilferage, he added. (The Hindu 12/10/15)

95. Employment Exchanges to be converted into counselling centres (14)

KOLKATA: Employment Exchanges across the nation will soon be converted into National Career Counselling Centres (NCCC) which will facilitate in discovering job opportunities for those enrolled, a union minister said here on Tuesday. “All Employment Exchanges will be transformed into NCCCs which will cater to over four crore job seekers,” Union Minister of State for Labour Bandaru Dattatreya told mediapersons on the sidelines of an event organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII). These centres, besides exploring job opportunities and providing information to the job providers and seekers will also counsel those enrolled, Dattatreya said. He also said that 100 model NCCCs will be set-up, of which two will be in the state of West Bengal, by February-end next year. The government is also promoting its National Career Service (NCS) which has a base of over two crore job seekers and nine lakh job providers. “The central government will provide all the necessary support in this endeavour,” he said. The total investment involved in these two projects is Rs.800 crore. “Make in India and Skill India are some of the key priorities of the government and we will generate one crore new jobs by the end of this fiscal year,” he said. Presently, there are 978 Employment Exchanges and University Employment Guidance Information Bureaus in the country. (Times of India 13/10/15)

96.  ‘Amendments to EPF Act in next Parliament session’ (14)

HYDERABAD: The Central Government is planning to introduce the proposed amendments to the Employees’ Provident Fund and Miscellaneous Provisions Act in the coming Parliament session. Also being considered for introduction in next session are two of the four labour codes which are an amalgamation of 44 Central labour laws. The amendments to EPF & MP Act include reduction of the threshold limit of the number of employees for coverage of establishment, deletion of schedule of establishments and adding a negative list, simplifying the definition of wages for the purpose of calculation of contributions, coverage of unorganised workers, delegation of power with regard to exemption of establishments, and provision for lower contribution from the low income employees. Briefing the media about the amendments here on Saturday, Union Minister for Labour and Employment Bandaru Dattatreya said the amendments were intended for welfare of the workers. Forty crore workers from unorganised sector will be brought into the purview of the Act, and so do the hitherto exempted establishments. The law’s applicability to only 187 types of establishments will be removed. The threshold limit of the number of employees for coverage under this act is being brought down from existing 20 to 10. Elaborating on the amendment to the definition of wages, he said so far EPF was being calculated on the basic salary, but would now be widened to include various allowances such as HRA. (The Hindu 18/10/15)


97. Sangha seeks quota in pvt. firms for minorities (25)

Kalaburagi: Members of the Bahujan Vidyarthi Sangha along with students from various colleges on Wednesday took out protest here demanding reservation for Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward classes in the private sector. Hundreds of students from different colleges marched from Jagat Circle to the Deputy Commissioner’s office. They then submitted a memorandum urging the Centre to amend the Constitution to facilitate extension of caste-based reservation in the private companies. Sangha district president Vinodkumar Srigan, in a memorandum, urged the State government to fill all the backlog posts that have been vacant for a long time now. The memorandum also said that job-oriented courses should be offered in educational institutions so that it helps people acquire skills necessary to get jobs. Mr. Srigan also said that the Backward Class and Minorities Hostels in the district were in pathetic condition and there was need to provide basic amenities there. The memorandum suggested that such hostels should also have computer labs and libraries. (The Hindu 1/10/15)

98. Congress supports 15-20% reservation for EBCs beyond 49% cap (25)

AHMEDABAD: Congress party has thrown its hat into the reservation ring. Gurudas Kamat, general secretary of the All India Congress Committee and in-charge of Gujarat Congress, announced here on Thursday that his party supports 15-20% economically backward class (EBC) quota for Patidars and other non-reserved communities across India. This is in addition to the existing caste-based quota in the country. “After wider consultations with national party president Sonia Gandhi and Congress leaders in Gujarat, Congress has decided to support EBC status for communities like Patidars, Brahmins, Baniyas and others who are deprived of reservation benefits despite economic problems,” said Kamat, who was on a one-day visit to the state. For a party that has capitalized on Kshatriya, Hindu, Adivasi and Muslim (KHAM) politics in Gujarat, Congress’ support for EBC quota ahead of Bihar polls and civic elections in Gujarat is seen as an apparent bid to tap into unrest in the middle class vote bank consolidated by the BJP . “We demand that the Narendra Modi-led NDA government declare 15-20% EBC reservation. If Modi government fails, we openly commit the next Congress government to do this,”, said Kamat. While Patidars have been demanding OBC status, Gujarat Congress president Bharatsinh Solanki clarified the party does not support any change in the existing OBC quota. “We will not support any change in the present 49% quota for OC, SC and ST but will support inclusion under the new EBC quota,” he said. Kamat said if there was political will, upper limit of 49% reservation fixed by Supreme Court cannot be an impediment. “Through legislative amendment and adequate consultations, the Supreme Court too can be persuaded to allow additional quota of up to 20% in the 51% general category. There is no need to disturb the existing reservation structure.” (Times of India 2/10/15)

99. Quota issue: Jaisalmer witnesses bandh (25)

JAISALMER: Jaisalmer district witnessed a bandh on the call given by upper castes which are demanding reservation. A day earlier, people had observed Pokhran bandh over the same demand. The activists of Samajik Nyay Andolan (SNA) protested against tinkering with OBC reservation and demanded implementation of 14% reservation to economically poor upper castes. They organised a public meeting which was addressed by Sheo MLA Manvendra Singh and some other leaders. A public meeting will also be organised in Barmer on Tuesday. The meeting at Jaisalmer was held at Maheshwari Bera. Addressing the meeting, Manvendra Singh said, “It (quota) is a fight for justice and I am with people in this struggle. SNA spokesperson Yashwardhan Singh informed the gathering about the legal aspects relating to OBC reservation. In the meeting, speakers asked the government to fulfil the announcement made in election manifesto to give 14% reservation to the economically poor. They demanded that reservation to basic castes of OBC should be protected and the castes added to the OBC list without the recommendation of OBC Commission should be removed. They said that reservation given to farmer Rajputs in OBC should not be disturbed. “On the lines of Devnarayan Board, a board should be formed for the development of economically backward sections,” they said. (Times of India 6/10/15)

100. Implement 33 % reservation for women in police force: Maneka Gandhi (25)

NEW DELHI: Union minister for women and child development Maneka Gandhi on Thursday appealed to states and Union territories to implement 33 per cent reservation for women in police force to address the problem of crimes against women saying that all-women police station can not address the problem alone. “States need to push 33 per cent reservation for women in police forces. Women police station is not a complete solution,” Gandhi said while addressing a workshop on schemes related to women and child. Appreciating Gujarat and Bihar government for implementing the reservation, the minister urged other states to follow the suit. Gandhi said that Union territories have been ordered to implement the reservation by ministry of home affairs though none has done it so far. She, however, said that exceptions can be given to states with a problem of insurrection as it becomes difficult for women to deal in such situations. “There are Maoist areas in state like Chattisgarh where women cannot be sent. But all states do not have such problem. They should at least start implementing it,” she said. (Times of India 9/10/15)

101. NDA out to do away with reservation policy: Mayawati (25)

BHABHUA (Bihar): BSP supremo Mayawati on Sunday expressed fears that the NDA government was out to do away with reservation for OBCs and SC/STs in the backdrop of the RSS supremo Mohan Bhagwat’s call for review of the existing reservation policy. “I am afraid that the NDA government is out to do away with reservation for OBCs and SC/STs amid Bhagwat’s call for review of the reservation policy in existence for all these years since independence,” she told an election rally. The NDA government was having a second thought on the reservation policy at a time when the BSP and other political parties were demanding extending the affirmative steps in private sector too, Mayawati, a four-term chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, said. (Times of India 11/10/15)

102. RSS think tank speaks up for SCs in Kashmir (25)

New Delhi: An RSS-related think tank is seeking to mobilise opinion on the Kashmir issue in terms of the rights of Scheduled Castes and women. The Kashmir issue has always been important for the Sangh Parivar, but the discourse around it is undergoing a subtle shift. As distinct from the familiar focus on India’s oneness, the concomitant demand for repeal of Article 370 that grants Jammu and Kashmir special status, and the plight of Kashmiri Pandits, the Jammu and Kashmir Study Centre is invoking the rights of marginal groups to attack the State’s special status. The Study Centre has RSS point man to Jammu and Kashmir Arun Kumar as its mentor and has former key ABVP Delhi state functionary Ashutosh Bhatnagar as its general secretary. On Monday, the organisation criticised the Jammu and Kashmir High Court’s recent judgment that Article 370 was beyond the amending powers of the Constitution. The petition that led to the judgment had challenged the extension of SC/ST reservation in promotions in the State as per the 77th constitutional amendment Act. For, no Presidential Order had been issued for the same, a procedural requirement under Article 370. Urging the NDA government to get the required Presidential Order issued to extend quota in promotion benefits to the State’s Dalits and tribals, the Study Centre said on Monday: “The judgment creates a situation where the SCs/STs in Jammu and Kashmir would be deprived of the benefits that are available to SCs/STs in rest of India … In view of this judgment the rights of around 25 lakh Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes are being taken away … .” “The issues of Dalits, tribals and women are so important across India but it is an irony that none wants to discuss their interests in Jammu and Kashmir,” Mr. Bhatnagar told The Hindu.The think tank has also taken up the issue of Article 35 A of the Constitution, which, it claims, was wrongfully added as an annexure to the Constitution in 1954, bypassing the constitutional amendment procedure with a special majority of Parliament as mandated by Article 368. The think tank says this Article has denied permanent resident status to husbands and children of women marrying outside the State and made sanitation workers of the Dalit Valmiki caste stay tied to their occupation. The Study Centre lists the things one loses out when denied this status: government jobs, admission to government professional colleges, voting and property rights. Descendants of 200 Valmiki families brought in 1957 from Punjab to work as safai karmacharis can’t get other jobs and admission to government professional colleges as their permanent residence status is tied to the work, the organisation says. As for women, while they retain their status if they marry outside the State, their husbands and children can’t hold property, cast their vote, get admission to professional colleges or get government jobs in the State because of Article 35 A, it adds. There is a gender bias here, as the same disabilities do not apply to men marrying out of the State, the think tank underlines. It also points out that thousands of refugee families that came from west Punjab after Partition still do not have permanent residence status in the State. (The Hindu 14/10/15)

103. OBC leaders want to protect their right to reservation (25)

RAJKOT: The members of Other Backward Castes, Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Notified and De-notified Tribes will hold a seminar in the city on Saturday to protect their Constitutional rights of reservation. OBC Ekta Mancha leader Alpesh Thakore will remain present during the seminar that will be held at Luhar Samaj ni Vadi in Shiyaninagar. The community leaders over various reserved categories on Friday submitted a memorandum to Rajkot district collector Manisha Chandra along with their charter of demands for the welfare of OBC, SC, ST and other backward communities. “The recent agitation of Patidars demanding reservation in OBC category is an anti-reservation movement. Through this seminar we want to protect rights of backward communities in the state,” said Arvind Gohil, convener of the newly formed forum. The leaders demanded separate welfare package for the OBC, SC and ST on line of package declared by state government for the general category students. They also urged government to start recruitment for the vacate posts in various government departments and fill all reserved category posts currently lying vacant. (Times of India 17/10/15)

104. Rajasthan notifies quota for Gujjars, SBCs (25)

Jaipur: Rajasthan government has issued a notification to provide five per cent quota to Gujjars and other Special Backward Classes (SBC) for which the Assembly has passed a Bill last month. The notification, issued last night by the Department of Personnel, states that Rajasthan Specific Backward Classes (Reservation of seats in Educational Institutions in the state and of Appointment and Posts under the state) Act, 2015 (Act No 32) comes into effect from October 16, an official said today. The said Act shall come into force from October 16, 2015, he said. The Act will provide 5 per cent reservation in jobs and educational institutes to Gujjars, Banjara, Raibari, and Gadiya Lohar communities in the state. On September 22, the state assembly had passed two separate bills for providing five per cent quota to SBC, and 14 per cent to Economically Backward Classes (EBC) of unreserved categories, sparking a controversy as it crossed the 50 per cent quota cap. The second bill of EBC is yet to be get the Rajasthan Governor’s approval. Criticising the government’s move, Congress leader Sachin Pilot had said it was a “tragedy” that despite knowing very well that there is no provision in the Constitution for economically backward people to get reservation, the BJP government has made a “farcical attempt”. (The Hindu 18/10/15)


105. NHRC Summons State DGP Over Border Yellur ‘Atrocities’ (1)

BENGALURU: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has issued summons to Karnataka DG&IGP Om Prakash to appear before it on October 28 after he failed to reply to four notices and reminders with regard to alleged atrocities on the people of Yellur in Belagavi district. The matter came to the notice of Justice V S Malimath, chairman of the Karnataka Border Protection Commission, after some local Marathi dailies reported the DGP’s alleged lapse. Based on a complaint, the NHRC had issued notices to the DGP on August 19 and 29, 2014, seeking an action-taken report. As there was no response, a reminder was sent on November 13, 2014, calling for a report by December 8, 2014. As there was still no response, the NHRC sent a final reminder April 28, 2015, seeking a report by May 25, 2015. Since there was no response to the last reminder also, the NHRC issued a summons on September 15, 2015, to the DGP asking him to appear in person on October 28, 2015. If a reply is sent before October 21, he would be exempted from personal appearance. The summons to the DGP was sent after Vinod Tawde, leader of Opposition in the Maharashtra Legislative Council,  filed a complaint to the chairman, NHRC on July 28, 2014, alleging serious atrocities by the state police on residents of Yellur on July 27, 2014. Justice Malimath wrote two letters to Om Prakash and Chief Secretary Kaushik Mukherjee on two occasions.  However, neither Mukherjee nor Prakash responded to his letters. “I feel very concerned about the lethargy and negligence by governmental agencies in the matter of discharging their legitimate responsibilities. Please issue an appropriate direction to prevent such breaches hereafter,” Malimath told Mukherjee. “The state government and its officials are insensitive towards border issues. It is a pity nobody is taking the matter seriously. What kind of DGP is he? If he does not consider the summons seriously, NHRC will issue a non-bailable warrant against him,” warned Malimath. Malimath narrated the events in a letter to Mukherjee: “I am writing this is continuation of my letter dated September 22, 2015 in relation to the notice issued by the NHRC on a complaint received regarding serious atrocities committed on the Marathi speaking people of Yellur village and the further reminder dated September 23. I have not received any response at all to both these letters. Meanwhile, I got enquiries made with the help of the legal cell. I have since received replies, copies of which are enclosed. “You know that a suit by Maharashtra on the border issue is pending before the Supreme Court. As chairman of the Karnataka Border Protection Commission, I have the responsibility of rendering assistance not only in regard to the suit but generally in regard to the protection of Karnataka borders. I therefore request you to look into the matter urgently and ensure that the Director General of Police acts promptly in sending his reply to the NHRC,” Malimath said. Both Om Prakash and Mukherjee were not available for comment. (New Indian Express 1/10/15)

106. Pak NSA Sartaj Aziz refuses to acknowledge human rights violations in PoK (1)

Delhi: Pakistan National Security Advisor Sartaj Aziz said on Sunday that his country was not suppressing people in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) and that they were living there freely. On the other hand he accused India of using lakhs of soldiers to suppress Kashmiris. In an exclusive interview to CNN-IBN, Aziz said that there was no such thing as brutal crackdown on the people of PoK (the Pakistan NSA called it Azad Kashmir.) He said that India was subjugating people of Kashmir who wanted the right of self determination. On the video of crackdown on protesters in PoK, Aziz maintained that he had no seen the video but instead talked of a video which Pakistan would release. He reiterated that that there was no protests against the Pakistani establishment regarding human rights violation in PoK. In a video available with CNN-IBN, people in large numbers in PoK are seen protesting against the Pakistani establishment and demanding freedom. The people are also heard shouting slogans of azadi (freedom). As per reports, the people are angry at the lack of development in the region and are heard demanding jobs and other basic rights. The protests against the Pakistani establishment were reportedly held in several areas of PoK, including Muzaffarabad, Gilgit and Kotli. They are also heard talking about human rights violation and misbehaviour with their women. Youths are also seen in the video saying that those who refuse to join jihad from PoK are picked up by the ISI. The PoK residents added that India was better than the neighbouring country. (Zee News 4/10/15)

107.  Emirati rights activist wins ‘Nobel prize for human rights’ (1)

Geneva: An Emirati human rights activist barred from leaving his home country was named the 2015 winner of an award often dubbed the Nobel prize for human rights. Ahmed Mansoor has since 2006 campaigned for freedom of expression and greater political and civil rights in the United Arab Emirates, and successfully pushed for the liberation of two bloggers jailed for highlighting social problems in the country. Yesterday, he was awarded the Martin Ennals award, named after the former secretary general of Amnesty International. The prize is given to human rights defenders who show deep commitment to their cause despite huge personal risk. “Ahmed Mansoor is one of the few voices within the United Arab Emirates who provides a credible independent assessment of human rights developments in the country,” the Martin Ennals Foundation said on its website. Mansoor was sentenced to three years in prison in 2011 in a trial criticised by rights groups as “grossly unfair”. At the time, he stood accused, along with four others, of using the Internet to insult the UAE’s leaders, of calling for a boycott of elections and of being linked to anti-government demonstrations. He was pardoned by the UAE’s president later the same year, but was stripped of his passport and barred from overseas travel. The Martin Ennals award was created in 1993, two years after Ennals died. Its jury is composed of Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the International Commission of Jurists and seven other international campaign organisations. The winner receives a prize of 20,000 Swiss francs (18,350 euros, USD20,700). The debut recipient in 1994 was Chinese rights activist and former political prisoner Harry Wu, who moved to the United States in the mid-1980s. The award can also go to a group. (Zee News 7/10/15)

108. IGSSS gives healing touch to flood affected families (1)

Imphal, October 10 2015 : The Indo-Global Social Service Society (IGSSS) in collaboration with Misereor and Christian Aid has responded to recent flood in Manipur triggered by heavy rain in Churachandpur, Bishnupur, Thoubal and Chandel districts. IGSSS has been working to ensure that the affected families are provided with immediate relief in a timely manner and protect human dignity. The response covered all the affected population regardless of caste or religion and the target population comprised of Kuki, Naga and Meitei communities. Having its presence felt across 25 States and one UT of India, IGSSS works for development, capacity building and enlightenment of the vulnerable communities across the country for their effective participation in development, Thangboi Haokip, coordinator, IGSSS, Ccpur said. IGSSS had convened the first ever NGOs/Civil society’s coordination meeting on August 7, 2015 with representatives from 17 local, national and international NGOs participating in the meeting to chalk out a proper strategy to ensure that the benefits to flood affected victims reached them. “This marked a new landmark in Manipur in paving the way for formation of IAG chapter in Manipur,” Kaplianlal Thangluai, Assistant Manager-Program, IGSSS said. IGSSS had distributed Rs 1000 each to 991 flood affected families and NFI items to many affected families. The relief packages comprises of non-food items like- tarpaulin and rope, bed sheet, blankets; WASH and Dignity kits- plastic buckets with mug, washing and bathing soap, disinfectant liquid, sanitary napkins and monetary support (unconditional cash transfer) to meet their other immediate needs to 1000 HHs. “IGSSS will conduct detailed livelihood assessment and extend conditional monetary support to revive their livelihood or repair of their damage houses to 400 most needy families,” Kaplianlal said. “In the second phase of our proposed intervention IGSSS will build the community capacity on Disaster Risk Reduction programme in Sangaikot block Churachandpur district with special focus on preparedness and building of resilient community and water sanitation and hygiene issues for the next six months,” he added. Through Christian Aid support programme in Thoubal and Chandel District, IGSSS had completed cash distribution of Rs 2500 each to 600 families (462 in Wangjing, Thoubal and 138 in Khengjoy block, Chandel District), said Thangboi Haokip. “Besides monetary support, we distributed water filter, bucket of 20 litres capacity with lid and chlorination tablets to 462 families in Thoubal; shelter kits (tarpaulin, ropes, bed sheets) and to 138 families in Chandel district. Besides another 60 most vulnerable families in Thoubal will be supported with conditional cash transfer to revive their livelihood and repair of houses,” he said. IGSSS also expressed thankfulness to the district administrations of Churachandpur, Chandel and Thoubal districts, Kuki Student Organization (KSO) Kuki Khanglai Lawmpi (KKL), Thadou-Kuki Students’ Union (TKSU-GHQ), Haopi Chiefs’ Association, Kuki Inpi Manipur for their support and cooperation. It also acknowledged the cooperation extended by the Joint Philanthropic Organization in issuing ‘Pass’ for free passage of IGSSS staff and relief materials during strikes in Churachandpur district. It further expressed gratitude to Misereor Germany and Christian Aid for their timely and goodwill gesture by extending financial and technical support in reaching out to the affected population. (Nabipur  E-pao 10/10/15)

109. Rights rally vocal on land, job (1)

The 10-day statewide Jan Adhikar Yatra on Sunday culminated in capital Ranchi, where social activists urged the masses to stand up for their rights to food, land and job. Around 500 people from different parts of the state assembled at Morabadi grounds before taking out a march towards Raj Bhavan, where they held a public meeting that was addressed by leaders of various social and rights groups. The Jan Adhikar Yatra, which had kicked off on October 1, created awareness for basic rights and mobilised support for a sustained movement against government “indifference”.Addressing Sunday’s public meeting, development economist Jean Drèze emphasised on job guarantee, food and social security, rehabilitation of displaced and forest rights, among others. “The government is like a bull that doesn’t move unless prodded,” Drèze, a visiting professor at Ranchi University, said in chaste Hindi. He added that the people were facing genuine problems and therefore, he was hopeful that they would push the authorities out of their slumber. Drèze, the architect of Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA), toured Palamau, Latehar and Garhwa over the past few days as part of the rally that was organised by a host of organisations. “I was impressed by the spontaneous response of villagers in the Palamau region. They spoke about their woes, sang, danced and even donated small amounts to keep the yatra going,” said the noted economist, exhorting people to unite against what was described as growing encroachment by the state and the Centre on people’s basic rights. Former CPI(ML) MLA and All India People’s Forum leader Vinod Singh, who led the yatra in North Chotanagpur region, said people in rural areas were deprived of almost everything – be it food security or forest rights. “Those who have been issued new ration cards under the food security Act are supposed to get kerosene. However, most of the rural people have not got their ration cards till now and thus are deprived of the benefits,” he pointed out. Dayamani Barla of Adivasi-Moolvasi Astitva Raksha Manch, James Herenj of NREGA Watch, Dheeraj Kumar of Right to Food campaign and Balram, the state’s adviser to Supreme Court commissioners, also addressed the public rally. They pointed out that despite existence of the Forest Rights Act many were not given patta (the record of rights), a lot needs to be done for food security and the rural job guarantee scheme should not be curtailed. (The Telegraph 11/10/15)

110. HRW urges Nepal to investigate killings during ongoing protests (1)

New York: Nepali authorities should immediately investigate and bring to justice those responsible for killings and other violations during ongoing protests over the constitutional debate, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in a new report released today. The HRW said that at least 45 people were killed during the protests in August and September 2015. The violence included the use of arbitrary and disproportionate force, and extrajudicial killings by the police against protesters; killing of children; and murders of police officers, it added. Asia director at Human Rights Watch Brad Adams, said, “While the drafting of a rights-respecting constitution is an emotional issue in Nepal, disagreements cannot be resolved by committing serious human rights abuses.” The 44-page report, “‘Like We Are Not Nepali’: Protest and Police Crackdown in the Terai Region of Nepal,” documents Human Rights Watch investigations into the killings of 25 people, including 16 members of the public and 9 police officers, in five Terai districts between August 24 and September 11, 2015. Adams said, “Nepal’s new leadership should take immediate steps to stem the tide of abuse that has overtaken Nepal the last few months.” He added, “The government needs to order investigations, and publicly call on all security forces to desist from any excessive use of force.” (New Kerala 16/10/15)

111. Govt should look into the matter of women’s safety, security: PUCL (1)

The vice president of People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), Kavita Srivastava on Saturday said that 50 per cent of India’s population is unsafe and insecure , adding that the Government should look the matter of safety and security in Delhi. “From one side we speak of progressing and developing India and on other hand a school girl cannot go to school freely. No Government is going to prosper if this issue is not looked up and taken seriously,” Srivastava told ANI here. She also said that Delhi Police introduce themselves as friend but their work does not seem so, and added, “Delhi police need to look at themselves properly.” Communist Party of India leader Brinda Karat on her part said that it is shocking that the Capital of this country is witnessing a growing crime against women and children, added that Police should be answerable to it. Two minor girls, one aged two-and-a-half, and the other aged five, were gang-raped in separate incidents in Delhi. (The Financial Express 18/10/15)


112. Child sexual abuse an ‘epidemic,’ Delhi high court says (19)

NEW DELHI: Terming child sexual abuse as an “epidemic”, Delhi high court has said that not only parents, but even trial courts dealing with such cases, should create an atmosphere where the victims can depose truthfully against “sexual perpetrators”.”Children who have suffered sexual abuse at the hands of the sexual perpetrators do not only suffer from physical pain but are also subjected to mental and emotional trauma. The results of child sex abuse are severe and far reaching,” justice P S Teji said. “Child sexual abuse is one of the most pervasive social problems faced by our society. Its impact is profound because of the sheer frequency with which it occurs and because of the trauma brought to the lives of the children who have experienced this crime. Child sexual abuse is an epidemic,” the court observed. The judge’s observations came as he dismissed a plea of an accused who sought quashing of an FIR lodged against him by a 12-year-old boy whom he had allegedly sexually abused three years ago. Refusing to quash the FIR, the court said “apparently, the petitioner (accused) is using all possible weapons to pressurize and to win over the victim i.e. the minor, to tamper with the evidence and to hamper the trial.” Observing that often the child victims and witnesses were compelled by circumstances not to bring true facts before the court, the judge said the trial court should “ensure the examination of the child witness by giving due protection to him and bringing the child out of the pressure”. “The parents of such victims have even a greater role to play in helping and aiding the child in overcoming the trauma”, it said According to the minor’s complaint, he was lured by the accused on the pretext of giving him a job of cleaning vehicles for which he would be paid Rs 4,000 per month. (Times of India 1/10/15)

113. Supreme Court stays beef ban in Jammu & Kashmir for 2 months (19)

New Delhi: Suspending the ban on animal slaughter and sale of beef in Jammu and Kashmir for two months, the Supreme Court Monday asked the Chief Justice of J&K High Court to set up a three-judge bench to examine the legal issues relating to the prohibition and the validity of the law in this regard. A bench of Chief Justice H L Dattu and Amitava Roy said that in view of the “conflicting” orders by the two high court benches, the chief justice shall constitute a larger bench to examine all contentions. It asked the high court chief justice to set up the bench at Srinagar and place before it both the matters in which two “conflicting” orders were passed in September. While the Jammu bench of the HC had ordered enforcement of the ban on sale of beef in the state, the Srinagar bench entertained a PIL against the ban and sought explanations from the state government on the validity of the legal provisions entailing this prohibition. “This type of matter requires a larger bench. We request the chief justice to constitute such a bench to take a decision on the two petitions,” said the bench, as it also stayed the order imposing the ban. In its petition, the state had contended that the two conflicting orders have grave ramifications for the law and order since the orders were being misused so as to disturb peace in the state. (Indian Express 6/10/15)

114. Plan to make law panel a permanent body on hold (19)

New Delhi: The Modi government is understood to have put on hold a proposal to make the Law Commission of India into a permanent body and has decided to continue with the present system of reconstituting it every three years. The move to shelve the proposal came after the Prime Minister’s Office felt that the present system should continue, government sources said. The department of legal affairs in the law ministry had recently proposed to make the law panel, which advises government on complex legal issues, into a permanent body either through an Act of Parliament or an executive order (resolution of the Union Cabinet). As per the present system, the Union council of ministers re-constitutes the commission every three years. After the commission is reconstituted, a new chairman and members are appointed to run the panel. The Union Cabinet had last month approved reconstitution of the body. With the approval of the Cabinet, the law ministry would now constitute the 21st Law Commission as the three-year term of the 20th panel ended on August 31. The law ministry is in the process of short-listing names of retired judges to head the commission. A retired Supreme Court Judge or a retired Chief Justice of a high court heads the panel, which was first constituted in 1955. The various Law Commissions have been able to make important contribution towards the progressive development and codification of laws of the country. The Law Commissions have so far submitted 262 reports, a statement issued on the Cabinet decision had said. (Asian Age 7/10/15)

115. Gwalior: PIL filed against ‘incorrect’ swine flu test reports (19)

Gwalior/Bhopal : A DRDE (defense research and development establishment) laboratory test report on swine flu was questioned by a Gwalior citizen through a PIL filed in the MP high court on September 30. The complainant, a former registrar of the Jiwaji University, Dhirendra Singh Chandel doubted the credibility of DRDE’s test report and labelled it unreliable. In February, the swab sample of a 33-year-old woman who later died of swine flu, had reportedly been tested negative by the DRDE. The woman was diagnosed with swine flu when she was rushed to Medanta Hospital in Delhi, but later succumbed to the disease. Ironically, the son of the deceased who had been tested positive for swine flu by the DRDE lab reportedly was tested negative when tests were carried out at Delhi hospitals. Taking cognizance of the PIL, the high court bench at Gwalior in its interim order, directed the health department of Union and state governments, the Gwalior Municipal Corporation and the DM’s of eight districts to submit a status report on swine flu by October 8. The court also directed them to initiate precautionary measures, including setting up a laboratory at each district hospital, isolation wards, life saving apparatus and equipment and to launch a vaccination drive on people in infection-prone localities and pigs. The next hearing on the matter is on Thursday. CMHO, Dr Anup Kamthan said that the court’s direction to conduct vaccination drive on pigs in connection with PIL was a misplaced fact since they were not vector carriers for the infection which gets transmitted from person-to-person contact. A DRDE source on the condition of anonymity said that the margin of human error was minimal at their laboratory since it was a highly specialized unit, both in terms of state-of-the-art technology and skilled technicians. However, the scope for making mistakes lies in sample collection techniques, incubation period, handling and transportation, which are undertaken by the local health department level. (Hindustan Times 8/10/15)


116. Petitions challenging beef ban law to come up for final hearing in HC this week (19)

MUMBAI: The Bombay high court has scheduled for final hearing petitions challenging Maharashtra government’s new beef ban law. The petitions have been listed on the weekly board before a division bench of justice Abhay Oka and justice VL Achliya and will be taken up for hearing on October 14, 15 and 16, 2015. Earlier this year in February, the President had sanctioned the Maharashtra Animal Preservation (Amendment) Act. The old law notified in 1976 banned the slaughter of cows, while the new changes banned slaughter of bulls and bullocks as well. The sale of bulls, bullocks for slaughter has been made a crime, which is punishable with a jail term of up to five years and a fine of Rs 10,000. The possession of meat of a cow, bull or bullock is also an offence which can be punished with one-year imprisonment and a fine of Rs 2,000. In April, the HC refused to grant an interim stay on the provisions of the law that criminalizes the possession of beef. Among the petitions before the court are ones filed by Jogeshwari resident Arif Kapadia and by senior lawyer Haresh Jagtani, challenge the provisions of the law that make it a crime to possess beef. Jagtani claims that the rule is arbitrary and affects the cosmopolitan nature of Mumbai. Kapadia, claims that the provision in Section 5(D) that makes possession of even meat, or flesh, of any cow, bull or bullock slaughtered outside Maharashtra a serious cognizable and non-bailable offence attracting up to a year in jail and Rs 2,000 fine, is “draconian”.The other petitions include those filed by citizens as well as some like Vishal Sheth, a lawyer from Fort and Shaina Sen, a student from Bandra, who have sought protection of their right to quality of life ingrained in their choice of source of nutrition, and as a “cultural minority” among Hindus who consume beef. (Times of India 11/10/15)

117. SC springs single civil code poser (19)

New Delhi, Oct. 12: The Supreme Court today told the Centre to explore the possibility of a uniform civil code “if you want to” while directing it to take a quick decision on bringing the Christian divorce law on a par with that for other communities. Solicitor-general Ranjit Kumar sought three weeks’ time to place the government’s views on amending the Divorce Act, 1869, which applies only to Christians, but refrained from commenting on the court’s prodding on a uniform civil code. The Divorce Act mandates a two-year waiting period for the grant of divorce through mutual separation whereas the time limit is only one year for other communities. Enacting a uniform civil code means replacing the various communities’ distinct personal laws by a common legislation governing individuals’ rights relating to marriage, divorce, inheritance, adoption and maintenance. Article 44 of the Constitution says the State “shall endeavour to secure for the citizens a uniform civil code throughout the territory of India”. Political and religious sensitivities, however, have stemmed any such possibility. The reference to a uniform civil code by the bench of Justices Vikramjit Sen and Shiv Kirti Singh came as they asked Kumar to come out with a clear stand on the discrepancy between various divorce laws. “What is happening? Why is this happening? It is total confusion…. The petitioner is just seeking that the Christian law should be on the same platform as that of the Hindu law as their (Christians’) personal law prescribes a minimum of two years whereas others have one year,” Justice Sen, who headed the bench, told Kumar. “If you want to have a uniform civil code, have it. You want to follow the uniform civil code, follow it. But you must take a decision soon.” The BJP has since its Jana Sangh days been clamouring for a uniform civil code but has in recent years toned down the shrillness that marked the demand in the 1990s. Today’s apex court directive followed the Centre’s continued failure to respond to a notice issued to it on March 23 on a public interest plea moved by Albert Anthony, a Delhi-based Christian. Anthony has challenged the constitutional validity of Section 10A(1) of the Divorce Act, which prescribes a minimum two-year period of separation for Christian couples before they can file a suit for divorce by mutual consent. He has contended that the provision amounts to “hostile discrimination” against and “oppression” of Christians since Hindus and Parsis can file a divorce suit after a year of living separately. Anthony has cited how, in Saumya Ann Thomas vs Union of India, 2010, Kerala High Court had held Section 10A(1) of the Divorce Act to be “unconstitutional”, ruling that it violated Articles 14 (equality before law) and 21 (protection of life and personal liberty). Karnataka High Court had agreed with that ruling in Shiv Kumar vs Union of India and Others, 2014. But, Anthony has argued, the benefit of the two judgments is being denied to Christians in other states. He has sought a direction to the Centre to amend the act, reducing the mandatory period of separation to one year. Section 28 of the Special Marriage Act, 1954 (applicable if the spouses belong to different communities), Section 13B of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, and Section 32B of the Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act, 1936, prescribe just a year’s statutory period of separation for divorce by mutual consent. (The Telegraph 12/10/15)

118. 6,217 domestic violence complaints disposed of so far, says Haryana (19)

GURGAON: In Haryana, so far 6,217 complaints pertaining to domestic violence under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 and 241 complaints under Prohibition of Child Marriage Act-2006 have been disposed of. A sum of about Rs 93 lakh has been spent under this Act till September. Spokesman of the Women and Child Development on Friday said that all government hospitals, public health centres and community health centres have been notified for medical facility and three shelter homes for providing shelters to the needy women under this Act. He said that 21 protection-cum-child marriage prohibition officers have been appointed at district level. As many as 30 service providers like Haryana State Social Welfare Board, District Red Cross Societies and District Child Welfare Councils, have been selected for providing necessary assistance to the aggrieved persons in the State and Special Room has been set up in every district for women and children. The spokesman said that Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai has been engaged for providing training and capacity building of protection officers. The Institute has conducted Research Study on Prohibition Child Marriages and also submitted five-and-a-half year report on working of Special Cells in Haryana. (Times of India 16/10/15)

119. Apex court judgment on National Judicial Appointments Commission ignores larger constitutional structure: Jaitley (19)

New Delhi: The Supreme Court’s judgment on National Judicial Appointments Commission Act ‘ignores the larger constitutional structure of India’, opined the Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Sunday. On his Facebook post, Jaitley while expressing his personal views wrote, “Unquestionably, the independence of the judiciary is a part of the basic structure of the Constitution. It needs to be preserved. But the judgment ignores the fact that there are several other features of the Constitution which comprise the basic structure. The most important basic structure is parliamentary democracy.”“The next important basic structure of the Indian Constitution is an elected Government which represents the will of the sovereign. The Prime Minister in parliamentary democracy is the most important accountable institution. The Leader of the Opposition is an essential aspect of that basic structure representing the alternative voice in Parliament. The Law Minister represents a key basic structure of the Constitution – the Council of Ministers, which is accountable to Parliament,” he added. Jaitley wrote that the Supreme Court’s judgment to strike down the 99th Constitutional Amendment, which provided for the appointment of the National Judicial Appointments Commission upholds one basic structure of the Constitution but ‘diminished five other basic structures of the Constitution namely a Parliamentary democracy, an elected Government, the council of Ministers, an elected Prime Minister and the elected Leader of Opposition’. The Finance Minister wrote that there is no constitutional principle that democracy and its institutions have to be saved from elected representatives. “The Indian democracy cannot be a tyranny of the unelected and if the elected are undermined, democracy itself would be in danger,” Jaitley added. (Business Line 19/10/15)


120. Police torture makes man disabled for life (1)

INDORE: A year ago, 36-year-old Akram Shah’s scooter accidentally hit a bike of crime branch constables at a crossing in Indore’s Siyaganj area. Nobody was injured in the mishap. But it unleashed the monster in the men in khaki, who brutally assaulted him in custody, leaving him permanently disabled with a spinal injury. After one-and-half year legal battle, Indore bench of Madhya Pradesh high court in its interim order last month directed state government and police department to fund Akram’s medical expenses. State human rights commission has taken cognizance of the case. Father of 6 children and the sole bread winner of the family, Akram’s ordeal began on January 2, 2014, when he first encountered the savage face of Madhya Pradesh police in constables Razak Khan and Virendra Singh Tomar. “Akram underwent third-degree torture at an undisclosed location in Indore for four days after which he was booked under false case of bike-lifting and thrown behind bars where he lay writhing in pain for a week. His injuries compounded in prison,” said his lawyer, Ashish Sharma. After he came out on bail and went for a medical examination that the nature of his spinal cord injuries came to the fore. He was bed-ridden and is now tied to a wheel-chair. He has lost control over his urine and faecal movements and needs 24-hour support of an attendant. Without a job, he’s finding it difficult to foot his medical bills. Advocate Sharma filed public interest litigation in court in March 2014. He told the bench that Shah was kept in illegal detention from January 2 to 6, during which policemen subjected him to torture causing permanent physical disability. “After custodial brutality, Shah was framed in a fake case and sent to jail on January 7, 2014. He was eventually acquitted in August 2015,” said Sharma. It was during the hearing of the case that Shah got bail on January 18. After coming out of jail, Shah lodged complaint against police brutality with IG, DGP, but to no avail. “The high court slapped notices on police demanding re-investigation of the case. A departmental probe found the constables guilty of illegal custody,” said Sharma. In January, IG Vipin Maheshwari submitted his report before court, stating he had noted irregularities and lapses on part of the police officers. He also mentioned that Shah became disabled after the incident. Sharma said MY Hospital also submitted a medical report before high court, highlighting the torture in custody. MY Hospital report also mentioned that Shah will be physically disabled in lower body for rest of his life. “Report also highlighted that disability was caused due to physical torture,” said Sharma. High court Justice S R Waghmare, while issuing interim order on Shah’s plea against the policemen, allowed his application on police brutality and listed the matter for a further date. (Times of India 4/10/15)

121.  ‘TN accounts for 58 per cent of total detenues in the country’ (1)

CHENNAI: In a worrying trend, Tamil Nadu has yet again emerged as the State with the highest number of detenues in prisons, accounting for over 58 per cent of the all-India total. The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data on Prison Statistics, released on Saturday, revealed that of the 3237 detenues (those arrested under preventive detention laws) in the country at the end of 2014, 1892, including 37 women, were in prisons in Tamil Nadu. This was an increase from 1781 in 2013. Tamil Nadu was followed by Gujarat with 594 detenues in 2014. An analysis of the statistics showed that 53 per cent of the detenues in the State were Dalits. Among the 1892 detained, 886 persons were illiterates. As a percentage of the total prison population, preventive detention inmates accounted for 11.9 per cent—by far the highest in the country. While the NCRB does not provide data on number of persons arrested under specific detention laws, data put up on the Tamil Nadu Prisons Department indicate that an overwhelming majority were booked under the Tamil Nadu Prevention of Dangerous Activities of Bootleggers, Drug Offenders, Goondas, Immoral Traffic Offenders and Slum-Grabbers, Act, better known as the Goondas Act. Interestingly, the data shows that huge number of detenues (2781) is released before the completion of the detention period. General Secretary of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), V. Suresh, said disturbing trends have emerged from the NCRB data over the years. The statistics were indicative of the fact that those in the margins of society, both socially and economically, bear the brunt of such laws. This is reflected in the high number of Dalits and illiterates among the preventive detention inmates. “In our own experience, we see that the weaker sections are more susceptible to such laws,” he said, expressing concern that the issue is rarely taken up by political parties. “Sometimes, the preventive detention laws could also be abused to settle scores with political dissidents,” he pointed out. Former Judge of the Madras High Court, K. Chandru, said police officers used the preventive laws to circumvent the default bail clause in the Criminal Procedure Code. “In the Cr.PC, bail is an automatic process if the report is not filed within 60 days. The police use the preventive detention clauses to keep persons in jail for up to a year,” he said. Stating that such laws have turned into “absurdities”, Mr. Chandru recalled rolling trophies provided to police Inspectors who recommend the highest number of detentions. Also, the advisory boards deal with the detention cases mechanically. “I refused to be part of these boards as there is no right to cross examine. I felt it was a demeaning exercise,” he claimed. He said the detention orders were poorly drafted and mostly looked like Photostat copies. “In my experience, I found that for certain crimes, the detention orders would be identical though they come from different places,” Mr. Chandru pointed out. Human rights activist, Henri Tiphange, claimed the numbers pointed to how badly the State fared in terms of upholding civil liberties. “The Supreme Court has time and again said preventive laws should be invoked only in exceptional cases since they curtail Constitutional Rights. But the numbers we have paint a completely different picture,” he said. Mr. Tiphange also faulted with the slow criminal justice system, which encouraged police officers to take the short-cut and invoke preventive laws. (The Hindu 5/10/15)

122. AFSPA causing hardship to Manipur’s people: Irom Sharmila tells court (1)

Manipuri rights activist Irom Sharmila on Tuesday told a Delhi court that the controversial Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) should be scrapped as it has caused “immense hardship” to the people of the state and thousands of innocent persons have been killed over the years. In her statement recorded before the court in a case in which she is facing trial for allegedly trying to commit suicide while undertaking fast-unto-death at Jantar Mantar in 2006, Sharmila said police had violated her fundamental rights and implicated her in a false case. 42-year-old Sharmila, who is on a fast for around 15 years in Manipur demanding repeal of AFSPA, broke down in the court while recording her statement. She told Metropolitan Magistrate Akash Jain that she had sat on a fast at Jantar Mantar here on October 4, 2006 but she was forcibly removed by the police from there. “It is correct that I had sat on fast at Jantar Mantar on October 4, 2006 but I have been fasting since 2000 and same has not affected my health and I have never refused medical check up…,” she told the court. “I have been demanding that AFSPA be repealed or lifted from Manipur as the same has caused immense hardship to the common man of Manipur. Thousands of innocent people have been killed, hundreds of rapes have taken place on Manipur’s women. No action has been taken under the garb of AFSPA,” she said. Sharmila, who is fed through a nasal tube, also told the court that she has been continuing her struggle against AFSPA and as the issue was attaining attention worldwide, the police violated her fundamental rights and forcibly removed her from Jantar Mantar during her fast in 2006. The court concluded the recording of Sharmila’s statement during which she said that she wants to examine witnesses in her defence. The court has now fixed the matter for tomorrow when Sharmila’s lawyer would file a list of defence witness. The court had on June 6 this year concluded recording of prosecution evidence and had fixed the case for recording of Sharmila’s statement under section 313 of CrPC. Sharmila had earlier told the court that she was very much eager to eat if she got the assurance that the “draconian” act will be revoked. Widespread discrimination was being done with the people from northeast, she had alleged, adding she never intended to commit suicide and it was just a protest against AFSPA. The court had on March 4, 2013, put her on trial after she had refused to plead guilty to the charge of attempting to commit suicide (section 309 of IPC). If convicted, Sharmila, who is out on bail in this case, faces a maximum jail term of one year. She is in judicial custody in some other case lodged in Manipur. Known as the ‘Iron Lady’, Sharmila had earlier told the court that her protest was non-violent. (DNA 6/10/15)

123. Jharkhand government orders probe into police firing (1)

Ranchi: The Jharkhand government on Thursday ordered a probe into violence and subsequent police firing at a ‘ghost fair’ organised on the banks of Jhariwa river in Palamau district of the state. A ‘ghost fair’ in Palamau district, held on Wednesday despite prohibitory orders by the district administration, saw a mob pelting a police team with stones when it went there to arrest a sorcerer. One person was killed and five others were injured in the police action. Several policemen too suffered injuries in the mob-violence. Meanwhile, the Jharkhand Women’s Commission said it was serious about tackling such issues and wished to stop torture of women in the name of superstition. “The ‘ghost fair’ and other similar fairs are linked to the traditions of the state’s people. Use of locally brewed liquor at such fairs makes people unwilling to hear any logic. Neither the state government not we can pass orders to stop such fairs. “We are concerned about women’s issues and we will take up with the government how such fairs could be banned or torture of women stopped,” Commission chairperson Mahua Manjhi told IANS. There was a need to spread literacy among the people in the state, she said. (Business Standard 8/10/15)

124. Bombay High Court raps Maharashtra government over rising custodial deaths (1)

MUMBAI: The Bombay High Court on Tuesday castigated the Maharashtra government over its delay in fully implement its orders of installing CCTV cameras in police stations and lack of sensitivity over the rising number of custodial deaths. “Is human life so cheap?” asked a division bench of Justice V M Kanade and Justice Shalini Phansalkar Joshi, admonishing the state over its failure to implement its orders to tackle the problem of custodial deaths. “We are appalled by the state machinery’s insensitivity and lack of political will to address this problem. This turning a blind eye shows the lack of political will,” said the judges, adding that it borders on “tacit approval.” The HC said that the state was yet to file an affidavit on the steps it has taken to address the problem and questioned whether installation of CCTVs would stop custodial deaths. It sought suggestions from lawyers of the petitioners. The court was hearing petitions, including one on the April 2014 custodial death of Wadala youth Agnello Valdaris and the torture and sexual abuse of his three co-accused. The HC had transferred the case to the CBI last year. Advocate Yug Chaudhry, counsel for Agnello’s father Leonard, said that the CBI was yet to file its chargesheet in the case. The court asked the CBI to take a decision on the within a week. The HC noted that despite its orders the number of custodial deaths seem to be increasing and cited data that in the last 15 years not a single police officer had been convicted in such cases. The court also asked the CBI to inform whether it had adequate infrastructure and manpower to investigate cases. (Times of India 13/10/15)

125. NEFIS calls a day long nationwide hunger strike against AFSPA (1)

DELHI, October 14: To mark the 15th year of heroic struggle of Irom Sharmila, North-East Forum for International Solidarity (NEFIS) will be on the move for a one day hunger strike across the country on November 2, said a press release by NEFIS. The press release has stated that Irom Sharmila has been on hunger strike against the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) since November 2, 2000 and NEFIS has pledged to wage a nation-wide struggle against the draconian Act and to bring the validity of the long abused AFSPA into question. It said, the draconian Act in Jammu & Kashmir and the North-East states has been serving as a useful weapon for the Indian State in order to curb the democratic rights and freedom of the people of the regions. AFSPA grants special powers to the armed forces, the most controversial being the legal immunity it provides to army officers. AFSPA is an anti-people, oppressive Act as it assigns the armed forces special powers for detaining, using lethal force and entering and searching premises without warrant, stated NEFIS in the press release. NEFIS further stated in the press release that AFSPA has been condemned nationally and internationally by all democratic and justice loving people, and in order to highlight the ongoing struggle for democratic rights, NEFIS has called upon all the communities of the north east, as well as several democratic and civil liberties organizations and individual civil rights activists across the country to observe the hunger strike on November 2. NEFIS demands removal of AFSPA from all states and appeal to support the campaign to fight against militarization and suppression of democratic rights, which is not just the concern of the people of North-East India but the struggle against AFSPA is the struggle to uphold the ideals of democracy and freedom for all, said NEFIS in the press release. (Kangla Online 14/10/15)

126.  ‘Police abused power in anti-encroachment drive’ (1)

GURGAON: Carrying out a probe into allegations of custodial torture and false implication of Nisha Singh, a Ward 30 councillor, in a case pertaining to the anti-encroachment drive in Sector 47 here on May 15, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) in its report said that the spot enquiry conducted by the team had found that the “action of the police was contrary to law and the same cannot be accepted in a civilised society governed by the rule of law”. Saying that “the police had not only abused their power and authority but have also violated her human rights”, the NHRC in its report has directed the Director General of Police, Haryana, to initiate disciplinary action against the concerned police officials who failed to follow the guidelines of the Supreme Court while arresting the councillor and submit a report within eight weeks’ time. Ms. Singh was recording the anti-encroachment drive being carried out by the HUDA officials with support from the local police at Fathepur (Jharsa) village when the police took her into custody and lodged a case against her under different sections of the Indian Penal Code for instigating people and under Section 3 of the Explosive Substances Act. The NHRC, in its report, said that a spot inquiry was conducted at Gurgaon from August 3-7 in this connection and many witnesses were examined and two CDs prepared by the government officials were also obtained, but Ms. Singh “could not be seen instigating the villagers for violence (as alleged in the FIR) in the video footages or photographs nor is there any evidence to substantiate that Ms. Singh had reached at the spot well before the police force and delivered any speech among the villagers”. Taking the police to task, the report said that “the police failed to provide any corroborative evidences to support their allegation of instigation by Ms. Singh. Thus, the version of the police on this account has not been found correct though the police have filed a charge sheet in the aforesaid case registered against Ms. Singh and matter is now sub-judice”. The report further said that the “police failed to follow due process of law while arresting the complainant by not intimating the factum of arrest to the family members of Ms. Singh, by not providing Ms. Singh medical assistance immediately after she was taken into police custody at about 11.30 a.m. on May 15 despite her repeated request and by not showing the correct time and true place of arrest in the arrest memo”. The report also blamed the police for not taking any action on the complaint of Ms. Singh for having lost her phone. “It has also been found that police have failed to take any lawful action on the complaint of Ms. Singh regarding loss/alleged snatching of her mobile phone. Despite the fact the her mobile phone is not traceable, no legal action has been initiated to trace the phone by registering the First Information Report under Section 154 or 155 of Criminal Procedure Code as applicable”. (The Hindu 15/10/15)

127. Madras HC Rejects Petition to Probe TN ‘Encounter Killings’ (1)

CHENNAI: Madras High Court rejected a plea to set up a Judicial Commission to probe alleged encounter deaths in the State and has suggested that the petitioner could avail the remedy under the Human Rights Commission Act. Hearing a plea by Henri Tiphagne, executive director, People’s Watch seeking a judicial panel to probe so-called ‘encounter deaths’ in Tamil Nadu, the first Bench comprising of Chief Justice S K Kaul and Justice T S Sivagnanam said the petition was general and seeking to set up a separate mechanism under a retired judge would not be appropriate. “We have the Human Rights Commission, both at the Centre and State. Any aggrieved party can easily access the Human Rights Commission for redressal in such a case and such cases are being examined by these commissions,” said the judges. Tiphagne in his petition also sought compensation to families of victims allegedly killed by police in encounters and for the state government to initiate a domestic enquiry and direct the police to file FIRs in every case of encounter killings. He also alleged that in the last four years, 23 persons were killed by the state police in “encounters”. “In fact, three persons have been killed in the first two months of 2010 alone. These cases reflect a pattern of consistent intentional and unchecked murder by police officers of the state and disregard of the state in enforcing rule of law,” alleged Tiphagne. “It is not a case where a specific instance is being sought to be canvassed as a case of encounter killing but having obtained certain information, seeking an enquiry on what had actually happened and for award of appropriate compensation,” said the judges. (New Indian Express 17/10/15)


128. DGP blames social media for rumours (1)

GHAZIABAD: Uttar Pradesh’s police chief on Thursday railed against the “misuse” of social media, saying it helped perpetrate rumours like the one that led to the murder of Akhlaq in Greater Noida’s Bisada village on September 28. The 58-year-old handyman was attacked by a lynch mob that set upon his residence after rumours that a cow had been slaughtered there and the family had beef in the house. At a meeting to review law and order ahead of the panchayat polls, DGP Jagmohan Yadav said, “It’s not a minor incident and it’s being investigated as to how a mob barged into a house at midnight and committed the horrendous crime. But misuse of social media platforms like Twitter are to blame for helping spread rumours that are leading to incidents like the one reported from Bisaada. We are taking particular steps to avoid similar incidents in the festive season ahead that includes Muharram and Dussehra.” Asked about the forensic report of a meat sample purportedly collected from Akhlaq’s home, state home secretary Debasish Panda, who was also present at the meeting, said, “The forensic report is yet to arrive. Investigations are under way. We are taking adequate measures to ensure there is no breakdown of law and order in the festive season.” (Times of India 2/10/15)

129. Dadri lynching: Women residents throw stones, chase media out of village (1)

Dadr: Fresh violence erupted in Bisara on Saturday — five days after Mohammad Akhlaq was beaten to death and his son severely injured — when a mob of women residents from the village pelted stones at journalists and damaged media vehicles. On Saturday morning, the women surrounded OB vans and cars parked on a street close to Akhlaq’s house, demanding that they leave Bisara. While a group started banging on cars, other groups heckled mediapersons and asked them to leave the village. Minutes later, the mob began pelting stones at mediapersons while chasing them. Sources said a meeting had been held in the village on Friday, where residents had expressed their concerns about media presence in the area. “The meeting was attended by village elders. They expressed displeasure about the presence of media and coverage of the incident. As a preventive measure, security in the village had been increased,” said a senior police officer. Even as the village remained inaccessible to mediapersons on Saturday, some managed to go back to Bisara during Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s visit. While police said they were trying to bring the situation under control, a media car was attacked during Kejriwal’s visit. Alleging that the media was biased in its reports on the incident, a woman resident said, “Why do you go to his (Akhlaq’s) house? Why are you not listening to what the other residents have to say? The men in our house are being picked up by the police.” (Indian Express 4/10/15)

130. Media panels decry attacks on journalists (1)

NEW DELHI: The Press Council of India on Tuesday said it was examining the reports of attacks on the media in Bisada village, near Dadri. It has also sought a response from the West Bengal government on recent attacks on media during local body elections. Speaking to TOI, PCI chief Justice (retd) C K Prasad said, “We have asked the state government (of West Bengal) to provide a report on the incidents of violence against media persons. We are also examining the issue of attacks on media in Bisada village in Uttar Pradesh and will be taking an appropriate decision soon.”The attacks on the media have come under fire from several journalist bodies including the Editors Guild of India who in a statement expressed grave concern. It condemned “use of violence against media” and described the attacks as “a crude attempt to bring pressure on those who are getting closer to the truth”. It urged the governments of West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh to “identify the people who led the attack and those who encouraged such action, to face legal process.” “For the past few weeks reports from West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh show that those in authority do not flinch from attacking or look the other way when media personnel face such situations,” the Guild noted adding that the media was doing its job in ascertaining facts in places of conflict like Dadri in UP or covering the municipal polls in Kolkata, WB. “Free and fair polls require the atmosphere be such and violence to say the least is unacceptable,” the Guild said. The attacks were also condemned by the Indian Women’s Press Corps and the National Union of Journalists. Calling the attacks highly condemnable, IWPC urged the UP government to provide adequate security in the village not only to the media persons but to those families “who have reason to feel insecure in the aftermath of the event”.The National Union of Journalists added their voice to this saying, “We consider these attacks as an attack on the democracy and freedom of the Press, as some political miscreants try to prevent the journalists to do their job.” (Times of India 7/10/15)

131. I will return Sahitya Akademi prize money too, with interest: Nayantara Sahgal (1)

DEHRADUN: After deciding to return the Sahitya Akademi award to register her “right to dissent” against growing instances of tolerance in the country, author and literary commentator Nayantara Sahgal on Thursday announced that she will also return the prize money that she received, “along with interest.” Disclosing that she will be sending an amount of Rs 1 lakh to the Sahitya Akademi, the noted writer, who is also the niece of India’s first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, said that she decided to return the prize money after a statement made by the Sahitya Akademi president. “The president of the Sahitya Akademi, without referring to me or Ashok Vajpeyi (who has also announced that he will return the award), told the press that even if we return the award and money, we have not returned the interest on the prize money. This was a very unfortunate statement. Therefore, both of us have decided to give back Rs one lakh, which is the current cash component of the Sahitya Akademi prize. He has already done it. I will be doing so in a day or two.” Sahgal had won the prize in 1986 for her novel ‘Rich Like Us’. On October 6, she had created a flutter by announcing that she will be returning her award as a mark of protest against growing intolerance in the country and in support of those who dare to dissent. In an open letter titled ‘The Unmaking of India’, the 88-year-old writer, who is Jawaharlal Nehru’s niece, referred to the recent lynching of Mohammed Akhtaq who was killed on the supposed suspicion that beef was cooked in his home. Asserting that the right to dissent, an integral part of the Constitutional guarantee was being threatened, Sahgal wrote that “distinguished Kannada writer and Sahitya Akademi Award winner, M M Kalburgi, and two Maharashtrians, Narendra Dhabolkar and Govind Pansare, both anti-superstition activists, had all been killed by gun-toting motor-cyclists. Other dissenters have been warned they are next in line…In memory of the Indians who have been murdered, in support of all Indians who uphold the right to dissent, and of all dissenters who now live in fear and uncertainty, I am returning my Sahitya Akademi Award.” Blaming PM Modi for rising instances of intolerance in the country, the writer told TOI, “Modi’s silence is deliberate. He can speak eloquently when he wants to. So why can’t he say a word about Indians who are being slaughtered and denied the right to freedom of speech, life and religion?” (Times of India 8/10/15)

132. Freedom chorus grows louder (1)

New Delhi, Oct. 11: A Kannada author today resigned from the Sahitya Akademi’s general council and five other writers returned their Sahitya Akademi awards, swelling the ranks of litterateurs protesting the recent attacks on the freedom of expression. Kannada writer Aravind Malagatti quit his post condemning the Akademi’s “silence” on the August 30 murder of rationalist M.M. Kalburgi, an Akademi member and awardee, by suspected Hindu zealots in Karnataka’s Dharwad town. Shortly afterwards, progressive writer Gurbachan Bhullar, playwright Ajmer Singh Aulakh and theatre personality Atamjit Singh – all from Punjab – as well as the Delhi-based Aman Sethi returned their awards. So did Vadodara-based writer Ganesh Devy, condemning the “shrinking space for free expression and growing intolerance towards differences of opinion” in the country. A seventh author joined today’s protests: Kannada writer Kum Veerabhadrappa declared he would return his Akademi award on October 15. “I’m doing this condemning the killings of Narendra Dabholkar, Govind Pansare and M.M. Kalburgi and the Akademi’s silence on the issue; also against the Dadri lynching,” he said. Radical Hindu outfits have been blamed for the murders of Kalburgi, rationalist Dabholkar (in Pune in 2013) and Leftist Pansare (in Kolhapur last February), all of whom had angered them by attacking superstition and sectarianism. On September 28, Mohammed Akhlaque was lynched near Dadri in Uttar Pradesh after rumours accused him of eating and storing beef. “I emailed my resignation to the president and secretary of the Akademi at 8 this morning,” Malagatti told The Telegraph from Bangalore. “I wrote that I was tired of waiting for the Akademi to take a stand on Kalburgi’s murder. I’m distressed that they didn’t even issue a statement on the attack on him and the others. Dadri was the last straw.” Bangalore-based novelist Shashi Deshpande had quit the Akademi’s general council on Friday in protest against the “silencing of dissent in India”. Resignations followed yesterday from three Malayalee writers – K. Satchidanandan, P.K. Parakkadavu and K.S. Ravikumar – while a fourth, feminist writer Sarah Joseph, renounced her Sahitya Akademi award. Three other authors – Nayantara Sahgal, Ashok Vajpeyi and Chhattisgarh-based Hindi awardee Uday Prakash – had earlier returned their awards. “Look at the state of affairs across the country. Human rights violations are happening almost everyday,” Malagatti, given the Akademi award for his book Government Brahamana, told this newspaper. “I hope these resignations will propel more people to come forward and create a wave of protest.” Bhullar, awarded in 2005 for his book of short stories, Agni Kalas, attributed the “attempts at disrupting the social fabric of the country” to “an orchestrated plan of action”, a PTI report said. He condemned the “forcible saffronisation of education and culture and the communal atmosphere being created in the country”, accusing the Centre of “not performing its duty as the representative of a secular and democratic country”.”It is high time that writers take a stand,” Devy said in a letter to Tiwari, PTI reported.”It is with utmost regret that I would like to convey to you that I wish to return the 1993 Sahitya Akademi award given in the category of books in English to my work After Amnesia (1992).” …  (The Telegraph 12/10/15)

133. India enters index of unpunished journalist murders for 8th yr (1)

New Delhi: India has earned the dubious distinction of securing a spot for the eighth year in a row on a global index which ranks the countries around the world where journalists are murdered and their killers go unpunished. The Committee to Protect Journalists’ Impunity Index Report, Getting Away With Murder ranked 14 countries and took into account the unsolved murders that took place between September 1, 2005, and August 31, 2015. Those countries where five or more journalists were killed without a single perpetrator being convicted are included on the index. These countries combined account for 83% of the unsolved murders that took place worldwide during the 10-year period. For the first time since 2008, Iraq – which usually claims the first spot as the worst offender – has slipped in the list this year. Instead, Somalia where “one or more journalists have been murdered every year over the past decade, and the government has proved unable or unwilling to investigate the attacks” has managed to make it to the top. In India, 37 journalists have been killed with confirmed motive since 1992 and 11 of them were killed in the last 10 years. “Of the 11 journalist murders CPJ has confirmed as work-related in the last 10 years in India, all have been carried out with complete impunity, securing India’s spot on the Impunity Index for the eighth year in a row,” CPJ said. Even though India slipped from 13 to 14 this year, it is still a better place for journalists than its neighbours Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Also, its impunity rating rose from 0.006 unsolved journalist murders per million inhabitants to 0.008.“Nearly all the victims reported on corruption or politics, like freelance journalist Jagendra Singh, who died from burn wounds in June,” the report said. Singh, a social media journalist who was burnt to death in Shahjahanpur over his reports against a Uttar Pradesh minister, used Facebook to report about issues nobody bothered about and pushed authorities to provide solutions. In his dying declaration, Singh alleged that police set him on fire at the behest of the minister. India is among the five countries along with Philippines, Russia, Brazil, Mexico – all democracies with functioning law enforcement and judicial institutions – which have together let the killers of at least 96 journalists go unpunished over the past decade. “India’s unrelenting impunity is fostering an increasingly dangerous climate for journalists.” The Press Council of India, a statutory body, has called for a two-minute news blackout on November 2 to protest the impunity in recent attacks against journalists. CPJ is a US-based non-profit organisation that promotes press freedom around the world and has been releasing the index since 2008. (Hindustan Times 13/10/15)

134. 2 arrested for uploading provocative material on social media (1)

SULTANPUR LODHI: Two youths were arrested in Sultanpur Lodhi area of Kapurthala district for allegedly running a website and a social media page on which they were uploading provocative material. Their third companion, living in Canada, has also been booked. Police accused them of using forged identities to run an online website. Sources said police officers were worried that information about recent disturbances in Punjab, especially the firing in Kotkapura, was spreading very fast on social media in which police and state government were on the receiving end. Police officials then started keeping an eye on social media. Sultanpur Lodhi deputy superintendent of police Piara Singh said police had tracked the provocative material was being uploaded on “Fateh Channel”, which was being run illegally and even forged identity papers were used. He said Amandeep Singh, from Dadwindi village, and Pavittarbir Singh, from Mannan village, were arrested and a laptop, a camera and mobile phones were recovered from them which they were using to run the site. DSP Piara said their Canada-based third accomplice Gurpreet Singh was also booked. The trio was booked under sections 420, 465, 467, 468 and 471 of the IPC for cheating and forgery. Both arrested accused were produced in a local court which remanded them to police custody for a day. (Times of India 17/10/15)

135. Attack on Rashid: Farooq says India’s image being tarnished (1)

Srinagar: Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Farooq Abdullah today condemned the ink attack on independent MLA Sheikh Abdul Rashid saying those behind the attack have tarnished the image of country before the world. “These people have tarnished the image of nation, not only in India but all across World,” he told reportershere. Abdullah, who is president of opposition National Conference, said Constitution of India guarantees freedom of speech for all its citizens. “Constitution treats everyone with equality, provides freedom of speech, Engineer Rashid only wanted to put forth his view,” he said, adding that India was today feeling “threatened bysuch elements”.A press conference by Rashid in New Delhi turned into an event of hooliganism with a handful of activists allegedly belonging to a right-wing organisation blackening his face with paint, ink and mobil oil protesting against his hosting a beef party in Srinagar earlier this month. (Business Standard 19/10/15)


136. VHP leader, other 3 arrested in connection to communal riot (7)

BELAGAVI: After arresting Mujmil Ahamad Iqbal Doni, councillor of Ward 35 of Belagavi City Corporation on Wednesday, Belagavi police arrested four activists of right wing organizations on Thursday, in connection to Monday’s communal clash in city. Police arrested Maruti Sutar, leader of Vishwa Hindu Parishad and other activists Sandesh Jangale, Bharatesh Shindholkar and Mahesh Basarikatti. With these arrests, number of arrested has increased to 21. In a communal riot that broke out at Khadak Galli on Monday late night, 12 persons had injured including five police personnel and Market CPI Ramesh Gokak. (Times of India 1/10/15)

137. Dadri lynching: Women residents throw stones, chase media out of village (7)

Dadri: Fresh violence erupted in Bisara on Saturday — five days after Mohammad Akhlaq was beaten to death and his son severely injured — when a mob of women residents from the village pelted stones at journalists and damaged media vehicles. On Saturday morning, the women surrounded OB vans and cars parked on a street close to Akhlaq’s house, demanding that they leave Bisara. While a group started banging on cars, other groups heckled mediapersons and asked them to leave the village. Minutes later, the mob began pelting stones at mediapersons while chasing them. Sources said a meeting had been held in the village on Friday, where residents had expressed their concerns about media presence in the area. “The meeting was attended by village elders. They expressed displeasure about the presence of media and coverage of the incident. As a preventive measure, security in the village had been increased,” said a senior police officer. Even as the village remained inaccessible to mediapersons on Saturday, some managed to go back to Bisara during Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s visit. While police said they were trying to bring the situation under control, a media car was attacked during Kejriwal’s visit. Alleging that the media was biased in its reports on the incident, a woman resident said, “Why do you go to his (Akhlaq’s) house? Why are you not listening to what the other residents have to say? The men in our house are being picked up by the police.” (Indian Express 4/10/15)

138. Security beefed up in Pratapgarh village after 2 communities clash (7)

Allahabad: Tension erupted in Bhulsa village under Hathigawan police station area of Pratapgarh district on Friday after a clash between two communities over a minor dispute, following which heavy security force along with several senior officials were rushed to the area to avoid communal flare-up. Cross FIRs were registered on two complaints by those who indulged in the fight and two persons were arrested from both sides. The police said heavy security was deployed in the area, where a land dispute was already going on between the two communities. According to police, one Jubair Ahmed wanted to build an Idgah on a land, which he claimed belonged to him. However, a dispute had arisen on the said land after the gram sabha claimed to be its owner. The dispute had led to a fight nearly a fortnight ago, in which one Chhabe Lal was attacked. However, he managed to escape unhurt. Subsequently, suspecting rise of some communal tension, adequate police force was deployed in the village. The revenue officials also carried out land measurements of the village. On Friday morning, one Tariq had gone towards his father’s grave to pay obeisance when Nanhe Lal Saroj also reached there with his pigs. Tariq objected to Nanhe allowing pigs to roam around the graveyard. This led to a fight and both of them sustained minor injuries. Immediately, the PAC deployed in the village alerted senior officials. “We reached with extra force along with several senior officials. But, when we reached there, we realised that it was a dispute limited to two people. They lodged formal complaints on the basis of which both of them have been arrested under preventive sections,” said Circle Officer (Kunda), Kavindra Narayan Mishra. Mishra added that the land measurement will now be carried out from the village’s borders. “It will take some time, because officials also have to deal with panchayat elections. The force is deployed and the situation is normal,” he said. (Indian Express 4/10/15)

139. Uttar Pradesh on boil: 330 communal incidents since July 2014 over ‘cow slaughter’ (7)

New Delhi: At least 330 incidents of communal violence over alleged cow slaughter have been reported in Uttar Pradesh since June 2014, according to sources in the state police. In Gautam Budh Nagar — the district where Mohammed Akhlaq was killed by a mob over rumours that he stored and consumed beef — 12 such incidents were reported since June 2014, sources said. Of the 330 incidents recorded by the state police, 216 were reported from western UP, which includes Gautam Budh Nagar and Muzaffarnagar. According to police records, the regions that witnessed the most number of cases are Awadh (64) and Meerut (40). In a four-part series in August 2014, The Indian Express had reported how low-key violence had kept the communal pot boiling in the run-up to bypolls in 12 constituencies in UP. Quoting police records, the series had reported that during the 75-day period between May 16, 2014 and July 31, 2014, 605 incidents of communal violence were reported, 60 of which were related to alleged cow slaughter. State intelligence sources said eastern UP, which borders Bihar, is now being considered a sensitive area since inter-state cattle smuggling could lead to communal flare-ups. Ahead of assembly polls in Bihar, the state police have alerted eastern districts of Gorakhpur division to be on high alert. In August this year, The Indian Express had reported that in the last one year, the Bihar Police recorded at least 10 incidents of communal violence over beef being allegedly found near temples. (Indian Express 8/10/15)

140. In South, Karnataka tops in communal violence (7)

BENGALURU: Reflecting a surge in communal violence in the past few years, several such incidents were reported in Karnataka in the last week of September. The rioting almost coincided with the Centre’s advisory to the states to have zero tolerance towards communal violence. Between January 2011 and June 2015, Karnataka recorded the highest number of communal violence cases among the southern states. Union ministry of home affairs statistics show there were 321 incidents of communal violence in Karnataka, injuring 939 people and killing 16. Of these, 36 incidents occurred between January 2015 and June 2015, leaving two dead and 123 injured. During the period, Karnataka recorded 10.54% of the 3,045 incidents of communal violence in India. Between 2010 and 2013, there were 222 incidents of communal violence in Karnataka. Among the southern states, Karnataka is followed by Kerala (131 incidents), undivided Andhra Pradesh (114) and Tamil Nadu (91). On September 27, a Ganesha idol procession in Kadolkar Galli of Belagavi turned violent. Just days before, a similar procession had turned violent in Bagalkot’s Mudhol town, which witnessed a full-fledged riot. In the same week, communal violence was reported from Chikkodi (Belagavi) and Surpur (Yadgir). Karnataka’s image of a peace-loving state has taken a beating since the 2008 church attacks. Senior police officers, however, insist this only indicates proactive measures adopted by the state. “In many states, a lot of cases are not reported. We have a clear mandate to prevent, investigate and solve all such cases. Which is one of the reasons the number of cases could be high,” an officer noted. The nerve centre of communal incidents in Karnataka has been the coastal region. Muneer Katipalla from Mangaluru, an activist who has faced threats in the past, says: “When the Congress came to power, there was a hope that a proactive approach will curb people from indulging in such acts, but that is yet to be seen.” “…As we speak, I am getting out of the Highland Hospital, Mangaluru, where a cattle trader who was beaten up by communal forces is nursing his injuries,” he told TOI. The cattle trader now faces the threat of being arrested as soon as he is discharged. “Such is the control these (communal) people have on the system that they can get a victim to look like an accused,” Muneer claimed. The incident occurred in Karkala taluk of Udupi district. Speaking to TOI, home minister K J George said: “Legal course will determine the facts of the case. Investigations will happen and reveal the truth.” On the overall increase in the number of communal incidents, George said: “As far as I remember, there was an incident in Shivamogga, a couple in Mangaluru, and one each in Sira and Raichur since we took over. Sometimes, the central government calculates many cases that are registered under one incident.” (Times of India 9/10/15)

141. Udhampur truck attack part of larger plan to engineer communal tension: Police (7)

Jammu: Taking the lid off a conspiracy to engineer communal tension in Jammu and Kashmir, four youth — arrested in connection with a petrol bomb attack on a Valley-bound truck in Udhampur on Saturday — revealed the formation of a “Maya Gang’’ for carrying out potentially disruptive activities in the district. Significantly, none of those arrested owe allegiance to either the BJP or the RSS and its affiliated organisations, official sources told The Indian Express. While they are believed to be supporters of two local politicians, having even campaigned for them during the last Assembly polls, sources added that the police were yet to find any evidence to establish a direct connection between the politicians and the accused. Pointing out that their interrogation was a work in progress, sources said that these youth were indoctrinated by some outsiders who visited the district recently. According to sources, they were shown video clips of alleged Muslim groups carrying out activities against Hindus, especially forcing their girls embrace Islam and indulging in cow slaughter. A senior official said that the group got youth to carry out its activities on the ground, while some state government staffers — including teachers and engineers — helped it arrange funds. The official added that these young boys were from the town’s affluent families, and one of them even lived in the neighbourhood of the Udhampur Deputy Commissioner, Shahid Iqbal Choudhary. Even the petrol bomb used for attacking the Kashmir-bound truck was prepared at the home of one of the accused, he said. According to DIG, Udhampur-Reasi range, Surinder Gupta, the attackers were led by one Kaka. Two persons had received burn injuries when a Kashmir-bound truck was attacked with a petrol bomb outside a local hotel on the Jammu-Srinagar national highway on Saturday. The victims — Zahid Ahmed (19) and Showkat Ahmed (35), both residents of Anantnag – were rushed to Delhi for treatment. The night before to the truck attack, members of the Maya Gang had reportedly attacked a Tavera near the Railway Station. During the interrogation, the arrested accused revealed that they had planned more such attempts in the district to create communal tension. While the boy who threw the petrol bomb had been arrested, police sources said a hunt was on four other accomplices involved in the attack. In view of the startling revelations by the arrested youth, the district administration on Sunday put up posters across the town appealing people not to get carried away by rumours and also warned rumour mongers of detention under the Public Safety Act. Additional reinforcements were also deployed at vulnerable places. Meanwhile, except for Tikri where people observed bandh on Sunday, situation remained peaceful all over Jammu region during the day. (Indian Express 12/10/15)

142. Congress smells conspiracy in communal incidents, seeks NHRC probe (7)

NEW DELHI: Congress will petition the National Human Rights Commission against the rising incidents of communal violence, urging it to investigate them to reach the bottom of the conspiracy behind their occurrence. At a meeting of its legal and human rights department on Tuesday, Congress passed a resolution expressing concern that the country was faced with a threat to its secular fibre since the formation of new government after 2014 Lok Sabha polls. Tracing incidents of violence through Ranchi, Kanpur, Agra, Dadri, Mainpuri, parts of Haryana and Maharashtra, the resolution said, “We will request the chairman of NHRC to constitute special teams of senior officials to go to all the states where such incidents have happened and the communal tension has been caused, to thoroughly investigate and book the conspirators.” The party said it will also ask the human rights watchdog to constitute high-level independent teams to check communal hate material on social media. (Times of India 14/10/15)

143. SGPC employees pray for peace, religious harmony (7)

AMRITSAR: Employees of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) on Sunday offered prayers for peace and communal harmony in Punjab. The prayers were offered during the ‘bhog’ of the ‘akhand paath’ held in memory of the two Sikhs who were killed in police firing at Kotkapura during a protest dharna over the sacrilege of Sri Guru Granth Sahib. The ‘bhog’ was held at Manji Sahib Hall in the Golden Temple complex here. Among those who participated included SGPC secretary Manjit Singh, Golden Temple manager Partap Singh and several other senior officials of the gurdwara body. Meanwhile, Akal Takht jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh has asked all Sikhs who could read and recite the Sikh scripture to offer prayers for repentance of the sacrilege of the scripture. This would involve reciting the ‘Japji Sahib’ five times by every Sikh. (Hindustan Times 18/10/15)

144. In a first, pandits back separatists’ shutdown (7)

Srinagr: In a first in 25 years, a Kashmiri Pandit outfit has endorsed the shutdown call for Monday, issued by various separatist parties and other Valley groups to mourn and protest the “murder” of Zahid Rasool Butt. For the first time, in past 25 years, a pandit outfit called Kashmir Pandit Sangarsh Samiti (KPSS) which represents a few thousand Brahmin Hindus of the Valley who stayed put when majority of the community fled it following the outbreak of insurgency in 1990, has supported a strike call on an issue issued by separatists. KPSS president Sanjay K. Tickoo said in a statement here, “These acts demoralise and destabilise the society we live in. These acts need to be checked as soon as possible and it should be, by all means, responsibility of the government and those who hold positions in state as well as at the Centre to check the law and order problems created by some communal-headed people.” “KPSS will not tolerate any innocent killings in the state on communal grounds. We endorse the shutdown call given by various organisations against these heinous acts designed to divide the people,” he added. (Asian Age 19/10/15)



145. Gujarat VHP chief issues diktat barring Muslims from Garba (26)

Mandvi: A right-wing group today said it had issued a “diktat” barring entry of Muslims at Garba events during the upcoming Navratri festival at Mandvi town in Gujarat’s Kutch district to prevent “love jihad” incidents. “We have issued a diktat barring the entry of Muslims at Garba events in Mandvi,” said president of Hindu Yuva Sangthan, Raghuvirsinh Jadeja, who is also chief of Vishwa Hindu Parishad of the Mandvi tehsil unit. “Incidents of love jihad where Muslim boys lure and marry our Hindu girls happen at Garba. Our only aim is to protect our girls,” Jadeja told PTI. “We are getting a good response from the people and if the people from other regions respond to this movement, then we will spread it to their regions as well,” he said. The organisation will ensure that any person entering the Garba pandal has a tilak on his forehead, and ‘Gaumutra’ (cow-urine) will be sprayed on him, he said. “If a person does not apply tilak and hesitates to be sprayed with Gaumutra, he will not be allowed to go inside. “My people would do patrolling outside and inside Garba events and if they find any non-Hindus, they would exclude them,” he said. When asked how will they identify non-Hindus, he said, “We can identify such elements.” (Times of India 4/10/15)

146. RSS-linked bodies may get back Delhi land UPA took away (26)

NEW DELHI: In what could rekindle the hopes of about a dozen religious, social and educational organizations including those affiliated to Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) to get back the land allotted to them during the earlier NDA regime, the law ministry has said that the urban development ministry can reopen and consider these cases after getting Cabinet approval. Sources said the UD ministry had sought the law ministry’s view on whether it could consider the cases even as the UPA had cancelled the allotment to these organizations soon after coming to power. They added that many of the allottees had approached the new government to look into their cases. The ministry has already prepared a list of allotments that were cancelled by the UPA government. “A view will be taken at appropriate time whether we need to take each individual case to the Cabinet separately or we can club them together,” said a government official. According to different reports of parliamentary committees, land and development office (L&DO) had ordered cancellation of 29 allotments soon after UPA came to power in 2004. In 23 cases, the lessees had gone in appeal against the cancellation. The allotments had been surrendered in the other six cases. The UPA government had taken this action after a one-member committee of inquiry (Yogesh Chandra committee) found that in 32 cases, the land allotments had been made without following the stipulated procedure. In several cases, the land was allotted after recommendations of then urban development minister Ananth Kumar. According to government reports, out of the 32 allotments, 22 were made to RSS-affiliated/backed outfits including Samarth Shiksha Samiti, Akhil Bharatiya Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram, Bharatiya Kisan Sangh, Sewa Bharti and Swadeshi Jagran Foundation. (Times of India 5/10/15)

147. Dadri lynching pre-medidated by Hindutva forces: DU, JNU fact-finding committee (26)

New Delhi: The lynching of a 50-year-old Muslim man in Dadri over rumours of eating beef did not happen on the “spur of the moment” and was planned by certain Hindutva forces, a ‘fact-finding’ committee of academicians from JNU and Delhi University, among others, has claimed. The group, Janhastakshep, also accused the Uttar Pradesh government of allowing “free play” to the communal forces and demanded a high-level inquiry into killing of Iqlakh and punishment to the guilty. “There was ample evidence available to suggest that the incident did not take place on the spur of the moment and had been well planned by the Hindutva forces. “It was implemented through a maze of front organisations other than those associated with Sangh Parivar so it is established that such an event cannot be directly attributed to the Sangh,” Ish Mishra, Janhastakshep convenor told reporters. The team came out with its findings after visiting the Bishada village where Iqlakh was bludgeoned to death on September 28 by a 200-strong mob over rumours about storing and consuming beef. His 22-year-old son Danish was grievously injured in the assault. Cow slaughter is banned in Uttar Pradesh. “Our investigation of the events leading up to the murder and grievous injury sustained by his son reveals that the incident is an extension of new genre of low intensity, high impact communal tension targeting the Muslims and instilling the fear of brute power of the majority community among the Muslim masses,” said Vikas Bajpai, a JNU professor while releasing the report. The group also condemned the remarks made by Union Minister Mahesh Sharma, terming the incident an “accident resulting from misunderstanding”, and demanded that he be removed from the Ministry and an FIR be filed against him. “We also demand that action be taken against local police for its failure to restrain the local communal elements and for failing to keep track of the activities of numerous senas which have been active in vitiating the atmosphere in the area,” Mishra said. (Indian Express 7/10/15)


148. With rising Muslim population in Bengal, RSS predicts its branches will double (26)

Kolkata: As a teenager, Uttam Shaha says he used to watch scornfully from his bedroom window as men in brown shorts performed martial exercises in a car park below. Like many Indians then, he viewed the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) as a fringe group. Now 43, Shaha is a recent RSS recruit in Kolkata, the capital of West Bengal. He joined about 50 volunteers for an indoctrination meeting last year at that same car park near RSS headquarters in Kolkata. As dusk set in, they sat cross-legged on a faded rug before a statue of Bharat Mata, a representation of India in the form of a mother goddess. Ramapada Pal, the RSS’s chief preacher in the state, espoused a message of Hindu supremacy. Everyone must acknowledge “the superiority of the Hindu kingdom,” he said. “If a Muslim living in India chooses their god before India, then why should he be allowed to live in our country? This country belongs to Hindus first.” The RSS says its membership is growing. RSS Joint General Secretary Dattatreya Hosabale predicted the number of RSS branches in West Bengal would rise to 1,200 next year from 650 in 2013. There is no independent measure of RSS membership. The group’s message has particular resonance in West Bengal, which borders Bangladesh. An influx of Bangladeshi immigrants has boosted the number of Muslims, who now make up 27 per cent of the population in West Bengal, an interior ministry official said. Hindus remain a majority, but their share of the population declined by 2.2 percentage points between the 2001 and 2011 census. Rahul Sinha, the BJP’s head in the state, said the RSS was the “guiding force in a war to win the ancient Hindu soul of India.” “Muslims are coming from Bangladesh and feasting on our resources,” he said. “New mosques and madrassas have been set up in every corner.” Shaha, the new RSS recruit, said he turned to the RSS last July after his niece married a Muslim and converted to Islam, shaming his well-to-do family. “I had to protect my Hindu roots – they had been threatened,” he said. The RSS talked to him about reconverting his niece, but Shaha said the move was blocked when she threatened to lodge a police complaint against her family if they tried to interfere in her personal life. Shaha said he campaigned for the BJP in the municipal elections this year and was ready to do the same for the party in next year’s state election. “My mission is to make India a Hindu nation,” he said. (Indian Express 13/10/15)

149. Hindu group fabricating conversion controversy, says Indian cardinal (26)

Bhopal: Cardinal Telesphore Toppo of Ranchi has accused a Hindu group of fabricating a story of hundreds of indigenous people converting to Christianity to bolster their call for an anti-conversion law in his Jharkhand state. Indian media reported that the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, or world Hindu council, alleged some 300 members of the Asur tribe were converted to Christianity in the villages of Jharkhand’s Gumla district. “The media reports are not true,” Cardinal Toppo told on Oct. 14, adding that members of these tribes were Christian for decades and that there was no sudden increase of these indigenous people becoming Christian. This was corroborated by Neha Arora, the subdivisional officer who has judicial and administrative powers in Gumla. “There is no official confirmation … If any such report comes up, I will let you know,” she told Cardinal Toppo, the first tribal cardinal from Asia, said the story of the conversion of indigenous people was fabricated to call for an anti-conversion law in Jharkhand, the eastern Indian state ruled by the Bharatiya Janata Party, which is considered the political arm of Hindu groups working to make India a Hindu nation. The neighboring states of Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh, also ruled by that party, have anti-conversion laws. Seven of India’s 29 states have such laws that criminalize conversion if done without permission from government authorities. Fines and jail terms are stipulated for those involved in “fraudulent” and “forced” conversion and for “alluring” people to change their religion. Christians have been opposing such laws on the grounds that they violate religious freedom as enshrined in the Indian Constitution. As well, church humanitarian services such as education and health care could easily be misinterpreted as enticing people to convert, they said. Cardinal Toppo said the demand for an anti-conversion law “is against the constitution,” adding that “the church does not compel anyone to become Christian. It also does not block anyone from going away.” Deepak Tirkey, an official from the National Christian Forum working in Gumla, told that district government officials and state welfare schemes almost never reach remote villages. But Christian missioners provided villagers with facilities for education and medicine, and hundreds embraced the religion, he said. The church’s mission to indigenous people in Jharkhand began in the villages in the second half of the 19th century and was spearheaded by Jesuit missionaries. Jharkhand, with a population of 33 million people, now has some 1.4 million Christians, most of whom are indigenous people or those belonging to the dalit or former untouchable castes. The state’s 4.5 percent Christian population is almost double that of the national average, and much higher than several neighboring states where Christians are less than 1 percent of the population. In Gumla district, where the alleged conversion took place, some 20 percent of its 1 million people are Christians, according to government data. UCANEWS 14/10/15)

150. 5,000 VHP, Bajrang Dal men to report cases of cow slaughter (26)

MEERUT: A day after a Muslim youth was beaten to death in Himachal Pradesh for allegedly smuggling cattle for slaughter, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and its sister organization the Bajrang Dal are mulling a massive ‘anti-cow slaughter’ drive in the communally sensitive western UP districts. VHP’s district president for Shamli, one of the flash points of the Muzaffarnagar riots, Subhash Malik, told TOI, “There are around 2,000 illegal slaughterhouses in Kandhla and Kairana blocks of Shamli alone. A large number of people settled here came after the Muzaffarnagar riots of 2013. These people indulge in the practice of illegal slaughter. There is a slaughterhouse in Kairana which has permission to slaughter only 600 animals in a day but they slaughter around 6,000. We have 5,000 volunteers, who are committed to protecting the cow. They will go from village to village to spread all this disturbing information among the people. We will tell people about what they stand to lose.” The region has been restive ever since the 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots left 63 dead and over 50,000 homeless. According to activists, close to 2,800 families left their villages in Muzaffarnagar and settled in Shamli district. The Shamli VHP head claimed that most of the animals being slaughtered in the district were cows and they are not going to tolerate it. Malik insisted that his volunteers would only spread the information and not take law into their hands. “We have given instructions to our volunteers not to take the law into their hands. Our job will be to disseminate information among the people. We will urge them to report any incident of cattle smuggling or cow slaughter to the police and let the law take its own course. This is not an attempt to target any community but to stop the practice of cow slaughter,” he said. Bajrang Dal president for Meerut, Balraj Dungar, said that they are just waiting for the nod of senior leadership to begin the campaign. “Any district unit of the VHP or Bajrang Dal cannot start a campaign on its own. We are currently devising a strategy and will start the campaign once we get the green flag from the senior leadership. Our volunteers are ready. The problem of cow slaughter is becoming major across UP,” he said. Activists working for the rehabilitation of riot-displaced families, however, are worried that such a campaign may see a repeat of 2013. “The displaced families are somehow trying to rebuild their lives. If VHP goes ahead with its plans, these people will be targeted again,” said Akram Akhtar, project manager of a Kandhla-based NGO working for the welfare of these people. (Times of India 17/10/15)

151. RSS has made India an undeclared Hindu Rashtra, Azam Khan says (26)

LUCKNOW: Senior minister in Akhilesh cabinet Azam Khan has questioned the article published in the latest edition of the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) mouthpiece Panchjanya which states that Vedas order killing of sinners who kill cows. “The write-up clearly reflects the divisive ideology of the RSS. It says that India is an undeclared Hindu nation and those trying to hurt the sentiments of the Hindus will have to pay with their life,” Azam said on Sunday. The statement follows media reports on Panchjanya article ‘Is Utpat ke Us paar’ (The other side of this disturbance)’ which says Vedas order killing of the sinner who kills a cow. It is a matter of life and death for many. Azam has also demanded the Haryana and Punjab governments to ban trade and markets of animals whose slaughter is prohibited. The demand of ban comes a day after the Shiromani Akali Dal, a trusted BJP ally and partner in governments at the Centre and in Punjab, described the Dadri lynching as shameful and warned the BJP that “fringe elements” were hurting its credibility with “irresponsible utterances” that would undo the “good work”.Condemning the recent incident in Himachal Pradesh were a man was lynched alleged cow smuggling, Azam said it was shameful that people who are involved in trade of bovines were being provided land to holding markets while those transporting them were being singled out and killed. Describing Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) leader Hardik Patel as a hero of a community that is being denied its fundamental rights in Gujrat, Azam said instead of addressing the issues raised by the young leader, the government was trying to gag him. (Times of India 18/10/15)


152. Delhi Police Register First FIR in Connection With Possible ISIS Attack (12)

NEW DELHI: Delhi Police’s Special Cell has registered an FIR against unnamed persons for their alleged links with Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and Ansar-ut-Tawhid (AuT), based on intelligence inputs about possible terror strikes in several cities, including the national capital. This is  the first FIR in India registered in connection with a possible ISIS attack. According to a senior officer in the Special Cell, the anti-terror unit of Delhi Police had started receiving intelligence inputs in June, which led to the registration of the FIR in around a week’s time. Alerts were sent to all police forces around the nation. Five persons – whose activities are being monitored through technical surveillance and local intelligence – are said to be under the special unit’s scanner. “The case was registered on June 17 under Section 18 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and 120-B (criminal conspiracy) of the IPC at Special Cell police station,” said the senior officer. The case was registered after Special Cell officials received secret information about a “deep rooted conspiracy” being hatched against India by banned outfits like ISIS and AuT in connection with terrorist attacks in various cities, including Delhi, the senior officer added. The rapid increase in activities of ISIS in India’s neighbourhood, particularly in Maldives and Bangladesh, has risen the fear of its impact in India. Security officials said that at least 250 Maldivians have left the archipelago to join ISIS and about four of them were reportedly killed while fighting in battle fields in Iraq and Syria. About 30 nationals of Maldives have returned home from the ISIS-held territories and reportedly active in the island nation. In Bangladesh, security officials said, there has been rapid rise of ISIS in recent months. (New Indian Express 2/10/15)

153. 4 soldiers killed in Kupwara encounter (12)

Srinagar: In one of the fiercest gun battles this year, four soldiers were killed in an encounter with militants in the Hafruda forests of north Kashmir’s Kupwara district on Monday. A militant was killed in a separate encounter in Krusan area of the same district. The encounter in Hafruda forest was still raging at the time of going to the Press. “The Army’s 6-Rashtriya Rifles (RR) battalion launched massive searches following inputs about the movement of some militants in the area since the last two days. Late last (Sunday) evening, after conducting searches in the vast area, the forces intercepted a group of five to six heavily armed militants in dense bushes at Tilpatren forest area, some 7 km from Hafruda forests,” sources said. After being intercepted, the group was engaged in a gunfight by the forces, they said, and added in the fierce gunfight, three soldiers were killed and one went missing. “The body of the missing soldier was found amid bushes following searches by Army’s 6-RR along with reinforcement from special para-commandos who were rushed to the area after the gun battle,” they said. Defence spokesman Col Joshi confirmed that four soldiers were killed in the gun battle. “Based on specific information regarding presence of some terrorists in the Hafruda forest, a joint operation was launched by the Army and Jammu & Kashmir Police last (Sunday) evening. Around midnight, as the security forces approached the suspected area where the terrorists were reportedly hiding, they came under a heavy volume of fire. In the intense encounter that ensued, four Army soldiers were martyred,” he said. In a separate encounter, Col Joshi said, security forces killed one terrorist in Krusan, Lolab, Kupwara. “The encounter started following a tip off regarding presence of some terrorists in the area,” he said. On Sunday, security forces killed top commander of Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), Adil Pathan, and his associate Chota Burmee, both Pakistani nationals, in a gun battle in Tral area of South Kashmir’s Pulwama district. Army said their elimination has delivered a blow to the JeM which is increasingly losing its support base in the Valley. “Pathan, who infiltrated from Pakistan into India in 2012, moved to Tral from Lolab in 2013. He has been involved in many terror-related activities, including a grenade incident in Tral market on December 5 in which five civilians were killed and 23  injured. These terrorists were also involved in other atrocities on the locals, including kidnapping, extortion and forceful recruitment,” he claimed. (Deccan Herald 6/10/15)

154. Kashmir’s Top Counter-terror Cop Killed Chasing Udhampur Attack Mastermind (12)

Srinagar:  Considered among the best counterterrorism police officers in Jammu and Kashmir, sub inspector Altaf Ahmad was killed in an encounter in Bandipore district today, in a powerful blow to the state’s security agencies. His death has shocked the police and security agencies in Jammu and Kashmir. “I am unable talk on camera. I might break down,” said director general of police K Rajindra Kumar. Police say Altaf, along with two colleagues, was on a covert mission in Bandipore to track down Lashkar-e-Taiba commander Abu Qasim. Qasim, a Pakistani terrorist, was the mastermind behind the terror attack on a Border Security Force convoy in Udhampur on August 5 according to the National Intelligence Agency. Before Altaf could reach the target, police say the terrorist hiding behind a passenger vehicle opened fire on him. He was critically injured and was immediately airlifted to an Army hospital where he was declared brought dead. Altaf was considered a key operative in the security forces’ counter insurgency grid and his death is seen as huge blow to anti-terrorist activities in Kashmir, experts said. Altaf who joined the department as a constable rose from the ranks and was known as police’s ‘cyber boy’ who made promising headways into bringing down terrorist networks, officers who knew him, said. “I am shocked because Altaf was extraordinary in every field. His death is a huge loss to us” said Javid Gilani, inspector general of police. Altaf came to prominence after he mastered the art of tracking militants through mobile phones. He captured several top terrorist commanders and helped security forces carry out a number of anti-terrorist operations in the last 10 years. “He is behind the arrest of hundreds of militants and hundreds of encounters in Kashmir for last 10 years,” said a senior officer. Altaf was the recipient of President’s police medal for gallantry and several other bravery awards. A resident of Kulgam in South Kashmir, Altaf is survived by his wife and two children. (NDTV 8/10/15)

155. IB warned of Gurdaspur strike 2 weeks before attack (12)

CHANDIGARH: Exactly two weeks before three ultras of Lashkar-e-Taiba gunned down seven people in Dinanagar town of Gurdaspur, Intelligence Bureau had warned Punjab Police of an infiltration plan in a detailed alert. TOI has accessed a copy of the alert sent to DGP Sumedh Singh Saini and others by L N Singh, assistant director of IB’s multi agency coordination (MAC) panel. While the alert is dated July 14, the terror attack took place on July 27. “A group of 9-10 armed terrorists affiliated to LeT equipped with automatic weapons are presently staying in a mosque located in Pakistan village Masroor Bara Bhai. It is also reported that the above group of terrorists moved towards Pak Rangers Post Norul Islam, that falls opposite to Indian BOP Paharpur Ex-97 BSF, Samba sector. They may infiltrate through the AOR (area of responsibility) of Gurdaspur or Samba sector in the coming days with the Pak intelligence agencies,” says the IB alert. The alert goes on to say, “These militants are looking for safe route to infiltrate into Indian territory in small groups.” Union minister Rajnath Singh had praised the operation in which the terrorists were killed after a 12-hour operation by the Punjab police’s SWAT commandos. Interestingly, the IB alert corroborates National Technical Research Organisation’s (NTRO) analysis of the data from the two GPS devices found on the terrorists. It showed that the BSF outpost Tash was breached in Pathankot. Tash is the next border outpost (BOP) after Paharpur. The alert also mentioned a separate detailed note of an April 28 meeting between top officials of Punjab Police, including Brahm Pal of counter intelligence, along with Chandigarh Police DSP Anil Joshi, Haryana Police’s SP Pankaj Nain, Railway Protection Force’s G D Pandey and CRPF commandant Preet Mohan among others. It said that a hand-written letter purported to be one from LeT commander Kareem Ansari was sent to Ferozepur railway office. The letter had threatened to blow up vital railway tracks in Punjab. The terrorists who attacked Dinanagar had planted six improvised explosive devices (IEDs) on the railway tracks between Amritsar and Pathankot. They were found along with 4.5kg of deadly RDX at one Talwandi bridge. It is believed that the IEDs did not explode because of a technical snag and were detected before they could wreak havoc. … (Times of India 9/10/15)

156. India Toothless Against Terror Unless We Remedy Policy, Law and Justice (12)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during his recent visit to the US, deplored that the United Nations had not been able to arrive at a definition of terrorism even after 70 years of its existence. “If defining it (terrorism) takes so much time, then how many years will it take to tackle terrorism,”he said. It is a fact that since 2000, the UN has been examining a draft paper on Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism. Opinion continues to be sharply divided over the definition of terrorism. One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter. It is unlikely that the differences would be resolved in the near future. However, the democratic countries generally agree on the ingredients of terrorism—that it is a criminal act which may involve killings, random or selective; the proximate target may be an individual but the ultimate target are the people; responsibility for violence is generally acknowledged; and that it thrives on outside support, which may be in terms of money, armaments or sanctuaries. The absence of a definition cannot be an excuse for not taking effective measures to tackle it. According to a recent report, Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) has mobilised terrorists belonging to groups like the Lashkar-e-Toiba, Jaish-e-Mohammed, Hizbul Mujahideen as well as Sikh militants for joint strikes in Punjab, Jammu and Kashmir, Delhi and other parts of India during the coming festival season. How are we going to deal with the threat? The government of India, on its part, would issue an alert to the state governments, which it has already done. State governments will pass on the information to the district police and intelligence agencies, and these would in turn pass them on to police stations. And, in the event of an actual incident, there would be the usual blame game between the Central and the state governments. We have been witnessing this brutal opera year after year. The police station is the basic unit that has to respond first and face the brunt of a terrorist attack. This unit continues to be very fragile. Manpower is inadequate, duties are round the clock, and the infrastructure in terms of buildings, transport, communications and forensic support is extremely poor. State governments unfortunately do not look upon expenditure for upgrade of capabilities of the police as an investment. The insensitivity of the bureaucracy to the simplest demands of the police is amazing. The Central government informed the Delhi High Court on September 30 that it was not in a position to sanction funds to augment the strength of Delhi Police by 16,000 personnel. The court expressed its unhappiness that the proposal in this regard was pending for the last three years. “You are worried about expenditure concerns but citizens of Delhi are worried about their security,” the court remarked. Expansion apart, there are huge vacancies. Across the country, more than five hundred thousand posts are lying vacant in different ranks. Tackling terrorism requires basically three things: clear policy, stringent laws and a good criminal justice system. We are deficient under all the three heads. We blame the UN for not defining terrorism, but we have not cared to define our own policy of dealing with terror. Merely saying ‘zero tolerance’ is not enough. Regarding a stringent law, there is terrible confusion in the country. Laws are passed and then allowed to lapse. We had TADA followed by POTA, and currently we have Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. The UAPA may have served our purpose to an extent, but considering the horrifying dimensions of terrorism in its latest avatar, with monsters of the Islamic State having registered their presence within the country, law needs to be given more teeth. About criminal justice system, the less said the better. Ten years ago, Justice Malimath said that it was “virtually collapsing”. The situation is worse today. We signed a Joint Declaration with the US on Combating Terrorism on September 23. It reaffirmed “the commitment of India and the United States to combat terrorism in all its forms which constitute a profound threat to global peace and security and to uphold our common values of democracy, justice and the rule of law”. Noble sentiments! However, we must remember that it is our battle and ultimately we shall have to fight it with our own strength. (New Indian Express 11/10/15)

157. Assam Rifles offers bounty for NSCN-K militants arrest (12)

Kohima: The Assam Rifles has announced a cash reward of Rs.2 lakh for the capture of NSCN-K militants Seiminthang Kuki and Lamang Kipgen for their involvement in kidnapping minor Naga boys from Nagaland for recruitment as child soldiers in NSCN-K. “They (three boys) were deceitfully transported to NSCN (K) training camp in Myanmar. Before they could be thrown into death and destruction by NSCN-K leaders, all three were rescued by Assam Rifles,” Assam Rifles spokesman Shailesh said. The rescued boys have been handed over to their parents in Nagaland’s Peren district, he said. He said the rescue was orchestrated through a series of cleverly crafted psychological manoeuvres, real-time sustained tracking and extensive communication for information-sharing with parents, civil society groups and influential tribal leaders. Shailesh said the three were lured away on the pretext of civil employment in Dimapur, the main commercial town of Nagaland, by NSCN-K militants identified as Seiminthang Kuki and Lamang Kipgen. “We have launched a massive manhunt for both Kuki and Kipgen who are suspected to be moving in the areas of Dimapur, Kohima, Zunheboto and Kiphire,” Shailesh said, adding that Rs.2 lakh in cash will be given to any individual providing credible information leading to their arrest. Last month, the Indian government banned NSCN-K for five years under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. (New Kerala 13/10/15)

158. 42 militants killed in Afghanistan operations (12)

KABUL: At least 42 Taliban militants were killed in military operations across Afghanistan within the last 24 hours, the country’s defence ministry said on Sunday. “A total of 42 terrorists were killed, 31 were injured and two others were detained as the army, police and intelligence agency personnel launched several joint military operations in different provinces over the past 24 hours,” Xinhua news agency quoted the ministry as saying. The security forces seized weapons and defused several roadside bombs and landmines, the statement added. A total of five army personnel also lost their lives during the 24-hour period, the statement said. The Taliban-led violence continues in Afghanistan. Afghan security forces have pressed on clearing the militants in restive provinces as they assumed the full security charges from NATO-led troops since January 1 this year. The Taliban militant group has yet to make comments. (Times of India 18/10/15)

159. Over 40 Hindu Outfits Across India Unite to Fight Islamic State (12)

COIMBATORE:  A group of more than forty Hindu outfits from all over the country have come together to form a new movement called ‘India Against Islamic States’. Ramesh Shinde, national spokesperson of ‘Hindu Janajagruti Samiti’ launched the website of the movement here on Monday. Pramod Muthalik, founder president of the Sri Ram Sena, who participated in the event told media persons that the movement has been formed to create awareness among the public about terrorism. He added that the movement is not against Muslims, but against terror activities carried out by terrorist organisations. Stressing that Muslims are being brain washed to join the Islamic State (IS) and vitimised later, he welcomed Muslims to join the movement. He also pointed out that some of the Indian youth who joined the IS through online recruitment have contacted the Indian government to help them return, after being abused. “Patriotic youth should unite and come forward to join the police and the armed forces to fight against terrorism.”, he added. Arjun Sampath, president of the Hindu Makkal Katchi said, “Earlier, they were called Islamic State of Iraq and Syria but now call thmselves Islamic State (IS), as they have begun targeting nations beyond Iraq and Syria.” “Usage of flags of IS and banners supporting them are widely seen in protests in Jammu & Kashmir and other parts of the nation. This movement will support the law-implementing agencies to nab such persons”, he added. Arjun Sampath also requested the state government to provide protection to those government offices, where ‘Aayudha Pooja’ is scheduled to be celebrated. He further said that he will start his campaign for the forthcoming assembly elections on November 1, at Palani. (New Indian Express 20/10/15)


160. Bastar village fears Maoist backlash (12)

BADRIMAHU (CHHATTISGARH): Bhima Barse, the deputy Sarpanch of Badrimahu village in Darbha block of Bastar is worried for his life since September 30 when local newspapers carried a report related to his village. “We saw a report in local newspapers that all the villagers from our village went to the police and demanded police protection due to Maoist menace. But the news was entirely false and we had made no such demand or request. Now we are scared that this side (Maoist) might target us,” Mr. Bhima told The Hindu. Almost every family of Badrimahu shares the deputy Sarpanch’s fears and is worried of the Maoist backlash all the more because the village is situated 15 km inside Darbha forest. “Our village never took side despite being in this conflict zone. But last year police arrested five villagers accusing them of being Maoist informers. A week ago, police promised to release those five villagers if all the villagers go to Darbha police station. They [police] did not even allow us to go to Khakhagav market in order to pressure us to be present in the Darbha police station on September 29,” said another villager on the request of anonymity. The Badrimahu villagers went to Darbha town on September 29 where a civic action programme was organised by the police in presence of Bastar range Inspector General (IG) of Police S.R.P. Kalluri. “They [police] distributed clothes, school uniforms and notebooks to some school children and villagers and we returned to our village. We never demanded the police protection but the police misled the media by giving false statement. Will the police now come to our village to protect us if Maoists target us? We were trying to be neutral but we have been caught midway in this conflict now,” rued another elderly villager. The deputy Sarpanch thinks that the police may have suspected Badrimahu as a “Maoist sympathiser village” because the village has no representation in the police force. “At least one person from each of our neighbouring villages works in the police force but no one from Badrimahu is in the police. What if the Maoists bar us from going out of the village? Badrimahu doesn’t even have a single ration shop, market or hospital,” he feared. Mr.Kalluri declined the requests from this correspondent for an interview to seek his response over the allegations levelled by Badrimahu villagers against Bastar police. The IG also did not respond to the messages from The Hindu. However, a police source said that Badrimahu village had been on police radar for the villagers’ support to the Maoists and frequent movements of Maoist troops were reported in the village over the past few months which may have resulted in the police propaganda to “teach villagers a lesson.” (The Hindu 4/10/15)

161. Maha: 502 Naxals surrender in 10 years; rehabilitated (12)

NAGPUR: Maharashtra government’s naxal surrender policy has yielded positive results with 502 Maoists giving up arms in the last 10 years and have been rehabilitated. Of these, 482 rebels have surrendered alone in Gadchiroli district, considered as a Naxal hotbed. The Maharashtra government had launched a Naxal surrender policy on August 29, 2005 which has been extended time and again till date, official sources from Anti-Naxalite Operations (ANO) of Maharashtra Police said. Around 502 Naxals have given up arms in the last 10 years. The first rebel to surrender was Madan Anna alias Balan Ballya in 2005, they said. “Police and district authorities motivate Naxals to give up their arms. In 2013 and 2014 around 49 and 40 Naxals surrendered respectively while 25 Maoists turned themselves in till September this year,” sources added. Among the ultras who have surrendered are one state zonal committee member, six divisional committee members, 16 commanders, 24 deputy commanders and 218 dalam members besides 110 Gram rakshak, 127 Sangam members, they said. According to them, while men are given skill training through Industrial Training Institute and taught motor vehicle driving, women are trained in sewing and selling vegetables. In Gadchiroli, Aheri, Sironcha, Bhamragarh and Etapalli are the most affected tehsils. (Times of India 6/10/15)

162. 3 TDP leaders abducted by Maoists in A.P. (12)

VISAKHAPATNAM: Three Telugu Desam Party leaders of G.K. Veedhi were abducted by a group of Maoists on Monday evening, according to reports reaching here. Telugu Desam Mandal party president Mamidi Balayya Padal, senior leader Vandalam Balayya and district committee member Mukkala Mahesh were taken away from their homes at Kothaguda village on Monday evening by a group of Maoists. On Tuesday morning CPI (Maoist) party east division secretary Kailasam sent a letter demanding that the Government stop bauxite mining plans, withdraw paramilitary forces from the Agency, stop harassing tribals and included some other demands. The fate of kidnapped persons is not known yet. This is the latest incident in the Agency area which is tense after Maoists stepped up their activity when the Telugu Desam Government made it clear that it would go ahead with bauxite mining. (The Hindu 7/10/15)

163. Hardcore woman Maoist surrenders (12)

BERHAMPUR: A hardcore woman Maoist Sarada Sabar (38) alias Sukumari who had gone underground since 2012 surrendered in Rayagada district of Odisha on Thursday before the local Superintendent of Police (SP) K. Siva Subramani. Earlier she was a key armed cadre of Bansadhara Division of outlawed CPI (Maoist) organisation while it was being led by Sabyasachi Panda, Uday and Azad. Several cases related to Maoist violence were pending against this woman who hailed from Pataguda village under Padmapur police station in Rayagada district. Deteriorating health condition, threat of exchange of fire with security forces, frustration towards violent activities and hardship had prompted her to return back to her village in 2012. She was also panicky of getting arrested by police for her past Maoist activity. So, to evade arrest she had preferred to escape to Bengaluru to go underground. Finally she had decided to return back to her home to lead normal life. So, she decided to surrender. According to police sources, she had been dragged into the violent organisation because of her first marriage. At the age of 18 years she had got married to one Prahlad Sabar. After three months of marriage, Prahlad had got influenced by Sabyasachi aand had joined the Maoist organisation. After two years Prahlad had persuaded Sarada to become a Maoist cadre. Prahlad had been killed in an accidental firing by his naxalite colleague whiel they were involved in the murder of a contractor named Madhav Sabar at Narayanpur in Gajapati district. Later she had got married to a Maoist named Prakash Kimbaka. Prakash had later surrendered before police. Sarada had married one Suku Sabar of Pataguda after that. She continues with this third marriage and wants to lead normal life again. According to the Rayagada SP, she would be rehabilitated as per norms of state government for surrendering naxalites. (The Hndu 9/10/15)

164. 156 Maoist supporters surrender (12)

BERHAMPUR: One hundred-and-fifty-six Maoist supporters including 25 militias surrendered before the police in Malkangiri district of Odisha on Monday. They reached the Malkangiri district police headquarters to express their desire before Malkangiri Superintendent of Police Mitrabhanu Mohapatra. They were from remote Darvaguda and Bodliguda villages under Kalimela police station limits. There were 48 women and 28 children in this group. Eleven Maoists from Bodliguda, 14 from Darvaguda and one village committee member of Naxalites from Darvaguda were part of this group of surrendering Maoist supporters. Since August 31, there has been a series of mass surrenders of Maoist supporters and militias in Malkangiri district. Around 1,000 of Maoist supporters, including more than 100 militias from remote Maoist-infested areas of Malkangiri district, have parted ways with the outlawed Maoist organisation. These surrenders hint at increased area domination by security forces in Malkangiri district that borders Naxalite-infested regions of Andhra Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. (The Hindu 13/10/15)

165. Naxals set truck on fire, abduct its helper in Chhattisgarh (12)

RAIPUR: Naxals set ablaze a truck and allegedly kidnapped its helper in Chhattisgarh’s Narayanpur district, police said on Monday. “A group of Naxals torched an empty truck of a private transport company and abducted its helper near Bodra nullah under Benoor police station limits late last night,” Narayanpur Sub—Divisional Officer of Police C. D. Tirki said. The vehicle was heading towards Benoor from Narayanpur when about 12 armed ultras stopped it near Bodra nullah. After forcing the the truck’s driver and helper to alight they burnt the vehicle, he said. While escaping from the spot after the offence, they allegedly took the helper alongwith them assuring the driver that they would release him after a few hours. However, no communication has been received till now about his whereabouts, the officer said. Soon after getting news of the incident, security forces were rushed to search the area, he said adding that efforts were on to trace the kidnapped person and the culprits. – PTI (The Hindu 13/10/15)

166. Maoists abduct businessmen in Chhattisgarh (12)

Bijapur: The Maoists abducted two businessmen from Yampur village of Chhattisgarh’s Bijapur district yesterday. The Maoists, also known as ‘Naxals’, are said to be India’s greatest internal security threat. The Maoists claim to be supported by the poorest of the rural population, especially the Adivasis. They have frequently targeted tribal, police and government workers in what they say is a fight for improved land rights and more jobs for neglected agricultural labourers and the poor. The Maoist insurgency gained international media attention after the 2013 Naxal attack in Darbha valley which resulted in the deaths of around 24 Indian National Congress leaders including former state minister Mahendra Karma and then Chhattisgarh Congress chief Nand Kumar Patel. (New Kerala 18/10/15)

167. Attappadi Attack: Police Continue Hunt for Maoists (12)

PALAKKAD:  The police personnel squad continued their search of the Attappadi forests on Sunday in the light of the encounter of police and Maoists at Kadakkumanna. The Agali police said that the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act has been slapped on the five members who were seen on Saturday. They said they were assisted by personnel of the Thunderbolts, Kerala Anti Terrorists Squad (KATS) and Indian Reserve Batallion. In the background of the statements by the tribals of Kadakkamanna ooru, the police have identified two of the five-member team which included a woman. They were Soman, a native of  Wayanad, and the other was Ayyappan of Panniyoorpadi in Pudur panchayat of Attappadi itself. Police sources said that since there were members from Attappadi, these people would have retreated to Karuvara in the Silent Valley forests which was dense. A host of members of the Police reached Attappadi on Sunday. They were DySPs (Special branch) M L Sunil, Satheesan, S Wahid and S Shanawaz entered the Attappadi forests. Superintendent of Police N Vijayakumar told Express that during the search operations in the Kadakkumanna area on Sunday empty brass shell bullet cases and two unused shells were recovered. The police, under the leadership of the Agali police, circle inspector K M Devassia and sub-inspector Benoy on Sunday also led two teams into the Attappadi forest area. Meanwhile, ballistic, finger print and forensic experts who arrived from Ernakulam inspected the items recovered from the Maoists who abandoned them in Palakkad on Sunday. Two bags were abandoned by the Maoists while retreating into the forests on Saturday. They contained some clothes, soaps, small knives, plastic sheets and some vessels. These items which were brought to Palakkad was inspected by the forensic and finger print experts. The Deputy Superintendent of Police S. Shanawaz who was investigating the Maoist attacks in Attappadi will submit a report on the developments in Attappadi in the last two days to the National Investigation Agency (NIA). (New Indian Express 19/10/15)


168. Key accused in women trafficking case held (1)

In a major breakthrough to the probe on trafficking of women to the Middle East through Nedumbassery and Thiruvananthapuram airports, the prime accused in the trafficking of women has landed in the Interpol custody in Dubai. CBI sources said K.V. Suresh, a native of Valappad in Thrissur, was arrested by the Interpol in connection with the case registered in 2012. Investigations had revealed that Suresh had played a key role in trafficking of women during 2007-12. He used to supply them to prostitution rackets in Muscat, Sharjah, Dubai, and Ajman. A team of officials had left for Dubai to expedite other formalities in bringing Suresh to India. (The Hindu 3/10/15)

169. Trafficking issue: chief secretary to hold meet today (1)

New Delhi: With the capital becoming a hub of trafficking cases, the Delhi government has called a meeting of a state-level coordination committee under the chairmanship of the chief secretary on Monday. The committee, set up on the orders of Supreme Court, was reconstituted in 2012 and will meet for the first time since then to plan the course of action to combat trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation of women and children. The committee was set up in 1998 and reconstituted during the third term of Congress-led state government. All stakeholders, including departments like women and child development, health, labour, social welfare, and law and justice will attend the meet. Corporations, Delhi Police and voluntary organisations working on the issue, too, will attend. In a first, the Delhi Commission for Women will be a special invitee to to monitor the proceedings. DCW chief, Swati Maliwal, has been repeatedly raising concern over growing cases of trafficking and the attention needed to prevent exploitation of women and children brought to Delhi on the pretext of jobs. Speaking to TOI, lawyer and founder of NGO Shakti Vahini, Ravi Kant, also a member of the committee, said, “The aim was coordination between departments so that a case can be dealt with smoothly, and to ensure proper rehabilitation by bringing all stakeholders on board. With Delhi being the main destination where these people are brought, convergence is the need of the hour. It needs to extend right up to shelter homes and also encompass the DLSA.” (Times of India 5/10/15)

170. Varanasi firm under probe for ‘trafficking of Nepalese nationals’ (1)

BELAHIYA/ SUNAULI (NEPAL BORDER): A company, tantalisingly named WinWin, has for some time been luring poverty-stricken youths out of their homes in the remote hills of Nepal to India in the hope of acquiring a better life. But now, WinWin — that describes itself as a skill development company from Varanasi, the high-profile constituency of Prime Minister Narendra Modi — is under the scanner for suspected links with a well-organised international human trafficking racket. “We have received several reports on the activities of the company. Investigations have been launched,” Inspector-General of Police (Varanasi Zone) Amrendra K. Sengar told The Hindu. In the past few months alone, an estimated 60,000 Nepalese nationals, mostly young women, are believed to have crossed over to India hoping to join the company. In the early hours of September 22, as The Hindu team waits at the Belahiya border check point, it is witness to Nepalese police personnel intercepting a WinWin “trafficking” agent attempting to smuggle out two girls from northern Nepal. “You are a liar! This is the fourth time you have been caught red-handed. Why have you been doing this again and again, putting lives of innocent girls at risk?” shouts an infuriated policeman at the agent. Later, the policeman tells us: “The emerging trend is that traffickers have started targeting vulnerable sections in the areas not affected in the April earthquake, as most agencies have been focussing on pockets that witnessed massive devastation.” Wary of disclosing his identity, the young suspect insists it is his maiden trip to Varanasi with the girls to enrol them in a WinWin skill development programme. The company is suspected to be run by two Nepali nationals. “I recently learnt about the firm from my friends in my village Phalaban in Salyan [in northern Nepal]. Lots of people are going there for training … they offer 20-35 per cent returns. I have invested Rs.1.5 lakh and hope to get the first instalment this month,” claims the agent. “The victims pay Rs.1.5 to 2 lakh per head to the company and then are made to operate as agents for bringing in more candidates from the remote hills of Nepal, on the promise of huge returns. We cannot stop the girls who are majors and carry valid citizenship papers,” says another policeman. At Belahiya, a volunteer with Maiti Nepal, a non-governmental organisation, tells us that on an average, 600 girls cross into India every day: “Everyone wants to join this company in Varanasi. They have with them only a card of the firm carrying its name, WinWin, no other details. We don’t know where exactly these girls are being taken,” he says. Trafficking of Nepalese nationals across the border is not a new phenomenon, but after an earthquake devastated Nepal in April this year, security personnel say there has been a spike in the outflow of young women looking for jobs abroad: this became tellingly evident after the case of the Saudi diplomats in Delhi recently. Free movement. Thanks to the friendship agreement between India and Nepal, there is free movement of people from both sides, making the task of the police that much harder. Only those accompanied by suspicious persons, and not having genuine papers, get intercepted, counselled and sent back. For the moment, it is the NGOs that appear the most concerned: Rishi Kant of NGO Shakti Vahini stresses, “If the information on this company is correct, it needs to be investigated by senior police officers in Uttar Pradesh, in coordination with the State Principal Secretary (Home) and the External Affairs Ministry. The Nepali government also needs to be alerted.” (The Hindu 6/10/15)

171. 23 children go missing everyday in Madhya Pradesh (1)

Bhopal: In August this year, the case of 10-year-old Nishant Zope of Saket Nagar in Bhopal made headlines across the country. The boy went missing on his way to school on August 14 and was found in the jungles of Gairatganj in the neighbouring Raisen district, about 40 km from Bhopal, after eight days. The case remained under constant media glare and police surveillance and the final result was happy. But this is not always the case. On July 5, a family of labourers returned from Delhi to Sagar railway station. A youth started playing with the toddler girl of the family while the tired mother dozed off on the platform. When the woman woke up, she found her daughter and the youth missing. The girl is yet to be traced. Despite several initiatives on the part of the Madhya Pradesh government, especially under the directives of Supreme Court, children continue to go missing in large numbers in the state. Statistics of last eight years (2007 to 2014) of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of MP police shows that 66,462 children, including 33,925 girls, were reported missing in the state – which translates into about 23 kids going missing every day. An analysis of the statistics by NGO Vikas Samvad shows that 6,285 children of these children still remain untraced, indicating that for every ten children that go missing, one never returns. More importantly, of all the untraced children, 4,526 — 72% — are girls. The fact that children from big cities are more vulnerable is shown by fact that 26.5% of the missing children (17,628) were reported from the four cities of Gwalior, Indore, Bhopal and Jabalpur. However, largest numbers of children trafficked are from tribes-dominated districts like Mandla, Dindori, Balaghat, Seoni, Shahdol, Umariya, the report by Vikas Samvad, based on statistics and case studies showsSachin Jain, a member of the NGO, told HT that the analysis of the situation suggests that though the government had taken initiatives to set up necessary infrastructure for child protection and recovery, lack of coordination and convergence between various authorities acts as deterrent to solving this problem. “One of the biggest missing links is also the lack of sociological and criminal impact study about the missing children. Reasons are not looked at in-depth and thus, solutions are not arrived at,” he said. He added that laggard attitude of police added to the problem. “If a child remains missing for over four months, the case should be investigated as that of trafficking. But this hardly happens.” Archana Sahay of Bhopal Child Line said that anti-trafficking units (ATU) of the police have been set up in 16 districts and child protection committees of the women and child development department have also been constituted in all districts. “But the basic issue is that of orientation and prioritization, which is lacking,” she said. Inspector general (coordination) of CID, MP, AK Gupta, said that the police conducts special drives (Operation Muskaan) to recover missing kids. “The focus is sharper during such drives but at other times, the police have to prioritise their work. We try to do our best in each case,” he said. (Hindustan Times 9/10/15)

172. Minors rescued from being trafficked to Nepal (1)

RANCHI: Victims of cross border trafficking from Ranchi were rescued at Motihari district of Bihar as they were being taken to Nepal to perform in ‘orchestra’. Residents of Jagganathpur area of Ranchi, the three girls were between the age 15-17. While the rescue operation was done on Thursday, the fact about girls being from Ranchi was disclosed only after they were counselled on Saturday. The girls are presently kept and are being counselled at Mahila Alpavas Grih in Motihari. Chairperson of Motihari child welfare committee, Sangeeta Sinha said, “The matter is in our cognition. We have heard that one of the girls has also accused the trafficker of doing something wrong with her. We are waiting for the medical test report and the statement of girls recorded by the police to take further action.”  The matter came to light after Bharatiya Kisan Sangh, an NGO of Ranchi got information about girls being trafficked from Jharkhand around two days ago. Director of BKS, Sanjay Mishra said, “We had information that the girls were somewhere in Bihar so we contacted our partner Ngo ‘Sakhi’ in Bihar. With the support of Motihari police, they were able to rescue the three girls but they were unsure about the hometown of girls as the girls were very scared to talk. It was only after counselling on Saturday that we were assured about girls being from Ranchi.” During the rescue, one Rajesh Prasad Sahni, who was taking the girls to Nepal was also arrested. In charge of Haraiya OP, an outpost of Raxaul police station at Motihari, Jaiprakash Prasad, who is looking into the case said, “FIR has been lodged against Sahni under section 374 of Indian Penal Code for unlawful compulsory labour. The girls informed that they were being taken by the man with promise of paying them Rs.600 per day to perform in the orchestra.” Sanjay Mishra of BKS said, “The girls said that they are being taken to perform in orchestra but the truth is that it is nothing more than a dance bar where they might have been sexually exploited. It was the immediate intervention of police and our NGO partners that the three girls were saved from the miseries they may have landed in.” A team of BKS will depart for Motihari on Monday to bring home the three girls. (Times of India 11/10/15)

173. All 15,000 maid agencies in Delhi operate without government licences (1)

New Delhi: It may sound shocking but it’s true. A DCW study has found that not one of the estimated 15,000 agencies running in Delhi that help recruit domestic maids has obtained a government licence. Incidentally, this is in a city that is notorious for treating helps as sex slaves and bonded labourers. One year after Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung issued an executive order to ‘regulate’ such agencies, only 1,250 have ‘registered’ but nobody has bothered to get the ‘mandatory’ business licence to operate. Now, Labour Minister Gopal Rai has said that these agencies were being served notices to get licences or lose registration. Moreover, the registration process itself is flawed. Delhi government’s Labour Department does the registration online without verifying any of the details provided by the agency owner. Subsequently, a certificate is provided on the website in five minutes. This can then be used as a ‘government approval letter’ to fool customers looking for maids and also the police. These are the findings of the Delhi Commission for Women (DCW), which sought details of placement agencies from the Labour Department. DCW Chairperson Swati Maliwal had written to Labour Minister Gopal Rai, saying, “Unregulated placement agencies are responsible for human trafficking in India. During our visits to GB Road, we learnt that placement agencies brought most such women from their hometowns with lure of jobs and then selling them to brothels or houses as maids.” She said the role of such agencies came to light in the recent case of two Nepalese women who were raped in the house of a Saudi diplomat in Gurgaon. On Monday, she told Mail Today: “Of the list of private placement agencies provided to us, 1,250 had registered. However, nobody had authenticated the details provided by them. Also, not a single agency has so far deemed it necessary to get the compulsory licence. Various NGOs tell us that at least 15,000 such agencies are operating in Delhi.” Minister Rai assured that notices were being sent to these 1,250 agencies to get licence, failing which their registrations will be cancelled. Speaking about those which have not even registered, he said, “As and when we get any complaint regarding them, we will take action.” Now, a committee headed by Delhi Legislative Assembly Deputy Speaker Vandana Kumari and also having representatives from various NGOs is drafting Delhi’s ‘Placement Agency Regulation Act’ to address this issue. Incidentally, Chhattisgarh already has such an act while Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal are in the process of following suit. NGOs have cautioned that more speedy action is required as the illicit ‘placement’ business is jeopardising lives of hundreds of girls every day. Rishi Kant of Shakti Vahini said, “These are conservative figures. If you look at an area like Shakarpur (in east Delhi), a placement agency is operating from every house. The actual number of such agencies could go up to 30,000. They procure girls from states like Jharkhand and Bengal and supply them to areas as far as Lucknow, Jaipur and Chandigarh.” (India Today 13/10/15)

174. Centre bats for new comprehensive law on human trafficking (1)

NEW DELHI: The Centre on Tuesday told the Supreme Court that instead of amending certain provisions in existing statutes, there was a need for a “comprehensive legislation” to tackle all aspects of human trafficking. The ministry of women and child development, which along with National Legal Services Authority, was hailed by the court for their efforts to deal with the issue of prevention of trafficking of girls for sexual exploitation, their rescue and rehabilitation, told the bench headed by justice A R Dave that there was a need to have a separate law. “…During the course of further discussions, some members mentioned that the amendment proposed to the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act and the Protection of Children Against Sexual Offences (POCSO) is confined to defining sexual exploitation only. “This does not appear to be sufficient as other forms of exploitation may also be covered under the Acts administered by other Ministries such as Home Affairs, Labour and Employment, Indian overseas affairs, health and external affairs. “Thereupon, it was unanimously felt that a comprehensive legislation to tackle all aspects of trafficking should be considered …,” the Centre said in its affidavit filed before the bench that also comprised Justices M B Lokur and Kurian Joseph. Referring to a recent Central Advisory Committee (CAC) meeting of states and UTs, it also said a decision to notify Standard operating Procedure (SOP) to deal with trafficking has been taken. The CAC, which will now meet once in a three months, also decided that “MHA will issue guidelines on safe repatriation of victims of trafficking”.The affidavit, filed in pursuance of court’s order in a PIL on the issue of girls’ trafficking, also said the ministry of women and child development (MWCD)will set up a standing committee, having representatives of ministries of home affairs, labour and employment, Indian overseas affairs, health and external affairs, NALS and some NGOs to deal with the issue. “The standing committee will prepare a plan of action covering amendments to Laws/ITPA, standardisation of SOPs, mechanism to control trafficking and other issues discussed. To begin with, the standing committee will meet once in a month …,” it said. The ministry of women and child development also told the bench that the CAC and the standing committee have dicussed in detail the report of NALSA on the issue of girls trafficking. NALSA, in its report filed with the apex court, had suggested roles of various stakeholders in the prevention, rescue and rehabilitation of victims of trafficking for commercial and sexual exploitation. The report has sought a direction to the Centre that an organized crime investigation agency be set up to investigate the cases of human trafficking and organised crime. Terming the women and children as “vulnerable to sexual exploitation”, the NALSA had recommended among other things a direction by the Supreme Court to the legislature to define term “sexual exploitation”.The NALSA had said there was a strong linkage between “trafficking and missing persons”.It had also suggested that the standard operating procedure, as devised to handle cases of missing children, can be “suitably adopted” in cases of trafficking of girl child. The NALSA had also recommended creation of “comprehensive source of data on missing and trafficked persons”.Earlier, the court had asked the NALSA to file its report on measures which can be adopted to curb child trafficking and prostitution and ensure the rehabilitation of victims. (Times of India 14/10/15)

175. ‘Jharkhand kids turn to trafficking agent after crop loss’ (1)

Ranchi: A drought-like situation in villages compelled nine children from Lohardaga district to accept an alleged trafficking agent’s proposal and leave for working as labourers in Assam tea gardens, child welfare committee (CWC) member Balkrishna Singh said on Sunday. The children, including seven girls, under 15 years of age were counselled by the Lohardaga CWC on Saturday after their rescue from Lohardaga-Ranchi Express on Thursday afternoon, he said. “Parents of the rescued children during counselling said all their crops had dried off and they had no other option but to send their children to work as child labourers,” said Singh. He said the children did not have any past experience of working as labourers and were lured by a local agent identified as Suresh Kumar, now under arrest. The children from Pesrar block also told Singh they were running short of food grains at home and were in acute crisis. They have been sent to their homes, said Singh. Jharkhand, with 16.57 lakh hectare cultivable land, has registered 94% paddy sowing this year. Drought-prone Palamu and Garwah districts have recorded 70% sowing, according to the state agriculture department. While the output of the sowing will be known in October-end when harvesting begins, the uneven distribution of monsoon rain and poor irrigation facilities have led to premature drying of crops in many pockets, pushing the state towards drought, say agriculturists. The estimated crop loss in Lohardaga, the district these rescued children belong to, is about 35% in paddy, said state agriculture minister Randhir Singh. Ranchi, Simdega, Garwah, Palamu and Hazaribagh have about 30% estimated paddy crop loss, West Singbhum and Lohardaga around 35% and Santhal Parganas about 20%, Singh said citing the latest figures with the agriculture department. Activists claim the drought-like situation in trafficking-prone Jharkhand is working in favour of the local agents who sell young Jharkhand girls and boys to other parts of the country as slaves. At least 30,000 children are trafficked from Jharkhand to other parts of the country every year, say activists. “The agents exploit crisis situations like the one prevailing in the state at present. The drought is making it easier for them to convince the parents of children in villages,” said Baijnath Kumar, anti-human trafficking activist who was a part of the team that rescued the minors. (Hindustan Times 19/10/15)



176. Rs 3770cr black money hidden abroad comes in as compliance window closes (5)

New Delhi, Oct 1 (PTI): The government has received Rs 3,770 crore from 638 declarations under the one-time black money compliance window that closed on September 30. The money comes from hitherto undisclosed foreign assets. “These figures are subject to final reconciliation,” the finance ministry said in a statement based on figures provided to it by the Central Board of Direct Taxes. It added that tax at the rate of 30 per cent and penalty at the rate of 30 per cent is to be paid by December 31, 2015. The window, created under the new Act to check black money, saw a hectic rush on the last day as declarants made a beeline to meet the deadline at the only income-tax office designated here for the task. The Black Money (Undisclosed Foreign Income and Assets) and Imposition of Tax Act, 2015, was enacted to deal with the menace of black money stashed abroad. The Act also provided for a compliance window for a limited period to persons who have undisclosed foreign assets which they had not disclosed for the purposes of income-tax so far,” the statement added. The compliance window opened on July 1, 2015. It said the officer designated to receive declarations worked till midnight even as the e-filing portal was also open till midnight to receive the declarations. (The Telegraph 1/10/15)

177. Maya evasive on CBI queries on scam (5)

New Delhi: The CBI has questioned BSP chief Mayawati in connection with the multi-crore National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) scam in Uttar Pradesh when she was chief minister. She was questioned on Monday to elicit more information on the scam, official sources said. During her questioning, she is learnt to have not given clear answers to the queries raised by the investigators. Sources said Mayawati had even expressed her ignorance about certain decisions taken by her administration at the time of the scam. Her questioning came as the CBI claimed it has some evidence against her on bifurcation of Health and Family Welfare Department and creation of 100 posts of district project officers. Mayawati has not given any response after the questioning. However, she had earlier accused the Narendra Modi government of misusing country’s premier anti-corruption agency to settle political scores. She had described the decision to question her as “political vendetta”. She had also claimed that she has no connection to the scam that runs into Rs 10,000 crore. In its FIR, the CBI claimed that the bifurcation of department was done so that the NRHM funds could be placed directly under the charge of the Department of Family Welfare which was under the then minister Babu Singh Kushwaha, who was arrested and chargesheeted by the agency. Huge sum has been siphoned off by politicians, bureaucrats and doctors from the funds meant for the NRHM, which is meant to provide healthcare facilities to people in rural areas. There were irregularities in the supply of medicines and medical equipment. As many as five persons had died or were allegedly murdered in an attempt to cover up the large-scale irregularities in the case.  The CBI has registered over 60 cases and filed a number charge sheets in the NRHM scam, naming several top leaders and officers.  A number of doctors, private contractors and MLAs were probed for irregularities in the contracts related to medicines ambulances. (Deccan Herald 3/10/15)

178. Panel on Lokpal gets 3rd extension till November (5)

New Delhi: The deadline for a parliamentary panel examining the bill on anti-corruption watchdog Lokpal for submission of its report has been extended for a third time till November 15. The 31-member Parliame-ntary Standing Committee on Personnel, Public Griev-ances, Law and Justice, headed by Congress MP E.M. Sudarsana Natchiappan, is examining the Lokpal and Lokayuktas and Other Related Law (Amendment) Bill, 2014. “We have got extension till November 15. The report is being finalised and it will be submitted in time,” Mr Natchiappan said. The panel was expected to submit its report last month-end. The amendment bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha on December 18 last year after which it was referred to the Committee on December 22. It was asked to submit its report by March 25 this year. The panel had got first extension till July 30 to complete its task. (Asian Age 5/10/15)

179. Vyapam Scam: Cops File Charge Sheet Against Pankaj Trivedi (5)

INDORE: Lokayukta police today filed a charge sheet in a special court against Pankaj Trivedi, one of the prime accused in the Vyapam scam. Trivedi is a fomer controller of examination of Vyavsayik Pariksha Mandal (Vyapam). The special court also served a production warrant against Trivedi to facilitate his personal appearance before it on October 19. Special Judge B K Paloda accepted the plea of Lokayukta police stating that personal appearance of Trivedi, who is currently lodged in Bhopal jail, in the court, will expeditehis prosecution. On January 29 last year, Lokayukta police had raided his place in Indore and Bhopal and found wealth allegedly amassed by him disproportionate to known sources of his income. Following this, he was booked under Prevention of Corruption Act. According to a prosecution officer, he had accummulated wealth to the tune of around Rs 84 lakh which include movableand immovable properties. Trivedi, along with others, had allegedly pocketed huge money as bribes from hundreds of students and people for helping them to crack the Pre Medical Tests (PMTs) and other recruitment tests conducted by Vyapam or MP Professional Examination Board (MPPEB) unlawfully. Trivedi, along with others, had allegedly rigged many PMT and recruitment tests under Vyapam scam. The much-talked about Vyapam scam is being investigated by CBI following an apex court’s order. (New Indian Express 9/10/15)

180. Black money: CBI raids at 50 sites (5)

New Delhi: The CBI on Sunday conducted searches at 50 locations and started questioning of some of the suspects in its probe into alleged black money transfer of `6,000 crore to Hong Kong through Bank of Baroda camouflaged as payments for “non-existent imports”. Sources in the agency said most of the 59 account holder companies, which had allegedly sent these remittances in the garb of payments for suspected non-existent imports, have given wrong addresses. However, the agency managed to zero down on the prime suspects in the case and some of them were questioned at the CBI headquarters here. “The Central Bureau of Investigation has registered a case under section 120-B (criminal conspiracy) read with 420 (cheating) of IPC and Section 13(2) read with 13(1)(d) of Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 against 59 current account holders and unknown bank officials and private persons on a complaint from Bank of Baroda,” according to CBI spokesperson here. The FIR alleged that “59 current account holders and unknown bank officials conspired to send overseas remittances, mostly to Hong Kong, of foreign exchange worth approximately `6,000 crores in illegal and irregular manner in violation of established banking norms under the garb of payments towards suspected non-existent imports”. The Enforcement Directorate has also registered a case and carried out searches in this connection. On Saturday, the Congress had raised the issue demanding an inquiry into the matter. “It was strange that the money was sent to buy cashew, pulses and rice from Hong Kong,” Congress spokesperson R.P.N. Singh had said. Sources in CBI said the bank had carried out an internal probe after an audit and red flagged nearly 8000 transactions done from its Ashok Vihar branch here. They said the account holders who were allegedly sending these payments to Hong Kong had claimed that these were advances for imports of cashew, rice, etc whereas no such imports ever took place. (Asian Age 12/10/15)

181. CBI moves SC against HC order on Virbhadra Singh (5)

New Delhi: The CBI on Thursday moved the Supreme Court, seeking urgent hearing on its plea challenging Himachal Pradesh High Court’s order granting protection against possible arrest and other relief to Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh and his wife in a disproportionate assets case. A Bench headed by Chief Justice H.L. Dattu agreed to hear CBI’s two petitions on reopening of the court after the Dussehra break. Additional Solicitor General P.S. Patwalia, appearing for the agency, said the High Court order has virtually stalled the investigation process by granting relief, such as protection from arrest and no interrogation of accused without its prior permission. He said that the High Court has not only restrained CBI from arresting the Chief Minister but also embargoed it from filing charge-sheet. The Himachal Pradesh HC had, on October 1, restrained the CBI from arresting Mr. Singh and his wife in the DA case. Admitting the petition of Mr. Singh, the High Court had also directed the CBI to keep the court informed before interrogating the couple. The Chief Minister had filed a petition in the High Court pleading that the raids on his private residence and other premises were conducted with “malafide intentions and political vendetta” by the investigating agency. (The Hindu 15/10/15)

182. Yet Another Chargesheet in Lokayukta Scam (5)

BENGALURU:The Special Investigating Team (SIT) filed another chargesheet in connection with the Lokayukta extortion scam relating to a complaint filed by an engineer of the Public Works Department. This is the fourth chargesheet of the scam. The accused are Ashwin Y, son of Lokayukta Justice Y Bhaskar Rao, tout V Bhaskar, Narasimhamurthy, an FDA attached to police head quarters and another tout and realtor Hotte Krishna. The accused were booked under Sections 384, 420, 506 read with 120 (B) of IPC. The FIR is registered based on the complaint filed by PWD engineer Udayshankar. He is one of the accused in the Rs 600-crore scam reported in the PWD’s Magadi subdivision and the same is being investigated by the police wing of the anti-corruption body.  Udayshankar reportedly agreed to pay some money from the general provident fund withdrawn to bear the expenses of his daughter’s marriage. Udayshankar paid Rs 5 lakh. (New Indian Express 16/10/15)

183. Rail Neer scam: CBI to dig deep, to probe company, society of Railway officials (5)

New Delhi:    A company and a society, linked to suspended Railway officials facing CBI probe in connection with alleged corruption in supply of packaged drinking water in premium trains, have come under the agency’s scanner which suspects these were used for camouflaging illegal remittances received from private caterers. CBI sources said Sandeep Silas, a 1984-batch Indian Railway Traffic Service (IRTS) officer, has been involved in a project of his own, besides, being a very active player in the cultural scene of the national capital. The project run by Silas, Garland of Peace, has come under the scanner of the agency which will see weather any bribes were paid through it, they said, adding that all funds which came to the project and other cultural activities of Silas would also be probed. Sources said a company run by the son of M S Chaliam, another Railway officer facing CBI probe in the case, has also come under the probe of the agency. CBI suspects private catering companies could have paid illegal remittances to the officer through the company run by his son for alleged favours shown to them for supplying inferior quality of packaged drinking water on premium trains. The sources clarified that both the angles were at the initial stage of probe, which would be investigated in depth to arrive at any logical conclusion. CBI has registered a case against Chaliam, Silas and seven private companies — RK Associates Pvt Ltd, Satyam Caterers Pvt Ltd, Ambuj Hotel and Real Estate, PK Associates Pvt Ltd, Sunsine Pvt Ltd, Brandavan Food Product and Food World — under the provisions of Prevention of Corruption Act. (Business Standard 18/10/15)


184. Environmentalists welcome India’s climate action plans (9)

New Delhi: Environmentalists have welcomed India’s climate action plans, which they said are better than the targets set by the United States and China, the two biggest polluters of the world. “India’s climate plan builds on the progress the country has made to expand its renewable energy deployment. As one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change, India’s targets are good,” said Nitin Pandit, chief executive officer of the India wing of the World Resources Institute. A quick analysis by the Centre for Science and Environment backs up the WRI assertions. “India’s INDC is fair and is quite ambitious, specifically on renewable energy and forestry,” says Sunita Narain, director general, CSE. India’s emissions intensity targets are similar to that of China’s. While India pledged to reduce the emissions intensity of its GDP by 33 to 35 per cent by 2030, below 2005 levels, China’s pledge is to decrease the emissions intensity of its GDP by 60 to 65 per cent in the same period. As a result, both countries will have almost same emission intensity levels. India’s pledge to install 40 per cent of its total electricity capacity from non-fossil fuel-based sources is more ambitious than that of the US. “Forty per cent of electricity from renewable energy by 2030 is definitely possible, especially so with financial and technical support,” said Pujarini Sen, Climate and Energy Campaigner for Greenpeace India. In contrast, even under the most ambitious Clean Power Plan of President Barack Obama, the US will only have about 30 per cent of its electricity capacity on non-fossils by 2030. India envisages about 250-300 GW of solar and wind energy capacity, while the US will reach 275 GW solar and wind capacity by 2030 and China has pledged 300 GW solar and wind power in the same period. The forestry target, too, is ambitious. It intends to create an additional carbon sink of 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent through additional forests. (Deccan Herald 2/10/15)

185. India leads Asia’s dash for coal as emissions blow east (9)

Magadh: For climate change, India is a make-or-break player Seeking nirvana from carbon emissions through renewable energy India is now world’s fastest-growing major polluter India eyes a million jobs from renewable energy by 2022 India’s energy mix to have 40% renewable sources by 2030Deep in the thickly forested hills in its east, India last month started production at what it hopes will in five years be Asia’s biggest coal mine. At the open-cast mine, which involves the clearing of more than 18,000 hectares (44,500 acres) of land, noisy excavators are busy digging for coal that will feed a huge power plant being built nearby to fuel India’s energy-hungry economy. India is opening a mine a month as it races to double coal output by 2020, putting the world’s third-largest polluter at the forefront of a pan-Asian dash to burn more of the dirty fossil fuel that environmentalists fear will upend international efforts to contain global warming. Close to 200 nations are set to meet at a United Nations summit from Nov 30-Dec 11 to hammer out a deal to slow man-made climate change by weaning countries off fossil fuels. China has promised to restrict public funding for coal and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is trumpeting investment in renewable energy, but in Asia’s biggest economies the reality is that coal is still regarded as the easiest source of energy. “Environment is non-negotiable but we can’t live without coal. You can’t wish away coal,” said Anil Swarup, the top official in India’s coal ministry, who is leading the push to open new mines like Magadh, in poor but resource-rich Jharkhand state. “There is a temporary drop in demand, but no question of reducing coal output. We are well short of coal required in the country.”….. (Business Standard 6/10/15)

186. CSE sounds alarm on number of commercial vehicles entering Delhi (9)

New Delhi: A study released by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) India has pointed out that the estimate by the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) — about the number of trucks entering the capital in a given period — is seriously flawed. Based on the findings of a survey conducted at nine major entry points for commercial vehicles, the CSE has claimed that at least 70 per cent more trucks enter the capital every day. The survey, commissioned by CSE, was conducted by using video recording at these entry points between June 29 and July 18. All categories of trucks and other commercial vehicles in the MCD’s database were counted, said CSE experts. “This study has become necessary as it is clear that Delhi cannot fight its battle against pollution without addressing the enormous pollution contributed by the trucks crossing its borders daily. The delay in building the two expressways has cost the city dear in terms of pollution,” said Anumita Roychowdhury, executive director of CSE. This survey, conducted by M/s V R Techniche Consultants Pvt Ltd, covered the nine entry points through which nearly 75 per cent of commercial vehicles enter the capital. (Indian Express 8/10/15)

187. ‘Environment study has failed to cover all flanks’ (9)

THANJAVUR: Taking into account a spectrum of issues and factors, the Expert Technical Committee, formed by the government to look into the matter of exploration and production of coal bed methane project of M/S Great Eastern Energy Corporation Limited in the Mannargudi Coal Bed Methane (CBM) block over an extant of 691 sq km in Thanjavur and Tiruvarur districts, proposed either rejection or review of the project. Criticising the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) study for its failure to cover all flanks, the panel wanted a more detailed EIA that would throw light on vital information on the hydro geological history of the block, trace element data, isotopic composition of groundwater and possible leakage of methane gas in the aquifers among others. Calculating the derivative results of the project, the committee report stated that over 25 years of production life, the quantum of gas proposed to be extracted from all the CBM blocks might be two million cubic metres per day, just enough to fire a 450 MW power plant for 25 years. That was not a substantial quantum of energy considering the other adverse impacts of the project. Further the panel, as stated in the GO, pointed out that the rice production in the target area of 4,266 acres of fertile land would feed 2.77 lakh people lifelong. But the production phase of the project would benefit just 1,000 skilled or semi-skilled workers daily. To arrive at the cost benefit analysis of the project, gas value as well as complete data on existing consumers, proposed growth of vehicle population, cost of alternate fuel, damage caused to the environment, socio impact assessment needed to be calculated. The GEECL had not done the survey, the GO maintained based on the committee report. The panel pointed out that the United Nations Development Programme had investigated the area and suggested that methane exploration would lead to land subsidence, leading to geotectonic movement. Continuous drawal of groundwater on a large scale would further deplete its level affecting the people of the region. The GEECL had not produced the approval of the Central Ground Water Authority or the State PWD that were the competent agencies for such issues, the committee had stated. There were chances of methane emission and other air pollutants from CBM well sites. Toxic emission and atmospheric thermal inversion would take place thereby causing reduction in rainfall, the recommendations stated. The Vaduvur Birds Sanctuary located on the south western part of the Mannargudi CBM block might be affected by way of noise pollution, atmospheric heat and toxicity that might force the birds migrate. Thousands of gas wells drilled could never be removed and there was always the lurking danger of gas pipeline explosion inflicting irreparable damage to life, property and ecology, the panel had suggested while recommending that the project be either rejected or reviewed comprehensively. (The Hindu 12/10/15)

188. Rising CO2 levels to affect marine life: Study (9)

NEW DELHI: Sea life will suffer enormous devastation because of climbing human carbon-di-oxide emissions, a new world-first global analysis of marine ecosystems has found. This will have direct impact on populations that rely on oceans for food and trade, the analysis done by ecologists from the University of Adelaide says. Published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), the study says the expected ocean acidification and warming is likely to produce a reduction in diversity and numbers of various key species that underpin marine ecosystems around the world. “This ‘simplification’ of our oceans will have profound consequences for our current way of life, particularly for coastal populations and those that rely on oceans for food and trade,” says Ivan Nagelkerken, of the University’s Environment Institute. Nagelkerken and fellow marine ecologist Sean Connell conducted a ‘meta-analysis’ of the data from 632 published experiments covering tropical to artic waters, and a range of ecosystems from coral reefs, through kelp forests to open oceans. “We know relatively little about how climate change will affect the marine environment,” says Connell. “Until now, there has been almost total reliance on qualitative reviews and perspectives of potential global change. Where quantitative assessments exist, they typically focus on single stressors, single ecosystems or single species. “This analysis combines the results of all these experiments to study the combined effects of multiple stressors on whole communities, including species interactions and different measures of responses to climate change.” The researchers found that there would be “limited scope” for acclimatization to warmer waters and acidification. Very few species will escape the negative effects of increasing CO2, with an expected large reduction in species diversity and abundance across the globe. One exception will be microorganisms, which are expected to increase in number and diversity. From a total food web point of view, primary production from the smallest plankton is expected to increase in the warmer waters but this often doesn’t translate into secondary production (the zooplankton and smaller fish) which shows decreased productivity under ocean acidification. “With higher metabolic rates in the warmer water, and therefore a greater demand for food, there is a mismatch with less food available for carnivores—the bigger fish that fisheries industries are based around,” says Associate Professor Nagelkerken. “There will be a species collapse from the top of the food chain down.” … (Times of India 13/10/15)

189. Climate change boards train to sensitize people (9)

New Delhi:  Coal India hits 52-week high Coal India, ONGC in focus after declaring Q4 result Key indices tumble as weather office forecasts deficient rains this year Sensex attains highest closing level in more than a week Key indices display divergent trend Ahead of the global environment summit in Paris, India on Thursday flagged off a train that would travel about 19,500 km across 20 states to sensitize people on climate change. Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu, and Science and Technology Minister Harsh Vardhan jointly showed the green signal to the 16-coach train ‘Science Express – Climate Action Special’ Afrom Safdarjung railway station here. “When the world is discussing climate change, India is leading the world into climate action with by running a train on climate change which will exhibit and sensitize people (on climate change). It’s the world’s first mass education programme on wheels through exhibition,” Javadekar said. About 62 lakh students and people were expected to visit it, he said, adding a similar exhibition would also be provided on the platform for the convenience of the people to avoid huge queues and rush inside the train. The train, which will halt at 62 stations during the next eight months, will exhibit special issues related to climate change, including adaptation, mitigation, and nature conservation. In his address, Prabhu said that climate change was a big cause of concern globally and there was a need to take concerted action to address all environment-related issues. He said it was necessary to create awareness among people about climate change issues which affect the lives of people in a big way. Vardhan said that each and every citizen should continuously work to reduce global warming, adding his ministry was working towards building clean solar energy solutions for the railways. On October 2, India in its climate action plan pledged to cut emission intensity by 33-35 percent over the next 15 years. The action plans of different countries would serve as the basis of negotiating an agreement, applicable to all countries, with an aim of keeping global warming below 2 degrees Celsius during the crucial 21st meeting of the Conference of Parties on Climate Change due in Paris from November 30 to December 11. (Business Standard 15/10/15)

190. Outdoor air pollution killed 0.65 million Indians in 2010, says study (9)

CHENNAI: Of the 3.3 million premature deaths worldwide in 2010 caused by outdoor air pollution, about 0.65 million deaths took place in India. These deaths were in adults older than 30 years and children younger than five years. India has the second highest premature deaths caused by outdoor air pollution. With 1.35 million deaths annually, China ranks number one in the world. A study published today (September 17) in the journal Nature has for the first time taken into account the data from highly polluted regions like Asia for estimating the global mortality caused by air pollution. At 0.32 million, more than half of premature mortality due to outdoor air pollution in India was from residential energy use for heating and cooking. Power generation was the second biggest culprit causing nearly 90,000 deaths in 2010. Of the seven sources of outdoor air pollution, residential energy use is the most important category that causes the most premature deaths worldwide. “It contributes to one-third of premature mortality globally,” J. Lelieveld, the first author from the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, Mainz, Germany, said in a press briefing. “Residential energy use is an inefficient form of fuel combustion that causes lot of smoke and is by far the most important cause of premature mortality in Asia.” Emissions from residential energy use, together with waste disposal and diesel generators, contributes to 32 per cent deaths in China but 50-60 per cent in the case of India, Bangladesh, Indonesia and Vietnam. While outdoor household air pollution from solid fuels was the leading cause of mortality (0.44 million deaths) even in China, other sources like agriculture (0.39 million deaths) power generation (0.24 million deaths) caused a sizable number of deaths unlike in India. Air pollution is associated with many health impacts. The different disease categories include cerebrovascular disease and ischemic heart disease leading to strokes and heart attacks. “Strokes and heart attacks are responsible for nearly 75 per cent of air pollution related mortality, and more than 25 per cent is related to respiratory disease and lung cancer,” said Dr. Lelieveld. What is of greater concern, particularly for India and China, is that the authors’ estimate of 1 million premature deaths globally due to emissions from solid fuel and also waste disposal and diesel generators is in addition to the 3.54 million deaths per year due to indoor air pollution from the same sources. According to Dr. Kalpana Balakrishnan, who is not connected with the study and is the Director of the WHO Collaborating Centre for Occupational and Environmental Health at Sri Ramachandra University, Chennai, there were one million deaths in India in 2010 due to household air pollution from solid fuels. If emissions from residential energy use cause one-third mortality worldwide, another one-third comes from power generation, industry, biomass burning and land traffic. But these have a relatively smaller contribution in the case of India — 90,000 deaths from power generation, 42,000 deaths from industry, 42,000 deaths from biomass burning, and 30,000 deaths from land traffic. On the basis of model projections, the authors predict that premature mortality from outdoor air pollution could double by 2050 on the basis pf projected rates of increase in pollution and population levels, with 6.6 million premature deaths forecast globally per year, including large increases in Southeast Asia and the western Pacific. While 1 million lives can be saved every year by reducing ambient exposure to pollution, about 3.54 million lives can be saved annually by lowering indoor exposure to PMemissions, notes Michael Jerrett from the University of California, Los Angeles, in an accompanying News article. “The improved chulhas, which are supposed to be smokeless, provide very little health relevant exposure reduction,” Dr. Balakrishnan said. “That is because solid fuel can’t be burnt in relatively inexpensive stoves. There is compelling evidence to move towards cleaner fuels than cleaner chulhas.” (The Hindu 17/10/15)


191. ‘Lack of irrigation main cause of suicides’ (20)

ADILABAD: Former Maharashtra minister Shivaji Rao Moghe on Thursday said the lack of irrigation in Yavatmal district in Vidarbha region was the main reason for the high farmer suicide rate. He said as many as 49 farmers had committed suicide in Yavatmal in September. Addressing a press conference along with former Adilabad District Congress Committee president C. Ramchander Reddy, Mr. Moghe underscored the need for starting work on the inter-State Lower Penganga Project. He said the project would irrigate as much as 2.27 lakh hectare of land in the backward Vidarbha region and in Adilabad district. Accusing the BJP government in Maharashtra of soft pedalling on the issue of starting work, the Maharashtra Congress leader said the LPP has all mandatory clearances. He said the project would get the status of Central Project if it was an ongoing one, which is one of the three conditions set for according such a status. Mr. Moghe said a rally and public meeting would be held at Pandharkawda, about 45 km from Adilabad headquarters town, under the banner of the Nimn Penganga Nirman and Punarvasan Samiti to create awareness among people in Vidarbha districts. He said the awareness level of common people in the region on the project and its various aspects, like compensation for land acquired, was low. (The Hindu 2/10/15)

192. No distress sale of land owing to agricultural crisis (20)

MYSURU: The agricultural crisis and spurt in farmers suicide in the region has not triggered any large-scale distress sale of land by cultivators. Activists associated with farmers’ organisation have allayed such fears and said the present crisis has not triggered such a sale or any exodus of farmers abandoning agriculture in preference to work in urban centres. Badagalpura Nagendra of Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha (KRRS) told The Hindu that agricultural activity had gathered momentum, though there were ups and downs, but there was no distress sale of land. He said the aversion that people of Hallada Manuganahalli in H.D. Kote and Chikkabeechanahalli in Hunsur towards land acquisition displayed a few years ago, was still prevalent and the recent agricultural crisis had not affected their sentiments. There may be a few stray cases of farmers prepared to sell their land to tide over extreme financial crisis but they are personal decisions taken by individual farmers. “There was no such general sentiment to abandon agriculture and sell land,” he added. Kurubur Shanthakumar of the Sugarcane Cultivators Association said farmers in district hinterland cannot expect rates prevailing around urban areas like Mysuru and hence there was no trend. However, the price of farm land around Mysuru had definitely come down and this was part of a trend spread over years and not due to the present crisis. But none of the farmers have benefitted from the sale as brokers and commission agents reaped a windfall, while those who sold the land are out on streets, said Mr. Shanthakumar. A case in point was the sale of nearly 600 acres of land at Kochanahalli in Nanjangud taluk a few years ago, where farmers were assured of “permanent jobs” and received a pittance for their land. They soon ended up as landless labourers. “A study conducted by the Mysore Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Federation of Karnataka Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FKCCI) in rural areas of the region confirmed that there was no distress sale of agricultural land,” said Sudhakar Shetty, Regional Convener of FKCCI. The tour was conducted to reach out to distressed farmers and prepare a scheme to help them tide over difficulty. The scheme to reach out to the needy farmers will be finalised in December, he added. (The Hindu 5/10/15)

193. 6 Debt-ridden Telengana Farmers Kill Themselves (20)

NIZAMABAD/ADILABAD/NALGONDA/SANGAREDDY:The farmer death toll on Monday stands at six, as four debt-ridden farmers hanged themselves and two others consumed poison in separate incidents across the State. A farmer from Mannevaripally village of Bhongiri mandal in Nalgonda hanged himself on Sunday night. According to police, the deceased has been identified as M Illaiah (60). Meanwhile in Sangareddy, a debt-ridden farmer Pitla Anjaiah (55) from Bandla Posanipally village of Yeldurthy also hanged himself at his house on Sunday night. In Nizamabad, a farmer B Raju (31) committed suicide by hanging from a tree in his fields in Shathronayak Tanda of Darpally, on Monday.  In another incident in Nizamabad district, a A tenant farmer J Swami (31) from Ratnagri Palle in Machareddy mandal committed suicide by consuming pesticides on his farm on Monday. The villagers found his body in the afternoon and informed the police. Meanwhile in Adilabad, in separate incidents, two farmers committed suicide on Monday. According to police, S Sukander (29) committed suicide by consuming poison at his residence. He used to cultivate 14 acres of land and had invested `4 lakh. He was worried about debts incurred as his soya crop withered and this led him to resort to the extreme step. His family rushed him to Boath Government Hospital and after giving first aid treatment, doctors referred him to Nirmal government hospital for better treatment. In Nirmal doctors referred him to Hyderabad, but he died on the way. In another incident, a farmer Solanki Noorsing (30) committed suicide by hanging himself at his residence in Gurllathanda village of Boath mandal. Solanki was worried about debts as his soya bean crop completely wilted and this led him to take his life. Boath mandal sub-inspector Jagan reddy has filed a case and are investigating. (New Indian Express 6/10/15)

194. Kin of only 132 farmers who ended lives may get government aid (20)

At least 541 farmers commit ted suicides in the past six months, but the state government may not pay compensation to families of all these farmers. For, many of them are not “eligible suicide victims”, according to the government criteria. In fact, families of only 132 of these farmers qualified for compensation from the government so far, according to a report prepared by the state agriculture department ahead of Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi’s visit to the state on Friday. While 99 cases were rejected, another 285 are awaiting some records and investigation. So who’s qualified? According to officials, families of only those farmers whose deaths were linked to distress due to debts and crop failure. And the cause is verified by a committee comprising the assistant commissioner, a police officer and an agriculture officer. Only after confirmation, the family will be eligible for the Rs 2 lakh compensation. As per norms, the tahsildar asks the bereaved family about 30 questions -on land ownership to debt and crop failure -and checks if it’s a “genuine” case based on documents provided by the family besides the FIR and the FSL report. Thanks to the norms, families of very few farmers who killed themselves have benefited. For instance, to be termed an “eligible suicide victim”, a farmer must have received three notices from cooperative banks before committing suicide. Similarly, many cases were rejected on the ground that the victims were not farmers: this was because the victim was either doing farming on a leased land or was practicing oral tenancy. The list also shut out many SCST peasants -whose title to land is seldom clear. Families of many sugarcane farmers also lost out. Many families that got compensation were of farmers who killed themselves after failing to sell their cotton or maize crops, or those who were forced to sell at low rates. State Sugarcane Growers’ Association President Kurbur Shanthakumar said, “It seems officials were blindly following the orders of the government to show the number of farmer suicides as low as possible.” He said they have already petitioned the CM to give compensation to kin of all farmers who have committed suicide this year considering the agrarian crisis and drought (Times of India 9/10/15)

195. State Govt Responsible for Farmers’ Death: Narasingh (20)

BALANGIR: The State Government is solely responsible for the farmers’ death in Western Odisha, said Leader of Opposition and senior Congress leader Narasingh Mishra. Speaking to mediapersons here on Sunday, Mishra said though the farmers of Balangir, Bargarh and Sambalpur districts are the worst affected, the Government has done little to lessen their miseries. “No irrigation facilities, no market link for farm produce and lack of necessary infrastructure are leading the farmers to commit suicide,” said Mishra. Farmers are forced to opt for distress sale of paddy as their pleas for irrigation facility after deficit rainfall has fallen on deaf ears. According to the Supreme Court’s order, district Collectors, Chief Secretary and State Government are equally responsible for the farmers’ death. “The farmers’ suicide should be immediately inquired, and if the cause is assigned to Government negligence, the Collector and Chief Secretary must be held responsible,” he added. “In spite of frequent suicides, the Government has not taken any step to deal with the situation and hence I demand adequate compensation for the farmers,” Mishra said. A farmer, Bhakta Dharua (50) of Danddrabahal village in Patnagarh sub-division of the district committed suicide by hanging from a tree. Dharua had taken a loan of `17,000 from a bank.  (New Indian Express 12/10/15)

196. Farmer suicides continues even after relief package (20)

BENGALURU: Even after Karnataka government announced a massive relief package for farmers prodded by Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, farmers in Karnataka continue to end their lives. Cooperation minister H S Mahadev Prasad told reporters on Wednesday about 583 farmers have committed suicide since April 1. And the suicides continue even after the government came out with a a special relief package that included hike in compensation, waiver of penal interest on loans, insurance policy, enhancement of pension for widows. The officials are still in the process of investigating as to why the farmers had killed themselves in the last few weeks – whether it was because they could not repay their loans or because they found out they would not benefit from the loan waiver scheme. Prasad said the government will make necessary amendments to simply the procedures and criteria while extending monetary compensation for families of deceased farmers. This part, he said they will also make landless farmers and agricultural labourers who take up fields on lease eligible for compensation. The minister said the waiver penal interest on all kinds of crop loans, including short and long-term ones taken from all cooperative banks and societies till September 30 may cost the government about Rs 22 crore. (Times of India 14/10/15)

197.  ‘Swaminathan report only way to make farming profitable’ (20)

ONGOLE: Concerned over the spurt in farm suicides, the Prakasam Zilla Parishad on Thursday adopted a unanimous resolution, urging the Union and State governments to take immediate steps to implement the recommendations of the National Commission on Farmers headed by noted agriculture scientist M.S. Swaminathan. Both the ruling Telugu Desam Party and the Opposition YSRC members agreed that farming could be profitable only if the panel’s recommendations were implemented in toto. The Zilla Parishad also adopted a unanimous resolution, urging the Centre to provide a special package to Prakasam district on the lines of the one sanctioned for Rayalaseema and Uttarandhra districts. It adopted resolutions urging the State government to declare all the 56 mandals in the district as drought-hit and demanding effective steps to regulate erection of flexi-boards. TDP MLC and party central committee vice-president Magunta Srinivasulu Reddy underscored the need for a market stabilisation fund with equal contributions from the Union and State governments. YSRC MLA from Kandukur Pothula Rama Rao demanded that the Centre release the compensation of Rs. 20 per kg of tobacco to all varieties of low-grade stock, while TDP MLA from Parchur Yelluri Sambasiva Rao wanted the district administration to encourage farmers to switch over from tobacco to other crops. Telugu Desam Party MLA Dola Bala Veeranjaneyaswami wanted the Tobacco Board to take farmers into confidence before finalising the Minimum Guaranteed Price. YSRC MLA from Addanki Gottipatti Ravikumar pointed out that cotton growers were in trouble, as the Cotton Corporation of India had left ryots to the mercy of private traders. He demanded a minimum support price of Rs. 5,000 per quintal of cotton. The house also adopted a resolution condoling the death of former Zilla Parishad chairperson Ch.Venkaiah and Kurchedu ZPTC K. Pichaiah. (The Hndu 16/10/15)

198. Farmer Suicide Scourge Continues in Western Odisha (20)

BHAWANIPATNA/JHARSUGUDA/BALANGIR:Death stalked Western Odisha where two more farmers, crushed under the debt burden, ended their lives in the last 24 hours even as authorities confined themselves to perfunctory measures in face of an unrelenting agrarian crisis. Bira Majhi, a 55-year-old tribal farmer of Kalahandi district’s Dharamgarh block, committed suicide on Sunday. Bira left his house in Dhanrabhata village in the morning for his farm land and later in the afternoon, villagers found his body hanging from a tree. He is survived by wife, two married daughters and two sons who have gone outside the State for livelihood. Bira’s wife Surekha Majhi told the police that her husband had taken loan from a money lender three months back for the marriage of their daughter. While he was not able to repay, crop loss in his two acres of land pushed him to depression. Unable to bear the financial burden, Bira killed himself, Surekha added. Police have sent the body to Koksara for post-mortem. IIC of Koksara police station Omprakash Patra said an unnatural death case has been registered and investigation is on to ascertain the cause of suicide. Following the incident, BJP workers staged a blockade on NH-26 at Koksara in front of the block office in the evening demanding adequate compensation for Bira’s family. Dharamgarh Sub-Collector Bineet Bharadwaj said the real cause of Bira’s death will be known after a thorough investigation. The district administration will conduct an inquiry into the incident on Monday itself. The family of the deceased has already been provided support from Harischandra Yojana, he added. In Jharsuguda district, 33-year-old Sashi Kishan, a farmer of Dungripada village under Kolabira police limits hanged himself in his house while his wife and minor son had gone out on Saturday evening. Sashi had taken a loan of Rs 40,000 from local co-operative society besides private money lenders for cultivation of kharif crop, his relatives said. But he suffered huge crop loss in his two-acre land for the second consecutive year. He was also ailing for the past few days. Kolabira Tehsildar Leena Kumari visited the spot and met Sashi’s wife Parbati Kishan. District Collector Parmeshwaran B said that he was intimated about the farmer’s death by the Tehsildar and the administration would help Shashi’s family in all possible ways. In Balangir district, a third farmer tried to end his life but survived the bid. The 35-year-old Anand Patel of Paria village under Balangir Sadar block had taken loans taken from different sources for growing paddy. But the entire crop was damaged due to deficient rain. On Saturday evening, Anand consumed pesticide in his field and fell unconscious. His family members rushed him to Balangir District Headquarters Hospital and later, he was shifted to VSS Medical, Burla as his condition deteriorated. His condition is stated to be critical. Balangir Sub-Collector Bimal Mohanty said a joint inquiry will be conducted by the Tehsildar and the Agriculture department into the case. On the basis of inquiry report, necessary action will be taken, he added. Earlier, two farmers of the district had committed suicide following crop loss and unrepaid debt. Pita Nag of Jampada of Bangomunda block committed suicide by consuming poison while Bhakta Dharua of Dandrabahal village under Patnagarh sub-division hanged himself to death. (New Indian Express 19/10/15)


199. SEZs in Haryana were floated only to grab land at throwaway prices: Birender Singh (4)

Chandigareh: The special Economic Zones (SEZs) approved during the Congress regime in Haryana in the past few years were only a modus operandi to grab the farmers’ land at throwaway prices. The Union Minister of Panchayati Raj and Rural Development, Birender Singh, while speaking in Chandigarh today remarked that CLUs (change of land use) in Bhupinder Singh Hooda Government in Haryana were granted in a clandestine way. “Though a minister in Hooda Government, I was not in loop as the decisions on CLUs were taken by a team of select officials and the Chief Minister”, said Singh who remained the Finance Minister in Hooda Government in Haryana. According to Singh, out of 37 SEZs (for which land was acquired after the notifications under section 4 and selection 6 of the Land Acquisition Act) only 6 are functional. A total of 78,695 acre land was acquired in the ten year regime of Hooda Government and out of this 19,309 acre was released to third parties denying farmers their fair share. The ownerships changed hands so many times that 175 CLUs were given for the release of the land acquired at rock bottom prices and sold at exorbitant prices, Singh added. Reliance Industries acquired about 3,500 acres of land on its own for the SEZ that was not surrendered, he said. In four districts (Gurgaon, Faridabad, Rohtak and Sonepat), 4,636 acres, that were acquired after the notification was issued under land acquisition act sections 4 and 6 was released. The Haryana Government led by the BJP should do detailed enquiries of the land transactions in the past ten years, he added. Haryana is already under the CBI scanner for the acquisition of 400 acre land in Gurgaon during 2004-07 where land was acquired by the builders after land acquisition notification for setting up an Industrial Model Township. (Business Standard 1/10/15)

200. State mulls its own new land acquisition law (4)

RAIPUR: After Modi government allowed its controversial land ordinance to lapse amid stiff opposition, BJP ruled Chhattisgarh is all set to enact its own state legislation for land acquisition incorporating the amendments proposed by Centre for attracting investment in state. Such a legislation has become inevitable to speed up the pace of development, sources said adding that the law would, however, have special provisions to meet state’s requirements and protect farmer interests. After Centre failed to muster support for the ordinance, painted as anti-farmer by Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, government had allowed it to lapse in August this year. However, there were indications that BJP ruled states might enact their own legislation for land acquisition. Chhattisgarh holds the view that its land acquisition policy was one of the best as it had substantially increased the quantum of compensation to be paid to farmers much before the previous UPA government enacted the law. State revenue department officials said earlier farmers in Chhattisgarh were entitled for Rs 50,000 per acre for acquisition of barren land, Rs 75,000 per acre for single crop land and Rs one lakh per acre for double crop land. Now, the compensation amount has been increased to Rs five lakh, seven lakh and Rs 10 lakh respectively. It is not immediately known whether Raman Singh government would promulgate an ordinance for this or wait for introducing it in Vidhan Sabha during upcoming winter session. (Times of India 3/10/15)

201. Tension on Anna Salai as corporation plans slum eviction (4)

CHENNAI: Tension prevailed in the Pallavan Nagar slum colony opposite the Madras Gymkhana on Tuesday morning when a team of Chennai Corporation officials arrived there as part of the plan to demolish the dwellings under the Cooum clean-up programme. As the corporation officials arrived, along with an escorting police party, several residents, including women and children, gathered at the entrance of the colony in an effort to stop the eviction. Corporation officials and police personnel said they had been instructed to clear up the place by Wednesday when work on the Cooum river is to begin. The evicted slum dwellers would be relocated at Perumbakkam in the southern suburbs, they said. The residents facing eviction, however, wanted the authorities to give them time, saying their school-going children were midway through the academic year. They urged the corporation authorities to allow them to remain in the colony till the end of the academic year. M Sathya, a resident, said it would be difficult for them to move out at short notice. “We have been living here for the last 16 years after a fire gutted our houses in Chindadripet. We are not educated but we want to educate our children who are in the middle of the academic year. We are ready to relocate but we want some time,” she said. According to a notice issued by the corporation to the nearly 2,000 residents of the colony that a biometric survey would be undertaken as part of the Cooum clean-up campaign. The residents were told that they would resettled in Perumbakkam, near Medavakkam, where each family would be given a 300 sq ft house. The government also assured the residents that they would be given Rs 5,000 each as relocation allowance apart from a sum of Rs 2,500 each a month for the first two years. The corporation notice also assured the residents that they would be helped with transport to re-locate to the new settlement that have all necessary facilities, including schools and public distribution system (PDS) outlets. (Times of India 7/10/15)

202. Farmers appeal against land acquisition for port (4)

MACHILIPATNAM: Hundreds of farmers, accompanied by their family members, on Thursday marched to the Machilipatnam Revenue Divisional Office (RDO) to submit their individual written plea against the land acquisition notification for the Machilipatnam deep sea port and port-based industries. For the record, a notification was issued in August to acquire nearly 14,500 acres of private land in Machilipatnam and Pedana mandals. Owners of private lands, small farmers and those who are likely to lose their houses during the acquisition, submitted pleas to revenue officials, opposing the government’s move to acquire land. They are allowed to submit written pleas till the end of October, according to the land acquisition notification. People from Potlapalem, Mekavanipalem and Kothapudi villages of Machilipatnam mandal have so far submitted more than 400 individual pleas to officials. More than 2,000 acres of private land are likely to be acquired in three villages for the proposed Machilipatnam deep sea port and port-based industries along the Machilipatnam coast. Meanwhile, a special cell to accept pleas has been set up at the Machilipatnam Revenue Divisional Office. The cell will remain open between 10.30 a.m and 5 p.m. on all working days. Farmers, accompanied by former MLA Perni Nani, arrived at the Collectorate and had breakfast in front of the Machilipatnam RDO office as a sign of their protest against land acquisition. Speaking to reporters, Mr. Nani said the farmers and other private land owners from other villages would submit their pleas this week. (The Hindu 9/10/15)

203. Dalits should fight for land rights, says Medha Patkar (4)

TIRUCHI: Social activist Medha Patkar on Saturday called upon Dalits to stand united and fight for land rights. It is regrettable that even after six decades of Independence and despite the implementation of the reservation, the socio-economic status of Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe people in the country has not changed. Atrocities against Dalits continue across the country. A majority of Dalits still remain landless and illiteracy was high among them. The country has enough land and natural resources. Yet a majority of Dalits belong to the category of labourers and not owners of the land. “This situation should change and we should fight for ownership rights of land and respect for Dalits,” she said speaking at the Livelihood Protection conference of the Tamilaga Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam here. The economic resources of the country should not be concentrated in the hands of the few. But land is being taken away and given to a handful of industry and real estate promoters in the country. “We should demand land for every Dalit family in the country. This should be taken forward as a movement,” said Ms.Patkar who is also the national convenor of National Alliance of People’s Movements. Governments were holding out only false promises and Dalits should not fall prey to them. Dalits of all sub-sections should come together to become a socio, economic and political force. Communal and casteist politics should not be allowed to divide Dalits, she said and urged them not to compromise for electoral politics. The conference, chaired by John Pandian, founder president, Tamilaga Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam, adopted resolutions urging the State government to enact a strong law against conversion of agricultural lands into residential plots and industries, close down Tasmac shops in a phased manner, protect and renovate water sources and implement an afforestation programme to increase the forest cover in the State. Electricity Minister Natham R.Viswanathan offered felicitations and said that the State government was implementing various schemes for the development of Adi Dravidars and has doubled the financial allocation for their welfare schemes.  (The Hindu 11/10/15)

204. Project-hit protest rise in Sardar Sarovar dam height (4)

INDORE: Project affected people displaced by Sardar Sarovar dam from Barwani and Dhar districts of Madhya Pradesh gathered at the office of Narmada Valley Development Authority (NVDA) in Indore on Friday to protest against rise in water level in the dam without completing rehabilitation process. Protestors alleged around 245 villages of Madhya Pradesh spread across 214 km will get submerged in backwaters following the rise in water level affecting scores of families. Medha Patkar of NBA, who was leading protest, said government is increasing the dam height from 122 meters to 138.68 meters without completing rehabilitation. Patkar said they are facing a litmus test and the Narmada valley, which has redefined developmental politics around the world, is now facing the worst crisis in its courtyard. She hoped people will stand up to save themselves from the clutches of corporate-politician nexus. (Times of India 11/10/15)

205. Land acquisition policy continues to haunt Bengal (4)

Kolkata:  West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday said that there was no going back on the government’s stand on land acquisition. At an open house session with Confederation of Indian Industry national council members, the CM reiterated the state’s position on land acquisition. “I am transparent; we don’t want to bulldoze farmers. We have a land bank and land use policy. I have provided land for many smart city projects. We have land in Panagarh, Kharagpur, Medinipur, Kalyani and Rajarhat,” she said, in response to a question from Mahindra & Mahindra Executive Director Pawan Goenka. Banerjee said in the past four years, the state government had granted 14Y exemption to many projects. The Land Reforms Act of 1955 places a ceiling of 25 acres on land acquisition, while section 14Y exempts it in certain cases. “For the industry, 7,500 acres have been cleared for the land bank,” she said. Banerjee’s land acquisition policy had been a stumbling block for many projects requiring large tracts of land. “We are clearing applications for new investments within 15 days,” she said. (Buiness Standard 14/10/15)

206. People pour out woes before rights panel (4)

Udupi: The issues of lack of proper compensation given to land losers, reckless sand mining and regularisation of services of junior health assistants figured prominently in the public contact programme chaired by the Chairperson of State Human Rights Commission Meera Saxena here on Friday. Some residents led by Uday Kumar complained before the Commission that they had not been paid proper compensation by the Karnataka Industrial Area Development Board (KIADB), which had acquired their land for the creation of a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in Padubidri. While some got proper compensation, the others did not. As a result, some people did not even have proper houses. Some others who built houses did not have access to basic facilities, he said. Intervening, R. Vishal, Deputy Commissioner, directed the Executive Officer of Udupi Taluk Panchayat Rajendra Bekal to provide basic facilities to the houses such as water and electricity. But the issue of land acquisition, which had taken place about a decade ago, came totally under the purview of the KIADB, he said. Some residents of Kuchur village complained of reckless sand extraction on the river banks. This extraction was making water in wells saline. The roads in villages were damaged to the movement of sand laden trucks and even leading to accidents. Many sand laden trucks did not have permission, they said. Dr. Vishal said that the government was planning to set up District Mineral Fund, this would reduce the amount of time taken to release funds for the Gram Panchayats where sand extraction was taking place. All the trucks were fixed with GPS to track their movements. The sand extracted in the district was going to the border taluks of Chikkamagaluru, Shivamogga and Bhatkal. Sand was being made available at concessional rate for housing for poor in the district. “Stern action will be taken if wells were getting contaminated,” he said. A junior health assistant said that though four junior health assistants had been appointed in the district over 10 years ago, their services had not been regularized by the Department of Health and Family Welfare, while the services of drivers and physicians appointed along with them had been regularised. Dr. Vishal directed the District Health and Family Welfare Officer Rohini to submit report on the issue. When a resident of Kavarady village complained that no water was flowing from the water tank built 10 years ago, Ms. Saxena directed the authorities to take immediate action on it. (The Hindu 17/10/15)


207. Data show state in the dumps (3)

A survey conducted by the Centre has caught Bihar napping on several fronts as far as human health is concerned. Occupants of 74 per cent households in Bihar defecate in the open – that’s around 30 per cent more than the national average of 45.5 per cent. The Rapid Survey on Children, a study conducted by the women and child development ministry, whose figures were released in July this year, has thrown up these figures regarding open defecation in the state. Last year, junior Union HRD minister Upendra Kushwaha had issued a statement in the Rajya Sabha that Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Odisha had the lowest sanitation rates in India. The Centre runs the Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan, under which a beneficiary pays Rs 900 and the state and the Centre join hands to give Rs 10,000 to construct a toilet. Experts said open defecation practices could lead to various health hazards. Ravikirti Singh, a doctor in the medicine department of All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Patna, said: “Open defecation can cause gastroenteritis, amoebiasis, typhoid, viral hepatitis, parasitic infections and other ailments. There is a huge problem of communicable diseases in this country. Open defecation causes many communicable diseases, which could be prevented if safe sanitation practices are followed. So constructing toilets should be considered a good investment.” According to the Rapid Survey on Children, the state has fared poorly on the institutional delivery front as well. The state’s figure is 65.3 per cent against the national average of 78.7 per cent. Institutional delivery means giving birth to a child in a hospital under the guidance of trained hands. The survey states that maternal mortality rate of the state is 208 against the national average of 167. Manju Gita Mishra, a gynaecologist, said maternal mortality rate was linked to the issue of institutional delivery. “Institutional delivery is a must for women because it ensures safer practices to be adopted for the expectant women. It also reduces the life risk of the baby in the womb. Bihar’s figure in institutional delivery is not very good. The state government needs to organise awareness drives on this issue. Besides, it also needs to upgrade the infrastructure of the basic health facilities. Quacks get the delivery done in their set-ups. Stern action should be taken against the quacks because they are responsible for many maternal and newborn deaths.” The survey also states that most of the newborn babies miss the golden hour of breastfeeding (within an hour of birth) in the state. The state’s figure is 35.5 per cent against the national average of 44.6. Neeta Kevlani, a senior resident doctor at AIIMS-Patna’s paediatrics department, said newborn babies need to be breastfed within an hour of their birth. “The babies who are breastfed during this timeframe, have better immune system than the babies who miss this golden hour. Babies who are not breastfed are more prone to diseases such as pneumonia and they are more likely to develop malnourishment, diabetes and hypertension in the future,” said Neeta. The state’s overall breastfeeding figure of babies is, however, better than the national figure. According to the survey, 70.8 per cent babies up to five months were found exclusively breastfed for certain period of time against the national average of 64.9 per cent. The survey states that the state has achieved better result in some areas, including routine immunisation, under-five mortality rate and total fertility rate. According to the study, 60.4 per cent babies between 12 to 23 months of age were found fully immunised against the national average of 65.3 per cent while the survey stated that 97.8 per cent households in the state have access to improved source of drinking water against the national average of 87.8. (The Telegraph 2/10/15)

208. Giving voice to TB community (3)

More than 95,000 people are co-infected with HIV and TB. About 2-3 per cent of new TB cases are drug resistant and 12-17 per cent of retreatment cases are drug resistant. This, despite the fact that India has had a large TB control programme in place for several decades. Several reasons are put forth for this not-too-happy situation. Chief among them is that India’s large, unregulated private healthcare sector (from where a majority of patients seek treatment), mismanages TB by using faulty diagnostics and treatment regimens. Which is not to say that those who seek treatment from public healthcare facilities get the best. The gaps in the public healthcare sector too are many and have been discussed for as long as the TB control programme has existed. Stock-outs of drugs, corruption, lack of counselling and nutritional support, and stigma at the healthcare centres – the problems are numerous. Common, however, to the private and public healthcare sectors is the complete, almost deafening silence from the TB world. TB patients and TB affected communities are seen but not heard. Despite owning the right to be at the centre of all TB control efforts, they are relegated to the fringes. They are not consulted, never spoken with, and in fact often shoulder the blame for dropping out of treatment and contributing to the rise of MDR TB in the country. Have there been efforts to ask them why they dropped out? The answer to that is an obvious ‘no’ because they have never been given opportunities to express their concerns and they have never been the main actors in discussions around TB control. Lately there has been considerable pressure and demand for patient-centred care for TB, and for much greater voice for patients affected or infected by TB, much in the way that the HIV community demanded and negotiated for itself. While the demand is timely and one that can make a huge difference to the TB community, the challenge lies in defining those voices. Merely applying the HIV template to TB will be simplistic because of some basic differences in the two environments. HIV is a lifelong condition and it’s in the interest of people living with the disease to stay engaged with the issue. As they also enjoy periods of good health, they can contribute to advocacy and activism. Additionally, the HIV community came together quickly as it was made up of large numbers of sexual minorities, sex workers and other severely marginalised groups, for whom solidarity groups and activism was a much-needed opportunity to break out of oppression. TB is different. It is not a lifelong condition. TB patients can go on to achieve a complete cure and they might or might not want to stay engaged with the issue after they are cured. Additionally, while they are on treatment, they might not be well enough to engage in advocacy. Further, TB affects people who might not want to come together, but might just want to get cured and move on with their lives. These are work-a-day people, who might not even want to be recognised as having suffered from TB. The two communities are as different from each other as chalk from cheese. So then, who can be a TB advocate, given that there is definitely need for a community voice? Before embarking on any programme designed to give voice to the TB community, there is a need to think through a framework that answers some basic questions. Does TB need activism or advocacy? Or both? Who will do what? Defining the community right can yield substantial overall gains for the programme. For starters it might be good to realise that a TB community can be big and inclusive. It can consist of several layers, each of which can advocate for change, be it with patients or with the administration. Doctors, nurses, outreach workers, DOTS Providers, family members, the larger community and children – each of these categories can be built up for advocacy. Anybody can be a TB advocate given that TB doesn’t discriminate and can infect anybody who breathes!  Enlisting the support of HIV activists who have had a firm grounding in advocacy can give the initial push to the movement. Ultimately however, there will be a need for dedicated TB advocates given that only about 4.85 per cent of TB patients are estimated to be HIV positive and the rest are not. It is evident that we also need voices that can advocate for better outcomes for TB alone as they are the larger community and have problems which need to be fixed, which might be distinct from problems associated with HIV, such as occupational hazards, malnutrition, unsafe and unhygienic living conditions and lack of sanitation. These will need efforts of a different kind. The HIV experience can provide a valuable springboard from which TB advocacy can take life – the design will, however, have to be unique to TB. (Deccan Herald 6/10/15)

209. Six swine flu cases reported in Delhi (3)

New Delhi: Already battling a dengue crisis, there was more worry for Delhi’s health machinery after six cases of swine flu were reported over the last few days, with two outstation patients critical and on ventilator support. Three middle-aged patients, including a woman, all residents of Delhi, who have tested positive for H1N1 influenza, are undergoing treatment at home under the care and supervision of Pulmonary Medicine and Sleep Disorders department of AIIMS. “Three persons have tested positive and are undergoing treatment for swine flu at home. They are not admitted to hospital,” said a senior doctor at AIIMS. Apart from them, a 59-year-old man from Uttar Pradesh, who tested positive for swine flu, was admitted to the Intensive Care Uunit of Safdarjung Hospital on Wednesday. “He tested positive for swine flu and was referred to Safdarjung Hospital from Apollo Hospital,” a senior doctor said. Also, two men aged 68 and 32 years, natives of Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh, were admitted in the ICU of Sir Ganga Ram Hospital. (Asian Age 8/10/15)

210. Impact of Decentralisation on Health Sector in Kerala (3)

The World Health Organisation has been advocating the decentralisation of health sector as the primary step to ensure community participation in health care programmes to solve health problems that developing countries face. This goal was achieved by Kerala following the People’s Planning process initiated by the Left Front government in 1996. Bold and remarkable decentralisation processes have taken place in health sector in Kerala when compared to other states. An assessment of the decentralisation in the last two decades shows that the most positive and visible impact of decentralisation was largely seen in the health sector. During the early 1980s, several health problems plagued Kerala’s health care system. Many of the infectious diseases that had been under control resurfaced and new ones emerged along with them. Lifestyle diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and heart diseases made headway, mental health status went down and number of suicides increased. Public health care facilities were stagnating owing to neglect of the government sector, which paved the way for uncontrolled growth of the private sector. The cost of health care increased at an alarming rate, pushing even the middle class below the poverty line because of catastrophic health expenditure. Improvement of the facilities of the Government sector so as to cater to the needs of the poor, strengthening of the primary and secondary care so as to promote preventive and promotive health care, control of the infectious and life style disease burden, provision  of better sanitation were suggested by health planners and activists as a remedy to confront the health crisis. To realise these objectives, strengthening of the primary and secondary health care institutions through a decentralisation process was seen as the solution. The implementation of the Panchayat Raj act provided an opportunity to bring public health care units and their services under the control of local governments. Immediately after launching the People’s Planning process in 1996 , all the  public health care institutions from Primary Health Centres to District Hospitals were transferred to the local governments.  Reasonable amount of untied fund was made available with the local governments to plan and implement health projects as per local needs. An overview of the recent outcomes of the devolution in the health sector leads us to the following points. The local governments have succeeded in achieving better sanitation by providing individual and community latrines. The availability of safe drinking water has improved. A number of the primary and secondary health care institutions are properly equipped and looked after by the respective local governments. Special projects for ‘palliative care’ can be found in many village Panchayats. Special projects for autism, differently abled, aged, victims of cognitive disorders, kidney patients and community psychiatry are included in the list of projects by the local governments. This is an indication to substantiate that local governments are responding to the specific locality-based health needs. Capacity for public health management of the professionals and elected authorities has been enhanced. The conflicts and ego clash between the medical professional and the elected authorities have been largely settled. However, the improvement of the lower level health institutions is not uniform throughout Kerala. Wherever elected representatives, health personnel and the people at large stand together, visible and positive changes can be seen. However, a large number of issues are yet to be settled. The dual control of the health care institutions by the Panchayats and by the health departments is the major problem that needs to be addressed. Doctors and other health personnel are appointed and posted by the directorate of health services, so is the distribution of drugs, purchase of high cost technologies etc. The issues related to parallel and vertical development programmes such as National Rural Health Mission, Integrated Child Development Schemes etc. over shadow the autonomous activities of the local bodies. However, it needs to be conceded that such programmes are functioning fairly well in Kerala because of the involvement of local bodies. Though most of the Panchayats in Kerala have been awarded the Nirmal Puraskar, Kerala still could not achieve total success in environmental sanitation and waste disposal. Many major projects for waste disposal initiated by Corporations and Municipalities are yet to be completed. Though 50 per cent of the elected local body representatives are women, the specific problems of women’s health have not be addressed. Further, the local bodies have not provided clean toilets for ladies in public places. (New Indian Express 12/10/15)

211. Tribal health care discussed at special workshop (3)

New Delhi:   Security forces gun down one Naxal woman in Gadchiroli Fadnavis meets Gadkari over Gadchiroli mining proposal Naxalite with Rs 8 lakh reward on head killed in Gadchiroli Cop injured in Naxal firing at Gadchiroli Suspected Naxals torch two offices in Gadchiroli Malaria, maternal mortality and fluorosis are some of the diseases which were discussed at a special workshop on tribal health issues in Maharashtra’s Gadchiroli district, an official statement said here on Thursday. The workshop saw over 50 representatives from 24 organizations in academia, government and civil society present programmes that they have been running to address problems plaguing tribal health care. The three-day workshop was organized by the union health and family welfare ministry at Shodhgram in the tribal majority Gadchiroli, the statement said. “This workshop marks an important step towards integrating evidence from the field into policy making for tribal health care. It also presents a unique opportunity for government departments, Indian Council of Medical Research and voluntary agencies to share experiences and learn from each other,” said Soumya Swaminathan, secretary, department of Health Research and director general, Indian Council for Medical Research. Best practices on tribal health were selected from the 85 entries received by the Expert Group on Tribal Health. (Business Standard 15/10/15)

212. “1.20 crore women screened for breast cancer in State” (3)

Nagercoil: A total of 1.20 crore women above 35 years of age were screened for breast cancer in the State, said Health Minister C. Vijaya Baskar here on Thursday. Talking to reporters during his inspection of Kanyakumari Government Hospital, he said that the mammography test to detect breast cancer among the women was being done for free under the Chief Minister’s Comprehensive Health Insurance Scheme. Diabetes screening and master health check-up were also done for pregnant women under the scheme, he noted. He assured to take measures for the functioning of the mortuary at the hospital. Later, addressing a review meeting at the Collectorate, the Minister exhorted the officials to prevent deaths due to dengue through sustained and multi-dimensional activities. Since the district headquarters hospital and the medical college hospital had been equipped with blood analysis equipment, the doctors should make use of this facility and give the maximum possible medical assistance to patients, he said. All government hospitals and primary health centres across the State had got adequate stock of medicines for dengue and there was no need for panic. Distribution of ‘nilavembu kudineer’ and sap of papaya leaf to the patients would accelerate recovery. He said that though many people died of dengue in some parts of the country, it was under control in Tamil Nadu due to the multi-dimensional activities initiated by the State government. Expressing satisfaction over the inspections by Collector Sajjansingh R. Chavan to monitor dengue prevention activities, the Minister directed the officials to intensify measures to contain spread of aedes mosquitos by removing all discarded materials and water containers which provided a breeding ground for them before the onset of monsoon. The Minister earlier inspected the primary health centres at Kottaram and Thovalai, Ayurvedhic dispensary at Suchindram and the Ayurvedhic college in Kottar.He also gave baby kits to the mothers of newborn babies at Kanyakumari Government Medical College Hospital, and inspected fogging operations at Anna Nagar in Thovalai. Mr. Chavan, former Health Minister N. Thalavai Sundaram, Nagercoil MLA Nanjil A. Murugesan, Director of Medical Education S. Geethalakshmi, Director of Health and Rural Welfare A. Chandranathan and Director of Public Health and Preventive Medicines K. Kuzhandaisamy accompanied the Minister. (The Hindu 16/10/15)

213. By 2030, India will account for 17% of world’s under five deaths: UN (3)

MEXICO: The United Nations has issued a dire warning to India over its abysmally high infant and maternal mortality rate. UNCEF has projected that if current trends of under-five mortality rate continue, by 2030 just five countries will account for more than half of all under-five deaths — India (17 per cent), Nigeria (15 per cent), Pakistan (8 per cent), Democratic Republic of the Congo (7 per cent) and Angola (5 per cent). According to UNICEF, if mortality rates stay at the present day levels, 69 million children will die before the age of 5 during the next 15 years; about half of those children will die within their first month of life. According to their latest estimates, released in the side lines of the Global Maternal Health Conference in Mexico, in 2015, 5.9 million children will die before the age of 5 globally. Based on current population projections, 6.6 million children will die worldwide in 2030 if rates remain at 2015 levels. Of these under-five deaths, nearly a third will be in South Asia. The warning comes weeks after UNICEF revealed that one in every 21 children being born in India are dying before reaching their fifth birthday as the country recorded the highest number of under five deaths in 2015 globally. The under-five mortality rate (U5MR) in India is about seven times higher than in high-income countries where 1 in 147 is dying. A study published in the Lancet showed that 1 in 5 under five deaths took place in India in 2015 (20% of the global deaths) – numbering to 1.2 million children. There was also a silver lining to it – U5MR in India dropped from 126 deaths per 1,000 live births in 1990 to 48 in 2015 – a 62% reduction. This is higher than the average global reduction of 53%.Infectious diseases such as pneumonia and diarrhoea are still main killers of children under age five in India. In 2015, pneumonia is estimated to account for about 15% of the 1.2 million under-five deaths in India. Diarrhoea accounts for about 9%.UNICEF says that 70% of the global decline in under- five deaths since 2000 is attributable to tackling key infectious diseases. Between 2000 and 2015, the annual number of under-five deaths fell from almost 10 million to 5.9 million. Although infectious diseases still cause a large — and largely preventable — portion of child mortality, the annual number of under-five deaths from leading infectious diseases declined from 5.4 million to 2.5 million over the last 15 years. In 2015, nearly 4 million fewer children under 5 will die from all causes than in 2000. The report said “About 70% of that decline is the result of lower death tolls from pneumonia, diarrhoea, malaria, sepsis, pertussis, tetanus, meningitis, measles and AIDS”. (Times of India 19/10/15)


214. HC reserves order on further probe (3)

AHMEDABAD: A special CBI court on Wednesday completed hearing a plea seeking further probe and objecting to clean chit given by CBI to all concerned authorities in connection to thalassemic kids contracting HIV through blood transfusion in Junagadh civil hospital. The court has kept its order pending till October 19. The central probe agency, after Gujarat high court transferred probe to it, had filed a closure report last year and gave clean chit to Mahendra Mashroo, local BJP MLA, who runs the blood bank from where the blood was sourced by the government hospital. The issue was raised when thalessemic children were found HIV positive and several of them passed away. Parents of 34 such thalassemic kids fought a lengthy legal battle and finally sought further probe after CBI filed closure report claiming that there could be various reasons behind the thalassemic kids contracting HIV. They alleged that the ruling BJP exerted pressure on investigators in order to shield its legislator, who was running the blood bank without license. They claimed that CBI has failed to pin up the responsibility and on the contrary defended the blood bank though it was not registered. They also cited the CBI report to highlight how the tested and untested blood units were kept in the same refrigerator. (Times of India 1/10/15)

215. A daily pill for HIV (3)

Demonstrating that taking a daily pill to prevent HIV infection can work in the real world, San Francisco’s largest private health insurer announced recently that not one of its 657 clients receiving the drug had become infected over a period of more than two years. That outcome contradicted some critics’ predictions that so-called pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, would lead to less condom use and more HIV infections. A study published in Clinical Infectious Diseases found that the San Franciscans on PrEP, almost all of whom were gay men, did use fewer condoms — and contracted several other venereal diseases as a result. But none got HIV. Most other sexual infections, while potentially dangerous, can be cured with antibiotics. HIV cannot, although it can be controlled with anti-retroviral drugs taken for life. “This is very reassuring data,” said Dr Jonathan Volk, an epidemiologist for the insurer, Kaiser Permanente of San Francisco, and the study’s lead author. “It tells us that PrEP works even in a high-risk population.” Observational studies like this one are not considered as scientifically rigorous as randomised clinical trials in which some participants receive a placebo. But Jonathan and his colleagues followed a large number of men engaged in very risky behaviour from mid-2012, when the Food and Drug Administration approved the use of a two-drug combination called Truvada for prevention of HIV infection, through February of this year. That amounts to 388 “person years” of observation. (Decan Herald 3/10/15)

216. Fund-starved NGOs boycott HIV review meeting in Nagpur (3)

NAGPUR: Having got no funding from government for more than nine months now, NGOs working towards spreading HIV-AIDS awareness are launching a non-cooperation movement. They refused to attend the monthly review meeting last Saturday. Staffers of ART centres and ICTC centres have also not got their salaries for last month and are joining this campaign. These NGOs have not been getting any funds to run their projects since January this year. The money, coming from the union government, is supposed to be directed through the Maharashtra State AIDS Control Society (MSACS). Project managers from these organizations had been promised that at least part of the funds will be disbursed by September. While this has not happened, even salaries of the staff working under the MSACS have not been paid for September. “The meeting on Saturday was a regular review meet in which NGOs are expected to share data and experiences about their monthly activities. This data form the basis for the plans to be made by the government with regards to the awareness activities and the ways to arrest the spread of HIV,” informed programme officer of District AIDS Prevention and Control Unit (DAPCU) Tanuja Fale. She admitted that all eight NGOs from the district kept away from the meeting. Similar meetings took place in all the districts of the state last week. Only 10-15 of the 156 NGOs attended them, most choosing to boycott it. As the salaries of staffers of Anti Retroviral Therapy (ART) centres, Integrated Counseling and Testing Centres (ICTC) and DAPCU did not come for the month of September, they have stopped sending monthly reports they send to MSACS. These reports consist of information about the number of medicines taken by the HIV positive people in the district, stock of the medicines available at the centre and people walking in for getting tested for STIS, among other data. “We have tried several democratic ways of getting the attention of the authorities to our problems. We have only been hearing that the money will come ‘in the next few days’ for the last eight months. We have also written letters to union minister Nitin Gadkari, chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, guardian minister Chandrashekhar Bawankule and state health department, none of whom have given anything other than assurances,” said Hemlata Lohave, project manager of the targeted intervention programme at Red Cross Society. She added that the government would be responsible if the HIV infection rose because of their inattention. This is bound to happen as not only are the awareness programmes for vulnerable population under threat but the People Living with HIV (PLHIV) are also not being catered to properly, said other activists. (Times of India 6/10/15)

217. HC expresses anguish over injustice to HIV patient (3)

MADURAI: The Madras High Court Bench here on Thursday expressed “shock, agony and anguish” over a HIV patient from Dindigul district dying before he could receive in full a compensation of Rs.6 lakh awarded by the court for undergoing imprisonment for six years, nine months and 14 days in an unconnected criminal case. Justice S. Nagamuthu said it was highly disturbing that the victim who was present before the court, although in a physically weak and frail condition, when the award was passed on June 9 and also on June 16 to receive the first instalment of Rs.1.5 lakh was no more at a crucial time when the State government was ready to pay him the rest of Rs.4.5 lakh. Feeling bad that the victim who succeeded in proving his innocence after waging a long standing legal battle could not survive to reap the benefits, the judge directed the victim’s counsel R. Alagumani to file an appropriate application for replacing the legal heirs of the deceased as the petitioners in the case so that the State could be directed to handover the money at least to them. The judge pointed out that the HIV patient had been arrested by the Dindigul West Town police in 2005 in connection with a criminal case. Immediately, the victim disputed the allegation and sent several petitions to higher police officials as well as the Legal Services Authority asserting that he was not the one involved in the case. But his plea fell on deaf ears. It was only in 2012 that Sessions Judge K. Venkataswamy acted on a petition filed by the victim and found out through an elaborate inquiry that the HIV patient had no connection whatsoever with the case. After release from prison, the victim approached the High Court seeking a direction to the State to compensate him monetarily for wrong incarceration. (The Hindu 9/10/15)

218. Secunderabad teacher looking for HIV+ bride cheated of Rs 16L (3)

HYDERABAD: A person who created a fake woman’s profile on a matrimonial website dedicated to HIV+ patients and cheated a man of Rs 16 lakh was arrested from Rajasthan on Thursday. Central Crime Station (CCS) officials said that Avadesh Lavani was arrested, while his brother Amit Lavani and sister-in-law Suman (wife of Amit), are still at large. Avadesh, along with his brother, uploaded a prospective bride’s fake profile an attractive photograph, stating that she was HIV positive and was looking for a groom who is also affected with the same disease. An Urdu teacher from Secunderabad responded to the match and called the number given in the contact details. It was Avadesh who answered the call and fixed a meeting. When the victim approached them, Suman was introduced as Shivani Sharma as mentioned in the fake profile. Both Shivani and the victim spoke to each other and decided to marry. After a few days, Shivani told the victim that she has only Rs 2 lakh as savings and it would be insufficient for them to settle in Delhi and wanted to know how much money he could pool in. The victim said that he would raise the money by selling his house in Secunderabad and accordingly, he sold it for Rs 16 lakh. The money was then transferred to the accused’ bank account for taking a house on rent in Delhi. After collecting Rs 16 lakh, the accused kept the phone switched off and remained inaccessible. The victim approached CCS, who in turn arrested Avadesh in Rajasthan after piecing together clues. (Times of India 9/10/15)

219. India risks backsliding on success against HIV, UN envoy says (3)

NEW DELHI: New HIV infections in India could rise for the first time in more than a decade because states are mismanaging a prevention programme by delaying payments to health workers, the United Nations envoy for AIDS in Asia and the Pacific said. India’s efforts to fight HIV have for years centred around community-based programmes run for people at high risk of contracting the virus, such as sex workers and injecting drug users. The results won praise globally — annual new infections fell consistently and, overall, were reduced by more than half between 2000 and 2011. But Prime Minister Narendra Modi in February cut the central AIDS budget by a fifth and asked states to fill the gap, even though their poorly-run bureaucracies were already slow in releasing funds to their AIDS prevention units. As a result, staff salaries have been delayed for months and prevention activities have slowed down. The decision was part of a wider strategy to decentralize social spending and focus central government resources on building roads and railways to boost economic growth. In an interview with Reuters, the UN secretary general’s special envoy for AIDS in Asia-Pacific, JVR Prasada Rao, warned “primitive” management by states would “ruin the programme”. When the new infections start rising, all the good work that has been done will be washed away,” said Rao, who said he based his view on interactions with several federal and state AIDS officials in the last six months…. (Times of India 10/10/15)

220. Meet on HIV control in NE (3)

Shillong, Oct. 11: A two-day review meeting of the National AIDS Control Programme (NACP) will begin here tomorrow where the northeastern states will collectively brainstorm and develop localised solutions to respond to HIV/AIDS. The Department of AIDS Control of the Union health ministry in collaboration with FHI 360 and Meghalaya AIDS Control Society will be organising the meeting to review the implementation of NACP-IV Programme in the region. NACP-IV aims to accelerate the process of epidemic reversal and further strengthen the epidemic response in India through a cautious and well-defined integration process over five-year – from 2012-2017. Its objectives include reduction of new infections, provision of comprehensive care and support to all people living with HIV/AIDS (PLHIV) and treatment services for all those who require it. A note from the Meghalaya AIDS Control Society stated that the Northeast has continued to be a focus area for the Department of AIDS Control because of its “vulnerability and prevalence.” “In the region, HIV is driven by dual risk factors – unsafe sex and drug abuse using syringes. This poses a major challenge. The meeting is strategised to facilitate discussions about HIV in the Northeast, assess the NACP implementation by the states and collective brainstorming and development of appropriate and localised solutions for the response by the states to address the problem,” it said. The Meghalaya AIDS Control Society noted that among the northeastern states, Manipur has shown the highest estimated prevalence of adult HIV (1.22 per cent), followed by Mizoram (0.74 per cent) and Nagaland (0.73 per cent). It noted that the states of the region have an estimated total of 63,049 HIV infections, the highest being in Manipur (25,369) and the lowest in Sikkim (593). “The annual new infections in the northeastern states have increased from 5,549 in 2001 to 6,460 in 2011. This is contrary to the national trend where an overall decline of 57 per cent has been recorded in the same period,” the note added. The meeting will also hold a detailed discussion on “Project SUNRISE” being implemented by FHI 360. N.S. Kang, additional secretary and director-general of the National AIDS Control Organisation, will chair the meeting and Meghalaya urban affairs minister Ampareen Lyngdoh will address the gathering. (The Telegraph 12/10/15)

221. Court sees plight of HIV+ ganja convict in Chennai, cuts jail term (3)

CHENNAI: A man found guilty of possessing 10kg of ganja got away with just a four month jail term, as against the usual five years, as his health condition was weak and he was diagnosed HIV-positive. The special principal judge for Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act court J Justin David gave relief to Deen Mohammed, 29, on humanitarian considerations. Now that he has undergone the sentence period, he will be released from jail, said special prosecutor Thamal D Kanna. Mohammed was held at Walltax Road bus stop with 10kg ganja on January 25, 2007, and narcotics intelligence bureau personnel had followed all pre-arrest and pre-seizure formalities at the time of arrest, the judge said, adding that the fact that no local resident on Walltax Road had been cited and examined as prosecution witnesses would not weaken the case in any manner. However, keeping in mind his age, health condition and nature of ailment, the judge imposed four months sentence, which he had already undergone, besides 5,000 as fine. (Times of India 15/10/15)

222. Red tape effect: AIDS funds so near, yet so far (3)

NAGPUR: Last week, some of the NGOs working on projects aimed at reducing the prevalence of HIV-Aids got the necessary funds from the Maharashtra State AIDS Control Society (MSACS). It has now been come to fore that the money had already been forwarded to all the SACS in July. MSACS authorities have also acknowledged this but said it was due to unavoidable, bureaucratic reasons that the funds were delayed. Disgruntled by the delay in getting funds, some of the project directors from the city had written about their problems to the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO). In response, the organization, which was an autonomous entity under the union ministry of health and family welfare until a year ago, forwarded them a letter dated July 24, 2015. This letter clearly states that a total amount of Rs274.52 crores had been released to the SACS. This would come to a sum of around Rs11 crore for each society across the country. During the troubled times over the last couple of months, as the NGOs sought different ways to protest the delay in disbursement of funds, MSACS officials had acknowledged having received the funds. When TOI had spoken with Dr MS Diggikar, joint director, care, support and treatment (CST) department of MSACS, he had said that the process of release of funds was almost complete and they may be expected in the next week. Other officials had also said that the problem was red-tape rather than lack of funds. “Earlier, NACO was an independent body under the health ministry. All funds released by them would come directly to our accounts and would be distributed among the NGOs within a couple of days. Since NACO has now been merged with National Rural Health Mission (NRHM), the money is sent to the state government. The finance department of the state has to approve the funds that are meant to be used by us. Then, they have to send it for approval of the planning department and then we get them,” said an official from the society. The process take a lot of time while the files move from one department to the other so the delay of a couple of months has to be expected, he added. The possibility of such administrative difficulties had worried activists and project directors even before NACO was merged with NRHM. “Before this, funds were never delayed beyond a couple of months. The merger has made things difficult for us as in a programme of such wide spectrum as NRHM, HIV-AIDS takes a lower priority,” said Anand Chandrani from Sarathi Trust which is one of the affected NGOs. Most activists want the merger to be taken back. (Times of India 19/10/15)



Posted by admin at 12 October 2015

Category: Uncategorized

From September 11 to 30, 2015


1. “RSS trying to turn Dalits against reservation policy” (2)

Paramakudi: Tamil Nadu Untouchability Eradication Front (TNUEF) has criticised the Rahstriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) for trying to turn a section of Dalits against the reservation policy. Talking to reporters after paying homage to Dalit leader Immanuel Sekaran on the occasion of his 58th death anniversary here on Friday, TNUF State general secretary K. Samuel Raj said that the recent conference addressed by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Amit Shah in Madurai was part of the RSS’s ploy to make Dalits “prick their eyes with their own hands”. “The conference was part of a larger conspiracy launched by the RSS to do away with reservation,” he alleged. (The Hndu 12/9/15)

2. Misuse of photographs: action sought (2)

COIMBATORE: Tamilaga Dalit Munnetra Kazhagam on Friday sought action against those who misused photographs of a few residents in the Kamarajapuram slum by pasting them on toilets. The Kazhagam leader, S.B. Nagaraj, called it a cruel joke. He said that the photographs were taken by misleading them. The residents were told that they were identified as beneficiaries for a housing scheme and therefore needed to submit their photographs. But the photographs were pasted inside Namma Toilets across the State. Mr. Nagaraj submitted a a petition to the Coimbatore Corporation officials asking the civic body to initiate criminal action by lodging a complaint with the police. He wanted the corporation to end manual scavenging, which he alleged was prevalent across the city.He said the civic body should provide regular employment opportunities to conservancy workers and not engage them on contract basis. (The Hindu 13/9/15)

3. SC summons top police officials of Baghpat in Dalit family harassment case (2)

NEW DELHI: Taking serious view of diktat passed by a khap panchayat of Baghpat district in UP against a Dalit family, the Supreme Court today summoned the top police officials of the district.  The panchayat had allegedly passed order that girls of Dalit family be raped after their brother had eloped with married girl of Jat community. The man had later on returned to the village after which he was arrested by police in a drug case. In an in-chamber proceeding, a bench of justices J Chelameswar and A M Sapre interacted with family members of the Dalit family who fled the village and now residing in national capital. The bench after hearing them decided to summon police officials of the district and directed them to appear before it tomorrow at 2 PM along with the man who is still in jail. The court was hearing a plea filed by Dalit family seeking protection from Khap. They alleged that police is trying to implicate them in false cases. (Times of India 15/9/15)

4. SC asks police to protect Dalit family (2)

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Wednesday directed the Delhi police to protect a 23-year-old Dalit woman and her family who fled Baghpat in U.P. after a khap panchayat condemned her and her sister to be raped and paraded naked as punishment for their brother’s elopement with a married, dominant caste woman. The woman, represented by lawyer Rebecca John, had moved the court against the khap panchayat’s ire. (The Hindu 17/9/15)

5. Dalit Students Allegedly Denied Puja Rights, Case Registered (2)

KENDRAPADA: A case has been registered by police under Scheduled Caste and Tribe (Atrocity Prevention) Act, 1973 following complaint that dalit students were allegedly denied of their rights to offer prayer to Lord Ganesha in a government-run school in Kendrapara district. Around 25 dalit children studying in Andara Upper Primary School under Pattamundai police station limits were allegedly disallowed to break coconut shells and offer prayer to Lord Ganesha while upper caste students were allowed to do so during Ganesha Chaturthi on Thursday.  “We have registered a case. The incident is being investigated. Legal action would accordingly be initiated,” Kendrapara Superintendent of police Nitinjeet Singh said. A separate probe by Schools and Mass Education department has also been ordered into the incident, sources said. “The administration has taken serious view of the incident. Directives have been served on the School and Mass education department authorities to conduct an ‘unbiased’ inquiry into the reported denial of puja rights to dalit children,” Kendrapara Collector Debraj Senapati said.   Rabindra Nath Sethi, a rights’ activist,  sought for immediate arrest of the perpetrators of the crime. Promotion of caste bias in government-run educational institutions is in bad taste, he said. District Education Officer Sangram Sahu said, “An inquiry has been ordered into alleged caste discrimination. On the basis of inquiry findings, due action will be taken against those found guilty.” (New Indian Express 19/9/15)

6. Dalit girl of Theni village escapes from “hell”(2)

Madurai:  “I was brutally attacked by my employer” said a 15-year-old girl, hailing from a village in Theni district. Speaking to The Hindu on Saturday, the Dalit girl, (name withheld) who was still in a state of shock, said in a choked voice that no child, especially girls, should face such a torture. After hearing people saying that some spinning mills in Erode district paid “lucrative” wages, the girl convinced her father, left with hopes of helping her family fight poverty and joined a mill in the third week of August. She said, “Little did I realise that I was entering the gates of hell.” As she could not cope with the strenuous work for long hours, she pleaded with the management to let her go home from the second day. Work started at 5 a.m., and went on till 3 p.m. “When I requested that I be relieved, the employer slapped and abused me. When I refused to work or take food, another well-built man said that they would let me go home provided some one replaced me,” she said. As the place was new to the girl, her attempt to escape was not that easy. Finally, when they allowed her to speak to her family over phone, her grandmother rushed in as her replacement. Again, the mill owner refused to let her go and instead the abuse continued, the girl said. When she fainted, they ignored her. Utilising the opportunity, the girl escaped from the mill premises, only to be caught by the watchman. But, a few people came to her rescue and freed her, she added. A fact-finding team from Evidence, a Madurai-based NGO, which visited Theni district, has demanded the arrest of the mill owner and also a compensation of Rs. 3 lakh for the girl. Based on a complaint from the girl’s father, Karuppiah, Theni All Woman Police registered a case under the POCSO Act, 2012. But A. Kathir, executive director of Evidence, urged the police to book cases under the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act and for illegal confinement.According to the complainant, many children in the age group of 13 to 17 years were lured into working in the mill on the promise of a lump sum payment after working for three years. (The Hindu 21/9/15)

7. Punjab and Haryana High Court seeks report on dalit families of Bhagana village (2)

The Punjab and Haryana High Court Wednesday sought a complete status report from the Haryana government about the Dalit families agitating against the alleged threat by the dominant caste in Bhagana village of Hisar district. The directions came from Justice Paramjeet Singh while hearing a petition filed by Ambedkar Welfare Samiti, Bhagana. The court has also directed the state government to inform as to whether it has filed any appeal against the acquittal of the accused in the alleged abduction and gang rape case of four Dalit minor girls of the Bhagana village. The accused were acquitted by the Hisar fast track court on August 12. The petitioner’s counsel contradicted the reply submitted by Hisar deputy commissioner Chander Shekhar Khare earlier on September 14 in the court. The court was informed that it was wrong that all the villagers who had moved out of the village earlier have returned to the village and still there are a number of villagers who are at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi, in their protest. The court was also informed that there are a number of such protesting families who have converted to Islam. The petitioner’s counsel also sought directions from the court to the state government to make a rehabilitation policy for the villagers like in case of Kashmiri pandits of Jammu and Kashmir. The petitioners association had approached the high court last year seeking security and proper investigation into the FIR registered at police station Hisar Sadar on March 25 last year on account of gang rape of four minor girls on March 23 last year. It has been alleged that around 90 families had to leave the village in the night of March 25 due to lack of security and at the time of filing of petition in the high court were protesting at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi. The petitioner association has also sought rehabilitation of the villagers. In August first week this year over 100 dalit families of the village had converted to Islam in New Delhi. The court has now directed the state government to file its detailed reply in the case on October 7. (Indian Express 24/9/15)

8. Upper Caste Men in Mysuru Refuse to Give Dalit Boy His Reward (2)

MYSURU: Upper caste men of Kuruburu Village in T Narasipur Taluk near here allegedly refused to give a dalit boy his reward for winning a competition organised in the village, on Thursday night. It is also alleged that upper caste individuals assaulted the dalit boys who participated in the competition and allegedly showed disrespect to a portrait of Dr B R Ambedkar. According to sources, the upper caste residents had put up a Ganesha pandal and had organised a gundu kallu (stone lifting) competition in the village for Gowri-Ganesha festival. They had also declared that the winner will get a cash award of `2,000. Dalit boys Narayan, Chinnaiah, Rangaiah, Puttaswamy and Mahesh took part in the contest, which Narayan won. When Narayan claimed the cash prize, the men allegedly refused to hand it over. They also allegedly hit Narayan with sticks and chased him and the other boys till their locality. According to sources, the villagers even broke the drinking water pipes in the dalit area. T Narasipur police personell rushed to the spot and diffused the situation. Cases for harassment of dalits have been slapped against 14 people —Jagadish, Prashanth, Swamy, Nagaraju, Bullimara, Shivu, Anil, Karthik, Guruswamy, Babu, Yogesh, Subbu and Shantha. (New Indian Express 26/9/15)

9. Dalit couple ostracised for raising question at gram sabha (2)

Madurai: When the Dalit couple raised a question at the gram sabha meeting, they would never have imagined that they would be ostracised by the community. Narrating their woes at a public hearing organised here by an NGO, Evidence, the couple – Lakshmi (35) and Paramasivam – from Kattunayakanpatti in Theni district, said that the police and the district administration had not taken any tangible action to date. The police registered a case against the accused seven months ago, but had not arrested them. Mr. Paramasivam raised a question at the gram sabha meeting held on January 26 on the manner in which expenses were made by the organisers for a local temple festival. Angered by this, Ramesh Babu, who claimed to be close to district-level All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam functionaries, threatened the couple and also ordered the others to keep them away from their hamlet, they said. The couple lodged a complaint with Veerapandi police. After 23 days, the police booked a case against Ramesh Babu and others under different sections of the Indian Penal Code and the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. For the last seven months, the couple, along with their children, had been living in an unsafe place near a small pond outside the village. “Even for drawing potable water, I have to trek for two km. To buy grocery, I have to go to Venkatachalapuram, which is about three km away,” Ms. Lakshmi said. Like the couple, about 20 victims of caste oppression narrated their woes to the panellists who comprised P. Shanmugam, State president of Tamil Nadu Malaivaazh Makkal Sangam, advocates Nirmala Rani and Ezhil Caroline and journalists Jayarani and Sugitha. Executive director of Evidence A. Kathir, who moderated the hearing, said that it was an initiative to create an awareness among the deprived class, and such public hearings might help in preventing atrocities. (The Hindu 28/9/15)


10. Uprooted by Maoists, A Generation of Tribals Torn From Their Origins (6)

Bijapur:  For half his life, 14-year-old Nagesh Kumar Chapa has been studying at a residential school in Bijpur district’s Dugaiguda village of Chhattisgarh, away from his home, parents and losing connect with his tribal roots with each passing day. He is among 500 children from tribal communities who stay and study at the Adarsh Ashram, run by the Central government for children from Maoist-affected areas. There are 30 such Ashrams in the four districts of Chhatisgarh. At the schools, they get free education, food, clothes and even Rs. 50 as pocket money every month, under the Rajiv Gandhi Shiksha Mission. “The quality of education in our village is not good and also dada (Maoists) stop us from going to school. After finishing studies here, I would like to study further in Avapalli. I do not want to go back to my village,” Nagesh says. In villages like Kamarguda, where his home is, people live in fear. Maoists have sometimes blown up school buildings to discourage children from studying. The rebels often visit the village demanding food and money and warning villagers against taking benefits from the government. If they have to send their children away from home to study, the villagers say, then that’s a price they are willing to pay. Even if it means, sending them away from home and community where the children leave behind their tribal way of life. “Two of my sons are working in Bijapur after finishing their studies. I sent them away because of our poverty and the Maoist problem. They will not come back. Even I don’t want them to return to the village,” Uika Lakhmaiya, a villager, tells NDTV. The government is proud of the initiatives to give tribal children a shot at schooling and employment. It denies that staying away from their roots sends these children further away from their rich culture and heritage. “The children stay with others who are also from Bijapur so their cultural connection is intact we ensure that. But once the child is educated and grown up it is totally up to him or her what they want to do with their life and where they want to settle,” Bijapur Collector Bijapur Jaswant Singh says. (NDTV 13/9/15)

11. Nature keeps tribal people healthy in remote places (6)

ADILABAD: Living in remote jungle habitations, like a good number of Adivasis in Adilabad district do, can throw up numerous problems but there is a brighter side to it too. Proximity to greenery keeps the inhabitants in good health in general and not many get inflicted with diseases like high blood pressure, diabetes or asthma, though consumption of tobacco is commonly prevalent in such villages. “Children who live in areas with more greenery have a lower likelihood of being obese,” says Reuben Chow as he quotes three studies on health benefits of living near greenery in the January 8, 2009 issue of Natural News , an American journal. In Adilabad, the Adivasis are not even over weight. Famous Anthropologis Christopher von Furer-Haimendorf, among the early researchers to have worked in the tribal parts of this district, does not seem to have made mention of the general health of Adivasis in his books. One of the apparent reasons is he found nothing amiss in this regard during his stay in the tribal heartland. There are about 100 to 150 habitations in the agency and Tribal Sub Plan mandals considered remote as they are located beyond 10 km from the main road in forests or whatever is left of it. The inhabitants of these villages – like Movvad in Asifabad mandal, Mangi in Tiryani, Chinna Dhoba and Pedda Dhoba in Jainoor and the 12 villages on the route to Jodeghat in Kerameri etc exhibit a lower incidence of even seasonal fevers which have become a scourge in those habitations which are accessible and not situated close to greenery. “Yes, the incidence of diseases like asthma is lower among tribals living in the interior parts of the district,” concurred Deputy District Medical and Health Officer in the agency, T. Prabhakar Reddy. “Regular monitoring of the health of these tribals however, should not be ignored,” cautioned District Immunization Officer Thodsam Chandu, who had made a study on general health of Kolams a few years back. The Gonds, Kolams, Pardhans and Thotties, subjects of the erstwhile Gond Kings of Chandrapur, settled deeper inside the thick forests of Adilabad after the kingdom was defeated by the Bhonsales about 250 centuries ago. Nothing much has changed in the far flung habitations but for some unmotorable roads connecting them to other places. (The Hindu 14/9/15)

12. Adivasi students demand quota (6)

HYDERABAD: Over 50 Adivasi students from 12 universities in Telangana on Tuesday demanded that the State government implement 9.91 per cent reservations for Adivasis in the public sector. The students said that as per the State government estimate, the percentage of Adivasi population is 9.91, and they would expect the government to give them proportionate representation in the sector. Students threatened to withdraw support for TRS in the upcoming elections in Warangal if the government fails to meet their demand. “The government has already conducted engineering and medical admissions without implementing fresh reservations. It will soon release the Public Service Commission notification. We want reservation to be implemented before the bulk appointment and admissions take place,” said K. Shiva Naik, a student leader of the All Universities Tribal Scholars and Students, an organisation established to fight for reservations. Meanwhile, the government is coming out with the Public Service Commission notification. (The Hindu 16/9/15)

13. Grant citizenship to Chakma, Hajong tribals in three months: SC (6)

New Delhi: The Supreme Court has directed the Centre and Arunachal Pradesh government to grant citizenship within three months to Chakma and Hajong tribals who had migrated from Bangladesh in 1964-69, saying they cannot be discriminated in any manner, “It is well known that the Chakmas and Hajongs were displaced from the area which became part of East Pakistan (now in Bangladesh) on construction of Kaptai Dam and were allowed to be rehabilitated under the decision of the Government of India… “They could not be discriminated against in any manner pending formal conferment of rights of citizenship. Their status also stands duly acknowledged in the guidelines of the Election Commission of India,” a bench of Justices Anil R Dave and Adarsh K Goel said. The apex court said that Chakmas have a right to be granted citizenship and it is even “recognised by judicial decisions that they cannot be required to obtain any Inner Line permit as they are settled in Arunachal Pradesh.” The court passed the order on a petition filed by Committee for Citizenship Rights of the Chakmas (CCRC) seeking direction to grant citizenship to the Chakma and Hajong tribals who migrated to India in 1964-1969 and were settled in the Arunachal Pradesh. “As earlier held by this Court, the Delhi High Court and Gauhati High Court, they need to be protected and their claims of citizenship need to be considered as per applicable procedure,” the court said. (Zee News  20/9/15)

14. Protest against ‘forced’ sterilisation (6)

KALPETTA: A mob on Monday laid siege to the Community Health Centre (CHC) at Pulpally for several hours, after a local tribal youth claimed that he was forced to undergo sterilisation by local government health officials. The officials, however, claimed that he underwent vasectomy voluntarily. The alleged victim, 30-year-old Chandran of Palamoola tribal hamlet at Pulpally, complained to the police that Pradeepan, a junior health inspector of the CHC, had approached him last Friday, offering some manual work. The official advised him to take an anti-tetanus injection first since he might get cuts or nicks and took him to the local CHC. In his complaint, Mr. Chandran said at the CHC, the officials forcibly sterilised him, and gave him the incentive of Rs.1,000. He returned to the hospital on Saturday morning after he felt uneasiness and pain on the operated part, but the hospital authorities declined to admit him, the complaint said. The youth had earlier married a tribal woman who had two children from her earlier marriage, but had deserted him nearly nine years ago. The police, however, said they were probing the complaint and had yet to decide on the veracity of the complaint. V.D. Joseph, medical officer at the CHC, said that as many as six tribesmen had undergone vasectomy on the same day and Mr. Chandran had voluntarily approached them to undergo the surgery like the others, at a camp organised by the CHC at the tribal hamlet under the National Family Welfare programme recently. The youth, he said, had claimed that he had two children and had signed the consent form as well. District Collector Kesavendrakumar, who held discussions with the protesters, said action would be taken if there was anything amiss after preliminary investigation by the District Medical Officer. The medical expenses of the victim would be borne by the government and the district administration had offered to recommend the government to provide compensation to the youth. Mr. Kesavendrakumar later said that the surgery appeared to have been done with the consent of the tribal youth. But it was possible that he was either not fully aware of the surgery or the officials had failed to adequately convince him on its consequences. The Collector said steps would be taken to do a vasovasostomy (vasectomy reversal) surgery on the youth after discussing with experts at the Government Medical College Hospital. (The Hindu 22//9/15)

15. New scheme to protect people living in mining areas announced (6)

New Delhi: The government on Wednesday announced launching a new scheme named Pradhan Mantri Khanij Kshetra Kalyan Yojana (PMKKKY) which will focus on safeguarding health, environment and economic conditions of the tribals living in areas near mines. Around Rs.6,000 crore will be spent every year on the development of these regions under the scheme, an official statement said. “The objective of PMKKKY scheme will be to implement various developmental and welfare projects in mining-affected areas that complement the existing ongoing schemes/projects of state and central governments,” said the mines ministry statement. “The scheme will also look to minimize or mitigate the adverse impacts, during and after mining, on the environment, health and socio-economics of people in mining districts and ensure long-term sustainable livelihoods for the affected people in mining areas,” it added. The ministry has also released guidelines for identifying these areas, implementation and expenditure of funds under the scheme. “At least 60 percent of the funds under the PMKKKY have to be used for high priority areas such as drinking water supply, environment preservation and pollution control measures, primary/ secondary health care, education, welfare of women, children, aged and disabled people, skill development & sanitation,” it said. “Up to 40 percent of the funds can be used for infrastructure projects such as physical infrastructure, irrigation, energy and watershed development and any other measures for enhancing environmental quality in mining district,” it added. (Business Standard 23/9/15)

16. Over 2,000 title deeds since 1986, but no land yet for tribespeople (6)

Palakkad: The tribespeople of Attapadi have received over 2,000 pattayams (title deeds) for land since 1986 but they haven’t got even an inch in their possession so far. No wonder, the latest offer from chief minister Oommen Chandy to provide one acre each to all landless families in Attapadi has evoked little response. Successive governments had, since 1986, given thousands of acres for tribal rehabilitation in parts of Attapadi like Vattalukki, Bhuthivazhi, Gulikadavu, Sholayur, Kottathara, Adwanapetti and Mulagangal. “But, all these land remain only on paper and not a single tribal family has got it as the land had not been measured and handed over,” says K A Ramu of Thambu, a tribal organization. The 800-acre Vattalukki farm was created from forest land to provide five acres each to over 170 families settled there but nobody got the land till now and many families had left the farm, he said. These ‘pattayam holders’ will take out a march to Palakkad collectorate, travelling over 100km, on October 7 to meet district collector P Marykutty with a request to measure the land and hand it over to tribespeople. T R Chandran, who got the pattayam for 2.5 acres at Adwanapetti in Sholayur grama panchayat at a ‘pattayamela’ in Agali in 1999 from former chief minister E K Nayanar, said he had contacted revenue authorities for the land on numerous occasions. “The land was allotted to some other tribal people later. The latest allotment was for Chengara land agitators,” he said. Thothi Mooppan of Gulikadavu tribal hamlet said the governments had been issuing pattayam for the same land again and again. “This is just to show that the government had given land to tribal people. There should be an end to such cheating.” There are several tribesmen who got pattayam but never got the land and most of these land are now encroached by non-tribesmen, said M Sukumaran, convenor of Attapadi Samrakshana Samithy. (Times of India 25/9/15)

17. Tribal Areas Lag Behind Despite Government Funding (6)

KHAMMAM: Tribal hamlets in Maoist-affected areas are still lagging behind in terms of development in spite of government funding. There is much criticism against utilisation of funds sanctioned by the Union government under Left Wing Extremists (LWE) affected districts development schemes.By recognising the district as one of the Maoists affected areas, the ministry of home affairs had sanctioned `1,000 crore under Road Requirement Plan (RRP) phase- I in 2009. However,  political leaders and tribal associations allege that there have been irregularities in the development works. “Officials have taken up works in plain areas, rather than forest areas, where there is huge requirement” tribal leaders say. Adivasi Sankshema Parishad state convener Sonde Veeraiah pointed out that people from remote areas are suffering due to lack of facilities. He also alleged that officials did not take up any development progarmmes in remote villages of Bhadrachalam division.   BJP leader, A Subba Rao alos claimed that LWE funds have been utilised in plain areas and only a few works were taken up in agency areas. As a part of RRP phase- I, Roads and Building (R&B) department has taken 23 works for construction of roads, bridges and culverts at a cost of `576 crores and also completed them except Yellandu-Gundala road due to forest clearance problems.  Meanwhile, Integrated Tribal Agency (ITDA) had also taken up  construction of Ashram schools and other works with an outlay of `200 crores. The Union government has also sanctioned `115 crore under the Integrated Action Plan (IAP) scheme (now Additional Central Assistance (ACA) for the construction of the school buildings, Anganwadi centres, drinking water schemes, rural roads, panchayats offices and skill development programmes. Meanwhile, the R&B department has sent proposals worth `517 crores to take up 12 road works under LWE scheme. Speaking to Express, R&B chief engineer I Ganapathi Reddy said, “We have sent proposals for `2,200 crores to take up road works in four Maoist affected districts but the Centre has asked to cut it down by 1,290 crores.” (New Indian Express 28/9/15)


18. Saudi Embassy faces women’s fury (8)

New Delhi: Scores of activists associated with the All-India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA) descended outside the office of the Saudi Arabian Embassy demanding strict and immediate action against one of its diplomats for subjecting two Nepalese women to prolonged exploitation — both sexual and otherwise — here on Thursday. They waved placards demanding that the diplomat, who allegedly vacated his residence in Gurgaon along with his family on Thursday and was widely held to have taken refuge on the Embassy’s premises in South Delhi, not be allowed to abuse his status. They also questioned the Saudi criminal law. “Men can gang-rape and women are to be stoned?” said one placard, referring to several incidents in which women of that country have been subjected to death by being pelted with stones for alleged sexual ‘misconduct.’ The two Nepalese women, who were trafficked from Nepal on the pretext of being provided employment in the capital by placement agents from their own country, were rescued by a joint team of the Gurgaon police, a local NGO and a similar organisation from Nepal. The two women were flown back to Nepal’s capital early on Thursday morning and are understood to have undergone medical and psychological tests. (The Hindu 11/9/15)

19. Empower women to help improve child sex ratio: Activist (8)

AURANGABAD: In a bid to improve the declining female sex ratio in Aurangabad district that has plunged to 858 girls in 2011 from 890 per 1,000 boys in 2001, the Aurangabad zilla parishad organised a discussion to create public awareness on the PCPNDT Act and female foeticide under the Lek Ladki Abhiyan. On the occasion, the health officials also released a book on the PCPNDT Act. The district is among the 100 worst districts to have poor sex ratio in the country. Varsha Deshpande, a lawyer who runs the Lek Ladki Abhiyaan, an organisation that has become well-known for carrying out sting operations on clinics and doctors who indulge in sex-selective tests and abortions, said, “In 2011, Beed district in Maharashtra had a severely skewed ratio of girl child of 807 and Aurangabad had 858. But strict implementation of the PCPNDT Act has helped improve the ratio incredibly to 905 in Beed and 934 in Aurangabad.” She was speaking at a training programme organised for medical officer, health, nutrition and sanitation committee members, at the ZP office on Friday. The Lek Ladki Abhiyan has carried out 42 sting operations against diagnostic centres and maternity homes conducting sex determination and abortion. It was her team that had busted Beed’s Sudam Munde’s dubious practice last year. Deshpande, also a member of the National Inspection and Monitoring Committee to implement the PCPNDT Act, said, “There are several related social ills and larger issues concerning women that need to be addressed. Apart from strict implementation of the Act, women empowerment and provision of education and employment for women would bring in a change.” “A vllage-level campaign needs to be launched. Behavioural changes take a very long time. Sadly, very few families actively want daughters even today. Girls are born as unintended errors in the pursuit of the highly desired sons,” she said, adding that we should encourage a democratic family set-up and teach gender equality. “Why should the father of the house be revered like god? Television shows that depict women as subservient are another hurdle in the progression of society. Modern values should be instilled in people if our attitude towards women is to change,” she pointed out. “Activism doesn’t always work. You need a strong law prescribing harsh punishment to combat this evil. Sex selection of the foetus should be treated as nothing less than a crime. Only then will it stop,” she said. Among the other health officials, civil surgeon G M Gaikwad, ZP district health officer B T Jamadar, child and reproductive officer Vivek Khatgaonkar, Lek Ladki Abhiyan president Shaila Jadhav, AYUSH officer Satyanarayan Murmure and ZP epidemiologist Jayshree Lahane were also present. (Times of India 12/9/15)

20. Sexual harassment law compliance poor (8)

MUMBAI: Response to the law against sexual harassment of women has been tepid if action taken by respective state governments and private entities is anything to go by. It’s been nearly two years since the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition & Redressal) Act, 2013 came into force, but only one state, Rajasthan, has managed to become fully compliant with the law. According to responses Mumbai-based consultant Complykaro Services received to its RTI applications, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Haryana, Arunachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Chhattisgarh and Goa have so far only partially complied with the law. In response to a query from TOI, an official from the ministry of women & child development (MWCD) said it had issued advisories to all states/UTs in December 2013 and again in October 2014 to ensure effective implementation of the Act. Under the Act, states/UTs are required to monitor implementation and compliance of the law through the office of district officer for each district who, in turn, nominates a local complaints committee (LCC) and nodal officers. Most of the states are still in the process of ensuring all measures are taken in compliance with the Act. “The biggest challenge to implementation is ignorance of the law. It is applicable for all organizations irrespective of its size and whether they have women employees or not. The entire focus of this law is to prevent sexual harassment by bringing about a behavioural change among employees. Only when all organizations implement this law will our spouses, sisters and daughters feel safe,” said Vishal Kedia, founder & director, Complykaro Services, which is in the business of assisting companies to comply with the said law. While the Act cast an obligation upon all the employers to constitute an internal complaint committee (ICC), it also placed the responsibility on the appropriate state government to notify the district officer for setting up LCC. State governments are expected to monitor the implementation of the Act and maintain data on the number of cases filed and disposed of in respect of all cases of sexual harassment at the workplace. The LCC is required to investigate complaints received from employees in cases where an ICC has not been constituted by the employer or the complaint is against the employer himself. “The law requires the state government (through the district officer) to constitute an LCC at the district level. There is not enough information in the public domain to ascertain where such committees have been set up or whether they have prepared and submitted annual reports to the state government,” said Vikram Shroff, head-HR Law, Nishith Desai Associates, a legal and tax counselling firm. State governments are required to develop relevant information, education, communication and training material, besides organizing awareness programmes, to on the provisions of the Sexual Harassment Act providing for protection of women at the workplace. “To my knowledge, such information does not appear to have been made available for public access as yet. There is lack of clarity on any penal action taken by the state governments for non-compliance of the Sexual Harassment Act,” said Shroff. The punishment under the law is fairly stringent, especially in cases where an employer, after having been previously convicted of a punishable offence under the Act, subsequently commits and is convicted of the same offence, in which case the employer is liable to cancellation of his business licence or registrations. (Times of India 15/9/15)

21. My wife being misused for political ends: Somnath Bharti (8)

New Delhi: AAP MLA Somnath Bharti on Wednesday appeared before the police for the second time in two days offering to join the probe over allegations of attempt to murder and domestic violence even as he said that his “gullible” wife was being “misused” for meeting political ends by rival parties. However, police refused to entertain Bharti saying that the concerned investigating officer was not present while maintaining its demand for “custodial interrogation”, which was not possible in view of the Delhi High Court’s two-day reprieve to him. Bharti also accused the Delhi Police of working at the Centre’s “behest” saying it is not “responding” to his offer of joining investigation and wanted to “torture” him in custody instead. “It’s absolutely a matrimonial affair. She (Lipika Mitra) is being misused for political purposes. Political parties have ganged up against me, attempting to damage my party (AAP) through me taking advantage of her innocence and gullibility,” Bharti told PTI. He refuted the charges against him saying he was ready with a point-by-point rebuttal based on solid evidences. The Malviya Nagar legislator also questioned the sections of Indian Penal Code slapped against him. Police was after him as if he was a “terrorist”, he said after showing up at Dwarka North police station in the evening. “The police is being misused. In a case like this Section 307 or 313 cannot be applied. They have used these section as my arrest is not possible under Section 498A and 406. Police should have ideally questioned me by now,” he said. “If their intention is my arrest, who can politically benefit from it? You (police) have issued non-bailable warrant against me, have sent personnel across the country to track me as if I was a terrorist,” Bharti said. The former Delhi Law Minister, with his dog in tow, had appeared at the same station last night also. He also met DCP (Southwest) R A Sanjeev today. Joint Commissioner of Police (Southwest) Dependra Pathak said the police is looking for Bharti’s “custodial interrogation”, which is not possible till tomorrow. “Questioning him now can be counted as a coercive action which he will be considered to be a violation of the HC order,” Pathak said…….. (Zee News 17/9/15)

22. Sexual harassment case against seniors (8)

AGURGAON: A 33-year-old manager of a telecom giant accused three senior officials of sexually harassing her. Police have lodged an FIR against the three officials and also recorder her statement in a city court. According to police, the woman employee of the telecom company approached cops on Thursday after the company allegedly failed to address her complaint. In her complaint, she said she had been working for the telecom company for a long time. A co-worker had been allegedly misbehaving with her for the past two weeks. She complained to her seniors but they allegedly did not pay much attention to it. Following this, she approached the police. According to the complaint, an FIR has been lodged against the trio under sections 354A (sexual harassment), 509 (word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman) and 34 (common intention) of IPC at the Sector 18 police station. “An FIR has been lodged. The statement of the women employee was recorded in a city court on Friday. A probe is under way,” said inspector Jaibhan Tyagi, SHO, Sector 18 police station. (Times of India 19/9/15)

23. UP village council bans jeans, mobile phones for girls (8)

MUZAFFARNAGAR: A Muslim village council in Uttar Pradesh has issued a diktat that bans girls from using mobile phones and wearing jeans and t-shirts. The ban has been implemented in more than 10 villages of Muzaffarnagar and Saharanpur districts. “The kind of clothes that unmarried girls in our community wear, for example netted or if they are semi-clothed, this is not decent according to the rules of Islam. We live in villages, it might be allowed in cities but it is not allowed in villages and our village council, our organisation has totally banned it,” said Mohammad Irfan, the president of the council. These village councils, which comprise of rich, upper-caste, elderly men wearing long white tunics, have governed the northern countryside, exerting social control through patriarchal diktats that not only clash with a country moving towards more liberal attitudes, but also challenge the law of the land. Acting as de-facto courts for millions of Indians, the councils or ‘Khap Panchayats’, settle disputes on everything from land and cattle to matrimony and murder, helping maintain social order in a country where access to justice can be difficult for the poor and uneducated. The families failing to comply with the orders of the village council are first ‘counseled’ and if they still continue to flout rules then they are boycotted. The 17-member council then takes a final call on the fate of those who do not follow their diktat. The villagers reason that providing mobile phones to unmarried girls may increase crimes against women. “We don’t think it is good for unmarried girls to use mobile phones. God forbid, if they talk to someone (men), it results in increase of crimes and mischief, so we have banned it. In fact, I think only the married men, the responsible men should carry mobile phones,” said Mohammad Akbar, a villager. Akbar suggested the mobiles should be provided to married men who can handle the gadget “with responsibility”.Meanwhile, the village council has also banned the custom of dowry and stressed on compulsory education for children. However, the councils are coming under growing scrutiny because of their brutal forms of punishment, prompting some women rights activists to label them the ‘Taliban of India’. (Times of India 21/9/15)

24. Sub-committee irked by low rate of convictions (8)

KALABURAGI: The Legislature Sub-Committee on Prevention of Violence and Sexual Abuse of Children and Women has expressed its displeasure over rising incidents of atrocities on women and children and the abysmal conviction rate of cases filed against the accused in such cases. The members of the sub-committee, including former Minister K.B. Shanappa, actor Jaimala, and Vinisha Neeru (all MLCs), conducted a review of cases of rape, sexual harassment, trafficking, child abuse, dowry, and domestic violence in Kalaburagi district at the Deputy Commissioner’s meeting hall here on Wednesday. They came down heavily on the Police and the District Administration for the low conviction rate in these cases in the past three years. Ms. Jaimala and Mr. Shanappa blamed police officials present for not registering the cases of illegal marriage of minor girls from the economically Gujjar community which had migrated from north India. While the police said that one such case has been registered and the girl rescued and sent to the State home for women, Women and Child Welfare Department officials complained to the members of the sub-committee that the police were uncooperative in registering a few other similar cases reported in Kalaburagi district. Ms. Jaimala said that the police have failed in their duty to curb such illegal marriages in the district. “While the police have mentioned one case of a minor girl marrying a Gujjar boy, two more cases have emerged in this meeting and there are complaints of non-cooperation by the police at the station level to register complaints,” she said. She said similar marriages within the Gujjar community were earlier reported in Dakshina Kannada and other south Karnataka districts and such incidents had come down to zero after officials and the police took up awareness programmes and severe penal action against agents and grooms from the Gujjar communities who targeted the poor families. “This is nothing but human trafficking. Such marriages are taking place in almost all taluks in Hyderabad Karnataka districts,” she added. The committee members also directed the district administration to issue necessary directions to end the crude methods followed while conducting physical tests of rape victims. (The Hindu 24/9/15)

25. National Women’s Panel to Recommend Minimum Wages in Unorganised Sector (8)

KOCHI: The National Women’s Commission will write to the Ministry of Women and Child Development to ensure minimum wages for women working in the unorganised sector.Commission member Sushma Sahu, who was in the city on Thursday to inaugurate the women lawyers conference, said that the Commission will take steps to bring the issues being faced by women labourers to the notice of the ministry. Sushma Sahu, who was appointed as the Commission member in August this year, said the Commission will also seek the ministry’s assistance in setting up fast track courts solely to deal with sexual harassment and domestic violence cases. “We will also seek the help of the courts to make speedy trials in such cases so that the culprits  don’t walk free,” she said. “It is high time to amend our laws which  dilute the gravity of complaints given by women by insisting for evidence which many times cant be furnished. The culprits easily get bail and don’t get punished,” Sushma said. The member from Bihar, who is in charge of the states like Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand and Tamil Nadu, does not have a clear-cut of the agitation led by the women tea plantation workers in Munnar or similar protests. “The women lawyers here brought to my notice such developments in the state. I was also informed on the death of three girls of Konni, Pathanamthitta,” she said. The Commission is taking steps to give job training for the victims of domestic violence to make them capable of earning themselves. “The women caught up in such situations do not get divorce even if they opt for that. They are threatened when they take bold steps,” the Commission member pointed out. “In the case of victims of sexual harassment the situation is like that their life has ended up in hell. They are often housed in shelter homes and  never welcomed back to homes. Even if the parents accept them that is by force,” she added. Another alarming incident, according to the member of the Women’s Forum, is human trafficking. “It is a stunning fact that selling and buying of women could not be checked. The incidents are highest from Assam, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar,” she said. The Commission is forging tie-ups with NGOs and similar organisations to create awareness among women to seek legal help when required and to make them courageous to break silence in times of sufferings. (New Indian Express 25/9/15)

26. In rape cases, even filing an FIR is difficult: Dalit women (8)

MADURAI: Many of the 30-odd dalit women who attended a public hearing meeting in Arasaradi in the city said they had been subjected to sexual harassment, including rape, but had been unable to take the legal path for justice due to pressure and discrimination. The meeting was held by Madurai-based NGO Evidence so as to provide legal assistance to dalit women who had faced atrocities. Director of Evidence A Kathir presided over the meeting, called ‘Dalit Women Speak Out’. Saradha (name changed), a 47-year-old mid-day meal worker from Thirupuvanam, said she was raped by a 24-year-old man while she was returning home from the school. “Everyone asked me to settle the issue without registering a police complaint to protect the honour of the village,” she said. “On February1 2014, my 17-year-old daughter was raped by a gang of four men, who later dumped her in a garbage site in our village. It has been a year since we last went to the village, because the villagers accused my daughter of being in love with a boy outside our caste. The accused were also later released on bail,”said another dalit woman from Ottanagampatti. According to statistics given by Evidence, around 923 rape cases were registered in Tamil Nadu in 2013 and a whopping 10,565 cases were registered in 2014, of which 1,110 were cases of rape of minor girls. Of these, one of the most vulnerable groups was dalit women, who face several hindrances right from the time of filing a complaint in the police station to getting medical checkups done, they said. (Times of India 27/9/15)


27. Unregistered NGOs can’t run children homes, rules SC (14)

New Delhi: The Supreme Court said on Friday that no unregistered NGO would be permitted to run children homes as it expressed apprehension that some of these too may be engaged in child trafficking. Asking the central government to ensure that shutters were pulled down on the children homes being run by unregistered NGOs, the social justice bench of Justice Madan B. Lokur and Justice Uday Umesh Lalit said that the child trafficking a very serious offence under the law and against humanity. “Some of the girls are used in trafficking and it is possible that that some of the NGOs are involved in the trafficking and if the state is not checking it then it too is complicit. “Be clear about it. Not a single unregistered NGO will have a children’s home,” the court told Additional Solicitor General P.S. Patwalia appearing for the central government. “It is better than being trafficked,” the court said as Patwalia said that in the event of asking the unregistered NGOs to shut down their children homes, these children will have to be moved out. Stressing there could be no compromise on the safety of children, the court said that “child trafficking is a very serious offence in law and trafficking is a very serious offence against humanity”. Itss observation came in the course of the hearing of a PIL by Sampurna Behura where an affidavit filed by the central government revealed that in Assam, there was a larger inflow and outflow of girls in the children homes compared to boys. Confronting the figures, the court asked Patwalia what were the corresponding figures for the boys leaving children homes. In indictment of the insensitivity of the authorities who were totally unaware of the whereabouts of a girl after she leaves children’s home, Justice Lokur observed: “Nobody knows that.” His riposte came as Patwalia told the court: “When they move out, they may have joined their families.” The court also asked the ASG as to what he meant by “When they move out”.Asking the central government to pull up its socks, the court said that “so far what you have been doing is writing letters. Much more has to be done. There are enough people to keep. There are thousands of NGOs which are genuine and willing to help children” in distress. (New Kerala 11/9/15)

28. Cops’ role to be probed in child labour rescue case (14)

NOIDA: Gautam Budh Nagar district magistrate NP Singh on Friday ordered a probe into the role of police after a 12-year-old girl tortured and starved by her employer was handed over to her family without a proper investigation. The DM deputed the district probation officer to conduct the probe and said strict action would be taken against officials found guilty. The child labour, who is from Lakhimpur Khiri in Uttar Pradesh, was rescued by NGO Bachpan Bachao Andolan (BBA) on Tuesday from the clutches of her employer after she jumped from his flat on the 13th floor to the balcony of one on the 12th in Exotica Fresco residential society in Noida’s Sector 137 on Monday night. TOI on Friday reported that the child welfare committee on Wednesday handed over the girl to her family on the grounds that she had come to the city on a tour, which triggered protests from the NGO on Thursday. The BBA has also alleged that initially the police had tried to hush up the case and hand over the girl to her employer. “After reading the TOI report, I have ordered a probe into the matter. I have directed the district probation officer to check the facts and the role of cops into the matter. After getting a statement from the child welfare committee, we will decide on further course of action. If cops are found guilty of not presenting the exact facts to the committee, then stringent action will be taken against officials concerned,” Singh said. The child welfare committee also tried to pass the buck on the police. “The cops have misled the committee. They did not produce the copy of the FIR before us. They only showed us the general diary entry. We will soon lodge a complaint against police officials concerned with the Gautam Budh Nagar SSP,” child welfare committee member Jaiveer Yadav said. Commenting on the development, BBA’s director (victim assistance) Rakesh Senger said, “The cops are guilty in the case. The child welfare committee should have also thoroughly investigated the matter on its part and not relied on the cops. The committee should have recorded the girl’s statement under Section 164 of CrPC. We have complained against the cops and the committee to the UP Child Rights Commission.” (Times of India 12/9/15)

29. 85% kid abuse cases pending in Delhi courts (14)

NEW DELHI: The overall average percentage of pending cases under Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) in children’s courts in Delhi between April 2013 and March 2014 was 85% with the west district having the highest pendency of about 93%, reports Ambika Pandit. In a shocking finding, the average pendency in Delhi’s children’s courts during the financial year 2013-14 of cases registered under Protection Of Children from Sexual Offences Act has been revealed to be as high as 85%, with West district recording the maximum of 93%.The data, thrown up in an analysis by Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights, shows gross violation of Section 35(2) of POCSO Act, which mandates completion of trials as fast as possible. The report, which describes the statistics as a “sorry picture”, also calculates the average percentage of convictions to be about 2%. Just 15% cases are disposed of. “This commission feels that such a high percentage of pendency and low percentage of conviction can be attributed to the fact that children’s courts are not fully dedicated to the cases. They handle matters related to children in addition to usual cases allotted to them. As a result, the legal requirement that the case be disposed of within a year is not being adhered to,” says the report. The DCPCR report studies trends based on data provided by police and other stakeholders since enactment of POCSO Act. The total number of cases registered by Delhi Police under the Act between December 2012 and March 2014 is 1,492. The maximum number of cases under POCSO Act was registered in the police district of Outer Delhi (226) followed by West (200) and Southeast (176). The highest percentage of sexual abuse of children by known persons was reported from Outer district again (94 cases) followed by Southeast (93 cases) and South/Central districts (91 cases). The average percentage of such crimes is 89%…. (Times of India 15/9/15)

30. Rising number of juveniles turning sexually abusive, say experts (14)

CHENNAI: In her research on 40 juvenile sex offenders in the Philippines, Zenaida S Rosales noticed a common thread – all of them had witnessed some form of violence (not necessarily sexual) in their social environment. “It could be any kind of violence – physical to quarrelling to just a chaotic home environment,” says Rosales, co-founder, Centre for the Prevention and Treatment of Child Sexual Abuse based in the Philippines. She presented her findings in the city on Tuesday at a conference on addressing sexual violence against children organised by Chennai-based Tulir -Centre for the Prevention and Healing of Child Sexual Abuse. While, so far, there are no studies documenting the behaviour and personality traits of juvenile sex abusers in Chennai, those working in the field feel the findings are relevant for India as well. According to Rosales’s findings, exposure to pornography was another big factor that contributed to their sexually abusive behavior. “In the Philippines, we get WiFi. You don’t even need money to access pornography,” says Rosales. Her study also showed that a majority of the juvenile offenders were school dropouts and were acting out because of their low self-esteem. “There has been a spike in the number of juvenile child sex offenders but there are no official statistics because it is not taken seriously. Most cases are just swept under the carpet,” says Vidya Reddy of Tulir, who spearheaded the conference. “Technology is a big contributor to sexual crimes committed by children,” she says. While the National Crime Records Bureau does not go into specifics, the 2014 statistics show that there were 12 cases of rape committed by juvenile offenders in Tamil Nadu. All India, the number of juveniles under the age of 12 booked for rape stands at 23, while there are 632 cases involving children over 12. Social workers in the city say that is nowhere near the real figures, with most cases being ignored as they involve children. Reddy recalls several incidents of schools calling her organisation in a panic – “it is always in a panic”, she says – when they come across incidents of older children sexually abusing younger children. “The school management ‘handles’ it by merely suspending the offender. Some think a good beating is enough. Real intervention is handling the problematic sexual behaviour. Otherwise the offender is back in school after a week, probably angrier and more violent than ever,” she says… (Times of India 16/9/15)

31. Unequal Access to Education Drives Child Labour in India: Study (14)

SYDNEY: Despite economic prosperity and dramatic fall in poverty levels, unequal access to education ensures hundreds of millions of children remain trapped in child labour in developing countries including India, says a new study by Indian-origin researchers. For the study, Jayanta Sarkar and Dipanwita Sarkar from Queensland University of Technology Business School in Australia compared levels of child labour and schooling across economic groups in India, Peru and Ethiopia. They developed an innovative overlapping generations economic model to explain how child labour stubbornly persists despite falling poverty in developing countries. The “fixed private cost” of schooling meant the poor had less access to education relative to the rich, a key driver in child labour among the poor, Sarkar said. “Typically schooling, even in a ‘free’ education system, imposes a large burden on the poor through the fixed costs of things like transportation to and from school and books and other materials,” he pointed out. The research found that income inequality may matter more than poverty in explaining why child labour continues. “The analysis shows that families below a level of relative income choose zero schooling and full time labour for their children because they simply can’t afford either the fixed schooling costs, or to miss out on the small income their children generate for the household,” Sarkar noted. “Instead of schooling, they invest in child health to ensure children possess physical capability to perform unskilled work,” he said. Figures from The World Bank show the number of people living on less than $1.25 per day decreased dramatically from half the citizens in the developing world in 1981 to 21 percent in 2010, despite a 59 percent increase in the developing world population. However UNICEF estimates 246 million children are still engaged in child labour. “There is a clear link between income inequality and intensity of child labour. But, more income does not always reduce child labour. In fact, as wages rise child labour rises in families who find schooling too expensive,” Sarkar said. “Only after income reaches a certain ‘threshold’ level, does schooling become affordable and child labour start to fall. The ‘threshold’ rises with the degree of income inequality,” he said. Sarkar said that simply banning child labour would actually end up hurting the poor as child income would dry up and as a result private investment in health would fall. He said a child labour ban had to be accompanied by an increase in access to education. “Two policies that could help eliminate child labour are targeted attempts to reduce schooling costs for the poor, and raising the efficacy of public health infrastructure,” Sarkar noted. (New Indian Express 21/9/15)

32. The study was published in the journal Economic Inquiry.

Satyarthi’s Nobel effort finally puts child slavery in list of UN’s sustainable development goals (14)

NEW DELHI: When global leaders gather in New York later next week to discuss and adopt the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), child slavery will form an important part of those goals. What a difference a Nobel Peace Prize can make. In 1999, when he was just another NGO for children’s rights, Kailash Satyarthi tried to persuade the rest of the world to include child labour, in the Millennium Development Goals (MDG). “I believe without eradicating child labour, we would not be able to fulfil other goals like education or adult employment. … But it was not attended properly, because five years ago it was just an emerging global idea, so it was very hard to pitch. During those years, in many UN summits, I organized side events to push the idea.” He was better prepared this time. When the world started working on the SDGs, “we very carefully and systematically started working with those involved in this discussion – governments, NGOs, everyone.” But the world had also become a slightly better place in some respect. “The number of child labourers had decreased worldwide, from 260 million to 168 million. The number of out-of-school children also declined form 130 million to 58 million. So significant progress has been made,” Satyarthi told TOI in an exclusive chat. But child slavery figures had not only stayed constant, but even increased. “That data has not changed — 5.5 million children in conditions of slavery. Non-government statistics as well as internal figures of UN agencies shows it to be even higher. The number is between 5.5 million to 8.5 million. My sense is, these numbers have increased. Modern forms of slavery, including trafficking of children, has become one of the most lucrative trades in the world. That’s why the numbers have increased.” He felt it was important to include these goals in the SDGs. But most governments were chary of talking about uncomfortable issues like child slavery. “Who will accept that slavery exists in their own countries? It was quite hard, and many governments thought it is a delicate matter. For the past year I have met many governments, special envoys, in their capitals and in NY. But it still found no mention in the drafts.” But the Nobel Peace Prize changed all that. Since then, world leaders have been beating a path to Satyarthi’s door. He has met UN secretary general Ban ki Moon twice, President of South Korea, Prime Ministers of Norway, Sweden, and a host of other countries where he used his new global fame to push the idea that the world needs to tackle child slavery with a special focus. “I met President Obama and told him, this was a request from one Nobel laureate to another. He promised to take up the cause.” So did Ban ki Moon. And all the issues he has championed – child slavery, education, violence and child labour are now part of the SDGs. Satyarthi and Modi will address the same SDG summit next week. But where is India in implementing laws to protect children from violence and slavery? Nowhere really. “I met Mr Modi a couple of times. I have requested him to ratify the International Convention on the worst forms of child labour and convention on the minimum age of employment.” India, shockingly, stands with Sudan and Eritrea as being a handful of countries to not have ratified the convention. “Modi listened to me carefully, and promised a child labour law. Many of his officers had an excuse – until we make a more clear domestic law, we cannot ratify the international convention. But that is an excuse. Most countries have synced their domestic laws to international laws, India can too.” A draft law exists, he said, but it needs a debate. “I have written to every single parliament member. Children are not going to wait, who are languishing in slavery. They are losing lungs, eyes, kidneys every day. If there is a law we have a tool to fight it.” (Times of India 23/9/15)

33. Child rights experts ask govt to review acts related to children (14)

NEW DELHI: Leading child rights experts have asked the government to review existing legal instruments and acts related to children, and more budget allocations for Right to Education (RTE) and Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS). At a two-day national consultation organised by NGO Aide-et-Action in collaboration with UNESCO and Bernard van Leer Foundation, the experts recommended setting up of a database on migrants both at source and destination, policy on portability of child related schemes, ensuring decent housing in a healthy environment at destination and access to basic facilities.”In order to improve the attendance in schools, the government is proposing a monthly scholarship of Rs 100 per child till the standard VIII to motivate them to attend the school regularly,” joint secretary of bureau of labour welfare Bipin Bihari Mallick said at the meeting. The delegates also recommended 25% reservation for children of disadvantaged groups may be extended to migrant children in the RTE, exchange of information between different ministries like the women and child development, labour, education and social welfare, formation of a national alliance of civil society organizations working on children’s rights and migration to channelize support system for advocacy mechanism. CREDAI secretary Suresh Hari stressed on the need of government to utilize the taxes paid by the public towards the welfare of migrant workers and their children. “Temporary distress migration is the major reason for high dropout and low attendance in schools. Added to this, there is a need to understand the patterns of the migrant children with the support of School Management Committees and teachers which will help evolve an inclusive policy for the migrant children in cities,” UNESCO’s section chief and programme specialist, Marina Faetanini said. On this occasion, Childhood on the Move (Lives of young Migrants in Pictures), a photo document was also released. (Times of India 26/9/15)

34. Six child labourers rescued from Ambala (14)

AMBALA: Six child labourers were on Monday rescued from a market in Ambala city by a joint team of district child protection department and NGO officials. Acting on a specific information, six children in the age group of 8 to 14 years from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, working as labourers at some shops in the grain market were rescued, district child protection officer Megha Singla said. These children had come to Ambala along with some of their relatives who had engaged them at the shops, the officer said. The rescued children were taken to the civil hospital for medical examination and later shifted to a shelter home in Ambala Cantonment, Singla said, adding their parents have been informed. (Times of India 28/9/15)


35. Bandh against Centre’s decision on Bangla, Pakistan minorities cripple life in Assam (7)

Guwahati: Normal life was severely affected across Assam on Saturday due to a 12-hour bandh called by 12 students’ and youth organization demanding withdrawal of the Centre’s recent order to permit entry to and stay in India to members of different minority communities fleeing Bangladesh and Pakistan due to religious persecution in those countries. Shops and business establishments remained shut, public transport was mostly off the road, and educational institutions too remained closed, while bandh supporters pelted stones in several towns to enforce the bandh. Over 300 bandh supporters were also arrested in different towns. The bandh, which was originally called by the Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuva-Chatra Parishad (AJYCP), was subsequently backed by eleven other groups including the All Bodo Students’ Union (ABSU), All Dimasa Students’ Union, All Karbi Students’ Union, All Assam Sonowal-Kachari Students’ Union, and All Moran Students’ Union. The Asom Gana Parishad too extended support to the bandh. The ministry of home affairs had on Monday issued a notification saying the Centre had decided to exempt “on humanitarian considerations” Bangladeshi and Pakistani nationals belonging to minority communities who have entered India on or before December 31, 2014 from the relevant provisions of rules and order made under the Passport (Entry into India) Act, 1920 and the Foreigners Act, 1946, in respect of their entry and stay in India without such documents or after the expiry of those documents, as the case may be. The Centre’s decision has evoked massive protests in Assam, with the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) threatening to approach the Supreme Court against it. “While Assam has been struggling to protect the indigenous communities from being outnumbered by illegal migrants from Bangladesh, the Centre’s decision will only open the floodgates for more to come,” said AASU general secretary Lurin Jyoti Gogoi. The AASU had on Friday taken out a torch-light protest march in Guwahati, while the AGP had staged a sit-in protest. Former chief minister and senior AGP leader Prafulla Kumar Mahanta said the BJP-led government at the Centre was least bothered about the indigenous communities of Assam. “The Modi government has further complicated the Bangladeshi influx problem by taking such a decision that will further reduce the indigenous people of Assam into a minority,” Mahanta said. (Indian Express 13/9/15)

36. Nepal to stay secular, proposal for a Hindu nation rejected (7)

KATHMANDU: A proposal to declare Nepal a Hindu state was overwhelmingly rejected by the constituent assembly on Monday which reaffirmed that the Hindu-majority nation will remain secular. The proposal made by pro-Hindu National Democratic Party Nepal to amend the constitution to make Nepal a Hindu state was rejected by more than two-thirds of lawmakers who declared that the country should remain secular as the constituent assembly resumed voting on individual articles of the draft constitution. After assembly chairman Subas Chandra Nembang announced that the proposal has been rejected, Kamal Thapa, leader of the National Democratic Party Nepal, demanded split voting. Thapa’s proposal for a vote received the support of only 21 lawmakers in the 601-seat constituent assembly. As the CA rules requires 61 members to begin the split voting, the voting was not done. The erstwhile Hindu state, Nepal was declared a secular state in 2007 after the success of the people’s movement of 2006 that saw the abolition of monarchy. During a public opinion collection held in July, majority of the people preferred the word “Hindu” or “religious freedom” instead of using the term “secularism”. Protesting the rejection of the proposal, a group of Hindu activists carrying yellow and saffron flags clashed with security personnel at New Baneshwar area in the capital. The clash erupted after police used force to disperse the agitating activists who tried to enter the prohibitory area near the constituent assembly building. They wanted to march towards the assembly, demanding that Nepal be acknowledged as Hindu state in the new constitution. The protesters attacked passing vehicles, including one of the United Nations. Nepal on Sunday entered the final phase of promulgating its new constitution with the three major parties going ahead with clause-wise voting on the final draft of the statute despite a boycott by Madhesi parties and violent protests that have claimed nearly 40 lives. The Madhesi parties are protesting against the seven province model of the federal structure as proposed by the major political parties. Southern Nepal has witnessed turmoil since lawmakers from major political parties struck a breakthrough deal on August 15 to divide the country into seven provinces. (Times of India 14/9/15)

37. BJP wing defends asylum to religious minorities (7)

GUWAHATI: Amid large-scale protests against the Centre’s notification on giving asylum to religious minorities from Pakistan and Bangladesh, BJP’s minority morcha came out in defence arguing that as the subcontinent was divided on the basis of religion, it’s legitimate for India to provide shelter to them. State minority morcha president Sayed Mominul Awal said here on Thursday that it is India’s responsibility to ensure that religious minorities in Pakistan and Bangladesh are protected after they were compelled to leave their countries of origin because of persecution. “The entire basis of legitimacy of giving shelter to religious minorities in India rests on the fact that India was partitioned on the basis of religion. When religious minorities in Pakistan and Bangladesh are faced with persecution, it is the duty of our country to take care if they come to India,” Awal said. At the same time, he reiterated that as the notification was for the entire country, there is no need for Assam to worry. BJP leaders, however, accused Congress and All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) of creating confusion among the people on the notification for petty politics. “An impression is being created that Assam will bear the entire burden of the migrants. This is not true. Both Congress and AIUDF are trying to create confusion by whipping up sentiments of people ahead of the assembly polls,” said BJP spokesperson Shiladitya Dev. Both Congress and AIUDF have denied the charge and accused BJP of playing politics on religious lines. On the occasion of PM Narendra Modi’s birthday, the minority morcha, which boasts of being able to make three lakh-odd Muslim members of BJP within a year, has outlined its blueprint for reaching out to minority voters ahead of the 2016 assembly polls. “The rise in Muslim members in BJP has boosted our morale to transform their support into votes. Muslims in the state have to play a crucial role to ensure the next BJP government in the state,” said Awal. As a part of its strategies, the morcha will kick off with mass sabhas from October in minority-dominated constituencies. The sabhas will explain to the electorate about Narendra Modi’s message for inclusive growth. “From December, we will focus on exposing the injustices being meted out to Muslims in the state under Congress government,” said Awal. (Times of India 18/9/15)

38. Minority rights should not act as a privilege for them: Ex-SC judge (19)

TRICHY: Minority rights are meant to ensure that minority groups are not trampled by majority. It should address their problems and should not act as a privilege for minorities, said Justice KT Thomas, former Supreme Court Judge, at Sastra University Law School in Thanjavur district on Thursday. Justice Thomas spoke on ‘minority rights and Indian constitution’ at the annual moot court competition, “tarkasastra”. He called for a change in the jurisprudential discourse on minority rights with a scientific and democratic method instead of the existing numerical method. Thomas talked about the numerical strength of Parsis, Jains, Atheists, Sikhs, Christians and Muslims in India. He said minority rights should be given to numerically small, Parsis and Jains, and not for strong Christians and Muslims. Justice Thomas said the 93rd amendment of the Indian Constitution and its last limb of Article 13 was against the spirit of the constitution. He emphasized on the importance of constitution in a diverse country like India and highlighted on the dimensions of socio-political life in a republic. “Over 20 law schools, including six National Law Schools, from across the country competed on the topic, Article 26 and the right to own and administer temples, on Thursday and Friday at the fifth edition of Tarkasastra centres,” said the student coordinator, Karthik Subramaniam, in a statement. (Times of India 19/9/15)

39. ‘Centre keen on stepping up quality education for minorities’ (7)

HYDERABAD: Emphasising on the need to make educational facilities available for minorities in the state, the Union minister for minority affairs Najma Heptullah said the Centre is keen on stepping up quality education, exclusively for minorities. Speaking at a conference on ‘Taleem ki Taquat’ (power of education) at the Maulana Azad National Urdu University (Manuu), with specific bearing on the Muslim community, Heptulla said: “Prime Minister Narendra Modi has asked us to implement suitable schemes for the development of minorities, especially Muslims who are pushed to extreme backwardness over a period.” She further stressed on the need of skill development among the Muslim girls and said that it is also on the priority list of the central government. Reminding the words of late President APJ Abdul Kalam, she reiterated: “You may be less in numbers but you are not inferior to others.” She called upon the youth from the Muslim community to contribute towards nation building by all means. The other speakers also dwelt at length on the urgent need for education and skill development of Muslims. Deputy chief minister Mohammed Mahmood Ali said that the state government would work along with the Centre to develop people-friendly schemes in the education sector. He said that he was in receipt of a representation from Karimnagar parliamentarian B Vinod seeking a sanction of land for Manuu study center in the latter’s constituency. Reading the verses of Quran pertaining to education, the chancellor of Manuu, Zafar Sareshwala said: “There is no difference between religious and modern education. Today, technology is educating people in remote areas through satellite connections.” He mentioned the work of the virtual education imparted to the madrassas in various parts of the Mumbai and said that it has been enabling a chunk of people to learn new things. (Times of India 21/9/15)

40. Nepal Ambassador: ‘Our Constitution better than (India’s)’  (7)

New Delhi: With India raising concerns over Nepal’s newly promulgated Constitution not taking care of the Madhesis and Janjatis, Nepal’s ambassador to India Deep Kumar Upadhyay Wednesday said his country’s Constitution was the “most progressive in South Asia”, but added that it is an “open document which can be amended”. His deputy in the Nepal embassy Krishna Prasad Dhakal, meanwhile, said, “Nepal’s Constitution is better than the Indian Constitution since it takes care of minorities as well as women.” The Indian Express reported Wednesday that India has conveyed to Nepal’s leadership the seven amendments it wants in their Constitution to ensure it is acceptable to the Madhesis and Janjatis.Speaking to The Indian Express, Upadhyay said that if the Indian side had conveyed the “suggestions or reservations or expectations, and I would have known timely (sic), this situation would have been avoided. This is not a good situation for both countries”. “If before the public statements, if we had known (about India’s reservations), then something could have changed (sic),” the envoy said. Praising Nepal’s Constitution, he said it is a “very progressive, very inclusive, participatory, gender equality and human rights friendly” document. Dhakal, meanwhile, pointed out: “Nepal’s Constitution has both first-past-the-post system as well as proportional representation. This combination of the two ensures that minorities’ representation is taken care of.” He added that the Indian Constitution only ensures the first-past-the-post system.Dhakal also said Nepal’s newly promulgated Constitution guarantees 33 per cent reservation for women, which is not the case with the Indian Constitution. “In these aspects, Nepal’s Constitution is better than the Indian Constitution, since it takes care of minorities as well as women,” Dhakal said. … (Indian Express 24/9/15)

41. Pope Francis calls for defense of religious freedom (7)

PHILADELPHIA: Pope Francis on Saturday called for a vigorous defense of religious freedom and urged ordinary Catholics, especially women, to help fortify the Church, as hundreds of thousands celebrated his visit to Philadelphia. The head of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics also made another impassioned plea for new immigrants from Latin America to be accepted in the United States, and encouraged them not to be discouraged as they build a new life. The 78-year-old Argentine pontiff landed in the City of Brotherly Love after a short flight from New York, where he spent a whirlwind 36 hours that included an emotional visit to Ground Zero and mass at Madison Square Garden. Francis is wrapping up a historic visit to Cuba and the United States this weekend in Philadelphia, with a packed schedule including two appearances at the Festival of Families, an international Catholic gathering. The city is under a security lockdown, with traffic banned downtown for the entire weekend and thousands of National Guardsmen in the streets to corral throngs of faithful hoping to see the pontiff. At Independence Hall, where the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution were debated and signed, Francis told a crowd of tens of thousands that religious freedom must be protected — and be used for the greater good. “It is a fundamental right which shapes the way we interact socially and personally with our neighbors whose religious views differ from our own,” the pope said. “In a world where various forms of modern tyranny seek to suppress religious freedom… or to use religion as a pretext for hatred and brutality, it is imperative that the followers of the various religions join their voices in calling for peace, tolerance and respect for the dignity and rights of others.” A debate over the place of religious freedom in American society came to a head this month when a Kentucky county clerk was jailed after refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, saying it violated her religious beliefs. The first Latin American pope also touched on another hot-button issue in US politics: how immigrants fit into American society, and how far the US should open its borders to them. Francis reminded the large contingent of Hispanics in the crowd: “You bring many gifts to your new nation. You should never be ashamed of your traditions,” while also urging them to be “responsible citizens.” “Many of you have emigrated to this country at great personal cost, but in the hope of building a new life. Do not be discouraged by whatever challenges and hardships you face,” he said, speaking in Spanish….  (Times of India 27/9/15)


42. Muslims criticize Saamna for ‘go to Pak’ remark, say they are part of India’s ethos (7)

MUMBAI: Muslim leaders have termed the ‘Muslims can go to Pakistan’ remark in Sena mouthpiece Saamna as provocative and derogatory.”The Shiv Sena and all other Hindutva outfits who keep saying that Muslims have an option to go to Pakistan need to re-read history. Muslims had an option in 1947 but those who remained in India did so because they preferred pluralistic India over exclusivist Islamic Pakistan. Our forefathers fought for the country’s freedom and we have contributed to its progress. Saamna should resist from raking up an outdated issue,” said Jamiatul Ulema-e-Hind (Maharashtra) president Maulana Mustaqeem Azmi. He added that calling Indian Muslims Pak sympathizers was Hindutva’s favourite pastime and sensible people laugh at this “idiocy” as Indian Muslims are completely integrated to India’s multicultural ethos. Community leaders also attacked the Sena for trying to turn a dietary issue into a communal flashpoint. “Muslims rejected Jinnah’s diabolical two-nation theory because they loved and continue to love this country. We don’t need certificate of patriotism from fascists. Instead of pitting two minorities—Muslims and Jains—against each another, Saamna should raise the issue of farmers whose distress has only accentuated due to the beef ban and will face more hardship if mutton is also banned frequently,” said MIM legislator Waris Pathan. Congress MLA Amin Patel said: “India is our motherland and no one can question our patriotism. A party which has little regard for law and order has no right to say that Muslims have Pakistan as an alternative country. Just as Hindus and Jains and others who were born here have no other country, Muslims too believe that their destiny lies in India and not Pakistan which became Islamic only in name but has nothing Islamic about it. Muslims will go nowhere and continue to contribute to India’s growth.” (Times of India 11/9/15)

43. Quran copies found burnt in Panipat (7)

KARNAL: Tension prevailed in Panipat on Tuesday as around ten copies of holy book of Quran were allegedly burnt by unidentified miscreants in the industrial city on Monday. A large number of Muslims gathered at Panipat secretariat and demanded action against those responsible for the act. While assuring a strict action against the culprits, deputy commissioner Sameer Pal Srow has appealed to all sections of the society to maintain peace. Irfan Ali, a Muslim leader from Panipat, told Hindustan Times over phone on Tuesday that 10 to12 copies of the holy book were found missing on Monday from a shop hired by Muslims living near Kutani road for community recitation of the holy book. The set was allegedly found burnt in a tandoor kept at an adjacent dhabha. He alleged that Ram Singh, a local resident, quarrelled with some Muslims on last Thursday and had threatened them. However, he clarified that Singh was in an inebriated condition and the community had not pointed a direct finger at anyone for hurting its sentiments. “We had duly registered the incident of verbal duel and it is up to the police to verify if Singh had any direct or indirect role behind the crime. But it is a matter of fact that Ram Singh was providing free water service to the Muslim gathering before our prayers,” said Ali.

He said that on Monday, it was found that holy books kept at the place of community prayers were missing and later these were traced in a burnt condition at a nearby dhabha. Police sources said as the dhabha owner came to his shop he found fire in the tandoor outside.  On sifting through the ashes, he found traces of the holy book. “The material used in the printing and binding the holy books does not get burnt completely. The quality led us to trace the book remains from a heap of ash,” said Ali. He said that some people from various communities might try to give communal colour to the unfortunate incident, but the local Muslims had made an appeal to everyone to maintain peace. Meanwhile, the Panipat DC met a Muslim delegation and assured them administration’s full support. In a statement, the DC said that a police complaint had already been registered and nobody would be allowed to disturb communal harmony in the district. “The administration urges various sections of the society to contact the district authorities for any complaint. They should not allow anyone to take political mileage out of this condemnable incident,” said the DC. (Hindustan Times 15/9/15)

44. ‘Ban-fatwa culture’ growing under Modi regime: Congress (7)

NEW DELHI: Congress on Wednesday warned that “ban-fatwa culture” was growing under the Modi government and threats to icons Rajnikanth and A R Rahman were symptomatic of the trend over the last 15 months. AICC spokesman Abhishek Singhvi said over the past few months, Indians had been told “what to wear, celebrate, eat, watch, who to walk with in the park, if they can hold hands, what religion people should follow, how to pray and what to teach”.He said there was an exponential rise in bans and fatwas, pointing to unprecedented killings of rationalists like Dabholkar and Kalburgi, and asked if this was the 21st century India that Prime Minister Narendra Modi promised countrymen. Singhvi said the blame fell squarely on the “pseudo-religiosity of RSS which sees India, the most diverse place on earth, through the prism of homogenous paradigm of religion and language”.Congress said the actions of outfits claiming to be the guardians of Islam were equally condemnable. “The threats to Rahman and Rajnikanth are two sides of the same coin — extreme intolerance which is the anti-thesis of the idea of India,” he said. Singhvi lamented that while ministers and members of the ruling BJP and shadowy outfits of the RSS had repeatedly indulged in inflammatory statements, there was not even a pro-forma admonishment from the PM, “forget about actions or punishment”. (Times of India 17/9/15)

45. Education for All, Muslims Can’t be Kept in the Dark (7)

Bihar invariably features in every discourse on education and it is usually not for the right reasons. With its glorious history and traditions of knowledge quest, institutions of global repute, enlightened luminaries like Lord Mahavira and Gautama Buddha, and rulers like Ashoka the Great, the current education scenario in Bihar saddens practically everyone, except the politicians in power! Decline and degeneration is apparent at every stage and aspect of education. On Teachers’ Day, around 600 citizens of Bihar met in a seminar on Taleem Ki Taqat, the deliberations focusing on how the Muslim community could extricate itself from backwardness, unemployment, poverty and, above all, a sense of desperation and an oft-mentioned sense of victimhood. Speakers, achievers in their own field, rather uniformly emphasised how essential it was to develop self-image and acquire self-assurance in being partners in the progress of development. It emerged prominently that the Muslim community is keen to let their children get modern education, along with the traditional Dini Taleem. Instances were cited how innovative efforts to reach mosques with proposals to teach science and mathematics in addition to religious education were accepted without any hesitation. An innovative imam from Chennai narrated how concerned he felt for the community as for decades no youth qualified in the Civil Services Examinations from Tamil Nadu. He began with a batch of 60 and every year, young Muslim boys and girls are doing well in examinations. He exhorted the community to act, not complain or expect someone else to come and solve their issues. He was greatly applauded when he exhorted the community to move out of the shackles of minority-ism and reservations. Instead, they must rise to realise their full potential as dignified Indians. Another speaker said the least they deserved from the state governments were ‘truly functional schools’! That alone could have transformed the socio-economic profile of the community within 10 years. He felt that it would have brought greater benefits to the community than what the Sachar Committee or Ranganath Misra reports could do. A functional school means qualified teachers with half of them being women, necessary infrastructure with computer education provisions in place, and working toilets for boys and girls, drinking water, regularity and punctuality, and the mother tongue as the medium. Is India not resourceful enough to provide even this much to its minorities and weaker sections? Those who shout hoarse to drive away the communal forces from Bihar and thrive on casteism and communalism in the garb of secularism must account for at least one factor: Why have they not provided even primary education of good quality to Muslims in Bihar? Has this been a deliberate political ploy to perpetuate poverty amongst a large section of Indian citizens? The audience response during the deliberations and also afterwards was indeed far different from the prevailing perceptions. Several youths appeared convinced that the first priority is universal elementary education that focuses on quality and skill orientation. It should also impart human values, and basics of all religions indicating their commonalities. That would inculcate the spirit of working together and develop respect for diversity. This is what India needs in these times of global turmoil and terror created by religious fanatics. Which other country can match the record of India in people living together and according equal respect to all religions? In Bihar, every classroom is a multi-religious ensemble and this is the strength of Bihar. A young person told one of the speakers, “Sir, we shall now ask for schools that are equipped to teach and impart skills. We feel ashamed that now we are known for fake degrees, copying in examinations and the entire education system being in a shambles. Bihar shall regain its glory and primacy in ideas, knowledge and wisdom through the doors of its primary schools!” Let everyone wish him success. There can be no better way of celebrating Teachers’ Day. (New Indian Express 19/9/15)

46. 85% of rural landowners are Hindus; Muslims account for just over 11%: Report (7)

New Delhi: An overwhelming majority of rural, landowning households in the country are Hindus — with their number growing between 2004-05 and 2011-12 — while Muslims constitute only a small minority, a new government-endorsed study has found. According to the ‘India Rural Development Report 2013-14’ by IDFC, whose foreward has been written by Rural Development Minister Chaudhary Birender Singh, nearly 85 per cent of rural, landowning households in 2011-12 were Hindus, and this percentage increased from 2004-05, while Muslim households constituted just over 11 per cent with the figure having declined in the same period. In 2006, the Rural Development Ministry under then minister Jairam Ramesh had inked an agreement for the publication of an annual India Rural Development Report by the IDFC Rural Development Network. This is the second edition of the report. In 2011-12, while Hindus accounted for 84.2 per cent of rural landowners, Muslims and other minorities constituted 11.2 per cent and 4.6 per cent respectively. The figure rose for Hindus in the period between 2004-05 and 2011-12, with a corresponding decline in the share of the other religious communities. In 2004-05, 81.8 per cent rural landowners were Hindu households. While Muslims and other minorities accounted for 12.7 and 5.4 per cent, respectively. Among social groups, data showed that over 40 per cent of rural, landowning households belonged to the Other Backward Classes (OBCs), with the percentage having increased between 2004-05 and 2011-12. In 2004-05, 41.2 per cent of rural landowners were OBCs, 30.7 per cent were ‘others’, 19.7 per cent were SCs and 8.4 per cent were from the Scheduled Tribes. The share of both SCs, STs grew in 2011-12, but at a pace slower than than that of the OBCs. In 2011-12, OBCs held 44.2 per cent land in rural areas, and the figure for ‘Others’, SCs and STs was 23.7 per cent, 20.9 per cent and 11.2 per cent respectively. In terms of employment status in the farm sector in rural India (above 15 years of age), 61.5 per cent of Muslims were self-employed in 2011-12, as against 65 per cent of Hindus and 72.1 per cent of other minorities. The corresponding figures in 2004-05 were 62.7 per cent, 63.8 per cent and 68.5 per cent, respectively. The gender break-up for self employed rural people in the farm sector, however, showed a slightly different picture. In 2011-12, 65 per cent of Muslim women were self-employed, as against 63.6 per cent of Hindu women and 74.7 of those from other minorities. Among men, 60.3 per cent of Muslims belonged to this category, as against 65.8 per cent Hindus and 70.5 per cent from other minorities. In the non-farm sector, 50.8 per cent Muslims were self-employed in 2011-12 — 71.1 per cent women as against 45.8 per cent men. However, among Hindus, 37.6 per cent were self-employed, with a less stark gender variation at 37 per cent for men and 39.6 per cent for women. The high numbers for Muslim women in this category was attributed partly to their “restricted mobility” by this report. It also showed that rural poverty remained “high” among STs and SCs. (Indian Express 23/9/15)

47. Indict Muslims who wed off minor girls: Gujarat high court (7)

AHMEDABAD: The Gujarat high court has held that the special law – Prohibition of Child Marriage Act (PCMA) – will prevail over the Muslim Personal Law in cases where Muslims marry off their minor daughters. Promoters of such marriages will face legal proceedings. The question was whether action can be taken against people who promote or permit marriage of a Muslim girl less than 18 years because the Sharia laws permit a girl to take decision about her marriage when she attains the age of puberty, at around 15. Justice J B Pardiwala on Wednesday ruled that all those who promote or permit such child marriages are liable to be prosecuted under the central law that bans such early nuptials. The case in question before the high court was from Gaekwad Haveli police station, where abduction and rape charges were leveled against Yunush Shaikh (28) who had eloped with a 16-year old girl living in his neighbourhood. Before elopement, they had also got married in December last year. The girl’s father lodged an FIR and sections 363, 366, 376 of the IPC, provisions of Prevention of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) were invoked apart from the PCMA. Looking at the provisions of Personal Laws and IPC, Justice Pardiwala dropped charges of abduction, luring and rape. However, the HC said that even in cases of child marriage involving Muslims, the provisions of PCMA cannot be overlooked and action must be taken against those responsible, said Shaikhs’ counsel Soeb Bhoheria. In reaching this conclusion, the judge spoke of numerous citations from other high courts, the Supreme Court as well as from laws of other countries. He also extensively cited the Islamic texts besides relying on an article written by former SC judge Markandey Katju. The HC observed about rigidity on part of Islamic authorities in interpretation of ancient laws, “Those who have not allowed to change the Muslim Personal Law have done a great disservice to the community. At the same time, it is also true that as the social condition in the nation and throughout the world continues to change. The reality of life is that even without a code on personal law of Muslim in so far as the marriage is concerned, the child marriage is going into oblivion. Education, changing pattern of the family structure, the structure of the family in the context of reality of the world, and economic necessities are on their own precipitating the situation. The members of the community have realized the evil consequences of getting a Muslim girl married at a tendered age of 16 or 17 years.” (Times of India 25/9/15)

48. Decoding the data: Bihar’s Muslim vote, oscillating between diversity and uniformity (7)

There are two features that politically distinguish the Muslims of Bihar. They participate in all kinds of political processes while retaining their socio-religious identities. Although this form of political participation is not exclusively Bihar-centric as Muslims in other parts of India, too, are actively involved in various kinds of politics, the enthusiasm with which politics as a sanctified activity is imbibed in the cultural universe of Muslim communities of Bihar is certainly unique. Secondly, the upsurge of Pasmanda politics in the 1990s, which raised the question of internal power structures among Muslims, has transformed the debate on affirmative action in the country. Thus, it is imperative to ask: do Muslims vote as a political community in Bihar? A CSDS-Lokniti survey of 2014 offers some interesting trends. It shows that over 60 per cent Muslims (including OBC Muslims) went with the Congress-RJD alliance, while 21 per cent went with the JD(U). Muslims, as was expected, overwhelmingly rejected the BJP. This is also true about the Yadav votes. The RJD again emerged as their first choice. Is it thus appropriate to say that the Yadav-Muslim alliance has resurfaced as an important configuration to counter the Modi-BJP? If that is the case, can we say that “defeating” the BJP or securing “secularism” might provoke Muslims to act as a political community in an electoral sense? bihar graphIn the 2010 assembly election, Muslim OBCs simply went with the Congress. However, it did not affect the Muslim support of the RJD as both general and OBC Muslims continued to support it. What is most interesting is the noticeable Muslim backing to the BJP, which emerged a significant choice for both categories of Muslims. However, a very different political picture comes up in 2014. Though Muslim OBCs did go with the JD(U) to a significant extent, the RJD was the first choice for most Muslims. These figures lead us to a general inference that Muslims in Bihar do act collectively as an electoral group. However, this general conclusion needs to be qualified. Two possible interpretations can be drawn. It is true that the BJP’s aggressive politics and Modi-centric campaign played a role in organising Muslims at the state level. But this reconfiguration was not unidirectional. Muslims, it seems, did not follow any active agenda in trying to defeat the BJP. The Muslim vote was divided among the political formations that offered various socially cohesive alternatives. Secondly, we must note that the big electoral ideas — development, poverty eradication and even protection of secular values — actually translate at a constituency level. Muslims voters, like other social groups, perceive these slogans in their own locally constituted political universe and respond to them accordingly. The fragmented Muslim vote share secured by various parties in 2014 demonstrates this aspect well. Modi’s anti-Muslim image or BJP’s pro-Hindu politics, in this sense, is not necessarily received by Muslims at constituency level in a homogenous way….  (Indian Express 29/9/15)


49. Churches Leaders’ Forum appeals (7)

Imphal, September 11 2015 : The Tribal Churches Leaders’ Forum, Manipur has appealed to all the people of Manipur irrespective of their religious affiliation, particularly all the Christians of different denominations to organise prayer and fasting sessions at their respective worship places and Churches for the healing of people’s suffering and restoration of peace and tranquillity in the State. In a statement, the forum also urged the people to resolve all the differences on the negotiating table. Stating that TCLF is neither a political forum nor a mouthpiece of any organisation, the statement said that the forum was constituted by tribal Church leaders of Manipur for the promotion of spiritual welfare of the people. The mission of the forum is to be an agent of Christian love, forgiveness, reconciliation and promotion of peace and unity among the Christian communities by transforming the Churches and society, which according to the forum is divided by tribalism, religious intolerance, hatred, injustice and violence.  The forum would continue to walk together, work together and pray together for the spiritual and social healing of the land and for the extension of God’s Kingdom on earth, the statement said. (Manipur E-Pao 11/9/15)

50. I am facing an organised attack, says John Dayal (7)

MUMBAI: Well-known human rights activist John Dayal, who is being trolled by suspected right-wing activists for his comments on the social media, says he is facing an “organised” attack and suspects it is an attempt to silence the entire Christian community. Dr. Dayal, secretary-general of the All-India Christian Council, came under a barrage of abusive comments after he tweeted on the arrest of the principal of St Xavier’s School, Mumbai, for allegedly molesting two minor students. Dr. Dayal had written that the owners of the school had connections with the ruling BJP. His views against the meat ban further enraged the trolls who resorted to a personal attack, comparing him to paedophiles. His mobile number was posted online after which he received threatening calls. Dr. Dayal said experts told him that to create a trend, a particular word or catch phrase had to be tweeted a particular number of times in a small time-frame. “Within a three-hour time frame, I was trending,” he said. “This campaign of abuse is directed not only at me but at the Christian community in general and there appears to be a deliberate and concerted attempt to prejudice religious harmony and hurt the sentiments of the Christian community and other Indians as well,” he wrote in a complaint to Delhi Commissioner of Police B.S Bassi. Mumbai-based human rights and civil activist groups have issued a joint statement expressing solidarity with Mr. Dayal and demanded that he be provided police protection immediately. They also called for the arrest of the elements that issued online threats. Mr. Dayal is no stranger to attacks on social media. During the nation-wide debate on death penalty for Yakub Memon, Bollywood singer Abhijeet had tweeted that Dr. Dayal deserved to be physically assaulted for demanding reprieve for the 1993 blasts convict. (The Hindu 16/9/15)

51. Nun found dead in convent room, marks found on body (7)

Kottayam (Kerala) : An elderly Catholic nun was found dead under mysterious circumstances at a convent in Pala near here on Thursday morning with the police suspecting it to be a case of “unnatural death”. Fellow nuns who had gone to her room after she missed the morning mass at the chapel found 69-year-old sister Amala dead in a pool of blood in her Lisieux Carmel Convent. A deep injury with a sharp edged weapon on her back and minor wounds were found on her forehead, the police said. Suspecting that it is a case of “unnatural death” the police immediately constituted a team of officials headed by Pala deputy SP Suneesh Babu to probe the case. Kottayam district police chief Satheesh Bino, who visited the convent after hearing about the incident, said the nun died as she sustained a deep injury with a sharp edged weapon on the back of her head and minor wounds on forehead. The police suspects the incident had occurred past midnight. “It is a case of unnatural death,” said Ernakulam Range IG M.R. Ajith Kumar after reviewing progress in the case. The doors of her room were not locked from inside. Sister Amala’s family belongs to Ramapuram near Pala in the district. She was suffering from fever since past couple of days, her fellow sisters said. A nurse by profession, she was leading a retired life. Teams of dog squad and forensic experts were called to collect evidence. (Asian Age 17/9/15)

52. Governor: Christian Missionaries Promoted Education in State (7)

CHENGANNUR:The valedictory function of the year-long golden jubilee celebrations of Christian College in Chengannur was conducted on Thursday, under the aegis of Kerala University. Governor P Sathasivam inaugurated the event. He said Christian missionaries in Kerala had been promoting education in the state. “We are indebted to the Christian missionaries for setting up learning centres across the state. Had it not been for them, we would not have progressed this much in any of the high potential areas. This august occasion enables us to look back with a sense of pride and look forward to specific schemes of actions aimed at holistic development,” the Governor added.  Joseph Mar Thoma Metropolitan, Supreme head of the Mar Thoma Church,  presided over the function. Dr Zacharias Mar Theophilus Suffragan Metropolitan, manager of the college, delivered the keynote address at the meeting. Kodikkunnil Suresh MP, P C Vishnunadh MLA, College principle Achamman Alex, College alumni association president Aby Kuriakose, professor E Daniel, college governing counsel member Rev C K Mathew and treasurer T T Thomas spoke. The college is owned by the Malankara Mar Thoma Syrian Church and was founded in 1964. An year-long celebrations were conducted as part of the golden jubilee of the college. (New Indian Express 18/9/15)

53. Nun’s murder: police get crucial clue (7)

KOTTAYAM: In a significant development, the police retrieved the weapon believed to have been used for the murder of the Catholic nun at the Lisieux Carmelite Convent at Pala. According to the police they found a spade from under one of the staircases inside the convent. The spade used for garden work had bloodstains on it. It has been sent to the Forensic Lab in Thiruvananthapuram. It was on Thursday morning that the body of Sr Amala, 69, was found in a pool of blood in her convent room. As per the post-mortem report the deep wound, made with a blunt object found on the back of the victims head was the cause of death. The police said the object found on Sunday could be the object used for the murder.The investigation into the murder case is progressing under the special squad led by Suneesh Babu, Dy.SP (HR News 21/9/15)

54. Pope Takes Aim at Global Economic Order at UN (7)

UNITED NATIONS: Pope Francis urged a more humane global system that respects the poor and the environment, as he criticized the economic order, in an address to the United Nations today. The pontiff, whose reform-minded approach has won him a rousing global following even from non-believers, offered his vision of a better world on his latest stop of a US tour that has brought thousands to the streets to welcome him. Taking the UN rostrum, the leader of the world’s more than one billion Catholics called for reform to global bodies, including the UN Security Council and financial lenders, to “limit every kind of abuse and usury.” In a wide-ranging speech, Francis touched on an array of hot-button topics, including the persecution of Christians, the Iran nuclear deal, drug trafficking — “silently killing millions” — and the rights of girls to an education. “The international financial agencies should care for the sustainable development of countries and should ensure that they are not subjected to oppressive lending systems which, far from promoting progress, subject people to mechanisms which generate greater poverty, exclusion and dependence,” Francis said. Francis, the first Latin American pope, hails from Argentina — where economic crises have fueled criticism of the conditions set by the International Monetary Fund and other institutions. Francis also gave his latest passionate plea to protect the environment, as he voiced confidence that a high-stakes UN conference on climate change would reach a “fundamental and effective” agreement in Paris in December. Reaffirming a “right to the environment,” the pontiff, 78, said that the universe was “the fruit of a loving decision by the Creator” and that humanity “is not authorized to abuse it, much less to destroy it.” “A selfish and boundless thirst for power and material prosperity leads both to the misuse of available natural resources and to the exclusion of the weak and disadvantaged,” he said. The poor fare worst because they are “forced to live off what is discarded and suffer unjustly from the abuse of the environment,” he said. Francis appealed for peace around the world and made his latest plea for the protection of Christians, as well as others, persecuted by extremists in Syria and Iraq. The pope offered a strong endorsement of Iran’s agreement with the United States and five other world powers to limit its nuclear program, a day after Francis spoke to the US Congress, where many lawmakers vehemently oppose the deal. The Iran agreement “is proof of the potential of political goodwill, exercised with sincerity, patience and constancy,” Francis said. “I express my hope that this agreement will be lasting and efficacious, and bring forth the desired fruits with the cooperation of all the parties involved,” he said. (New Indian Express 25/9/15)

55. Catholics in Mumbai object to upcoming play ‘Agnes of God’ (7)

Mumbai: A prominent Christian organisation here on Sunday objected to the scheduled staging of a play ‘Agnes of God’ on grounds that it mocks God and hurts religious sentiments of the community. In a statement, the Catholics Secular Forum (CSF) general secretary Joseph Dias alleged that the play is “anti-Catholic and mocks the Christian God” and attempts to target the minority (Christian) community. The play, directed by Kaizaad Kotwal with the lead role played by Mahabanoo Mody-Kotwal, will premiere on October 4 at Mumbai’s Sophia Bhabha Auditorium. The posters of the play mentions how “Agnes, a young nun, gives birth and insists that the child was the result of an immaculate conception” and poses the question – “Do you believe in miracles?” Martha Livingstone, a psychiatrist, and the head of the Roman Catholic convent Mother Superior Miriam clash during the resulting investigations of the incident said to be based on a true story in which reason and faith are at loggerheads. Dias said the play by John Pielmeier — which was later adapted into a film in 1985 starring Jane Fonda, Anne Bancroft and Meg Tilly — is expected to have multiple shows in Mumbai, and later across India and abroad. “Miracles are believed to be unexplainable phenomena and is a divine concept in all religions. So why mock religion, which helps the majority of the people and why target the Christian community,” Dias asked. He said even if it is based on a true story, there are similar exceptions in other religions, too, but the Christian clergy is being picked out for the insult. Dias contended that something like this happening to some ‘maulvi’ or ‘muni’ or the women clergy of any other religion would not have been tolerated and would have led to violent reactions. “The law of the land must take its course and apply to all citizens equally. We demand that police should stop the staging of this play immediately and book the director and actors for hurting religious sentiments of the Christians,” Dias said. The CSF, a Mumbai-based NGO, has in the past protested successfully against movies lampooning Christians and also lodged complaints against individual for hurting religious sentiments. (Business Standard 27/9/15)

56. Kolkata’s St Xavier’s College to teach trafficking survivors (7)

Kolkata: In a bid to make education inclusive, the St Xavier’s College here will set aside seats for survivors of trafficking from the 2016 academic session. Plans are on to enroll around a hundred such survivors as students after careful verification and tie-up with NGOs, said Firdausul Hasan, the honorary secretary of the St Xavier’s College Calcutta Alumni Association. “A committee will be set up which will look into tie-ups with NGOs and determine deserving candidates,” Hasan told IANS on Monday. The newly established St Xavier’s College Calcutta Foundation will take up this idea as one of its causes at its fund-raisers in San Francisco and Los Angeles on October 8 and October 10. A Christian minority higher educational institution, St. Xavier’s was founded in 1860 by a Catholic minority religious body, the Society of Jesus, and was affiliated to Calcutta University in 1862. (New Kerala 28/9/15)


57. Germany expects 40,000 refugees over the weekend (13)

Berlin: Some 40,000 migrants could arrive in Germany over the next two days – double the number who entered the country last weekend, authorities said on Saturday. Most are expected to arrive in the southern city of Munich but there are concerns about whether the region can cope with another large influx, BBC reported. Many migrants received a warm welcome at Munich railway station last weekend, and thousands have continued to arrive in Germany throughout the week. The mayor of Munich, Dieter Reiter, has made an urgent call for other German regions to do more to process and accommodate the new arrivals. He described as “scandalous” the failure of other regions to provide more accommodation. Reports suggest the government is considering new temporary powers to take control of unoccupied rental property so it can accommodate migrants. A large processing hub is planned for northern Germany on the Luneburg Heath in Lower Saxony. Trains would take migrants there directly from Austria. Meanwhile, protests in support of migrants are expected across Europe later on Saturday. (New Kerala 12/9/15)

58. Myanmar refugees eke out a living in Chennai (13)

CHENNAI: While crossing the India-Bangladesh border in 2012, Dil Muhammad’s first wife and three children were arrested. Muhammad was not in that group of Rohingyas that tried to cross the border after reaching Dhaka from Myanmar. With the help of a broker, Muhammad later managed to flee to Chennai, where he has been living with his second wife and daughter since. What he last heard was that his first wife and children are serving a sentence in a Kolkata jail. He wants to see them, but how? “It’s difficult to move around as a refugee. I am stuck,” he said. Last week, a group of 64 Rohingyas, including children, were shifted to a community hall in suburban Kelambakkam from an adjacent makeshift camp where they had been living for two years. Police said a few Rohingyas fought with some Bangladeshi nationals living in the same area and were shifted temporarily to the community hall. As rag pickers, the livelihood of these refugees depend on the amount of scrap they collect every day. They are not allowed to move around or do any work. So the men work as rag pickers but it is not at their will. “A scrap-dealer paid 14,000 to a broker for my family. Now I collect waste for him,” said Muhammad Yusuf, a Rohingya refugee who has been living in Chennai with his wife and two children since 2012. Rohingyas are Indo-Aryan people from Rakhine state of Myanmar. They speak Rohingya language. They have been identified as one the most persecuted minorities by the UN. More than one lakh Rohingyas live as internally displaced refugees in camps in Myanmar. A sizeable section of the population has moved to Bangladesh. After the Rakshine state riots in 2012, many Rohingyas migrated to south east Asian countries. The Rohingyas living in the community hall at Kelambakkam comprise 15 men, 16 women, 24 boys and nine girls. As the men work as rag pickers and daily wagers, women take care of making food in the camp. Dil Muhammed says the group was small in the beginning and subsequently grew to 64 as refugees from various places joined. “We were only some 14 people when we first came to Chennai. But soon our people from other states of India and countries like Bangladesh joined us. We all live in an open hall with our wives and children. There is no privacy and life is becoming hectic,” he said. The problems being faced by the Rohingyas came to light after the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) issued notice to the TN government, responding to reports about refugees from Myanmar left “wandering on the streets” of Chennai in search of accommodation. Even though all in the group have registered with the refugee office of the UN high commission, they are not allowed to lead a free life. “I was working as a part-time driver at a private firm in Jammu and Kashmir. I don’t have a valid Indian licence, but I have one issued by the Myanmar government. I don’t have any other option but to work as a ragpicker here,” said Abdul Salam, who joined the group in Chennai a couple of months ago. … (Times of India 14/9/15)

59. Grant citizenship to Chakma refugees within 3 months: Supreme Court (13)

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Friday directed the Centre and Arunachal Pradesh government to grant citizenship within three months to Chakmas and Hajongs refugees who migrated to India from Bangladesh in 1964-69 and settled in the state. A bench of Justices A R Dave and A K Goel said Chakmas have a right to be granted citizenship subject to the procedure being followed and they cannot be discriminated in any manner. It directed the government to take all necessary steps to protect them as they are facing hostility from the local population. “It is well known that the Chakmas and Hajongs were displaced from the area which became part of East Pakistan (now in Bangladesh) on construction of Kaptai Dam and were allowed to be rehabilitated under the decision of the Government of India…They could not be discriminated against in any manner pending formal conferment of rights of citizenship,” it said. The court passed the order on a petition filed by Committee for Citizenship Rights of the Chakmas (CCRC) alleging that they were still being treated as foreigners despite living for more than 50 years in the state and being deprived the benefits of various social welfare schemes including Public Distribution System. “We direct the Centre and Arunachal Pradesh to finalize the conferment of citizenship rights on eligible Chakmas and Hajongs and also to ensure compliance of directions in judicial decisions for protection of their life and liberty and against their discrimination in any manner. The exercise may be completed at the earliest preferably within three months from today,” it said. (Times of India 18/9/15)

60. 10,000 migrants pour into Austria as crisis deepens (13)

Vienna: Austria was bracing for an influx of 10,000 migrants as Europe’s increasingly divided countries stepped up efforts to push the wave of desperate humanity on to their neighbours. In the latest chapter in the EU’s escalating refugee crisis, Croatia, Hungary and Slovenia tussled over how to cope with the massive inflow of people passing through on their way to new lives in northern and western Europe. The European Union, meanwhile, sketched out plans to boost aid to encourage Syrians in Turkey to stay put rather than join the exodus. Hungary’s right-wing government, which has faced international criticism over violent clashes with migrants and a hastily erected fence along its frontier with Serbia, has vowed to “defend its borders” against the flood of new arrivals, most of whom are from the Middle East and Africa. But in a shift in tactics late Friday, Hungarian authorities began transporting thousands of migrants straight to the border with Austria, an apparent bid to move them through and out of their territory as quickly as possible. Austrian police said Hungary had bussed at least 6,700 people to the border, with a total of 10,000 arrivals expected in the Burgenland border region by yesterday. There was no let-up in the stream of people making the gruelling journey across the Balkans into western Europe, with Croatia saying 20,700 had entered the country since Wednesday. Croatia, which initially said it would allow migrants to pass through freely, announced it was swamped on Friday and began transporting hundreds to the Hungarian border — sparking a furious reaction from Budapest. Migrants were being transported on Friday to two border crossings with Hungary and two with Slovenia, Interior Minister Ranko Ostojic said. Both countries belong to Europe’s borderless Schengen zone. In a new hurdle aimed at stemming the influx, Hungary said it had completed a 41-kilometre barbed-wire barrier along part of its frontier with Croatia. It “was finished overnight Friday,” defence spokesman Attila Kovacs told AFP in Budapest. The remaining 330 km of the border runs roughly along the Drava river, which is difficult to cross. The new barrier adds to a barbed-wire fence that Hungary completed along its frontier with Serbia earlier this week, backed with laws threatening illegal migrants with jail, which forced the migrant flow towards neighbouring Croatia. The first migrants to have taken this diverted new route – through Croatia and Slovenia – arrived in Austria yesterday, from where many hope to travel on to elsewhere in the European Union. (Deccan Herald 20/9/15)

61. Refugees from conflict ridden areas of Pakistan also heading to Europe (13)

ISLAMABAD: Just like the people from the war ravaged regions of the Middle East fleeing their homes, heading for Europe to save their lives, people from the conflict-hit areas of Pakistan also have been fleeing and heading for Europe, Australia, America and Canada. In fact the people starting migrating from Pakistan much before the unrest started in the Middle East after the emergence of Dai’sh or the IS (Islamic State). People migrating from Pakistan fall in two different categories. First, who were initially affected by the war on terror spearheaded by the US against Al-Qaida in Afghanistan and later they got sandwiched between the militants of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and the Pakistan Army, when the large-scale military operation ‘Zarb-e-Azb’ was launched against the militants, particularly focused on the Tribal Areas of Pakistan and in general all over the country. And, the second are the religious minorities like Shia Hazara community of Baluchistan and the third is a small number of Ahmadis, a community declared non-Muslims by Pakistan constitutionally. “Both the Shias, especially the Hazara community in Baluchistan and the Ahmadis are victims of religious persecution. Though these Pakistanis are not migrating in hoards like we have been seeing from Iraq and Syria but there has been a steady trickle for many a years now,” said Mubarik Ahmed Virk, a veteran Pakistani journalist. Unable to fulfill legal requirements, very few Pakistanis believe to follow the legal process for immigration. Majority of them adopt a course, which is not only illegal but full of hazards, to reach the shores of Europe. They spend hefty amounts to smugglers and traffickers of criminal syndicates to take them to Europe. They sell them false dreams of green pastures through death-defying road to Europe. The amount they pay to their agents ranges between $8,000 and $13,000. “I spent Rs1.3 million ($13,000) to reach here after journeying for nine months. Now, I am waiting for an opportunity to cross into England. In last five months, I was caught three times while hiding in a lorry. I hope to succeed this time,” said Shoaib Afridi, a resident of Jamrud town of Khyber tribal region. “I’ve now stopped interaction with my family which sent me here with high expectations. I’ve not sent a single penny in last nine months and they ask for paying off the debt they had borrowed for sending me here,” he said. Afridi lives with six Pashto-speaking Afghan nationals in a tent in a forest in Calais, France. About 600 Pashtuns, most of them from Afghanistan, live under tarpaulins and tents in densely forested area of Calais along with about 2600 imigrants from other countries waiting for their chances to enter England, their dream world. ……. (Times of India 22/9/15)

62. NGOs for deleting Brus from voters’ list (13)

AIZAWL, Sept 24 – Mizoram’s NGO Coordination Committee, comprising five major civil societies, today urged the Election Commission to take steps to ensure that those Brus who refused to return to the State from their camps in Tripura are disfranchised in Mizoram voters lists. A statement by the Committee said the people of Mizoram had repeatedly pleaded with the Brus, who were bona- fide residents of the State, to return and the government had also made a plethora of arrangements for their repatriation. However, the Brus were not willing to return to Mizoram and wished to remain in Tripura, the statement said and demanded that their names be deleted immediately from voters’ lists of Mizoram. The EC recently decided to conduct hearing in the six Bru relief camps in Tripura for special revision of electoral rolls. The NGO Coordination Committee consists of Young Mizo Association, Mizo Hmeichhe Insuihkhawm Pawl or Mizo Women Association, Mizoram Upa Pawl or Elders Association, Mizo Zirlai Pawl or Mizo Students Federation and Mizo Students Union. – PTI (The Assam Tribune 25/9/15)

63. From Assam to Hassan in search of work (13)

Hassan: Assam may be famous for its tea gardens, but a good number of Assamese workers have found employment in the coffee estates of Chikkamagaluru and Kodagu. More than 5,000 people from Darang and neighbouring districts of Assam have come to work in plantations of Belur and Sakleshpur taluks. Many more work in estates spread over Chikkamagaluru and Kodagu districts. “We hardly find jobs in our hometown. If we get work for a week, we remain jobless for next few weeks,” said Habizur Rahman (25), who has been working in Hasurugudda Estate of IBC company near Arehalli in Belur taluk for the last four years. Both men and women are enrolled as contract workers in estates for a daily wage of Rs. 228. In Assam, women hardly get the opportunity to earn in fields, he said. The wave of migration started five years ago, when a manager of an estate in Belur taluk came in contact with planters in Kodagu, where workers from Assam had begun to arrive. “Those days we were struggling to get local people to work. We were looking for people who could work. The first batch of 25 people came from Assam five years ago. As they got work for the entire year and wages were better than what they got in their homeland, they brought more people from their State,” said Fazlur Rahman, manager with IBC estate. The manager pointed out that many planters have employed Assamese as they are hard workers, though they are not well-versed in the skill of maintaining coffee. These workers have brought their family and all of them make a trip to their homeland during elections. “Voting is significant as there is a serious issue of illegal migrant voters from Bangladesh,” said Shwahidul Islam, who always keeps his voter’s identity card in his pocket. However, the workers are unhappy with the poor facilities provided in the estates. Around two or three families are forced to settle in one house with plastic sheets to separate them. For over 80 families there is only one toilet, in one of the estates visited by The Hindu . “We repeatedly demand for proper facilities, but our cry does not reach the people concerned. If anyone falls sick, we neither get paid holiday nor medical expenses reimbursed,” said Habizur Rahman. The district administration has set up a tent school for children of migrant workers, but they find this of no use. “We need a proper school where our children can get education from teachers who know Hindi,” said Marina Khatun, one among the women workers in the estate. (The Hindu 27/9/15)

64. Arunachal CM convenes all-party meeting on Chakma-Hajong issue (13)

Itanagar: Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Nabam Tuki today convened an all-party meet here to discuss the Chakma-Hajong refugee issue in the backdrop of the recent Supreme Court judgment with regard to grant of Indian citizenship to Chakmas and Hajongs and their permanent settlement in the state. The state government, with advice and help from legal experts, would make preparations to file a review petition objecting to the permanent settlement of Chakma and Hajongs in the state and their exclusion from the provisions of the Inner Line Permit, a press release issued by the Chief Minister’s office said. The state government would wait for a correspondence from the Union Home Ministry with regard to the Supreme Court judgment of September 17 and take necessary action as deemed fit in interest of the state and its people, the meeting resolved. The all-party meet unanimously authorised the state government to take legal and necessary steps with regard to the apex court judgment to safeguard the welfare and interest of the indigenous tribes of the state. The release said the state government and all political parties of the state are not against the grant of Indian citizenship to Chakmas and Hajongs but objects to their permanent settlement in Arunachal Pradesh and their exclusion from the ILP provisions, the meeting observed. The meeting said this would be in contradiction to in-force Acts and Regulations like the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873, the Scheduled District Act, 1874, the Assam Frontier Tract Regulation, 1880, the Assam Frontier Forest Regulation, 1891, the Chin Hills Regulations, 1896 and the Assam Frontier (Administration & Justice) Regulation, 1945 (1 of 1945).  All the parties appealed to the people not to spread hatred and misconception or target any individual or community particularly through social media. (Zee News 28/9/15)


65. Centre spent Rs 8cr on PM’s open letter on govt 1st anniversary (1)

NEW DELHI: The government spent over Rs 8 crore on advertisements in one day to mark its first anniversary. In response to an RTI application, the I&B ministry disclosed that it spent Rs 8.29 crore on publicizing PM Narendra Modi’s open letter on May 26, 2015 to celebrate one year of the NDA government. The RTI plea was filed by Mumbai-based Anil Galgali who sought to know the amount spent on Modi’s message. In total, 4,094 advertisements were published incurring an expense of Rs 8.29 crore. The advertisements were created by the Directorate of Advertising and Visual Publicity (DAVP), a department under the I&B ministry. Interestingly, Galgali was stonewalled by the DAVP which initially said the information was available on its website without answering the specific query related to ad spend on May 26. Galgali filed an appeal to receive data on actual expenditure by the department. Asked about the criteria for the PM to address the public, the DAVP said decisions were taken on the basis of three parameters: occasion, significance of the day and requirement. “The amount spent is high and the benefits for common man are zero,” said Galgali. The PM wrote an open letter that was published in major dailies elaborating on how the NDA government had “rejuvenated” a languishing economy and had built on “stable, policy-driven proactive governance”. He talked about various issues – from setting up IITs, IIMs and AIIMS to Swachh Bharat Mission and even invited suggestions from people. (Times of India 12/9/15)

66. Batra hospital covered under RTI, rules cic (1)

New Delhi: The Central Information Commission (CIC) has said that citizens can now get information from Batra Hospital and Medical Research Centre in the national capital as it to be covered under the Right to Information (RTI) Act. Information commissioner Sridhar Acharyulu said the hospital has received substantial indirect funding from the government which brings it in the definition of the public authority under the RTI Act. Mr Acharyulu directed the hospital to set up necessary mechanisms to process applications from the citizens seeking information from the hospital. The commission finds that the said Batra Hospital and Medical Research Centre is being indirectly financed for promotion of public services by the government of NCT Delhi more particularly by the DDA and hence the same is squarely covered under the definition of ‘public authority’ as defined under Section 2 (h) (ii) of the RTI Act, 2005,” said Mr Acharyulu. The commissioner said there is vast “differential” between the monthly rental being paid by Batra Hospital and the commercial rent that the premises could fetch in the open market. The commission is of the opinion that the Centre is being indirectly financed by the appropriate government. Mr Acharyulu said the Hospital is a society which obtained very highly valuable land at Mehrauli Badarpur Road as an incentive and not at the commercial rate. He said whether it is called “incentive” or “subsidy” or “concession”, to that extent of low value, compared to market rate, the respondent authority has been indirectly financed which is substantial. He noted that the Hospital admits that it is a society which has responsibility to conduct itself as per the bylaws of society and as per Societies Registration Act, 1860. Under Section 19 of Societies Registration Act, 1860, any person has “right to inspect” and ask for “certified copies”. This provision is covered by Section 2(f) of Right to Information Act, according to which the Information Commission can direct sharing of information as per the RTI Act, 2005. “In the present case the element of both substantial indirect finance and control by the appropriate government i.E. Government of NCT through DDA is established,” he added. (Asian Age 14/9/15)

67. One year on, TS lands in Rs. 61,000-crore debt (1)

Hyderabad: Telangana government has acquired close to Rs. 61,000 crore as debt during the past one year of its tenure, reveal a Right to Information (RTI) reply received on a query from Forum for Good Governance. As per data collected by the forum, the government has obtained Rs. 23,348 crore from sale of bonds, Rs 24,000 crore from the Rural Electrification Corporation (REC) and Rs 4,000 crore from Power Finance Corporation. The government has also approached the World Bank for another Rs. 10,000 crore and the matter is under negotiation. The figures were obtained from State government records. Already, at the time of Telangana State formation, the government had inherited Rs. 70,000 crore debt that was incurred before bifurcation. Going by the fact that the State generates revenue mostly by collection of taxes from its people, each person in the State with a population of 3.5 crore has a burden close to Rs. 40,000 on their shoulders, Forum members pointed out. While the sale of bonds is at 9 percent interest, loan from REC is at 11 percent interest. The World Bank loan will be at 3.3 percent interest. “The State is moving towards debt trap if it does not check its expenditure. Only financial discipline can aid the State in the long run,” said M. Padmanabha Reddy, secretary of the Forum. The loans obtained by the State will have to be paid by 2024 in some cases and 2025 in others. Usually States are not allowed to loan funds higher than 3 percent of GDP, the Forum pointed out. “In this case, the government has maintained that Telangana is a surplus State to obtain hefty loans. But pinning welfare schemes on loans is not a sustainable financial model,” Mr. Chelikani Rao of the Forum. Most loans obtained are to be spent on Thermal power plants including Yadagiri plant. The funds will also be used for schemes including Mission Kakatiya, the Forum members said. This, when close to 60 percent of the State’s annual budget is allotted for non-plan expenditure including salaries of employees, maintenance of resources and vehicles for government use. “Ideally 50 percent of any State’s budget should be plan budget for welfare schemes and the remaining 50 percent for non-plan or dead spending,” Mr. Reddy said. Telangana is the only State which charges 4 percent tax on food grains. “This even as the government doesn’t charge tax on diamonds and just one percent tax on gold,” Mr. Reddy pointed out in a media conference held in the city on Wednesday. The Forum demanded the government to produce a white paper listing a clear plan of repayment to reassure citizens. (The Hindu 17/9/15)

68. Aadhaar contracts issued without tender: RTI (1)

MUMBAI:  Contracts for Aadhaar card project undertaken by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) were given without proper tendering process by the then Congress-led UPA government at the Centre, a reply obtained under the Right to Information Act (RTI) has revealed. Mumbai-based RTI activist Anil Galgali has obtained the information from the UIDAI that was once headed by Infosys co-founder Nandan Nilekani. UIDAI Public Information Officer S S Bisht informed Galgali that for Aadhaar card, work has not been issued any kind of tender. “A total of 25 companies have been awarded different responsibilities. The empanelment of agencies is being done under empanelment process guidelines contained in RFE (Request for Empanelment) dated 19th May 2014,” he said. Another UIDAI Public Information Officer and Deputy Director R Harish informed Galgali that Rs 13,663.22 crore  was the approved outlay for UIDAI project and Rs 6,562.88 crore amount incurred up to date May 31, 2015, since inception. Galgali has requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi to personally look into the issue to bring in more transparency and get the previous contracts reviewed and investigated so that all questions are settled. “This is very unfair where the project relates with the sensitive data of 125 crore Indians  of the country and no tendering process was done,” said Galgali in a press statement on Saturday. The RTI query has revealed that a total of eight contracts was awarded to Wipro and HCL, two contracts to Tata Consultancy, 14 contracts to Mac Associates, HP (India) Sales Private Ltd, National Informatics Centre, Sagem Morpho Securities, Satyam Computer Services, L1 Identity Solutions, Totem International, Linkwel Telesystem, Sai Infosystem India, Geodesic, ID Solutions, NISG, SQTC and Telsima Communication. One contract each was awarded to Aircel, Bharati Airtel, BSNL, Railtel Corporation of India Limited, Reliance Communications and Tata Communications. (Deccan Herald 20/9/15)

69. Lokayukta urges police to protect whistleblowers (1)

Lokayukta B. Subhashan Reddy requested the State police to protect the rights of Right to Information activists. In the past, several instances of violence against RTI activists were reported, he pointed out. Whistleblowers have to be protected in a democracy, he stressed. Mr. Reddy was speaking at the Right to Information meet organised by Social and RTI Groups Confederation. The meeting was attended by close to 250 RTI activists from across the two States. At the meet, Central Information Commissioner Madabushi Sridhar said that RTI Act should not be misused to target people. “The Act in principle ensures free flow of information. But information obtained under it should be used judiciously,” he said. Authorities pointed out that often, information obtained under the RTI Act does not get used for public good. Director General of Police (DGP), Anurag Sharma said the Telangana police havr been supporting genuine activists who bring out societal evils using RTI. “Most RTI activists have to face power centres and most need protection. Several activists have been getting threats from people in power for seeking sensitive information,” said P. Veerabhadra Rao, president of the association. (The Hindu 21/9/15)

70. No information on corruption cases against Sheila ​Dikshit: ACB (1)

New Delhi: The Aam Aadmi Party government has not initiated any corruption case against former Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit, though the party had during the Assembly Election campaign alleged irregularities during her tenure as CM. Replying to an RTI query on the complaints received by it, the Delhi Government has stated that only one complaint was received from a Ludhiana-based resident against her. The application from Lucknow-based RTI applicant Sanjay Sharma was forwarded by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s office to Directorate of Vigilance to provide information on cases registered by the present government. The vigilance department forwarded it to Anti-Corruption Branch which said no such information is available in its record. AAP had raked up the issue of alleged corruption during the tenure of Dikshit as Chief Minister in the election campaign and had swept the Assembly polls early this year. (Zee News 23/9/15)

71. Denial of Info Backfires on Maha Mantris, CIC Brings Them under the Ambit of RTI (1)

MUMBAI:In a landmark ruling, the Chief Information Commissioner of Maharashtra, Ratnakar Gaikwad, has brought the offices of all ministers and ministers of state under the ambit of the Right to Information Act. Gaikwad, in an order dated September 24, has directed the Maharashtra government to appoint RTI officials and an appeals authority in the office of each minister. He has issued the order on a complaint filed by a journalist Govind Tupe. Tupe had complained that the Social Justice Department had in July this year denied him information pertaining to the purchase of a house in London, where Dr BR Ambedkar had stayed for two years in 1918. During the hearing, the commission stated, “Offices of ministers have been set up by government… these perform several duties — receiving files from various departments, applications from people and complaints from the public, and correspond with various authorities/offices…” Gaikwad has maintained that no government office can deny information under RTI. In other words, his order has brought the ministers’ actions and behaviour under public scrutiny. Anil Galgali, an RTI activist, has welcomed Gaikwad’s order. “It will help bring transparency in government functioning. It is sad that activists still need to rush to higher authorities to get the government to work,” he said. With the Commission’s order, letters written by ministers, the recommendations they make, and other details such as their daily schedule, are expected to be made available through RTI requests. (New Indian Express 26/9/15)

72. Handicapped RTI activist alleges attack for cop-bashing (1)

CUTTACK: Expressing concern over spurt in attacks on activists in the State, RTI activists under the banner ‘Youth Social Workers’ have demanded a crime branch enquiry into the brutal attack on disabled RTI activist Kesab Mahakud of Nayagarh district. Currently undergoing treatment at SCB medical college and hospital here, Mr. Mahakud on Monday alleged that the September 22 attack on him was designed by the local police. A seasoned RTI activist, Mr. Mahakud earned the ire of police when he sought information through RTI Act from Nayagarh district police on the November 2014-dacoity in Darpanarayanpur in which gold and silver ornaments weighing about 40 kg were taken away. Although, the police solved the case, it was alleged that a major chunk of recovered stolen items were pocketed by the policemen. “Soon after I made the RTI enquiry, the police turned vindictive,” Mr. Mahakud alleges adding that he was falsely booked and arrested on August 22 this year registering a case under the provision of SC and ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. After he was released on bail in the first week of September, Mr. Mahakud had received several threatening calls and on September 22 evening, he was brutally attacked by a group of masked men near the Bolgada bus stand. Mr. Mahakud, who is handicapped, has sustained fractures in his legs and the only hand in the attack. Condemning the attack, social workers here have demanded proper protection to the RTI activists and demanded crime branch enquiry into the attack. (The Hindu 29/9/15)


73.  Centre to Seek View of All Stakeholders to Finalise New Education Policy: Irani (11)

KOLKATA: Union Human Resource Development Minister Smriti Irani today said the new national education policy would be finalised only after taking into account the views of all state governments, academicians and child psychologists.  “We have requested all state governments to put their views in writing to us. Only after taking a comprehensive view of all written feedback we receive from all state governments, deliberations with academicians and child psychologists, we will reach a final conclusion,” Irani said. The HRD Minister was here for a day-long meeting with education department representatives of eastern states of West Bengal, Bihar, Odisha and Jharkhand.  Irani said recently at the Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE) meeting 20 state ministers had unanimously backed the need to amend the Right To Education Act to enable yearly examinations and detention of poor performers.  She said the first draft of the new education policy, upon which they will have further deliberations on, will be out by December.   “I will be visiting certain institutes across the country (in the last phase) to understand the need of the parents and students about the policy,” the minister said. West Bengal Education Minister Partho Chatterjee said education is in the concurrent list and everyone must respect the federal structure. (New Indian Express 11/9/15)

74. Vidya Bharati aims at education committed to Hindutva (11)

VARANASI: The three-day national executive meeting of Vidya Bharati, the educational wing of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), began in Mehmoorganj on Friday to discuss changes in education policy and academic curriculum that suits Indian culture and nationalism. Addressing the inaugural function, vice-chancellor of Banaras Hindu University (BHU) Girish Chandra Tripathi said that culture and human values should be the basis of education for healthy development of the nation. Presiding over the function, Vidya Bharati president Govind Sharma said that along with education policy, there should also be a policy for language. The mother tongue should be the medium of education at primary level, he said, adding that effective implementation of education policy is not possible in absence of good teachers. There is a need of serious discussion on the quality of education and personality development of students, he said. Around 200 people associated with Vidya Bharati from different parts of the country are taking part in the meeting. Vidya Bharati aims at developing a national system of education that is committed to Hindutva and infused with patriotic fervor. (Times of India 12/9/15)

75. Rajasthan Assembly clears bill on education (11)

In a first in the country, the Rajasthan Assembly on Thursday cleared a bill for amendment in Right to Education Act, 2009, to improve the standards of education by removing the provision of not failing students till Class 8 and instead evaluating them on the basis of their performance. The Right of Child-ren to Free and Com-pulsory Education (Rajasthan Amen-dment) Bill 2015 was among the four bills which the House passed amid uproar by the Opposition Congress which was raising its demands in the Well. “Rajasthan is the first state in the country to do so and this will improve quality of education,” minister of state for primary and secondary education Vasudev Devnani said before the bill was passed. Mr Devnani said students up to Class 8 will be evaluated on the basis of their performance and the amendment was aimed at improving educational foundation of the students. Bills related to two private universities and amendments in Rajasthan Seco-ndary Education Act 1957 were also passed by the House, which had to be adjourned two times following uproar by the Opposition Congress. As soon as the question hour began at 11 am, Leader of the Opposition Rameshwar Dudi and other Congress members raised their issues, storming to the Well of the House, and created pandemonium. Speaker Kailash Meghwal had called the listed question before the Opposition’s demands and minister Prabhu Lal Saini also gave reply amid the din. Parliamentary affairs minister Rajendra Rathore objected to the Opposition’s demands and said they should raise their issues as per the rules of the business of the House. (Asian Age 18/9/15)

76. National education policy to be prepared with opinion of all: Irani (11)

AGARTALA: Union human resource development minister Smriti Irani has said a joint effort has been initiated from the national to the grassroots level to obtain opinion to formulate a national education policy. “This is for the first time citizen of India at large from national to grassroots level would give their opinion in preparing the national education policy. The draft of the policy would be ready by December,” Irani told reporters on Friday night after meeting Tripura chief minister Manik Sarkar. She said, “The first regional meeting covering all the eight northeastern states held in Agartala Friday. The education ministers and representatives of these states gave their views on the proposed national education policy.” The minister, who left for Delhi on Saturday, said the gram panchayat level to district, state to national level consultation on the education policy already begun across the country and the response was very enlightening. On Friday, addressing the students and teachers of the National Institute of Technology (NIT), Agartala, she said to obtain experiences and expertise by the IIT and NIT students from world famous scientist, academician and technical experts, the MHRD has recently launched a scheme ‘GIAN’ (Global Initiative of Academic Network). She asked the institute to provide a list of foreign experts, who can be invited. “The travel and other cost of the guest expert would be borne by my ministry and the deliberations would be video recorded for future use by the students,” she announced. Irani also asked the all concerned to share experience among the students of various NITs and IITs of the country and requested the NIT students to share their experience, knowledge and inventions with the people living adjoining the villages of their institute. She also announced that a web portal “e-soudh-sindhu” would be launched by January next year and over 90,000 e-books and 10,000 journals of across the world would be available in the plat form. The minister accompanied by HRD Secretary V.S. Oberoi (Higher Education) and S C Khuntia (School Education) held a meeting here on Friday with the education ministers of the northeast states to discuss the proposed national education policy. Tripura education minister Tapan Chakraborty said the Friday’s meeting was held as the follow up meeting of the 63rd meeting of the Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE) that was held in New Delhi on August 19. He told reporters that in the CABE meeting, most northeast states wanted to remove the ‘no-detention policy’ at the elementary school level (up to class 8). Chakraborty said, “The eight northeast states along with most states of the country are not only against the ‘no-detention policy’ but are also in an awkward position due to the lack of trained teachers even though the Right to Education Act (RTE), 2009, made this mandatory.” The minister said 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. (Times of India 20/9/15)

77. Goverment to close 300 private schools (11)

New Delhi: The Delhi government has initiated the process of closure of around 300 private schools running without recognition here due to their failure to meet the minimum land requirement and quality standards prescribed under the Right to Education Act. If any school does not fulfil the norms and standards specified under the act, it shall take steps to fulfil the same within a period of three years. According to a senior official of the directorate of education (DoE), the Delhi high court had in May this year directed DoE, civic-bodies and the DDA to ensure immediate closure or shifting of those unr-ecognised schools which are housed in any premises that may pose a threat to the safety of the children studying therein. “The DoE has already given provisional recognition to about 800 unrecognised schools but still about 300 schools are running unrecognised, for the fact that these schools do not meet the minimum land requirement. The file for closure of these schools is under process,” said the official. The government had issued a circular earlier this month asking all provisionally recognised and unrecognised schools to submit ‘structural stability record/certificate’ of the building in which they are housed, failing which it would be presumed they do have any such document/record and further action for closure of such school shall be started without further notice. Section 18 of the Right To Education (RTE) Act has a provision that no school can be established without obtaining certificate from the appropriate authority. The DoE has also issued a district-wise list of unrecognised schools. (Asian Age 21/9/15)

78. Teachers want no fail policy with criteria, not mass promotions (11)

PANAJI: After the directorate of education (DoE) sought suggestions on improving the no-fail policy and the continuous comprehensive evaluation system implemented under the Right to Education Act, it has received only four suggestions, most of them from teachers’ associations. The suggestions have been sought by Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE) of the Union human resource development (HRD) ministry from all states, based on which amendments will be made to the act if necessary. Educationist P R Nadkarni and teachers’ associations like the All Goa Secondary School Teachers’ Association were among those who wrote to the DoE with their suggestions. All recommendations made to the directorate stressed on the need to set a criteria before the child is promoted to the higher class between Class I and Class VIII as per the no-fail policy. “The suggestions say that all students should not be promoted to Class VIII irrespective of any factors like their behaviour, attendance, academic performance etc. We will forward the suggestions to the state government, which will then decide what has to be sent to the central government as our recommendations,” director of education G P Bhat said. School teachers have conveyed to the director of education that they are in favour of the no-detention policy being implemented on a case-to-case basis depending of the student concerned rather than in a blanket manner. CABE will consider the views along with similar opinions from teachers from across the country to decide if amendments are needed to the Right to Education Act implemented in 2009. (Times of India 23/9/15)

79. Haryana Government Directs Private Schools to Reserve Seats for EWS (11)

CHANDIGARH: Private schools in Haryana will have to reserve 10 per cent seats for children belonging to Economically Weaker Sections for classes II to XII, according to a state government decision taken today. The private schools would not charge any fees or funds from such students for classes II to VIII, whereas they can charge fees or funds equivalent to that of government schools from students of classes IX to XII. The expenditure on education of these students would be reimbursed by the Haryana government according to rates fixed from time to time, according to the decision taken in a high-level meeting of the Education Department held under the chairmanship of Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar. Under the Right to Education Act, there is already a provision for reservation of 25 per cent seats for students of class I belonging to Economically Weaker Sections in all private schools, Haryana Education Minister Ram Bilas Sharma said after the meeting. He said this year, reimbursement of Rs 300 per month would be given for students of classes II to V studying in urban schools falling in the jurisdiction of urban local bodies, an official release said. Reimbursement of Rs 400 per month would be given for students of classes VI to VIII. Similarly, reimbursement of Rs 200 per month would be given for students of classes II to V studying in schools in rural areas, and reimbursement of Rs 300 per month would be given for students of classes VI to VIII. It was also decided in the meeting that the state government would urge the Union Ministry of Human Resource Development for release of grant-in-aid for reimbursement of financial assistance to be given to private schools for admission on 25 per cent seats under Right to Education Act. It was also decided that state government would request the Union Government to do away with no detention policy from Classes 1 to 8 under the RTE Act. (New Indian Express 26/9/15)

80. Delhi government plans to club school panels with mohalla sabhas (11)

NEW DELHI: The school management committees are likely not going to be the independent elected bodies Right to Education Act intended them to be. At the launch of a report on SMCs by Central Square Foundation, the education minister’s adviser on education, Atishi Marlena, said, “Government hopes to embed SMCs within the structure of mohalla sabhas to enhance participation.” Marlena said each constituency will be divided into several mohalla sabhas and SMCs will be accountable to the mohalla sabhas. They’ll be sub committees within the sabha, which, in turn, will be the ultimate decision making body. There was also much discussion on their funding. In theory, SMC functions are publicly funded, they are meant to draw up school development plans on the basis of which grants are released. But SMCs have not functioned quite in the way they were intended to. As the report says, “community members lack awareness regarding the roles and responsibilities of SMCs. Also, SMC members receive inadequate training for school monitoring and planning. Finally, SMC monitoring by state governments inhibits effective implementation.” National University of Educational Planning and Administration’s A K Singh said, “SMCs may be local but funding comes centrally, reducing effectiveness.” The report also argues, “There is inconclusive evidence in India on the efficacy of community participation in improving student learning” although, questions have been raised about the viability of such large-scale standardized tests in gauging learning too. (Times of India 29/9/15)


81. Lands Occupied by BPL Families to be Regularised (21)

VISAKHAPATNAM : Coming to terms with the reality over increasing land encroachments, the Visakhapatnam district administration has begun the process for regularisation of unobjectionable encroachments up to an extent of 100 sq.yards in the government lands free of cost. It is a dream come true for over a lakh poor residents of the Port City and majority of the lands are likely to be regularised by the year-end. The State Government had proposed to regularise government lands encroached by the Below Poverty Line (BPL) families in urban areas and issued orders to this effect. Keeping in view various types of lands and disputes over their ownership in Visakhapatnam, district collector N Yuvaraj Thursday released the guidelines for regularisation of the encroachments. A maximum area of 100 sq.yards under encroachment with dwellings/structures as on January 1, 2014, will be considered for regularisation in GVMC area, including Bheemili and Anakapalle zones along with Narsipatnam and Yelamanchili municipalities. “The issue of regularisation of the encroachments of more than 100 sq.yards lands on payment of prescribed penalty, is under consideration by the State Government and necessary orders are expected to be issued shortly,” the district collector said. The district administration has so far received 1,681 applications. The authorities are expecting to receive applications pertaining to an estimated 60,000 unobjectionable encroachments and 15,000 objectionable encroachments. As per the norms, the occupant should submit an application to the district administration on payment of `35 in Mee-Seva towards the application fee on or before December 15. They should fill the application in the prescribed format which would be forwarded to the tahsildar concerned for verification. A team of officials from the revenue and municipal administration departments will be engaged in the inspection. The report will be submitted to the district land regularisation committee through the tahsildar for final decision. The applications will be disposed of within 90 days of receipt. The BPL families should enclose a copy of the ration card or income certificate issued by the tahsildar, along with a copy of the Aadhar card or identity proof. The applicant should also submit a proof of occupation like copy of property tax receipts, electricity bills and registration document (sale deed). In case of applicants having no document to show his possession over the property, the application will be taken up on the basis of ration card/income certificate followed by field verification. The GEO tagging and GPS co-ordinates will be obtained along with a photograph of the family. The collector said that the land patta would be issued in the name of woman member of the family and in her absence, in the name of eldest male member, at a public function. “The land owner will be eligible to dispose of the land only two years after the regularisation. While priority will be given to applicants with no property, those who benefited from such land regularisation scheme earlier would not be considered under the fresh scheme,” he added. (New Indian Express 11/9/15)

82. ‘Closed Bengal tea estates a major humanitarian crisis in the making’ (21)

Kolkata : The “semi-closure” and “abandonment” of tea estates in northern West Bengal is fast becoming a major humanitarian crisis with a population of over 75,000 dependent on them forced to live in near-starvation, warns a report. Releasing the “Ignoring Hunger- Report on the Situation in Duncans’ Tea Estate in North Bengal”, Right to Food and Work Campaign’s West Bengal chapter demanded immediate intervention of the Mamata Banerjee government. The Right to Food and Work Campaign (RFWC)- a network of organisations and activists, slammed the Banerjee government for turning a blind eye to the “grim” issue and said they will be compelled to seek legal recourse if the state government failed to take measures under the Right to Food Act as mandated by the Supreme Court. “The situation is peculiar for the fact that the 15 tea estates owned by the Duncans are neither closed nor open. With the estates being in limbo since February, the population of over 75,000 directly dependant them, is living in near starvation,” said Anuradha Talwar of RFWC. “Since the gardens have not been officially closed, the state government is not extending the benefits of social schemes including financial assistance to workers of locked-out industries. “The people are not only compelled to live in near-starvation, there is no facility for drinking water, medical facilities have totally collapsed. Its near a disaster situation unless immediate steps are taken, it will soon turn into a major humanitarian crisis,” she added. The activists demanded the state government to take immediate steps like regular distribution of rations, employing the people under the rural job guarantee programme, and providing pensions under the National Social Assistance. “So far our attempts to get the state government to intervene in the matter have failed to evoke any response. If they don’t act immediately, we will be moving the Calcutta High Court with public interest litigation,” said Father S.J. Jothi of the network. According to the report, the lease of most of the estates has expired, so the company “illegally” possessed the land which belongs to the state government. It also states that total cash dues to the workers of these estates were over Rs.22.5 crore. “The state government needs to ensure that either the management runs the estates properly or search new owners and cancel the leases if necessary. The government must also ensurethat all the dues to the workers are paid,” it said. The report also includes a letter to state Chief Secretary Sanjay Mitra by Harsh Mander, special commissioner of the Supreme Court on Right to Food, who stated that “illegal and undeclared stoppage of wage payments and ration payments in the Duncan gardens has resulted in enormous food distress and livelihood distress”.  (Business Standard 14/9/15)

83. India yet to achieve U.N. Millennium Development Goals (21)

NEW DELHI: The Statistical Year Book, brought out by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MoSPI) that is overseeing progress on the MDGs, shows that only six of the 18 targets adopted as part of the eight goals in 2000 have been fully met. Another report brought out by the U.N. Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific shows that India has met only four of the eight MDGs. The key targets for the MDGs were halving poverty, ensuring universal primary school enrolment, attaining gender parity, cutting maternal mortality rates by three-fourths, cutting child mortality by two-thirds and reducing incidence of HIV/AIDS, among others. As per the official figures, India has managed to halve poverty rates from the 1990 levels, ensure gender parity in primary school enrolment, reversed incidence of HIV/AIDS, and reduced malaria and TB deaths. However, India continues to lag behind in checking maternal mortality and child mortality to expected levels. It has failed to address prevalence of hunger as well. As per the Census 2011 report, 89 million children in the age group 0-3 were malnourished, with 35.6 million among them underweight. The failure to improve access to sanitation, with half of the country’s households lacking a latrine, remains a major concern as well. Even in areas where India claims to be close to meeting its targets, such as reversing the incidence of malaria and TB, the disease burden continues to be high in terms of absolute numbers. As the year book shows, 1.8 million persons develop TB every year, and until recently, 3.7 lakh persons died annually, or 1,000 persons every day. Another target was to achieve a significant improvement in the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers by 2020. But, the report says that it is not “statistically discernible” if the target was met. As per the Census 2011, a 37.14 per cent decadal growth was observed in the number of slum households, making it a significant challenge for the country. As for the other two targets of environmental sustainability and partnerships for development with other countries, official reports say India is on track. Experts, however, dispute the government’s claims and flag the absence of quality data as a challenge in monitoring the country’s progress on the targets. (The Hindu 15/9/15)

84. Narendra Modi mocks Cong’s ‘garibi hatao’ slogan, says his govt’s different (21)

VARANASI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi mocked the opposition for raising questions against his Jan Dhan Yojana and asked, “Those who kept poor away from banking facilities even after four decades of nationalisation of banks are seeking account of such a scheme which has brought Rs 30,000 crore cash in rotation in a record time.” “What these people could not do in 50 years, I will do in 50 months,” Modi retorted at a function in his parliamentary constituency on Friday. “The programme would not just change the lives of a few people, but herald a new beginning that would change the future of ‘Kashi’ and its poor,” the PM said. “Things will start moving fast and the town will get a new identity and the common man’s lives will improve,” he told the hundreds of people who had gathered to listen to him. The PM, on his first trip to his Lok Sabha constituency in over eight months, claimed poverty alleviation measures of the past lacked a proper direction. “We have been hearing about ‘garibi hatao’ for the last 40-50 years. In elections too, we hear about poverty alleviation programmes for the poor. It has become a tradition in politics to talk about the poor and their welfare. There is need to come out of this tradition,” he said. Stating that experiments for poverty elimination had failed to give desired results so far, Modi said, “I don’t want to blame any government or party, but we must make a new beginning for the welfare of the poor.” He also appealed to the poor to send their children to school as education was the best option to fight poverty. Modi also stressed on skill development and said through technology the poorest of the poor could earn more and become self-reliant. “A little support in developing skills of hardworking poor is creating confidence among them. A rickshaw-puller too has become aware about skill development and its importance in his work. This programme must be initiated on broader scale as the rickshaw pullers and auto drivers create the first impression on any tourist or visitor. Their training in behaviour with guests is vital.” (Times of India 19/9/15)

85. Poverty, infant mortality reduces in Delhi, other Millenium Development goals not achieved

New Delhi: In spite of significant reduction in ‘extreme poverty’, infant and maternal mortality, and near universal enrolment in primary education, Delhi has failed to meet few parameters set by the Millennium Development Goals, although it is “on track” to achieve them shortly. In spite of significant reduction in ‘extreme poverty’, infant and maternal mortality, and near universal enrolment in primary education, Delhi has failed to meet few parameters set by the Millennium Development Goals, although it is “on track” to achieve them shortly. The facts were put forth in a report released by the Delhi government on Tuesday ahead of the high-level Sustainable Development Summit in New York on September 25, where 17 new goals, to replace the eight MDGs, are to be adopted by world leaders. The report said that the proportion of people below the poverty line in Delhi estimated for 2011-12 was 9.9% in comparison to 15.7% during 1993-94, the base year of MDG. Releasing the report, ‘Millennium Development Goals Delhi State Report 2014′ prepared by the Institute of Human Development (IHD) in collaboration with Delhi Planning Department, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said that most of the goals have “either been attained or likely to be achieved shortly.” Sisodia said that with the current 0.3% rate of reduction in poverty, the target of halving the poverty between 1990 and 2015 as per MDG will be achieved by 2017. Terming malnourishment of children as a significant indicator of food security, the report said that the percentage of underweight children (under 3 years) in Delhi decreased from 36.2 % in 1992-93 to 24.9% in 2005-06. To halve the 1990 proportion, the required reduction for the next ten years is only 0.7%, which can be achieved easily, Sisodia said. The most notable achievement has expectedly been in the field of teledensity, i.e. telephone per 100 population, which jumped from 41.8 in 2004 to 218.9 in 2011. “There are 29.1 % of households which have personal computers comprising 17.6% households having internet facility,” the report said. On the primary education front, Sisodia said the net enrolment ratio in primary education was 97.6 % during 2012-13 and proportion of pupils completing it was 99.7% in 2010-11, “near to universal” as envisaged in MDG. “The youth literacy rate (15-24 years old) was 96.46% during 2011-12. So, Delhi is near to achieve 100% Youth Literacy Rate by 2015,” it said. Sisodia claimed that Delhi has already attained the target of eliminating gender disparity in primary education and was very close to attain the same in secondary and tertiary education. “Share of women in wage employment in the non-agricultural sector was 17.1 in 2011-12. Proportion of seats held by women in State Assembly was 4.3% in 2013 which increased to 8.6% in 2015,” the report added. The under-5 child mortality rate during 1992 was 83.1 in Delhi which fell to 28 in 2012, while infant mortality rate was recorded at 25 in 2012 in comparison to 36 in 1998. “Both of these targets of reducing child mortality rate are likely to be achieved by 2015,” the report said. However, the city will miss the 100% target rate set for the proportion of 1-year olds to be immunised against measles. “…likely achievement by the year 2015 will be 89.05%,” it said. In the field of maternal health, which is the fifth MDG, the report says that the proportion of births attended by skilled health personnel in Delhi during 2012 was 84.7%, out of which 81.4% were institutional births, which is expected to go up to 86.4% by 2015. It claimed success in combating HIV/AIDS, Malaria, and other diseases in recent years. Tuberculosis prevalence rate has been reduced to 67.7 per one lakh population in 2010 as opposed to 284.5 in 2004. In ensuring environmental sustainability, it said that Delhi has appreciably widened the forest and tree cover in the city from 1.5% to 20% in 2011. “Percentage of households with sustainable access to an improved water source in Delhi as per 2011 census is 81.3%, which was 75.3% in 2001. 89.6% households had the sanitation facility in 2011 in comparison to 78% in 2001. The percentage of slum households in 2001 was 16.3 which comes to 11.3 in 2011 census,” it said. (DNA 22/9/15)

86. 10.6 million tons of food production to be affected in current year, says FICCI (21)

NEW DELHI: A study by FICCI reveals that 10.6 million tons of food production is likely to get affected in the current year due to spurious/counterfeit pesticides. The study was released Dr JS Sandhu, deputy director general, Indian Council of Agriculture Research (ICAR) and Agriculture commissioner to Government of India at a discussion organized by FICCI here on Wednesday. With 1.2 billion plus population, India requires a robust, modernized agriculture sector to ensure the food security for its population. The scope for further increasing cultivable land is limited. In order to meet the food grain requirements of the nation, the agricultural productivity and its growth needs to be sustained and further improved. India faces a challenge of non-genuine pesticides in the market, which can be counterfeit, spurious, adulterated or sub-standard. It is estimated that they constitute about 30% of the total market. The study assesses the extent of the problem and suggests ways to counter the menace. It indicates that the problem is growing 20% per year and if not addressed will reach to the level of 40% by 2019. It also states that irreversible damage to environment by use of unmonitored toxic ingredients in non-genuine due to degradation of soil through unknown illegal chemicals. India’s position as one of the leading food grain exporter in the world is fully at stake as the possibility of rumors or sabotage by other countries or rejection of Indian exports food items from developed importing countries would increase. In such a scenario, export of 29 million tons of food grains worth Rs. 1, 578 billion (USD 26 Billion) is at stake. (Times of India 23/9/15)

87. UN summit to approve 15-year blueprint to eradicate poverty (21)

UNITED NATIONS: World leaders on Friday unanimously approved an ambitious and costly 15-year blueprint to eradicate extreme poverty, combat climate change and address more than a dozen other major global issues. Presidents, prime ministers and diplomats from the UN’s 193 members stood and applauded loudly after general assembly president Mogens Lykketoft gaveled approval of the development roadmap. Discussions on how to implement the new goals — expected to cost between $3.5 trillion and $5 trillion every year until 2030 — is expected to dominate the three-day summit that will include speeches by US President Barack Obama, China’s President Xi Jinping and the leaders of Egypt, India, Iran, Germany, Britain and France. UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon told the general assembly that the test will be implementation, calling for action from all people, everywhere, and high-level political commitment. The agenda “embodies the aspirations of people everywhere for lives of peace, security and dignity on a healthy planet,” Ban said. The goals “are a to-do list for people and planet, and a blueprint for success.” The document —called “Transforming our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” — sets out 17 broad goals and 169 specific targets. Its overarching aims of reducing poverty and inequality and preserving the environment got strong support from Pope Francis who addressed the general assembly immediately before the summit opened. The non-binding goals will succeed the eight Millennium Development Goals adopted by world leaders 15 years ago. Despite significant progress, however, the only one achieved before this year was halving the number of people living in extreme poverty, due primarily to economic growth in China. The broad new goals include ensuring “healthy lives,” quality education for all, clean water, sanitation and reliable modern energy — and achieving gender equality, making cities safe, reducing inequality within and among countries, and promoting economic growth. Critics say they are too broad, lack accountability and will lead to disenchantment among those in the world most in need of hope. Supporters say there is no choice but to go big in a world of expanding population, growing inequality, dwindling resources and the existential threat from global warming…. (Times of India 25/9/15)

88. Attacked poverty by using tech power: Modi (21)

San Jose (California): Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday said his government “attacked poverty by using power of networks and mobile phones”. Speaking at the Digital India Dinner here, Modi said: “Since my government came to office we attacked poverty by using power of networks and mobile phones to launch a new era of empowerment.” “I see technology as a means to empower and as a tool that bridges the distance between hope and opportunity,” he said, adding: “In this digital age, we have an opportunity to transform lives of people in ways that was hard to imagine just a couple of decades ago.” He also said: “The only status that now matters is not whether you are awake or asleep, but whether you are online or offline.” “California is one of the last places in the world to see the sun set. But, it is here that new ideas see the first light of the day.” On the social media frenzy, the prime minister said: “Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, they are the new neighbourhoods of our new world.” (New Kerala 27/9/15)


89. Don’t ask construction worker to contribute to pension schemes: SC (14)

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday took exception to the central scheme that asks construction workers to contribute 50 percent of the amount for their pensions upon completing 60 years of age under the Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Cess Act, 1996. “Don’t make the beneficiaries (of the pension scheme) contribute to the scheme.. the moment you do it, they are dissuaded to keep away,” said the social justice bench of Justice Madan B. Lokur and Justice Uday Umesh Lalit. “Our idea is that a worker is not made to contribute to the pension scheme. That is the easiest way to dissuade the worker to keep away from the scheme,” said Justice Lalit, brushing aside all explanations offered by Additional Solicitor General Maninder Singh appearing for the central government. Admitting that there was a “complete failure” on the part of the government in utilising the fund collected for the welfare of the construction workers as mandated under the 1996 law, Singh said that “some where a beginning” has to be made. “Where should be the beginning (made) after complete failure to implement the scheme for the benefits of the construction workers,” he said, inviting a jibe from Justice Lalit who said: “Wisdom of implementing the act has come after 11 years.” Singh shifted the blame on the state governments for not responding to the central government’s directions in the past. Trying to address the court’s queries, Labour Secretary Shankar Aggarwal said that one of the impedements in the implementation of the provision of 1996 law was that construction workers did not have an identity card. He said that same is being removed by issuing them portable Universal Access Number (UAN) that will have their bank account number and all the benefits would get channelized. While asking Aggarwal to put all that he had said in an affidavit, the court also asked him to respond to two identical orders passed by it on January 18, 2010 and December 12, 2014, asking that the construction workers working for contractors executing government projects should get the benefits of the schemes under the 1996 Act. Referring to the two orders, senior counsel Colin Gonsalves appearing for the petitioner National Campaign Committee of Construction Labourers said that 60 percent of the construction workers were engaged in government contracts. He also disputed the figures of 1.5 crore registered construction workers saying that in fact, there were about five crore construction workers. The court asked the labour secretary to address the suggestions given by the amicus curiae Vivek Tankha for the utilisation of corpus of Rs. 21,000 crore. The pension scheme is one of the several welfare measure for the utilisation of Rs.21,000 crores collected under the 1996 act. The other welfare measures include providing construction workers with low cost houses, scholarship and tuition fee of their children and maternity benefits to the women construction workers. (New Kerala 11/9/15)

90. Munnar stir called off, women tea workers secure benefits (14)

Thiruvananthapuram: The spontaneous agitation by tea estate workers in Munnar, mostly women, that began nine days ago ended on Sunday with the management yielding to their demands to increase bonus. Hours earlier, opposition leader V S Achuthanandan had joined the agitation, saying he would not leave till the workers’ demand was met. The women workers who had chased away all other political leaders and trade unions which tried to side with them, saying they had been helping the management, had allowed the veteran CPM leader to join their agitation. Following marathon discussions among stakeholders in Kochi, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said the management of Kannan Devan Hills Plantations (KDHP) Limited had agreed to give 8.33 per cent bonus and 11.67 per cent ex-gratia to workers. The demand for increase in daily wages from Rs 231 to Rs 500 would be addressed by the labour commissioner later. The 5,000-odd workers had started the sit-in in Munnar last Sunday. KDHP was forced to close down all its factories after the agitation cut off supply of tea leaves. The strike was embarrassing for Tata Tea as KDHP was held up as a model for making workers feel part of the company. It was formed a decade ago following Tata Tea’s strategy to hand over a chunk of its shares to employees and managers of the estate. However, while a workers’ representative was made the board director, the operations continued to be controlled by the Tatas. Tata Global Beverages also retained the Kannan Devan tea brand and the marketing of the estate’s products. Currently, the 13,000 workers on KDHP’s rolls, most of them women engaged in plucking tea leaves, hold 68 per cent of the shares, while 18 per cent are held by Tata Tea. The remaining 14 per cent are held by a trust and others. The cover page of KDHP’s annual report for the last fiscal had noted that it “featured among the 100 best companies to work (by) its employees in India; ranked No. 1 in the category (of) best company for employees’ involvement and participation in India”. The agitation had begun after the management decided to cut workers’ bonus from 20 per cent to 10 due to the sagging fortunes of the tea industry. A statement by the company said its income had fallen by 68 per cent in 2014-15 from the previous year. The angry workers later also raised the issue of daily wages. The basic daily pay of an estate worker engaged in plucking tea leaves is Rs 80 to 85. With all benefits, it comes to Rs 231. A worker has to pluck 21 kg of leaves a day to get that pay, plus Rs 1.50 for every extra kilogram of output. On the contrary, estate supervisors get Rs 4 each, staff members Rs 6 each and managers Rs 10 each on every extra kilogram plucked by the worker. Apart from the demand to increase wages and bonus, the workers also raised the “poor conditions” in the one-room houses allotted to them. One of the protesting workers said that the claim that “the company belongs to labourers” was an “eye wash”. “We have to pay for every service offered, even Rs 100 so that our cows can graze. Ordinary workers’ children do not get admission in the school run by the company.” Achuthanandan, who was given a rousing reception by the striking workers on Sunday, said KDHP had no justification to cut the bonus from 20 to 10 per cent. The welcome was surprising given the insistence by workers, mostly women, to keep out even their own trade union leaders affiliated to the CPI’s AITUC, the Congress’s INTUC and the CPM’s CITU, as they hit the streets of Munnar. In a sector known for its well-oiled trade union system, such an agitation, without the support of trade union leaders, was unheard of. (Indian Express 14/9/15)

91. Will oppose move to deny decent wages: CITU (14)

Thiruvananthapuram: A press note issued by the Secretariat here on Tuesday pointed out that majority of workers in the traditional and unorganised sectors were getting meagre wages. It observed that the neoliberal policies of the government were making the affluent sections richer while pushing the poorer sections deeper into deprivation. It said the government had failed to bring the managements round to a fair settlement of the strike by estate workers. (The Hindu 17/9/15)

92. PF insurance amount hiked to Rs. 6 lakh (14)

HYDERABAD: A meeting of the Central Board of Trustees of Employees Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) here on Wednesday decided to enhance the insurance benefit payable to dependents of the members of the Employees’ Provident Fund from the present Rs. 3.60 lakh to 6 lakh. The move under the Employees Deposit Linked Insurance Scheme, 1976, will benefit four crore EPF contributing members. The money will be paid to dependents on the death of subscribers to the scheme. About Rs. 180 crore was paid to 30,000 employees last year, board chairman and Union Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya, Central Provident Fund Commissioner K.K. Jalan and top officials of the Ministry of Labour and Employment told a press conference after the meeting. Mr. Dattatreya said that it was also decided to remove the condition of continuous employment of one year under the current employer for eligibility to the insurance scheme. Even a day’s employment was enough to be eligible. All the 4.3 crore construction workers will be given universal account numbers as part of steps to enable them to access the PF amount even if they migrated to other States since they were mostly migrant people. The Centre would give the Supreme Court a roadmap on how it proposed to make the State governments spend the one per cent cess on the construction value of buildings collected from contractors for the welfare of workers. The apex court had taken a serious view of the fact that Rs. 20,000-crore collected for the purpose at the national level but it was either misused or not used. Mr. Jalan said the EPFO was looking at a 15-year horizon for investment of 5 to 15 per cent of the corpus of the EPFO in the exchange-traded fund with the aim to earn higher returns. It was seen that the Sensex grew 15 per cent in as many years. The EPFO had already invested Rs. 400 crore through six fund managers, including SBI mutual fund, since August 6. The investment will be ramped up to Rs. 4,000 to 5,000 crore in this financial year. (The Hindu 17/9/15)

93. National policy for domestic workers on anvil: Centre (14)

New Delhi: Union Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya on Friday said the central government was formulating a national policy for domestic workers to provide them social security. My ministry is working on a national policy for domestic workers to assure them wage security, job security and social security,” Dattatreya said while addressing a national workshop of informal workers here. He said the initiative would benefit about three crore domestic workers in the country. The minister said the government has also “initiated step” to amend the Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF) and Employees’ State Insurance (ESI) Acts to bring unorganised workers under its ambit and provide them benefits at par with the organised workforce. He said about Rs.16,000 crore, collected under cess funds for construction workers, is “lying vacant” with the various states’ welfare boards. “My ministry has been issuing statutory directions from time to time for proper utilisation of the cess funds for the benefit of the building and other construction workers,” he said. Under the Building and Other Construction Workers’ Welfare Cess Act, realty developers are required to pay cess of 1 percent of the total cost of construction incurred by the employer. Meanwhile, the minister said all the unorganised workers would be covered with the universal minimum social security net within a year. “I am sure, within a year from now, you will see a transformed India where the entire unorganised workforce and their family comprising of 100 crore of India’s population will be covered by universal minimum social security net which will help them live a life of dignity and respect,” he said. As per census 2011, out of about 48 crore workforce in India, only eight crore come under the category of organised workers, while 40 crore are unorganised workers who contribute 50 percent of the country’s GDP. (Business Standard 18/9/15)

94. Controversial labour law amendments to come into force in a week in Gujrat (14)

GANDHINGAR: The Labour Laws (Gujarat Amendment) Bill, 2015 passed in the state assembly in February amid wide opposition from the Congress party was finally has finally been approved as an Act by the President of India on September 17, and the state government has now decided to notify the Act within a week’s time. The Labour Laws Amendment Bill aimed at amending The Employee’s Compensation Act, 1923; The Industrial Disputes Act, 1947; The Minimum Wages Act, 1948; The Motor Transport Workers Act, 1961; The Beedi and Cigar Workers Act, 1966; The Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Act, 1970; Payment of Gratuity Act, 1972; The Equal Remuneration Act, 1976; The Building and Other Construction Workers Act, 1996 and Unorganized Workers Social Security Act, 2008. Vijay Rupani, state labour and employment minister said: “The President of India has approved the Labour Laws Amendment Bill. As soon as the Government of India sends us the approved copy we will notify the Act. As a part of the ‘Ease of Doing Business’ efforts of the Government of India, we aims to notify it within a week and put the changes into practice.” In his statement for the objectives and reasons for these amendments, the minister said, “More and more industries are being established in Gujarat and therefore the state Government has considered it necessary to strike a balance of interests between industries and workers and create an environment which is conducive to both, the industry and the workers.” Shaktisinh Gohil, senior Congress MLA and All-India Congress party spokesperson alleged: “It’s unfortunate. The so-called amendment is just to benefit the capitalist class and take away the little security cover provided to labour. The provision of paying fines and letting employers go free from will give employers a free run to exploit labour now.” (Times of India 22/9/15)

95. ESI to cover most parts of country by year-end (14)

New Delhi: In its effort to universalise the Employees State Insurance (ESI) scheme, the Labour Ministry has rolled out a plan to bring most parts of the country under the scheme by the end of 2015. As per the plan, the health scheme will be opened to construction workers and auto-rickshaw drivers and rickshaw pullers by November 30 this year. The ministry has also decided to extend the facilities of yoga and traditional medicine (AYUSH) at every centres of the ESI by the end of the year. “We have ESI centres in 31 states or Union Territories.  At present, three states in the north-east, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram and Manipur are not covered. By December 31, these three states will come under the coverage. We have ESI centres in 393 districts. However, every part of these districts is not covered. They would be covered by April 1, 2016,” Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya told reporters on Tuesday after the meeting of Employees State Insurance Corporation (ESIC). He said that remaining districts will also be linked to nearby districts. The plan is also to bring workers of unorganised sectors under the coverage. The construction workers are being brought under the scheme by December 31. The scheme is being extended to auto-rickshaw drivers and rickshaw pullers. In select metros and urban centres (Delhi and Hyderabad), they would be brought under the ESI scheme by November 30. Dattatreya said the proposal of extending ESI facilities to scheme-workers (workers in Anganwadi, ASHA and Mid Day Meal Scheme) is under consideration. Terming it the second-generation of reforms, the labour minister announced introduction of several high-tech facilities for the subscribers of the scheme. They include e-health records (online facility for seeing prescriptions and investigations and test reports, telemedicine and upgradation of dispensaries. He said that 24 ESIS dispensaries have been identified for being upgraded to 30-beded hospital. He said that pathological and x-ray facilities  will be provided on Public Private Partnership (PPP)basis in all dispensaries in phases and the pathological services in dispensaries of Delhi will start from   November 30. “The Oncology and Cardiology facility would in place by December 31, 2015 and dialysis facility on PPP model in all ESIC Model Hospitals,” he added. According to the minister, all the ESI centres will have Yoga facility by November 30 and AYUSH (Ayurveda, Yoga, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy) facility by December 31. (Deccan Herald 23/9/15)

96. National Women’s Panel to Recommend Minimum Wages in Unorganised Sector (14)

KOCHI: The National Women’s Commission will write to the Ministry of Women and Child Development to ensure minimum wages for women working in the unorganised sector.Commission member Sushma Sahu, who was in the city on Thursday to inaugurate the women lawyers conference, said that the Commission will take steps to bring the issues being faced by women labourers to the notice of the ministry. Sushma Sahu, who was appointed as the Commission member in August this year, said the Commission will also seek the ministry’s assistance in setting up fast track courts solely to deal with sexual harassment and domestic violence cases. “We will also seek the help of the courts to make speedy trials in such cases so that the culprits  don’t walk free,” she said. “It is high time to amend our laws which  dilute the gravity of complaints given by women by insisting for evidence which many times cant be furnished. The culprits easily get bail and don’t get punished,” Sushma said. The member from Bihar, who is in charge of the states like Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand and Tamil Nadu, does not have a clear-cut of the agitation led by the women tea plantation workers in Munnar or similar protests. “The women lawyers here brought to my notice such developments in the state. I was also informed on the death of three girls of Konni, Pathanamthitta,” she said. The Commission is taking steps to give job training for the victims of domestic violence to make them capable of earning themselves. “The women caught up in such situations do not get divorce even if they opt for that. They are threatened when they take bold steps,” the Commission member pointed out. “In the case of victims of sexual harassment the situation is like that their life has ended up in hell. They are often housed in shelter homes and  never welcomed back to homes. Even if the parents accept them that is by force,” she added. Another alarming incident, according to the member of the Women’s Forum, is human trafficking. “It is a stunning fact that selling and buying of women could not be checked. The incidents are highest from Assam, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar,” she said. The Commission is forging tie-ups with NGOs and similar organisations to create awareness among women to seek legal help when required and to make them courageous to break silence in times of sufferings. (New Indian Express 25/9/15)

97. Munnar women workers to stay away from strike (14)

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Plantation workers in Kerala will go on an indefinite strike from Monday as a marathon meeting of government officials, labourers and representatives of plantation associations on Saturday failed to reach a consensus over minimum wages. The group of Kanan Devan women workers that recently went on strike in Munnar, however, said they would not join the strike and would wait for the outcome of a cabinet sub-committee meeting to be held on Tuesday. “The meeting could reach a consensus on many factors related to improving the living conditions of labourers in plantations, but a consensus on wages could not be reached,” labour minister Shibu Baby John said after the meeting. | (Times of India 27/9/15)


98. Jats must unite, become a political force to win quota fight: Congress leader (25)

New Delhi: Senior Congress leader Renuka Chaudhary on Saturday called upon the Jat community, agitating for reservation under the OBC category, to campaign unitedly for their rights and suggested setting up of a core committee and formulating an action plan to meet their goals. Chaudhary, who is the women president of All India Jat Mahasabha, said the community should “make themselves a force to be reckoned with and a major force in the vote back politics which no leader can ignore”.”Till you are a force to reckon with and work unitedly, you cannot win over your rights,” she said at a meet of the Jats here, coming against the backdrop of the Supreme Court setting aside a notification to include Jats in the central list of OBC category. The apex court had in July dismissed the plea of the Centre seeking a review of its March 17 verdict quashing OBC reservation for Jats. A senior leader of the community said that though the court has struck down reservations for them, they would continue to press their demand with the government. “We should constitute a core committee immediately with representatives from different regions and prepare an action plan putting aside internal differences. The committee could work on a five-point agenda to claim their rightful demand,” Chaudhary said. She also said that the leaders should also engage constitutional lawyer following the Supreme Court order. “Unless we strengthen our voices, no government from either side would listen to our pleas,” she said. Chaudhary also stressed for increased involvement of women to take up the Jat cause and working shoulder to shoulder with others in the community. (Zee News 13/9/15)

99. Kurmis in Jharkhand demand reservation under ST category (25)

Ranchi: Taking a cue from Patidars (Patels) agitation in Gujarat, the Kurmis in Jharkhand have renewed their demand of reservation under the Scheduled Tribe (ST) category. “The Raghubar Das government back-stabbed Kurmis. The chief minister wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to maintain status quo on recommendation made by the then BJP government led by Arjun Munda in November 2004,” Sheilendra Mahto, a leader of Jharkhand Kurmi Sangarash Morcha, told IANS. “The Munda government on basis of the state cabinet decision had sent a letter to the then UPA government to include Kurmis in ST category,” said Mahto, a former Lok Sabha member. He said: “We held a meeting of our Morcha on Sunday at Bokaro and decided to step up agitation to press our demands. Kurmis were under ST till 1950 and our caste was excluded under a conspiracy.” At present Kurmis get reservation benefits under the OBC category. According to government sources, Kurmis constitute around 10 to 12 percent of the total population. However, Kurmi leaders claimed that their community constitutes up to 22 percent of the population. Mahto said the morcha would first send memorandum to the prime minister and the chief minister to include the community in the ST category and later rallies would be organised as was done by Patidars. (New Kerala 14/9/15)

100. Govt. urged to act on quota for Muslims (25)

NIZAMABAD:  District Congress Minority Cell appealed to the government to take necessary steps to appoint Backward Classes Commission and ask it to review the State reservation policy in coordination with the SC and ST Commission as with the proposed percentage of reservations for Muslims will cross 50 per cent cap. In a memorandum submitted to Joint Collector A. Ravinder Reddy, here on Monday, the Minority Cell chairman Sumeer Ahmed urged the government to take immediate action towards the implementation of reservations to Muslims in education and jobs to avoid growing distrust and despair among them. Expressing a serious concern over the issue, he said the minority communities already lost 1,242 posts through the first TSPSC notification itself. (The Hindu 15/9/15)

101. OBC leader ready to share stage with Hardik on quota for poor (25)

Ahmedabad: In what could be a significant turn in the quota agitation in Gujarat, a prominent OBC leader on Sunday said that he would be ready to work with the Patel quota movement spearhead Hardik Patel, if the latter took up the cause of reservation for poor people of all communities. “If Hardik wants to meet us then we would welcome him and I would urge him to share stage and fight on the issue of poor people of all the communities,” Alpesh Thakor, the convener of OBC Ekta Manch, which has been opposing Hardik’s quota demand for the Patel community, told PTI. The OBC Ekta Manch is an umbrella body of the 146 OBC communities in Gujarat that came up after the Patels raised the demand for inclusion within the OBC fold. “I wish Hardik’s agitation  had gone in the right direction. I would have extended my support to him had he raised the issue of reservation to the poor people of the Patel community,” Thakor said. Hardik, the 22-year-old convener of Patel Anamat Andolan Samiti, who has been spearheading the agitation for reservation to Gujarat’s Patel community under Other Backward Class (OBC) category, had yesterday said he will approach the people who are opposing his movement. “People who are opposing our movement, we will approach them to make them understand about our issue (of quota under OBC category),” Hardik had said after his release on bail following arrest for defying prohibitory orders. Thakor, the 38-year-old president of Thakor Kshatriya Samaj who claims to fight for SCs, STs and OBCs, while addressing Hardik as his “younger brother” said he should have carried on the agitation peacefully and not by disturbing law and order in Gujarat. The OBC and Patel communities have turned against each other in Gujarat following the Patel quota stir. The OBCs have threatened that they will uproot the BJP government if Patels are given reservation. The OBC community has also announced to take out a Pratikar Yatra(counter rally) against Hardik Patel’s Ekta March (from Dandi to Ahmedabad) to counter the Patel quota agitation. (Business Standard 20/9/15)

102. Rajasthan government breaches 50% bar, quota now at 68% (25)

JAIPUR: The Rajasthan assembly on Tuesday passed two bills granting 5% reservation to Gujjar-led special backward classes (SBC) and 14% to economically backward classes (EBC), taking the total quota quantum in the state to over 50% — the upper ceiling that twice felled quota laws of the state. The Vasundhra Raje government also pushed through resolutions urging the Centre to place the twin bills in the 9th schedule of the Constitution to buffer them from legal scrutiny. Interestingly, the hurried decision of the state came a day after RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat stirred a storm by suggesting that the reservation system be reviewed. The two are, however, unlikely to be linked as the bills are a result of a long process. If the Raje regime passed the legislations despite knowing the pitfalls of breaching the halfway mark and introducing quotas on economic criteria that are legally untenable, as flagged by two MLAs in the assembly, the recurring protests by Gujjars are seen as the provocation. The government hopes to prove its bona fide through its demand to the Centre that the bills be put in the 9th schedule. It, however, poses a tricky question for the Centre to heed the state’s prayer for 9th schedule as it may open the floodgates for similar pleas from other states. Given the polarization around quotas in Rajasthan society, it is anticipated that the two bills will be challenged in the high court the moment they are signed by the governor. As of now, quotas in state jobs and educational institutions stand at 49% and the fresh measures will stretch it to 68%.It is deja vu for experts and beneficiaries. Under pressure from Gujjars, the Raje government in 2008 had passed the same SBC and EBC quotas though as part of the same bill. It was stayed by the high court in 2009 when the succeeding Ashok Gehlot government tried to implement it.It was on the advice of legal experts and Gujjars that the state brought separate bills for the two categories this time around. The chequered history of quotas had another tryst with the legal process when the high court stayed 5% SBC quota introduced by the Gehlot government in 2012. While the chief minister did not introduce the EBC quota this time, the total quota still reached 54%. As a consequence, the court struck down 4% excess quota and 1% SBC quota is still in operation. Despite the uncertainty over the fate of the bills, parliamentary affairs minister Rajendra Rathore exuded confidence. “We drafted both the bills after detailed discussions with experts. Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Odisha too have reservation beyond 50%. Also, the Constitution preamble allows policies to be framed to remove economic and social backwardness,” he said. A riled Congress questioned the government’s sincerity. “If this government is really serious about reservation on economic basis, it should first get the Constitution appropriately amended,” leader of opposition Rameshwar Dudi said, accusing the Raje government of misleading the people on EBC quota. (Times of India 23/9/15)

103. Gujarat announces EWS students package (25)

Ahmedabad: Gujarat government’s attempt to placate the agitating Patels on the quota issue by announcing a financial aid package for EWS students failed to have the intended effect as protesters rejected it as “lollypop”. Chief Minister Anandiben Patel, who announced the package on Thursday afternoon, said the state government would offer financial aid to meritorious students from the economically weaker section to help them pursue medical, engineering and other professional courses. Noting that pro-quota agitators complained about meritorious students opting for self-financing colleges AND PAY HIGHER FEES AS A RESULT OF RESERVATIONS for OBCs, SCs and STs, THE Chief Minister said: “Moving forward, 75 per cent of the seats in self-financing institutions will be reserved for meritorious students. The government would fix the fee structure and pay the fees of deserving EWS students.” Announcing that the government would provide Rs 2,00,000 in annual scholarship for EWS students pursuing medical programmes, Patel said the government would also provide free textbooks for EWS students in higher secondary and high schools. She also addressed a major bone of contention of the protestors by giving five year age relaxation for EWS candidate in government jobs, which was so far available only for the reserved category candidates. Claiming that the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) agitation has lost direction and become an anti-government stir, Patel asked her community members to encourage their wards to take up science programmes in college. “Gujarat has as many as 55 universities, yet many engineering and science seats remain vacant,” she said. PAAS convener Hardik Patel immediately rejected the package and said that they would announce further plan of action after consulting members of the movement’s core committee. PAAS supporters pelted stones at BJP workers gathered to celebrate the new EWS package in Surat’s Varachha locality, prompting police to use teargas shells to disperse the mob. (Deccan Herald 25/9/15)

104. Quota issue needs to be taken seriously, says Kalraj Mishra (25)

Lucknow: Amidst demands for reservation in the country, the NDA government has said these have to be taken “seriously” while striving for a solution to the issue through debate. “Demand for reservation is rising in many states and agitations are being held for the same. This should be taken seriously and a debate should be held on the issue to reach a solution,” senior BJP leader and Union Minister Kalraj Mishra, told PTI. Clarifying the party’s stand on reservation, he said the BJP believes it was “important” for the development of certain groups. “BJP firmly supports the constitutional reservation for Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, other backward classes and extremely backward classes. We believe that reservation is important for the social, education and economic development of these groups.” On RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat’s statement regarding the reservation policy that has sparked a row in political circles, Mr. Mishra said it was blown out of proportion by Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who he claimed had “misinterpreted” it. “Bhagwat’s statement was in reference to Patel reservation demand in Gujarat and it was misinterpreted by Nitish and blown out of proportion for political gains. They are trying to mislead people on the issue for mileage in polls.” said the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Minister.-PTI (The Hindu 26/9/15)

105. ‘BJP will abolish quota policy if it wins in Bihar’, says Nitish Kumar (25)

Khagaria: Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Sunday alleged that the BJP-led coalition at the Centre will abolish reservation for OBCs, SC and STs if it win assembly elections in Bihar as RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat had called for review of the reservation policy. “The RSS chief has publicly called for review of the reservation policy which the BJP-led coalition at the centre may scrap if NDA gets power in Bihar,” Kumar alleged at an election rally in Parbatta Assembly constituency in Khagaria district. The victory of the BJP-led alliance will embolden NDA to toe the RSS line and scrap the existing reservation policy, he alleged. Kumar promised 35 per cent reservation to women in government jobs if his alliance (JDU-RJD-Cong) comes back to power at the hustings. He also took umbrage to BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi in particular for ridiculing him on his Rs 2.70 lakh crore vision for development of the state over next five years if his own alliance wins the election. “You don’t worry about how we will raise resources. We have enough sources of revenue to fulfil aspirations of the people on development front,” Kumar said. The Chief Minister said he has charted out the vision document after taking into account various sources from which revenues will be raised in coming years and not from any dole by anybody, he said referring to the Centre. The Prime Minister had ridiculed Kumar’s vision document last month and asked him from where he will raise funds to implement his development agenda. The senior JD(U) leader, who launched the secular alliance’s campaign yesterday, flayed the NDA government for “non-fulfilment” of promises, including bringing back black money from foreign shores, and asked the Prime Minister what happened to his poll promise to distribute Rs 15 to Rs 20 lakh cash into bank account of every individual. Kumar also slammed the ‘Gujarat Model’ of development, a plank on which Modi had won the Lok Sabha poll last year, and alleged the pitiable condition of women and prevalence of unemployment in the PM’s native state tell a different story compared to the claims made about development there. In all, the Chief Minister addressed five election meetings during the day. (Asian Age 28/9/15)


106. India covering up human rights violations in Kashmir: report (1)

The Indian government has allegedly been covering up hundreds of cases of human rights violations in Indian Kashmir, including extra judicial killings, torture and forced disappearances, Al Jazeera quoted a report on Wednesday. The 800-page report,  Structures of Violence: The Indian State in Jammu and Kashmir by the International Peoples’ Tribunal and the Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons, highlights the systematic violence allowed by Indian authorities in Kashmir in over two decades in the region, said Khurram Parvez, programme coordinator of Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society. Over 1,000 cases of extra judicial killings along with 172 incidents of enforced disappearances as well as the numerous cases of sexual violence dating as far as the early 1990s were recorded in the report, said Parvez, who co-authored the report which took two years to complete. Evidence by the rights groups gathered over four years includes hundreds of on-the-record testimonies from witnesses and victims, scrutiny of official records under right-to-information laws as well as lengthy litigation. “This report will be submitted to the UN Human Rights Council as well as the government of India,” added Parvez. Non-Governmental Organisations say all remedies available within the Indian justice system have been exhausted, and named 972 alleged perpetrators, including 464 army personnel, it says have gone unpunished. An emergency law in force in the region since 1990 grants security forces wide powers to raid homes and kill on suspicion of illegal actions, and forbids them from being tried in civilian courts. But rights activists say the civilian victims of abuses by soldiers often struggle to bring complaints to the military courts, which are reserved for internal disciplinary hearings, leaving them with limited legal recourse. Urging not to limit persecution only to the individuals directly involved in the abuses, Parvez said, “We acknowledge that these are individuals forming part of a structure of violence and impunity that allows a massive institutional cover-up here in the valley.”… (The Express Tribune  10/9/15)

107. Odisha Ahead in Executing NHRC Orders (1)

BHUBANESWAR: Secretary General of National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) Satyanarayan Mohanty on Friday said Odisha has been ahead of other States in implementing the recommendations of the rights panel. While the pendency rate has reduced to a large extent, he told mediapersons that the State administration has taken expeditious measures to address the issues raised in various cases registered with the NHRC. Mohanty interacted with Chief Secretary GC Pati, Home Secretary Asit Tripathy and DGP Sanjiv Marik on various issues including strengthening of human rights cell in Home Department, implementation of guidelines and recommendations in cases of custodial deaths, rehabilitation of child labour. Similarly, women victimised by illegal trafficking, rehabilitation of bonded labour, establishment of women police stations and fast tracking of cases were also discussed in the meeting. The State administration apprised the NHRC Secretary General of preventive and rehabilitative measures such as district child protection units, establishment of integrated anti-human trafficking units, women and child desks in police stations besides dedicated police stations for women. Childline systems, helplines, short stay homes and legal aid committees, and mental health care institutions too have been created by the State, they said. Among others, Principal Secretary, Health and Family Welfare Arati Ahuja, Secretary, Women and Child Development Department Vishal Dev and NHRC Rapporteer Damodar Sadangi were also present. (New Indian Express 12/9/15)

108. ‘Media are defenders of human rights’ (1)

Nagpur: “Media are playing a role of defender of human rights,” said former judge of Supreme Court Justice Cyriac Joseph at ‘Indian Society, Media and Challenges of Human Right: A Dialogue’ held at Nagpur University Ambedkar College of Law on Monday. Highlighting the significant role of media in preventing violation of human rights, Justice Joseph said media created awareness among people and exposed the breaches of rights. “Media not only motivate and empower victims to fight for their rights but also compel the authorities to act,” he said. He added the essence of human rights was to secure dignity of an individual and it was the work of judiciary to uphold these laws. The legislature must ensure laws were efficiently enforced, he added. Stating that 22% of the people in India were still Below Poverty Line (BPL), S C Sinha, a member of National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), said, “It is unfortunate that every year, 6.3 crore people are shifting under BPL as they are deprived of basic amenities like sanitation, food, shelter and job opportunities. Basic needs should be provided to every citizen for their all-round development and enhancement of opportunities so that the prime aim of eradicating poverty can be fulfilled.” Vice-chancellor of Mahatma Gandhi Antarrashtriya Hindi University, Wardha, Girishwar Mishra, in his address explained how the media had reached and affected the common man. He stated, “There is a close relationship between media and human rights commission as media can influence the minds of the people and affect their thoughts, emotions and feelings. They have also made people aware of the wrong doings prevailing in our society.” Joint secretary of NHRC Ranjit Singh explained the three tenets of human rights. They were giving rights to self, equality among all, and respect for all humans. He also spoke about how dynamics of human rights had evolved and about collective rights that includes privacy, health, and freedom from hunger. Others present at the inaugural ceremony were SK Shukla, assistant director of NGRC, Puranchandra Meshram, registrar of Nagpur University, and principal of College Shrikant Komawar.  (Times of India 15/9/15)

109. Human rights panels should be autonomous: Rajnath (1)

New Delhi: Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Friday said maintaining the autonomy of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and state human rights panels was in the interest of the country.

He assured all possible cooperation from the Centre to make the rights panels stronger and more effective. Addressing a day-long meeting of the NHRC and state panels here, the home minister said India has a long tradition of attaching importance not only to human rights but also to the rights of all present in the universe. He said that in order to make the state panels effective, it was necessary to provide them with infrastructure, and financial and human resources. The home minister said he would look into the recommendations of the Justice G.P. Mathur committee as well as the suggestions emanating from the meeting. Vacancies in the state panels should be filled, he said. Rajnath Singh said there would be no problem in moving the recommendation before parliament for an amendment in the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993 for constitution of Human Rights Commissions in the union territories also. Referring to some of the concerns on human rights, he said the Centre was seriously looking into the problem of convicted prisoners languishing in jails even after completing their sentences and would solve the problem. The minister also expressed concern over human trafficking and urged all stakeholders to sit together and prepare an elaborate Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) to stop the menace. Earlier, speaking on the occasion, Justice Cyriac Joseph, NHRC’s acting chairperson, said it was the constitutional obligation of the state to protect human rights. “The NHRC and the SHRCs are recommendatory bodies but it is for the government to ensure that these do not remain toothless or paper tiger,” he said. (New Kerala 18/9/15)

110. NHRC notice to Odisha CS over negligence of displaced families (1)

Balasore: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has issued notice and sought a detailed report from the Chief Secretary of Odisha on the plight of 469 displaced families who have been allegedly duped and are suffering from malnourishment. Acting on a petition filed by lawyer and rights activist Radhakanta Tripathy, the NHRC passed the order calling for a reply from the chief secretary. Four hundred and sixty nine families of Deo Project displacement in Mayurbhanj district have been subjected to harassment and cheating due to failure of the state officials to check corrupt practice and frauds by the unscrupulous government officials, alleged the petitioner. The amount to be paid under the Rehabilitation and Resettlement Policy have been siphoned and pocketed by the corrupt officials in connivance with the mafia, the petition contended. The displaced families are denied legitimate compensation. Since most of them are not educated they have been subjected to exploitation and fraud. A thorough independent probe into the incident has been demanded, however, since the government officials are involved nothing has been done so far, Tripathy pointed out. The petitioner sought the intervention of the NHRC to ensure justice to the victims. The failure of the government officials especially of the Social Justice and Empowerment, Rural Development and the Revenue Department in ensuring basic rights of the families including women and children amounts to denial of basic human rights, Tripathy alleged. He requested the NHRC to investigate the case by a team of experts and direct the state to rehabilitate the families. (The Statesman 21/9/15)

111. Rights activists to launch Janadhikar Yatra on Oct 1 (1)

RANCHI: After fighting tireleslly for legislation, activists responsible for framing of the employment guarantee scheme, Right to Information, Food and Forests Act, are now up in arms against governments at the Centre and in the state for their alleged efforts to subvert peoples’ rights in an organized manner. A congregation of various organizations will be joining the 10-day Janadhikar Yatra, which is set to start simultaneously at all the five administrative divisional headquarters from October 1. Jean Dreze, Nrega activist and a former member of National Advisory Council (NAC), shared details of the purpose of organizing the yatra here at a press meet on Monday and also criticized the efforts of the Centre and the state to deprive the people of their constitutional rights guaranteed through the people’s act. “The central government’s expense on Nrega has come down by 30%, which in terms of the share of GDP growth rate is even less,” he said, reminding that the provisions for unemployment compensation is not being honoured and the Act has also been delinked from the Minimum Wages Act. “We have received complaints from villagers that work is being refused for UID number, which is a violation of the August 11 judgement of the apex court,”Dreze said. Dayamani Barla, a leading tribal activist known for her fight against the proposed land acquisition by ArcelorMittal in Khunti, said after repeated efforts to amend the Land Acquisition Act of 2013, the Modi government is all prepared to introduce the changes through the back door. “We are told that the government will not introduce a new Act, instead amend the clause of the old Act that allows social impact assessment and environment impact assessment,” she said, citing the example of land being acquired in Seraikela for a dam project without the consent of gram sabha. Asharfi, an activist associated with the Right to Food campaign, said after repeated postponements the state government is still delaying the implementation of the National Food Security Act in Jharkhand. “We expect the government to announce its implementation by September 25. But in that case, the list of beneficiaries would leave out at least 50 lakh deserving families,” he said. Faisal Anurag, another activist spoke about over 6000 tribal and dalit youth incarcerated in different jails of the state in the pretext of being involved in Maoist activities. The Yatra beginning October 1 at all divisional headquarters would conclude on October 10 and culminate as a general assembly of masses in Ranchi on October 11. All India People’s Forum, Indigenous People Existence Protection Forum, Right to Food Campaign, Ekta Parishad, Jharkhand Jan Sanskriti Parishad, Jungle Bachao Andolan, Nrega Watch, United Milli Forum and Visthapan Virodhi Jan Vikas Andolan are expected to participate in the rally. (Times of India 22/9/15)

112. NHRC issues notice to Centre and Delhi government on dengue crisis (1)

NEW DELHI: The National Human Rights Commission has issued notices to centre and Delhi government on the increasing dengue menace in the national capital. NHRC has observed that despite the instructions of the Delhi government, private hospitals denied admission to two child patients of dengue due to which they died. According to reports, the city was grappling with the worst dengue crisis in 15 years. NHRC has given reference to the death of six-year old, Aman Sharma, who was denied admission in Max Hospital, Saket and Moolchand Hospital before reaching Batra Hospital, where he died on the September 13. The Commission has observed that it raises a serious issue of violation of human rights of victim children and other patients.The authorities have also been directed to specify in their reports, the action taken against the erring hospitals and nursing homes denying admission to dengue patients, besides the short term and long term measures proposed for prevention and treatment of the disease in Delhi including details on ex-gratia payment scheme formulated by the government for deaths due to such negligence by hospitals. (The Hindu 24/9/15)

113. Mentally ill teen stoned by group, NGO saves him (1)

LUDHIANA: A 17-year-old mentally ill boy was wheeled into the civil hospital here on Friday with a severely injured arm and maggots eating into his flesh, after he was reportedly stoned by a group of people. The teenager had run away from Lord Mahavira Civil Hospital here on Friday. On Saturday, a member of a city-based NGO, Ann Jal Sewa Trust, spotted a group of people attacking him with stones and came to his rescue. The NGO member, Shiv Ram Saroy, said when he met the boy, he was in a bad condition. Saroy, who is the president of the NGO, said he had written a letter to deputy commissioner Rajat Agarwal, who immediately took up the issue with the district health authorities. The patient was picked up by Saroy from Dharampura. “He is a psychiatric patient too. The injury in his arm was so severe that it had started decomposing. We had to remove the maggots crawling over his injury. He is unconscious and is undergoing treatment,” Saroy said. Meanwhile, local volunteers of the NGO said the problem of destitute minors was not new to Ludhiana and a destitute person is brought to the hospital every two weeks. Two weeks ago, a pregnant woman was handed over to the NGO for care, after she was given shelter by the civil hospital for two months. She was brought to the hospital in a critical condition by a rickshaw-puller. In fact, an NGO working for such patients and distributing food to them submitted a memorandum the DC for the care of such unknown patients. Agarwal termed the word done by the NGO as “good”. “They reached us quickly to take action. Undoubtedly, we need more destitute homes and paramedics to handle such patients. It would be good if more NGOs pool in for such kind of works and help such patients who need special attention. Hospital and administration will support them in every possible way,” he said. (Times of India 27/9/15)


114. Unregistered NGOs can’t run children homes, rules SC (19)

New Delhi: The Supreme Court said on Friday that no unregistered NGO would be permitted to run children homes as it expressed apprehension that some of these too may be engaged in child trafficking. Asking the central government to ensure that shutters were pulled down on the children homes being run by unregistered NGOs, the social justice bench of Justice Madan B. Lokur and Justice Uday Umesh Lalit said that the child trafficking a very serious offence under the law and against humanity. “Some of the girls are used in trafficking and it is possible that that some of the NGOs are involved in the trafficking and if the state is not checking it then it too is complicit. “Be clear about it. Not a single unregistered NGO will have a children’s home,” the court told Additional Solicitor General P.S. Patwalia appearing for the central government. “It is better than being trafficked,” the court said as Patwalia said that in the event of asking the unregistered NGOs to shut down their children homes, these children will have to be moved out. Stressing there could be no compromise on the safety of children, the court said that “child trafficking is a very serious offence in law and trafficking is a very serious offence against humanity”. Itss observation came in the course of the hearing of a PIL by Sampurna Behura where an affidavit filed by the central government revealed that in Assam, there was a larger inflow and outflow of girls in the children homes compared to boys. Confronting the figures, the court asked Patwalia what were the corresponding figures for the boys leaving children homes. In indictment of the insensitivity of the authorities who were totally unaware of the whereabouts of a girl after she leaves children’s home, Justice Lokur observed: “Nobody knows that.” His riposte came as Patwalia told the court: “When they move out, they may have joined their families.” The court also asked the ASG as to what he meant by “When they move out”.Asking the central government to pull up its socks, the court said that “so far what you have been doing is writing letters. Much more has to be done. There are enough people to keep. There are thousands of NGOs which are genuine and willing to help children” in distress. (New Kerala 11/9/15)


115. PIL that led to J&K beef ban filed by the state’s Deputy Advocate General (19)

Srinagar: The PIL seeking to enforce the ban on the sale of beef in J&K that has now snowballed into a major controversy, was filed by the J&K’s Deputy Advocate General, Parimoksh Seth, who was appointed as the Law Officer on the instructions of State Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister, Bashaarat Bukhari earlier this year. After taking an oath as Law Officer, Seth was deputed in the Jammu wing of the J&K High Court to defend the cases of the state government, however, his Public Interest Litigation (PIL) has caused an embarrassment for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the Valley as its political opponents and separatists have started blaming the party for pursuing the agenda of RSS. J&K Law Secretary, Ashraf Mir told The Indian Express that Seth was not holding the post of the Law officer when he had filed this particular PIL. “We are looking into it. May be he (Seth) withdraws the petition.’’ Mir, however, said that he could not say whether any action could be initiated against the Law officer. “Any action against the Law Officer could be taken only by the J&K’s Law Minister.’’ Parimoksh Seth is the son of senior BJP leader Onkar Seth, who spearheaded the launch of Jammu State Morcha with active support of RSS, to raise the demand for a separate Jammu State. National Conference provincial president and former MoS Home, Nasir Wani said that the government should come clean on the issue that has divided the state on communal lines. “Either the Law Minister and his team of officials are incompetent or they are doing it deliberately to keep BJP and the RSS happy,’’ he said. J&K State Congress vice-president and legislator, Ghulam Nabi Monga said that state’s Law Minister owes an explanation to the people how a deputy advocate general who was supposed to defend government cases pursued the PIL against the government. “This government is working at the behest of RSS, how is it possible that it was not in the knowledge of the Law Ministry that PIL has been filed by its own Law officer,’’ he said, adding that Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed should come up with a statement on this sensitive issue. On Wednesday, the Jammu and Kashmir High Court had ordered the Director General of Police (DGP) to strictly enforce the sale of beef across the state. The directions, which came from a division bench of Justice Dhiraj Singh Thakur and Justice Janak Raj Kotwal over a public interest litigation followed the observation that “the Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir, has not filed an appropriate response regarding the smuggling and slaughtering of bovine animals and subsequently their sale in Kashmir Valley’’. The slaughter of bovines and sale of beef is banned in Jammu and Kashmir since the pre-Partition era when the then princely state was ruled by the Dogra rulers. In the Dogra era, the ban was strictly enforced across the state, after elected governments took over; there was a relaxation in the sale of beef. While the slaughter of bovines and the sale of beef were strictly banned in the Hindu majority areas of Jammu, beef was sold at many places in Muslim majority Kashmir. (Indian Express 12/9/15)

116. Sexual harassment law compliance poorNamrata Singh (19)

MUMBAI: Response to the law against sexual harassment of women has been tepid if action taken by respective state governments and private entities is anything to go by. It’s been nearly two years since the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition & Redressal) Act, 2013 came into force, but only one state, Rajasthan, has managed to become fully compliant with the law. According to responses Mumbai-based consultant Complykaro Services received to its RTI applications, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Haryana, Arunachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Chhattisgarh and Goa have so far only partially complied with the law. In response to a query from TOI, an official from the ministry of women & child development (MWCD) said it had issued advisories to all states/UTs in December 2013 and again in October 2014 to ensure effective implementation of the Act. Under the Act, states/UTs are required to monitor implementation and compliance of the law through the office of district officer for each district who, in turn, nominates a local complaints committee (LCC) and nodal officers. Most of the states are still in the process of ensuring all measures are taken in compliance with the Act. “The biggest challenge to implementation is ignorance of the law. It is applicable for all organizations irrespective of its size and whether they have women employees or not. The entire focus of this law is to prevent sexual harassment by bringing about a behavioural change among employees. Only when all organizations implement this law will our spouses, sisters and daughters feel safe,” said Vishal Kedia, founder & director, Complykaro Services, which is in the business of assisting companies to comply with the said law. While the Act cast an obligation upon all the employers to constitute an internal complaint committee (ICC), it also placed the responsibility on the appropriate state government to notify the district officer for setting up LCC. State governments are expected to monitor the implementation of the Act and maintain data on the number of cases filed and disposed of in respect of all cases of sexual harassment at the workplace. The LCC is required to investigate complaints received from employees in cases where an ICC has not been constituted by the employer or the complaint is against the employer himself. … (Times of India 15/9/15)

117. Recovery of bribe money not enough to convict a babu: SC (19)

NEW DELHI: A government official cannot be convicted under corruption charges merely on the basis of recovery of bribe money and it is essential to prove that he had demanded money, the Supreme Court has ruled. A bench of Chief Justice H L Dattu and Justices V Gopala Gowda and Amitava Roy said the proof of demand is an “indispensable essentiality” for establishing an offence of bribe and acquitted an assistant director of technical education department of Andhra Pradesh despite allegedly being caught red-handed for taking Rs 500 bribe in 1996. “The proof of demand of illegal gratification, thus, is the gravamen of the offence under Sections 7 and 13(1) (d)(i)&(ii) of the Act and in absence thereof, unmistakably the charge therefore, would fail. Mere acceptance of any amount allegedly by way of illegal gratification or recovery thereof … would thus not be sufficient to bring home the charge under these two sections of the Act,” it said. The court said mere recovery of money would not prove the charge and it has to be proved that the accused had demanded the bribe and had voluntarily accepted the money. “Mere possession and recovery of currency notes from an accused without proof of demand would not establish the offence. It has been propounded that in the absence of any proof of demand for illegal gratification, the use of corrupt or illegal means or abuse of position as a public servant to obtain any valuable thing or pecuniary advantage cannot be held to be proved,” the court said while referring to its verdict. “As a corollary, failure of the prosecution to prove the demand for illegal gratification would be fatal and mere recovery of the amount from the person accused of the offence under Sections 7 or 13 of the Act would not entail his conviction thereunder,” said Justice Roy, who wrote the judgement for the bench…. (Times of India 17/9/15)

118. Controversial labour law amendments to come into force in a week in Gujrat (19)

GANDHINGAR: The Labour Laws (Gujarat Amendment) Bill, 2015 passed in the state assembly in February amid wide opposition from the Congress party was finally has finally been approved as an Act by the President of India on September 17, and the state government has now decided to notify the Act within a week’s time. The Labour Laws Amendment Bill aimed at amending The Employee’s Compensation Act, 1923; The Industrial Disputes Act, 1947; The Minimum Wages Act, 1948; The Motor Transport Workers Act, 1961; The Beedi and Cigar Workers Act, 1966; The Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Act, 1970; Payment of Gratuity Act, 1972; The Equal Remuneration Act, 1976; The Building and Other Construction Workers Act, 1996 and Unorganized Workers Social Security Act, 2008. Vijay Rupani, state labour and employment minister said: “The President of India has approved the Labour Laws Amendment Bill. As soon as the Government of India sends us the approved copy we will notify the Act. As a part of the ‘Ease of Doing Business’ efforts of the Government of India, we aims to notify it within a week and put the changes into practice.” In his statement for the objectives and reasons for these amendments, the minister said, “More and more industries are being established in Gujarat and therefore the state Government has considered it necessary to strike a balance of interests between industries and workers and create an environment which is conducive to both, the industry and the workers.” Shaktisinh Gohil, senior Congress MLA and All-India Congress party spokesperson alleged: “It’s unfortunate. The so-called amendment is just to benefit the capitalist class and take away the little security cover provided to labour. The provision of paying fines and letting employers go free from will give employers a free run to exploit labour now.” Some key changes in labour laws: Industrial Disputes Act: 1. The government can now ban strikes in public utility services for up to one year the first time. The ban can subsequently be extended by up to two years any number of times. Earlier, the government could ban strikes for six months the first time and this ban could be extended any number of times by six months each time. 2. The time limit for workers to raise objections to industries’ decisions has been reduced to one year from the three years allowed earlier. 3. The Bill proposes to lift restrictions on sacking of workers and payment of compensation for units located in Special Investment Regions (SIR) and National Investment and Manufacturing Zones (NIMZ) like permitted in the Special Economic Zones (SEZs). Minimum Wages Act: 1. Payment of wages by cheque instead of cash has been made compulsory in establishments employing 20 persons or more. 2. The government has also revised penalty rates for violation of various labour laws for employers. 3. However, self-certification-cum-consolidated annual return scheme for employers has been allowed. This will reduce the number of inspections and interference by authorities in industrial establishments. (Times of India 22/9/15)

119. In Uphaar case, punishment limited by law: Supreme Court (19)

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court has said that the magnitude of the Uphaar fire tragedy may call for “higher sentence” but it could not go beyond the choices under the law while sentencing brothers and real estate barons Sushil and Gopal Ansal who own the Uphaar cinema hall. “We are conscious of the fact that matter of this magnitude may call for a higher sentence, but the court has to limit itself to the choice available under the law,” said Justice Anil R Dave, Justice Kurian Joseph and Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel. Their judgment’s operative part was pronounced on August 19 but reasoning was given on September 22 and made available on Wednesday. The apex court on August 19 let off the Ansal brothers saying both would pay Rs 30 crore each coupled with the sentence they had already undergone. The three-judge bench was asked to decide on the quantum of sentence after divergent positions taken by Justice TS Thakur and Justice Gyan Sudha Misra (since retired) on the quantum of punishment. Referring to the “undisputed facts” and saying that the maximum sentence that could be awarded to Ansal brothers was two years, the court said: “We are concerned with imposition of sentence in a criminal case and not with awarding damages in a civil case. Principles for deciding both are different.” Having said that its hands were tied by law, the court said: “It hardly needs to be mentioned that an appropriate sentence has to be awarded by taking into consideration the gravity of offence, the manner of commission, the age of the accused and other mitigating and aggravating circumstances…. (Times of India 23/9/15)

120. No-surname man wants a company, Supreme Court asks Centre (19)

NEW DELHI: Can the government force an individual to retain his surname before permitting him to start a business? The Supreme Court last week decided to examine the legality of such a stand, adopted by the ministry of corporate affairs against a Delhi entrepreneur. A bench of Justices Dipak Misra and Prafulla C Pant issued notice to the Centre on the plea of Nishant, who has a passport, a PAN card and even a Direct Identification Number without a surname, but cannot form a company to do business because he does not have a surname. Challenging the rule of the ministry that a person must mention his surname to incorporate a private firm, Nishant dragged it to the apex court alleging violation of his constitutional rights. The petitioner’s lawyer, Gaurang Kanth, questioned the grounds on which the ministry and registrar of companies (ROC) can insist on information about his surname. Kanth argued that the ministry’s stand in fact reinforces the notion of caste and violates the right of his client. Nishant approached the Supreme Court after the Delhi high court refused to grant him relief, primarily on the ground that the restriction imposed by the ministry is a “reasonable one.” The HC maintained that the ministry needs surname to identify the owner of a company and differentiate it from another firm. Though sympathetic to the plea, HC had refused to issue directions to the corporate affairs ministry, pointing out that “surname is required for the purpose of identification and distinguishing a person from other people.” In his appeal Nishant pointed out that HC erred in holding that pre-condition of a surname to incorporate a company is a reasonable restriction in the interest of general public as it helps to identify the owner. Drawing attention of the SC bench to his professional and technical qualifications, Nishant argued that as long as his competence to run a company meets the requirements of the ministry, the latter is duty bound to grant him permission. The court has given six weeks time to the Centre to place its stand. (Times of India 27/9/15)

121. SC dismisses PIL challenging Aadhaar card requirement for DigiLocker scheme (19)

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday refused to entertain a public interest litigation (PIL) challenging the mandatory requirement of Aadhaar card number for the DigiLocker scheme introduced by the government earlier. The petitioner had filed a writ petition in the light of three apex court orders which said that Aadhaar numbers could not be made compulsory for certain services like the public distribution scheme and cooking gas subsidies. A bench comprising chief justice H.L. Dattu and justice Amitava Roy said that if the authorities were not following the court’s orders, then he had to file a contempt petition. After saying so, the court dismissed the PIL. Mint reported in August that several key digital schemes introduced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA), including biometric attendance, Jan Dhan Yojana, digital certificates, pension payments and more recently payments banks, depend on the Aadhaar number. (Live Mint 28/9/15)


122. CSHR decries perpetuation of AFSPA (1)

Imphal: On the 57th anniversary of the Armed Forces [Special Powers] Act of 1958 (AFSPA) that promulgated the controversial and draconian Act in Manipur and Nagaland, the Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights in Manipur (CSCHR) has once again condemned the perpetuation of this law that violates the fundamental principles of democracy and human rights despite a worldwide call for its repeal. In a statement, CSCHR said that in this spiralling spread of impunity that has infected every sphere of governance in Manipur, the highly problematic implementation of this Act in Manipur ever since has not solved any of the problems it was meant to resolve. In fact, the climate of impunity and unabated use of brute force by the State to deal with any situation has repeatedly compounded and complicated the situation in Manipur. There have been reports of the divisive and partisan role played by Indian security forces in Manipur, most recently in Moreh in August this year. The observed overall lack of training, preparedness and strict adherence to existing principles and guidelines of crowd control has resulted in the tragic death of one child in Imphal East district in August and nine other innocent lives, including one child, in Churachandpur district this month, and the violent human rights violations of more than a hundred persons, mainly young persons and children in Manipur, including reported arbitrary detentions, torture and cruel or inhuman and degrading treatment, and grievous injuries perpetrated by the law enforcement agencies in different parts of the State. The State police and Central security forces have been let loose to inflict a brutally violent response by using disproportionate powers to suppress public protests in the last three months concerning a set of laws purportedly designed to address a critical issue faced by all the indigenous peoples and communities of the State. Curfew and public restrictions under Section 144 of the CrPC have been imposed repeatedly during the last three months in the districts of Imphal East, Imphal West, Senapati, Chandel and Churachandpur in the wake of public protests against the atrocities committed by the State law and order machinery. Public strikes, road blockades, market closures and public transportation shut downs have contributed to the volatile situation causing immense obstacles and restrictions in public life and Government functioning, it said. Today, Manipur is on the brink of an inter-ethnic calamity. If appropriate steps are not taken now there is every possibility of an explosion of dirty and violent ethnic hostilities that can only lead to a human and humanitarian disaster of such proportions that we have not seen before in this sub-region of South Asia. CSCHR urged the State Government and all communities living together in Manipur to desist from partisan and divisive, non-inclusive processes and activities that can lead to a serious rupture of the democratic and sovereign polity of Manipur State. The need at this critical hour is for all communities in Manipur to embrace constructive suggestions and inclusive dialogue as this is the only avenue to avoid a humanitarian disaster. Further, CSCHR has also recommended to the Governments of Manipur and India to facilitate the healing of the suffering people of Manipur by immediately embarking on just reconciliation measures of redress by removing all legislative, policy and administrative encumbrances and obstacles in the State, such as the repeal of AFSPA and repressive discriminatory laws, re-establishing a fair and compassionate rule of law that is strictly in compliance with India’s obligations to all its citizens, the supreme Constitutional provisions and international human rights and humanitarian law for the promotion of democracy and peace. ( Manipur E-Pao  12/9/15)

123. Amnesty International advocates repeal of AFSPA in North East (1)

GUWAHATI: A day after the Union Home Minister talked about a possible scaling down in central forces’ deployment in the North East, Amnesty International on Sunday said it must lead to a rethink on the use of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act in NE states. “On July 11, Union Minister of Home Affairs Rajnath Singh discussed a possible reduction in deployment of central forces in a meeting with chief ministers of Northeastern states… (and) that the security situation has improved in the region,” Amnesty International India Media Officer Himanshi Matta said in a press statement. “Worryingly, there was no discussion on the AFSA, 1958, which is in force in several north-eastern states,” the statement claimed. The Amnesty International India stated “The Justice Verma Committee set up to review laws against sexual assault had said the AFSPA legitimises impunity for sexual violence.” “The Justice Santosh Hegde Commission set up by the Supreme Court to investigate cases of fake encounters in Manipur described the law as ‘a symbol of oppression…” it said. “Several international bodies and experts, including the UN Special Rapporteurs on violence against women, extra-judicial executions and human rights defenders, have also called for the repeal of the law,” the statement added. (Kashmir Images 13/9/15)

124. CSWs tell activists about police atrocities at Ganga Jamuna (1)

Nagpur: Residents of the city’s red light area, Ganga Jamuna, poured their hearts out to a Mumbai-based NGO member and a local activist, alleging police atrocities against them. The activists were visiting the area to collect information on the ground reality following allegations of high-handedness by police on the pretext of legal action. During the interaction, a physically-challenged woman is learnt to have complained that she was dragged away by her hair during police action. It is also learnt that teachers of the local school also said that there was a drop in numbers of students as families had fled due to fear of police action. Sources said that the senior member of NGO Human Rights Law Network (HRLN), a platform of lawyers and activists engaged in fighting for human rights issues, was asked to furnish her identity card and quizzed regarding her activities by a sub-inspector ranking officer. The NGO member, accompanied by social activist Nutan Rewatkar, was allowed to interact with commercial sex workers (CSWs) only after she was able to convince the officer of Lakadganj police station. The high court, in decision last week, had upheld police action and also ensured that no attempts were made to evict residents. The court decision had triggered tension in the locality with residents and their detractors claiming victories. Senior PI of Lakadganj police station R Mane said that vigilance has been increased in the locality to ensure that there is no clash or escalation of tension. “The officer may have checked the ID of the NGO member to ensure her credentials,” he said. (Times of India 17/9/15)

125. Fine of Rs 2 lakh on Agra cops for illegal detention, torture of 2 innocent men (1)

Agra: The Uttar Pradesh governor, acting on directions from the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has imposed a fine of Rs 2 lakh on six Agra policemen who allegedly kept two innocent men in custody for more than two days. The fine was imposed after the victims approached the commission, which wrote to the governor, who then imposed the fine, and directed the policemen to give the victims the money within 10 days. Among those fined is an officer of the rank of deputy superintendent of police (DSP). According to the complaint with the NHRC, Jagdish Tyagi, resident of Silokhar village under Iradat Nagar police station was kidnapped on January 4, 2011. The matter was brought to Iradat Nagar police who logged an FIR and started investigating the case. They then arrested Ramveer Singh from Wamanpura post under Mahawan police station on February 26, 2011 on the basis of suspicion. They kept him in the police lockup for two days without any arrest warrant, and also locked up his brother Rajendra, who had visited him in the lockup. The brothers claimed custodial torture afterwards. Ramveer approached NHRC and SSP, Agra, with his complaint of illegal detention and torture by the police. Taking immediate action on the complaint, senior police officials in Agra zone ordered a probe in the matter. The investigations were handed over to the circle officer (CO) of Mathura Refinery at that time. Even CB-CID investigated the case and found Iradat Nagar police guilty. On the basis of the CB-CID report, an FIR was lodged against CO Mathura Refinery, inspector Iradat Nagar police station and four constables, Brijesh Kumar, Satya Prakash, Imtiaz Ali and Mukul Dwivedi. NHRC, too, issued notice to these policemen on April 2015. In its letter to the UP governor, NHRC sought justice for the victims who, the commission felt, were unnecessarily tortured while in custody and should be compensated for it. The governor, imposing the fine of Rs 2 lakh, has directed the UP chief secretary to ensure that the order is implemented. The state secretariat issued a letter to UP DGP and directed the official to ensure that the guilty cops deposit the fine to the victims within 10 days. The cops also have to give the payment details in writing in the presence of witnesses. The state secretariat also directed the police department to send a detailed report about the mode, manner and date of payment. (Times of India 18/9/15)

126. Six Delhi policemen to be tried for 2014 custodial death (1)

New Delhi: Following a Delhi court’s order, charges of murder and kidnapping will be framed against six policemen on Wednesday for the alleged custodial death of a man here in 2014. Additional District and Sessions Judge Sanjay Garg last week found prima facie evidence against then head constable Bhoop Singh and constables Uttam Kumar, Sudhir Singh, Rajesh Kumar, Rajesh Kumar Yadav and Arvind to be tried for kidnapping, murder, destruction of evidence and common intention under the Indian Penal Code. The six were posted in west Delhi’s Bindapur police station when the alleged custodial death occurred. “A perusal of the post-mortem report of the deceased shows asphyxia as the cause of death, a result of ante-mortem compression of the neck and chest, sufficient to cause death in ordinary course of nature,” the court said. The court said the medical opinion was sufficient for framing murder charge against the policemen. According to the prosecution, the six policemen picked up victim Manoj from J.J. Colony in Uttam Nagar on May 26, 2014, and took him to an old building in Bindapur. The man died during custodial interrogation. The accused policemen then took the body to a local hospital and left it there unattended. The accused, in their defence, contended that from the material on record, it could not be said that they had any intention to kill Manoj. They argued they could not be charged with murder. The court, however, said their contention was devoid of merit.”From the statements of witnesses and other evidence collected during investigation, it is apparent the accused, in pursuance of their common intention, abducted the deceased and took him to an old building where he was tortured as a result of which he died,” the court said. After Manoj died, the accused destroyed his belongings and left the body unattended at the Deen Dayal Upadhyay Hospital with the intention of concealing his identity, the court noted. The court refused to grant the policemen protection of obtaining sanction from the competent authority to initiate proceedings against them, observing that the alleged act done by the public servants was not reasonably connected with the discharge of official duty. The court said the accused did not made any record entry at the police station before proceeding to pick up the victim, nor did they send any official information to the police station after finding him. It noted that no first information report was lodged against the victim at Bindapur for which he was required to be interrogated. Delhi Police charge-sheeted the men on the basis of the statements of witnesses, the post-mortem report of the deceased and call details of the accused and the deceased. The policemen are now in judicial custody. (New Kerala 22/9/15)

127. All 1,525 UP thanas to have CCTV camerasIshita (1)

MEERUT: Nearly two months after the Supreme Court directed the Centre and state governments to put police stations and interrogation rooms under surveillance of CCTV cameras, an amount of Rs 12.32 crore has been sanctioned by the UP government to set up the gadgets in all the 1,525 police stations across the state. The money was sanctioned via a government order dated September 18, which was made public on Tuesday. The move will ensure the SC’s motive in this to prevent custodial torture. Once the CCTV cameras are installed, the court has said, there should be regular and random inspection of police stations to ascertain, using CCTV footage, if any custodial violence has taken place. “An amount of Rs12.32 crore has been sanctioned for setting up of CCTV cameras in as many as 1,525 police stations of the state. This money should be used within a period of three months,” the government order issued by UP special secretary Surya Narayan Shukla said. Out of the 1,525 police stations across 75 districts of the state, 65 are those of the Government Railway Police (GRP). In a landmark verdict on July 24, an apex court bench of Justices T S Thakur and R Banumathi had directed the Centre and state governments to install CCTV cameras and appoint at least two women constables at every police station. The bench passed the order on the basis of recommendations made by senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singvi and advocates Amit Bhandari and P K Mullick, who assisted the court in the matter. In 2013, Sinhgvi had moved the plea seeking implementation of 15 more guidelines to clamp down on custodial excesses, which had resulted in the death of 11,820. There were 3,532 reported cases of custodial torture between 2007 and 2012. The SC bench also expressed concern that Delhi, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Meghalaya, Tripura and Nagaland had so far not set up state human rights commissions and directed them to form the panel as soon as possible. The bench had asked states to fill up vacancies in their human rights panels within three months. According to national crime records bureau statistics of 2015, there were eight custodial deaths and 189 custodial rape incidents in Uttar Pradesh in 2014. The state had topped the country in terms of custodial deaths in 2010. Even last month, the alleged suicide of a girl in Mahmudabad police station in Sitapur district had triggered widespread violence with protesters fighting a pitched battle with cops, pelting stones at them and torching a police vehicle. (Times of India 23/9/15)

128. Unhappy Over Delay in Scrapping of AFSPA: Irom Sharmila (1)

IMPHAL: Rights activist Irom Chanu Sharmila, who has been fasting for over 15 years demanding repeal of Armed Forces Special Power Act (AFSPA), today expressed dissatisfaction over the Centre’s delay in scrapping the law. “I am not happy with the Centre’s delay,” Sharmila, who appeared before the court of chief judicial magistrate of Imphal East this morning, told the media waiting outside. The activist, who is being nose fed, said though she has been on a hunger strike for more than one and half decades against imposition of AFSPA, her democratic agitation was not honoured. She said the government has kept her in judicial custody for all these years instead of repealing AFSPA which was against the right to live. Sharmila said she would continue her movement till the fulfilment of her demand and appealed to the people to work together till the act was scrapped. (The New Indian Express 25/9/15)

129. Families of prisoners allege torture (1)

MADURAI: Family members of suspected Al-Umma operatives Bilal Malik and ‘Police’ Fakruddin in Madurai alleged that the two were tortured by prison wardens in Chennai. According to police, a group of prisoners lodged in Puzhal Central Prison in Chennai launched a murderous attack against a few prison officials on Friday. They allegedly held two officials hostage and released them only after negotiations were conducted by higher authorities from the prisons department. While police have stated that the prisoners launched the attack after they were denied food items from outside, family members of Bilal Malik and Fakruddin said they were tortured inside the prison. Bilal Malik’s wife Asina Banu, mother of three, said her husband had complained to her about torture by prison officials. The officials used to spit on their food and force them to eat it, she said. Bilal wanted to meet his family frequently, but they could not do that because of the travel involved. ‘Police’ Fakruddin’s mother Syed Meera asked how prisoners lodged in a high-security block could join together and launch an attack. She suspected foul play by police in the attack. They were always kept in separate rooms. The television news channels were only showing the injured police personnel. Why have they not shown her son on the media, she asked. Gajhini Mohammeed, Bilal’s brother, demanded that both Fakruddin and Bilal be transferred to the Madurai Central Prison. The elderly family members are not able to travel to Chennai and visit them, he said. (Times of India 27/9/15)


130. Criminal defamation fetters press freedom: Law panel (1)

NEW DELHI: While the NDA government has defended criminal defamation provisions in the Indian Penal Code, the Law Commission feels the colonial statute restricts media’s freedom of speech and expression as guaranteed under Article 19 (1)(a) of the Constitution, and thus makes a ground for its review. “Threats of legal action with punitive damages under the laws of defamation lead to a ‘chilling effect’ on the publication of free and independent news articles and puts undue pressure on journalists and publishing houses,” the law panel said in a consultation paper in the midst of its review of criminal defamation vis-a-via protection of journalists. The panel, which has already held several rounds of consultation with eminent persons and various stakeholder groups, is yet to decide whether sections 499 and 500 of IPC, dealing with criminal defamation, should be dropped to uphold freedom of speech. It is likely to submit a report soon on the defamation laws before the term of the commission comes to an end next month. The commission observes that there have been several attempts to decriminalise the British law and provide ample safeguards to journalists to protect their constitutional rights, but since nothing has been achieved it merits a review. A journalist has no special status under defamation laws in India and faces unreasonable pressure from those in power, particularly for critical reportage. Criminal defamation is often used as a tool by people in positions of power to muzzle the press. The Centre, in an affidavit submitted before the apex court on Saturday, justified criminal defamation saying these are ‘efficacious remedies to deal with growing tendency to defame people’. Rejecting the petitioners’ argument that there was a civil remedy for filing a defamation suit, the government noted that ‘civil remedy is not an efficacious remedy’. Worldwide, several institutions, including the UN, have campaigned against criminalising defamation. The UN’s special rapporteur for freedom of expression in a report to the UN human rights council in 2010 had asserted that “any attempt to criminalise freedom of expression as a means to limiting or censuring that freedom must be resisted”.A white paper on criminal defamation by the Vienna-based International Press Institute says the “rights of critique and dissent are mandatory liberties and keystones to the freedom of expression in democratic states”.The white paper further adds that “a free society depends on an exchange of opinion and on the ability of citizens to scrutinise and judge those who rule in their name. Criminal libel laws are a hindrance to honest public discourse and have no place in a modern democracy”.Ironically, the colonial law which has been strongly defended by the Indian political class, has been dumped in its place of origin — UK. The law is rooted in England’s notorious Star Chamber in the 1500s, evolved for protecting society’s ‘best men’. (Times of India 12/9/15)

131. ‘Media are defenders of human rights’ (1)

Nagpur: “Media are playing a role of defender of human rights,” said former judge of Supreme Court Justice Cyriac Joseph at ‘Indian Society, Media and Challenges of Human Right: A Dialogue’ held at Nagpur University Ambedkar College of Law on Monday. Highlighting the significant role of media in preventing violation of human rights, Justice Joseph said media created awareness among people and exposed the breaches of rights. “Media not only motivate and empower victims to fight for their rights but also compel the authorities to act,” he said. He added the essence of human rights was to secure dignity of an individual and it was the work of judiciary to uphold these laws. The legislature must ensure laws were efficiently enforced, he added. Stating that 22% of the people in India were still Below Poverty Line (BPL), S C Sinha, a member of National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), said, “It is unfortunate that every year, 6.3 crore people are shifting under BPL as they are deprived of basic amenities like sanitation, food, shelter and job opportunities. Basic needs should be provided to every citizen for their all-round development and enhancement of opportunities so that the prime aim of eradicating poverty can be fulfilled.” Vice-chancellor of Mahatma Gandhi Antarrashtriya Hindi University, Wardha, Girishwar Mishra, in his address explained how the media had reached and affected the common man. He stated, “There is a close relationship between media and human rights commission as media can influence the minds of the people and affect their thoughts, emotions and feelings. They have also made people aware of the wrong doings prevailing in our society.” Joint secretary of NHRC Ranjit Singh explained the three tenets of human rights. They were giving rights to self, equality among all, and respect for all humans. He also spoke about how dynamics of human rights had evolved and about collective rights that includes privacy, health, and freedom from hunger. Others present at the inaugural ceremony were SK Shukla, assistant director of NGRC, Puranchandra Meshram, registrar of Nagpur University, and principal of College Shrikant Komawar.  (Times of India 15/9/15)

132. Journalist alleges death threats over Twitter posts (1)

New Delhi: Mumbai-based journalist John Dayal on Wednesday filed a complaint with Delhi Police alleging that he received death threats by right-wing activists after tweeting on the arrest of St Xavier’s School’s principal for molesting two minor students. “I met police commissioner B S Bassi and handed him a copy of the complaint which was forwarded to the cyber cell of the Delhi Police. I will leave the police to investigate the rest,” said Dayal. Dayal, who is the secretary-general of the All-India Christian Council, came under a barrage of abusive comments after he tweeted that the owners of the school were connected to the ruling party. Twitter users not only trolled his views but also threatened him of dire consequences, alleged Dayal. “This campaign of vitriolic abuse, vilification and bigotry reached a crescendo on September 12, when a sudden, unprovoked and large-scale attack on me and the members of my community was launched on Twitter by a large number of people. My personal telephone number was posted on Twitter and the world at large was invited to threaten and abuse me on the phone. As soon as my number was released, I began receiving threatening and abusive phone calls. I am not being able to use my mobile phone,” he said. Senior Delhi Police officials said that Dayal has been asked to hand over screenshots of the Twitter posts according to which an FIR would be registered. (Times of India 17/9/15)

133. For media monitor, work is counting PM, Ministers on TV (1)

NEW DELHI: The Congress tracked how the media portrayed its Prime Minister discreetly, while the BJP does it aggressively and overtly. The task is carried out by the Electronic Media Monitoring Centre (EMMC) — a legacy of the British, inherited by the Congress and now the BJP — to keep a tab on all news channels to find out how much airtime is devoted to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.Now, Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Arun Jaitley and Minister of State Rajyavardhan Rathore have joined the list of those being tracked in the news broadcast by the electronic media. The coverage of Mr. Modi’s Mann ki Baat on All India Radio and his engagements with world leaders find a mention on the significant list of activities undertaken by the EMMC, displayed on its webpage. The Central Monitoring Service was used by the British primarily to track anti-war propaganda on radio. Its new avatar, the EMMC was set up on June 9, 2008, by the UPA government to monitor the content of television channels and report on violations of the programme and advertising code. It serves as a chilling deterrent to free speech and offers the Ministry reasons to serve show-cause notices on television channels. While the EMMC’s declared mandate is to monitor television channels for programme content and advertisement violations and report them to the Ministry, the centre, since August 2014, also lists tracking airtime given to the two Ministers as a significant activity it undertakes. Sources said no instructions were received from the Ministry to track the Prime Minister or Ministers concerned, but it is expected of the centre to do so. The violations committed by channels are interpreted along the lines of the programme code of the Cable Television Networks Rules (1994) which under Section 6 lists the several don’ts that channels have to conform to. The sweeping provisions ask channels not to offend good taste, decency or attack religions or communities. Nor should they carry anything that is likely to encourage or incite violence or anything that goes against maintenance of law and order or that promotes anti-national attitudes. Specifically, the code says programmes should not telecast anything amounting to contempt of court; they should not contain aspersions on the integrity of the President and the judiciary, criticise, malign or slander any individual in person or certain groups, segments of social, public and moral life of the country.And it is the code that EMMC follows as it looks for transgressions and airtime to ministers. In September 2014, 15 news clips were sent on the Prime Minister and 20 on Mr. Jaitely. The EMMC also sent a comparative analysis of the coverage of the Prime Minister by various news channels and the time devoted to his ‘Mann Ki Baat’ among other news.From November, Minister of State Rajyavardhan Rathore’s name appears on the list of activities by the EMMC. While 10 TV news clips are sent for Mr. Jaitely, Mr. Rathore has two to his credit. In March, Mr. Rathore pips Mr. Jaitley, with 17 news clips. Continuing through April, both Mr Jaitely and Mr. Rathore are counted for their appearances on television. ….  (The Hindu 20/9/15)

134. Media must exercise restraint: writers (1)

BENGALURU: Writers, intellectuals and media experts at a seminar here favoured “self-restraint” by the media, while fighting for “freedom of expression”, and underlined the need for the government to take steps to ensure the adoption of the anti-superstitious practices Bill in the interest of society. At the seminar on ‘freedom of expression and media’ organised by the Bengaluru Press Club on Monday, participants pointed out that many television channels projected the draft of the Bill in a misleading way by dubbing it “anti-Hindu”. Media savvy astrologers are taking gullible people for a ride and creating controversy, they said. Expressing concern over the threats received by writers and intellectuals in the State after the brutal assassination of M.M. Kalburgi and the government extending police security to some writers, Mallika Ghanti, VC of Kannada University, Hampi, described the murder of Kalburgi as a “warning bell” for those who profess “truth, based on study, research and scientific evidences”. Chandrashekar Patil said failure on part of the media to have self-restraint would result in disaster. He appealed to the media to support the movement launched to pressurise the government to ake steps to ensure adoption of the anti-superstitious practices Bill. Writers and intellectuals were worried about BJP leaders, especially the party’s State president Pralhad Joshi, taking objection to the Sahitya Academy award being given to writer K.S. Bhagavan. Chief Minister’s media adviser Dinesh Amin Mattu said the academy was an autonomous body and a experts’ panel had selected writers for the award. (The Hindu 22/9/15)

135. Country’s youth pushed back govt’s plan on encryption policy: Cong (1)

NEW DELHI: Congress on Tuesday said the Centre’s draft encryption policy was another example of Modi government’s persistent bid to suppress individual liberties and spy on citizens round the clock, adding that only a revolt by the youth had pushed back its sinister attempts. As the Centre withdrew the policy paper following a row, AICC spokesman Randeep Surjewala said, “Modi government’s hasty retreat on the contentious policy re-establishes the strength of democratic dissent over Tughlaqi firmans. The government intent stands exposed.” Surjewala said the policy would override all sense of freedom of speech and expression and encroach upon privacy of citizens, enabling government to see all the telephonic communications. “The 60 crore youth may like to keep certain communication private,” he remarked. Congress framed the controversial policy as an issue of curbing personal freedoms, in what appeared an attempt to woo the vast youth population at the vanguard of the online revolt against tinkering with internet and communication freedom. The spokesman said there was a string of examples to see a pattern, listing TRAI’s ill-fated paper on net neutrality, the Centre’s affidavit in Supreme Court that right to privacy was not a fundamental right, the gag order on an IIT group of dalits for criticizing Modi and the depriving of Gujarat’s citizens of internet and communication services. “Does Modi want to take us back to the 17th century,” he asked, adding the BJP regime over 16 months had made “systematic, sinister attempts” to quash dissent and undermine individual liberty. (Times of India 23/9/15)

136. Avoid misreporting on disasters: Rawat to journalists (1)

DEHRADUN: Chief minister Harish Rawat on Sunday urged mediapersons to avoid misreporting on any disaster or rain-related incident because, in his words “the state government has to often pay a heavy price for wrong and baseless reporting.” Addressing journalists from the print and electronic media at the Uttaranchal Press Club, Rawat said that although newspersons are allowed to report freely and fearlessly on all sorts of issues, it did not mean they should misuse their freedom of writing. Referring to alleged misreporting or blowing out of proportion by an electronic channel of a rain-related incident which was presented as the state witnessing a 2013 flash flood-like situation, Rawat said that a lot of tourist bookings were cancelled due to this “unfounded” report, causing a huge loss to tourism in the state. Rawat suggested that newsmen could give up the tendency of unnecessarily blowing out of proportion such disaster-related incidents as it often not only amounted to misinforming the people but also defeated the very purpose of information. “As viewers and readers these days keep receiving updates on developments on different incidents through social media and other means of communication, the moment things are misreported or blown out of proportion, people might be temporarily misled by your reports, but ultimately you are bound to lose your credibility,” said Rawat. The chief minister added that as journalists and politicians had a different approach to thinking and observing things, it was necessary to “respect” this difference to nurture a healthy democracy. Referring to journalists’ demand for launching an insurance scheme for them, Rawat asked them to draft the insurance scheme for themselves and their families, saying the state government would immediately implement it. “You give the draft of it and I will ensure that this insurance scheme, up to Rs 10 lakh for each policyholder, is enforced immediately,” added Rawat. He also instructed district magistrate Ravi Nath Raman to finalize the land for the construction of a guest house for journalists in Dehradun. (Times of India 27/9/15)


137. Nagaur reeling under caste politics, clashes, unrest (7)

AJMER: For the last six months, Nagaur has remained a sensitive region of the state with incidents like fleeing of notorious criminal to Dangawas bloodshed, swelling incidents of caste unrest in this district. With this, other incidents like a carcass of cows being found at Kumhari village followed by another incident where an attack on a businessman was reported in Nagaur, added to the reasons. Centrally located district of Rajasthan, such incidents have left Nagaur reeling under the pressure of caste politics. “The Dangawas bloodshed incident in which people were killed added to the unrest within the Dalit community of this region, widening the gap between the Dalit and the Jat community for a long time,” said a local source. He added that post the incident, fear among people can still be sensed in the nearby villages as people do not want to talk about that incident. Just after the Dangawas incident in May this year, the carcass of cows found outside the Kumhari village in the end of May, created tension in Khimsar and nearby villages. The communal tension was controlled well by the state government and police but the incident created enough gap between some communities. Another incident resulting in further unrest was a call for a bandh. “Just around the same, an attack on a businessman Kamal Gangwal in Naguar was reported leading to various organizations taking to the roads and demanding a bandh. This again affected the peace of the district,” added source. The recent fleeing of criminal Anandpal Singh from judicial custody worsened the situation as panic and tension gripped the district with different groups of Jat community demanding immediate arrest of Anandpal. Following the incident, MLA Hanuman Beniwal accused the government of negligence and expressed fear of another bloodshed at Nagaur. Nagaur, otherewise, till now was believed to be a peaceful and a cultured district of Rajasthan, where Jats enjoyed a majority followed by Rajputs and other castes. While Dalits also have a majority, they have not got a prominent status yet. “With a number of cases reported of atrocity on Dalits in Nagaur, the community continues to be a downtrodden one,” said Ramesh Bansal, coordinator of Center for Dalit Rights. Congress and Jat leaders have played an important role in the politics of this area with BJP too now showing interest. While earlier, there were fewer incidents of clashes reported between Jats and Rajputs, but the incident of Didwana firing in 2006 created rifts amongst some groups. “The major reason that can be attributed to it is the fact that Rajputs are coming up with political power in this area, and With dozens of villages being led by Rajputs in Nagaur, power clash between them and other communities is natural,” said a source. Meanwhile, on the development front, Nagaur awaits industrialization, and importantly, a good drinking water supply system, as major parts of this district are facing water and fluoride affected water problems. “The major economical contribution of Nagaur is minerals and farming with cattle grazing. Still, it remains far behind as compared to other cities of Rajasthan,” added a source. ( Times of India 14/9/15)

138. Centre to states, UTs ‘Beef up security before festivals’ (7)

New Delhi: Ahead of Ganesh Chaturthi and Eid-ul-Zuha, the Centre issued an advisory to all states and Union Territories to beef up security and maintain special vigil as preventive measures to thwart any communal tension or law and order situations. According to the advisory, Ganesh Chaturthi will be celebrated throughout the country from September 17 to September 27, and “during the festival, provocative sloganeering, especially near mosques and dargahs, installation of idols and observance of the festival at disputed places, procession through non-traditional routes and forcible collection of donations, eve teasing etc., often trigger communal incidents/tension. Besides, crowded pandals and immersion processions also remain soft targets for saboteurs.” (Indian Express 15/9/15)

139. Quran copies found burnt in Panipat (7)

KARNAL: Tension prevailed in Panipat on Tuesday as around ten copies of holy book of Quran were allegedly burnt by unidentified miscreants in the industrial city on Monday. A large number of Muslims gathered at Panipat secretariat and demanded action against those responsible for the act. While assuring a strict action against the culprits, deputy commissioner Sameer Pal Srow has appealed to all sections of the society to maintain peace. Irfan Ali, a Muslim leader from Panipat, told Hindustan Times over phone on Tuesday that 10 to12 copies of the holy book were found missing on Monday from a shop hired by Muslims living near Kutani road for community recitation of the holy book. The set was allegedly found burnt in a tandoor kept at an adjacent dhabha. He alleged that Ram Singh, a local resident, quarrelled with some Muslims on last Thursday and had threatened them. However, he clarified that Singh was in an inebriated condition and the community had not pointed a direct finger at anyone for hurting its sentiments. “We had duly registered the incident of verbal duel and it is up to the police to verify if Singh had any direct or indirect role behind the crime. But it is a matter of fact that Ram Singh was providing free water service to the Muslim gathering before our prayers,” said Ali.

He said that on Monday, it was found that holy books kept at the place of community prayers were missing and later these were traced in a burnt condition at a nearby dhabha. Police sources said as the dhabha owner came to his shop he found fire in the tandoor outside.  On sifting through the ashes, he found traces of the holy book. “The material used in the printing and binding the holy books does not get burnt completely. The quality led us to trace the book remains from a heap of ash,” said Ali. He said that some people from various communities might try to give communal colour to the unfortunate incident, but the local Muslims had made an appeal to everyone to maintain peace. Meanwhile, the Panipat DC met a Muslim delegation and assured them administration’s full support. In a statement, the DC said that a police complaint had already been registered and nobody would be allowed to disturb communal harmony in the district. “The administration urges various sections of the society to contact the district authorities for any complaint. They should not allow anyone to take political mileage out of this condemnable incident,” said the DC. (Hindustan Times 15/9/15)

140. DMs, SPs to be directly responsible for communal incidents, says Akhilesh Yadav (7)

CHIEF MINISTER Akhilesh Yadav on Saturday warned district magistrates and police chiefs (SSP, SP) that they would be held directly responsible if any communal incident takes place in their respective areas. Akhilesh, who came unannounced to a law and order review meeting in Lucknow , said: “Maintaining law and order is the first priority of the government and there will be no compromise on it. In case any communal incident takes place in any district, the DM and SP will be held directly responsible.”In his 20-minute address, Akhilesh asked DMs and SSPs to keep district officials on alert ahead of upcoming festivals and panchayat elections in the state. He also told officials to take effective steps to control crime and ensure that correct facts appear in the media in cases of heinous crimes. “The image of the government depends on the performance of administrative officials. Law and order, power, health, food and civil supplies departments are directly connected with the people and hence, the working of these departments should be appropriate,” he said. Claiming that he comes to know about the working of officials across the state through his own sources, Akhilesh said he has all details of decisions taken by different state departments. “Even a common person in this modern era knows about the working of officials in his district,” he added while stressing upon the need to make tehsil, police stations and block officers free of corruption. Akhilesh further told principal secretaries and secretaries to visit districts to inspect the progress of development works and implementation of welfare schemes every two months and submit reports in this regard. “Performances of principal secretaries and secretaries will be evaluated on the basis of action taken by them while executing the government’s development agenda,” he said. The CM went on to claim that the SP government has given its officials the most favourable atmosphere to perform and execute responsibilities without any pressure and stress. A source said Akhilesh maintained that taking action against officials every time was not the solution as it delays the execution of projects. But the CM said that officials having the habit of ignoring duties will have to face consequences, he added. (Indian Express 20/9/15)

141. Damaging statues become easy way to incite communal tension (7)

MADURAI: Desecrating statues of communal leaders has become a sure-shot way of inciting trouble in the region. Without adequate protection, these statues and portraits have become easy targets for attack. In the latest incident, protests broke out in Narikkudi near Tiruchuili in Virudhunagar district on Saturday after miscreants put a garland of slippers around a portrait of Marudhu brothers, the erstwhile rulers of Sivaganga. More than 500 members of a particular community made their way to Narikkudi from neighbouring villages, raising slogans demanding action against the miscreants. Police protection had to be upped and force had to be used to disperse the angry crowd. Similar instances of damaging statues have abounded in the southern districts, which have become hot beds of caste-based violence. Every time something happens, security cover to the statues is increased and vigil is intensified. However, hardly any steps have been taken towards finding a long-term solution to this problem. Many statues are still without protection covers in Madurai and other southern districts. Nagai Thiruvalluvan of Tamil Puligal alleged that there was discrimination towards statues of dalit leaders in the state. “When B R Ambedkar’s statue in Avaniyapuram was desecrated, there was no help from the government or police. We were asked to take care of things like installing CCTV cameras and other protection measures. Even then, the statue is not protected well enough,” he said. A higher police officer said it would not be possible for police to give round-the-clock protection to all the statues. However, they were focusing on the important statues. People who come forward to establish statues of their leaders do not show the same enthusiasm when it comes to protecting it. They can always install grill gates, ensure proper lighting and install CCTV cameras to avert attempts to create damage, he said. There are 42 statues in the Madurai district police limit alone. Most of the statues are of Pasumpon Muthuramalinga Thevar. There are three statues of Marudhu brothers and one statue each of dalit icons Kakkan, Immanuel Sekaran and B R Ambedkar. Madurai district superintendent of police Vijayendra S Bidari confirmed that security for statues in the district had been increased following the unrest in Narikkudi in Virudhunagar. (Times of India 21/9/15)

142. 13 held, 3 policemen suspended over U.P. riots (7)

Meerut: The Uttar Pradesh police arrested 13 persons in connection with the communal riots on Wednesday in Gonda, U.P. District Magistrate of Gonda, Ajay Kumar Upadhyay, suspended three policemen for their failure in controlling the violence in which several people were injured. What triggered the violence was an alleged attack on the religious procession of one community by members of another community on Wednesday. It led to stone throwing, burning of vehicles and arson. The mob chased away administrative officers when they went to control the situation. The suspended police officials include the Station House Officer of Kaudia, Alok Dubey, the station in charge of the Badgaon police station, Digvijay Nath Shahi, and head constable Ramesh Rai. Mr. Upadhyay said that the administration would consider giving financial assistance to affected people. The communal clash in Gonda is part of a series of communal violence which the State has witnessed in recent times, especially ahead of the local body polls. More than three dozen cases of communal violence have been reported from western U.P. alone in the last three months. (The Hindu 25/9/15)

143. Muzaffarnagar riot victims hail panel report (7)

MEERUT: While the BJP has slammed the Vishnu Sahai Commission, which has reportedly blamed the Muzaffarnagar communal riots of 2013 on politicians and the local administration, riot victims have hailed the reported findings of the commission and said the panel was right in indicting politicians. Saleem Shahpur was headed to his home in Kakra village on September 7, 2013 when he saw a rally with thousands of armed people. “It was a terrifying sight. A procession of thousands of people was headed from Muzaffarnagar to Budhana via Mansoorpur Road. Most of them were armed with countrymade weapons, but many had automatic weapons. A former pradhan of my village was also present in the rally, along with local politicians. I decided to hurry home. All I could think of was the safety of my wife and two sons,” he said. While the findings of the report have not been made public, Shahpur said, “I read that the report blamed the riots on politicians. I agree with it. There was a clear political character to that procession, after which there was an incident of stoning of a mosque where a young boy died. When I reached home, the night was tense. Nobody left their house and it was eerily quiet. On the morning of September 8, we decided to leave the village for good. Our fellow villagers were spared the carnage that other villages like Phugana had to witness. They destroyed our houses after we had left but I am glad that my family is safe.” Around 5,000 people had been rendered homeless after the communal riots in August and September 2013. Shahpur said the report was also right in concluding that the local administration did not do enough to control the riots. “If the police had dispersed the crowd during the rally, the carnage could have been avoided. The district administration is also to blame.” Another riot victim, on condition of anonymity, said, “There was a panchayat meeting near Kawal village, which was the flashpoint of the riots. This was at the beginning, when the clashes were in the initial stages. I saw at least three major BJP leaders, including Sardhana MLA Sangeet Som, at the panchayat. They were delivering inflammatory speeches. Shortly after that meeting, mobs used to do the rounds of our villages and shout terrifying slogans about wiping out our entire community. The report is right in claiming politicians were behind the riots.” Shahpur added that one of the main reasons why the riots spread through five districts was inflammatory videos being circulated through WhatsApp. “People from the other community, who we had lived peacefully with, used be huddled around mobile phones and would grow quiet when we approached. Those messages were being circulated at the behest of politicians.” (Times of India 26/9/15)

144. Clashes erupt in Ranchi following communal tension (7)

RANCHI: Section 144 was imposed in few parts of the state capital on Saturday morning following clashes between two groups in different places. A few people sustained minor injuries but the situation is now under control. The clashes erupted after prohibited meat was thrown outside a temple late on Friday night by unknown miscreants. The day began with protests leading to multiple clashes so far. Ranchi DC Manoj Kumar said the situation is largely under control and appealed to all sections of people not to create panic. “Over 50 people trying to spread rumours and create trouble have been detained,” Kumar said. The Hindu outfits have called day-long band and their supporters are trying to enforce it. All shops in MG Road, Doranda, Birsa chowk, Albert Ekka chowk, and in few other parts of the state capital are closed. SSP Prabhat Kumar said CRPF, SSB, SISF and district police have been deployed in sensitive places. A group of protestors however smashed windshield of the vehicle of city SP Jaya Roy but she escaped injuries. The situation continues to be grim even after many preventive arrests. A few journalists sustained injuries and dozens of bandh enforcers were injured in police lathi-charge. (Timesofindia 26/9/15)


145. VHP ‘working on’ 1,500 Muslim families for ‘ghar vapsi’ in U.P. (26)

Meerut: The Vishwa Hindu Parishad has claimed that it is in the process of preparing 1,500 Muslim families in western Uttar Pradesh for a ‘ghar vapsi’ programme. According to Ajju Chauhan, senior VHP leader in western U.P., the volunteers are “working on” 1,500 Muslim families to facilitate their “ghar vapsi,” a term used to denote conversion to Hinduism. One of the initial ways of the Hindutva volunteers include convincing these families to stop eating beef and focus instead on keeping cow and buffalo in their homes. Mr. Chauhan claimed that the “hard work” of the volunteers was paying off. Most of the 1,500 families had stopped eating meat. “I myself have been working on two villages in Mainpuri in U.P. Most of them don’t eat meat of cow and buffalo any longer,” he said. Mr. Chauhan claimed that these 1,500 Muslim families were originally Hindus. He refused to disclose the actual names of the village. “The initial target is to stop them from eating meat. That we have successfully managed to. Gradually they will have to be brought back to Hindu way of living. I am hopeful that they will finally become Hindus again,” he added. ( The Hindu 12/9/15)


146. Hindu values that have no scientific basis should be given up: RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat

Jaipur: RSS sarsanghachalak Mohan Bhagwat on Sunday called for a reassessment of Hindu religious values, saying that values that did not conform to scientific bases should be given up. Bhagwat, who was here to participate in a columnists’ conference on “Indian perspectives on women’s issues”, said, “There is a need to assess the prevalent Hindu religion along scientific lines. Those values that do not conform to scientific standards should be given up.” Indian society, he said, had maintained a tradition of rejecting redundant traditions and accepting “good things from all over the world” based on eternal life values. All issues and problems should be viewed through the Hindu life philosophy, Bhagwat also said. “The Hindu life view looks at men and women as two expressions of a single element. It therefore lays stress on unity instead of equality.” The values and significance of the Indian family system, Bhagwat said, stood strong despite numerous challenges, which was a testimony to the power of the Hindu society. “Recognising our roots and strengthening them will empower the society to combat westernisation and numerous such attacks,” Bhagwat said. The RSS chief said only the Hindu religion had the ability to move “creation” forward in a balanced way. Bhagwat is on a nine-day tour of the desert state. The two-day columnists’ conference, that concluded on Sunday, was part of his Jaipur itinerary. He will now head to Jodhpur for the remainder of his tour, participating in Sangh meetings till September 20. (Indian Express 14/9/15)

147. J&K: HC notice to govt on PIL challenging beef ban (26)

Srinagar: The Jammu & Kashmir High Court on Wednesday issued notice to the state government on a fresh petition challenging the cow slaughter Act in the Ranbir Penal Code (RPC). The court has asked the state government to respond within seven days. The writ petition, filed by retired law professor Afzal Qadri, challenges the constitutional validity of RPC sections 298-A and 298-B, which regulate the ban on bovine slaughter and beef sale in Jammu and Kashmir. While section 298-A of the RPC makes killing of bovine animals a punishable offence, the 298-B makes “possession of any slaughtered animal” a punishable act in the state. “We have challenged the section 298 of RPC and termed it unconstitutional,” the professor’s counsel Faisal Qadri told The Indian Express. Recently, a division bench of Justice Dhiraj Singh Thakur and Justice Janak Raj Kotwal had ordered the government to strictly enforce the ban on sale of beef across the state, leading to widespread opposition. While some separatist leaders asked people to slaughter bovines on Eid-ul-Zuha and termed the court’s order interference into their religious affairs, the Opposition National Conference asked the Mufti government to issue an ordinance repealing the said provision of the RPC before Eid. “Ordinances are meant for urgencies. It is the need of the hour to bring an ordinance to repeal the provision in the Ranbir Panel Code under which cow slaughter has been banned,” said former state finance minister and senior National Conference leader Abdul Rahim Rather. (Indian Express 17/9/15)

148. RSS: Secularism irrelevant in India (26)

New Delhi: Contending that secularism is irrelevant in India, the RSS Saturday said saffron should have been the only colour on the national flag as other colours represented a communal thought. At a seminar on secularism for columnists held in Chennai, RSS’s All India Prachar Pramukh Manmohan Vaidya said “secularism evolved along the themes of separation of the Church and State in Europe and since India doesn’t have a history of theocratic states, the concept of secularism is irrelevant in the Indian context”. Pointing at the constitutional debate, Vaidya said B R Ambedkar was against inclusion of the word secular in the preamble of the Constitution as he felt India was naturally a secular society. The seminar, organised by RSS, was attended by more than 80 columnists from south India. “The perversion of the concept of secularism in India has resulted in the terming of nationalists as communal and people with communal thinking being hailed as secular,” Vaidya said. He added that “the Bharatiya tradition has from time immemorial regarded all faiths and sects as one and that the artificial injection of secularism is not needed in a society as hospitable and assimilative as Hindu society”. He also spoke of the evolution of Indian Flag and contended that several members of the flag committee (constituted by Congress Working Committee in 1931) felt that representing different religions as colours of the national flag was a communal thought. The committee agreed that the saffron flag with a blue charka would be the best representation of the Indian ethos, Vaidya said. Other speakers at the seminar were BJP vice-president Balbir Punj and RSS mouthpiece Organiser’s editor Prafulla Ketkar. (Indian Express 20/9/15)

149. Cow slaughter ban inflames J&K regional, religious tensions (26)

The beef ban order of the Jammu and Kashmir high court has spawned clashes in the Muslim-majority Kashmir Valley, injuring many. Experts fear that if the ban is not tackled carefully, it may cause the worst-ever religious polarisation Tensions spike in Jammu and Kashmir in the aftermath of the state high court’s asking the police to implement a 120-year-old law that bans slaughter of cow and other bovine animals and sale of beef in the State and take “strict action” against those who violate it. The court order has since spawned a fiery discourse in the state with various local political parties, including separatists and religious groups based mainly in predominantly Muslim Kashmir Valley asking Muslims to violate the ban by slaughtering only bovine animals during the coming festival of Id-al-Azha or Bakar Id. In fact, cows and other bovine animals were publicly slaughtered at several places in the Valley last week in reaction to the court order. However, senior separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani indirectly voiced his displeasure over the act. He said, “No such activity suits to any Muslim which can trigger communal tension or hurt sentiments and emotions of any other person”. He also sought to clarify, “Our protest is not against any particular section or the religion but (against) the controversial decision of the court which has hurt the sentiments of the Muslim community and has given birth to a discussion on this sensitive issue”. Kashmir’s chief Muslim cleric and chairman of his faction of Hurriyat Conference, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, however, while terming the ban on beef as “regrettable, illogical and direct intervention in the religious affairs of the Muslims who form the majority in the State”, said, “No court can violate or overrule the laws laid down by the Islamic Sharia and banning the consumption of beef, a halal (permissible) food, by courts is blatant interference in religion affairs, which will not be tolerated”. On the other hand, mainstream National Conference and Communist Party of India (Marxist) legislator Muhammad Yusuf Tarigami and Independent Sheikh Abdur Rashid have separately moved bills in the state Kashmir Assembly which is meeting here on October 3 for brief Autumn Session seeking repeal of Section 298-A, 298-B, 298-C and 298-D of the Ranbir Penal Code (RPC) that ban bovine slaughter and the sale of beef. But the BJP has not only vowed to oppose the move, one of its legislators Ravinder Raina has moved a resolution in the Assembly demanding capital punishment for those found slaughtering cow in the state. “Those found guilty should be awarded capital punishment”, the resolution reads. He has asked for a complete ban on cow slaughter and sale of beef as per the directions passed by the high court of Jammu and Kashmir. Some other party MLAs have publicly vowed that they would not allow any discussion in the House on the issue. Speaker of the Assembly Kavinder Gupta has said that he will not allow discussion on any bills or resolutions which have the potential of vitiating atmosphere in the state in the House. “I will not allow any bill or resolution which can create controversy and disturb peaceful atmosphere in the state,” he told Greater Kashmir newspaper, adding, “Things which can deteriorate law and order situation in the state won’t be allowed as part of proceedings of the House.”… (Asian Age 22/9/15)

150. Bakrid: VHP, Bajrang Dal caution on cow slaughter (26)

BELAGAVI: The city units of Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Bajrang Dal have alleged that a large number of cattle have been procured for slaughtering on the occasion of Bakrid in violation of laws preventing slaughter of cows. VHP and BD workers, who submitted a memorandum to the Police Commissioner on Wednesday, claimed that a large number of cows and other cattle, besides goat and sheep, would be slaughtered two to three days ahead of the festival. This, despite a complete ban on cow slaughter under Karnataka Prevention of Cow Slaughter Act, 1960, Karnataka Cow Slaughter & Cattle Prevention Act, 1964, and the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1964. The two organisations have urged the police and district authorities to strictly implement the Acts. The VHP and BD have also alleged that hundreds of cows had been kept ready for slaughtering at Shahabander (near Vantamuri), Kakar Stree behind Camp Police Station, Fish Market-Kasai Galli, Khade Bazaar behind Sheetal Hotel, Chavi Market, Azam Nagar (near Anganwadi School), Nesargi Kasai Khana, behind Kabadi Wine Shop at Diamond Complex in Khade Bazaar, near Fruit Market of Azad Nagar and Zatpat Colony of Sahyadri Nagar. The workers also staged a protest in front of the Commissioner’s office before submitting the memorandum. The protest was led by VHP district joint secretary Vijay Jadhav, BD district convener Bhavakanna Lohar and North Karnataka convener Swaroop Kalkundri. (The Hindu 23/9/15)

151. Secularism Survives in India Due to Hindutva: Union Minister Venkaiah Naidu (26)

Hyderabad:  There is secularism in India because of Hindutva, Union Minister M Venkaiah Naidu said in Hyderabad on Friday. “This country is Hindustan. Neither you nor I named it so. Secular psyche exists in the people of this country. Hindutva is secularism, which is welcoming (people from) all over the world and giving them space for debate,” he said. “Because of Hindutva, there is secularism in this country. Why there is no secularism in Pakistan? Why there is no secularism in Bangladesh? After all, they are our brethren. They got separated,” he said at an event organised on the 99th birth anniversary of Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya. Unable to digest their humiliating defeat in elections as well as the growing popularity of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress and other political rivals have indulged in a disinformation campaign against the NDA government, he alleged. “Parties and people who played communal politics and aligned with communal parties like Kerala Congress and Majlis are blaming BJP of communalism which needs to be exposed,” he said. Referring to the beef ban, he said religion and food are personal choices. “We did not impose these (ban). These bans were imposed during the Congress regime. They were imposed in Kashmir, Maharashtra and Karnataka during Congress rule. What one should eat is a personal choice. There is no party policy. Centre has not instructed anybody that beef can be banned,” he said. He said that opposition to Yoga and “surya namaskar”, which promote physical fitness, is due to “foreign influences.” Taking a swipe at Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Mr Naidu said that he is now going to Bihar to canvas for those who were jailed for corruption. He expressed confidence that the BJP and its allies would get a comfortable majority after the Bihar assembly elections.    (NDTV 26/9/15)

152. RSS organ’s swipe at Rahul Gandhi: Congress’ Mr India has abandoned ship (26)

New Delhi: Taking a swipe at Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi for embarking on a foreign trip when the process of Bihar polls is underway, RSS organ Panchjanya on Sunday said the “young Mr India of the old party” has abandoned the ship leaving the task of steering it to the old guard. “The young ‘Mr India’ of the old party is as always missing from the scene (Bihar polls) without leaving any clue. The Captain has abandoned the ship and gone missing leaving the burden of steering the party on old shoulders like always,” the editorial in RSS mouthpiece Panchjanya said, in an evident jibe at Rahul Gandhi.“While some say his absence is indicative of his pre-poll fatigue, Congress apologists describe his trip as another occasion for some sort of an unknown global meet. Whatever be the reason, the fact is that the country’s oldest party, contesting merely 41 seats, and bearing the burden of a historic embarrassment, is not even in the Bihar election race and is only on the fringes,” it said. The editorial also attacked the so-called grand alliance of RJD, JD(U) and Congress, contending the secular and socialist parties in the fray are afraid on account of their internal challenges and the presence of AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi on the election scene. “Secular, socialist parties are afraid. Irrespective of who loses Bihar polls, secularism will be ultimately harmed. Communal leader (Owaisi) will cut into not the radical communal votes but the liberal secular vote. These so called secular parties are trying to tell the masses that secular votes will be cut. No wonder they share this common fear in Bihar,” the editorial said. Without naming Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, it also took a dig at him, saying he too had abandoned the Bihar election scene to put its own house in order in Delhi and to address the controversy created by a former cabinet colleague. “At least AAP has a valid reason to be absent from Bihar,” it said. About Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh’s recent twitter post showing RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat and Owaisi as two sides of the same face, another article in Panchjanya said, “Digvijay Singh is commenting on a match where he is neither a player nor an umpire. In the game of Bihar elections, the Congress is camped outside the stadium.” (Indian Express 27/9/15)


153. 2008 Malegaon blasts case: SC seeks Centre, NIA reply on PIL (12)

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday sought response from the Centre and National Investigating Agency (NIA) on a plea challenging removal of Special Public Prosecutor (SPP) in the 2008 Malegaon blasts case and alleging that Government was exerting pressure on her to “go soft” on the accused. A bench comprising Justices J Chelameswar and A M Sapre asked Centre and NIA to file their responses within one week. The bench, however, did not allow the submission of senior advocates Kapil Sibal and Indira Jaising that hearing on the bail applications of the accused persons be stayed for the time being. The bench has also issued notice to Maharashtra government in the case. Earlier, a Supreme Court Judge had recused from hearing the plea, saying that he had represented certain accused in the matter. The PIL, filed by social activist Harsh Mander, has accused NDA government of trying to interfere with the functioning of the prosecutor in the case by exerting “pressure” on her to “go soft” on the accused. It alleged that the executive was attempting to influence the judicial system. It has alleged that NIA officials had pressured erstwhile Special Public Prosecutor in case, Rohini Salian, “presumably” under instructions from their “political masters”.Salian, who was SPP in the case, had alleged that an NIA officer had told her to go soft on the accused. She also claimed the same officer had told her that she would be replaced. Salian is no longer on NIA’s panel of lawyers. The petition has sought the apex court’s intervention to ensure a fair trial as there were reasons to “credibly fear” that “executive is attempting to influence the judicial system to cave in to the pressure exerted by it in all matters, including affording protection to right-wing extremists who sympathize with its ideology”. (Zee News 11/9/15)

154. 2006 Mumbai blasts: Quantum of sentence likely to be announced today (12)

Mumbai: A Mumbai special court will begin the hearing in the 2006 Mumbai serial bomb blasts case and the arguments related to the quantum of sentence in the case is likely to be delivered on Monday. The Special Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act, MCOCA court on Friday convicted 12 accused in the blasts case that rattled Mumbai killing 188 people and injuring 829 others. The court held the accused guilty of many charges under IPC, Explosives Act, Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act and Indian Railway Act. The chargesheet filed by Anti Terrorism Squad, ATS in November 2006 had named 30 people which included 17 Indians and 13 Pakistani nationals. However, the agency could arrest only 13 Indian accused for trial. Seven RDX bombs had exploded within a span of 10 minutes in the first class coaches of Mumbai’s suburban trains on July 11th, 2006. (Asian Age 14/9/15)

155. Alleged ISIS recruiter sent to police custody (12)

 Hyderabad: A city court on Tuesday sent alleged ISIS recruiter Afsha Jabeen alias Nicky Joseph to police custody for 10 days. She was arrested by police at the airport here on September 11 after she was deported from Dubai along with her husband and three children. The 37-year-old woman, a resident of Toli Chowki area in the city, was sent to 14 days judicial custody on Sep 12. Police now look to gather more information about the youth she and another accused Salman Mohiuddin were in touch with through social media to invite them to join ISIS. While luring youth online to join the terror group, Afsha was using fictitious name Nicky Joseph and claiming to be a British national. Police came to know about her in January this year when Salman, a US returned engineer, was arrested at Hyderabad airport while leaving for Dubai. He had told police that he along with the woman planned to go to Syria to join ISIS. During the questioning after her arrest on September 11, she told police that was running Facebook groups to recruit youth. She reportedly confessed that she is a strong supporter of ISIS as the group stopped Syrian President Bashar al-Assad from committing atrocities on Sunnis and wanted to establish Sharia. (Business Standard 15/9/15)

156. NSCN(K) banned by Centre for 5 years (12)

NEW DELHI, Sept 16 – The Centre today decided to declare NSCN(K) as an unlawful organisation for a period of 5 years, under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention), Act 1967 in the face of the outfit’s continued hostility and violence against the Indian security personnel from their bases in Myanmar. The decision to declare NSCN(K) an unlawful organisation was taken in a Cabinet meeting held here this morning, Union Minister for Communications and Information Technology Ravi Shankar Prasad told newsmen after the meeting of the Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “In recent times, a lot of explosions and ambushes have been carried out by the organisation. The Government of India, after elaborate consideration, has decided to declare NSCN(K) an unlawful organisation for 5 years,” Prasad said. The Government of India has signed ceasefire agreement on April 25 with the newly formed NSCN (Reformation) under Wangtin Naga, and a framework agreement with NSCN(I-M) on August 3. However, the Khaplang group has since carried out a series of violent attacks on the Indian armed forces from their bases in Myanmar. (The Assam Tribune 17/9/15)

157. State governments not sharing info on terror financing: Centre (12)

NEW DELHI: Government’s efforts to deal with the menace of terror financing has hit a road block with no state government sharing information on national risk assessment on threats to various financial institutions and capital market. Following a recommendation of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an inter-governmental body that looks after how to combat money laundering, terrorist financing and other related threats, the Centre set up a working group to asses the terror threat, its vulnerability in banking, insurance, capital market and financing institutions. The group had sent a letter on August 19 to all state governments and union territories along with the three templates on ‘terrorism threat’, ‘terrorism financing threat’ and ‘terrorism financing vulnerability’ asking them to reply by August 30. “So far, no response has been received from any of the state governments or union territories,” a senior government official said. The first template on ‘terrorism threat’ aims to determine the extent of the threat based on the sources as identified through enforcement and intelligence data on terrorism in the jurisdiction and related financing information. The template collects data on the organisations and individuals that pose terrorism threat to the jurisdiction. It requires information on terrorism cases which includes number of reported or investigated cases, number of convictions, number of international assistance requests received, sent, property damage. Qualitative information on future trends, other intelligence, the level of terrorism threat – low, medium or high, level of sophistication of operation, organisation average costs of operation, annual operational budget of operation, main income sources, main sectors or channels abused and originating jurisdiction of funds, the impact of terrorism financing threat – low, medium or high are other information which the state governments have to provide. The second template on ‘terrorism financing threat’ aims at identifying the direction of terrorism financing funds and the sources and channels that are being used for terrorism financing, using enforcement data and typology information as indicators. It seeks information on direction of funds, sources, criminal activity channels and overall terror financing threat. On terror financing cases, it requires information on number of cases investigated, prosecuted, convicted, number of persons convicted, number of case files sent to law enforcement agencies, number of international assistance requests, received, sent, amount of terror financing funds seized or frozen or confiscated…..  (Times of India 22/9/15)

158. Proposal to ban Sanatan Sanstha never reached me: Sushil Kumar Shinde (12)

NEW DELHI: Former home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde has said that the file dealing with a proposal to ban Sanatan Sanstha during the UPA tenure never reached his desk while officials directly concerned with the matter said there was no “incriminating material” to justify action against the organisation in 2013. With Sanatan Sanstha under adverse spotlight over the arrest of one of its members for the killing of rationalist Govind Pansare, Shinde told TOI that the file was not put before him for consideration and rebutted former Maharashtra chief minister Prithviraj Chavan’s suggestion that the home ministry failed to act against the organisation. “The file never came to me. And if Chavan was so serious, he could have written to me or made a call. We are both Maharashtrians and belong to the same party… why did he not get in touch with me directly,” Shinde said on Wednesday. As it turns out, both Congress and NCP, which are demanding a ban on Sanatan Sanstha following the arrest of its member Sameer Gaikwad, had, as part of the UPA government, rejected a proposal to declare the outfit an “unlawful association” only two years ago. Officials who dealt with the matter confirmed that the ban requested by Maharashtra, Goa and Karnataka was turned down in 2013 as “no incriminating material was on hand to justify a ban under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act”.The home ministry, which examined the states’ dossier citing suspected involvement of Sanatan Sanstha activists in the Margao blast in Goa in 2009 and a 2008 blast in an auditorium in Thane, Maharashtra, found there was no proper record of the outfit’s “activities in the past so many years” or any “list of its members suspected and accused in communal or violent incidents”.”Since all this is standard material based on which an organisation can be declared as unlawful under the UAPA, as was done in SIMI’s case, the idea of a ban on Sanatan Sanstha was rejected,” said an officer who was part of the deliberations. Incidentally, all accused in the Margao blast were acquitted in 2013, though one suspect, Rudra Patil, went missing. In the Thane blast case, two Sanatan Sanstha members were convicted in 2011 under provisions of the IPC and Explosives Substances Act, but acquitted of charges under the UAPA. Chavan had claimed that he urged the Centre to ban the group after two of its members were convicted in a 2008 bomb blast in a Thane auditorium. “We wanted to ban the Sanstha under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA). We sent a 1,000 page dossier to the Centre in April 2011. Banning has to be done by the Union of India,” he was quoted by a news channel as saying. (Timews of India 24/9/15)

159. Centre sends tough Gujarat anti-terror bill for President nod (12)

New Delhi: The Gujarat Control of Terrorism and Organi-sed Crime (GCTOC) Bill 2015 has been cleared by the Centre and sent to the President for his assent. The controversial bill was earlier passed by the Gujarat Assembly, but twice rejected by the previous UPA government. MHA sources said the anti-terror measure, hanging fire since Mr Modi, as Gujarat CM, first introduced it in 2003, was sent to President Pranab Mukherjee for his assent. The bill provides for admissibility of evidence gathered through the interception of mobile calls of an accused or through confessions before an investigating officer in a court of law. In July, the government sent back the bill to the state government seeking clarifications on certain issues raised by the information technology ministry. It objected to the bill’s provision allowing authorisation of intercepts of phone conversations and their admissibility as evidence before a court of law. The Gujarat government had strongly rebutted the IT ministry’s objections, and in its reply cited the subjects in the Concurrent List of the Constitution, under which both the Centre and states share responsibility for formulating criminal law and criminal procedure. The government gave its consent to the provision of extensions of time limit for filing of chargesheets from 90 days to 180 days after consultation with other Central ministries. The Gujarat Assembly had in March passed the stringent bill retaining controversial provisions that twice earlier had led to similar bills being rejected by the President. The bill was first rejected by then President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam in 2004, demanding that the clause on interception of communications be removed. It was again rejected when Pratibha Patil was President. On both occasions, the then UPA government had advised the President to reject the bill, saying several provisions of GCTOC Bill were not in conformity with a Central law, the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. (Asian Age 25/9/15)

160. Rajnath Singh: India will defeat terrorism (12)

Lucknow: Terrorism is a challenge, but the country will conquer it, Home Minister Rajnath Singh asserted on Sunday, even as he dismissed fears about the Islamic State (IS) terror outfit spreading its reach to India. Talking to journalists on the sidelines of an event, he referred to the apprehension that the dreaded IS terror outfit was expanding in several States. “Do not worry about it, there is nothing like that.” The Minister did not comment on party MP R.K. Singh’s allegation that the party was giving ticket to candidates with criminal antecedents in Bihar.Earlier, in his speech at the event, Mr. Singh said the Modi government was making efforts to address social concerns and claimed that it was the first time in the country’s history that any government at the Centre was doing so. “Generally, the work of any government is related to economic and strategic issues. But for the first time, a government has come at the Centre which is fulfilling social concerns as well,” he said. With the government having taken up the ‘ Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao ’ drive, the goal was now to balance the gender ratio. “It is an irony that gender ratio is not balanced in India. In all countries that are considered prosperous, gender ratio is balanced. A country and society where gender ratio is unbalanced can never prosper,” he said. — PTI (The Hindu 28/9/15)


161. 58 more Maoists surrender (12)

BERHAMPUR: Fifty-eight more Maoist elements surrendered in Malkangiri district of Odisha on Saturday. They surrendered before Makangiri Superintendent of Police (SP) Mitrabhanu Mohapatra. They included 12 Maoist militants and two village committee members of Naxalite organisation. All of them were from Eralguda village under Kalimela police station. A total of 377 Maoist cadres, militias and supporters from different remote villages of Maoist-infested police station areas like Podia and Kalimela have surrendered before the police since August 31. According to the police sources, if this trend continues, then it will drastically reduce the strength of Maoist organisation in this district bordering Andhra Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. The number of Odia Maoist cadres in Malkangiri district is also low. The Maoist leaders from Andhra and Chhattisgarh continue their activity in Malkangiri district with support of localites. This support base of Maoists has started to dwindle with recent continuing trend of surrenders. (The Hindu 13/9/15)

162. Major spurt in Naxal violence in Chhattisgarh in 2015 (12)

RAIPUR: With 362 Maoist related incidents of violence in Chhattisgarh in the first eight months of 2015, a whopping increase of 34% over the corresponding period in 2014, the year so far has been perhaps the most violent for the state since 2010. While there has been a marginal decrease in the total number of Maoists related incidents of violence in the 10 Left Wing Extremism affected states in these eight months, Chhattisgarh has witnessed an unprecedented spurt during the period by even surpassing the total number of 328 cases that occurred during the entire 2014. However, mercifully the numbers for people killed in these incidents in the state are marginally lesser than the previous year, as they were down from 73 in 2014 to 62 till July 15, 2015. According to latest figures, the number of Maoist related violent incidents in Chhattisgarh have shot up from 270 in 2014 (till August) to 362 in the corresponding period this year, averaging almost 45 odd incidents every month. The figures also reveal that while 264 incidents of Maoist related violence occurred in the state till July 15 this year, another 98 happened in a span on just 45 days till August 31. According to the data available with the state police, while the number of fatalities of security and government personnel witnessed a decline during this period, down from 50 in 2014 to 39, there has been an increase of 29% in civilian casualties, which went up from 24 to 31. Interestingly, while Jharkhand has been topping the list of Maoist related violence incidents among the LWE affected states since 2012, Chhattisgarh has surpassed the tally in the first six months of this year. In Jharkhand incidents of Maoist related violence fell from 217 in 2014 (till July 15) to 190 this year. The numbers of fatalities in such incidents have also declined from 54 to 35 in the corresponding period. Talking to TOI, additional director deneral of police (anti-naxal operations), RK Vij, attributed the spurt in such incidents in the state to panchayat polls held this year. He said there were attempts to disrupt polling at several places in Bastar by looting ballot boxes and firing at polling staff and security personnel. Incidentally, the last Panchayat elections in the state were held in 2010 and even then the incidents of Maoist violence had witnessed spurt, 625 during entire year. The total numbers of fatalities during 2010 were much higher at 343. Vij said the decline in the numbers of death in such violent cases this year is due to the fact that no major ambushes took place. “Killings have been confined to incidents of abduction and then execution, rather than random mass killings,” he said, adding that majority of the 39 fatalities of security personnel happened during special operations. Interestingly, these figures also reveal that the number of Maoists killed and surrendered till August 2014 and 2015, are the same at 22 and 115 respectively. However, the number of Maoists arrested this year 334, as compared to 437 in 2014. The recoveries of weapons from Maoists were also down from 120 in 2014 to 69 this year. According to the data, while there were lesser encounters (exchange of fire) this year, the incidents of IED explosion increased from 28 to 38. (Times of India 14/9/15)

163. Naxal uniform, weapons entice youth more than ideology: Study (12)

Raipur: It’s the uniforms and weapons of Maoists which attract the tribal youths more to join the outlawed movement, rather than their ideology about the fight for land, a study on Naxalism has interestingly has said. A group of research scholars headed by Dr Girish Kant Pandey, Head of the Department of Defence Studies in Government Science College here, has undertaken a special study to find the reasons which compel tribals to join the Naxal movement and then quit it. “So far we have interviewed 25 surrendered Naxals who were working with the banned organisation for 12-13 years, but surprisingly none of them understand the Maoist ideology nor they could explain their aim to join the banned outfit,” Dr Pandey, who did his PhD on the subject of Naxal insurgency in the early 90s, told PTI. As a part of the study, the research team made its first visit to the Naxal hotbed of Gadchiroli in Maharashtra and its adjoining areas in December last year where they interacted with 13 former Naxalites and some of their family members. In July this year, they visited Chhattisgarh’s Bastar region where they interviewed 12 surrendered rebels. “The study revealed that 92 per cent of rebels had joined the movement because of their attraction towards the ‘Army-like’ green uniform, guns, Maoist influence among villagers, besides obsession for dance, sloganeering and other activities of Chetna Natya Manch (a cultural outfit of Maoists),” research scholar Dr Varnika Sharma said. However, poverty, unemployment, personal/ ancestral enmity are also the reasons highlighted by rebels for joining the movement, she said. However she claimed that “none of them were influenced by the Maoist ideology to enter into guerrilla warfare.” The research also reveals that maximum cadres (about 33 per cent) deserted the movement after being impressed with the government’s surrender policy, while around 25 per cent of them left the outfit due to illness, Sharma said. Besides, 17 per cent of the Naxals dissociated with the movement due to internal rift and differences among top Naxal leaders while about 13 per cent quit the movement due to exploitation by senior cadres, she added.Throwing light on other findings of the study, another research scholar Toran Singh Thakur said according to the surrendered cadres, the Naxals have failed to recruit more youths since 2011-12 and are running short of heads. Most of those interviewed believe that the government should extensively publicise the provisions of surrender policy and the assistance being provided to those who lay down arms in remote villages so as to attract the disillusioned tribals into the mainstream, Thakur said. The preliminary findings of the study have been submitted to the state police department and soon more states will be covered under it. “Three more states, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand, will be covered under the research. The conclusions will be finally submitted to both the state police department and Ministry of Home Affairs,” Pandey said. Meanwhile, a senior police official hailed the efforts of the researchers saying that the study would help in dealing with Naxals psychologically. “We have been trying to persuade several Maoists to join mainstream through several ways. Such kind of studies help in understanding their mindset and dealing with them psychologically. The war can’t be won only by weapons,” the police officer said on the condition of anonymity. (Deccan Herald 18/9/15)

164. Maoist involved in Darbha Ghati attack killed in state (12)

KORAPUT: Security personnel here on Saturday gunned down three Maoists, one of whom was involved in the 2013 attack on a Congress leaders’ convoy at Darbha Ghati in Chhattisgarh’s Sukma district. Odisha police sources said a joint team of district voluntary force (DVF) and special operation group (SOG) engaged in an encounter with the rebels on Saturday morning in Bhejaguda forest, around 30 km from Malkangiri, under Mathili police limits. “We were tipped-off about the movement of a group of 10 to 12 Maoists in the forest area and launched an operation. The gunbattle continued for half-an-hour,” said DIG (south-western range) S Shyni. The other two are Sunadhar alias Kishore Korram and Laxman Kunjami. Sunadhar, a Darbha divisional committee member, was involved in the murder of over 100 securitymen and was carrying cash rewards of Rs 5 lakh and Rs 8 lakh in Odisha and Chhattisgarh, respectively. “While coming across the crime spot we recovered the three bodies. Others managed to flee,” said Malkangiri SP Mitrabhanu Mohapatra. Police said Sunadhar was on the forefront of the attack at Darbna Ghati on May 25, 2013 in which 27 people were killed. The victims included former minister Mahendra Karma and Chhattisgarh Congress chief Nand Kumar Patel. Vidya Charan Shukla, a senior Congress leader, received grievous injuries in the ambush and succumbed a few days later. “We are in touch with our counterparts in Chhattisgarh to get more details about Sunadhar,” the DIG added. Police seized three walkie-talkies, one 9 mm pistol, two bags, few sharp-edged weapons and Maoist literature from the spot. The Dharba division of Maoists operates in the Dharba valley of Sukma district in Chhattisgarh and Mathili block of Malkangiri. “We have intensified our combing operations in Mathili,” the SP said. It may be recalled that in a major setback to the Maoist organisation over 1,000 people from different villages in Malkangiri district have surrendered before police after withdrawing their support to the Red rebels since August 31. (Times of India 20/9/15)

165. Naxal prevention cells to come up in 10 districts (12)

CHENNAI: Chief Minister Jayalalithaa on Tuesday announced creation of special cells at a cost of Rs 9.48 crore in 10 border districts to prevent Naxalite activities. “The cells will be set up at Tiruvallur, Vellore, Erode, Udagamandalam, Coimbatore, Tiruppur, Dindigul, Virudunagar, Tiruvelveli and Kanyakumari districts,” she said, while replying to the demands for grants for Home Department. The Chief Minister said a total of 93 new schemes — 32 for police department and 11 for fire service — would be implemented at a cost of 136.83 crore. Ms. Jayalalithaa said ‘Q’ branch offices functioning from rented buildings in Theni, Krishnagiri, Thanjavur, Pudukottai, Tiruvarur, Perambalur and Nagapaatinam districts would get new buildings. The total allocation for the project is Rs 4.59 crore. “The government will also get closed circuit television with internet protocol cameras for 263 police stations at a cost of Rs 6.31 crore,” she said. In order to improve the efficiency of police department in maintaining law and order, 50 police stations will get a package containing 32 equipments. The cost is Rs 9.41 core. Ms. Jayalalithaa said the government would purchase non-linear junction detectors at a cost of Rs. 35 lakh for the police to unearth electronic gadgets. Police personnel involved in security arrangements for VIPs would get Explosive Vapour Detectors at a cost of Rs. one crore. “To identify the contents of suspicious packages, police will get X-Ray Baggage Scanners.” (The Hindu 23/9/15)

166. Odisha may step up anti-Maoist operations (12)

On Wednesday, Odisha Director General of Police (DGP) rushed to Malkangiri by a helicopter along with Inspector General of Police (IGP), intelligence, D.S. Kutte. The DGP reviewed the state of Maoist presence in Malkangiri district as well as preparedness of security forces to face the challenge. Speaking to newsmen after his arrival at Malkangiri district police headquarter, the DGP said focus would be on proper coordination between Central paramilitary forces and State police for successful operations against the left wing extremists. The DGP and the IGP visited the BSP camp at MV-3 to take part in a review meeting on Maoist situation in Malkangiri district that borders Naxalite-infested regions of Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh. According to sources, on-going construction of Gurupriya bridge which would provide road communication to the cut-off area of Balimela reservoir was also part of discussion. (The Hindu 24/9/15)

167. 88 Maoist supporters surrender in Malkangiri (12)

BERHAMPUR: Eighty-eight Maoist supporters surrendered in Malkangiri district of Odisha while the outlawed CPI (Maoist) organisation observed a dawn-to-dusk bandh in the district on Friday to protest against continuing surrender of rural Maoist elements in the district. The Maoists supporters, who came over to district police headquarter to surrender before the Malkangiri SP, were from Badaliguda village under Kalimela police station limits. They included a dozen militias and one village committee member of Maoists. Unlike bandh calls of Naxalites in Malkangiri district in the past, this bandh call evoked very less response. Speaking to The Hindu , Malkangiri SP Mitrabhanu Mohapatra said the bandh had very little impact in most parts of the district except Kalimela region. At all other places, including Malkangiri town, normal day to day life and vehicular traffic was not affected, said the SP. Private operators continued to ply their vehicles, while the Odisha State Transport Corporation decided to keep its buses off roads. In remote interior pockets, small passenger vehicles also remained off road. Till evening no untoward incidents had been reported from any part of the district. But security remained tight all through the district, with increased combing, patrolling and checking of vehicles at sensitive points especially in areas bordering Andhra Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. (The Hindu 26/9/15)

168. Security forces vs Naxal turf war in central Gadchiroli (12)

Nagpur: The central part of the Naxal-affected Gadchiroli district has become a hotbed of action as security forces and rebel cadres are vying for supremacy in the crucial zone in the heartland of state’s guerrilla movement. A half-dozen encounters in the past few months have only underlined the fact that Naxals and security forces are in no mood to spare even an inch ground to each other. Security forces seem to have gained ground as the Gadchiroli police have opened a number of posts in the central region which was once a rebel stronghold. The Naxal domination in the region had been such in the past that police and paramilitary forces would avoid the 35 square-kilometer stretch. Threats in the form of landmine and ambushes would often take cops by surprise. The region’s forest zones, mostly uncharted by the security forces till last year, also served as resting and meeting place for the Naxal leadership converging from south and north, and also neighbouring districts of Kanker and Narayanpur of Chattisgarh. The region was earlier also labelled as the first stepping stone before venturing into the Naxal stronghold of Abujmadh which straddles Chattisgarh and Maharashtra. “The Naxal presence in the central region can be also viewed as their first line of defence before one can cross into Abujmadh,” said Ravindra Kadam, Nagpur IGP, Naxal range. The opening of the police posts, especially at Kotmi, in February this year has lent an edge to the police force. Apart from a permanent police presence, it also dented the Naxal militia base here among the traditional supporters who had been under the influence of senior Naxal cadres for long. There had been 14 surrenders from Kotmi, including its militia commander, after the post opened at Kotmi. Naxals are now also trying to instill fear among the minds of the tribal by resorting to civilian killings. One of their first target was surrendered militia commander Madhao Podao. Gadchiroli SP Sandip Patil said Naxals are desperately trying to win back domination in the region as it serves as a link to adjoining districts of Chandrapur and also the state of Chhattisgarh. “There is a plan to open more armed outposts and ensure deeper police presence on a permanent basis,” he said. (Times of India 27/9/15)

169. 24 Naxals including four women surrendered in Chhattisgarh (12)

RAIPUR: In a major success for Government in Chhattisgarh, as many as 24 Naxals, four of them women and a dozen carrying rewards ranging from Rs 1 lakh to Rs 5 lakh on their head, today surrendered before the police in Kondagaon district. Twenty-four Naxals, four of them women, surrendered before senior officials, includidng Bastar inspector general (IG) SRP Kalluri, police said. The ultras, all of them hailing from Chhattisgarh, took the step as they were fed up with the harassment and discrimination meted out to them by their senior leaders based in Andhra Pradesh, Kalluri said. A dozen of these insurgents were carrying rewards of different amounts on their heads, they said. They were identified as Somori alias Kunti (28), carrying a reward of Rs 5 lakh, Badru Korram alias Jairam Korram (22), Sunita Nag (28) carrying Rs 3 lakh reward each, and Dashru Koreti, Sajontin alias Dashri Kumeti, Dashru Ram Hidko alias Sandeep (25), Bijnu alias Baijan Singh (28), Jhitku, Vedram alias Sanjay (26), Laddi alias Santer Badde (25), Raj Bedia (50) and Ramji Ram (27), all carrying Rs 1 lakh reward each. The rebels, who held different ranks in the outlawed movement, were active in Kondagaon, Bastar, Kanker and Narayangarh districts. (Times of India 29/9/15)


170. Nepal to neutralise trafficking network active after earthquake (1)

New Delhi/Gurgaon: The Nepal police have registered a fresh case to identify, trace and apprehend the chief protagonists of what is believed to be a new module of international human traffickers which became active between Kathmandu and several SAARC nations after a devastating quake that jolted that country in April this year. Deputy Chief of the Nepal Mission in New Delhi and Minister Krishna Prasad Dhakal told The Hindu that efforts were underway to neutralise the network of human traffickers which, according to the Intelligence Bureau (IB) and the Delhi police, is suspected to be behind the trafficking of over a hundred Nepalese citizens — predominantly women — between April and September this year. “Yes, we have registered a fresh case which is related solely to the neutralisation of the trafficking network believed to be in existence in Nepal and have formed several dedicated teams to identify and track those who are a part of it,” said Rajendra Shreshtha, Senior Superintendent of (Nepal) Police who is posted in New Delhi. Speaking about the condition of the two rescued women, Mr. Dhakal said the duo was understood to be in a medically fit condition. “They have been repatriated and their health is improving. We hope the Gurgaon police will continue with their probe in the case with the diligence which they have exhibited so far and that justice will prevail,” he said. Meanwhile, The Hindu has learnt that the abuse and sexual exploitation that the two rescued women were being subjected to came to light when another woman, a resident of Darjeeling, sold by Anwar, a placement agent of Nepali descent, to the diplomat 10 days ago managed to escape from the house and approached Maiti Nepal India and told about the ordeal of the women. “We thought it to be a case of domestic violence and our women staff members tried to enter the house to meet the women. But they were told that it was the house of a Saudi Arabia diplomat and not allowed inside. But our staff managed to pass on a mobile phone to the two women through a security guard and established contact with them,” revealed Maiti Nepal India president Bal Krishan, who played a pivotal role in the rescue. When the police team reached the house for rescue on Monday afternoon, the family of the diplomat and some bouncers allegedly tried to stop them and roughed them up, Mr. Krishan said. “The police were not allowed inside and we had to call the two women outside and rescued them,” said Mr. Krishan. The Gurgaon police also confirmed that the diplomat’s family did not “co-operate.” (The Hindu 12/9/15)

171. Two held for human trafficking in Surguja (1)

BILASPUR: Kotwali police of Ambikapur, about 300km from here, have arrested two men on charges of human trafficking. A complaint against the accused was lodged last month. They were arrested on Sunday while trying to lure three youths from the township with promises of higher pay and better work. The accused used to sell local youths to bore-well companies operating in southern Indian states as bonded laborers. Speaking to TOI, Surguja SP RS Nayak informed that the accused had lured five local youths in January this year. Instead of better pay and work conditions, the youth went without food on many occasions. Of the five, two managed to escape and return home recently. Meanwhile, parents of the youth, who have not returned, lodged a complaint against Nanhu Das (55), a resident of Namnakala and Tasil Ghasia (25), of Maheshpur-Sitapur for taking away their sons. On Sunday Dinesh Agaria and Bindeshwar Naagwanshi informed TI Suresh Bhagat that the accused had come to their village a couple of days ago and had promised them work on a pay of Rs 8,000 per month with free lodging and boarding. The accused also told them that four others have already agreed and are going along with them. (Times of India 15/9/15)

172. Nepalese women rape case: 2 kingpin of trafficking racket held (1)

Kanthmandu: Nepal police have arrested two persons, including the daughter-in-law of one of the Nepalese maids rescued from a Saudi diplomat’s residence in Gurgaon, who allegedly ran a trafficking racket which sold the women to Indian agents on the pretext of providing them jobs. The two arrested yesterday were identified as Kalpana Pariyar, 33, a resident of Bahuni in Morang district of eastern Nepal, and Jeet Bahadur Darji, 42, who hails from Baglung district in western Nepal, police said on Thursday. Kalpana and Jeet were involved in selling the former’s mother-in-law and another woman to Indian agents on the pretext of providing them attractive jobs. The two maids were then supplied to Saudi diplomat Majed Hassan Ashoor, who allegedly kept them in confinement in his apartment in Gurgaon in Haryana where he and his “guests” allegedly raped them. On September 7, Gurgaon Police conducted a raid at the diplomat’s residence after receiving a complaint from a non-governmental organisation and rescued the two Nepalese women. The Saudi Embassy termed the allegations as “false” and protested the police “intrusion” into the diplomat’s house saying it was against “all diplomatic conventions”. The two maids have now been shifted to a women’s shelter in Nepal. The Saudi Arabian diplomat, who was charged with confinement and rape of two Nepalese women, last night left India. The Central Investigation Bureau of Nepal has filed a case in this regard in Kathmandu District Court registering a case under Human Trafficking Act. Further investigation is underway in this matter and the police is searching other people involved in the racket, police said. (Indian Express 17/9/15)

173. Floods have made Assam source, transit point of trafficking: Kailash Satyarthi (1)

New Delhi: Assam has turned out to be both a source and a transit point for human trafficking rackets, mainly due destruction caused by flood and its aftermath almost every year, Nobel Peace laureate Kailash Satyarthi said on Sunday. Assam is now a major source for human trafficking rackets based in Delhi-NCR and the children trafficked from there are mostly placed as domestic helps at residences either in the national capital region or towns in Haryana. Many, who fail to be placed anywhere, are later forced into prostitution or begging, Satyarthi told PTI. Assam is also a transit point for children who are trafficked from Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya. However, these two states are targeted particularly by human trafficking rackets based in Kolkata and Mumbai, said Satyarthi. The Nobel Peace Prize winner has urged the Assam government to adopt a three-pronged approach to check trafficking of children from the state. “I have suggested the creation of a ‘Rehabilitation and Welfare Fund’ under Kailash Satyarthi Children’s Foundation (KSCF) in Assam, in which the state government and the foundation are expected to contribute in equal proportions, for immediate relief to trafficked children,” said Satyarthi, adding that so far Assam government has contributed Rs 1 crore to the welfare fund. Satyarthi also mentioned about instances where the trafficked children managed to escape and reach Guwahati, but had no resources to go any further. Later, they were hunted down by the traffickers and taken back forcibly from the railway station. “In many cases, the children belonged to the flood-hit districts of Assam and they could not reach home because of the calamity, despite having reached the concerned region. Many of those children were held by the traffickers and taken back from places not very far away from home,” said Satyarthi. (Zee News 20/9/15)

174. New laws for trafficking victims (1)

New Delhi: Victims of trafficking may no longer have to depose in court to prove their cases as the government is considering allowing video conferencing as part of wide ranging reforms suggested by a high level committee which has given its suggestions to the Union home ministry .The definition of sexual exploitation under the law is also set to be tightened to include ‘’involuntary acts done under coercion and in absence of free will’’, extending the scope of the law to include such portrayal in the print and electronic media and Internet. Three sub-panels formed by NALSA core committee headed by Supreme Court judge Justice A.K. Sikri and consisting of joint secretary in home ministry Alok Kumar had submitted their report which is now being studied by the ministries of home and women and child development for implementation. While work has already begun in the WCD ministry to amend the Imm-oral Traffic (Prevention) Act to remove any gaps in the law, the MHA is working on other suggestions which also call for setting up an exclusive or specialised agency for investigating organised crime. Pointing out that trafficking, which includes sexual exploitation to a large extent has become one of the largest organised crime in the country, a top MHA official said that a dedicated institutional structure is in the works to act as the nodal point for coordinating with the various agencies concerned, including the police and the legal authorities. The WCD may act as the nodal body and may have its own dedicated agency to deal with such crimes, the official said adding that deliberations are going on the issue. On the legal reforms, the ministry of home is in the process of consulting the law ministry to allow video-conferencing for all victims of human trafficking to ‘’isolate them from the traffickers’’ and increase the conviction rates. “The video conferencing of all victims of human trafficking may be allowed from the nearest point made available by the probe agency and is expected to go a long way in allowing more and more victims of trafficking and sexual exploitation approach the police with their complaints and depose before the courts subsequently,” the official added. (Asian Age 20/9/15)

175. Centre wants time-bound help for victims of trafficking (1)

New Delhi: To ensure victims of trafficking get compensated in a time-bound manner, the Union government has asked states to bring such cases under the service delivery Act. The ministry of women and child development in a recently held meeting of the central advisory committee (CAC) to combat trafficking, has also asked states to explore the option of video conferencing for victims. The suggestion aims to avoid taking victims to other states for every hearing. “Some states have Right to Service Delivery Acts. They may enlist the item of services to trafficked victims in the schedule of such acts. Video conferencing facility should be provided for conducting trials, to obviate problems in transporting victims of trafficking,” read the minutes of the meeting which saw the presence of various states, including Delhi. With respect to Delhi, the union ministry has said that there is a need for enhanced coordination between Delhi Police and Delhi government so that the meetings of the advisory committee can be held very frequently. “The state government will be holding meetings with the state governments of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Bihar from where most of the women and children are trafficked to Delhi,” said an official. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare will also write to states about dearth of psychiatrists and counsellors. “In most states there is no action plan for victims. Minimum standards of care and protection must be ensured in shelter homes. Though National Plan of Action was prepared in 1998, no attempt has been made to implement it. The SOPs made by the Ministry of Women and Child Development and other departments have no legal standing and there is a need to notify them in the official gazette by the state governments,” said Ravi Kant, president of Shakti Vahini NGO, who was also present in the meeting. (Hindustan Times 21/9/15)

176. Human trafficking racket busted in Kerala (1)

Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala police on Thursday busted a racket of trafficking Sri Lankan refugees from Tamil Nadu to Australia. Nine refugees from various camps in Tamil Nadu and four local agents were arrested at Munambam, from where they were to be ferried to the Australian coast by a fishing boat. Police have also seized the vessel. Police sources said the arrested refugees, all men in the 18-30 years age group, had been staying at various camps in Tamil Nadu. “Most of them don’t know one another. They reached Munambam coast a few days ago and were staying in various lodges,’’ they said.Sources said each refugee had paid Rs 1 lakh as advance to the agents — two from Kerala and two from Tamil Nadu. On boarding the boat, each refugee was supposed to hand over Rs 50,000 more to the agents. Police said the agents had selected Munambam considering the availability of fishing boats in the region. “They had chosen a boat costing Rs 7.15 lakh and had paid an advance of Rs 15,000. However, the boat owner was not involved in the racket as sale of fishing boats is normal in the region. The 55-feet-long boat has the capacity to carry more persons. Hence, we suspect the agents would have brought in more refugees if the racket was not busted,’’ sources said. Police said the refugees were told that they would reach the Australian coast after a voyage of 16 days. They were convinced that they would have to stay in jail only for a short period after which they could apply for citizenship. (Indian Express 25/9/15)

177. Fraud or trafficking: Haridwar cops in a tizzy (1)

DEHRADUN: A case of alleged human trafficking has left Haridwar police in a tizzy. A man who hails from Haryana and is presently based in Haridwar approached the police station with his “unique” application. He claimed that his friend “sold” him a bride for Rs 80,000. The woman after staying with him for four days, disappeared. Cops are in a fix as to whether they should treat it as a case of human trafficking or a fraud jointly committed by the friend and the woman. Sandeep Kumar, who is from Rohtak, Haryana, is presently based in Haridwar and works in factory in SIDCUL area. A resident of Subhash Colony, Sandeep approached the Jwalapur police station on Friday, asking them to find his “runaway bride”.In his written complaint, Sandeep said he wanted to get married and had requested his friend Bunty to find a girl for him. Bunty too is from Rohtak and works in an industrial unit of SIDCUL in Haridwar district. About a week ago, Bunty came with a woman and handed her to Sandeep for Rs 80,000. After spending four days with Sandeep, the woman vanished. Efforts to trace Bunty proved futile. Interestingly, Sandeep admitted before that he had paid the sum of Rs 80,000 for his bride-to-be and even maintained that he was going to marry the woman in court. Now, Sandeep has asked cops to search the woman and act against his friend for “cheating” him. SSP Haridwar Sweety Agarwal told TOI, “Our teams are working on the case. Selling or buying a woman is a major crime. If facts are found correct we will act strongly against anyone involved in buying or selling a woman.” She, however, maintained that there could be possibilities of Bunty and the woman being hand-in-glove in the crime. “We are looking for them to clarify whether the woman had been sold or the two did so to extract money from Sandeep,” added the SSP. (Times of India 26/9/15)


178. Take over all Vyapam cases, whatever their stage: SC asks CBI (5)

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court today refused to acknowledge CBI’s plea to distinguish between cases which were under probe and those pending trial in courts and asked it to take over all Vyapam scam matters irrespective of their present status. “Whatever is the stage of the case, you (CBI) will have to take over all the matters,” a bench headed by Chief Justice H L Dattu said while allaying the apperehension of the CBI that the Special Investigation Team (SIT) and Special Task Force (STF) of state police may not co-operate with it if it takes over those cases which were on trial stage in courts. “You take over and the SIT/STF will cooperate with you, We will ask them to co-operate,” the bench, which also comprised Justices C Nagappan and Amitava Roy, said. Solicitor general Ranjit Kumar, appearing for CBI, said there were difficulties in taking over 72 cases, which were at different levels of trial, as they were being prosecuted by SIT/STF and their investigation officers (IOs) may not extend cooperation to the CBI. Rejecting the submission, the bench asked the agency to take over such cases within three weeks and also directed the SIT/STF to extend support to CBI. It also ordered the probe agency, which has shortlisted 19 persons as its prosecutors for Vyapam scam cases, to also appoint remaining 29 public prosecutors by the next date. The bench asked CBI to move applications in trial courts concerned if it feels further probe or re-investigation is needed in any case. The issue of shortfall of CBI sleuths to take over the investigation was also raised during the hearing and the bench asked Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, representing DoPT, to file a report detailing the steps taken or to be taken to meet the demand of the probe agency. (Times of India 11/9/15)

179. CNG Scam: Delhi Government Issues Chargesheet Against ACB Chief Meena (5)

NEW DELHI: Delhi Government on Tuesday issued a chargesheet against Anti-Corruption Branch (ACB) joint commissioner of police Mukesh Kumar Meena to the Central Vigilance Commission(CVC) in the ongoing probe of the alleged Rs 100-crore CNG fitness scam in which a number of officials of the previous Sheila Dikshit Government were under the scanner. Earlier, the commission of inquiry formed by the Delhi government to probe the multi-crore CNG fitness scam, issued directions for execution of a non-bailable warrant against Anti-Corruption Branch (ACB) joint commissioner of police Mukesh Kumar Meena. (New Indian Express 15/9/15)

180. Senior Rajasthan IAS officer arrested for accepting Rs 2.55 crore bribe (5)

Jaipur: Senior IAS officer and Principal Secretary (Mines) Ashok Singhvi was Thursday arrested by Rajasthan’s Anti Corruption Bureau in an alleged case of graft involving Rs 2.55 crore. He was detained here last evening after five persons including two senior officers of his department were arrested in connection with the case in Udaipur and Bhilwara yesterday. “IAS officer Ashok Singhvi was arrested at 3 AM. A search operation was launched at his residence at hospital road in Jaipur last evening and list of seizure is being prepared,” IG-ACB Dinesh MN told PTI here. A team of ACB conducted preliminary interrogation of Singhvi at his residence last night and took him to the ACB office later where he was arrested. Before his arrest, the ACB conducted three raids in Udaipur and Bhilwara yesterday and seized total illicit cash of Rs.3.82 crore. Rs. 2.55 crore (out of the total seizure) was to be delivered allegedly to Singhvi and other officers, according to ACB officials. The bribe amount of Rs. 2.55 crore was allegedly taken from a Chittorgarh-based mines owner Sher Khan for allowing him to restart operations in his mines, which were closed by the mines department, DG-ACB Navdeep Singh said. The department had cancelled lease of his six mines and the alleged bribe was taken to facilitate Khan and issue him permission to reopen the mines. “Khan did not complain about the demand of bribery to ACB and we conducted the operation on the basis of our own information,” he said. Khan allegedly sent Rs. 2.55 crore to his Chartered Accountant in Udaipur which was to be allegedly handed over to mines department’s middleman Sanjay Sethi, Singh said. Sethi was allegedly supposed to deliver this money to Additional Director-Mines (AD-M) HQ- Udaipur Pankaj Gehlot and Principal Secretary- Mines Singhvi, he said. Following information about the deal, a team of ACB raided the office of the the CA in Bhupalpura in Udaipur where the cash of Rs.2.55 crore was recovered yesterday. Sethi’s house in Udaipur was also searched during which cash of Rs.1.25 crore was allegedly recovered, he said. Simultaneously, another team of ACB raided the premises of Senior Mines Engineer (SME) – Bhilwara P R Ameta where he was present along with Sher Khan’s aide Rashid Khan….  (Zee News 17/9/15)

181. CBI to probe Rs 1,500-crore Gurgaon land scam (5)

NEW DELHI: The Central Bureau of Investigation on Thursday took over the probe into alleged swindling of about Rs1,500 crore by private builders and their associates in acquiring 400 acres of prime land in Gurgaon in collusion with unknown government officials. Fearing acquisition by the then State government headed by former Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Gurgaon farmers and villagers had allegedly sold off large tracts of land to builders at throwaway prices during 2004-07. After the BJP came to power in Haryana, the police registered a case in August. It has been alleged that about 400 acres – worth Rs. 4 crore per acre, totalling Rs.1,600 crore — was allegedly purchased by private builders and others for Rs.100 crore. “At the request of the State government, we have taken over the case registered under various provisions of the IPC and the Prevention of Corruption Act,” said a CBI official. The land in question was acquired by the builders in Manesar, Naurangpur and Lakhnoula in Gurgaon district. (The Hindu 18/9/15)

182. 33 govt staff booked for graft still to be suspended (5)

NAGPUR: Several government departments, instead of directly suspending their officials charged with corruption as required by rules, have opted to shield them. A government resolution (GR) issued in 2013 made it obligatory for department concerned to suspend public servants ‘immediately’ if they were booked by state anti-corruption bureau under Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988. As on date, data available with ACB Nagpur branch show that 33 personnel were yet to be suspended despite having been booked for various offences registered by ACB. Around 30 of these were booked this year while the were booked last year. In the current year, seven police personnel have not been suspended despite being booked, followed by another seven from revenue department and six in various Zilla Parishads. Though ACB records show constables Rajkumar Pal and Pankaj Mishra of Jaripatka are yet to be suspended, sources from police department claimed that DCP, Zone-II, Sanjay Latkar, had suspended the cops after they were taken into custody for making a demand of Rs 1 lakh from a businessman. Superintendent of police, ACB, Rajiv Jain, admitted records with his agencies may not have been updated due to lack of communication from the departments concerned. “ACB immediately writes to the departments regarding actions against public servants from their units. We also advise them to place the personnel under suspension quoting the GR that recommends such action without fail immediately,” he said. It is learnt ACB has been pushing for suspension to ensure better impact against malpractices and also to safeguard against tampering of evidence. “ACB is also issuing reminders to many departments for placing their personnel under suspension if booked on graft charges,” said Jain. (Times of India 23/9/15)

183. Minister VK Singh’s ‘graft in Army’ tweet stirs another controversy (5)

NEW DELHI: Minister of state for external affairs General V K Singh (retd) has stirred yet another controversy by asking defence minister Manohar Parrikar to crack down on corruption in the Army in light of reports that a Lt-General had been sent on compulsory leave till his retirement due to corruption charges. Responding to a tweet about the Lt-Gen (name being withheld) being “caught taking a bribe and sent on holiday till retirement”, Gen V K Singh tweeted: “Shame is too small to describe this. RM (Raksha Mantri) must come down hard to cleanse the system.” The Army HQs, on its part, has already strongly denied reports about the Lt-Gen, slated to retire on September 30, as “false and malicious”. Asked about Gen V K Singh’s tweet, defence minister Manohar Parrikar on Wednesday morning said he would be meeting the MoS soon. By the afternoon, Gen V K Singh had deleted that particular tweet. But in a letter to a publication, put in the public domain by his lawyer, he reiterated that the Army was all abuzz with the “biggest unfolding scam, where a senior officer has been sent on leave pending retirement”.Gen V K Singh, the Army chief from March 2010 to May 2012, has been no stranger to controversy. He was the first serving military chief to take the government to court, having locked horns with the then defence minister A K Antony on his date of birth issue. Just before demitting the chief’s office, Gen V K Singh had also placed a discipline and vigilance promotion ban on the present chief Gen Dalbir Singh Suhag, who was then a Lt-Gen for “abdicating responsibility” in handling a botched operation by an intelligence and surveillance unit under him as the 3 Corps commander in Dimapur. The ban was lifted after Gen Bikram Singh took over as the Army chief. It paved the way for Gen Suhag to succeed Gen Bikram Singh as the Army chief in 2014. But not before Gen V K Singh, as a MoS government in the NDA government by then, once again had attacked Gen Suhag for protecting “criminals” in the Dimapur incident. In between, Gen V K Singh was involved in several other controversies, ranging from his remark that the Army had been regularly paying money to ministers and politicians in J&K to the controversy over the controversial intelligence unit Technical Support Division (TSD) set up by him when he was the Army chief. (Times of India 24/9/15)

184. MP HC makes CBI party in corruption case against SIT (5)

BHOPAL: Office of state Lokayukta has pleaded with Gwalior bench of MP high court to get allegations of bribery against SIT, agency that was earlier investigating the Vyapam, probed by CBI. Court has made the apex investigating agency, CBI, a party in the case. In a hearing held on Friday, CBI sought time to reply. The next hearing will be held on October 5. JD Suryavanshi, counsel of Lokayukta said after affidavits filed in court against corruption and atrocities charges against SIT probing Vyapam scam before it was handed over to CBI, petitioner wanted it to be probed by Lokayukta. “We pleaded as the case was already handed over to CBI, let it also investigate charges against SIT,” he told TOI. On Friday, a division bench of Justice UC Maheshwari and justice SK Gupta made CBI a party, he said. In July this year, two Vyapam accused had filed affidavits in the court making accusation of bribery against SIT Gwalior investigating cases of Vyapam scam in Gwalior and Chambal region. The court in turn directed Lokayukta to look into the allegations. It all started when counsel for accused, Umesh Bohre, levelled allegations in the court on May 29 this year and division bench comprising Justice Maheshwari and Justice Rathi directed Bohre to file affidavit with charges.”In both the affidavits we have explained in detail about the bribe and why it was demanded”, Bohre told TOI. The government did not file any counter affidavit. Talking to TOI, deputy advocate general Vishal Mishra had said, “There was no response from the state government so the public prosecutor did not file any affidavit to counter the allegations.” (Times of India 26/9/15)

185. Honest Officers Need Not Fear CBI, CAG: CVC (5)

NEW DELHI: Honest officers need not worry about CBI or CAG as genuine errors are differentiated from deliberate ones while deciding corruption cases, Vigilance Commissioner in CVC, T M Bhasin said here today. He said the Commission has also introduced a procedure to check malafide complaints of alleged corruption, which usually surge against an officer when he or she is being considered for a high-level appointment, by asking the complainants to “own it up” first. Bhasin said the anti-corruption watchdog is also taking measures to speed up the pending corruption cases. “Honest bureaucrats need not fear CAG, CBI or CVC. The Commission looks into the complaints of corruption in a very judicious manner. Any file that comes to us, we find vigilance or non-vigilance angle in it and only in vigilance cases we proceed with punishment,” he told PTI in an interview. Bhasin, a former Chairman and Managing Director of Indian Bank, said there is no “witch hunting”.”Wherever we see a corruption case, we refer it to the CBI for probe. There is no witch hunting,” the Vigilance Commissioner said. He said the Commission checks malafide complaints against certain bureaucrats when they are being considered for some appointments. “Only anonymous complaints are filed. In case of verifiable allegations in pseudonymous and other complaints, we first send it to the complainant to own it up. “In most of the cases, our letters return as the complainants usually give wrong address or information to misguide us or to delay vigilance clearance to a bureaucrat which is necessary for being considered for a post, appointment or empanelment. We are following a differential approach in all these cases,” Bhasin said. The Chief Vigilance Officers (CVOs), who act as distant arms of the CVC, have also been following a very careful approach while deciding on corruption cases, he said. The Commission, he said, is also taking steps to check delay in finalising corruption cases. “We are in the process of making a data bank of pending cases. We have asked our CVOs to prepare this data and wherever possible expedite pending corruption cases. There are vigilance cases as old as 10-15 years. We are meeting CVOs of all organisations one by one,” Bhasin said. A recent study by the CVC has found that it takes as many as eight years to decide a major corruption case. The anti-corruption watchdog tenders First Stage Advice (FSA) on the investigation report and Second Stage Advice (SSA) before a final decision is taken at the conclusion of the proceedings on approximately 5,000 vigilance cases every year. “On an average, it takes more than eight years for finalising a major vigilance case from the date of occurrence of irregularity, whereas detection of irregularity takes on an average more than two years,” the study has found. “The CVC will reduce this time to bare minimum and ensure that corruption cases are finalised expeditiously,” Bhasin said. (New Indian Express 27/9/15)


186.  ‘Focus on zero emission of greenhouse gases’ (9)

Tuticorin: The Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC), a global forum studying climate change, recommended that there should be zero emission of greenhouse gases by 2100 to avoid further rise in temperature, according to R.S. Sawant, Training Superintendent and Chairman, Public Awareness Committee, Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project, Nuclear Power Corporation of India limited. During his keynote address at the State-level seminar on ‘Nuclear Power- A Safe, Clean and Sustainable Option’ at Kamaraj College here on Thursday, he said currently the largest proportion of power generated in India is by burning of carbon-based fuels (fossil fuels), which emits green house gases such as carbon dioxide, sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxide. To reduce emission of green house gases, it was essential to have a reliable alternate source of energy, he said. In the present scenario, nuclear power was contributing only about three percent in the country’s power generation scenario, he added. By increasing the nuclear capacity gradually and also with renewable energy resources, dependency on fossil fuels could be reduced. As many as 4,57,051 million units of electricity were produced through nuclear energy technology since the beginning of commercial operation in India in 1969 and till October in 2014. About one third of the world’s thorium reserves were in India and it has the potential to provide energy security. This large scale thorium utilisation would go a long way in providing huge amounts of power on a sustainable basis, providing long term energy security for India, he said. P. Pandaram, Head of TLD Lab, KNPP, D. Nagarajan, Principal, A. Sivadhas, Head, Department of Physics, J. Poongodi, Convener of Programme and students were present. (The Hindu 11/9/15)

187. Groundwater extraction: NGT acts tough, 14 builders get notice (9)

NEW DELHI: Unauthorized harnessing of groundwater for construction purposes has caught the National Green Tribunal’s attention which has issued notice to 14 builders in Delhi-NCR for extracting water flouting rules. A bench headed by NGT chairperson justice Swatanter Kumar passed the order after perusing inspection reports filed by the local commissioners who conducted surprise visits on construction sites in Delhi-NCR and found serious impropriety in relation to use of water.The construction projects which have been issued notice include – BPTP Ltd, Sector-94, Noida; Sunshine Trade Tower Pvt Ltd; J C World Hospitality Pvt Ltd; Wish Town, Sector-128, Noida; Assotech Reality Pvt Ltd; Three C Properties Private Limited, D-107, Pancheel Enclave, New Delhi; Sikka KG One, Sector-98, Noida. Other projects include – Silicon City Pvt Ltd; Mahagun India Pvt Ltd; Gaur Sons Hitech Infrastructure Pvt Ltd Pancheel Greens-II, Greater Noida West; Kbnows Nirman Ltd JMC Projects (India) Ltd; Era Infra Engineers Ltd and ASF Insignia, SEZ, Gwal Pahari in Gurgaon. The green panel has also directed Central Ground Water Authority, Central Pollution Control Board, pollution monitoring bodies of Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana, Noida Authority, Haryana Development Authority and Yamuna Expressway Industrial Development Authority to constitute different teams comprising senior officers from each organisation. “These inspecting teams shall inspect all major construction projects in Delhi, Gurgaon, NOIDA/Greater NOIDA and Faridabad and they shall report to the Tribunal,” the bench said. The tribunal was hearing the plea of Noida resident Vikrant Kumar Tongad who has alleged that real estate developers were withdrawing ground water in violation of its orders. Tongad said that the real estate developers in Noida have been extracting groundwater using borewells for construction purposes instead of using water from the sewage treatment plants. (Times of India 13/9/15)

188. Green Tribunal says no to thermal power plant at Nayachar (9)

Kolkata: The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Wednesday disallowed a proposed thermal power plant at Nayachar in East Midnapore district owing to geomorphology of the island and lack of clearance from the Ministry of Environment and Forests. The Eastern Bench of NGT, presided by Justice (Retd.) Pratap Kumar Ray and Prof P. C. Mishra, directed that the coal-based thermal power plant cannot come up on the riverine island owing to its geomorphology or topographical features. Located at the confluence of the Ganges and Haldi Rivers, the 47 sq km Nayachar Island is within 10 km of Sundarbans Biosphere Reserve which is one of the world’s richest in terms of biodiversity. The NGT bench also noted that the affidavits of the Ministry of Environment and Forest and Climate Change on Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) criteria prohibit any such construction within a specified distance from the waterline. The order declining permission for the plant was also based on an affidavit filed by the Geological Survey of India. Universal Crescent Power, a private sector company, had in 2008 sent a proposal to West Bengal government to set up a coal-based thermal power plant on Nayachar island opposite Haldia port. The State government had then signed an MoU with the company for setting up of the unit. Thirteen fishermen’s cooperative society had filed a writ petition before the Calcutta High Court seeking an order against setting up of the power plant claiming that it violated CRZ norms and that it would cause an environmental hazard. The matter was later transferred to the NGT which heard out the parties in the petition, according to the cooperative societies’ counsel Debamitra Bhardwaj. The bench further ruled that the fishermen would be allowed to continue with their livelihood and Benfish, an apex body of all primary fishermen’s co-operative societies in the State, should take steps for continuation of Integrated Brackish Water Aqua Culture Development Project at Nayachar. (The Hindu 17/9/15)

189. Study: Air pollution kills 3.3 million worldwide, may double (9)

WASHINGTON: Air pollution is killing 3.3 million people a year worldwide, according to a new study that includes this surprise: Farming plays a large role in smog and soot deaths in industrial nations. Scientists in Germany, Cyprus, Saudi Arabia and Harvard University calculated the most detailed estimates yet of the toll of air pollution, looking at what caused it. The study also projects that if trends don’t change, the yearly death total will double to about 6.6 million a year by 2050. The study, published Wednesday in the journal Nature, used health statistics and computer models. About three quarters of the deaths are from strokes and heart attacks, said lead author Jos Lelieveld at the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry in Germany. The findings are similar to other less detailed pollution death estimates, outside experts said. “About 6 per cent of all global deaths each occur prematurely due to exposure to ambient air pollution. This number is higher than most experts would have expected, say, 10 years ago,” said Jason West, a University of North Carolina environmental sciences professor who wasn’t part of the study but praised it. Air pollution kills more than HIV and malaria combined, Lelieveld said. With nearly 1.4 million deaths a year, China has the most air pollution fatalities, followed by India with 645,000 and Pakistan with 110,000. The United States, with 54,905 deaths in 2010 from soot and smog, ranks seventh highest for air pollution deaths. What’s unusual is that the study says that agriculture caused 16,221 of those deaths, second only to 16,929 deaths blamed on power plants. (Times of India 17/9/15)

190. Climate change: India to unveil plan on October 1 (9)

NEW DELHI: India’s nationally determined contributions to mitigate climate change are likely to be unveiled on October 1 and will promote renewable energy, enhanced energy efficiency, less carbon intensive urban centres, green transport and abatement of pollution. India’s strategy ahead of the climate summit in Paris in December will be firmly anchored in the principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities” and will clearly project India’s financial, technology transfer and capacity building requirements. India, along with several other developing countries, has been a vocal advocate of developed nations doing their bit to transfer mitigation technology and green innovations in keeping with their historical responsibility for global warming. The intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs) are expected to reflect initiatives in agriculture, water management, health and programmes for coastal regions and islands. Disaster management, protection of ecological diversity and the Himalayan eco-system will be dealt with by the Indian announcement. The Indian plan will seek a connection with Mahatma Gandhi’s ideal of sustainable and equitable lifestyles. It believes that while poverty is a big polluter, profligate consumption is a grave threat to the environment. The approach appears to reflect the views of environmental economists who argue that nature is both a resource and a sink and replenishment and less wasteful consumption are essential to ensure balanced growth. The document will be read with interest as India is under pressure to do more to control warming as a large and rapidly developing nation. On its part, India has said that its per capita carbon imprint cannot be compared to nations like China which is the world’s largest manufacturer and emitter of greenhouse gases. The government is looking to address contributions that include adaptation, mitigation, finance, technology transfer, capacity building and balances the need for reducing pollution and GHGs while catering to the growth needs of a large population. Environment and forests minister Prakash Javadekar has stressed that India’s right to grow cannot be curtailed even as it undertakes serious initiatives to reduce its carbon dioxide production. “In fact, the more developed countries should vacate carbon space for countries like India,” he has said. Ahead of the preparation of INDCs, the government has engaged in a wide and detailed consultative process involving various departments and civil society organizations. The government also carried out GHG modeling studies with three institutions to generate projections of emissions till 2050. (Times of India 24/9/15)

191. Delhi’s air worst among 381 cities: World Bank (9)

NEW DELHI: The latest World Bank report on leveraging urbanisation in South Asia has identified “air pollution” as a big challenge for major cities in the region, including Delhi.While Delhi is the worst among 381 cities from developing countries, 19 of the 20 most polluted cities are from South Asia, the report said quoting the recent findings of World Health Organisation report on ambient air pollution. The report also mentions how for the “very poorest in Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Pakistan, under-five mortality is higher in urban areas than in rural settings”.Referring to the WHO report with regard to the level of Particulate Matter (PM) 2.5 in the ambient air in cities, the World Bank said that of all the sources of congestion associated with the growth of cities, one of the most serious for health and human welfare is ambient air pollution from vehicle emissions and the burning of fossil fuels by industry. High concentrations of fine particulate matter, especially that of 2.5 microns or less in diameter (PM 2.5), which can penetrate deep into the lungs, increases the likelihood of asthma, lung cancer, severe respiratory illness, and heart disease. “Delhi is far from unique in South Asia in having dangerously high concentrations of PM2.5. Among a global sample of 381 developing-country cities, 19 of the 20 with the highest annual mean concen trations are in South Asia.And the issue is not just in India -Karachi, Dhaka, and Kabul all feature in the top 20,” the World Bank report said. It said given the lack of availability of and access to clean public transport in India, one can speculate that, for any given increase in demand for mobility associated with a given increase in population density , more air pollution will occur there than elsewhere. (Times of India 25/9/15)

192. Greenpeace asks PM Modi to press Obama on solar trade, climate change issues (9)

New York/ New Delhi: Ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speech to the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), Greenpeace published an open letter asking the Prime Minister to “urge President Obama to reconsider his administration’s actions that significantly undermine the fight against climate change.” Greenpeace also expressed support for India’s ambitious new renewable energy goals, and the hope that Modi “will secure much-needed support from global partners, civil society and investors including the United States administration to realise these renewable energy goals.” The letter also asks Prime Minister Modi to “take note of the campaign of intimidation that the Indian Ministry of Home Affairs is currently engaged in against Greenpeace India and other legitimate NGOs.” The UN Special Rapporteur has recently criticised India’s actions in suppressing civil society and ‘vilifying’ voices of dissent.” Over the last year, the Ministry of Home Affairs has frozen Greenpeace India’s bank accounts, prevented Greenpeace staff (including Indian citizens) from entering and leaving the country and cancelled the group’s license to receive donations from abroad. In fact, on the very eve of the Prime Minister’s address to the United Nations, the organisation’s primary bank account was frozen, once again denying Greenpeace access to donations received directly from its Indian supporters. These actions, the letter states, threaten to tarnish India’s international standing as a country that respects free speech and democracy. As the letter points out, when it comes to tackling climate change and meeting the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, a healthy dialogue with civil society can significantly strengthen government’s’ efforts to hold developed countries to their climate obligations, and uphold the rights of developing nations such as India. (New Kerala 25/9/15)


193. State government gets into active mode (20)

HYDERABAD: Alarmed at suicide by fifteen distressed farmers in the last two days, the Telangana government on Friday tightened its machinery asking all the Assistant Directors and Agricultural Officers in the State to stay put in their headquarters to be easily accessible to the farming community and liberalised steps for renewal of crop loans. Though the government has only repaid to banks 50 per cent of the loans borrowed by farmers in the past as part of the loan waiver scheme, it has asked Mandal Revenue Officers and banks to issue separate certificates that 100 per cent of the loan amount was waived off to facilitate fresh borrowings. All the 4,900 bank branches in the State were asked to renew loans without interest up to Rs. 1 lakh and at 3 per cent for loans from Rs. 1 lakh to Rs. 3 lakh, said Agriculture Minister Pocharam Srinivas Reddy and Roads and Buildings Minister Tummala Nageswara Rao at a press conference here on Friday. They earlier held a video conference with Joint Directors of Agriculture of all districts to review the situation at the ground level. Agriculture Secretary C. Parthasarathi and Commissioner G.D. Priyadarshini were also present. Mr. Srinivas Reddy played down the suicide turmoil saying it was nothing new as hundreds of farmers died during the Congress regime from 2009 to 2014. The official committees set up at revenue divisional level certified suicide by only 141 farmers since the formation of Telangana State in June last year. However, there were 409 reported deaths which the panels are scrutinising, he added. The 141 farmers who died include 14 in Adilabad, 9 in Karimnagar, 8 in Mahbubnagar, 67 in Medak, 16 in Ranga Reddy and 27 in Warangal. Denying that crop had dried up due to scanty rainfall this season, he said there was no damage to crop in Warangal, Adilabad, Khammam and Nalgonda. The crop damage was a little high in Mahbubnagar and to a less extent in Nizamabad, Medak and Ranga Reddy. He admitted there was the danger of less yield because flowering of crop had suffered due to lack of rains in July. (The Hindu 12/9/15)

194. Farmers are just pawns in political games (20)

Nagpur: The Nationalist Congress Party is resorting to a ‘jail-bharo’ agitation from Monday in Marathwada where spectre of drought looms large Much before that, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, trying to relaunch himself took up a 15-km walk in sweltering April heat of Vidarbha to show solidarity with farmers. As these two incidents prove, farmers come to the rescue of any political party that is in Opposition. For over five decades farmers are being used as pawns in political games. As a result the state has achieved notoriety again as one with highest number of farmer suicides as per the National Crime Records Bureau data of last year. On September 23, NCP supremo Sharad Pawar will be touring villages in suicide-prone Yavatmal villages of Vidarhha. He has already visited Marathwada where farm suicides are on rise. Since farming community comprises over 65% of population, taking up their cause is natural for parties. Yet, it is ironical that in the otherwise progressive state, farmers are the most hapless lot. Such political pressure mounted by the Opposition tends to often change priorities of the government of the day. Last year, soon after taking over the reins chief minister Devendra Fadnavis announced he would concentrate on long-term measures to end the farm crisis instead of short term annual relief for crop losses. Yet he was forced to declare drought in over 30,000 villages in the state. There are officials who found that except soyabean, yields of other crops were not that bad last year. In current kharif season too, official are vouching for a bumper crop of cotton in Vidarhha as well as Marathwada. The opposition parties, however, are crying hoarse for urgent relief claiming all crops have suffered. The Congress is already agitating for total loan waiver of all dues of farmers and compensation as well as interest-free crop loans for next crop. They also want Rs6,000 a quintal price for cotton. Despite their numbers, farmers have never been able to decide their own political destiny in the state and have to rely on Opposition parties. In 90s Shetkari Sanghatana led by Sahard Joshi was the most powerful voice. His call would bring out farmers in lakhs for protest and rallies. Yet, when Joshi tried to form a political party of his own, he miserably failed. (Times of India 13/9/15)

195. AP tobacco farmers in distress as unsold inventory piles up (20)

The Tobacco market in Andhra Pradesh is in a crisis as there are no takers for the low grades and prices are plummeting on the auction floors for such grades. Two suicides have been reported from Prakasam district and Chief Minister N Chandra Babu Naidu has urged farmers not to lose heart and assured them that steps will be taken to address the problem. The authorised crop for the State is 172 million kg for 2014-15 and so far 141 mkg of tobacco has been sold on the floors at an average price of ₹103.64 a kg. Still, 30 mkg more of authorised crop is yet to be sold, and to make matters worse there is a surplus of at least 20 mkg. In all, 50 mkg of tobacco is lying with farmers, much of it low grade. The auctions have been sluggish from the start of the year and now in the concluding phase, the going has become very difficult. There are no takers for the low grades and low prices are being offered, making it unremunerative for the farmers. The problem is especially acute in Prakasam and Nellore districts in the southern light soils and southern black soils. The best tobacco in the State is produced in West Godavari in the northern light soils (NLS).So far, 50 mkg of tobacco has been sold in the NLS area in West Godavari district and there may be 15 mkg more left with farmers in the district including 3 mkg of surplus. The problem has not affected the region as bright grades are more prominent. Quality of the crop has dipped in Prakasam and Nellore districts and prices realised on the floors are very low. The farmers want at least ₹65 a kg for such tobacco. They also want the Tobacco Board to take steps to reactivate the market and want no punitive cess imposed on the unauthorised crop as it would accentuate the problems of farmers. (Business Line 15/9/15)

196. Suicides by tobacco growers turn spotlight on crisis (20)

GUNTUR/ONGOLE/VIJAYAWADA: Even as the Tobacco Board was grappling with carryover stocks and poor prices of low and medium grades, the suicide of two farmers — Bollineni Krishna Rao and Venkat Rao — within two days in Prakasam district, turned the spotlight on the crisis. The Flue Cured Virginia (FCV) Tobacco trade in Andhra Pradesh had been hit by a volatile global market and as prices of low and medium grade tobacco plummeted rapidly farmers began to feel the pinch. Meanwhile, the farmers’ organisation in Prakasam district welcomed the Union Minister’s decision. The inaction of the Tobacco Board under stewardship of Mr. Gopal to come to the rescue of the growers was responsible for the two farmer suicides, said CPI-led All India Kisan Sabha State general secretary Ravula Venkaiah. YSR Congress Whip in Parliament Y.V. Subba Reddy said had the Centre taken action against the Chairman earlier, the suicides could have been averted. Former MP Y. Sivaji said the Tobacco Board and the State Trading Corporation should be pressed into action to create buoyancy in the market. Minimum guaranteed price should be announced so that the farmers could make up their mind before growing tobacco in a particular year, he said. (The Hindu 17//9/15)

197. Punjab cotton growers lost Rs 3,800 crore: Farmer outfits (20)

BATHINDA: Farmers and peasant outfits continued to protest for the fifth day on Monday seeking compensation of Rs 40,000 per acre for cotton growers whose crops were destroyed by whitefly. On Monday, farmers took out a massive march to the office of Bathinda chief agriculture officer. They raised their voice against companies for providing spurious pesticides and agriculture department officials, agriculture minister Tota Singh for giving freedom to the input firms to fleece and cheat the farmers. “Cotton crop over 9 lakh acres has been damaged due to whitefly and the loss of farmers is nearly Rs 3,800 crore in Punjab, but the state government till now has sanctioned only Rs 10 crore. It is not only a cruel joke with the cotton growers, but also a step towards forcing farmers to commit suicides,” said farmer organization BKU (Ekta Ugrahan) general secretary Sukhdev Singh Kokri. He said five farmers have committed suicide in less than a month in Bathinda and Barnala districts and more may follow suit if the state government failed to compensate the farmers. “Spurious pesticides provided by companies and fake seeds are mainly responsible for the losses to cotton growers,” said BKU (Ekta Dakaunda) president Buta Singh Burjgill. BKU (Krantikari) chief Surjit Singh Phool said, “The agriculture minister is also equally responsible for the order of 92,000 litres of Oberon pesticides worth Rs 33 crore without initiating any tendering process, but action has been taken against only agriculture department director Mangal Singh Sandhu.” When contacted the agriculture minister denied the charges levelled by farm leaders. He said he had ordered investigations into purchase of pesticides without the tendering process. He also said compensation amount would be finalized after the completion of girdawari (revenue survey) later in the week. (Times of India 22/9/15)

198. Four persons commit suicide (20)

NALGONDA: Four persons committed suicide in separate incidents in the district on Wednesday. Paramesh (32), working as a field assistant with MNREGS at Dugyala village of PA Pally mandal, committed suicide by consuming pesticide. The police reportedly found a suicide note in which the field assistant held the local MPDO responsible. A case was registered. In another incident, a weaver committed suicide at Vellanki village of Rammannapet mandal. The deceased was identified as Jella Ramaswamy (50). At Chowlla Ramaram village of Mothkur mandal, a farmer committed suicide by consuming pesticide. The deceased was identified as Mettu Krupakar Reddy (41). In another incident, a 22-year-old woman committed suicide by consuming pesticide at Bariavanibanda village of Shaligouraram mandal. (The Hindu 24/9/15)

199. Farmer suicides continue unabated in Telangana (20)

SANGAREDDY: Driven to despair by mounting debts, three farmers committed suicide in Medak district in the last 24 hours while one ended his life in Khammam district. According to sources, Bheema Narayana, a farmer belonging to Singatam village in Gajwel mandal, committed suicide by hanging. According to sources, he had about Rs. 6 lakh debt, out of which about Rs. 4 lakh was with the APGVB local branch. He had about four acres of land and had dug four borewells but all of them failed. In addition, the cotton crop had completely dried up. Unable to find a way out, Bheema Narayana took the extreme step. He is survived by his wife and two sons. Gajwel police have registered a case and are investigating. In another case, G. Ramulu (45), of Munipally, committed suicide late last night at a farm, unable to bear the pressure of debt. According to S. Koteswara Rao, Sub-Inspector, Munipally, Ramulu had about eight acres of land along with his family members and leased out another three acres from others. He had invested heavily on cotton crop, which dried up. Vexed with financial problems, Ramulu hanged himself. Munipally police registered a case and are investigating. In the third case, S. Kavitha (30), a farmer of Dakur village in Andol mandal, committed suicide by self-immolation on Friday. According to Sub-Inspector P. Srinivas, Kavitha had four acres of land and committed suicide by immolation. The reasons for suicide are not known. Jogipet police registered a case and are investigating. Khammam Staff Reporter adds: A tenant farmer allegedly killed himself by drinking pesticide at Narayanapuram village on the intervening night of Thursday and Friday. According to sources, P. Bhaskar Rao, 38, a tenant farmer, had grown cotton and other crops on five acres of leased land by taking loans from private moneylenders. His efforts did not bear fruit as a major part of the crops withered due to the prolonged dry spell. The successive crop failure for the second year in a row landed him in a debt-trap. He took the drastic step after making desperate attempts to tide over the financial crisis, but in vain, sources close to the deceased farmer’s family said. (The Hindu 26/9/15)

200. Farmers to Block Roads in Protest Against Govt Apathy (20)

MYSURU: In protest against the state and Union governments’ ‘failure’ to check farmer  suicides, groups of farmers have planned to block highways on September 30 between 11 am and 3 pm. Announcing this here on Sunday, Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha general secretary Nagendra said they will block the Mysuru-Nanjangud highway near Bandipalya while farmers from Chamrajnagar will block highways in Gundlupet and Kollegal. Mandya farmers will block the highway at Srirangapatna and Maddur while Hassan farmers will block the highway at Bhuvanahalli and farmers in Kodagu district will block the highway at Gonikoppa. He said, “Only ambulances or vehicles carrying those needing medical help will be allowed to pass and all other vehicles will be stopped.” He also appealed to the public to extend support to the farmers’ stir. The farmers’ leader warned that failure to check the incidents of suicides and to keep agriculture out of the World Trade Organisation’s ambit will push farmers to mass suicide. Nagendra said many farmers’ organisations from other states too have extended support to the stir. He urged the government to waive agriculture loans, fix scientific prices for farmers’ produce and introduce a new loan policy. He said the Union government, that has control over fertilisers and sugar, should also act responsibly. Demanding that the government constitute the National Agriculture Wages Commission to protect farmers’ families, he said that the KRRS would press for a national water policy. Drinking water should be a national priority and sufficient funds must be released to Karnataka to tackle the drought situation. The Prime Minister must intervene to resolve the Kalasa-Banduri issue and to stop discharge of Kabini-Cauvery waters to Tamil Nadu, he added. (New Indian Express 28/9/15)


201. Governor urged not to give nod to land bill (4)

BHUBANESWAR: The civil society members on Thursday urged Governor S C Jamir not to give assent to the Odisha Government Land Grabbing (Prohibition) Bill, 2015, recently passed by the assembly. On August 27, the BJD government reportedly passed the bill hurriedly in the absence of opposition. The bill has a provision which says unauthorized occupation by any person is a crime and cognizable offence and he or she can attract jail term up to seven years with a fine of Rs 20,000. “It poses a serious threat to the land rights and livelihood of dalits, tribals, daily-wage earners, slum dwellers and land-less marginal farmers of the state,” said former minister Panchanan Kanungo, who submitted a memorandum to the governor on the matter. Alleging the state government passed the bill illegally, the Congress had also moved the governor and urged him not to give nod to the bill. (Times of India 11/9/15)

202. Highest Compensation Announced for Airport Oustees (4)

VIZIANAGARAM: Deputy collector, Land Acquisition, Bhogapuram Airport R Srilatha informed that objections, if any, against the land acquisition for Green Field International Airport will be received till October 31. The notification for the same was released on September 1. Addressing a press conference here Friday along with another deputy collector K Balatripurasundari, and Vizianagaram RDO Srinivasa Murthy, Srilatha said that the State Government is acquiring a total of 5,311 acres for the airport in which the assigned land extent was 979 and government land was 646 acres. According to the new Land Acquisition Act, the oustees would be paid highest remuneration. Notices would be served from Saturday onwards to farmers in the villages. Compensation would also be paid to commercial crops and if, there were any timber trees, the forest officials would asses the value and pay accordingly. The R&B Department would asses the value of the constructions like houses etc., For land, the government would pay two-and-a-half times on the market value and for trees and constructions, two times against the assessed value will be paid. Balatripurasundari has said that the families who lost their houses for the airport would be given `2.5 lakh, financial help of `5 lakh, temporarily allowance `3,000 per month for one year. Shifting charges of `50,000 to move from the village to the rehabilitation place would be paid. A compensation amount of `25,000 would be paid for each cattle shed and small-time vendors. The government would also pay `50,000 for re-settlement in the rehabilitation colonies. (New Indian Express 12/9/15)

203. Church unhappy with rehabilitation steps (4)

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The government has failed to give a convincing answer on measures planned to rehabilitate fishermen who will be displaced with the setting up of Vizhinjam International Deepwater Seaport project, Soosa Pakiam M., Thiruvananthapuram archbishop of the Latin Catholic Church, has said, Inaugurating a seminar on ‘Vizhinjam port and problems in fisheries sector,’ he said the Church from the initial stages itself was not against the port project but was only concerned about its environmental impact on coastal areas and the possible impact on the livelihood of fisherfolks.Studies had pointed towards devastating impact of the project on the coast and displacement of fishermen, he said, adding that the government had so far not able to convince the fishermen on measures put in place to rehabilitate them. (The Hindu 13/9/15)

204. CBI takes over probe of alleged irregularities in Haryana land acquisition (4)

GURGAON: The CBI on Thursday took over the probe into the alleged irregularities in purchase of land from farmers and other owners in Manesar area of Haryana. The case pertains to the government acquiring around 400 acres of land from villagers in Manesar, Naurangpur and Lakhnoulaat of Gurgaon district at throwaway prices through a nexus between officials and private builders during the tenure of former chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda. It is alleged that the land was taken under the threat of acquisition by the government at cheap rates. The case was registered under sections 420, 465, 467, 468, 471 & 120-B of the Indian Penal Code and section 13 of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 against unknown public servants of Haryana Government and unknown private persons on the request of Haryana government and further directions of the government of India. It may be noted that the Manesar police had registered a case under the same sections on August 12 this year. The local police had sent the complete file to higher authorities. An order was passed by the competent authority i.e. the director of industries on 24.08.2007 for releasing this land from the acquisition process. The land was released in violation of the government policy, in favour of the builders, their companies and agents, instead of the original land owners, reads the CBI statement. “In this process, initially, the Haryana government had issued notification udner sections 4, 6 and 9 of Land Acquisition Act for acquisition of land measuring about 912 acres for setting up a model industrial township at Villages Manesar, Naurangpur and Lakhnoula. After that, all the land was allegedly grabbed from the land owners by the private builders under the threat of acquisition at meager rates. Land measuring about 400 acres whose market value at that time was above Rs 4 crore per acre (approx) was allegedly purchased by the private builders and others from unsuspecting land owners for only about Rs 100 crores(approx). “The case has been registered against unknown public servants of the Haryana government and private persons under various sections of IPC dealing with cheating and forgery and Prevention of Corruption Act on the request of Haryana government and directions of government of India”, said RK Gaur, press information officer of CBI. (Times of India 17/9/15)

205. Odisha govt to float special unit to ease worries for steel sector (4)

Bhubaneswar: The Odisha government has planned to form a special steel directorate to ease problems faced by the units with respect to land acquisition and raw material availability and also draw more investments in the sector. Chief minister Naveen Patnaik has already given his nod for the directorate. “The steel directorate will be formed on the lines of the existing mines directorate. It will address the whole gamut of problems faced by the steel industries”, said state steel & mines minister Prafulla Mallick. Industry watchers feel the move to form the steel directorate stems from ArcelorMittal’s decision to abort its mega steel project in the state and also Posco’s recent announcement to temporarily freeze its proposed $12 billion steel mill near Paradeep. The steel directorate would be headed by an officer of the rank of additional secretary. The new directorate, which will only work on issues pertaining to the steel industry, plans to appoint a Steel Consultant from the corporate sector. The consultant would advise the state government on attracting investment into the state and towards solving the issues faced by the industry. Odisha has seen a rush of investment proposals in the steel sector. The state government has signed MoUs (memorandum of understanding) with 48 players, envisaging a combined capacity of 83 million tonne with investments totaling to over Rs two lakh crore. Steel units have already grounded investments of the order of Rs 1.2 lakh crore. However, they were grappling with an array of problems like unavailability of ore at optimal prices, steep logistics cost of ore and high water cess. (Business Standard 21/9/15)

206. Land acquisition may eat up Pothepalli’s green peppers (4)

POTHEPALLI: One of the villages likely to be wiped out by the Machilipatnam port project is this tiny village 3 km from the town. Blessed with a sandy soil that is the right blend of loam, 50 farmers in this village cultivate a prized variety of green bell peppers, the vegetable we know as capsicum, on their 30 acres of land. The green bell pepper is a cultivar of the species we know as Capsicum annuum . One of the few places in the country where this vegetable of high commercial value is grown, Pothepalli now lies under the cloud of land acquisition for the Machilipatnam port project, for which 14,500 acres are being taken over. The farmers take pride in their capsicums, claiming that the cultivar they grow is not cultivated anywhere else but in Haveri in Karnataka. “Once, farmers in the neighbouring coastal villages tried to grow this variety in their sandy fields but they could not succeed. Nobody quite knows why, but this variety of green bell peppers seems to be at home in Pothepalli,”” says a senior farmer, Kagita Arjun. Horticulture officer J. Jyothi says the variety grown here is an open-pollinated seed and not the usual hybrid variety. It is prone to many diseases, and that’s the reason farmers avoid the risk. The farmers of Pothepalli have perfected the art of managing that risk and prospered for it, she says. “We have no clue on how the seed came to the village and how these farmers learnt to nurse the variety. The farmers have learnt to leave their fields fallow for one season so that the soil fertility is retained.” It’s high-cost cultivation. Just the input costs and the irrigation can go up to Rs. 50,000 per acre, says Katikela Rajesh, a tenant farmer and exporter. He is a young farmer who exports the variety to markets in Karnataka and Visakhapatnam and the Godavari districts in Andhra Pradesh. The returns are high too, if risky. The profits can range up to Rs 1 lakh per acre. The majority of these farmers are tenants, and the lease is as high as Rs. 30,000 per acre per season. Harvests are a continuing affair, something twice a week, says farmer K. Hari. (The Hindu 24/9/15)

207. Employ woman whose family lost land to MSEZ: HC (4)

Bengaluru: In a relief to a 25-year-old woman hailing from a family that lost its land to the Mangalore Special Economic Zone Ltd. (MSEZ) projects, the Karnataka High Court has directed the Indian Strategic Petroleum Reserves Limited (ISPRL) to employ her immediately. Not just that, the ISPRL has been asked to provide proper training, if necessary, to Raksha, a resident of MSEZ Colony, Thokur, near Mangaluru, and also pay her a monthly stipend of Rs. 10,000 during the training period. The ISPRL is a Special Purpose Vehicle — wholly-owned subsidiary of Oil Industry Development Board (OIDB). It is constructing 1.5 million-tonne strategic crude oil storage facilities on an area of around 105 acres at a cost of Rs. 1,227 crore near Mangaluru as part of the MSEZ projects. A Division Bench comprising Acting Chief Justice Subhro Kamal Mukherjee and Justice B.V. Nagarathna issued the directions recently while refusing to accept the claim of ISPRL that Ms. Raksha was not qualified for employment in the company and hence, she should opt for Rs. 3 lakh additional compensation offered in lieu of employment. The Bench found that terms under one MSEZ scheme makes it clear that it would be the duty of the companies, in whose favour acquired land were allotted, to give training to members of land-losing families if they were found to be not qualified for employment in the companies. Such members are also to be paid Rs. 10,000 as monthly stipend during the training period. ISPRL was supposed to accommodate 58 land losers in its company. It is an admitted position that not even a single appointment was made by the company. The ISPRL is enjoying the acquired land. Therefore, it cannot shirk from its responsibility to appoint members of such families or impart them training or pay them stipend, the Bench observed. (The Hindu 25/9/15)

208. Sector 107 Buyers’ Struggle For Justice (4)

NOIDA: Over 500 homebuyers from five different residential projects of Sector 107, which are now stalled, gathered within the sector’s premises on Sunday to protest against ‘victimisation’ by builders and Noida Authority. The buyers claim that they have been left in the lurch after a Supreme Court order quashed the land acquisition of 225 hectares in Sallarpur Village of Gautam Budh Nagar that comprises Sector 107, in 2013. There are close to 5000 apartments spread over the five stalled builder projects in the area. The buyers bought the flats in 2010-11 in Noida’s Sec107 Sallarpur Village. Noida Authority acquired land in the year 2008 -2009 under an urgency clause of the Land Acquisition Act which was challenged by the farmers, first in the Allahabad high court and then in the Supreme Court. The apex court quashed the acquisition in an order on August 5, 2013. In fact not just the 225 acre of acquired land, the SC cancelled the entire notification of Sallarpur village. But the construction continued full swing even after the order. The builders went to SC for a review petition of the order. The SC sent the case back to Allahabad high court for a review. Then an Allahabad high court order in June 2014 stopped all construction in Sector 107 and imposed status-quo. The projects have been hanging in suspended animation ever since. The next hearing of the Allahabad High court lies on September 30. The Allahabad High court is supposed to complete all review hearing and submit a report with the Supreme Court by mid-October. “Nobody thinks of the buyers’ plight when such decisions are taken. When the order was passed in 2013, most projects were close to completion. The buyers had almost paid up anything between 75-90 percent of project prices. Now for the last one year, the projects have been stalled and the buildings are slowly getting damaged due to weather exposure,” Puneet Parashar, a buyer said. “The Supreme Court in August 2013, declared the land acquisition illegal. However it was only brought to public attention when the Allahabad High Court passed a judgment in June, 2014. Construction in the housing project first slowed down and then completely stopped. Owners were kept in the dark about these developments with no notice given by either Noida Authority or the builders. RTIs filed were ignored and those answered were diverted to different departments,” Arun Kalra, another buyer mentioned. The buyers are now hoping for a position resolution of the issue. “We need clarity. Either we get our houses, or we get our full money with interest back, because the buyers had nothing to do with the acquisition,” Kalra added. The buyers sent up a hydrogen balloon in the sky with a message to draw attention to the problem of Sector 107 buyers. (Times of India 27/9/15)


209. Government takes Siddha route to bring down MMR and IMR (3)

TRICHY: The new kit containing 11 types of Siddha medicines to be issued under the ‘Amma Magapperu Sanjeevi’ (Amma Maternity Medicines) scheme to pregnant women may reduce maternal mortality rate (MMR) and infant mortality rate (IMR) in the state. Though Tamil Nadu is claimed to be one of the best performing states in terms of health and family welfare, reducing MMR and IMR remain a challenging task for the government. The scheme was recently launched by chief minister J Jayalalithaa. The kit containing 11 Siddha medicines will make the body of a pregnant woman fit for growing a healthy foetus and undergo a normal delivery. The kit will contain madhulai manappagu, karuveppilai podi, nellikkai legiyam, nilavaagai tablet, elathy tablet, annabedhi tablet, ulundhu thailam and pinda thailam (both for external application), paavana panjakula thailam, sataavari thailam (internal) and kunthirika thailam (external). These medicines are aimed at reducing nausea, improving immunity, balancing iron deficiency and remove aches. The kit also has a medicine for the baby after delivery for modulating immune. District siddha medical officer (DSMO) Dr C Sekar, Trichy, said medicines in the kit will provide a one-stop solution to pregnant women. “The concept of providing Siddha medicine kit is to provide a complete solution to issues being faced during and after pregnancy,” he said. The department of AYUSH has circulated a government order regarding the distribution of the kit. However, officials said the scheme will be functional in a month or two. The medicines will be made available free of cost at all the state-run AYUSH centres. In Trichy, the pregnant women can avail the medicine in 52 AYUSH centres. Assistant medical officer (AMO) Dr S Vathsala termed the collection of medicines a ‘synergetic action kit’. “Regular consumption of the medicines would ensure a good result to pregnant women. We appeal to the people to make use of the opportunity to keep them fit and deliver a healthy baby through normal delivery,” Vathsala told ToI. The role of doctors in government hospitals and public health centres in prescribing the kit to patients is expected to popularize Siddha medicines among the people. The Siddha medicine kit for pregnant women was a long-term proposal of the Tamil Nadu Siddha Medical Officers Association (TANSMOA). (Times of India 12/9/15)

210. Govt calls up private doctors to help curb TB (3)

Nagpur: The government plans to tie up with private practitioners to ensure that each tuberculosis (TB) patient takes his daily medicine, minimizing the risk of multi-drug resistant (MDR) TB. As part of this, the union government launched three new initiatives on Monday from Nagpur under the Revised National TB Control Programme (RNTCP) to tackle the disease that kills nearly three lakh patients annually. Maharashtra alone accounts for 10% of the total TB burden of India. Union surface transport minister Nitin Gadkari and Ramtek MP Krupal Tumane launched these scheme, namely ‘Universal access to TB care or UATBC’, TB diagnosis using CBNAAT (cartridge based nucleic acid amplification test) Machine in two hours, and the ’99 DOTS project’ in the presence of senior central, state and civic body officers. Director general of health services, government of India, Dr Jagdish Prasad later told reporters that government is giving 121 CBNAAT machines across the country, including Gadchiroli, Gondia and Chandrapur medical colleges. Another 500 machines will be added in the next two years to detect TB in every patient instead of the 50% diagnosis at present. The second project, ’99 DOTS, aims to reach TB drugs to 99% of the patients, with a family member being made responsible. A missed call will lead to delivery of required medicines, and authorities will also keep track and contact patients to ensure medicine stock is picked up. The UATBC scheme will involve private practitioners in treating patients, since almost 50% patients take treatment in private set up. The physician will be expected to report each TB case to the government, and get 1,000 as remuneration. This scheme has been implemented in cities like Patna in Bihar, Mehsana in Gujarat and Mumbai in Maharashtra. The patients will also get free medicines from private chemists. Indian Medical Association as well as the Chemists and Druggists Associations will be roped in to support the programme. (Times of India 15/9/15)

211. Dengue Toll Mounts to 16, Over 2k Affected by Fever in National Capital (3)

NEW DELHI: With the dengue deaths of two more children, including a three-year-old girl in the past 24 hours, the toll due to the disease has risen to 16 in the capital city, even as the AAP government and the BJP-run civic bodies continue to grapple with fever cases. Neha, a resident of Sangam Vihar in South Delhi, died on Wednesday afternoon at the Saket City Hospital. Her distraught parents alleged that a government hospital and a private nursing home did not provide her proper treatment for dengue. Another death was of a nine-year-old girl Sabreena Fatima, who succumbed to the vector-borne disease at the Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital. Data released by the Delhi government shows that in the last 24 hours, 2,519 people were admitted with fever and related complaints. Of these, 281 were dengue cases. This has been the worst outbreak of the disease in New Delhi in the past five years. Surprisingly though, the AAP government has said that there is no need for panic and appealed to the people to take preventive steps and not to pay attention to ‘rumours’.  Concerned over the rise in dengue cases, the Delhi High Court has asked the Centre and the city government to explain the steps they have taken to contain the disease. A bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Jayant Nath also asked the three municipal corporations and the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) to explain the steps taken by them to control the disease. Terming it a serious issue, the bench issued notice to the Centre, Delhi government, municipal corporations and NDMC, directing them to file a short affidavit before September 24. The court, meanwhile, refrained from ordering an FIR against the directors of hospitals that denied treatment to a dengue-affected seven-year-old boy, who’s grieving parents committed suicide. The plea seeking lodging of an FIR was filed by a law student Gauri Grover, who contended that the boy died due to the callous attitude of the hospitals. Worried over the rapid spread of dengue and non-availability of beds in hospitals, the Home Ministry too reviewed the situation and directed the city government to take all possible steps. Union Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi had called Delhi Chief Secretary K K Sharma in this regard and was briefed about the steps taken by the Delhi government to tackle dengue. “Mehrishi also assured the city government of all Central assistance to handle the situation,” said a Delhi government source. (New Indian Express 18/9/15)

212.  ‘267 malnourished children under the age of six in Udupi district’ (3)

Kripa Alva, chairperson of the Karnataka State Commission for Protection of Child Rights, said recently that there were 267 malnourished children below the age of six in Udupi district. Speaking to presspersons after holding a review meeting here, Ms. Alva said of the 267, 155 were girls. Giving the region-wise break-up of malnourished children in the district, she said there were 14 boys and 19 girls in Udupi, 20 boys and 30 girls in Brahmavar, 65 boys and 80 girls in Kundapur, and 13 boys and 26 girls in Karkala. She said nutritious food is being given to the children in the anganwadis, such as egg and milk on certain days of the week. Their parents are also being given Rs. 750 a year to buy medicines for the children. There are 492 children living with HIV in the district. For a single-parent child, the Department of Women and Child Development gives Rs. 650 a month; if the child is being looked after by relatives, they get Rs. 750 a month. For their education, the children get Rs. 500 annually. As regards child labour, as many as 14 children working as child labourers had been rescued in the district this year. On Ms. Alva’s visit to anganwadis and BCM hostels in Udupi, Padubidri and Karkala, she found the condition in the anganwadis was good. But, the hostels were not up to the mark. She had given directions to improve facilities in the BCM hostel. Answering a query on begging of children at the bus-stands in Udupi and Manipal, she said she would take action on this issue in two months. The commission will also try to popularise the children’s helpline no: 1098, and focus on providing education to children, Ms. Alva said. (The Hindu 20/9/15)

213. Nearly three-fourths of U’khand women have anaemia (3)

DEHRADUN: More than half of Indian women, including those pregnant and breastfeeding, are anaemic, according to a report from the UNICEF. In India, one woman in three between 15 and 49 years of age is malnourished and this proportion is one in two among women in the lowest wealth quintile, the report adds. Prevalence of anaemia among women in this age-group in India is 53%, whereas it is 59% among pregnant women. Among breastfeeding women, the incidence shoots up to 63%, a figure which has triggered alarm bells among health experts. The condition is even more disturbing as far as women in Uttarakhand are concerned. According to top officials of the health directorate, at least 70% of the state’s women are anemic, while among pregnant and breastfeeding women, the figure is not less than 80%. As per the latest data of the health department, pregnant women have moderate category haemoglobin (HB) deficiency, ranging from 7 to 9 in over 95% cases, which is not healthy when it comes to pregnant women. Out of 13 districts of Uttarakhand, most cases of anaemia come from Haridwar, followed by Udham Singh Nagar. Speaking about the reason behind high rate of anaemia among women in plains areas of the state rather than the hills, Archana Shrivastava, additional director of national health mission, said. “Poor family planning, such as not following the suggested norm of at least three years between pregnancies, and lack of literacy in Haridwar and plains regions of Uttarakhand is mainly responsible for this situation. Moreover, these districts have poor general health indicators. Women are married before the age of 21 and have very poor obstetrics history to begin with.” A top surgeon at Doon Women’s Hospital, requesting anonymity, said, “I can’t even recall when I last operated on a pregnant women with HB count of above 11 here. In the worst cases, we have handled ladies who had HB as low as 2 or 3 throughout their pregnancy.” Another reason behind burgeoning anaemia cases in Uttarakhand among pregnant women is their ignorance and lack of antenatal care. “Even if a woman is not anaemic, she has to consume 100 iron tablets during her pregnancy, as per WHO guidelines. This does not happen here,” said Dr Shrivastava. (Times of India 23/9/15)

214. MDG: India to miss target of reducing maternal mortality rate (3)

New Delhi: Despite progress being made on various health indicators, India will miss its target of reducing Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR) and Infant Mortality Rate (IMR). With the Millenium Development Goals (MDGs) reaching their December 2015 deadline, the government on Tuesday revealed that India will miss its target of reducing MMR by 31 points and IMR with a considerable margin. According to National Health Profile 2015, released by Union health minister J.P. Nadda on Tuesday, India will miss the MDG target on maternal mortality to 109 per 1,00,000 live births. “From an estimated MMR (maternal mortality rate) level of 437 per 1,00,000 live births in 1990, India is required to reduce MMR to 109 per 1,00,000 births by 2015. At this pace of decrease, India tends to reach MMR of 140 per 1,00,000 live births by 2015, falling short by 31 points,” the report published by the Central Bureau of Health Intelligence (CBHI) said. It further said that in India, infant mortality rate (IMR), even though is reducing at a sharper rate in the recent years, is likely to miss the MDG target by considerable margin. As per the data, the IMR has reduced by nearly 50 per cent during 1990-2012 and the present level is at 42. However, as per the trend, the IMR is likely to reach 40 deaths per 1,000 live births, missing the MDG target of 27 with a considerable margin, it further stated. The report further revealed that Under Five Mortality Rate (U5MR) has declined from an estimated level of 125 per 1,000 live births in 1990 to 52 in 2012. Given to reduce U5MR to 42 per 1,000 live births by 2015, India tends to reach 49 by 2015, missing the target by seven percentage points. “However, considering the continuance of the sharper annual rate of decline witnessed in the recent years, India is likely to achieve the target,” the executive summary of the report added. The good news is that India made a “considerable” progress in the field of basic universal education, gender equality in education, global economic growth and indicators related to health, the report further disclosed. The MDGs include eight goals and were framed to address the world’s major development challenges with health and its related areas. Union health minister J.P. Nadda said that the present data is an important source of navigation. It helps in understanding the goals, our strengths and weaknesses and it is also an important means to strategise. The health minister further said that the e-book of NHP-2015 is a step towards realising Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of Digital India. (Asian Age 23/9/15)

215. Poor mortality ratio puts U’khand among worst 8 states: Survey (3)

DEHRADUN: Maternal deaths have reduced up to 45% since 1990 across the globe, according to the latest data of World Health Organization (WHO). However, every day approximately 800 women die from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth. India accounts for a huge number of such maternal deaths. As per the annual health survey (AHS), second updation, maternal mortality ratio (MMR) of Uttarkhand is 165 per lakh live births. While Kumaon division has recorded an MMR of 182, Garhwal Garhwal has registered 158 MMR. With these figures, Uttarakhand has been placed among the eight worst MMR states of India. It has been categorized with Assam, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Bihar and Jharkhand for having abnormally high MMR based on Sample registration System (SRS), RGI office, 2013 & 2011-13 reports. In financial year 2014-15, against an estimate maternal deaths of 243, the department has registered 149 deaths out of which majority of deaths, nearly, one-third happened due to haemorrhage – excessive loss of blood. And surprisingly, Haridwar is among the worst MMR cities of Uttarakhand. It registered the highest (50%) maternal deaths across Uttarakhand in previous financial year as well as in the first quarter of FY 2015-16. Citing reason behind worst MMR in the holy city, director of national health mission Dr Ajeet Gairola, said, “It is due to poor family planning practices, most of the women are anaemic and already suffer from multiple ailment to be able to conceive a health child. However, state has taken the city on top priority to enhance its overall health indicators.” Speaking with TOI, chief medical superintendent of Doon Women Hospital Dr. Meenakshi Joshi said, “Now we will promote Nurses Physician concept in Doon Women Hospital on the lines of USA, and it would be taken up on mission mode so that maternal mortality can be controlled.” The nurses would be given in-house training in the hospital starting from Doppler ultrasound to various other tests studies be prepare them for the task, said the CMS. The state has a majority of Janani Suraksha Yognana beneficiaries. However, the benefits are rampantly being utilized by pregnant women from neighbouring states not Uttarkhand, she said. Another reason for bad MMR is poor antenatal, intranatal and postnatal care among women of plains in Uttarakhand. As a measure to curb poor IMR and MMR., state government has promoted various schemes for institutional deliveries wherein, pregnant women and the newborn is offered cost-free services in the state. (Times of India 26/9/15)

216. Have preventive attitude to check dengue: Delhi HC (3)

New Delhi: The Delhi high court has asked the civic agencies in the national capital to have a “preventive” attitude, and not curative, in order to contain spread of vector-borne diseases like dengue and malaria. Observing that proper cleaning of drains could prevent such diseases, a bench of Justices Badar Durrez and Sanjeev Sachdeva said, “Attitude should be preventive and not curative.” The court also questioned what the civic agencies and other local authorities were doing as it had to intervene to ensure that people of the national capital get CCTV cameras for safety, proper policing, clean drains and garbage-free streets. “What are the authorities doing? We are working to provide CCTVs, police, cleaning of drains and garbage, for the people who are up in arms,” the court said. The court directed the public works department (PWD) to file a status report indicating the manner and times at which the drains are cleaned and listed the matter for further hearing on October 28. The court’s observations came during the hearing of a PIL pertaining to cleaning up of various colonies in different districts of the city. The court was also referring to another matter it was dealing with regarding the installation of CCTV cameras in the city as well as induction of additional personnel in the Delhi police. It also wondered “why does it not strike” the municipal corporations to provide proper gear to their employees engaged in cleaning of the “dhalaos” (garbage dumps). The court also suggested devising another method of cleaning the dumps, instead of people manually collecting the garbage and putting it in trucks. It noted that some of the areas in the city which were identified for more attention from civic agencies had been cleaned to some extent. It, however, said that more was needed to be done. After it had directed the South Delhi Municipal Corporation to clean up Lajpat Nagar and maintain it, the high court had told the other two municipal bodies to ensure proper cleanliness in a colony each under their jurisdiction. It had directed the East Delhi municipal body to clean up Patparganj, while north MCD was told to take up the western extension area (WEA) of Karol Bagh. The court had also directed them to file status reports with pictures, and when it perused the images on Wednesday, it noted that the people cleaning up the garbage did not have proper gear like gloves and overcoats. The PIL has been filed by NGO Nyay Bhoomi alleging that government agencies have failed to improve the conditions in the city despite the Supreme Court’s observation in 1996 that the “historical city of Delhi, the capital of India, is one of the most polluted cities in the world”. The High Court had on March 18 directed the SDMC and other civic bodies to start cleaning the entire Lajpat Nagar from the next day and maintain it that way as a “test”of their “efficiency and ability” to keep the city clean. It had issued the direction to see if the civic bodies were “capable” of maintaining cleanliness in a model area “or else we will disband the corporations”. (Asian Age 28/9/15)


217. Aid for victim, AIDS tips for villagers (3)

Ranchi, Sept. 11: Chief minister Raghubar Das today directed principal secretary (health) K. Vidyasagar to probe the Jamtara incident, where a 51-year-old woman was mistakenly branded HIV positive, and create awareness about AIDS among rural masses. Taking a strong cognisance of the alleged medical negligence, Das also offered Rs 10,000 compensation from his relief fund for the treatment of Lakhi Hansda, who was ostracised by her family members and healthcare staff following a “wrong” diagnosis at Jamtara Sadar Hospital. The chief minister took the action after Jamtara MLA Irfan Ansari called on Das at his official residence in the capital today and told him how the victim was sent home in a cart after nurses and doctors at the hospital refused to treat her. Swinging into action, Vidyasagar sought a detailed report from Godda deputy commissioner Surendra Kumar in this case. The health department also dispatched a team of doctors from Ranchi to create awareness among villagers in Jamtara that the poor woman was not an AIDS patient and that AIDS does not spread through normal touch. Jamtara DC Kumar, on the other hand, went to the sadar hospital and the victim’s home at Sahardal village for inquiries and arranged for her readmission to the hospital. During investigation, the DC found that Lakhi Hansda was admitted to the sadar hospital on August 31 after she complained of fever and a few other ailments. The next day, her blood tests indicted tuberculosis. Later, the doctor on duty recommended an HIV test. “Lab technician Mantu Kumar Ravidas, in his report, had said that she was HIV positive. But, counsellor Sunil Kumar took Lakhi’s blood samples again and asserted that she was HIV negative. Now, how the doctor wrote that Lakhi Hansda was HIV positive on her discharge slip on September 7 is not known. I will talk to her tonight when she comes for the night shift,” said the DC. Kumar later directed the civil surgeon to thoroughly diagnose her ailments and if needed, refer her to a good hospital in Ranchi. The incident came to light yesterday when someone told MLA Ansari that the sadar hospital was sending home patients on thelas (tricycle carts). On probing, the MLA found that Lakhi was a victim of medical carelessness and mass ignorance about HIV/AIDS. The hospital, the MLA claimed, wrongly diagnosed her HIV positive and administered medicines for AIDS, which were apparently thrown at her in the days she stayed at the hospital. Her family, when learnt that their relative had AIDS, left her to the hospital’s mercy and fled. Thereafter, hospital staff, patients and their attendants started asking her many embarrassing questions, and nurses and doctors apparently refused to attend to her. (The Telegraph 12/9/15)

218. Nearly 27,000 HIV Positive Cases Detected in Thane, Palghar (3)

THANE: IEC Joint Director Vilas Deshpande announced here today that around 27,000 HIV positive cases have been detected in Thane and Palghar. While inagurating a two-day medical meet he appealed to civic bodies and NGOs to make efforts to eradicate AIDS in these districts. NGOs and private companies were asked to participate in a programme to create awareness among citizens to eradicate such cases (New Indian Express 14/9/15)

219. Natural defence against HIV discovered (3)

WASHINGTON: Scientists have discovered a new natural defence against HIV infection in the form of a protein that prevents the deadly virus from replicating. “In earlier studies, we knew that we could interfere with the spread of HIV-1, but we couldn’t identify the mechanism that was stopping the process,” said Yong-Hui Zheng, Michigan State University (MSU) associate professor and co-author of the study. “We now know that ERManI is an essential key, and that it has the potential as a antiretroviral treatment,” said Zheng. Antiretroviral treatments are not vaccines; they simply keep HIV in check in low levels in the body. While it could be decades before an ERManI-based treatment can be prescribed for HIV-1 patients, these results provide a strong path for future research involving human cells, and later, clinical tests. The next steps will be to test if HIV resistance can be promoted by increasing ERManI levels, said Zheng, who worked on the study with scientists from the Harbin Veterinary Research Institute, the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences and the University of Georgia. Most viruses have viral envelopes, or protective skins, that comprise similar building blocks of the host the pathogens are trying to infect. On the surface of the envelope, there are viral glycoproteins, known as Env spikes, which act as valets, leading viruses to binding sites that allow infections to spread at the molecular level. They serve as a key of sorts that gives viruses entry into the host to begin spreading. Zheng’s lab was the first to show that HIV-1 envelope glycoprotein biosynthesis can be specifically inhibited by ERManI, which is a host enzyme to add sugars to proteins. By identifying ERManI as the target that slows the spread of HIV-1, the team showed a target in which future natural therapies can be developed. More than 1.2 million people in the US have HIV. In China, doctors diagnosed 104,000 new cases of HIV/AIDS in 2014. The number of infections is rising, though overall the country still has a low rate of infection. Currently, there is no cure for HIV-1; once patients have it, they have it for life. While there are antiretroviral therapies available, they can only prolong life, albeit dramatically, but they cannot cure the disease. Current drug treatments have to be taken for a lifetime, which causes side effects and many other issues, Zheng said. “We see a way to treat this disease by helping the body protect itself,” he said. The study was published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry. (Times of India 17/9/15)

220. Now, an app that will help people with HIV (3)

NEW DELHI: In an attempt to increase accessibility of information and treatment of HIV, National Aids Control Organization (NACO) has rolled out a mobile app for AIDS awareness and prevention. The app, first of its kind in India, is based on various international models. The app would provide all kinds of information on AIDS, which is not easily available otherwise. For instance, it will provide information of HIV testing centres in the locality, information on availability of free testing kits and medicines etc. The app, called HELP (HIV Education and Linkage to Prevention), will also prompt users to access HIV testing from the nearest centre free of cost. The idea is to bridge the awareness and accessibility gap through digital intervention and encourage youth to know their HIV status. The move will also help the government to keep a count on the incidence and prevalence of HIV cases, which is currently a major area of contention. The national AIDS control programme is the government’s largest health intervention programme. The programme, run under NACO and implemented by states, demonstrated an overall reduction of 57 per cent in the annual new HIV infections among adult population from 2.74 lakh in 2000 to 1.16 lakh in 2011, according to NACO’s 2013-14 annual report. However, the facts were questioned by many international agencies, which said a lot of people in India are unaware of their HIV status. According to the United Nations, India has the third highest number of estimated people living with HIV in the world. “To start with, it will provide some basic information but slowly we will ramp it up to include detailed information and education as well as various services,” an official said. AIDS Healthcare Foundation, an international agency which works in the area, is working with the government to expand the use of the app across the country. AHF has also funded the app, while NACO is taking care of the operations and implementation part. According to the official, the app will ensure confidentiality and can currently be operated in two languages – English and Hindi. The health ministry is expecting to reach more than 11 crore people across urban and rural geographies through the app. The government is also planning to launch promotional advertisements for the app on television and radio. Besides, it will also use social media and you tube to popularize it. “Once the app is popular among the youth, we will update it to include more information,” the official said adding in future it can also be used to spread awareness about many other diseases and preventive healthcare measures. “There is a gap between the estimated number of people living with HIV and those who have tested and know their status. It is critical that people know their HIV status early so that they can opt for treatment,” he said. (Times of India 23/9/15)

221. Houses sans amenities allotted, say HIV-affected (3)

Bengaluru: The Upal-okayukta has directed the authorities to provide basic amenities to 97 HIV-affected backward class persons, who were allotted houses in Bengaluru Urban district without power, water and other facilities. The complaint filed an NGO said that the flats were allotted by Rajiv Gandhi Rural Housing Corporation Ltd in 2010. The allottees occupied the flats recently and have been deprived of basic amenities. The complaint stated that the Corporation had undertaken a project to provide housing facility to 160 HIV- affected persons from backward classes and other economically weaker section in 2010. Though the government released the funds, handing over of the constructed houses was delayed for want of contribution from the HIV- affected people. After several meetings, the Social Welfare Department came forward to provide matching fund on behalf of the HIV-affected persons and subsequently amount was released in respect of nearly 97 beneficiaries. “The Deputy Commissioner of Bengaluru Urban handed over the possession of 97 houses to the beneficiaries. However, the basic amenities such as light, drainage, water supply were not provided to these houses. The General Manager of the Rajiv Gandhi Rural Housing Corporation has submitted that though houses were handed over, the beneficiaries did not avail power supply by making individual payments to the Bescom. The general manager  contends that power supply was intact while handing over the houses. Subsequently, due to defect in the transformer the power was disconnected. The district authority has not distributed the hakkku patras and hence beneficiaries could not seek individual power supply,” Upalokayukta Justice Subhash B Adi said. The Upalokayukta has directed the DC (Bengaluru Urban), managing director of Bescom and managing director of Rajiv Gandhi Rural Housing Corporation to convene a meeting of the beneficiaries before October 16. (Deccan Herald 23/9/15)

222. AIDS patients to be brought under central scheme (3)

BHUBANESWAR: The Centre has asked the state government to coordinate with urban local bodies to include AIDS and HIV-infected people under the National Urban Livelihoods Mission (NULM). With this, around 35,000 HIV positive people in the state will have access to livelihood, housing, employment and other social protection programmes. The urban bodies will coordinate with Odisha State AIDS Control Society (OSACS) to ensure that they get the benefits. “There is prevalence of social discrimination with persons with HIV leading to loss of livelihood. Under NULM, the vulnerable persons should have access to all facilities such as housing under Rajiv Awas Yojana, which is being offered to slum dwellers,” the ministry has stated in its letter to the housing and urban development secretary G Mathivathanan. The MoHUPA has further said 86% of the HIV positive persons are between the age group of 15 and 49. “Most of them are migrants. They lose their livelihood for their HIV status. Since the components under NULM project is being extended to beggars, domestic workers, street vendors, labourers and construction workers, those with HIV shouldn’t be left out,” the letter mentioned. In Odisha, there are nearly 2,000 children, who contract the virus from their parents. Ganjam district accounts for the highest 12,017 positive cases followed by Cuttack (4409), Koraput (1848) and Sambalpur (1698). (Times of India 24/9/15)

223. Barack Obama administration to spend $300 million to fight HIV in Africa (3)

Washington: The Obama administration said on Saturday it was allotting an additional $300 million to the effort to reduce HIV infection among girls and young women in 10 sub-Saharan African countries.The Obama administration said on Saturday it was allotting an additional $300 million to the effort to reduce HIV infection among girls and young women in 10 sub-Saharan African countries. The sum would help the main U.S. program for fighting AIDS in Africa to meet goals including providing antiretroviral treatment to 12.9 million people by the end of 2017, said Susan Rice, President Barack Obama’s national security adviser. “No greater action is needed right now than empowering adolescent girls and young women to defeat HIV/AIDS. Every year, 380,000 adolescent girls and young women are infected with HIV,” she said in a statement. The President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, working with partner countries, now provides antiretroviral treatment for 7.7 million people worldwide, Rice said. The program, known as PEPFAR, was launched in 2003 by former President George W. Bush and has provided billions of dollars for antiretroviral drugs and treatment in Africa. By 2017, Rice said, PEPFAR also aims to “provide 13 million male circumcisions for HIV prevention, and reduce HIV incidence by 40 percent among adolescent girls and young women within the highest burdened areas of 10 sub-Saharan African countries.” The countries at the focus of the program are: Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. (DNA 26/9/15)


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 labourer