Posted by admin at 30 June 2016

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HR NEWS JUNE 2016 ( News Collection from 1st June to 30th June 2016)

 DALITS/SCHEDULED CASTES

Mansa Akali sarpanch assaults Dalit leader for slamming state govt (2)

Mansa: Annoyed over the criticism of the SAD government, the Akali sarpanch of Bodawal village in this district assaulted Dalit leader and Mazdur Mukti Morcha state president Bhagwant Smao on Thursday, leaving him injured. Smao was in the village to motivate labourers for the proposed Lalkar rally on June 10 against the state government for its alleged failure to meet the demands of labourers, including giving possession of five-marla plots and the compensation for loss of labour due to cotton crop damaged last year. Sarpanch Surat Singh claimed that Smao was criticising the village panchayat and state government and making false promises with MNREGA labourers to get them money for construction on plots. Budhlada (Sadar) SHO Makhan Singh claimed that no case had been registered as the victim was unfit to give a statement. Police said the preliminary investigation showed that the Dalit leader was instigating labourers against the state government. (Chandigarh Tribune 2/6/16)

Dalit student’s untold sufferings a wake-up call for Law College (2)

KOCHI: It was only after the brutal rape and murder of a Dalit law student in Perumbavoor that most of her acquaintances came to know about the abject penury and the near social ostracism she faced in her life. Stung by that revelation, the Government Law College, Ernakulam, where she was a student, is planning to put in place an emotional support mechanism on the campus for students. R. Biju Kumar, Principal of the law college, admitted that it was tough to identify poor students though teachers were willing to support them. Such students often find it humiliating to admit to their situation. “Since the college has only around 750 students, of which only 550-odd are regulars, it was possible for teachers to maintain personal contact with most of them. However, in the context of the tragic incident, we are thinking of a system to extend emotional support,” Mr. Kumar told The Hindu.In fact, the neighbouring girls-only St. Teresa’s College has a system complete with a counselling centre for the past several years. Every class teacher in the college double up as a mentor and sessions are held where students are encouraged to open up on issues troubling them. Teachers deal with issues they are able to handle while students with more complex problems, who need expert help, are referred to the counselling centre. “Services of two trained counsellors are made available at the centre twice a week and students have been positively responding to the service. Mostly, problems related to affairs, including the emotional trauma of a breakup or the exploitation in the guise of a relation, come up while issues like eve-teasing are also common,” said Kala M.S, the faculty in-charge of the counselling centre. Besides, the college holds a value education hour once every week to groom students into socially responsible citizens and karate sessions for self-defence. Sreekumar Kavil, president of People’s Voice, which is in the forefront of the protest demanding the arrest of the accused in the murder of the Dalit student, said the absence of a platform on campuses to share the problems of students, especially girls, was acutely felt. There was a limit to what they can confide to friends, he said. Toolika Suresh, chairperson, St. Teresa’s College, said counselling centres should be promoted across campuses. “This will break the taboo surrounding counselling and go a long way in the personality development of students,” she said. (The Hindu 5/6/16)

Annual auction of village land: Dalit organisation to hold mega dharna at Sangrur today (2)

Ludhiana: THE ZAMEEN Prapati Sangharsh Committee (ZPSC), a body formed by Dalits, is all set to organise state-level dharnas on June 7 seeking one-third of panchayati land meant for farming at affordable prices. The land is annually auctioned to Dalits but for the past two years, trouble has been brewing in Sangrur villages with Dalits alleging that auctions are not held in a proper manner. “While a mega dharna will be organised at Sangrur from where the problem started. District-level dharnas will be organised across the state. Civil rights organisations have assured us to take our struggle outside Punjab as well,” said Mukesh Malaud, president of ZPSC. However, the ZPSC members alleged that “the administration has scheduled land auction in a few villages on June 7 itself so that less number of Dalits join our dharna. An auction is slated to be held at Bhattiwal, Nidampur, Kheri villages on Tuesday”.Shankar Badra, a union member, said, “Apart from organising auction on the day of our dharnas, the administration has also reduced price of land in five villages. These villages are Baupar, Barhon, Gharachon, Khokhar and Khokar Khurd. Here the price was in the range of Rs 23,000 – Rs 24,000 per acre last year. But after our protest, the price has been reduced to Rs 20,000 per acre. So it is a victory of our association in these villages.” Gurmukh Singh, another member of ZPSC, said, “Over a dozen FIRs have been lodged against our members in the past two weeks. Moreover, nearly 50 members have been arrested. This shows one-sided action of authorities.” Ravinderpal Singh, district development programme officer (DDPO) of Sangrur, said, “We shall hold auction in one or two villages tomorrow. It has nothing to do with the ongoing protest of Dalits. We are organising auctions on a daily basis.” Admitting that the land price had been reduced marginally in a few villages to woo more people to auctions, the DDPO said land was yet to be auctioned in over a dozen villages. They were doing it at the earliest as paddy sowing season was coming near. (Indian Express 7/6/16)

Upper caste men kill Dalit over land dispute in Rajasthan (2)

Ajmer: Upper caste Rajput men allegedly mowed down a Dalit man in Rajasthan’s Nagaur district over a land dispute on Thursday, bringing the focus back on mounting cases of caste-based atrocities in India. Police said three Rajput men called Prabhu Bawaria near a dhaba on Thursday to have a discussion over the disputed strip of land but allegedly crushed him under their jeep. The incident occurred in Jasoori village under the Makrana police station of Nagaur district. The frightened Dalit family said the murder brought back memories of the Dangawas massacre in the state last year, when four Dalit people were killed over a land dispute. “My brother was killed after crushing under the jeep in a similar fashion to what the powerful did in Dangawas,” said Kalu Bawaria, Prabhu’s younger brother. “The strongmen in the area keep threatening us to renounce our claim on the land.” Police said they registered a case and launched a manhunt to book the suspects Anil Singh, Sumer Singh and Ghanshyam. “We have formed teams to nab them,” Amarjeet Singh, circle officer, Makrana, said. The family alleged they mortgaged 19 bighas of land to a local moneylender to borrow Rs 20,000 four years ago but didn’t get the plot back even after clearing the loan payments six months ago. The moneylender – Sunil — asked for `40,000 more as outstanding amount and refused to give back the land, alleged Dhanka Devi, Prabhu’s aunt. He later allegedly forged documents and sold the land to Anil and Sumer Singh. (Hindustan Times 10/6/16)

AAP Approaches Scheduled Castes Panel Over Assault On Dalit Councillor (2)

New Delhi:  A day after its councillor Rakesh Kumar was allegedly manhandled by BJP councillors, the AAP today approached the National Commission for Scheduled Castes demanding strict action under the provisions of the SC/ST Act against those who assaulted him. A party delegation led by AAP’s Delhi unit convenor Dilip Pandey, including Mr Kumar and party legislator Rajendra Pal Gautam, went to the Commission’s office in Delhi. Mr Pandey said since Chairman PL Punia was not in the office, they were assured that the issue would be taken up on Monday. Claiming that the attack was an act of “murder of his human right”, Mr Kumar in his complaint has alleged that he was not only manhandled, but was also hurled with “castiest abuses”. He also demanded protection from the BJP councillors. Later speaking to reporters Mr Pandey said that the alleged attack on Mr Kumar reflected the “anti-minority” and “anti-Dalit” attitude of the BJP. He further alleged that ever since the BJP has came to power, attacks on Dalits and minorities have “increased”.Mr Pandey said the party will also protest outside the BJP office on Saturday morning. Terming the attack as “utterly shameful”, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had on Thursday accused BJP of “assaulting Dalits” all over the country and said the AAP will take up the matter with the President. (NDTV 11/6/16)

Over 30 Dalits booked after land dispute turns ugly (2)

Amritsar: Over 30 Dalits were booked after a dispute over land between them and former Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) sarpanch Karminder Singh turned violent on Sunday in Macchi Nangal village of Amritsar. The police allegedly lathicharged the Dalit group after they allegedly attacked Karminder’s family. The Dalits claimed that 10 people were injured in the incident. The police, however, claim that the force reached the spot only after the brawl was over. However, pictures of the clash suggests that the police had indeed resorted to lathicharge.Besides this, the police have also booked an ‘inebriated’ group of Dalits that allegedly attacked Karminder’s family. According to the Dalits, 10.5 kanals shamlat land of the village was allotted to the 32 families of the village back in early 70s by the Centre under a welfare scheme. Each of them were given five marla plot to construct houses. They also claim to own revenue record to prove the allotment. Police, however, claim that the former sarpanch’s family had sufficient legal papers to prove their claim over the land. “We are satisfied with the documents shown by victim’s family about ownership of the land. But the other party is not ready to obey court orders,” said Sukhjinder Singh,SHO Jhander police station. Tarsem Peter, president of the Paindu Mazdoor Union of Punjab, said, “The Dalits could not construct houses on the land for all these years as their financial health was not good. Meanwhile, the family of the former sarpanch illegally took over possession of the land.” Sharing more information he said, “For the past few years, beneficiaries had approached administration to demark the land to construct the houses. Recent application for the same was given on April 18 to the sub-divisional office via Suwidha Centre. Revenue officials came to village and returned after meeting Karminder’s family.” “As the administration was not willing to give the land to Dalits, we decided to take it back on Sunday. But before we could reach the village, there was a strong police force waiting for us in the area. They attacked us when we tried to enter. The police also resorted to lathicharge in which 10 people were injured and they also fired in the air to disperse us,” claimed Peter. The police, however, have a different version of the story. “There was no lathicharge or firing by the police,” claimed Sukhjinder, adding, “A group of around 50 people attacked family members of Karaminder while he was working in the field. The attackers were in an inebriated condition. We reached the spot after the fight was over. Four persons including a woman of the family were injured. We have booked 16 persons by name and 15 unidentified persons for attacking the family under Sections 307, 323, 324, 341, 427, 148, 49, 120 B IPC.” Meanwhile, Sub divisional Magistrate Ajnala Anupreet Kaur when enquired said that she had no first hand information about the dispute nor the clash. (Indian Express 13/6/16)

Dalit murder: 9 booked under Goondas Act (2)

Coimbatore: Nine of the 11 accused in the murder of dalit youth Shankar have been booked under Goondas Act on Thursday. The nine include parents of Shankar’s widow Kausalya. The orders detaining them under the Goondas Act were served to the accused who were lodged at the Coimbatore and Trichy central prison.The spine chilling murder had shook the state when a gang intercepted Kausalya and her husband on March 13 on a busy stretch near Udumalpet bus stand and assaulted them with weapons. While Shankar, 21, died on the way to the hospital due to multiple injuries, Kausalya survived. Inquiries revealed that it was Kausalya’s parents who had sent the killers to murder Shankar as he happened to be a dalit. Subsequently 11 people were arrested including Kausalya’s father Chinnasamy, mother Annalakshmi, uncle Pandithurai and his friends.While Pandithurai was lodged in Trichy central prison, another accused Prasanna, a college student was lodged in borstal school at Pollachi and the rest were sent to Coimbatore central prison. The case is being heard at the principal district and sessions court in Tirupur. Police had filed chargesheet in the case in May accusing the parents and Kausalya’s uncle of conspiring and executing the murder. Even as the accused were attempting to secure bail, Tirupur superintendent of police Sarojkumar Thakur recommended detention of the accused under Goondas Act, based on which Tirupur collector S Jayanthi issued orders in this regard. (Times of India 17/6/16)

Six Dalits injured after attacked allegedly by GP member, aides (2)

Mandya: Six Dalits, including two women, sustained head injuries when a Gram Panchayat member and his 11 associates allegedly attacked them in Bookanakere village of K.R. Pet taluk late on Friday. Cheluvaiah (55), Kirankumar (19), Thammaiah (38), Shivakumar (21), Thayamma (45) and Kumari (35) — all residents of Dalit Colony in the village — received injuries and were recuperating at the government hospital, K.R. Pet Rural Station police said. The victims were discussing constructing a Ambedkar Bhavan at the village when the group, equipped with rods, sickles and other equipment, attacked them, the police added. According to Mr. Cheluvaiah, the complainant, local GP member Ramesh alias Panchayati Ramesh led the group. The police have registered a case and detained a few persons. (The Hindu 19/6/16)

Muzaffarnagar: Case against 3 for raping, murdering Dalit woman (2)

Muzaffarnagar: The 38-year-old woman was working as a labourer in the paper mill where she was allegedly raped and murdered two days ago. (Shutterstock/representative ) A case has been registered against three persons in connection with the alleged rape and murder of a Dalit woman at a paper mill in Muzaffarnagar in UP, police said on Sunday. The accused include the mill director, Arif, and a labour contractor, Samir, police said. Meanwhile, protests broke out near Nagla village as people demanded justice in the case and blocked the Panipat-Khatima highway for several hours with the body of the victim. The 38-year-old woman was working as a labourer in the paper mill where she was allegedly raped and murdered two days ago. Police said the mill was owned by a BSP MLA. (Hindustan Times 19/6/16)

NCP targets BJP MLA over pig analogy for Dalits’ uplift (2)

MUMBAI: A video showing BJP MLA from Dombivli Ravindra Chavan using analogy of pigs while talking about “uplift of the Dalits” has gone viral on the social media, prompting NCP to demand his apology. The video is purportedly of an event in neighbouring Thane district on June 17. Chavan cited the example of Abraham Lincoln narrating a story where Lincoln picked up a “piglet” from a drain and cleaned it. “Similarly, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis too were working hard to uplift Dalits,” Chavan said. The analogy sparked protest and Thane district unit of NCP organised a “naming ceremony” of a pig and named it ‘Ravindra Chavan.’”The cassette (video recording) of my speech which is being circulated is edited and not the original uncut one. My statement has been distorted,” Chavan claimed. NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik said the BJP MLA should tender an apology for the “appalling analogy”. (Times of India 21/6/16)

Five booked for Kerala dalit girl’s ragging (2)

KALABURAGI: Kerala police on Wednesday booked five students of the Al Qamar College of Nursing in Kalaburagi, Karnataka, for the brutal ragging of a dalit student that has sparked widespread outrage. The victim, Aswathi (19), hailing from Mallapuram in Kerala, is battling for her life at Kozhikode Medical College Hospital (KMCH) after seniors allegedly forced her to drink toilet cleaning solution on May 9.The police booked Lakshmi and Athira, both natives of Kerala, and Krishna, Shilpa and Joe of Al Qamar College after Aswathi named them in her statement that was recorded at the hospital on Wednesday. “The charges include attempt to murder, besides sections of the Kerala Ragging Act and Atrocities under SC ST Act,” Kozhikode circle inspector Jaleel Thotathil said. Since the crime happened in Karnataka, Aswathi’s recorded statement has been sent through a special messenger to the Roza police station in Kalaburagi, Thothathil added. Also, a copy of the FIR has been sent to the Kalaburagi police commissioner. Kalaburagi SP N Shashikumar told TOI he has formed a 13-member team led by DSP Jahnavi to probe the case. (Times of India 23/6/16)

In Muzaffarnagar village, it’s ‘no service’ for Dalits in salons (2)

Meerut: Eighty kilometres from the national capital, in Bhoopkhedi, a sleepy village of Muzaffarnagar, Dalits are barred from getting a hair cut in public salons. The Dalits allege that if a barber dares defy the order, which they say comes from upper caste Thakurs in the village, he has to face their wrath and shut shop. The humiliating ‘tradition’ which has been followed for generations is now a source of conflict, as young Dalits have started resisting. They held a panchayat on Monday demanding that it be scrapped. “Dalits do not have the freedom to get a shave or hair cut in normal hair saloons. If some barber tries to break this upper caste diktat, he has to either shut shop or face their goons,” said Harish Kumar, a Dalit resident, lamenting the denial of “equal opportunity and dignity”. Asked how his fellow community members managed, Kumar said they went outside the village to get groomed. “We grew up seeing local barbers refuse and making up some excuse or other. Some openly say Thakurs have prohibited them from serving Dalits. Our ancestors did not speak out but we cannot tolerate this undignified practice any more. All we want is equal treatment which is guaranteed by the Constitution,” asserted Kumar a manual labourer in his thirties. Ram Phool, who is Kumar’s neighbour, said the unwritten rule resulted in the overall boycott of Dalits in the village.“Our sons and daughters do not get marriage offers due to this discriminatory rule which is well known outside,” said Phool, a daily wage earning farm worker. Sheru Hajjam is a barber who used to own a shop in the village but shut it down due to daily fights and threats. “It used to be a daily nuisance. Every time some Dalit would come to my shop, I had to refuse to serve because of the pressure from this diktat. The District Magistrate of Muzaffarnagar, Dinesh Kumar Singh, has ordered a probe into the matter. “I have come to know about this issue only from you. This is a completely wrong practice. We will not allow something like this to go on any more. I have ordered a probe and will take action against those responsible for this discriminatory diktat,” he told The Hindu. (The Hindu 25/6/16)

11 Dalits picked up by Tamil Nadu cops missing for a week (2)

CHENNAI: A whole week has passed since a police team, believed to be from Tamil Nadu, picked up 11 men of the Kurava community from a village in Kerala, but the distraught  family members are still clueless about their whereabouts. After knocking doors of Tamil Nadu police in various districts, the families petitioned the National Commission for Scheduled Castes on Tuesday. The families say that the 11 men were forcibly herded by a team, which they believe as Maduravoyal police from Chennai, on June 21. A Dalit community, Kuravas are denotified tribes but still carry the stigma of ‘criminal tribes’ though the Criminal Tribes Act was abolished long ago. These ‘missing’ men, along with several others, left their native village, Kuthirai Santhai near Chinnasalem, in search of better livelihood along with their kith and kin 10 years ago. They settled down at Manikonda Kolavayal village in Kasargod district and eked out their living by cleaning toilets and pruning trees in the locality. Speaking to Express, the women said a group of men dressed in Tamil Nadu police uniform landed at their settlement and forcibly took the 11 men in the middle of their sleep around 1 am. They were pushed away while attempting to stop the jeep in which the men were taken. “Police said the arrest was made in a theft case but refused to divulge where they were taking them,” said S Kannagi, wife of Subramanian, one of the 11 arrested. “It has been almost eight days, we don’t even know if they are alive or not. The local police had no clue and our search at police stations in Villupuram turned futile,” she said. Meanwhile, one of their relatives informed that the missing men were locked up at the Maduravoyal station. So they travelled all the way to Chennai with the hope of finding them. But access was denied forcing them to approach the NCSC as a last resort. According to I Pandiyan of Social Awareness Society For Youths (SASY), a Villupuram-based Dalit NGO, which has been helping these women, the police used to pick up innocent people belonging to Kurava community for any theft case reported elsewhere. This continues to keep them under a sense of fear, he added. Meanwhile, the Maduravoyal police rejected the allegations and an official from the station denied making any such arrest. (New Indian Express 29/6/16)

TRIBALS

Tribals in Khammam on fast unto death for separate dist (6)

KHAMMAM: Local tribal associations in Bhadrachalam have launched a fast unto death at ITDA office on Wednesday, seeking a separate tribal district consisting of 24 tribal mandals. In the wake of the state government’s plan to form new districts, demand for new districts gained momentum across the state and people of Bhadrachalam are also raising their demand. A District Sadhana Committee has been formed and people are staging dharnas and rasta rokos, and have been sitting on relay hunger strikes for the last 20 days. On the other hand, a tribal association began its agitation on Wednesday, demanding Bhadrachalam as a tribal district. 13 members launched a fast unto death in front of ITDA office. Speaking to media, Girijana Sankshema Parishad (GSP) state convener Sonde Veeraiah said there are specific rules in the Fifth Schedule of the Constitution that allow tribal self-rule. He demanded the state government to honour the Fifth Schedule and declare a separate district for tribals. As per the Panchayat Raj Extension to Scheduled Areas Act 1996, tribal Areas should be administered by tribals, he said. “Tribals would not get justice under non-tribal administration, which has already been proved in the last 60 years,” he said. GSP state vice president Murram Veera Bhadram said tribal community was not allowed to develop under non-tribal rule and at least now the state government should consider their demand and declare Bhadrachalam as a tribal district and support tribals’ development. GSP state president Payam Satyanarayana said the state government should honour the tribal agitation and declare a separate tribal district.The Fifth Schedule of the Constitution allows for tribal self-rule by a Tribes Advisory Council, to advise on matters pertaining the welfare of tribes (New Indian Express 2/6/16)

SC asks state govt to ensure ‘well-being’ of tribals in Kota (6)

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday came to the rescue of some tribal families, whose dwellings in a village in Kota district have allegedly been demolished by some mine owners, by asking the director general of police and the chief secretary of Rajashtan to ensure their “well-being”.A vacation bench comprising Justices P C Ghose and Amitava Roy also directed the DGP and the chief secretary to conduct an inquiry into the alleged incident and file their respective reports within four weeks. The court was hearing a plea filed by Rekha, a tribal who hails from Julmi village of Kherahad in Kota district. She alleged that some mine owners treat the tribal villagers as their bonded labourers and have demolished about 42, out of 60 houses, in the village without even paying them in a bid to usurp their land. The plea also claimed that some unidentified persons had abducted Raniya, husband of petitioner Rekha, on December 4, last year. Besides seeking a direction for state police and others to produce Raniya, the plea also sought an order for registration of an FIR under the SC/ST Act and other relevant provisions against the mine owners. PTI (Times of India 4/6/16)

Tribals air grievances at K’put consultation camp (6)

Koraput: Tribals of Duruguda lamented lack of electricity, safe drinking water and pucca roads in the village during a consultation camp organized by the Koraput district administration at Baijapur panchayat on Saturday evening. They alleged that the piped water project has been lying defunct for past several months and no steps have been taken to repair it despite repeated complaints. Collector (Koraput) Jaya Kumar V, who was present at the camp, assured the villagers that he would personally look into their problems and try to solve them at the earliest. He also urged the tribals to cooperate with the administration for proper execution of the development projects. Around 300 villagers assembled at the camp site to hear the collector and air their grievances. “For the first time, we had officials at our village. Till date we had been running after them to get our work done. We also got to know about the measures to prevent malaria, dengue and diarrhoea,” said Ramani Nag, an elderly woman of Janiguda village. Consultation camps are being held across the district on 5th and 21st of every month to discuss implementation of development projects. The block development officers have been directed to organize such camps in at least two panchayats under the respective blocks. “The camps help us understand the problems faced by people and address them in a sensitive manner,” the collector said.The villagers are also made aware of different government schemes through posters, banners and video shows, he added. Official sources said over 50 camps have been organized since the launch of the programme in April. Field staff of education, health, rural development and women and child development departments, block office and Southco attend these camps.The feedback are examined and those requiring immediate intervention are taken up on a priority basis, he said. Notebooks and pens are distributed among children, he added. (Times of India 6/6/16)

Rajasthan’s tribal family mortgages anklet, sells goat for toilet (6)

Udaipur: A daily wager in Rajasthan’s Dungarpur sold one of his goats and mortgaged his wife’s silver anklet to raise Rs 9,000 for building a toilet. Kantilal Roat did so after some social workers campaigning as part of the Swachh Bharat scheme sensitized his family about the importance of hygiene and risks of open defecation. The workers told Roat he would be getting a Rs 12,000 assistance if he agreed to build a toilet. Roat started constructing the toilet after getting first two instalments of Rs 8,000. But the money was exhausted while the construction was still underway, forcing Roat to sell one of his seven goats besides mortgaging his wife Gauri’s anklets. “The goat fetched me Rs 5,000 while we got Rs 4,000 against the anklet said Roat. “The goat fetched me Rs 5,000 while we got Rs 4,000 against the anklet, which my wife had received as gift from her parents at the time of our wedding,” said Roat, who lives in a small hut along with his extended family. His mother, Lali Bai, said she understands the hardships her two daughters-inlaw have faced while defecating in the open. “Even if it meant to mortgage our hut, I would have willingly done so for their honour and dignity.”Dungarpur Municipal Corporation chairman K K Gupta felicitated the family. “At a time when it is not easy to convince even educated and urban masses on sanitation issues, Kantilal and his wife have done a commendable work and deserve felicitation,” Gupta said. He released the remaining assistance for the family besides rewarding it Rs 4,000 to get the anklet back. (Times of India 10/6/16)

Tribal forum demands PR in Manipur (6)

 NEW DELHI, June 10 – Tribal organisations in Manipur while demanding the imposition of President’s Rule in Manipur have denounced all the tribal MLAs and the lone tribal MP in Lok Sabha for their “silence on such a crucial issue of passing of the three anti-tribal Bills on August 31, 2015”. In a memorandum to President which was made available to newsmen, the Outer Manipur Tribals’ Forum (OMTF) said that the 20-odd tribal MLAs and the lone tribal MP from Outer Manipur, “in spite of the unrelenting” protests and agitations by the tribal people they represent, “have chosen to remain silent on such a crucial issue in passing the three anti-tribal bills”. “We, therefore, denounced them as our representatives since they have failed to truly represent the tribal people of Manipur”, the memorandum said. The OMTF urged the President to initiate the process of impeachment of the 20-odd tribal MLAs and the tribal MP “as we no longer accept them as our representatives,” the memorandum added. OMTF is an apex body of Hmar Inpui, Mizo People Convention, Thadou Inpi, United Naga Council and Zomi Council. It said, with the situation in Manipur deteriorating by the day, the only viable solution now is for the Union Government to interfere directly into the issue by imposing President’s Rule in the State and work towards a solution that is sustainable and acceptable to the tribal people of the State”. The memorandum said that the “All Political Party” delegation led by Manipur Chief Minister is in New Delhi to pressurise the Union Government to give President’s assent to the three anti-tribal Bills. This is in spite of the Chief Minister himself having admitted that the three Bills are the agenda of CorCom, an umbrella of various Meitei militant groups. “These actions of the Manipur Government, its machineries and other non-State agencies clearly expose the deep-rooted nexus between the outlawed Meitei militant groups, the Manipur Government and the Meitei civil organisations like the JCILPS,” it alleged. The memorandum said that with the tribals of Manipur agitating for more than nine months now, refusing to bury the nine “tribal martyrs” who still await justice, and with no acceptable and sustainable solution in sight, and the “dominant Meitei community” pressing for the President’s assent on the three anti-tribal Bills, the hill-valley divide is becoming more pronounced by the day and is now way beyond repairs. – Newmai News (The Assam Tribune 11/6/16)

Plight of tribal women forest watchers in Attappadi draws flak (6)

PALAKKAD: THE posting of tribal women as watchers in deep forests of Attappadi by Forest Department sans providing any basic infrastructural facilities has spawned resentment among the tribals. Elucidating the scenario, chairman of the Girijan Sevak Samithi U C  Kunchan said: “When the Attappadi Hill Area Development Society (Ahads) was wrapped up, 93 tribals, who were employed with it, were provided jobs by the UDF Government with the Forest Department.While 50 men were employed with the department, 43 tribal women were employed on deputation with the Agriculture Department (Singapara krishi bhavan) to help out with the farming of crops suited for Attappadi”. He said that on May 11,2016, an order was issued hastily directing the 43 women watchers were to return to their parent department. President of the Thaikula Sangham Bhagavathy said that these women were sent to remote and inaccessible areas of Attappadi like Galasi, Thudukki and Aanavaayi, from where it’s nearly impossible to return home in the evening.  A few women have been posted at the Kuchipara station, which is 20 kms away from the Silent Valley forests. She said that Mannarkad Divisional Forest Officer Raju Thomas was behind this exercise as he was irked by the fact that the adivasi women, who include widows, unwed mothers and women married to drunkards, had lent support to the ‘ussiru porattam’ of the Thaikula sangham. “The Thaikula Sangham had agitated for more than a month and blocked traffic demanding the shifting of the TASMAC liquor outlet  from Aanakatti, just on the Tamil Nadu-Kerala border,  and succeeded. The support of these  women to the agitation didn’t go down well with the DFO, which led to the decision,” she alleged. These women were not even provided quarters to stay in the forests. The department officials were feigning ignorance as they believe that the tribals would not protest, she said. The vice-president of the Thaikula Sangham Vanchi said they will petition the CM and  Minister for the Welfare of Scheduled Castes and Tribes A K Balan demanding the removal of the DFO from Mannarkad. (New Indian Express 14/6/16)

Tribal girl raped and killed in Sukma, says activist (6)

NAGPUR: Tribal activist and Aam Aadmi Party leader Soni Sori has alleged that Madkam Hidme, a resident of Gumpad village, was picked up from her home, raped and killed before being branded a Maoist. On June 13, Inspector General (IG) of Police of Bastar range in Chhattisgarh S.R.P. Kalluri had issued a statement claiming that Hidme was a member of the outlawed Communist Party of India (Maoist), and was killed in an encounter with a joint team of the District Reserve Guard and the Special Task Force near Gumpad forest of Sukma district. “Many villagers told me Hidme was raped and killed. I also spoke to some of her relatives on the phone, who confirmed that she was forcibly taken away by the policemen from the village. Some villagers tried to resist but the policemen waved guns at them and scared them away,” Ms. Sori told The Hindu . “She was taken to the forest nearby and raped. Her relatives also told me some of her clothes and smashed ornaments were found in the forest. The police then let out the propaganda that there was an encounter and a Maoist was killed,” claimed the AAP leader. Ms. Sori also alleged that the police stopped her from visiting the village. “My vehicle was stopped at Dornapal, Errabore and I was asked to go back from Injaram village,” said the tribal activist, who sat in front of the office of the SP, Sukma district, throughout Wednesday night in protest. (The Hindu 17/6/16)

Stopped from visiting rape victim’s village, Soni Sori threatens fast to death (6)

NAGPUR: Tribal activist and Chhattisgarh Aam Adami Party leader Soni Sori on Friday threatened to go on a fast unto death after she was allegedly stopped — by the police and members of former Salwa Judum militia — from visiting the village of a tribal girl in Sukma district who was allegedly raped and killed by policemen. “The police instigated members of the former Salwa Judum militia to stop me,” Ms. Sori told The Hindu . “They surrounded the rest house in Konta where I was staying with my party workers. They shouted slogans, calling me a criminal and a Maoist sympathiser. The attempt was to stop me from visiting Gumpad village and interacting with family members of [the victim] who was raped, killed and branded a Maoist by the police on June 13. The police told me the situation was spiralling out of hand and that I should not go to Gumpad. From the behaviour of the police, it was clear that [the victim] was raped and killed. Why would they stop me from visiting her village otherwise? We will take this fight to the end. I have decided not to eat anything until I am allowed to visit the village. If [the police] continue to resist, I will give up drinking water too and will go on a fast unto death.”“Chhattisgarh Congress president Bhupesh Baghel has formed a 10-member team that will headed by Bastar MLA Lakheswar Baghel. The team will visit the village and submit its report within a week,” said Congress spokesperson Shailesh Nitin Trivedi in a press statement. The Communist Party of India (Marxist) also demanded a judicial probe into the alleged fake encounter and sexual assault on the tribal girl. The AAP, meanwhile, filed a PIL in Bilaspur High Court demanding another post-mortem of the victim’s body. AAP Chhattisgarh convener Sanket Thakur told The Hindu , “We have requested the court that the post-mortem should be done by a doctor chosen by the victim’s family and not that of the police. We also requested for the formation of a Special Investigation Team headed by an IPS officer from outside Chhattisgarh and Rs. 20 lakh as compensation for the family of the victim.” The court is likely to hear the AAP leader’s plea on June 20. (The Hindu 18/6/16_

Draft National Forest Policy sets up another battle over Forest Rights Act (6)

New Delhi: The government has made public its draft National Forest Policy, to replace the one crafted in 1988. Incorporating consequences of climate change but entirely ignoring one of the three forest related laws, the Forest Rights Act, the policy brings new focus to plantations, growing trees outside forest lands and wood industry. The policy continues with the national goal of a minimum of one-third of the geographical area under forest or tree cover. But it does away with the goal for hill and mountainous regions to maintain two-thirds of the geographical area under forest cover. Promising to set up a parallel arrangement to the Forest Rights Act, the policy proposes to launch a new Community Forest Management Mission, bringing government, community and private land under the new proposed management system.  Drafted by the Indian Institute of Forest Management, the research arm of the environment ministry, the policy moots that special communities at the gram sabha (village council) level be created to take over management of forests. The plans prepared by the gram sabhas for their forestlands would also have to be vetted by the forest department based on rules prepared for the same, such as wider management plans the forest department prepares. The policy released for public comments on June 16 for only 15 days ignores that the Forest Rights Act was promulgated in 2006 to take back control from the forest department of traditional forest lands and give these to tribals and other forest-dwellers.  The Act gave communities complete management control over their lands with the forest department’s role substantially diminished. The forest departments had previously, too, run participatory forest management systems but with the final veto of the departments over the lands and the use of the resources, the demand for greater rights to tribals and forest-dwellers had picked pace and found political support during the previous National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government. This culminated in the Forest Rights Act during the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government. …  (Business Standard 19/6/16)

Armed tribals lynch two extremists in Jharkhand (6)

RANCHI: Tribals armed with traditional weapons lynched two extremists belonging to People’s Liberation Front of India (PLFI), a breakaway faction of CPI(Maoist), in Torpa block of Khunti district, 40km from here, on Tuesday evening. Wielding guns the extremists visited Pandaria village to collect levies from a local when they were confronted by the locals. “The villagers who confronted the extremists became violent when the extremists threatened to kill them. The extremists were thrashed with sticks and other traditional weapons,” Khunti SP Anish Gupta said. In the name of civil defence the Khunti police organises meetings of villagers and motivate them to stand against the extremists who take shelter in the villages and forests. In the pursuit of developing civil defence system in the villages police seem to ignore the huge risk it carries. During identification police found that the two extremists were Tene Bhengra and Deepak Bhengra, wanted in several cases by Khunti police. (Times of India 21/6/16)

8,000 tribals head to city, protest clogs arterial road (6)

NASHIK: Around 8,000 tribals marched to the revenue commissionerate on Thursday to press for their various demands. They presented a memorandum of demands to state forest minister Sudhir Mungantiwar, who was in the city, and dispersed only after the minister assured to resolve all the issues in three months. Under the banner of Nashik Zilla Kisan Sabha, the tribals directed their morcha to the revenue commissionerate instead of the collectorate, which threw traffic out of gear and forced the police to rework their security plans. The tribals were led by Surgana-Kalwan MLA JP Gavit, who alleged that the rate of allotting farmlands to the tribals under the Forest Rights Act (FRA), 2006, has decreased rapidly in the last two years with most of the cases being rejected. The tribals flocked to Anant Kanhere Maidan (Golf Club Ground) since morning in huge numbers with many of them carrying files of their land claims. Several women from respective villages and talukas carried the files over their head during the rally that was aimed at reaching the district collectorate. But upon receiving information that the district collector was at the revenue commissionerate, where even Mungantiwar was expected to reach, the agitators took a U-turn from the Central Bus Stand to the maidan, got into their vehicles and drove towards the office. “This government is not allowing the tribals get access to their rightful land by rejecting a number of evidences presented to the district administration from time to time. The administration has either rejected the claims or given land admeasuring 0.1 to 0.8 hectares when the tribals could be given 4 hectares,” Gavit said adding, “Since the forest minister is in the city, we would be happy to bring it to his notice the injustice meted out to the tribals.” According to Gavit, there were around 50,000 claims from Dindori, Surgana, Peth, Trimbakeshwar and Igatpuri talukas, of which only 19,500 were cleared by the administration. All the remaining claims were rejected for petty reasons despite the tribals providing all the required evidences to prove that the lands belonged to them, he said. “We met the governor on August 1 last year and apprised him of the issue. Accordingly, he asked us to prepare documents of the rejected claims with minimum two proofs as mentioned in the Act and hand them to the administration for further action,” Gavit added. The tribals stay put till late evening waiting for the minister to talk to them. (Times of India 24/6/16)

Judge calls for commitment to implement schemes for tribals (6)

Thane, Jun 26 () Bombay High Court Justice V M Kanade has called for implementing various programmes for tribals in the country not just as work, but as a commitment to fulfil the rights given to them under the Constitution. While launching the NALSA (Protection and Enforcement of Tribal Rights) Scheme-2015 here yesterday, Justice Kanade said there was shortage of NGOs, advocates and para-legal volunteers for implementing various programmes for tribals. He asked the concerned officials to implement programmes for the sake of tribals not just as a work, but as their commitment to fulfil the rights given to the community under the Constitution. The judge said it was sad that though Thane district is near Mumbai, there are still cases of malnutrition, health issues, child deaths, educational problems, legal rights, land issues and others, which need to be addressed. While implementing various schemes for tribals, educating them about their rights should be taken up on priority, he stressed. He also observed that while a city develops in the process of urbanisation, the tribals are left to suffer which should be avoided. They should also develop along with the other members of the society, Justice Kanade opined. He further said that the Bombay High Court receives a number of PILs with regard to the issues of tribals. The court has directed the Maharashtra government to conduct a study and research on the requirements of tribals in the state, especially their food and nutrition, he said. It should be ensured that the rights and benefits guaranteed to the tribals reach them, he urged. (Times of India 26/6/16)

 ‘Aksharabhyasam’ performed for Adivasi school dropouts (6)

ADILABAD: The police organised Aksharabhyasam, or initiation of children into the world of letters, for Adivasi Kolam school dropouts and other students at the famous Gnana Saraswati temple at Basar town in Adilabad district on Sunday. It is perhaps for the first time ever that Adivasi students underwent such an exercise. As many as 24 girl and 23 boys from different Kolam hamlets of Khanapur mandal participated in the programme. The Aksharabhyasam was undertaken as part of the ‘Police Janamythri’ programme to help underprivileged Adivasis with their education. Adilabad Superintendent of Police Vikram Jeet Duggal had lunch with the students and their parents who had been brought to Basar for the programme. (The Hindu 27/6/16)

Forest rights: CM sets three-month deadline for officials (6)

Bengaluru: Expressing dissatisfaction over the apathy of the official machinery in according individual and community rights to tribal communities under the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Tuesday set a three-month deadline to bureaucrats for expediting the long-delayed process. Reviewing development works of various departments at a two-day conference of deputy commissioners, chief executive officers of zilla panchayats and regional commissioners here, the Chief Minister asked the DCs and CEOs to dispose of pending applications seeking such rights. He warned them of disciplinary action if they failed to complete the process by November. Mr. Siddaramaiah asked them to take a re-look at the applications that had been rejected on “flimsy grounds”. The Chief Minister is learnt to be upset over the poor attendance of ministers in the beginning of meeting. With only Kagodu Thimmappa, K.J. George, H.C. Mahadevappa, Krishna Byre Gowda and H. Anjaneya turning up when the meeting began, he sought to know where were the other ministers. However, they rushed to the meeting in the next few minutes. (The Hindu 29/6/16)

WOMEN

Counsellors to become police interface for women and children (8)

New Delhi: Women and children going to police stations in Delhi will now have the option of bypassing “insensitive and rude” police personnel. Instead, they will have soft-spoken and professional women counsellors to listen patiently to their woes. Trained at Mumbai’s Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), the counsellors will also help reduce the burden of policemen who — because of the nature of their work — often come across as insensitive and thus ineffective in dealing with problems of women and children. So, when a woman visits a police station with complaints related to domestic violence, quarrels, dowry harassment or even sexual abuse, they will be given the option of visiting these counsellors. “Women and children may not be comfortable describing their complaints to a policeman or policewoman. Our counsellors will play the role of mothers and sisters who are willing to hear their woes and offer all sorts of solutions,” Dr. S Parasuraman, the TISS Director, told The Hindu . The solutions could range from acting as mediators for the complainants and the other party to offering legal advice to women. The aim will also be to avoid the registration of an FIR if the problem can be solved through mediation or by warning the other party. “Filing a police complaint, though, will always be an option and the counsellors will immediately call in the police on behalf of the complainants if they feel necessary. But, many problems are solved better through conversations, and moral support. The counsellors will probe that possibility,” said. Dr. Parasuraman. The purpose is to make the women and children feel that they are not alone in their fight and that they are supported by the government, he added. Though the number of counsellors currently available may not be sufficient, as far as possible they will also be the first contact point for sexual abuse victims who visit a police station.To guide the women and children complainants to the counselling option, every police station in the city will soon carry boards about the availability of the facility and the necessary contact numbers. The project is a joint venture between TISS, the Delhi Police and the National Commission for Women (NCW) which will be funding it. For now, there will be two counsellors at each of the 11 Delhi district headquarters. By the year end, the number will go up to seven in each district.“We already have sanction for 60 more counsellors. Once they join us, one counsellor will be deployed in each sub-division. Eventually, the police commissioner wants one counsellor at every police station so that the women and children find help right away,” Sundari Nanda, Special CP (Women Safety, Airport and Modernisation), told The Hindu . The city police are already effectively using TISS counsellors at the Special Police Unit for Women and Children office in Nanakpura for mediating between couples seeking divorces. Six young counsellors, with the help of the police, claim a 30 per cent success rate in reconciling estranged couples in the city. “The Mumbai Police began seeking the services of the TISS counsellors in 1980s itself. Encouraged by the role they play, their services were extended to every district in Maharashtra,” said Dr. S. Parasuraman. (The Hindu 2/6/16)

More women taking up odd jobs, claims survey (8)

MUMBAI: More and more women in metro cities are applying for unconventional jobs like cab driver, security guard and delivery executives, thanks to attractive pay and demand and supply gap, says a report. “We see a rise in preference, by both end customers as well as job seekers, for women in unconventional jobs or those sectors which were traditionally considered male dominated areas, especially in big cities,” Babajob co-founder and COO Vir Kashyap told PTI. The rising trend of Indian women opting for unconventional careers in the informal and semi-skilled sectors is also due to demand and supply mismatch and higher salary, he added. According to the data compiled from actual applications on Babajob.com platform in 2015-16, there has been seven times more demand from employers for female cab drivers and 153 per cent increase in applications for the women driver jobs. “This trend is a fairly recent phenomenon and the increase of women applying for unconventional jobs is higher in Mumbai, compared to other metro cities,” Kashyap said. Babajob is India’s livelihood marketplace, facilitating blue collar jobs in the country and at present, it has over six million registered job seekers and over 3,25,000 employers. The data also revealed that there has been five times increase in job opportunities for women delivery executives and 114 per cent rise in applications by women. Women are offered more money in categories such as sales and data entry, it said. With an average salary of Rs 10,981.44 per month, jobs of delivery executives saw an increase of 2.57 per cent for women over men, it added. Similarly, sales executive segment, that offers an average salary of Rs 12,809.03 per month, has witnessed 6.55 per cent increase in pay for women candidates, the survey pointed out.The report also revealed that the security guard category has seen 25 per cent increase in job opportunities, while 125 per cent rise in job application by women candidates. (Times of India 5/6/16)

Harassment at workplace? solution just a click away (8)

VISAKHAPATNAM: FOR the employees who are facing harassments at workplace but refraining from registering complaints fearing the consequences, the solution is just a click away. ‘Vegu’, a mobile app developed by the Mihir Solution, through which employees-both men and women-can register their grievances, keeping their identity confidential. The application which can be downloaded from the Google play store is meant for the employees and employers. The application can be used for reporting sexual harassment, corruption, threats, physical abuse, intimidation, blackmail and  vulgarity at workplace. However, the employees can access the app only after their employer register themselves with the app developer, said Jani Nemana, CEO of Mihir Mobile Solutions. The application does not need any hardware or software installation, it is a cloud based solution. “Mihir Solution  has developed an application ‘EyeSkool’ that helps prevent potential mass violence at schools, colleges or universities in the USA to report suspicious behaviour. We wanted to do the same in India and through ‘Vegu’. We have done it for employees in the corporate sector,” said Jani Nemana. “People get nervous to lodge complaints due to fear or possible adverse consequences from the management side. In many cases, the victims do not want to be identified, but want the problem be solved. This app caters to the both,” he explains, adding that the employees will get their pleas addressed and the management will be aware of the problems their staff are facing. It all happened when PhD scholar N Sridevi from Andhra University and Jani Nemana got into a discussion, leading them to think about an app for the people at workplace. “When I knew about the ‘Eyeskool’ I asked him why don’t we do something in India for the professionals in corporate sector,” said Sridevi… (New Indian Express 5/6/16)

594 rape cases in first 3 months (8)

KOLLAM: A total of 594 rape cases were registered in police stations across the State in the first three months of this year. Of these, 219 were cases involving minor victims. Though the district-wise breakup of the offence against minors had not been provided, statistics of crime against women and children given by the State Crime Records Bureau show that Malappuram topped the list with 43 rape cases during the period. Thiruvananthapuram followed with 42 cases and Kollam came next with 37 cases. Kannur propped up the table with eight cases. Rape cases were registered in all districts during the period. Last year 1,974 rape cases were registered at police stations across the State, including 711 involving minor victims. Five dowry-related deaths of women were registered between January and March this year. Two cases were reported from Palakkad, and one each from Thiruvananthapuram, Ernakulam, and Malappuram districts. Last year, seven dowry death cases were registered in the State. The statistics showed that eight children were murdered and 29 women and an equal number of children were kidnapped during the period. During the period, 1,005 molestation cases were registered in the State. Last year, 177 women and 160 children were kidnapped in the State. A total of 681 crimes against children and 3,219 crimes against women were registered during the first three months of the year. (The Hindu 8/6/16)

Women auto owners against change in colour code (8)

NAVI MUMBAI: It is a case of reverse gender neutrality debate with women auto operators, who purchased their vehicle after getting permits in the new lottery scheme, opposed to a different colour code. In two incidents in Thane women commuters jumping from running autos preceded the state government order, said Vashi Dy (RTO), Sanjay Dole. The rule is applicable to those who got permits in the lottery and want to register their vehicles, but the same operators have the option to drive yellow black autos that are not registered in their name. The imbroglio has led to financial distress for 15 women who have purchased the vehicles and have to pay monthly instalments on the loan. There are 65 women under Vashi Dy (RTO), who have got permits in the lottery. Other women who wanted to buy said a decision in this regard by the state government was imperative or else the vehicles cannot get registered and cannot be plied on roads. Kasam Mulani, president of Navi Mumbai Rickshaw Mahasangh who was present along with women protesters at Shivaji chowk in Vashi, said, “I met the transport secretary last month in this regard. A solution to issue was rather important.”The much vaunted and celebrated lottery scheme of the state government with 5 % reservation in January enabled women with license and badges to get permits. Unions and women auto operators objected to the colour and uniform code change. Mulani said they submitted their objections to the state government suggestion/objections to the colour code issued on April 18. Meera Samuel (an auto operator from Nerul, who is affected due to the imbroglio) said: I am an auto operator and used to drive the yellow black rickshaw, but after qualifying in the lottery scheme, I purchased an auto rickshaw that cost me overall Rs 2 lakh. I have taken a loan and paid one month instalment of Rs 5000. The other one is due shortly. My vehicle is unregistered and parked at home. (Times of India 13/6/16)

NHRC notice to Rajasthan on branding women as witches (8)

New Delhi: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on Monday issued notice to the Rajasthan government on the plight of women branded as witches in the state’s Bhilwara district. Taking sou motu cognizance of the issue through media reports, the commission has learned that most often widows or women without any family support have been branded as witches. “Some of them were tortured brutally or even killed. Some of them were forced to leave their homes, and their properties were grabbed by powerful people,” a statement from the commission said. The state authorities have allegedly not taken effective action against either the offenders or to curb this menace. Accordingly, the commission has observed that the issue if true, raises serious violation of human rights of the hapless and helpless women in Rajasthan. “The notice has been issued to the Chief Secretary and Director General of Police, Government of Rajasthan calling for reports in the matter. They have been asked to indicate the action taken by the law enforcement in each such incident and the steps taken by the State authorities to address the issue,” said the statement. (Business Standard 13/6/16)

Squads to patrol city buses, combat harassment of women (8)

Agra: Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) officials will be forming squads to check activities of miscreants in city buses here. The squad will also conduct checks on those who travel without tickets on these buses. The city buses run on MG Road, Kamla Nagar, Bhagwan Talkies, Dayal Bagh, Agra Cantt and various other localities and routes of Agra. But in the past days there have been increasing complaints about ticketless travel and of passengers misbehaving with women as well as bus staff.”We have decided to form squads to ensure safer travel of passengers, particularly women. There will be four teams in Agra and two in Mathura. Our motto is to provide hassle-free travel for citizens and we are working to improve facilities on city buses,” said Rajendra Prasad Giri, managing director of JNNURM here, talking to TOI. “The squad will include an officer in charge of checking, a traffic police sub-inspector, two constables and a woman constable. They will act against anyone creating problems for passengers or flouting rules,” the MD said, adding that the squads will be formed within this month. According to officials, the squads will also act against illegal buses which have contributed to increasing traffic congestion in Agra, particularly on busy thoroughfares. One can spot these buses at Bhagwan Talkies crossing, ISBT, Water Works and Bijlighar bus station in particular. (Times of India 16/6/16)

Harassed for giving birth to girls, woman ends life; 4 booked (8)

Thane: A 26-year-old woman allegedly committed suicide after being harassed by her husband and in-laws for giving birth to daughters in Katyachiwadai village of Murbad taluka here, police said today. Ranjana Kashinath Thombre took the extreme step by jumping in a well yesterday on account of alleged torture and frequent harassment by her husband and in-laws over dowry and not being able to bear a son. Ranjana was married to Kashinath Bhau Thombre and the couple lived with their in-laws in Murbad. According to a complaint lodged last night the accused again had an altercation over the victim having three daughters.Kashinath (26), Bhagibai Bhau Thombre (58), Vasant Bhau Thombre (28) and Lata Vasant Thombre (25) were booked by Tokawade police of Murbad taluka under sections 306 (abetment to suicide), 498-A (husband or relative of husband of a woman subjecting her to cruelty) rw 34 of the IPC.

However, no arrests have been so far. (Deccan Herald 16/6/16)

Teams formed to prevent crimes against women (8)

PUDUCHERRY: In an effort aimed at preventing crimes against women, including eve-teasing, the Puducherry police have constituted 15 special teams to nab those involved in the act.Police sources said that women police in plainclothes will inspect crowded places and nab those involved in the act. Each team will have seven women police personnel and two male police personnel. Joining hands with law-enforcement machinery they will work towards safety of women. The teams will function under the direct supervision of Senior Superintendent of Police (Traffic) Rajeev Ranjan. (The Hindu 19/6/16)

Exploitation of girls in spinning mills flayed (8)

Dindigul: Members of Tirupur People’s Movement (TPM) staged a demonstration in front of Dindigul Corporation office on Tuesday condemning exploitation of adolescent girls by spinning mills in the State. Addressing the gathering, TPM State coordinator Melvin said that the mills should stop exploiting adolescent girls by offering fake schemes like marriage and higher education programmes. Such programmes should be banned by the government. Action should be taken against middlemen and agents who brought these girls for work in spinning mills under Section 370 (trafficking personnel) of the Indian Penal Code, he said. The government should frame a new law banning appointment of girls, aged between 14 and 18 years, in mills. Many mill managements did not pay even the minimum wages to them, and other benefits such as ESI and PF were totally denied to them. Many girls had been facing sexual harassment, verbal abuse and living in unhygienic accommodation while working in the mills, he charged. The government should frame new guidelines for setting up stay homes meant for these girls within the mill campus and bring them under the control of Social Welfare Department. Opportunity should be given for the girls to air their grievances personally, Mr. Melvin insisted. Tamil Nadu Textile and Common Labour Union secretary S. Divya said that three girls, who had faced harassment in a private mill in Karamadai in Coimbatore district, were rescued only after the intervention of top officials. A recent survey stated that 70,000 out of 92,000 workers in 200 spinning mills in the district were women, 56 per cent of whom were in the age group of 14-18 years. About 7,400 women completed Plus Two, 14,800 SSLC and 36,000 girls dropped out of school after completing sixth and ninth classes. Middlemen lured girls from rural areas on the false promises of marriage assistance, higher education, etc, she charged. (The Hindu 22/6/16)

Jharkhand cops tie up girl in ropes (8)

Alwar: In an apparent violation of human rights, the Jharkhand police on Tuesday tied a 23-year-old girl with a rope around her waist after arresting her in a dowry harassment case. The girl was kept tied at the Railway police station in Alwar and later taken to Jharkhand in a train in the same manner. The entire incident was witnessed by the residents and local media that captured photos of the girl tied-up by her waist being escorted by the Jharkhand cops, including a woman constable. The Supreme Court holds handcuffing and tying with ropes as inhuman and in violation of human rights. According to the Alwar police, a police team from the Garhwa district of Jharkhand had come to arrest Aparna, a resident of Bank Colony here as she was an accused in a dowry harassment case filed by her sister-in law, who resides in Garhwa. “After arresting the girl, the Jharkhand police took her for a medical examination at a local hospital. The girl resisted her arrest and fled from the hospital. She was, however, arrested again from a nearby area. The police then tied her tightly by the waist with a rope and took her away ,” an Alwar police official said on the condition of anonymity . Aparna’s sister-in-law filed a complaint against her husband, father-in-law and mother-in-law, accusing them of harassing her for dowry .Upon raiding the house in Alwar, the police found Aparna’s parents and her brother missing. The police questioned Aparna and arrested her as she too was an accused. (Times of India 22/6/16)

Sex abuse: AAP MLA held (8)

New Delhi: The police arrested Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) MLA Dinesh Mohaniya for “sexual harassment” while he was addressing a press conference here on Saturday. Miffed by the police action, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of declaring an “Emergency” in Delhi. The police said the MLA was arrested because he failed to join the investigation in the case registered against him, despite being served with a notice. But the ruling party said the MLA was scheduled to go to the police after addressing the press conference. The MLA faces another case–registered on Friday, a day after the incident over which he has been arrested–for slapping a 60-year-old man in Tughlakabad area. While Mohaniya was being whisked away from his office at Khanpur in south Delhi, he told reporters that the police were acting like hooligans.  “Mohaniya was arrested on charges of sexual harassment on the complaint of a woman who visited his office-cum-residence two days ago as part of a group to complain about irregular water supply,” said a police officer. Mohaniya is also vice-chairperson of the Delhi Jal Board. The complainants, residents of Sangam Vihar, said that Mohaniya and his supporters “manhandled” and “threatened” them when they sought his help. The BJP said the MLA’s arrest underscores the “anti-women character” of AAP leaders. But Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said the BJP is trying to divert public attention from the M M Khan murder case. The AAP has been demanding the arrest of Lt Governor Najeeb Jung, BJP MP Maheish Girri and New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) vice-chairperson Karan Singh Tanwar in the murder of the New Delhi Municipal Council officer Khan. Mohaniya is not the first AAP MLA to face arrest. In the past, his party colleagues have faced arrest on charges such as holding a fake degree, indulging in domestic violence and land grabbing. (Deccan Herald 26/6/16)

Centre stole my ‘Beti Bachao-Beti Padhao’ idea: Lady cop (8)

UDAIPUR: A woman police officer in Rajasthan has claimed that “Beti Bachao-Beti Padhao” was her brainchild, and alleged that the Centre stole the phrase for a national campaign that Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched last year to save and educate the girl child. Chetna Bhati, SHO of a women’s police station in Udaipur, has written to Modi, seeking “recognition for her creativity” after her RTI applications to the Prime Minister’s Office to know how they “got hold of the phrase” did not yield desired results. With post-graduate degrees in History and English, rees in History and English, Bhati was a government school teacher before she joined the police force 20 years ago. “I first wrote and sued the phrase in 1999 for a poetry series. I also recited them at an event in 2005. I do not need money or publicity. I just want to be acknowledged for an idea that has become so popular,” she said. Bhati said her RTI applications were transferred to the women and child development department and the department of school education and literacy, but both failed to provide the information sought. The programme is being implemented in 100 select districts covering all states and UTs by the ministry of women and child development, the ministry of health and family welfare and the ministry of human resource development. A native of Jaisalmer in Rajasthan, She says she has been concerned by India’s dwindling number of girls and selective abortions, something that reflects in her literary works. According to India’s census data, the child sex ratio in the country was 927 girls per 1,000 boys in 2001, which dropped drastically to 918 girls for every 1,000 boys in 2011. A 2012 UNICEF report ranked India 41st among 195 countries. “When I was posted in Nagpur in 2002, I sent a mail to then Rajasthan chief mini ster Ashok Gehlot requesting his Modi has called for the eradication of female foeticide, and invited suggestions from citizens on the programme that he launched in January last year from Haryana’s Panipat to improve India’s child sex ratio and gender equality through education. “Modi shares, in his ‘Mann ki Baat’ radio address, the smallest of things that touch him. I hope he responds to an issue related to originality and creativity,” the cop said. (Times of India 27/6/16)

Woman inked with abuse tattoos over dowry (8)

Jaipur: A 30-year-old woman in Alwar district in Rajasthan was beaten up and gang-raped by her husband and brothers-in-law and inked with abusive tattoos all over her body for failing to fulfil their dowry demand. The victim, married to Jagannath in Reni village, alleged that since her marriage in January 2015, her husband and in-laws were physically torturing her demanding a dowry of Rs 51,000. In her statement to the police, the victim said her husband inked abusive words on her body after her family failed to pay dowry. A temporary tattoo on her hands reads in Hindi, ‘My father is a thief’, which she later scrubbed off after a considerable effort. According to the victim’s father, his daughter was drugged with sedatives, taken to an unidentified location and assaulted. He said “her in-laws forcibly tattooed abuses all over her body and continuously tortured her”. A senior police officer at the women’s police station, who is investigating the case, said the woman claimed she was gang-raped by her husband and brother-in-laws and hence a medical examination was conducted on Monday at Shastri Nagar hospital. The woman’s husband used to work as a tattoo artist and balloon inflator. The police have registered a case of dowry harassment against the victim’s in-laws. They have also registered a first information report under Sections 498-A (Protection of Women Against Domestic Violence Act), 376 (punishment for rape) and 406 (punishment for criminal breach of trust) of the Indian Penal Code against the victim’s husband and family. (Deccan Herald 28/6/16)

CHILDREN/ CHILD LABOUR

300,000 Children Across India Drugged, Beaten, Forced To Beg: Report (14)

Chennai:  At least 300,000 children across India are drugged, beaten and forced to beg every day, in what has become a multi-million rupee industry controlled by human trafficking cartels, police and trafficking experts said. Writing in a report which is about to be circulated across the country’s police forces, the authors urged law enforcers to carry out greater surveillance of children living on the streets. According to the National Human Rights Commission, up to 40,000 children are abducted in the country every year, of which at least 11,000 remain untraced. “The police don’t think begging is an issue because they assume that the adult with the child is either family or a known person,” said co-author Anita Kanaiya, CEO of The Freedom Project India, which works on trafficking issues. “But for every 50 children rescued there will be at least 10 who are victims of trafficking. And there has to be a constant vigil to identify them,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. Children are sometimes maimed or burned to elicit greater sympathy and get more alms, said the report. The money they earn is usually paid to the traffickers, or to buy alcohol and drugs. The report is based on the experiences of police and charities in Bengaluru in Karnataka. There is a seasonal pattern to begging, local police said. Cities like Bengaluru see a sharp rise in the numbers of children wandering the streets just before festivals or after a natural disaster. In 2011, Bengaluru police launched “Operation Rakshane” (“To Save”). In coordination with various government departments and charities, they drew up a blueprint to help children forced into begging. Months before carrying out a series of rescues, they spread out across the city, taking pictures of children on the street, documenting their daily activities and shadowing them back to their homes. “When we started, we had nothing to prove the connection between begging and trafficking. But we went about meticulously recording any signs of forced labour on the streets of the city,” Ms Kanaiya said. According to inspector general of police, Pronob Mohanty, who spearheaded the operation, teams of police and health workers rescued 300 children on a single day across the city.”Operation Rakshane is meant to be a template which can be replicated as a model of inter-agency cooperation,” Mr Mohanty said in the handbook, which includes suggestions for surveillance, data collection and rehabilitation, as well as listing relevant laws. Ms Kanaiya said: “We are now initiating a planned campaign to take the book to every police headquarter in the country and follow it up with a workshop on child (begging) and rescue operations for policemen.” (NDTV 1/6/16)

‘Poverty, lack of awareness main causes for students to drop out’ (4)

Shivamogga: Krupa Alva, chairperson, Karnataka State Commission for Protection of Child Rights, has called for greater coordination between the Public Instruction, Labour, Women and Child Welfare departments to bring the children who have remained out of schools back into the fold of education system. She was speaking at a meeting held to review the progress of ‘Shaale kade- nanna nade’, a campaign launched by the government to bring the drop-outs to schools.She said that the major chunk of the drop-outs and those who have never enrolled for schools in Karnataka belong to Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes. Poverty and lack of awareness among the parents on the importance of education is the reason for these children remaining out of the purview of school education system. It is necessary to keep the parents of such children aware about the importance of education, she said. She also directed the officials of Department of Labour to conduct raids on hotels and automobile workshops that have employed child labour. CEO of Zilla Panchayat Rakesh Kumar, Additional Deputy Commissioner Channabasappa, Additional Superintendent of Police Vincent Shantha Kumar, member of the Commission Vanitha Toravi and Chairperson of District Child Welfare Committee Geetha Shivamurthy were present. (The Hindu 4/6/16)

‘Judicial activism needed to protect child rights’ (14)

Chandigarh: State Legal Services Authority in collaboration with Chandigarh Commission for Protection of Child observed the International Day of Innocent Children, Victims of Aggression at Snehalaya, Maloya, on Saturday. CCPCR chairperson professor Devi Sirohi said “We are celebrating the day to acknowledge the pain suffered by children throughout the world who are victims of physical, mental and emotional abuse.” Professor Sirohi highlighted the role of judicial activism in the protection of child rights in Chandigarh. She also spoke on the active participation of State Legal Service Authority which will contribute towards breaking socio-economic barriers and creating an egalitarian society. (Times of India 5/6/16)

Census shows worrisome data on child labour (14)

New Delhi: India may be chest-thumping about its growth, but the following figures on working children, despite a slide in the numbers, may not be a pleasant data. Four per cent of children under 14 years of age are still sweating it out in workplaces across the country, according to the Census 2011 figures released on Tuesday. In all, 1.01 crore of the 25.96 crore children in the 5-14 age group earn for their families, the census reveals. It is a decrease from 1.26 crore (5% of children in the 5-14 age group) recorded in the 2001 Census. The census figure shows that 25.33 lakh children are in the age group of 5-9 years and the rest 75.95 lakh in the 10-14 age bracket. The figure includes both main workers and marginal workers. With Hindus having the highest population, the community has the largest chunk of such children, but after Jains, the community has the least percentage of children in this age group who are working. Christians have the highest proportion of children who are working, the census shows. There has also been a drastic reduction in the number of working Hindu children – from 1.02 crore in 2001 to 78.72 lakh 10 years later. The proportion in 2011 was 3.03%.The Muslims, who are considered to have a large portion of poor people among them, also had an impressive show by recording a decreasing trend in working children. While there were 18.16 lakh such children in 2001, the numbers came down to 16.27 lakh in 2011. In 2011, the community had 3.79% of its children in the 5-14 age group working. Christians, however, recorded a marginal rise in the number of such children from 2.52 lakh to 2.57 lakh. (Deccan Herald 8/6/16)

Nitish announces Rs 25,000 for every rescued child labour (14)

Patna: Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Sunday inaugurated ‘Child Labour Tracking System (CLTS)’ in order to keep a track of rescued child labour for their proper rehabilitation besides announcing financial help of Rs 25,000 for every rescued child labour to be given from Chief Minister’s Relief Fund. Kumar, who was participating at a function on World Day against Child Labour here, also said he had in principle accepted the ‘Charter of Demands’ submitted by the rescued child labour and announced setting up a committee headed by Chief Secretary for implementation of children’s demands. “Every rescued child will be given Rs 25,000 from Chief Minister’s Relief Fund. The money would directly go to their bank account. It (money) would instill a sense of confidence among the children. The money would be given to all those children who will be registered under the tracking system,” Kumar said while addressing the gathering on the occasion. The prominent demands of rescued children are- more schools with all facilities, residential schools for such children, training facilities in order to get job, a year (from Aug 15, 2016 to Aug 14, 2017) be declared and celebrated as child year etc. The main reasons behind the child labour are illiteracy and poverty, he said and emphasised the need for such Child Labour Tracking System (CLTS). Talking about the significance of the tracking system, the Chief Minister said “Even if they are rescued from working as child labour, there is no guarantee that they (rescued child labour) would not be forced to work. So there is need for tracking those children who have been rescued besides, monitoring such children as to what they are doing.” Expressing surprise over the prevalence of child labour, Kumar wondered saying that “there is still child labour despite the fact that government is giving every facility to the needy right from their birth and Anganwadi Kendras. There is mid day meal, uniform, books, cycles etc.” Education Minister Ashok Choudhary, Labour Resources Minister Vijay Prakash, Cooperative Minister Alok Mehta, Social Welfare Minister Kumari Manju Verma, Labour Department secretary Dipak Kumar Singh, Social Welfare Department Principal Secretary Vandana Kinni and other prominent persons also spoke on the occasion. (Zee News 12/6/16)

Six held in separate child abuse cases in Malappuram (14)

Malappuram: Six persons were arrested in connection with three separate child abuse cases in the past one week in the district. Parappanangadi police arrested four persons for raping a 16-year-old girl two days ago. It is learnt that two relatives of the girl were also among those who have been arrested. Perinthalmanna and Karuvarakkundu police have also registered two cases under Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, last week. The team led by circle inspector of Wandoor under Karuvarakkundu station jurisdiction arrested a man who abused his neighbour, minor girl. Perinthalmanna police held a man for sexually abusing a boy for the past two months. A case has been registered under section 377 (unnatural sex) of IPC. Despite child welfare authorities including Childline and district child protection units being active in the district, child sex abuse cases are still widely reported in Malappuram. The data available with Childline Malappuram showed that neighbours were the culprits in most of the cases related to child abuse. Of the total 146 child sex abuse cases registered between April 2015 to March 2016, victims’ neighbours have been accused in 49 cases. According to district coordinator of Childline, Anwar Karakkadan, issues in parenting was the main reason for the rise in child sexual abuse incidents in the district. He added that the Childline would intensify its campaign against child sexual abuse and other crimes against children. (Times of India 13/6/16)

Over 300 child workers rescued in five years (14)

NAMAKKAL: Over 300 child workers who were engaged at various units in the district were rescued in the past five years and were rehabilitated, said District Collector V. Dakshinamoorthy. In an audio released in social media, the Collector said that children were employed in farm, and farm related works. They were also involved in brick kiln units, motorcycle workshops and lorry industries in the district. Poverty, lack of awareness among parents and illiteracy were the root cause for children being sent to work. “Employing children prevents their development,” he added. He said that Factories Act, 1948 and Child Labour – Prohibition and Regulation Act, 1986 paves way for initiating action against the employers. If the public come across children being employed, they can inform Childline 1098 so that they can be rescued. More than 300 child workers were rescued in the past five years and they were admitted to special schools run under the National Child Labour Project (NCLP). In the current year, more than 20 child workers were rescued and admitted to special schools. A total of 91 rescued child workers were currently undergoing higher studies, he added. The Collector said that rescued child workers were paid a monthly assistance of Rs. 500. He said that action will be taken against persons who employ children in their units. (The Hindu 16/6/16)

15 child labourers rescued from MIDC company (14)

Nagpur: City police have rescued 15 child labourers from Candico India Limited on Hingna Road in MIDC earlier this week following a tip-off. Around 30 labourers were scanned by police from which the minor ones were shifted to the government shelter home after the raid on Tuesday. MIDC police have now registered an offence against the management of the company. Police sources said the labourers were coerced to operate in the manufacturing unit of the company violating the provisions under Juvenile Justice (Care and protection of children) Act. The labourers, rescued so far, were mainly from Chandrapur, Gondia and Gadchiroli districts. The cops had also summoned the district child protection unit which registered the complaint against the management. The labour contractor too is now under scanner. The minor labourers were also presented before the child welfare committee (CWC) by MIDC police. (Times of India 19/6/16)

Underprivileged kids to get their 1st flight experience (14)

Coimbatore: As many as 51 underprivileged children from a home in Coimbatore might be experiencing their first ever flight travel in the next few days. Air Carnival, a Coimbatore-based airlines, that has planned to start its operations by this month end, has announced that they would take the children from Sadhguru Sevasram free of cost on the launch day of the flight services from Coimbatore – Chennai and Coimbtore to Madurai. The joy trip for the children has been planned in association with Lions Club International. “We are also planning to provide clothes free of cost for all the children who would be taken on the flight,” said Suresh Kumar, governor of Lions Club International District 324B1. The joy ride for the children is expected to be flagged off by the airlines’ chief operation officer S I Nathan. Air Carnival’s authorities said that their first aircraft, an ATR 72 – 500 has arrived at Coimbatore and the flight services will commence shortly. They said that the best available talents in the market have been recruited as flight crew for the aircraft which would seek to differentiate itself from rest of the players with its mantra “On time every time”. (Times of India 20/6/16)

Govt looking at ways to rehabilitate child beggars (14)

Jaipur: In order to curb the menace of beggary, the state government is working on a scheme to provide shelter, health care, education and technical skills to several child beggars in the state.Arun Chaturvedi, minister of social justice and empowerment, held a meeting with senior government officials on Monday and directed that a database should be compiled to ascertain how many children are involved in begging in Rajasthan. “A state-wide survey of children begging on the roads will be conducted. This will help us draft a proposal about the rehabilitation of such children. It is an inter-departmental exercise and officials from health and education departments would also be roped in,” Chaturvedi added. According to an official, the government is planning to set up special skill development training centres for the destitutes and beggars to ensure their reintegration into the mainstream society. “Those who want to study would be enrolled into schools. Those who wish to earn, would be sent to technical skill centres. This way, these children can live a life with dignity,” an official said. Chaturvedi also asked his officials to study the reasons behind child begging in the state. “During the course of the survey we will also study why children go in for begging. This will help us prevent the menace of child begging effectively,” he said in the meeting. The social justice and empowerment ministry will also set up special schools and hostels at divisional levels for the rescued children. NGOs and other institutions would be roped in to design curriculum for the children. “The proposal would also include ways for the rehabilitation of former drug addicts, especially children. Our focus would be to give them healthcare, education and employment skills,” an official said. (Times of India 21/6/16)

62 children rescued in M’bubnagar (14)

Hyderabad: The Mahbubnagar district police’s week-long drive against child labour has once again highlighted that there is a marked presence of child-labour in the district and the state. Police rescued 62 child labourers in a span of seven days. The drive which was started on June 12 by superintendent of police Rema Rajeshwari was aimed to check places and people who hired children. It also aimed at enrolling the rescued children in schools. This drive was part of the “collaborative policing” initiative of Mahbubnagar district police. Police teams visited schools, industries (both organized and unorganized), brick-kilns, dhabas, roadside restaurants, shops, and other commercial establishments to assess the magnitude of out-of- school children, child labour and their work profile as also the availability of support and infrastructure through government programmes and NGOs. (Times of India 21/6/16)

When social workers, child labourers swap roles (14)

Bhopal: 25 kids, who eke out living by selling newspapers, were in for pleasant surprise, when ANSH Happiness Society, an NGO, working for the welfare of children, took them out on a visit to Regional Science Centre on Friday. Besides, giving them a day off from work, volunteers of the NGO sold papers on streets. Anshul, a child labourer, (name changed) “I sell newspaper at mall square, Arera Hills after school. People give me money or clothes, but we never got a chance to visit places like this. I want to become doctor. A visit to Regional Science Centre inspired me to study hard. I enjoyed my day with new friends. It was a wonderful experience.” It was followed by breakfast. Children were treated to educational science recreational activities at the centre including Taramandal and 3D movie screening. Some games were also organized for them. Children participated and won prizes. Children watched movie “I am Kalam”. Towards the end of their 9-hour outing, they interacted for an hour with RJ Roopak from Radio Mirchi. Volunteers, who sold newspapers shared their experiences with TOI. “I earned Rs 200 for 30 newspapers, some people criticized us, but many of them supported and even some even gave Rs 100 for one newspaper. It helped me learn about difficulties these kids face,” said Sanjay Umarwani, a volunteer. The proceeds from the effort will go to kids selling newspaper. Suhani Shridhar, another volunteer said spending a day with children we see on streets selling newspapers cannot be explained in words. Seeing smile on their face when they got a hair cut or when they won prizes was a memorable experience. These amazing kids were teacher for us, who taught us many things in simple way. (Times of India 25/6/16)

World must focus on poorest children: UNICEF (14)

United Nations: The world must focus more on helping the poorest children to build on progress achieved in health and education over the past 25 years, UNICEF said. In its annual “State of the World’s Children” report, the UN children’s agency took stock of important gains such as a 53% drop in infant mortality since 1990 and a dramatic reduction in extreme poverty. But without a sharper focus on the most vulnerable, it warned, 69 million children under five will die from preventable causes and 167 million will suffer poverty over the next 15 years. Without a shift, some 750 million women and girls will have been married as children by 2030, the deadline set by the United Nations to achieve its new global goals for sustainable development. Progress so far “has mainly been made by focusing a lot on children that are more easy to reach, or on interventions on health and nutrition with a high impact,” said Justin Forsyth, UNICEF’s deputy executive director. “What we are finding now is that if we do not focus on the most disadvantaged we won’t accelerate this progress,” he added. “We have made tremendous progress,” said Ted Chaiban, director of programs at UNICEF. “But that progress has not been fair.” The world’s poorest children are twice as likely to die before they turn five and to be chronically malnourished than the richest, according to UNICEF. Across much of South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, children born to mothers with no education are almost three times more likely to die before they are 5 than those born to mothers with a secondary education. Girls from the poorest households are twice as likely to marry as children than those from the wealthiest households. The number of children out of school, on the rise since 2011, presents another worrying trend. With around 124 million children today who do not attend primary or middle school, education is key to reaching the most vulnerable, Chaiban argued. “Where there has been a strong investment in basic education around the world, there has been a tremendous return on investment,” he said.With no action to address inequality, societies worldwide will feel “a dramatic impact and it will fuel instability,” Forsyth said. (Business Standard 28/6/16)

MINORITIES – GENERAL

Hindus from Pakistan, Bangladesh will get to claim Indian citizenship (7)

New Delhi: In a move that is as much political as it is humanitarian, the home ministry is ready with draft amendments to citizenship law that will exempt minority citizens of Pakistan and Bangladesh who have come to India out of fear of religious prosecution from being tagged as “illegal migrants”.The changes to the Citizenship Act, 1955, will give a legal path to the refugees to remain in India and even claim citizenship, a move in tune with the Modi government’s unambiguous desire to be seen as a protector of Hindus facing adverse circumstances in these countries. The move stands to benefit nearly 2 lakh Hindus from Pakistan and Bangladesh who often complain they are treated as “second-class citizens” and are vulnerable to violence. They have also often found themselves at the receiving end of blasphemy laws. The decision to come to the aid of Hindu minorities, even while discouraging Muslim migrants driven by economic conditions from Bangladesh as “outsiders”, marks the government’s decision to consciously differentiate between types of migrants even if this attracts criticism of working to a Hindutva agenda.The differentiation between those seeking refuge to escape political and religious persecution on one hand and those migrating for economic reasons is in accord with international norms and definition of who is a refugee. However, the distinction also fits in with the political agenda to amplify the message of India, as Sangh Parivar insists, being a natural home to Hindus of all sorts. BJP promised citizenship to Hindu refugees in its manifesto for 2014 Lok Sabha polls. Ever since it assumed office, the Modi regime has taken a series of measures to facilitate grant of long-term visas to such refugees until they can be granted citizenship. The government recently moved a proposal to further facilitate the stay of long-term visa holders by offering Aadhaar cards, driving licence and PAN cards.As per the proposed amendments to Citizenship Act, December 31, 2014 will be designated as the cut-off date for refugees to be eligible to apply for citizenship. Also, Section 2 (1)(b) of the Act will have a provison that will exempt such citizens from being deemed “illegal migrants”. The government is also looking at simultaneous amendments to the Passport (Entry into India) Act, 1920 and Foreigners Act, 1946. “The draft Cabinet note will be put up for Cabinet approval at the earliest,” said a MHA functionary. (Times of India 3/5/16)

BJP on mission to win over minorities (7)

Guwahati: In the wake of fresh debates on Dadri lynching incident, Assam BJP has embarked on a confidence-building mission to win the trust of the minority communities of different religions. BJP leaders on Saturday had day-long interactions with representatives of Assamese Sikh, Jain, Christian and Muslim community representatives to know their expectations from the BJP-led state government. It was also an attempt to take suggestions on how the government can best deliver the benefits meant for the minorities.Leaders of the Assamese Sikh community, who comprise less than 1% of the state’s 3.12-crore population, said they were looking towards the state government with the hope that the community’s political, cultural and economic rights will be well protected. “Till today, there has not been a single MP or MLA from Assamese Sikh community, though our culture and history form an intrinsic part of the Assamese society. We form a microcosmic community among the minorities. If the state government reserves a single seat for Assamese Sikh students in higher education institutions meant for the minorities here, it will be a great gesture,” Assamese Sikh Association Assam (Asaa) president Manjit Singh said.The meeting here was also aimed at allaying mistrust among the minority community people when oppositions are up in arms against BJP in other parts of the country on charges of intolerance. “I am greatly moved by BJP’s gesture of talking to representatives of various religious communities and seeking our advice for the welfare of the minorities. This initiative has helped in building confidence among us. After attending the meeting I am confident about the new government’s intention to work for the betterment of minorities,” Kukheswar Gogoi of Guwahati Baptist Association said. “At least we can say with satisfaction that the BJP-led government has come out to listen to our plight and expectations. The indigenous Muslims have their roots in the state’s various ethnic and tribal groups. We have our distinctive identities and culture which need to be protected,” Sahir Bhuyan of Sadou Asom Goriya Moria Deshi Jatiya Parishad said. (Times of India 5/6/16)

Human rights group hearing: US Congressmen slam Modi govt for ‘violence’ against minorities (7)

Washington: Around the time Prime Minister Narendra Modi finished his meeting with US President Barack Obama at the Oval Office Tuesday, a short distance away, at 1334 Longworth House Office Building, the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission held a hearing, in which at least three US Congressmen and a group of human rights activists criticised the Modi government for the current situation of human rights in India. The hearing, which began 3 pm Tuesday and lasted about an hour-and-a-half, saw the Congressmen speak about “intimidation, discrimination, harassment and violence” experienced by Muslims and Christians in India. US Congressman Trent Franks, a Republican who has visited India, flagged the riots in Uttar Pradesh, violence in Odisha and the 2002 Gujarat riots and said that because of the “current climate of impunity in India, many victims may never get justice”. Congressman Joseph R Pitts, who is co-chairman of the commission, also said the economic growth in India “overlooks an array of troubling human rights concerns”. Talking about the plight of religious minorities, he said there is an “alarming trend” of instances of violence against religious minorities and the numbers have gone up. Activists from Amnesty international, Human Rights Watch and some other activists also took part in the hearing, where they held the Modi government responsible for the current situation. However, the Indian side was unfazed. Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar said that on one hand, the PM had been invited by US Congress to address a joint meeting and on the other, “some people are having some hearing”. Asked whether human rights issues came up during the talks between Modi and Obama, Jaishankar said: “No, I do not believe the subject came up today.” However, officials pointed out that the Indo-US joint statement said that the leaders reviewed the deepening strategic partnership between the US and India that is rooted in “shared values of freedom, democracy, universal human rights, tolerance and pluralism, equal opportunities for all citizens, and rule of law”. (Indian Express 9/6/16)

Minority rights in India: US body invites experts (7)

Amritsar: An American Congressional body has invited experts from India, US and UK to testify before it about the happenings in India and how minority rights are being allegedly undermined. American Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (AGPC) coordinator Pritpal Singh informed TOI on Wednesday that the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission on Tuesday examined the current state of human rights in India, challenges to fundamental freedoms, and opportunities for advancement at Washington DC. Recognizing India as the world’s largest democracy, the commission of the US Congress said a wide variety of serious human rights concerns persisted in the country. Showing concern over the sharp rise in cases of intolerance, the commission said that despite constitutional provisions abolishing the legal existence of “untouchable” or Dalit castes and tribes, the caste system remained deeply ingrained in Indian society, leading to discrimination. According to the US Commission on International Religious Freedom’s latest report, “In 2015, religious tolerance deteriorated and religious freedom violations increased in India. Minority communities, especially Christians, Muslims, and Sikhs, experienced numerous incidents of intimidation, harassment, and violence, largely at the hands of Hindu nationalist groups.” “The hearing was jointly chaired by Congressmen Joseph R Pitts and James P McGovern, who took the testimony of expert witnesses pointing to the continuous persecution and threat to Christians, Muslims and Sikh communities in India,” said Pritpal. Acknowledging the need for strong partnership, Pitts and McGovern opened the hearing on the current state of human rights in India by emphasizing the importance of religious freedom for minorities, informed Singh. Welcoming the public hearing of US Congress supported by Tom Lantos Commission Friends, Harpreet Singh, who is heading the American Sikh Congressional Caucus (ASCC), told TOI on Wednesday that the hearing provided opportunities to the Sikhs to outlines important legal, social and cultural issues related to the persecution of minorities in India. (Times of India 10/6/16)

Our minorities need no foreign help: Bangladesh Minister (7)

DHAKA: After a Hindu forum leader in that country said the community ‘is vulnerable and … We have high hopes on Narendra Modi’Bangladesh on Monday said it did not need any foreign help to provide security to its religious minorities despite a recent wave of deadly attacks by Islamists targeting Hindus and other communities along with liberal activists in the Muslim-majority country. “The followers of minority religious faiths are being attacked along with other ordinary citizens as part of an orchestrated plot to embarrass the government but these incidents could in no way affect the interfaith harmony in Bangladesh,” Information Minister Hasanul Haq Inu said. He added, “We don’t need to seek assistance of any foreign country or government for the security of our minority communities, the [Bangladesh] government by principle is secular and it is awake 24 hours.” Mr. Inu heads the left-leaning party, which is a partner of ruling Awami League-led coalition government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.The Minister’s comments came in response to a recent media report that said Hindu community in Bangladesh had sought Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s intervention for their protection in the wake of the attacks. “The Hindu community, which is the biggest minority community in Bangladesh, is vulnerable in Bangladesh. Fundamentalist and Jamaat forces are trying to wipe out Hindus from Bangladesh,” general secretary of Bangladesh Hindu Buddhist Christian Unity Council and noted human rights activist Rana Dasgupta had said in Kolkata. “We feel that India being a Hindu majority country, should do something. We have high hopes on Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He should act and take up the matter with Bangladeshi government and ensure the safety and security of Hindus,” he said.A wave of recent attacks that left a number of secular or liberal activists and religious minorities dead prompted Bangladesh to launch a nationwide anti-militancy crackdown on Thursday. Police on Monday claimed that 8,569 people were arrested with 34 of them suspected Islamists. According to police, most of the militants detained in the countrywide raid belonged to Jamaatul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) the banned outfit that is believed to have carried out most of the attacks in the past two years. In June, an elderly Hindu priest, a Hindu monastery worker, a Christian grocer, and wife of a senior police officer, were all murdered. (The Hindu 13/6/16)

Minorities singled out in domicile row, say colleges (7)

MUMBAI: The Bombay high court on Monday sought the state government’s reply to a challenge to the requirement of domicile certificate (DC) for those applying under the minority quota to management and engineering courses. A bench of Justice V M Kanade and Justice M S Sonak heard a plea by the Forum of Minority Management Institutions, in a pending petition challenging the validity of provisions of Maharashtra Unaided Private Professional Educational Institution (Regulation of Admission and Fee) Act 2015. The forum includes 20 management colleges like St Xavier’s, SIES, Anjuman Islam, St Francis, KC, Lala Lajpatrai, Rustomjee, Somaiya, Rizvi and 6 engineering colleges like Don Bosco, St Francis, St Xavier’s and Fr Agnel. Rafiq Dada and S C Naidu, appearing for the forum, submitted that the information brochure this year for the first time makes DCs compulsory for minorities and persons with disability. They said not getting a DC would disqualify a candidate as the merit list will be finalized on June 17. “If he does not produce it, he becomes an open candidate. Minority candidates are singled out while others can produce a birth certificate and school-leaving certificate,” said Dada. Shreehari Aney, appearing for the government, said the candidates who want to take benefit of the minority quota should have applied well in advance after SSC. The forum urged that pending hearing the receipt issued by a tehsildar, accepting application for domicile certificate should be considered for accepting application forms for admissions. But Aney opposed this, saying it will affect other minorities who will be displaced in the merit list if the receipts are considered and subsequently they are not issued domicile certificates. The judges directed the government to file its reply and posted the hearing on June 16. (Times of India 13/6/16)

Attack on minorities: Over 1 lakh Bangladesh clerics issue fatwa against extremism (7)

Dhaka: Over 100,000 Islamic scholars and clerics in Bangladesh on Saturday issued a fatwa against violent extremism in the light of brutal attacks by Islamists on minorities and secular writers in the Muslim-majority nation. A total of 1,01,524 Islamic clerics including imams signed the fatwa which was published here. The fatwa titled “the edict of peace for the well-being of humanity” denounces the clandestine attacks on minorities and secular activists. Militants will not get involved in the act of killing people out of the aspiration of reaching to the heaven once they will realise that it is a path of hell, not heaven, Farid Uddin Masoud, Chairman of Bangladesh Jamiyatul Ulama said. “These fanatic militants are not only enemies of Islam and Muslims but also the enemies of humanity,” Masoud was quoted as saying by The Daily Star. The fatwa comes in the wake of continued attacks on religious minorities, intellectuals and secular writers in the country. Masoud was leading an 11-member panel of Alems and Ulamas (Islamic clerics) to declare a set of fatwas against militancy in Dhaka. Calling for peace, harmony and tolerance in the country, the Islamic clerics came up with the anti-terror edicts. Masoud, the grand imam of the country’s largest Eid congregation at Sholakia in Kishoreganj, is also the convener of fatwa for humanity and peace against terrorism and militancy initiative. “Even if the fatwas fail to stop terrorism completely, it will definitely help in curbing violence,” he said. Claiming that a section of criminals is spreading panic in several parts of the country with misinterpretation of the Quran and Hadith, Masoud said law enforcers will not be able to prevent them if the criminals’ misperception is not eradicated. The process to launch the fatwa began in January after the attacks on liberal and secular activists and religious minorities including Hindus and Christian by suspected Islamists sparked an international uproar, Masoud said. Bangladesh is under mounting international pressure to halt the violence, which in the past three years has claimed the lives nearly 50 people – Hindus, Christians, and secular bloggers – many of them by machete-wielding attackers. Though most of the attacks were claimed by the Islamic State or its affiliates and other similar extremist groups, the Bangladesh government has repeatedly dismissed the claims and said the attacks were carried out by homegrown outfits linked to the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party. Over 11,000 criminal suspects have been arrested this week as part of an intensified crackdown against extremists in the country. (Zee News 18/6/16)

Govt to shelter persecuted minorities, says Sushma Swaraj (7)

New Delhi: The government is coming out with a policy on accepting foreign refugees from “persecuted minorities” (in India’s neighbourhood and beyond) and this will comprise not just Hindus but also other minorities like Buddhists, Jains and Sikhs, external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj said on Sunday. She made the comment in response to questions on the killings of Hindus and threats received by them in Bangladesh. The minister however, lauded the Bangladesh government for their efforts to tackle the crimes. “The attacks (on Hindus in Bangladesh) are unfortunate,” Ms Swaraj said, adding that “The Bangladesh government is leaving no stone unturned” to tackle these crimes, with about “3,000 people having been apprehended”. She said even Muslim clerics in Bangladesh have condemned the crimes as “un-Islamic.” When asked whether India would open its doors only for persecuted Hindus, Ms Swaraj replied that the government was making a refugee policy that would include all those refugees who belong to “persecuted minorities” in their country and not just Hindus. Speaking on another issue, she said the government was “confident of an internal political consensus” on the river Teesta water-sharing issue between India and Bangladesh. (Asian Age 20/6/16)

Jewish community in Maharashtra to get minority status (7)

MUMBAI: Maharashtra government today cleared the proposal to accord the small Jews population in the state with minority status. The decision was taken at a meeting of the state Cabinet, chaired by chief minister Devendra Fadnavis. “Maharashtra Cabinet approves minority status to Jew community. This decision will benefit students from these communities to avail scholarships from the state government and setting up of educational institutions,” Fadnavis said. According to 2001 Census, the number of Jews living in India was 4,650 with 2,466 of them living in Maharashtra. After getting the minority status, Jews in the state will be entitled to avail the benefits of government schemes meant for minorities and can also apply in educational institutions under the minority status. If officially recognized as a minority community, it would be easier for them to register their marriages. They would also be able to set up their own educational institutions and practice and promote their culture. The Jews have been a part of the Indian society for over 2,300 years now. However, principal secretary of minority department, Jayashree Mukherjee said the state government has no official record of the number of people from the community in Maharashtra.She also said that there will not be an additional burden on the state exchequer with their inclusion in minorities. “The Jews should have been given (minority status) long back, but somehow they weren’t given. The government has no official records of the number of people in the community as their population is too less. But, according to them (community members), their population in the state is 2,466,” she said.India is one of the few countries in the world where Jews have never faced any harassment or persecution. At present, there are six notified minority communities in India – Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, Sikhs, Parsis and Jains. (Times of India 21/6/16)

Minorities Commission slams AP govt (7)

Hyderabad: The State Minorities Commission on Saturday took up the case of Muslim and Christian Dalit farmers not being allowed to engage in cultivation on endowments land in the state of Andhra Pradesh. The commission took cognisance of the issue after it was reported in these columns. In a press note, the commission said that thousands of such farmers were being affected on account of the AP government’s move to “evict them and cancelling their lease and collecting advance rentals.” The commission has sought a reply on the issue from the secretary of the revenue department of the Andhra Pradesh government by July 4. (Times of India 26/6/16)

India’s Intolerance of Minorities and Anti-Pakistan Moves (7)

India which apparently, claims to be the largest democracy, acting upon the principles of liberalism and secularism has broken all the records of violence, genocide and massacre perpetrated on various ethnic and religious groups, entailing the community of its own lower castes. Taking note of the growing intolerance and plight of minorities in India on June 7, this year, Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission of the US Congress examined the current state of human rights in India, challenges to fundamental freedoms and opportunities for advancement. The report said, “Despite Constitutional provisions…abolishing the legal existence of untouchable or Dalit castes, the caste system remains deeply ingrained within Indian society, leading to ongoing discrimination. Dalit communities, which make up a quarter of India’s population, are disproportionately at risk of suffering from major human rights concern in India.” It further wrote, “Religious minorities also face growing challenges. According to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom’s most recent report, “In 2015, religious tolerance deteriorated and religious freedom violations increased in India. Minority communities, especially Christians, Muslims, and Sikhs experienced numerous incidents of intimidation, harassment, and violence, largely at the hands of Hindu nationalist groups…these actions, coupled with perceived crackdowns on groups or individuals critical of the Indian government, have many concerned that the rights to freedom of speech and freedom of association are being increasingly curtailed.” In fact, since the leader of the ruling party BJP Narendra Modi became Prime Minister of India, various developments like unprecedented rise of Hindu extremism, persecution of minorities even of lower cast-Hindus, forced conversions of other religious minorities into Hindus, ban on beef and cow slaughter, inclusion of Hindu religious books in curriculum, creation of war-like situation with Pakistan etc. clearly show that encouraged by the Hindu fundamentalist outfits such as BJP, RSS VHP, Bajrang Dal and Shiv Sena including other similar parties have been promoting religious and ethnic chauvinism in India by propagating ideology of Hindutva (Hindu nationalism). Especially, assaults on Christians and Muslims including their places of worships and property have been intensified by the fanatic Hindu mobs…. (Kashmir Watch 27/6/16)

Minority edu institutes have to put up board with cert info (7)

MUMBAI: All minority educational institutions in the state will have to display its certification details on the premises as required by the minorities development department. According to a circular issued by the department, it will be mandatory for all institutions which have the status of either a religious minority or linguistic minority to put up a board stating their details on their premises. On the board, institute will have to list the name of the trust or society which runs it, the kind of minority (which religion or language) it belongs to, the order number of the certificate and the date of issue. Education officials said that the move is aimed at ensuring that none of the institutions make false claims and deny admissions. Currently, schools with a minority status are exempt from reserving 25% seats for students from the economically weaker sections. Teachers have welcomed the idea. “There are a lot of schools and colleges in the city which misuse the benefits of the minority status. Some might also be using it to get exemptions from rules under the Right to Education Act or others. Displaying the certification details will ensure that students and parents are aware about the details,” said Uday Nare, teacher, Hansraj Morarji Public School, Andheri. (Times of India 29/6/16)

MINORITIES – MUSLIMS

50,000 Muslims sign petition against triple talaq (7)

NEW DELHI: Over 50,000 Muslim women and men have signed a petition seeking a ban on triple talaq. The petition, spearheaded by the Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA), has sought the National Commission for Women’s intervention to end this “unQuranic practice”.BMMA co-founder Zakia Soman said a national signature campaign was underway in different states, including Gujarat, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, MP, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Odisha, West Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand, Kerala and UP. “So far, 50,000 signatures have been collected where women and men have endorsed abolition of triple talaq, many more signatures will be collected in the coming days. We have written to NCW chairperson Dr Lalitha Kumaramangalam to enlist its support to this long-pending demand of Muslim women,” Soman said. A recent BMMA study found that 92% of Muslim women supported an end to this practice. Unilateral divorce sometimes given over phone, text message and email has become increasingly frequent, leaving women with the short end of the stick. Oral divorce coupled with the heinous practice of ‘nikah halala’ (practise where a woman must marry another man, consummate the marriage before she is allowed to remarry her husband) has been a bane for Muslim women who do not receive maintenance or alimony and are often left fending for themselves and their children. Bhopal-based Sadiya Vaquas said cases of triple talaq had become rampant. “Men are getting away by using Facebook, SMSes to give talaq to women. They have no legal rights and the qazis support them and not us.” Noorjehan Safia Niaz from BMMA added, “In many cases, the qazis offer themselves as temporary husbands.” Recently, the Supreme Court admitted a petition by Dehradun-based Shayara Bano demanding abolition of the practice. BMMA has been advocating reconciliation and mediation where the divorce process is carried out over a period of 90 days. “Muslim women are citizens of India and all constitutional safeguards are applicable to her (sic). The Muslim personal law must be reformed in such a manner that all discriminatory practices are struck down as illegal and Muslim women’s constitutional and Quranic rights are safeguarded,” the petition says. (Times of India 1/6/16)

‘Why no Muslim name on Rajya Sabha list?’ (7)

Lucknow: Muslims in Uttar Pradesh are angry over the fact that none of the political parties in Uttar Pradesh have fielded a Muslim candidate for the upcoming biennial elections to the Rajya Sabha. In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, not even a single Muslim candidate could win the elections from Uttar Pradesh. “This behaviour of political parties will make us do some serious rethinking for the Assembly elections. The Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party and Congress treat us as vote banks but when it comes to giving us our due, they turn towards their loyalists. We will convene a meeting of Muslim clerics and senior leaders — cutting across sectarian differences — next month after Ramzan and decide what is to be done”, said a senior Muslim cleric, known for his proximity to the Samajwadi Party. The cleric, who did not wish to be named, said he was shocked that the Samajwadi Party list did not include even a single Muslim candidate. Senior Muslim clerics and leaders had even met Mr Mulayam Singh Yadav and the latter had assured them that he would make changes and include a Muslim candidate. He did make changes but included a Jat (Mr Surendra Nagar) instead. “Apparently, the Samajwadi Party feels that it can do without our votes and that is fine with us too. We will now wait for the Assembly polls”, the cleric said. The Samajwadi Party has fielded Mr Beni Prasad Varma, Mr Amar Singh, Mr Sanjay Seth, Mr Sukhram Yadav, Mr Reoti Raman Singh, Mr Vishambhar Nishad and Mr Surendra Nagar for the Rajya Sabha. The BSP, too, has ignored Muslims and its list includes Mr Satish Chandra Misra and Mr Ashok Siddhartha. “The BSP has been wooing Muslims since the past few months but when it comes to giving us a Rajya Sabha nomination, the party opts for a Brahmin”, said Mr Rahil, a BSP worker from Shamli district, who is now planning to quit the party. The Congress, meanwhile, has also not given any seat to Muslims and has chosen Mr Kapil Sibal for Rajya Sabha. Senior party leader Satyadeo Tripathi, however, defended the decision and said, “Congress has always given representation to Muslims. Naseeb Pathan was given two terms in the Vidhan Parishad and we have sent maximum number of Muslim candidates to the Rajya Sabha in the past”. Senior Congress leader Siraj Mehndi , however, said, “If others did not field any Muslim candidate, at least the Congress could have done so”. It is noteworthy that in the 2012 state elections, the maximum number of Muslim MLAs (68) were elected to the UP Assembly and this is the highest number since Independence. In fact, the numbers were almost proportional to the Muslim population in the state. The ruling Samajwadi Party has 42 Muslim MLAs at present (Asian Age 2/6/16)

 ‘Book Akhlak’s family for cow slaughter’ (7)

Lucknow: Defying the prohibitory orders in place in Dadri, a group of BJP and Shiv Sena leaders on Monday held a meeting in Bishahra, demanding action against the family of Mohammad Akhlak who was lynched in September last year by a violent mob over rumours that he and his family had eaten beef. Open threats and warnings were issued to the local administration that if it did not register an FIR against the family of Akhlak for cow slaughter, the village would witness public anger. “We give them 20 days. If there is no action against Akhlak’s family in that time, I cannot guarantee that I can control public anger,” said local BJP leader Sanjay Rana, who is also the father of Vishal Rana, one of the accused in Akhlak’s lynching. The police had said on Monday that it won’t allow any panchayat or meeting in the village as it may lead to communal tension in the area. District Magistrate of Gautam Budh Nagar N.P. Singh had earlier in the day invoked Section 144 of the CrPc banning gathering of five or more persons in the district. Armed with the forensic report from a Mathura lab which declared that the meat at the centre of the lynching was actually beef, Mr. Rana said, “We had been yelling at the top of our voices that a cow was slaughtered, but nobody listened to us then. That has been established now by the forensic report. The logical thing would be to do justice and punish the guilty by registering a case against Akhlak and his family for slaughtering a cow.” A recovery memo prepared by the police, however, had revealed that the meat sample which was declared as “beef” by the Mathura lab was collected not from Akhlak’s house but from the place where the mob had allegedly gathered to attack Akhlak. (The Hindu 6/6/16)

Time to make India Muslim-free: VHP leader Sadhvi Prachi (7)

Dehradun: Touching off a controversy, VHP leader Sadhvi Prachi said on Tuesday it is time to make India free of Muslims. Known for courting controversies, the Sadhvi claimed the mission of a Congress-free India has already been “accomplished” and it is now time to rid the country of Muslims. “Now that we have achieved the mission of making a Congress-free India, it is time to make India Muslim-free. We are working on that,” she said in Roorkee where at least 32 people were injured last week in a clash between two communities over forcible evacuation of a scrap dealer’s shop. Khanpur MLA Kunwar Pranav Singh Champion’s house was attacked by members of a community alleging their sacred book was also desecrated by his supporters. The Sadhvi claimed that the attack on Champion’s house was part of a “premeditated” conspiracy. Champion, one of the nine Congress MLAs who revolted against Chief Minister Harish Rawat, recently joined BJP. On the forthcoming Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls, she said if BJP projects Yogi Adityananth as its chief ministerial candidate, it was bound to win 300 seats in the state. Prachi had often been in the news for asking people to boycott films of Bollywood Khans and demanding a CBI probe into all Muslim educational institutions including Aligarh Muslim University and madrasas in Deoband to check anti- national activities. (Business Standard 7/6/16)

Muslim students denied EWS certificates, get them after Congress corporator intervenes (7)

Surat: Surat district collector has directed an inquiry after the Udhna mamlatdar refused to give certificates to three Muslim students seeking admissions in higher secondary school under the 10 per cent EWS quota. The mamlatdar wrote a note on their applications that “since the applicant belonged to the minority community their application has been filed”. However, the certificates were issued after intervention by a corporator. Mohammed Zaid Nasimuddin Shaikh, a resident of Limbayat in Surat, had cleared his Class X with 50 per cent this year, along with his cousins, Danish and Zuveriya, who had better scores and applied for admissions to Class XI commerce. Zaid’s father, Nasimuddin, drives an auto-rickshaw to earn a living and has an annual income below Rs six lakh which qualified him for the EWS certificate which mamlatdars have been authorised to issue.Nasimuddin and the father of Danish and Zuveriya filed applications at the City Civic Centre for the EWS certificate on June 7 and were asked to come on June 9 to collect the certificates. When Nasimuddin returned two days later for the certificate, he was told to contact Udhna mamlatdar V D Patel. On Friday, at the mamlatdar’s office, Patel told them that as they were Muslims, they did not fall in the EWS quota. Later, Nasimuddin took a Congress corporator of Surat Municipal Corporation, Aslam Cyclewala, along, who threatened that he would lodge a complaint against Patel. When contacted, Shaikh told The Indian Express, “We finally got the EWS certificate and applied for admissions for Zaid, Danish and Zuveriya. Only after Aslambhai threatened to lodge a complaint that the mamlatdar called up his superior and gave us the certificate in half an hour.” Cyclewala said, “I have been doing such interventions for Muslims and have got EWS certificates earlier. This is the first instance where the mamlatdar has given us in writing that as the applicants are Muslims, they were not eligible. I called up prant officer M M Parghi and complained to him about Patel.” Surat District Collector Mahendra Patel said, “We have ordered an inquiry into the incident and prant officer Parghi is probing it. After primary investigations, we have found that there are some sections in the Muslim community that come under OBC or SC, so I think there was a mistake. Any community already availing benefits of OBC or SC is not liable to get EWS certificate.” (Indian Express 12/6/16)

Religious radicalisation among some Muslims could invite backlash to American Sikhs: ASC (7)

AMRITSAR: While expressing grave concern over religious radicalisation of a few Muslims in America, the American Sikh community has expressed apprehensions of backlash on Sikh American citizenry due to misinformation, ignorance about Sikh’s unique identity, their turban and dress. Talking to TOI on Monday, Inderpreet Singh of American Sikh Council (ASC) said that religious radicalisation must be taken very seriously and condemned publicly by all the appropriate national faith organisations. Stating that ASC was extremely distressed by the indescribable act of mass murder at the ‘Pulse’ nightclub in the city of Orlando that left 53 people killed and more than 50 injured, he said, “The fallout and repercussions of violence by radical Muslims especially in America has and continues to have very serious consequences against the Sikh American citizenry through conflation and misidentitification, whether through ignorance or otherwise.” He said an extremely small minority within a very large faith group were maligning the entire faith adding that those few radicals by no means represent the majority. “As a result of such events, religious communities like the Sikh Americans are acutely vulnerable to backlash, and we urge everyone to exercise vigilance and caution during this period of heightened anxiety,” he said. However, he suggested that it was was imperative that the national Muslim organizations not only speak up but reach out to others as well. ASC has also suggested fellow citizens to notify the local law enforcement in case of any threats of violence. “We pray for a speedy and full recovery of the injured. Our prayers are with all the victims, their families, and local community,” he said. Meanwhile, the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF) informed TOI through an e-mail that they condemned the hateful attack on the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community in Orlando, Florida. “We believe no one should be targeted for his or her race, religion, beliefs or sexual orientation and we stand in solidarity with our LGBT brothers and sisters” said the SALDEF message. It also informed that SALDEF encourages Sikh Americans, especially the community in Florida, to donate blood to save the precious lives. (Times of India 13/6/16)

Atleast 50,000 Muslims migrated after Muzaffarnagar riots: Asaduddin Owaisi (7)

Hyderabad: Asaduddin Owaisi, Owaisi, BJP, AIMIM, muslims BJP,Kairana, Kairana exodus, Muzaffarnagar riots, hindu muslim, hindu muslim conflict, india news Owaisi claimed “50,000 people had left their original places where they had lived for generations” after the Muzaffarnagar riots, and termed it as “mass uprooting” of minorities after country’s Independence. Claiming that 50,000 Muslims migrated after the 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots, AIMIM President Asaduddin Owaisi on Saturday asked the BJP if it would send a fact-finding committee there, akin to the one sent by it to Kairana on the issue of alleged migration of Hindus. The Hyderabad Lok Sabha member termed as “bogus” the list of 346 families who are alleged to have “fled” Kairana in Uttar Pradesh, adding that it suited the interests of both the BJP and the Samajwadi Party to create a “drama” over the issue. Owaisi claimed “50,000 people had left their original places where they had lived for generations” after the Muzaffarnagar riots, and termed it as “mass uprooting” of minorities after country’s Independence.“Would the BJP send a fact-finding committee? Would the BJP find some time to send delegation to find out what happened to those 50,000 people who are displaced? (after Muzaffarnagar riots),” he said. “Basically, they (BJP) have no other issue and this (Kairana issue) shows the real face of BJP that all this talk of development, ‘sab ka saath sab ka vikas’, is all a farce…unfortunately, they are being helped by Samajwadi Party,” Owaisi claimed. “It suits both BJP and Samajwadi Party. Politically, BJP wants to create a fear among majority community. Samajwadi Party wants to give a message to Muslims that you are insecure if you don’t elect Samajwadi Party. So, this drama suits both BJP and Samajwadi Party,” he said. When such issue are in the forefront, Samajwadi Party is happy as it does not have to answer questions on their failure to deliver and on “misgovernance”, he said. Owaisi said the AIMIM would contest the Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, due early next year, but added that it was too early to give the number of seats that it would contest. He said his party was open to forging an alliance in Uttar Pradesh. “Yes. I have no issue if such a proposal comes. We are open for alliance but we will have to wait and see what happens.” (Indian Express 18/6/16)

RSS-run schools see rise in number of Muslim students (7)

Allahabad: Call it quality, or an urge to get good education from wherever it comes, there has been a sharp rise in the number of Muslim students in the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh-run schools in UP. According to a conservative estimate, the rise in the number is about 30% in the past two years after Modi government came to power at the Centre. Chintamani Singh, Pradesh Nirikshak ( State Inspector) of Vidhya Bharti, which manages about 1200 schools of the Sangh in 49 UP districts, told TOI that nearly 7000 Muslims students enrolled in these schools. A majority of these students are enrolled in schools in rural areas. Authorities at Saraswati Shishu Mandir and Saraswati Vidya Mandir claim that Muslim boys and girl students have been doing pretty well and have brought laurels to their schools in the fields of sports, cultural activities as well as academics. P 5″Our students like Mohammad Aqib, Aftab Alam, Ejaj Ahmad, Gufranuddin and Mohammad Akaram have won medals in Student Games Federation of India. Besides, there are several others who have won in Youth Commonwealth Games and other national competitions,” he says. “They not only attend schools like any other student, but get totally mingled with their peers and follow all rules like reciting slokas and ‘bhojan mantras’ (chants before a meal),” says Singh, adding ” As of now, there 6,940 Muslim students, including 4,672 boys and 2,218 girls pursuing their education up to class XII in around 1,200 schools in 49 districts of the state.” Not only students, Vidya Bharti has recently recruited eight Muslim teachers as well, he says. “Quality of education is the prime reason which has attracted Muslim parents to get their wards enrolled our schools,” Singh adds. A number of parents of these kids TOI woke to accept Singh’s claim. The fact that a most of these Muslims students study in rural schools also reveals that these schools must be the best option for them, says a social scientist. (Times of India 20/6/16)

Some Muslim families have moved out of Kairana: Sanjeev Balyan (7)

New Delhi: Some Muslim families besides those of Hindus have moved out of Kairana area in Uttar Pradesh’s Shamli district due to law and order problem, Union minister Sanjeev Balyan claimed on Monday. “First of all, I have not visited Kairana. Secondly, you all must have seen that there is law order issue in the state. “It is better to look at it from that angle. As per my information, it is not only Hindus, there has been some migration of Muslims also,” he told reporters.Balyan, BJP’s Lok Sabha MP from Muzaffarnagar, said the “migration problem” was not only restricted to Kairana area in the state, adding that it was wrong to paint the whole issue with a “communal” brush. “It is a law and order issue and the problem should not be connected with communalism,” he said. He said that his comments were based on the information provided by a BJP team that was went to assess the situation in Kairana. “I have spoken with them (the team) and also to a Member of Parliament from that place. They say migration was happening mainly due to law and order issue,” he said. The Assembly polls in UP are scheduled for next year. Last week, the state BJP chief Keshav Prasad Maurya had met Governor Ram Naik with the demand for a CBI probe into the “exodus” while presenting the report of a five-member party team that visited Kairana for an on-the-spot assessment. The ruling Samajwadi Party and Congress have rubbished the reports and alleged that the atmosphere was being vitiated by BJP. BJP MLA Sangeet Som had on Friday given a 15-day ultimatum to the state government to bring back those who have allegedly moved out of Kairana. (Indian Express 21/6/16)

Justice remains elusive for T Muslims: MBT leader (7)

Hyderabad: Majlis Bachao Tahreek leader Majeedullah Khan Farhat on Friday claimed that justice still remains elusive for the Muslims of Telangana.Speaking at the Jalsa-e-Youm-ul-Quran at the historic Mecca Masjid, Farhat said that the state stood for justice for all. Muslims, he claimed, are yet to receive their due. He said that Muslims have not been treated well by the present and previous ruling dispensations. He accused certain political parties who claim to work for Muslims of dividing the Muslim and secular vote. He added that the need of the hour is to work against the strategy of the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Sangh Parivar. He claimed that the two were trying to change secular India into a Hindu Rashtra. Fighting against this agenda, he added, is the duty of all Indians including Muslims.  (Times of India 25/6/16)

Telangana Assembly to pass resolution for 12% Muslim quota: CM Chandrasekhar Rao (7)

Hyderabad: Telangana government will convene a special session of Legislative Assembly to pass a resolution granting 12 per cent reservation to Muslims and will send it to Central government, Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao said on Sunday. The Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), headed by Rao, had promised during the elections that Muslims will be provided 12 per cent reservation in proportion to their population. “I had promised 12 per cent reservation for Muslims. ‘Main baat kahata hoon toh barkarar rahata hoon yeh aap tamaam janate hain’ (You all know that I don’t deviate from what I say). “A committee has been set up which will shortly submit its report (on reservation) and the moment the report is submitted a special session of Assembly will be called and a resolution will be passed which will be sent directly to Central government…I am fully hopeful that we will succeed in this,” Rao said.The CM hosted an ‘Iftar’ party at Nizam College grounds here as part of ‘Dawat-e-Iftars’ being organised for Muslims across the state in the holy month of Ramadan. The state government had constituted the panel to study the socio-economic and educational status of Muslims in Telangana. Rao further said that a total of 120 minorities residential schools will be started this month across Telangana at the cost of Rs 3,900 crore. “Telangana government made budget allocation of Rs 1,200 crore for Minority Welfare Department, the highest by any state government in the country,” he claimed. Union Minister of State for Labour and Employment Bandaru Dattatreya, Telangana Deputy Chief Minister Mahmood Ali, AIMIM chief and Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi were also present on the occasion. (Indian Express 26/6/16)

34 pc Muslim children have no access to pre-school: UNICEF (7)

New Delhi, Jun 28 () Out of 74 million children, in the group of 3-6 years in India, around 20 million did not attend pre-school and most of them belonged to disadvantaged and marginalised sections of the society, a UNICEF report said today. According to “State of the World Children Report-2016″, released globally by UNICEF, around 34 per cent children from Muslim families, 25.9 per cent from Hindu families and 25.6 per cent from Christian families did not attend pre-school. “Lack of access to pre-school education has a long-term impact on learning capabilities of a child. It is a continuum. When children enter primary school without going to pre-school they are likely to drop early and will not be able to fulfill their potential,” UNICEF India representative Louis-Georges Arsenault said while releasing the report. According to the government’s National Survey for Estimation of Out-of-School Children conducted in 2014, more than 60 per cent of children dropped out before completing grade 3, he added. The study also found that implementation of Right To Education (RTE) Act has led to a drop in the number of out-of-school children, aged 6-13 years, to six million in 2014 from eight million in 2009. However, 36 per cent of children drop out before completing elementary education and about half of them are from marginalised and deprived groups, it said. Highlighting lack of quality education, the report citing the National Achievement Survey (2014), said “less than half of Class V students correctly answered reading comprehension and mathematics question posed to them.” Expressing the hope that the new education policy will address these lacunae, Arsenault said “New Education policy with its vision for India as a knowledge superpower really calls for building the goal of Right To Education Act and moving beyond elementary education and extending it to include pre-schooling and also competition in secondary education.” Secretary, Department of School Education and Literacy, HRD Ministry, S C Khuntia said “we are formulating a new education policy and have formed a committee in the ministry to look into these issues.” (Times of India 28/6/16)

Supreme Court to decide on triple talaq (7)

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday decided to examine the legal validity of the “triple talaq system” under the Sharia law, which enables Muslim men to unilaterally exercise the power of divorce. A bench of Chief Justice T.S. Thakur and Justice A.M. Kanwilkar, which has already sought the assistance of the attorney general Mukul Rohatgi to assist in adjudicating the issue, will examine to what extent the court can interfere in Muslim personal laws, if they are found to be violative of the fundamental rights of citizens enshrined in the Constitution. The bench was hearing a batch of petitions filed by Muslim Women’s Quest for Equality and others seeking a declaration that triple talaq is invalid in law and unconstitutional. Senior counsel Anand Grover, Indira Jaising, Chadha, Balaji Srinivasan and others submitted that the earlier judgments giving right to Muslim men to divorce should be revisited. Ms Jaising pointed out that triple talaq is unIslamic even under Muslim personal law. Advocate Farha Faiz, president of Rashtrawadi Muslim Mahila Sangh, questioned the role of All-India Muslim Personal Law Board in giving fatwas to Muslim women and deciding on their rights. She said the AIMPLB which is a registered society is successfully governing the community, which has the impression that Muslim personal laws are made by the board. She wanted a direction to restrain the board and the media from debating the issue as such debates would cause disturbance in the society. The CJI told the counsel, “This is an important issue concerning the lives of a large number of the Muslim population and divergent views are possible. However, we will not be influenced by television debates.” The CJI asked the counsel to file their responses in six weeks indicating the propositions to be examined by the court and whether these issues had already been decided or not. The CJI said that depending upon the nature of arguments, he would decide on posting the matter for adjudication by a larger bench. The petitioners highlighted the plight faced by Muslim women in this country on account of arbitrary divorces imposed upon them by men without due intervention of Courts. They said Muslim women are thrown away from their matrimonial houses bringing suffering to them and their children. The current scenario emerging from the imposition of unilateral triple talaq on Muslim Women in India has resulted in infringement and violation of their fundamental rights of equality and rights guaranteed under Article 14 & 21 of the Constitution. It is well settled principle in law that a person cannot be a judge of his own cause, and in the case of triple talaq, Muslim men unilaterally decide an end to matrimonial ties. This clearly conflicts Public Policy. Only the granting of divorce through due intervention of Courts established under Law will protect the interests of both parties while resolving their marital dispute. (Asian Age 30/6/16)

MINORITIES – CHRISTIANS

Focus on quota for Dalit Christians (7)

CHENNAI: The demand for according Scheduled Caste (SC) status for Dalit Christians has become more vocal with the recent Cabinet approval for including Narikuravars and a few other communities in the list of Scheduled Tribes (ST). DMK leader M. Karunanidhi recently wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking SC status for Dalit Christians and ST status for the fishermen under the category of marine tribes. “When the Indian Constitution allows the right to freedom of religion, you cannot deny SC status for the Dalits just because they have converted to Christianity or Islam,” argued Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK) general secretary Ravikumar. What comes in the way of Dalit Christians getting the benefits of reservation set apart for the SCs was Para 3 of the 1950 Presidential Order, which states, “No person who professes a religion different from the Hindu, the Sikh or Buddhist religion shall be deemed to be a member of Scheduled Caste.” “But the order was amended in 1956 to give the SC status to Dalits in Sikhism and again in 1990 to Dalits converted to Buddhism,” pointed out Anbuselvan, writer and Dalit researcher. The National Commission for Religious & Linguistic Minorities, better known as the Justice Ranganath Mishra Commission, has strongly recommended deletion of Para 3 of the Presidential Order. The Sachar Committee also recommended reservation for Dalit Christians and Muslims. But the Centre had objected to these recommendations on the grounds that granting SC status to Dalit Christians and Muslims would encourage large-scale religious conversion.As it remains a contentious issue, Mr. Anbuselvan suggested providing compartmental reservation for Dalit Christians within the OBCs because their presence also strengthened the struggle for separate reservation for the OBCs. “I feel that their inclusion in the SC category would exert more pressure on the existing population benefitting from reservation. But they should be allowed to file cases under the Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989,” he said. As per the 2011 census, Christians constitute 6.12 per cent of Tamil Nadu’s population and in any church, whether it is Protestant or Catholic, Dalits account for a minimum of 60 per cent. In some areas, their presence has touched 85 per cent. Christianity has offered Dalits the much needed impetus for upward mobility, said Fr Jagath Gasper Raj, while acknowledging that it had not completely improved their status. “We must honestly accept that their condition is abysmally backward and reservation benefits will certainly improve their condition,” he said. While Mr. Anbuselvan alleged that Dalits had to grapple with problems such as admission into schools and colleges, and administrative and ecclesiastic positions continued to be beyond their reach, Fr Gasper said it was a sweeping statement. “Two Catholic Bishops are Dalits and the former Bishop of Madras Diocese is also a Dalit,” he said. While making a strong case for reservation for Dalit Christians, Mr. Ravikumar, however, alleged that there seemed to be motive behind the Church encouraging the demand of Dalits. “Their attitude seems to be ‘do not ask for a share from us. But go to the government’. The Church should be more accommodative in the case of Dalit Christians,” he said. (The Hindu 2/6/16)

Bible story removed from text book in China after criticism (7)

BEIJING: Chinese authorities have removed the Bible story from secondary school text books, days after its inclusion in the curriculum sparked a controversy in the communist nation. The co-compiler of a Chinese textbook used in Beijing secondary schools said the “controversial Bible story” has been removed from the book after facing criticism that it spread Western values, state-run Global Times reported today. The Beijing Academy of Educational Science (BAES), one of the textbook’s two compilers and a textbook selection consultant for capital education authorities, said it had removed the content from the textbook and schools will begin to use the revised version in the upcoming fall semester, the report said. The BAES has included extracts from the Bible’s Book of Genesis in its Chinese language textbook for first-year middle school students. The ruling Communist Party of China remained largely atheistic and discourages its members from practicing any religion though it permits practice of religion in general. While China before the advent of Communist rule in 1949 was predominantly influenced by Buddhism which was brought to the country by t Chinese monks like Xuan Zang during the Tang Dynasty (618-907), Christianity has taken deep routes in the country in recent decades despite restrictions. Buddhism still remained a dominant faith in China but Christianity is regarded as the fastest growing religion. Unofficial estimates say China has over 65 million Christians including Catholics, Protestants as well as other church groups. China has over 21 million Muslims who included Uyghurs in Xinjiang and Hui community in Xinjiang and Ningxia provinces. The Bible story in the text book triggered heated discussion online, as some netizens questioned why the Christian content appeared in a textbook in a secular country. An employee from BAES previously told the Beijing Youth Daily that they had included the Bible story to broaden students’ horizons by introducing them to Western mythology. Columnist Wang Xiaoshi published a commentary saying that the textbook violates China’s Education Law, which mandates that China adopt the principle of separation of education and religion, the report said. (New Indian Express 3/6/16)

Coastal Karnataka town tense as miscreants vandalise church (7)

Bengaluru: Tension prevails in coastal Karnataka districts of Udupi and Dakshina Kannada after miscreants vandalised a church yesterday night in Kundapura town, 440 kms from Bengaluru.Visitors to the Kandlur church near Basrur in Kundapura on Monday morning found the statue of St. Anthony destroyed. The miscreants have also broken the glass enclosure in which the statue was kept. As the news of the church desecration spread, a crowd gathered and demanded action against the unidentified people. Soon the police arrived at the spot and pacified the protesters. The police conducted a preliminary inquiry in the neighbourhood and came to a conclusion that the church was vandalised during the wee hours of Monday. They are looking for CCTV footage of the locality to identify the culprits. This is the second such incident in the last 15 days in coastal Karnataka and it has led to unrest in the region. The police have assured quick action to apprehend the culprits. (India Today 6/6/16)

Believers Church installs 101 bore wells in drought-hit Maharashtra (7)

Mumbai, June 8 (ANI-NewsVoir): In a bid to help citizens across India who are facing drought like conditions due to prevailing heat wave conditions, Believers Church, a Christian denomination with congregations and parishes worldwide has set up 101 Bore wells across Maharashtra for the worst affected areas and communities. “The country is facing severe heat wave and people are facing scarcity of water essential for living and daily chores. People have to walk down several miles to fetch drinking water. Apart from this the farmers are not able to do the cultivation of food grain due to severe scarcity of water. The installation of Bore Wells will not only make their lives easier but also help them in carrying on with cultivation which is their sole means of livelihood,” said Bishop B. K. Lukose who led the exercise. The areas were decided after assessing the severity of water scarcity in various regions of the state in consultation with the local authorities. “In some cases local politicians came forward and sought intervention. For example we have installed 25 borewells in Amaravati and Yavatmal areas of Vidharba Region after receiving a request from the local MLA Bacchu Kadu”, Bishop B. K. Lukose added. Other Bore Wells were installed in more than 101 villages of Maharashtra in various districts like Chandrapur, Wardha, Nagpur, Gadchiroli and Bhandara. Dr K. P. Yohannan, Metropolitan of Believers Church said: “It is important to ensure that these people get some water supply not only to sustain themselves but also to ensure that farming which is their sole livelihood does not get hampered. We are doing this exercise in other states of the country as well.” Last month the Mumbai division of the church reached out to the drought victims of Latur by supplying water and food to the 12 most affected villages of the region. Earlier this month, the Church had also installed more hand pumps and tube wells in more than 104 drought affected villages of Uttar Pradesh. Believers Church is a Christian denomination with congregations and parishes worldwide and over 2.6 million followers in ten countries. The Church at present has eleven Bishops who give spiritual and administrative leadership to the various activities of the Church. The current head of the Believers Church is Metropolitan Bishop, Dr K. P. Yohannan. The church also undertakes various charitable programs including women empowerment, educational projects, community development programs, rehabilitation projects and relief works. Believers Church has helped over 74,000 children by providing quality education and timely medical checkups under its Bridge for Hope Program. The Church has set up more than 28,000 toilets and has committed its resources to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to help educate people on sanitation under the Swatch Bharat Program. Vocational Training and Health awareness programs have been organised for underprivileged communities. The church has conducted eight-month long free literacy programs, to teach the marginalised sections of society how to write and read. The church has provided water to communities where drinking water is scarce by constructing bore wells and community water tanks. The church has given sewing machines, livestock, carpentry tools, rickshaws and agricultural equipments to families to generate regular income.  (New Kerala 8/6/16)

Christians in India Beaten, Tortured by Hindu Extremists (7)

Religious persecution against Christians in India has increased by an estimated 34 percent since 2013. A group of 29 Christians were just tortured and driven away from their homes in a village near Katholi. Hindu extremists recently tortured, beat and chased off from their homes 29 Christians who refused to deny their faith in Jesus Christ and convert to Hinduism in India. Christianity is expanding in India along with Hindu persecution of Christians. The same attackers also destroyed several homes of Christians, forcing the occupants to flee their village of Katholi, reported The Daily Express. Christianity is India’s third-largest religion with nearly 30 million followers, nearly 3 percent of India’s population, reports Christian Today. Open Doors charity sources indicate extremists insisted one of the Christian’s group leaders in Katholi attend a specially convened meeting with the other Christians. When the Christians refused to convert, they were all beaten up, including women and children. The group fled from the area, and tried to return four days later, according to local sources, but were again driven off by hostile villagers who made death threats. Human rights groups asked government officials to step up its protection of Christians and other religious minorities, though police often are accused of not doing enough to help the victims and refusing to punish the guilty parties, reports The Christian Post.To that end, Katholi police reportedly ordered the Hindu radicals to stop the most recent attack, but Christians in the village continued to be threatened even after the torture incident. This is just one of an increasing number of stories of persecution coming out of India. Open Doors representatives indicate Hindu extremists have been attacking Christians more frequently and violently. Sources believe this type of religious persecution has increased by 34 percent since 2013. “Christians are also finding they are prevented from getting certain jobs, buying land or developing land in certain areas and even distributing Christian literature has led to arrests in cities like Delhi,” Open Doors locals stated, as reported by Christian Today. “The villagers accused them, saying – because of you our god and goddess are fleeing from our village. When they refused to forsake Christ, they began to beat them. Beating them, they drove them toward their houses and threw out their belongings.” Open Doors is supporting Christians who are victims of violence in India through the work of local churches and partner organizations. The charity provides emergency medical fees, clothing, food rations, help with housing and trauma care. In May, a mob of nearly 500 extremists attacked a Protestant church in Jabat, with radicals throwing stones at Christians for allegedly damaging a nationalist flag outside the church. “RSS activists [Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the Hindu ultra-nationalist paramilitary group ed], the BJP and Bajrang Dal [youth wing of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, VHP] led by former district chief, threw stones at members of the community, attacked our women and broke the church lamps,” pastor Emmanuel Ariel said. “All this happened before the eyes of the police officers, who stood by as silent spectators.” (The Gospel Herald 10/6/16)

Church denies burial to Priyanka’s granny for marrying a Hindu (7)

Kottayam: The relatives of late Mary Akhouri, the maternal grandmother of Bollywood actor Priyanka Chopra, are yet to come out of shock after a local church did not allow the 94-year-old’s burial in Kumarakom near here last week. Some of the relatives had flown from the US and the UK to attend the funeral. Mary had wished to be interred in her family vault at the St John’s Jacobite Syrian Church, popularly known as Attamangalam church. However, the managing committee of the church did not allow this. Finally, the body was buried in a public vault in St Thomas Jacobite church at Ponkunnam, a town 45km from Kumarakom, following the intervention of the Kottayam metropolitan Thomas Mor Timotheos. The relatives have accused the church’s managing committee of causing embarrassment and pain to the family.Managing committee member Alen Kuriakose Mathew however said, “There are procedures to be followed for burying an individual who is not a parish member.” He said Mary lost her membership in the parish once she got married and went to live with her husband. “At least her children could have applied for the renewal of membership. We were helpless when they approached us after the lady’s death,” he said. Mary’s cousin Elias Kavalappara said he was “disheartened and disappointed”. Elias, who has been living in the UK for the past 55 years, had come to attend the funeral. “She was a practising Christian all her life. The Church has nothing to do with the issue. It is the managing committee which stopped us from fulfilling her last wish,” said Elias. Another relative, Joseph K Jacob, said that “Mary Kochamma” had personally told the metropolitan about her wish to be buried here during one of her earlier visits to Kumarakom.He also said the managing committee rejected their request despite the metropolitan’s intervention. (Times of India 11/6/16)

Muslims help Christians in Pakistan to build church (7)

Islamabad, June 18 (IANS): In a significant display of communal harmony, Muslims in Pakistan’s Punjab province are helping their fellow Christian in raising funds to build a church that was allegedly damaged by a mob. In 2009, Gojra city in near Faisalabad became a fiery furnace after nine people including a bridegroom and bride were shot dead during a wedding ceremony. Some 200 homes and three churches were razed to the ground by a mob that attacked the minority community after local mosques called for retaliation to an alleged blasphemy.The local police, however, had discredited the allegation that torn shreds of the Quran had been used as confetti at a wedding. “I pray that we complete this church. We have had to use different homes for services but our congregation has grown beyond the capacity of such places,” a release from British Pakistani Christian Association quoted a resident, Khalid Aftab, as saying. (Meghalaya Times 18//16)

Church demolition triggers protest (7)

Hyderabad: The demolition of a church at Moosarambagh on Thursday led to angry protests by members of the Telangana Christian Council and residents, who claimed that the act was done without serving any prior notice. “The church had been functioning for two decades and there was no reason to demolish it as it did not cause any hindrance to anybody and everything related to the church was perfect,” said K Ermiah, pastor of the church. Members of Telangana Christian Council now demand that the demolished church be rebuilt in the same place as soon as possible. They had planned to stage a dharna against the government and GHMC on Friday, but it did not happen.Defending the demolition, officials of the civic body said that the demolition of this particular church was not sudden and it was on the cards for the last two years. “The church had encroached a 40-feet road. We had received a complaint from residents living behind the church, saying they were unable to use the access road to reach their homes,” said Purushottam Rao, assistant city planner, circle 4. “This church is not used by many people and there are only 10 to 15 worshippers who congregate there to pray on Sunday. It remains locked the rest of the week,” he said. (Times of India 18/6/16)

Church demolished by GHMC now being rebuilt (7)

Hyderabad: Peeved residents of Moosarambagh, supported by members of the Telangana Christian Council and All India Dalit Christian Society, are reconstructing a church which was demolished by the GHMC last week. After the church was demolished without notice, devouts had demanded that it be rebuilt in the same place as soon as possible. “They (officials) are not paying heed to the fact that it is a place of worship and not a commercial space,” said Jerusalem Mattaiah, general secretary of All India Dalit Christian Society. “If a temple or a mosque is demolished there would be a huge public outcry, but we are protesting quietly,” he said.With no response from the GHMC to their demand, the church-goers in the locality started re-construction of the church on Sunday. “The church had been built on a piece of government land and it had been there for 18 years without disturbing the road. I don’t see any reason as to why it was demolished,” said Issac Raj, president of Telangana Christian Council. “Though a decision to demolish the church was made by a committee of the GHMC in 2014 and some huts were removed from the area but not the church considering that it’s a religious place then. Why was it removed now?” asked Jerusalem Mattaiah. During elections all the ministers visit us and ask for our votes but none of the ministers has turned up to look into the issue or even sympathise with us,” he added. While the GHMC claimed that only 10 to 15 worshippers visited the church, one of the pastors of the church K. Ermiah said that there were at least 50 people who came to worship in the church. Purushottam Rao, assistant city planner, circle IV, on being asked about the re-construction, said, “Since it is a religious issue we will wait for things to simmer down a bit and then see what further actions have to be taken regarding the issue.” The church at Friends Colony in Moosarambagh was demolished on Thursday by the GHMC officials and the members of the area claimed that the demolition had taken place without any prior notice. This had led to protests by the people against the government and GHMC and they demanded that the church be rebuilt in the same place. (Times of India 21/6/16)

Pope denounces Armenian `genocide` in Yerevan visit (7)

Yerevan: Pope Francis on Friday denounced the mass killing of Armenians a century ago by Ottoman forces as “genocide”, risking Turkey`s fury as he met Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian. “Sadly this tragedy, this genocide, was the first of the deplorable series of catastrophes of the past century,” the pontiff said at the presidential palace in Yerevan. When Pope Francis last used the term in the Vatican in 2015, on the centenary of the killings, Ankara angrily recalled its envoy from the Holy See for just under a year. Francis said the killings had been “made possible by twisted racial, ideological or religious aims that darkened the minds of the tormentors even to the point of planning the annihilation of entire peoples.” The pontiff meanwhile said he hoped that “humanity will learn from those tragic experiences” to prevent a “return to such horrors.” “Today Christians in particular, perhaps even more than at the time of the first martyrs, in some places experience discrimination and persecution for the mere fact of professing their faith,” he said. Armenians have long sought international recognition for the 1915-1917 killings as genocide, which they say left some 1.5 million of their people dead. Turkey — the Ottoman Empire`s successor state — angrily rejects the term “genocide”, arguing that it was a collective tragedy in which equal numbers of Turks and Armenians died. (Zee News 24/6/16)

Lucknow, Agra Christian bodies’ spat turns ugly (7)

Nainital: A stand-off between the Diocese of Agra, which has jurisdiction over Sherwood College in Nainital, and members of the Church of India which claims itself to be Diocese of Lucknow regarding control of the school turned ugly late Friday evening when a group of people, some wielding firearms and claiming to be from the Lucknow Diocese, allegedly broke into the school campus, locked the administrative office and created a ruckus. The school, whose alumni include some of the country’s top figures like Amitabh Bachchan, is currently closed for summer vacations. The district administration and police had to intervene to evict the intruders.Sherwood’s principal Amandeep Sandhu told TOI on Saturday, “They are imposters and this Church of India never had any authenticity. The way they entered the school, it was illegal, roguish and totally uncalled for. This is not the way you handle issues related to such world-class and reputed institutions.” The incident has created ripples in the hill town, following which the administration swung into action. A complaint was registered against men who also thrashed and abused the school staff present on the campus. The principal of the school who was in Dehradun had to rush to Nainital. One Rakesh Sobti, who claimed to be a member of the Lucknow Diocese, said, “We have acted in the light of a Supreme Court order. We have no dispute with the staff and we are just following the law.” “We are investigating the matter. We have to consider both the sides and it will be premature to say anything at this stage,” said HC Saati, additional superintendent of police, Nainital.Members of the Lucknow Diocese, however, claimed that the Church of India was a splinter group which was misusing the name of Lucknow Diocese. Bishop Peter Baldev of Lucknow Diocese told TOI, “It is true that Agra Diocese was carved out of Lucknow Diocese. But we do not recognize Church of India, which has no legal entity, and its representatives are simply misusing Lucknow Diocese’s name. In fact, one Vijay Mantode, a former principal of Sherwood College, has anointed himself as bishop of this church.” Right Reverend PP Habil, Bishop of Agra Diocese, said, “There is no question of any territorial dispute between Diocese of Agra and Diocese of Lucknow. In fact, the Church of India that claims itself as Lucknow Diocese is a splinter group which tries to create problem unnecessarily.” The dispute dates back to the 1970s when the school which belonged to the Lucknow Diocese was transferred to Diocese of Agra. (Times of India 27/6/16)

Political parties eyeing Christian vote bank (7)

AMRITSAR : Come election time and the political parties are ready to woo any vote bank in their fold and the sizeable Christian population in Punjab is on their radar ahead of 2017 assembly elections. While the ruling SAD-BJP combine claims to have given sufficient representation to Christian community and have launched various welfare schemes for them, the opposition Congress rubbishes all claims and have instead appointed as many as five General Secretaries from the community in the team of Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) giving indication to the community of giving them larger representation, if voted to power. One of the General Secretary, PPCC, Karam Masih told TOI on Sunday that Christians were not being given their due and the community felt alienated. He alleged that Christian leaders who were given plum posts by Akalis didn’t have constitutional powers and were not doing enough to redress communities issues. Karam Masih who was former Bishop of Delhi Diocese, Church of North India (CNI) is of view that the community votes will affect as many as 15 assembly seats in Punjab especially where Christians have more concentration including border districts of Amritsar, Ferozpur, Gurdaspur, Tarn Taran as well as Ludhiana. While admitting that Christian leaders posted on significant positions were not empowered to tackle all the issues, Punjab State Minority Commission Chairman Nunawar Masih said the government was yet to frame procedures, rules and regulation of Commission. “I don’t have much powers due to delay in framing of procedures etc, I can’t even summon anyone, but I have met chief minister urging him to expedite the procedure,” he said. Christian population was around 35 lakh with more than 20 lakh votes in the state, he said. State president a prominent Christian body Jagat Ki Jyoti Society, Danie Masih, fumed that Christian population was resentful of construction of a crematorium near a Church in Gumtala and had approached the Commission but didn’t help them…. (Times of India 27/6/16)

REFUGEES/ MIGRANTS

Dalai Lama says ‘too many’ refugees in Europe (13)

BERLIN: Tibetan Spiritual leader Dalai Lama said in an interview published that Europe has accepted “too many” refugees, and that they should eventually return to help rebuild their home countries. “When we look into the face of every single refugee, especially the children and women, we can feel their suffering,” said the Tibetan spiritual leader, who has himself lived in exile for over half a century. “A human being who is a bit more fortunate has the duty to help them. On the other hand, there are too many now,” he said, according to the German translation of the interview in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. “Europe, for example Germany, cannot become an Arab country,” he added with a laugh, the daily reported. “Germany is Germany. “There are so many that in practice it becomes difficult.” The Dalai Lama added that “from a moral point of view too, I think that the refugees should only be admitted temporarily”.Germany last year took in 1.1 million people fleeing war and misery in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and other countries, but the flow was reduced sharply by the decision of Balkan countries to close their borders to people travelling through Turkey and into northern Europe. The Dalai Lama also said in the interview, conducted in Dharamsala, seat of the Tibetan government-in-exile in northern India, that he hopes to one day return to Tibet.”Maybe in a few years,” said the 80-year-old. “If an opportunity for my return arises, or at least for a short visit, that would be a source of great joy.” Thousands of Tibetans have fled their Himalayan homeland since China sent in troops in 1951, and many have settled in India. (Times of India 1/6/16)

Hindus from Pakistan, Bangladesh will get to claim Indian citizenship (13)

New Delhi: In a move that is as much political as it is humanitarian, the home ministry is ready with draft amendments to citizenship law that will exempt minority citizens of Pakistan and Bangladesh who have come to India out of fear of religious prosecution from being tagged as “illegal migrants”.The changes to the Citizenship Act, 1955, will give a legal path to the refugees to remain in India and even claim citizenship, a move in tune with the Modi government’s unambiguous desire to be seen as a protector of Hindus facing adverse circumstances in these countries. The move stands to benefit nearly 2 lakh Hindus from Pakistan and Bangladesh who often complain they are treated as “second-class citizens” and are vulnerable to violence. They have also often found themselves at the receiving end of blasphemy laws. The decision to come to the aid of Hindu minorities, even while discouraging Muslim migrants driven by economic conditions from Bangladesh as “outsiders”, marks the government’s decision to consciously differentiate between types of migrants even if this attracts criticism of working to a Hindutva agenda.The differentiation between those seeking refuge to escape political and religious persecution on one hand and those migrating for economic reasons is in accord with international norms and definition of who is a refugee. However, the distinction also fits in with the political agenda to amplify the message of India, as Sangh Parivar insists, being a natural home to Hindus of all sorts. BJP promised citizenship to Hindu refugees in its manifesto for 2014 Lok Sabha polls. Ever since it assumed office, the Modi regime has taken a series of measures to facilitate grant of long-term visas to such refugees until they can be granted citizenship. The government recently moved a proposal to further facilitate the stay of long-term visa holders by offering Aadhaar cards, driving licence and PAN cards.As per the proposed amendments to Citizenship Act, December 31, 2014 will be designated as the cut-off date for refugees to be eligible to apply for citizenship. Also, Section 2 (1)(b) of the Act will have a provison that will exempt such citizens from being deemed “illegal migrants”. The government is also looking at simultaneous amendments to the Passport (Entry into India) Act, 1920 and Foreigners Act, 1946. “The draft Cabinet note will be put up for Cabinet approval at the earliest,” said a MHA functionary. (Times of India 3/5/16)

Rajnath unhappy over Manipur anti-migrant bills being ‘politicised’ (13)

Imphal/New Delhi: Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh expressed his unhappiness over the way the issue of anti-migrant bills of Manipur, awaiting presidential assent, is being “politicised” and that Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh had never sought an appointment. He conveyed his sentiments when a Bharatiya Janata Party team from Manipur called on him in New Delhi in connection with the three pending bills. “Manipur Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh never sought appointment with me. If he seeks one I am always ready to talk with the delegates,” he said against the chief minister`s public statement that he had sought appointments with the prime minister, the home minister and others from the middle of May but not received any response. “If appointments are sought, meetings could be held. But the prime minister can be met only when he returns from his foreign tour,” he said. Delegates of all political parties with the exclusion of the Naga People`s Front have been camping in Delhi to meet the leaders on the issue. During Sunday`s meeting, the BJP team, led by state president Khetrimayum Bhabananda, urged the home minister to take up steps to give assent to the 3 bills and as he wanted to know whether all political parties in the state support the same, told him that there was “no objection”.Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju was also present in the meeting. (Zee News 6/6/16)

Some 2,000 migrants rescued off Libya: Italian coastguard (13)

Rome: Around 2,000 migrants were plucked to safety off the coast of Libya in the latest series of rescue operations in the Mediterranean, the Italian coastguard said. “The coastguards have coordinated 15 rescue operations, some 2,000 migrants are safe and sound,” they said yesterday, adding that Italian navy vessels and ships from the EU’s Frontex border agency and its Sophia military operation helped with the efforts. More than 800 migrants were already rescued off Libya on Wednesday, mainly by vessels chartered by the aid groups Doctors Without Borders (MSF), SOS Mediterranee, MOAS and SeaWatch. The United Nations’ refugee agency estimates that over 48,000 migrants, most of them sub-Saharan Africans, have arrived in Italy since the start of the year in search of a better life in Europe. A similar number made the treacherous sea journey over the same period last year. But unlike previous years, new arrivals are increasingly finding themselves marooned in overcrowded camps in Italy as countries further north have shut their borders, effectively blocking their overland passage into the rest of Europe. Charities such as MSF, Oxfam and Save the Children have expressed mounting concern over the dire living conditions for those stranded as a result of the bottlenecks — wich have also emerged along the Greek border. (Zee News 10/6/16)

Families on a lonely search for Europe’s missing refugee children (13)

ATHENS: Syrian refugee children stand in their house in Gaziantep, Turkey, in this May 16, 2016 picture. EU’s criminal intelligence agency Europol said at least 10,000 unaccompanied child refugees had vanished after arriving in Europe, at risk of falling prey to trafficking gangs.As many such children move from country to country, coordination is needed at European level, says head of Missing Children Europe. After losing its way in the dark waters of the Aegean between Turkey and the Greek island of Lesbos, the small wooden boat carrying Ghulam Haidar, his young family and nearly 50 other passengers was hit by strong winds and waves. As the boat sank, Haidar managed to save his seven-year-old son, Shahzad, but he lost sight of the others. For the past eight months, he has been in Turkey searching for his wife Shila, his daughter Zahra, 8, and his three-year-old son Behzad.“I’m just living to find my family,” said Haidar, who is from Afghanistan. He has contacted coast guards, immigration officers, international aid groups and the authorities in both Greece and Turkey. But so far, he’s found nothing. His two missing children smile cheekily in a photo posted on the Facebook page “Search and find your family for refugees.” The page posts photographs and information about missing refugees, and has dealt with 172 cases of missing children since September, said its Austria-based founder Jimmy Nagy. It was through this page that the Thomson Reuters Foundation made contact with Haidar, but so far his pleas for information have answered none of his questions about his missing family.“I’ve searched all the hospitals but I’ve found no sign of them or their bodies. That’s why I believe they are alive,” Haidar said by phone from Istanbul. Like Haidar, many other families who have fled war and poverty in the Middle East, Africa and Asia, are searching for missing children. Without help, they are left to conduct their desperate investigations alone. In January, the European Union’s criminal intelligence agency Europol said at least 10,000 unaccompanied child refugees had vanished after arriving in Europe, at risk of falling prey to trafficking gangs. … (The Hindu 12/6/16)

UP government orders probe into Kairana ‘migration’ (13)

Lucknow: Uttar Pradesh government on Monday ordered a probe in connection with the alleged migration of Hindus from Kairana town in Shamli district in western part of the state. Shamli District Magistrate has asked the SDM and Circle Officer to probe into the allegations that “jihadi elements” had forced migration of Hindus from there, IG (Law and Order) HR Sharma told reporters here. They have been asked to verify the list of 346 families handed over by the local MP who have allegedly migrated, he said.BJP MP from Kairana, Hukum Singh has alleged that 346 families have been forced to flee the town, which has 85 per cent of Muslim population. The state government’s action came after VHP joint general secretary Surendra Jain’s today said, “Jihadis are being encouraged to carry out their activities…VHP calls upon the state government to rein in jihadi elements who are responsible for this exodus and tighten law and order in the state.” He termed the migration of Hindus from Kairana as “unfortunate” and said the township, which was a Hindu majority 40 years ago, now has only eight per cent Hindus left. Sharma said further details will be known only after the report is received from the district officials. Replying to a question, he said the state government is yet to receive the NHRC notice in this connection. Last week, National Human Rights Commission had issued a notice to the UP government in this regard. ‘Anti-Hindu mindset responsible for Kairana mass exodus; same ideology parted the country in 1947′. While observing that the allegations made were serious in nature, the NHRC also directed the state’s DIG (Investigation) to depute a team of officers for a spot enquiry in the matter covering all the allegations made in the complaint and submit a report within two weeks. (Zee News 14/6/16)

Europe refugee crisis: Charity rejects EU funds over policy (13)

London: One of the largest charities helping migrants across Europe said it will no longer accept funds from the European Union and its member states in protest against the “shameful response” to the refugee crisis. Doctors Without Borders (MSF) has long called for the creation of safe routes into the continent and joined countless other humanitarian organisations condemning the deal made with Turkey to detain and deport asylum seekers in Greece, the independent reported. Jerome Oberreit, the charity’s International Secretary General, said: “For months MSF has spoken out about a shameful European response focused on deterrence rather than providing people with the assistance and protection they need.” “The EU-Turkey deal goes one step further and has placed the very concept of ‘refugee’ and the protection it offers in danger.” An estimated 8,000 people, including hundreds of unaccompanied children, are currently trapped on Greek islands under the terms of the EU-Turkey deal, which will see them deported if their asylum applications fail, without legal aid. MSF said their plight shows the “human cost” of the controversial agreement made in March, which is seeing migrants held for several months in overcrowded camps, where fights, fires and violent protests have broken out. The number of people crossing the Aegean Sea in smugglers’ boats has steeply declined since the new rules came into force but asylum seekers, mainly from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq, continue to arrive. Most of the almost 3,000 deaths recorded this year have been in a succession of disasters on the central Mediterranean route between Libya and Italy. Proponents of the EU-Turkey deal, which the European Commission is considering replicating across more than 16 countries in Africa and the Middle East, argued that it aimed to reduce drownings at sea. “Deterrence policies sold to the public as humanitarian solutions have only exacerbated the suffering of people in need,” Oberreit said. “There is nothing remotely humanitarian about these policies. It cannot become the norm and must be challenged. “MSF will not receive funding from institutions and governments whose policies do so much harm. We are calling on European governments to shift priorities — rather than maximising the number of people they can push back, they must maximise the number they welcome and protect.” A spokesperson for MSF said its refusal of European state funding would take immediate affect and apply to its projects worldwide, condemning the unacceptable “instrumentalisation of humanitarian aid”.The charity accused the EU of setting a dangerous precedent attempting to force people to stay in the countries they are desperate to flee, sparking border closures leading back to Isis territory near Azaz in Syria, where 100,000 civilians are trapped between the closed Turkish border and front lines. “Europe’s attempt to outsource migration control is having a domino effect, with closed borders stretching all the way back to Syria,” Oberreit said. “People increasingly have nowhere to turn.” The organisation has treated an estimated 200,000 people in Europe and in boats on the Mediterranean Sea over the past 18 months and is working with refugees across the continent, as well as in the Middle East and Africa. As well as running clinics at borders and in refugee camps, it operates three search and rescue ships in the Mediterranean that picked up more than 1,300 in just 36 hours last week. The MSF said its rejection of EU funding would not affect patients, and that its activities are already 92 per cent privately-funded. MSF received 19 million pounds from EU institutions in 2015 and another 37 million pounds from member states, as well as working in partnership with Britain and nine other countries. (Business Standard 17/6/16)

Carving out a place for themselves far away from home (13)

NEW DELHI: Fatima (name changed) was only 11 when she was raped by two Talibani militants inside the campus of a wrecked Russian Embassy in Kabul. The incident made her realise what it was to be a ‘Hazara’ in Afghanistan, and she decided to stay indoors and learn what her family was best at – making Qalin-bafi (handcrafted) carpets. Seated on a mattress spread on the floor of her one-room ‘home’ (a barsaati) in Jangpura’s Bhogal area, Fatima, now 30, recalls how she landed up in Delhi. “My family was much more harsh than the authorities there. I was sent to school only on the condition that I would wash utensils and clothes, read the Quran on time and make carpets at the same pace as I used to earlier,” she says in fluent English. Fatima was allowed to go to school only when she turned 15, was inducted directly into Class VII and dropped out after Class X as the school “never took girls seriously”. “When I reached Delhi in March 2013, I did not even know how to write my name in English,” she rues. The first thing Fatima did after coming to the Capital was to join English tutorials. Now, whenever she is free, she teaches English to other Afghan refugees. One of her students is Shakeela Zarin, a 20-year-old woman who was shot at in the face by her husband, a Talibani militant, when she was 17. Her fault: she tried to escape the confines of his house in Afghanistan’s Mazar-i-Sharif city. She has a damaged left eye, a disfigured face and no sense of smell, but she says the incident “liberated” her as she was brought to India for treatment. “I have had nine surgeries on my face, but I am glad that I could get out of that hell. For now, all I want to do is learn English,” she says with an innocent smile. Fatima has been an inspiration for several refugee women like Shakeela. She has not only given them hope, but also the confidence to take up new challenges. Now, Fatima is set to become a professional yoga teacher and is already imparting classes on an ad-hoc basis. “I had joined the Mobile Mini Circus for Children in Kabul where I worked for nearly five years. I learnt acrobatics, gymnastic, skating and juggling and that is why in India, yoga attracted me,” says Fatima. She along with several other Afghan refugees is being trained in yoga by ACCESS, a Delhi-based NGO, in collaboration with the UNHCR. Sharing the room with Fatima is 33-year old Aneesa Mohammadi, who prefers not to narrate how she ended up in the Capital with her two children. But she has carved out a living for the three of them by creating beautiful crochets. “She works day and night making designer dresses, caps, bookmarks, decorative items with crochet patterns. Some of them were taken by a big brand and were worn by models at the Lakme Fashion Week,” says Fatima as Aneesa gets busy with her stitching. Over 14,000 Afghan refugees have taken shelter in the country despite the absence of a refugee law and most of these are carving a niche for themselves from whatever minimal resources are available to them. (The Hindu 20/6/16)

UNHCR unveils new campaign to solicit support for refugees (13)

New Delhi: On World Refugee Day, UNHCR on Monday unveiled a new campaign to create awareness about the problems faced by people who are compelled to migrate from their countries of origin in the wake of unfavourable circumstances. The United Nations High Commission for Refugees’ (UNHCR) campaign, trending on social media websites as #WithRefugees, aims to instill a sense empathy and understanding among all global citizens towards those who are forced to flee their countries due to poverty, terrorism, war, political and military crises. “Every year we commemorate this day to solicit our solidarity with the people who have to leave their own country,” Yasuko Shimizu, Chief of Mission, UNHCR India, said.The hour-long event at TERI University here saw several refugees from Afghanistan, Myanmar and Syria share their first-hand experiences. “Taliban did not let the girls go to school at my place. When I went to school in VII standard for the first time, I did not know how to write my name,” Salma, who is originally  from Afghanistan, said. She was “forced” to move out of the country “for raising her voice” against gender inequality there. She now works as a yoga instructor in New Delhi. 64-year-old Mohammad Salim, who has been living in India with his three children since 2011, has faced discrimination not only in his motherland Myanmar but also in Bangladesh where he was allegedly implicated under false charges by the police. “I am from Myanmar but I left the country with my children because of military crisis and immense poverty. Then I moved to Bangladesh but again faced discrimination after which I came to India and have been live here since then,” he said. Talking about the difficulties he faced, Salim, who now works as an interpreter with the UNHRC here, said he was homeless for nearly four months and barely had any money to feed his children. “I just want to say that support us and accept us. We need all of you,” he said. Dismissing the “myth” that refugees are a “burden on the host country,” Journalist Pamela Philipose, who was part of the panel, pointed out that the problem was global and required immediate intervention, on the part of both civilians and governments, to ensure security and basic human rights to the refugees. “The refugees are the victims of both the countries – where they come from and where they are displaced to,” she said. (Indian Express 21/6/16)

Nepali survivors of Kabul blast demand job opportunities (13)

Kathmandu, June 24 : After a blast in Kabul that left 12 Nepalis and two Indian security guards dead and Nepal announced it would bring back migrants wanting to leave Afghanistan, the blast survivors have demanded local job opportunities. Two days after the suicide bomb attack on June 20, which also left seven security guards injured, Nepal received the remains of those killed, Xinhua news agency reported. Nepal not only airlifted 12 coffins to Kathmandu’s Tribhuwan International Airport, it also welcomed 24 migrant workers who were working over the last few years in war-torn Afghanistan. Following the announcement of bringing back migrants wanting to leave Afghanistan, 24 Nepalis working as security guards for a Canadian mission in Kabul returned home out of terror and fear. At the airport, the workers seemed relieved to have landed in their own country, after their ordeals in the high-risk region of Kabul where some of their friends’ hopes and lives were claimed. Maniram Khanal, from the western Nepali Kaski district, is among those who returned on Wednesday after staying in Afghanistan for five years. Khanal, a retired Nepal Army personnel, said Monday’s attack was evidence of how risky their lives were in Afghanistan. “We knew about the risks from the very beginning but such attacks were centred outside of Kabul. But now, as violent acts are happening in broad daylight inside the main city, life has become so risky that I immediately decided to return,” Khanal said. Khanal, a father of two, was on his night-shift duty on the day of the attack while his colleagues were in a mini bus on their way to duty station. He said the distance between the living quarters and the Canadian mission was less than a 10-minute journey but full of risks. …  (New Kerala 24/6/16)

BSF prevents entry of 300 Bangladehsi nationals in Tripura (13)

Agartala: Border Security Force (BSF) thwarted an attempt of about 300 Bangladeshi nationals to enter Indian territory at Champahaor area of Tripura’s Khowai district and later they were taken back by the neighbouring country, police said on Sunday. “Around 300 Bangladeshi nationals yesterday tried to enter through Champahaor but they were stopped by the BSF. They returned last night following a flag meeting between BSF and Border Guard Bangladesh,” SP (Police Control) Uttam Bhowmick said. He said they were tribals and evicted by the forest guards of Bangladesh from Chunarughat area of Habiganj district of the neighbouring country. BSF and district administration of Khowai provided them food and drinking water during their stay along the border, he said. Bhowmick said due to barbed wire fencing and alertness of the BSF, they could not enter the India. (Business Standard 26/6/16)

36 Sri Lankan Tamil refugees living in India returning home today (13)

Colombo: A group of 36 Sri Lankan Tamil refugees living in Tamil Nadu camps in India, arrive Sri Lanka on Tuesday under the voluntary repatriation program facilitated by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The refugee returnees will get back to the areas where they were from in Kilinochchi, Mannar, Jaffna, Colombo, Trincomalee and Vavuniya. According to the Secretary to Ministry of Prison Reforms, Rehabilitation, Resettlement and Hindu Religious Affairs V. Sivagnanasothy, a group of 20 male and 16 female refugees were scheduled to arrive on a Mihin Lanka Airline flight MJ 130 at 11.45 a.m. from Chennai, reports Colombo Page. Minister of Prison Reforms, Rehabilitation, Resettlement and Hindu Religious Affairs D. M. Swaminathan, has had a discussion with the UNHCR and facilitated the process for the refugees to return. The UNHCR has been assisting the voluntary repatriation of Sri Lankan refugees by providing free air tickets, reintegration allowance of USD 75 per person, transport allowance of USD 19 per person and monitory non-food grant of USD 75 per family. Since 2011, already 4,799 refugees have returned to Sri Lanka. Over 64,000 are stationed in 109 welfare camps in India. Totally, over 100,000 refugees are currently in India. The Sri Lankan government under the leadership of the President Maithripala Sirisena has encouraged the voluntary refugee returnee program on a phased out basis. Minister Swaminathan has also initiated a Cabinet paper on which livelihood assistance of maximum Rs. 100,000 to refugee returnees is provided to support the livelihood activities. Further, the provision of dry ration has been already approved for 6 months. The Ministry Secretary also informed that, the refugees who lost their houses will be provided with houses under the housing program of the Ministry. (Business Standard 28/6/16)

RIGHT TO INFORMATION

32 Delhi Metro stations did not have fire NOCs, finds RTI (1)

New Delhi: DMRC did not have fire safety clearances for 32 of its 158 stations for varying durations over the last few years, according to its reply to an RTI query. Huda City Centre did not have the clearance for as long as three years — from May 2011 to May 2012; and from February 2014 to January 2016 — revealed the reply to the RTI query filed by Gurgaon resident Sudhir Yadav in February. Yadav had sought copies of NOCs from the fire department for all Metro stations in the last three years and the names of stations without the clearances in the last five years. A DMRC spokesperson said, “At present, all the 158 Metro stations have valid fire safety certificates… Delay in obtaining NOC… for a few stations was mainly due to procedural aspects”. (Indian Express 3/6/16)

Jharkhand HC seeks EC’s reply on legislators who defected (1)

Ranchi:  The Jharkhand High Court on Saturday sought a written reply from the Election Commission of India regarding the status of six legislators who defected from the Jharkhand Vikas Morcha-Prajatantrik (JVM-P) to the BJP. According to an informed source, the Jharkhand High Court heard a petition and sought a status report on the JVM-P legislators. Headed by Babulal Marandi, the JVM-P has sought a stay on the June 11 Rajya Sabha poll till the matter related to the defection of these legislators is decided. A reply to an RTI query revealed that no merger of the JVM-P took place as claimed by the six legislators who defected. In February 2015, six of the eight JVM-P legislators joined the BJP. Two among them became ministers. The defection case is pending before the Assembly Speaker. The JVM-P has alleged that the case is being delayed only to favour the BJP government in the state. The next hearing of the case will take place on June 8 in the High Court. (Business Standard 4/6/16)

 ‘Refusal to share information against spirit of RTI Act’ (1)

CHENNAI: A. G. Perarivalan, a convict in the Rajiv Gandhi assassinatin case, had in a query sent to the Superintendent of the Yerwada prison, Pune, sought a copy of the entire file relating to Sanjay Dutt’s release and also details of the actor’s conduct in prison. The Maharashtra government had maintained that the decision to grant remission to Mr. Dutt was taken by the Jail Superintendent and the government had no role in the matter of remissions. When contacted, Venkatesh Nayak, programme coordinator, Access to Information Programme, Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, said the grounds for rejecting Perarivalan’s plea were unreasonable and were completely invalid. “There is nothing in the RTI Act that enables a Public Information Officer to reject a petition simply because the information sought relates to a third party. In this case, the details sought by the convict pertains to a decision of the executive. There is no confidentiality involved in making the orders of a premature release public,” he said. Peoples Union for Civil Liberties general secretary V. Suresh said premature release of a convict is an issue that pertains to public policy and should be made public. The fundamental principle of the RTI Act is that the petitioner need not reveal what he/she intends to do with the information sought. (The Hindu 7/6/16)

RTI activist hacked to death escaped 4 attempts on his life (1)

Chennai: RTI activist J Parasmal had already escaped four murder attempts before his luck finally ran out on Tuesday when he was hacked to death by an unidentified gang in the city. Parasmal’s relatives told police that an attempt was made on his life in December 2013, and two more attempts were made in 2014. Even last week, a gang was following him near Choolaimedu but despite his life being in grave danger, the RTI activist never filed a complaint with the police. Four people have been detained for questioning by police who are also checking security camera footage from the crime scene on Baker Street in Periamet to establish the identity of the killers. “He had differences with a lot of people, especially building owners. We are making a list of people whom his family suspected. We have not been able to make a breakthrough in the case so far,” an investigating officer said. (Times of India 9/6/16)

HC stays order to disclose report on whistle-blower (1)

NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court on Wednesday stayed the Chief Information Commission (CIC) order directing the Intelligence Bureau and the Centre to give a copy of its report submitted in relation to harassment, human rights violation and false cases filed against Indian Forest Services officer Sanjiv Chaturvedi for exposing corruption during his term as DFO in Haryana. A Bench of Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva passed the stay order on a petition moved by IB against the April 21 CIC order. While staying the CIC order, the Bench asked whistle-blower Mr. Chaturvedi, a 2002 batch IFS officer from Haryana cadre, to file his reply to the IB’s petition. The Bench said the issue of harassment raised in the matter required consideration. Appearing for IB, Additional Solicitor General Sanjay Jain told the Bench that the report cannot be made public as the agency is covered under protection provided by section 24 of the RTI Act. Section 24 of RTI Act provides that intelligence and security agencies cannot be forced to make any information public. However, Sanjiv Chaturvedi is relying on the proviso to Section 24 which goes on to say that though intelligence and security agencies are exempt from the Act, they cannot claim exemption if the information sought from them relates to corruption and human rights violation. (The Hindu 10/6/16)

‘RTI activist murder a message to silence city whistleblowers’ (1)

Chennai: The brutal daylight murder of RTI activist J Parasmal (59), who would target the Chennai Corporation and TANGEDCO, has shocked other activists in the city. They see the murder as a way to silence protesting voice and hence curtailing dissent. “The killing of activists is a warning to common citizens not to fight wrongdoers. The message is simple; just be silent spectators to all the wrongs taking place right in front of your eyes,” said RTI activists D Gopalakrishnan and R Vadivelu. Citizens are an integral part of democracy and it is their responsibility and right to point out flaws in the functioning of the government, the duo said. Parasmal was using RTI to expose the collusion of government officials in construction of unauthorised commercial and residential buildings with the mafia. “This phenomenon is growing like cancer in the city. Occupancy of buildings without obtaining completion certificate is also on the rise,” the duo said. Resident Welfare associations must play a keen role to highlight such discrepancies, they said. Co-convenor of NGO Arapor Iyakkam Jayaram Venkatesan wondered how the unauthorised building owners would have known that the RTIs were being filed by Parasmal as some of them were being filed by associates. “This means there is a chance that the concerned RTIs were leaked from the government offices,” he said. The murder has opened the debate on the Whistleblower Protection Act which sought to protect those exposing corruption in government offices. “The Bill is in cold storage as it has lapsed. The government at the Centre has not taken any action. We are going to petition the chief secretary of the state regarding The Bill,” Venkatesan said. The act is necessary as many complaints have been filed by citizens and many such cases are pending with governments and courts which need speedy disposal, Gopalakrishnan said. “This Bill is also necessary for honest government servants who might want to expose wrongdoing,” he said. (Times of India 11/6/16)

Crores allocated, yet no shelters for homeless in Mumbai (1)

Mumbai: Although the monsoon is set to hit the metropolis soon, the Maharashtra government and the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai have not constructed any shelters for the homeless in Mumbai as mandated by the National Urban Livelihood Mission (NULM), activist Medha Patkar has revealed. Ms. Patkar leads the Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan (GBGBA). The guidelines by NULM under the Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation, mandate construction of a permanent community shelter for every one lakh population by the government. Bilal Khan of GBGBA, said: “Mumbai has a population of 12,442,373 as per 2011 Census and as per the guidelines, at least 124 community shelters were required to be constructed. “But, my RTI query revealed that no new night shelters have been build as per the NULM guidelines.” In its reply to Mr. Khan’s RTI query on June 1, the Public Information officer & Research Officer (Planning) of the MCGM said: “No night shelter has been constructed by Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai.” Seven night shelters built before the NULM guidelines exist at Khetwadi, Kamathipura, Wankhede Stadium footover bridge, Bandra, Andheri East, and Malad East, which support 333 people presently. Mr. Khan said, “The Supreme Court of India and various High Courts have on several occasions clarified that the ‘right to shelter’ is part and parcel of ‘right to life’. This means that denying shelter to anyone is a clear violation of ‘right to life’. The Supreme Court, in its rulings, has made it mandatory for state governments to construct shelter for the homeless.” The GBGBA also released an affidavit filed by Sailesh Jogiani, Under Secretary in the Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation, which reveals that the Centre had allocated Rs. 15,272.72 lakh to Maharashtra for construction of permanent shelters, but the State has not spent any of it. “It is startling to know that not a single rupee has been spent so far by the Maharashtra Government. We urge the government as well as the MCGM to look into the matter with utmost urgency, and provide all the possible relief to the homeless living in Mumbai keeping in mind the possible risk to life during rains,” Mr. Khan said. The GBGBA is scheduled to file an affidavit before the Supreme Court related to this in August when the matter comes up for hearing, he said. (The Hindu 14/6/16)

Not a single addict sent by courts to 30 Punjab rehab centres (1)

NEW DELHI: At a time when ‘Udta Punjab’ has put the spotlight on the state’s crippling drug problem, not much is being done to rehabilitate addicts, according to RTI queries. At least 30 rehab centres run by the Punjab government or linked to it have not received a single addict sent on court orders, Punjab’s health department admitted in its response to RTI questions. Sections 27, 39 and 64-A of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act give an option to courts and prosecution to send those caught with small quantities of banned drugs for personal consumption to rehab centres. This would allow addicts an exit route, and save them from a jail term. Addicts typically get smaller jail terms, unlike traffickers. RTI queries have indicat ed that Punjab’s crimi nal justice system appears to be geared towards jailing addicts convicted for drug abuse, rather than curing them. The sentences ordinarily vary from 15 days to a year in prison depending on the quantity of drugs found on an addict. The RTI queries were filed by Neha Singhal and Sakshi, senior researchers with Delhibased think tank, Vidhi Centre For Legal Policy. The RTIs sought full details of the number of addicts prosecuted under section 27 of NDPS Act who were referred for rehabilitation by courts. The applications didn’t lay down a time-frame but sought the number of patients who enrolled voluntarily, facilities and treatment available at the centres, the nature of drugs used by patients, disbursement of funds, etc. Section 27 of the NDPS Act says that persons found in illegal possession of drugs in small quantity are liable to imprisonment of up to six months, or fine, or both, which, in respect of hard drugs like heroin, would be up to one-year imprisonment or fine or both.However, the court is empowered to release an addict to undergo treatment for de-addiction on his executing a necessary bond. Meanwhile, two days before its release, a copy of ‘Udta Punjab’ was leaked on torrent websites. A copyright complaint was lodged late on Wednesday even as investigators said the film’s team has removed the leaked version. (Times of India 16/6/16)

Uttarakhand activist writes to PMO, gets village digitally connected (1)

DEHRADUN: After several attempts to get his village digitally connected did not bear fruit, an RTI activist finally wrote to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), and to his surprise, got a quick response, with a copy of instructions that his village, Dudhali, be provided internet facilities under the PM’s Digital India initiative which aims to connect rural areas with high-speed internet networks. The activist, Ajay Kumar, said he never expected such a quick response when he wrote to the PMO on June 1. By June 6, PMO had written to the Union rural development ministry and the Uttarakhand government about his request and also uploaded the response and action on the PMO-PG website. By June 17, Kumar got the response from PMO about the officials entrusted to review the action both in Uttarakhand and the central government. “I had written to the PM demanding internet connectivity, e-smart classes in the schools, e-library and connecting the village with the optical fibre network,” said Kumar. Dudhali village is close to Doiwala where residents still struggle for basic civic facilities. Last week, Kumar was informed by the state government that the information technology department has been instructed to start working on his demands.”I have been informed about the status of my request. To be honest, I had not expected that writing a letter to the PM would be taken so seriously that all the department would start working on the plan,” he said, talking to TOI. He had demanded setting up of common services centre (CSC) in the village to begin internet-based services like issuing of certificates including domicile, caste, birth, death and payment of water and power bills.The village has a population of over 7,000 and is 20 km away from the hill capital. State government officials admitted about the direction from the PMO and said they are now preparing a plan of action. “It is being prepared in consultation with the IT department and the stakeholders including the villagers before we start the work,” said an official here. (Times of India 19/6/16)

Modi’s degree: HC notice to Kejriwal, CIC (1)

Ahmedabad: The row over prime minister Narendra Modi’s degree has now reached Gujarat high court, which on Monday issued notice to Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and central information commissioner (CIC) M Sridhar Acharyulu. The HC sought reply from the CIC and Kejriwal in response to a petition filed by Gujarat University (GU) challenging the legality of the CIC order asking the university to furnish details of Modi’s postgraduation degree to the Delhi CM. The GU has challenged the CIC order as biased, and lacking jurisdiction under the Right To Information (RTI) Act. PM Modi obtained MA from the GU in political science in 1983. The GU has urged the HC to quash CIC’s order passed on April 9 on the ground that the GU was never made a party to any proceedings before the CIC, and hence, this decision was adverse to the interests of the university. The GU has accused the CIC of giving special treatment to Kejriwal, only because he happened to be Delhi’s chief minister. “The CIC has considered the chief minister on a different pedestal, which is against the principles of rule of law,” the petition reads. The GU has also objected to CIC’s observation that it was proper to disclose information about the PM’s degree since the CM of Delhi sought the information. The university reiterated in the petition that under RTI laws, all are equal and the status of Kejriwal as the CM of Delhi is not a ground for issuing any direction against the GU.The GU has complained that Kejriwal did not make any application to the CIC for obtaining particulars of Modi’s degree from the university. The CIC had wrongly treated Kejriwal’s oral submissions as his application and sought Modi’s degree, GU has remarked in the petition. This is in stark violation of the RTI laws, because any information commission could have ordered the GU to supply Modi’s degree, had the CIC forwarded Kejriwal’s application to it under the RTI laws, or had Kejriwal himself filed an application to the GU’s public information officer, observed the petition. “The CIC is not authorized to unilaterally ask for information without any application made before the GU by Kejriwal,” the petition reads.The GU has also questioned the jurisdiction of the CIC on the ground that its orders could only be given to the public authority under the Union government. After issuing notice, Justice S H Vora has kept further hearing on July 2. (Times of India 21/6/16)

Cabinet decisions come under RTI Act, says Kerala CIC (1)

Thiruvananthapuram: In a significant development that may make government business more transparent, the Kerala Information Commission has ordered that all decisions by the state government, once finalised in the cabinet, come under the ambit of the RTI Act. The Commission also suggested that the government publish the cabinet decisions on its official website. “The details of all cabinet decisions should be given once the procedures regarding those decisions are completed. It also should be considered seriously to upload the cabinet decisions on the government website,” the Commission observed. State Chief Information Commissioner Vinson M Paul issued the order while disposing of a complaint by RTI activist D B Binu against the decision of the state government, which denied him copies of the cabinet decisions taken from January 1 to March 12 under the RTI Act. The Commission also directed the government to make public within 10 days all cabinet decisions taken during during the last three months since January 1. (Business Standard 22/6/16)

Centre didn’t spend on anniversary ads: RTI reply (1)

MUMBAI: The Union government’s Directorate of Advertising & Visual Publicity (DAVP) has said in its reply to an RTI query that “Rs Nil”, or no money at all, had been spent on the advertising blitzkrieg in May on the completion of two years by the Narendra Modi-led government. The reply has set tongues wagging, with Opposition parties demanding to know who had paid for the ads. The RTI application to DAVP had been filed by Advocate Pranay Ajmera, a Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) student wing activist. The application sought details of money spent by the government on the advertisement campaign in print and electronic media. The DAVP comes under the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting and is responsible for releasing government ad campaigns to media houses. In a reply sent on June 8, the DAVP said, “With regard to information pertaining to audio visual accounts of your RTI, the requisite information for amount spent on advertisements to celebrate two years completion of Union government as on date 29/05/2016 in Rs NIL.” The NCP’s chief spokesperson Nawab Malik said, “We have been bombarded with government advertisements for many months now celebrating two years of the government. The government must explain as to whether all media houses published these ads for free or the work was outsourced to a private agency. Mr Malik said the government should also explain if the campaign was funded by the Ambanis, Adanis and Tatas. “Were the media houses forced to publish free government advertisements?” he asked. Mr Ajmera, who has filed an application for first appeal with the appellate authority, said he wanted to highlight bring the money spent by the government on publicity. “I am not satisfied with the information I received. Either they are lying or hiding the information,” he said. He added, “Advertisments cannot be published without spending money. If the government hasn’t spent it, then who spent it? I will continue to pursue the case with the authorities.” (The Hindu 24/6/16)

SIC fines school Rs 25k for not giving info on RTI query (1)

ROORKEE: State information commission (SIC) is reported to have slapped a fine of Rs 25,000 on an intermediate college of girls at Manglaur, a nearby town, for not providing information to an RTI applicant about the recruitment process of school staff. It also termed the behaviour of the district’s chief education officer (CEO) as “unwarranted” in complying with the instructions of the commission in the matter. The commission also asked state government to take a disciplinary action against the education officer too.Rakesh Agarwal, a resident of Roorkee, had filed a petition before the state information commission on August 26, 2015 after he was not satisfied with the response of the public information officer/principal of Kewal Kanya Inter College, Manglaur against his RTI request. Agarwal had asked the school management to furnish certain information over the selection process of teachers. However, instead of giving him point-wise information about his queries, school only provided him inappropriate and ambiguous replies.When the matter was brought to the attention of Surendra Singh Rawat, state information commissioner, he instructed to chief education officer (CEO) that he should seek a sum of Rs 3,280 from the RTI applicant as fee for the needed information and arrange all desired documents for him. But CEO did not pay heed to Rawat’s instructions. Agarwal deposited the said fee in time with the CEO. In a strongly worded statement against the school principal and CEO over their conduct, Rawat said “they did not provide information to an RTI applicant at initial levels but when we tried to put pressure on them to comply with orders, they even levelled allegations against us”. Disciplinary action is also likely to be initiated against CEO for his “unwarranted behaviour”, he added. (Times of India 26/6/16)

RIGHT TO EDUCATION

RTE reimbursements for schools hiked to Rs17,329 (11)

Nagpur : The reimbursement to schools in lieu of free admissions under Right to Education Act ( RTE ) quota has been hiked to Rs . 17,329 per student per year. The new figure is an almost 30% jump from the previous amount set by the state government and will come into effect from 2015-16 session. While schools are happy there has been an increase in the amount, the quantum of increase has not gone down well with many. Rajendra Dayma, co-founder and office bearer of Independent English Schools Association (IESA), said, “It is not fair to give schools such a low amount. We have found that the average annual fee is around Rs 40,000. Compared to this what the government is offering is peanuts.” The association has decided to keep their schools closed on June 15 as a mark of protest. While June 15 is the school opening day for state, Vidarbha follows a slightly different schedule. Due to hot weather conditions, government has exempted Vidarbha and allows schools to reopen from June 26. The association will plan out a schedule for schools in Vidarbha. Currently the reimbursements are for admissions done under RTE from STD I-VIII but schools want the government to commit funds for pre-primary too. A principal said, “State wants us to admit children from entry point, which in almost every school is pre-primary level. But we are not getting a single paisa for that. The government must ensure we get reimbursed for every class that we admit a student under RTE.” RTE admissions this year in Maharashtra were done completely online to bring in transparency and increase efficiency of staff involved. The first round of lottery for admissions has been completed and schools are in the process of document verification. (Times of India 1/6/16)

Won’t release education policy till states vet it: Smriti Irani (11)

New Delhi: Union HRD minister Smriti Irani on Friday said that the report on National Education Policy will be made public only after taking views from the states brushing aside the demand of former cabinet secretary T S R Subramanian, who led the panel which prepared the report suggesting reforms to the policy. “Education policy will not become an attempt to be the legacy of one individual who seeks a headline…The recommendations have to be shared with the states first before it is made a draft policy,” she said while responding to a question regarding the statement given by Subramanian that he would make the report on the new policy public, if the government did not do so. Terming it “unfortunate that misleading or distasteful headlines are done”, Irani said she would not renege on her promise to state governments that they will have a voice in it, before it is made a policy.Irani also defended her ministry’s decision to reject three famous names from the corporate world – chairman of the board of directors of Infosys R Seshasayee, HDFC chairman Deepak Parekh and Hero MotoCorp CMD Pawan Munjal – which a search panel had suggested for the post of chairperson at IIM, Ahmedabad. “I am of the opinion that I would not like to give credence to supposed headlines. I will only say this that it is the right of institutions to propose certain names giving valid reasons and if valid stands are not found then we are having the right and the authority to ask for a reason. That possibly can be the only interface that the ministry has, at the level of the joint secretary, with an institution,” Irani said.The minister said the the NDA government had added six IIMs, two IITs and five IIITs to provide quality education to students. She also said the government had brought forth a mechanism to rank institutes of higher education to raise the quality of education all over the country. (Times of India 4/6/16)

10 students injured at Jaipur protest against ‘saffronisation’ of education (11)

Jaipur: At least 10 students affiliated to NSUI injured when police resorted to lathicharge to disperse protesters outside Rajasthan University’s main campus in Jaipur on Monday. The NSUI activists were protesting against alleged saffronisation of education and change in question paper pattern in examination by the BJP government. One of the seriously injured students Deepak Dhindoria was admitted to the trauma ward of SMS hospital, while others were discharged after first-aid. The police have arrested 13 students, including NSUI president Satveer Choudhary and a girl, under Section 151 of the IPC. Pradesh Congress Committee vice-president Archana Sharma condemned the police “highhandedness” and alleged that the BJP government wanted to crush students’ silent protest. She accused the state government of saffronising higher education by deleting references pertaining to former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and even Mahatma Gandhi from history books. “The ideology of BJP and RSS was being thrust on students,” she said. Nearly 100 students were part of the NSUI-led protest against MA II-semester paper which had questions related to BJP’s governance and its saffron ideology. (The Tribune 6/6/16)

Poor infrastructure, skewed policy keep students away from government schools (11)

BENGALURU: Every morning, children studying in Class 1 at the Government Lower Primary School at Kagikharkhane in Kalaburagi walk 2km to reach their school. The school has 10 students and the infrastructure is just enough to keep it going. The children who come from poor families are worried that they will have to trek 4km to reach another ‘nearby’ government school if their school is shut down for want of minimum student strength. The state government had planned to close down schools with student strength of ten or below. Education experts blame the government for pushing its schools to such a sorry state. “Instead of attracting students, the department was planning to close them in the name of merger. Though they call it merger, it is actually a closure as they will not re-open them till they get the student strength to over 15,” said an expert. Late on Tuesday, the government withdrew its decison to shut schools. Dr M S Thimmappa, former Vice-chancellor, Bangalore University, said, “The earlier decision to shut down schools was unfortunate because the poorest of the poor who cannot afford private schools send their children to government schools. The government’s attitude is defeatist. Instead of improving the quality, they are closing schools. Specialisation, quality teaching and infrastructure is what these government schools need.” A teacher of a school in Chikkamagaluru district said, “Our school is in an interior area and has only nine students. This is the only school catering to five villages. Unfortunately, the trend since the past four years has been for parents shifting their children to a private school, 20 km from here. This has affected admissions. But, if we close down our school, where will the poor students go?” Experts say the provisions of Right to Education Act (RTE) is one of the reasons. Ironically, the government is itself to blame for it. Under RTE, the state government admits 25% children from financially weaker sections to private schools. A source in the department said, “When we are providing quality education at free of cost in private schools, who will admit their kids to government schools? As it is a national policy and right of the children for free and compulsory education, we cannot question it.” Another reason is migration. In the North Karnataka region, many families migrate to cities in search of jobs. Shortage of teachers is another factor.  The department says that they prefer merger of schools as they are grappling with teacher shortage. (New Indian Express 8/6/16)

Bihar govt embarks on ‘Operation Clean Education’ (11)

Patna: In the wake of raging Intermediate ‘topper scam’, the state education department has taken up the initiative to start ‘Operation Clean Education’, in which all the affiliated colleges and schools would be inspected phasewise to know the ground reality.This decision was taken at a high-level meeting conducted by CM Nitish Kumar along with senior bureaucrats and state education minister Ashok Choudhary, a couple of days back, but a notification to this effect was issued on Saturday. The minister has asked the DM and the SP of all the districts to do joint inspection of affiliated educational institutions. Talking to TOI, Choudhary said all the 228 affiliated BEd colleges, intermediate colleges and degree colleges would be inspected in phases. “The DM and SP have been asked to inspect BEd colleges and submit reports within 15 days. The two officers will go every college and get detail information such as the number of students enrolled, number of classrooms and the infrastructure available. In case of any irregularity or discrepancy, affiliation of the concerned college would be cancelled, followed by lodging of an FIR,” he said. In the next phase, intermediate colleges would be inspected and finally degree colleges. Even private coaching institutes would be under the scanner of the education department, and it would be checked whether they are following the rules laid out for them or not. The education minister agreed that many of the colleges and schools had got the affiliation by adopting wrong means. “We have also got information that directors and principals of a few colleges have appointed their relatives on the posts of teachers and they are misusing funds, but now they would face the brunt,” said Choudhary, adding, “We promise people quality education. We will go to any extent to achieve that, but we need some time.” After the ‘topper scam’ was exposed by the media last week, there have been reports of affiliated colleges and schools misusing government funds. It is also said that a lot of money changes hands in grant of affiliation and the racket has gripped the entire education system of Bihar. (Times of India 11/6/16)

Govt. to down shutters of 144 private schools (11)

VISAKHAPATNAM: In total, 144 private schools in Visakhapatnam district will be closed down for failing to obtain the mandated recognition from the government before the reopening date, which is Monday for most schools. Reviewing the performances of the schools, including the fulfilment of the required infrastructural formalities with the management of the schools in Visakhapatnam on Sunday, HRD Minister Ganta Srinivasa Rao, expressed displeasure, as many of the schools do not have the required infrastructure such as playgrounds, proper toilets and laboratories. Speaking to The Hindu , the Minister said of the 144 schools, 57 are primary schools and 87 high schools. And they will be closed down before the reopening date. “I do not understand how the District Education Officer Krishna Reddy allowed these schools to function without being recognised. The schools have to be closed down before the reopening date. We have instructed the DEO to release an advertisement in all major newspapers to publicise the names of the banned schools,” he said. In a similar crackdown the government had downed the shutters of 106 schools last year in the district. “We have initiated a task force under the chairmanship of Joint Collector –II and it will comprise four other members, including a DSP rank officer from the Department of Vigilance and Enforcement,” he said. The task force has been assigned to look into various aspects such as the building norms, fire fighting system, playgrounds, laboratories, toilets, faculty strength and quality and other basic infrastructure. “There are many schools that do not have the basic infrastructure and a few are being run from the third and fourth floor of apartments and are located in main junctions, creating traffic nuisance. The task force has been told to take action against all these schools, which includes a number of junior colleges run by a few corporate groups,” he informed The Hindu . On the fitness certificates of busses, there are about 1,640 school busses and so far only 732 have obtained fitness certificates. The management of the schools have been told to obtain the fitness certificate before the reopening date or not to run the busses till then. Referring to the fee issue, Mr. Srinivasa Rao said there was no mechanism to check the fees being charged by the private schools till now. “We have instructed the schools to publicise the details such as infrastructure and full structure of the fees in the public domain and have told the task force to see that the fees are charged reasonably,” he said. (The Hindu 13/6/16)

School notebooks in Vadodara laud ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’ (11)

Vadodara: The primary education committee of the Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC) has once again waded into controversy by bringing out notebooks with messages promoting the BJP-RSS ideology. This time, the committee is distributing notebooks that laud the slogan ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’ and have a picture of Bharatiya Jan Sangh ideologue Pandit Deendayal Upadhyay.In the past too, the committee had brought out notebooks with a picture of Bharat Mata as represented by the RSS. The covers of the notebooks have also shown Modi alongside Swami Vivekananda attempting to draw a comparison between the two. Even school bags with Modi’s photograph were distributed by the committee before few years. The committee chairman, Keyur Rokadiya, said that 1.6lakh such notebooks would be distributed. “There should be no objection to ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’. In fact, the quote by Deendayalji on the notebook explains this,” he said. Upadhyay has been quoted on the back cover of the notebooks stating that the foundation of our nationality was Bharat Mata. It adds that without the word Mata, Bharat would merely be a piece of land. Rokadiya added that Upadhyay’s picture was placed on the cover as it was his birth centenary year. The Congress at the other end sees this as an attempt to promote the RSS ideology. “It is an attempt to influence the children to promote RSS views on the Indian culture and history,” said Nilesh Brahmbhatt, Vadodara city Congress spokesperson. (Times of India 16/6/16)

Over 28,000 RTE quota seats remain vacant (11)

Bengaluru: As many as 28,530 seats of the total 1.15 lakh under the Right to Education (RTE) Act quota have not been filled in the State this year. While 78,546 admissions were made during the first round, 8,161 students were admitted during the second round. Although 16,802 children were allotted seats, many parents are yet to approach the schools even though the deadline for admissions ended on Saturday. While 1,478 applications were rejected owing to errors in the documents or duplication in the second round, several applicants have decided not to admit their children as the schools allotted to them were not their first preference. “Although the last date for admissions is over, we still have to analyse if there is a need to extend the last date under the second round,” an official in the Department of Public Instruction said. (The Hindu 20/6/16)

Lack of awareness hits free schooling scheme for BPL kids (11)

BIJNOR: Despite having a provision to admit children of Below Poverty Line (BPL) card holders in private schools — as per the directive to reserve 25% seats for them – not a single applicant has applied for the same with the basic shiksha adhikari (BSA) of Bijnor. There are about 3,000 public schools in Bijnor district. Education authorities attribute this to lack of awareness regarding the scheme among the poor and illiterate due to which underprivileged children are not availing free education in public schools of the district. Under the Right to Education (RTE) Act, free education is mandatory for all children between the ages of six to 14 in government primary and higher primary schools. In addition to this, there is also a provision under the act that all public schools will educate poor children. Only those poor children will be admitted to public schools whose parents’ annual income is less than Rs 1 lakh or they are suffering from diseases like cancer. Stating that he was unaware about the scheme, Jasveer Kashyap, a resident of Mandawali, said, “I don’t know about any such provision. Nobody has ever arrived here to sensitize us on the issue.” According to sources, the government only reimbursed the fee in public schools while other expenses have to be borne by the parents. However, poor parents don’t have money to bear expenses such as dresses, books and transport facilities of their wards etc. Giving details, BSA Bijnor, Sanjay Kushwah told TOI, “No BPL card holder has admitted his children to public schools here. We are creating awareness among poor people about the provision of free education in public institutions so that they enroll their children in such schools.” Kushwah further added, “To admit their children in public schools, BPL car holders have to submit an application in the education department. The form should state about three nearby schools. It is our duty to provide admission to these children.” (Times of India 21/6/16)

Regulate Government-run educational institutions: AISF (11)

COIMBATORE: Members of the All India Students Federation (AISF) on Wednesday picketed the office of the District collectorate urging the State Government to fund and regulate all the Government-run educational institutions. Activists pointed out that private educational institutions have been increasing the fee every year and the School Education department has been a mute spectator all along. Of late, even Government-run educational institutions are taxing the students with extra or higher fee for meeting the salary of teachers appointed through Parent Teacher Associations. Such a situation was because of the failure of the State to fill up the vacancies in Government schools. Such factors threaten the right to education of children from poor sections of society. State should come forward and provide 100 per cent funding to Government schools and fill up all existing vacancies. Stringent action needs to be initiated against private educational institutions that indulge in fleecing. Private schools that refuse to honour the 25 per cent Right to Education seats for economically weaker sections should face cancellation of their recognition. State should come forward to open one arts and science college per Assembly constituency and one engineering, medical and law college per district. Government Arts and Science Colleges should have all departments. The demonstrators also called for increasing the allocation to Government school and college hostels and increase in budgetary provision for the food given to students at the hostels. (The Hindu 23/6/16)

Rights body asks school to take back kids (11)

Hyderabad: The State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (SCPCR) on Friday charged the Secunderabad-based Amrita Vidyalayam of violating the Right to Education Act and asked the district collector and district education officer to ensure that 27 students, who were issued transfer certificates (TC), are re-admitted with immediate effect. The missive was issued after parents filed a petition with the SCPCR on June 11 complaining that the school had given TC to 27 students who failed to pay the hiked fees. (Times of India 25/6/16)

34 pc Muslim children have no access to pre-school: UNICEF (7)

New Delhi, Jun 28 () Out of 74 million children, in the group of 3-6 years in India, around 20 million did not attend pre-school and most of them belonged to disadvantaged and marginalised sections of the society, a UNICEF report said today. According to “State of the World Children Report-2016″, released globally by UNICEF, around 34 per cent children from Muslim families, 25.9 per cent from Hindu families and 25.6 per cent from Christian families did not attend pre-school. “Lack of access to pre-school education has a long-term impact on learning capabilities of a child. It is a continuum. When children enter primary school without going to pre-school they are likely to drop early and will not be able to fulfill their potential,” UNICEF India representative Louis-Georges Arsenault said while releasing the report. According to the government’s National Survey for Estimation of Out-of-School Children conducted in 2014, more than 60 per cent of children dropped out before completing grade 3, he added. The study also found that implementation of Right To Education (RTE) Act has led to a drop in the number of out-of-school children, aged 6-13 years, to six million in 2014 from eight million in 2009. However, 36 per cent of children drop out before completing elementary education and about half of them are from marginalised and deprived groups, it said. Highlighting lack of quality education, the report citing the National Achievement Survey (2014), said “less than half of Class V students correctly answered reading comprehension and mathematics question posed to them.” Expressing the hope that the new education policy will address these lacunae, Arsenault said “New Education policy with its vision for India as a knowledge superpower really calls for building the goal of Right To Education Act and moving beyond elementary education and extending it to include pre-schooling and also competition in secondary education.” Secretary, Department of School Education and Literacy, HRD Ministry, S C Khuntia said “we are formulating a new education policy and have formed a committee in the ministry to look into these issues.” (Times of India 28/6/16)

RIGHT TO FOOD/ HUNGER

Odisha becomes first to give welfare to transgender community (21)

BHUBANESWAR: Odisha is the first region in the country to give transgender people social welfare benefits – such as a pension, housing and food grains – usually allocated for only the most impoverished, an official said on Thursday. Niten Chandra, principal secretary of Odisha’s Department of Social Security, said the move to give the transgender community the same benefits as those living below the poverty line was aimed at improving their overall social and economic status. “Most transgender people are in a very bad condition because of social exclusion. For example, they very often do not get employment easily,” Chandra told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. “The government had a consultation with transgender people in April, and they had raised their problems and issues. On that basis, we are now taking many decisions to help them – giving them the Below Poverty Line status is one of them.” There are no official figures, but activists say there are hundreds of thousands of transgender people in India, many of whom face ostracism and discrimination, as well as verbal, physical and sexual abuse. A lack of access to education and employment opportunities has meant many male-to-female transgender people – also known as “hijras” – end up forced into sex work or moving around in organised groups, begging or demanding money. In a landmark judgment in April 2014, Supreme Court recognised transgender as a legal third gender and called on the government to ensure their equal treatment. The court recognised the community as a marginalised group and directed authorities to implement policies to improve their socio-economic status. Identity documents such as birth certificates, driving licenses and passports must now recognise the third gender, and a certain number of public sector jobs, seats in schools and colleges must be allocated to third-gender applicants. Chandra said Odisha’s transgender population was unofficially estimated at 40,000, but added a survey would be conducted soon to get a more accurate figure. Members of the transgender community will be given Below Poverty Line (BPL) cards that will allow them to access benefits under various government welfare programmes. .. (Times of India 2/6/16)

People’s cooperation needed to make India poverty-free: Narendra Modi (21)

Balasore: Seeking people’s cooperation to make India poverty-free, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday said BJP is synonymous with development which is talking place in all the party-ruled states even as he sought a political change in Odisha. “We have heard ‘garibi hatao’ slogan for 40-50 years. The intention of those who gave it might not have been bad but poverty, unemployment and diseases increased as the path chosen for it by them was wrong path,” he said. Addressing a public meeting here on completion of two years of his government, Modi said from the day one he had made up his mind to prepare schemes that would help eradicate poverty. “In my first speech in Parliament, I had stated that my government is dedicated to the welfare of the poor. My aim is to ensure sustainable development of all states,” he said. Describing himself as the ‘pradhan sevak’ of the country, Modi said he had come down to Balasore and Odisha to explain what his government has done for the poor. “We are accountable to the people,” the Prime Minister said while asking the gathering whether Naveen Patnaik had ever given an account to the people. Modi said, “When people are convinced about a government’s sincerity, only then it is possible for the government to move forward. I want people-government partnership to fight poverty and, therefore my government is trying to empower the people. There should be an integrated way of development so that all the states move forward in an even manner.” Holding that all BJP-ruled states were developing in a faster manner, he said Odisha has lagged behind as his party is yet to be in power the state while asking the people to work fora change. “You can look at the condition of states where BJP is yet to get a foothold,” he said, apparently taking a dig at the Naveen Patnaik government. Modi said, “The time has come one has to think why western part of our country is more developed than the eastern. “Odisha is a state where natural resources are plenty but it’s people are neglected and the state is lacking development.” Noting that development created all-round happiness, the Prime Minister said to attain that goal the states and the Centre must have good understanding. “Our government is giving importance to infrastructure development like in rail, road, education sectors. The schemes should involve the people or else they will remain only on paper,” he said. Elaborating on schemes initiated for the poor by the central government, the Prime Minister said these steps have brought confidence among the people as well as given them socio-economic well-being. He said ‘Janani Surakshya Yojana’ and other schemes have been helpful for such people. Modi criticised gender discrimination prevalent in the society and said the central government has vowed to eliminate such discrimination by initiating ‘Beti Bachao Beti Padhao Yojna’. He said immunisation programme like ‘Indradhanush Yojna’, various informal education schemes like ‘Anganwadi’ meant for the five to six-year-old, mid-day meal, ‘Sukanya Sambrudhi’, toilets for school children and others have yielded results. “We have to empower the poorer sections to conquer poverty,” he said, adding the NDA government is working in that direction. He said his government has been successful in taking power to 7,000 of the targeted 18,000 unelectrified villages in 300 days. Remaining work will be done within 1000 days as targeted, he said. (Business Standard 2/6/16)

6.3 L cardholders in Hyderabad don’t buy ration from PDS (21)

HYDERABAD: Believe it or not, even after implementation of National Food Security Act which raised the income eligibility for availing PDS benefits last year, and government’s subsequent drive seeding Aadhaar details with PDS to weed out bogus cards, there are at present over 6.3 lakh cardholders in Hyderabad who do not buy ration from PDS. The number of cards issued stands at 13.21 lakh. Now, one has to understand if these are bogus cards yet to be weeded out or are just below poverty line(BPL) families not interested in availing the benefits of government. According to latest figures, two months after the implementation of Electronic-Point of Sale(EPOS) system which uses biometric details of a PDS beneficiary before releasing ration at fair price shops across Hyderabad, a total of 2.6 lakh families in Hyderabad district and 3.73 lakh families in parts of Rangareddy district which fall under Greater Hyderabad limits have not availed PDS benefits in May. The figures are quite similar for previous month too. The savings for the month of April stood at 35.5 pc in Hyderabad and 37 pc in parts of Rangareddy district. Similarly, in May, the savings were 33.8 pc in Hyderabad and 29.4 pc in RR district. These figures can be read as a saving of `28 cr and `20 cr for April and May respectively. ‘’The savings for any month so far was in single digits. EPOS enables constant monitoring of fair price shops since it uses biometric data for giving supplies to beneficiaries. Now diversion of PDS commodities is not possible,’’ said chief rationing officer of Hyderabad B Bala Maya Devi. District supplies officer, Rangareddy, M Gouri Shankar said: ‘’We cannot say if all these are bogus cards too. A lot of people may be away on vacation. Some of them might not be interested in availing ration. We are in the constant process of weeding out ineligible cards,” he said. (New Indian Express 7/6/16)

India to grow at 7.6% in FY17, says World Bank (21)

NEW DELHI: India is anticipated to grow at 7.6% in 2016-17, according to the World Bank, retaining its position as the fastest growing major economy in the world. China is forecast to grow at 6.7% after 6.9% last year, while Brazil and Russia are projected to remain in deeper recessions than forecast in January. The multilateral agency’s latest global economic prospects report said the outlook assumes rural incomes and spending will rebound with a return to normal monsoon rainfall after two years of poor rain. The opening up of new sectors is expected to attract foreign investment. Public spending on infrastructure and the planned streamlining of business procedures and the tax regime, and accommodative monetary policy are expected to be further conducive to private investment. Foreign direct investment in India has surged over the 18-month period ending in February thanks to the government’s “Make in India” campaign, with computer software and automotive industries the primary beneficiaries. Manufacturing activity accelerated and purchasing manager indicators showed buoyant sentiment. Increased public spending on power generation, roads, railways and urban infrastructure has contributed to an improved business environment. Growth prospects have weakened throughout the world economy, according to the June 2016 Global Economic Prospects. Global growth for 2016 is projected at 2.4%, 0.5 percentage point below the January forecast.”This sluggish growth underscores why it’s critically important for countries to pursue policies that will boost economic growth and improve the lives of those living in extreme poverty,” said Jim Yong Kim, President, World Bank group. “Economic growth remains the most important driver of poverty reduction, and that’s why we’re very concerned that growth is slowing sharply in commodity-exporting developing countries due to depressed commodity prices.” In an environment of anemic growth, the global economy faces mounting risks, including a further slowdown in major emerging markets, the World Bank said. Emerging market and developing economies (EMDEs) are facing stronger headwinds, including weaker growth among advanced economies and low commodity prices. Significant divergences persist between commodity exporters struggling to adjust to depressed prices and commodity importers showing continued resilience. Global growth is projected to pick up to 3% by 2018 as stabilizing commodity prices provide support to commodity exporting EMDEs (Emerging market and developing economies). Downside risks have become more pronounced. These include deteriorating conditions among key commodity exporters, softer-than-expected activity in advanced economies, rising private sector debt in some large emerging markets, and heightened policy and geopolitical uncertainties. (Times of India 9//6/16)

State Food Commission coming up (21)

BENGALURU: The decks have been cleared for the setting up of a State Food Commission, a quasi judicial regulatory body, to monitor issues related to the public distribution system, Anna Bhagya scheme of supplying foodgrains at nominal cost, and supply of food to anganwadis under the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS). Announcing this at a press conference here, Food Minister Dinesh Gundu Rao said Karnataka was the third State in the country to set up such a commission under the provisions of the National Food Security Act, after Bihar and Haryana. The State Cabinet recently cleared the proposal, and the administrative formalities have been completed with the issuing of a notification in this regard on June 10. It may take three to four months to put the Commission in place, the Minister said. It will have seven members including a chairman and a member secretary. Till then, the State Consumer Forum will double up as the food commission, he explained. The chairman and members will be chosen by a committee headed by the Chief Minister. The selection committee will comprise presiding officers and leaders of the Opposition of both the Houses of the State Legislature and the Food Minister as its members. The general public could take up any issues and grievances related to food in the public sector with the commission. They could also take up issues concerning the orders by the district-level authorities related to their grievances if they were not satisfied with the verdict of those authorities, the Minister said. He was of the view that the commission would strengthen the PDS as well as Anna Bhagya scheme. (The Hindu 13/6/16)

Pope criticises obstacles to food aid while weapons flow freely (21)

Rome, June 13 : Pope Francis on Monday criticised as a “paradox” the multiple bureaucratic, political and economic obstacles to the distribution of food aid to the hungry while weapons flow freely around the world. Francis made his first visit to the headquarters of the World Food Programme, the UN agency responsible for the distribution of food aid, and was received by WFP director Ertharin Cousin, Efe news reported. In his address to the WFP Executive Board, the pontiff described as “a strange and paradoxical phenomenon” the web of political decisions, ideological bents and customs barriers hindering aid and development assistance but not the flow of arms. “It doesn’t matter where they come from, (weapons) circulate with boasting and almost absolute freedom in so many places around the world. Thus, it is wars that get nurtured, not the people. In some cases, hunger is used as a weapon in war,” the pope said. “The weakest populations not only suffer from armed conflicts, but also see all kinds of help hindered at the same time. It is urgent to streamline all procedures that prevent humanitarian aid programmes from achieving their goals,” Pope said. The pope said: “Excessive information gradually generates a ‘normalisation’ of misery (and) step by step, we become indifferent to other people’s tragedies and we accept it as something that is ‘natural’”.”Let’s be clear. Food scarcity is not something that is natural, it is not just a piece of information or something obvious, evident. That so many people in the 21st century suffer this scourge is the result of a selfish and bad distribution of resources, and of a ‘commercialisation’ of food,” Francis said. (New Kerala 13/6/16)

Tripura Govt blamed for high poverty in State (21)

 AGARTALA, June 18 – Union Minister Anant G Geete on Friday denounced the Left Front Government in Tripura for not being able to alleviate poverty in the State, saying 67 per cent of its population is below the poverty line. “Is it good governance? When the national average of BPL is 38 per cent, in the Marxist ruled State the number is 67 per cent, which is abnormally high. “What is this government doing being at the helm of affairs for the last 23 years? People in this State are getting poorer due to the governance they are being provided,” Geete said at a press conference here. The Union Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises Minister, who visited the State to highlight the achievements of the two-year rule of the Narendra Modi-led NDA Government, said even very poor people in the country were now getting LPG.

“In Tripura, people do not get their proper share of money allocated by the Centre, which is the main reason for poverty and such a high rate of BPL percentage,” he said adding, had there been good governance, the people of Tripura could have caught up with the national BPL average. Attacking the earlier UPA Government, he said the last ten years of the UPA Government were full of scams, and could be termed as government of scams. But, in the last two years of Narendra Modi Government, there is no scam and the coming three years would also be scam-free, Geete claimed. – PTI (The Assam Tribune 19/6/16)

32.59 pc people in state live below poverty line (21)

BHUBANESWAR: DESPITE claims of the State Government that poverty has gone down in Odisha because of  successful implementation of different welfare programmes, 32.59 per cent of the State’s population remains below the poverty line (BPL), which is one of the highest figures in the country. More than half of the districts are also behind the per capita gross domestic product (GDP) which is Rs 27,735 in the State. However, tribal dominated Sundargarh has topped in gross district domestic product (GDDP) followed by another tribal-dominated district Keonjhar. While the total GDDP of Odisha is Rs 129,27,445 lakh, Sundargarh tops the list with Rs 11,32,011 lakh. According to official sources, the GDDP of Keonjhar is Rs 10,41,317 lakh while Deogarh, which is at the bottom of the list, has GDDP of Rs 75,326 lakh. The per capita net district domestic product (NDDP) of Odisha stands at Rs 27,735. More than half of the districts including Sonepur, Rayagada, Puri, Nuapada, Nayagarh, Nabarangpur, Mayurbhanj, Malkangiri, Kendrapara, Kalahandi, Ganjam, Gajapati, Dhenkanal, Deogarh, Boudh, Balangir, Bhadrak, Bargarh and Balasore have low per capita NDDP than the Odisha average. Angul district has the highest per capita NDDP of Rs 53,920 followed by Rs 51,134 of Jharsuguda. While Keonjhar district has per capita NDDP of Rs 50,609, Sundargarh has a per capita NDDP of Rs 42,706. Nabarangpur has the lowest per capita NDDP of Rs 16,195. Nayagarh, Puri and Kendrapara also have NDDP far less than the State average. Official sources said the GDDP of Keonjhar and Sundargarh is more compared to other districts because of trade in minerals. Angul, Jharsuguda, Keonjhar and Sundargarh, who top the list of per capita NDDP, have mines and industries. While the GSDP of Odisha was Rs 3,32,329 crore in 2015-16, it was Rs 2,25,283 crore in 2011-12. (New Indian Express 20/6/16)

PDS control order in Jharkhand soon (21)

Dhanbad: The Jharkhand government will soon implement its own public distribution system (PDS) control order, instead of following decades-old Bihar PDS control order to regulate food and supply related issues in the state. The F&S minister was here to inaugurate a yoga camp organized by the district administration at Giridih aerodrome to mark International Yoga Day on Tuesday.”We have sought suggestions from the citizens including public representatives as well as intellectuals to make it citizen-friendly. If everything goes well, we will soon execute the Jharkhand PDS control order, said the Jharkhand state food and supply minister,” Saryu Rai said at Giridih circuit house on Tuesday afternoon. He said that like the Below Poverty Line (BPL), the Above Poverty Line (APL) citizens will also be provided with food grains and other such items at subsidized rates in the next few days. The state government has urged the Centre to allocate additional fund for this purpose. “Almost 1,78,000 ration cards for BPL families which were issued on false grounds, have been deleted from the lists. We have also planned to offer compensation to the BPL card holders that have failed to find food grains or other such items from the PDS shops due to unavailability or some technical issues,” Rai added. Meanwhile, Rai visited the Bodo based Krishi bazaar samiti and enquired about the available food grains in the stock. (Times of India 22/6/16)

Urbanisation can mitigate poverty,says PM at smart city launch (21)

Pune, Jun 25 () Making a strong pitch to consider urbanisation as an opportunity to mitigate poverty and not as a problem, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said cities have to be strengthened through comprehensive and inter-connected approach combined with increased public participation. Addressing a gathering here after the launch of projects under government’s flagship Smart City mission in 20 cities across the country, he said, “There was a time in our country when urbanisation was considered a big problem. But, I feel differently. We should not consider urbanisation as a problem, but consider it as an opportunity.” “People in the economic field consider cities as a growth centre…. If anything has the potential to mitigate poverty it is our cities. That is why people from poor places migrate to cities, as they find opportunities there. “It is now our responsibility to provide strength to cities so that it can mitigate the maximum poverty, in the shortest time, and adds new avenues for development. It is possible as it is not a difficult task,” he said. As the Prime Minister launched 14 smart city projects in Pune, and initiated 69 other works in other smart cities in the country, he made a plea for working in a comprehensive, inter-connected and vision-oriented manner and not in piece-meal. “There cannot be a transformation as long as we take things in bits and pieces. We need to adopt a comprehensive, inter-connected and vision-oriented approach,” he said. Modi added that every city has a distinct identity and the country’s people “who are the smartest” should decide on how to develop urban spaces. Stressing that the spirit of participative governance is vital, he said people of the cities have to decide about the development of their urban spaces as these decisions cannot be taken by people sitting in Delhi. He stressed on increased public participation in deciding the course of development of smart cities and called for intense competition among cities to develop them as modern centres of growth. “If we consider it as a problem, our approach to address it would be the same, but if we consider it an an opportunity we would start thinking differently,” he said. Modi also took a veiled dig at the previous Congress governments, alleging that while they took the country on the reverse path, his government was finding new avenues to move forward. (Times of India 25/6/16)

New Act for consumers soon: Paswan (21)

Ajmer: Minister of consumer affairs and food and public distribution Ramvilas Paswan said that the Central government is bringing new consumer protection authority act soon to safeguard the rights of consumers. In this act, government authorities will have the right to interfere and inspect if any violation is found. Paswan, who was addressing the media on Sunday along with the minister of states for micro small and medium enterprises Giriraj Singh, said that Modi government is performing and efforts of last two years are reaching to the ground. Paswan said that they will control the inflation and rates of pulses in coming days as they have prepared an action plan for buffer stocks. Paswan praised the work of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and said that their party will contest the Uttar Pradesh state assembly elections under the umbrella of NDA. Both ministers also praised the work of their government and said that it is the first time when such development has taken place in India. (Times of India 27/6/16)

Food Security Act to be implemented in all states by next month: Paswan (21)

Ajmer: Union Food and Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan said the National Food Security Act will be implemented in the remaining states in July to bring the whole country under its the ambit. “National Food Security Act is in force in 33 States/UTs, and in states of Tamil Nadu and Nagaland it will be implemented in next month,” he said. Paswan, who was in Ajmer to celebrate two-years of BJP rule in the country, said government was working for the uplift of the weaker sections and has initiated various schemes for them is last two years.“The government is working for the empowerment of the weaker secton of the society, especially women and is providing financial support to them to improve their living,” he said, adding essential commodities like rice and wheat has been made availabe for them at cheaper rates. “Wheat for Rs 2 per kg and rice Rs 3 per kg is given to poor people,” he said. He said the country will not face problems of price rise in pulses as the government is mulling to procure the deficit stock from other countries. “Production of pulses will be 178 lakh tonne. While the demand is 286 lakh tonne, the remaining 108 lakh tonne will be bought from countries like South Africa,” the Union minister said. Paswan, who is also the chief of Lok Janshakti Party, said his party will allign with BJP in the upcoming Uttar Pradesh assembly elections. “LJP will be part of the NDA in UP elections,” he said. Hailing Narendra Modi, Paswan said the Prime Minister has ushered the country to an era of development. “Modi means work and work means Modi,” he said. He was accompained by Union Minister of State Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Giriraj Singh and and BJP, National General Secretary, Bhupendra Yadav. (Indian Express 27/6/16)

LABOUR/ MGNREGA

India tops world slavery list, but activists see improvement (14)

NEW DELHI: Activists against forced labor said Wednesday that while India tops a recent global slavery index, the situation is improving in the South Asian nation thanks to public awareness, legal reforms and police-backed raids on factories employing workers illegally. The Walk Free Foundation counted some 18.35 million modern slaves in India in its index of modern slavery released Tuesday, or 40 percent of a global total of 45.8 million, an estimate 10 million higher than the group last reported in 2014. The figures include children and adults forced into labor, often unpaid or to pay off a debt, as well as child brides, child soldiers and migrant workers. Officials with the Indian Labor Ministry did not immediately respond to calls for comment. Experts and activists said, however, that while the problem has persisted for years in India, there are signs that the situation is improving. “We get 20 complaints per day from family members and public in general” reporting labor abuse — a sign that awareness of the problem was growing, said Ramesh Senger from Nobel laureate Kailash Satyarthi’s charity Bachpan Bachao Andolan, or Save the Childhood Movement. He noted that India’s carpet industry used to employ 300,000 trafficked children just a decade ago, but that the number has come down to an estimated 5,000-10,000. Meanwhile, the number of children forced to work making plastic bangles in parts of the northern state of Uttar Pradesh is now negligible, whereas thousands worked in the industry 10 years ago. India’s garment industry hub in the Indian capital has also eliminated child labor, Sanger noted as an example of how police-backed raids can make a difference. “We rescued nearly 400 children in the area between 2012-2014,” he said. “The garments industry in the area no longer employs child labor.” The global index showed China with the second highest number of modern slaves, 3.39 million, out of 167 countries surveyed for the report. China’s foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a faxed request for comment. North Korea was found to have the highest per capita rate of modern slavery, with 4.37 percent of its population affected. In India, the problem of slavery — including child marriage and bonded labor — has long been a challenge and cause for shame. Many saw the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize for children’s rights activist Satyarthi, who was awarded along with Malala Yousafzai of Pakistan, as a sign that India would be forced to improve. But child labor is widespread despite India’s rapid economic growth over the past decade. Millions of children are forced to work, some as young as 5 or 6. Many end up in difficult and sometimes toxic jobs including rolling cigarettes, mining in stone quarries, dying leather in tanneries. Laws meant to keep kids in school and out of the workplace are routinely flouted. On Monday, the Indian government published draft legislation to curb human trafficking without punishing its victims. “At present the law says the trafficked and the trafficker are both criminals and they both go to jail. Now, we are saying the victim will not go to jail,” said Maneka Gandhi, the government’s minister for women and child development, according to Press Trust of India. But some blamed the government for maintaining an economy where bonded labor can still flourish thanks to high unemployment of around 10 percent and abject poverty in the countryside.”The laws are there, but there is no political will on the part of the government to implement them,” peace activist Swami Agnivesh said. “The government can’t afford to annoy rural rich as well as the urban rich who are exploiting the situation.” (Times of India 1/6/16)

60% of Qatar population lives in ‘labour camps’ (14)

NEW DELHI: Figures from the Ministry of Development Planning and Statistics (MDPS) revealed that almost 60 percent of Qatar’s 2.4 million population live in “labour camps” highlighting that the emirate’s huge workforce is migrant. The figures from April 2015 census by MDPS revealed that 1.4 million people live in what the department officially designates as “labour camps”.At the time of the survey, the official population was 2.4 million which is just 58 per cent of the country’s present population. Since the census, Qatar’s population has grown further to just over 2.5 million. An overwhelming majority of 1.34 million were male, the statistics revealed. The accommodation of migrant labourers working on Qatar’s numerous infrastructure projects has long been a contentious issue. Qatar, which will host the football World Cup in 2022, has been condemned by human rights groups, including Amnesty International, for providing “squalid and cramped accommodation” for its large migrant workforce.Last week, 11 people were killed and 12 injured when a fire ripped through a camp housing labourers working on a tourism project in the southwest of the country. Qatar has responded to the criticism by building new workers’ housing complexes, including the $825 million “Labour City” south of the capital Doha, which incorporates shops, cinemas and a cricket stadium. The complex can house up to 70,000 foreign workers and is one of seven workers’ “cities” being developed which will accommodate almost 260,000 people in total. The population of gas-rich Qatar has soared over the past three decades as it has imported a huge migrant workforce to develop its infrastructure. In 1986, just 373,000 people lived in the emirate. (Times of India 5/6/16)

MGNREGA: Daily wagers foxed by banks in Rajasthan (14)

Jaipur: Bhanwari Devi, at least 75 years old, of Ralawata village in Ajmer, was at the Jawab Do dharna on Sunday sharing her experience of being denied old age pension for 10 months. Her husband, also a pensioner, died 10 months ago. The pension of the couple would arrive in a joint account at the post office. Once her husband passed away, she was instructed to open a new account in a bank. She did that, but no money has yet come into the new account. Bhanwari Devi is not sure what she must do now so the pension payments can resume. She says she paid Rs 12,000 for installing a toilet in the house, but the pension has still not arrived. She says she too will go with the delegation that is bent upon making the government respond to the demands of women like her. Before she sets out, though, she will have to return to her village and get all her documents so she is armed with all she needs to convince the government officials. Amri Devi of Nakoda village in Barmer had been paid only Rs 286 for 13 days of work of digging a pond for conserving water. Her son Vishna Ram was at the Jawab Do yatra on Sunday, trying to understand what had gone wrong – he said there were about 100 villagers at the work site, and all of them had received just Rs 21 per day. What was strange was that many of them, in the previous fortnight, had been paid Rs 130 per day. In the fortnight following the low pay, 15 days, they were given about Rs 130 per day again. Nikhil Dey of Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan said, “It’s clear the payments are made arbitrarily. How could the same labourers, who were paid Rs 130 for one fortnight, receive so much less the next? Even Rs 130, though, is much less than the state’s minimum wage of Rs 200, and lesser than the wages fixed under NREGA. What is worse, this happened in March this year, at a time when rural families are reeling under drought.” Dey said those supervising the work too must be held responsible. “How could any worker at all under the programme have been paid Rs 20?”Bhanwari Devi of Ralawata in Ajmer, besides being denied pension, had also not received payment for work done in January 2014. She says she has one son, 40 years old, who is some support. She had been mother to 10, but this is her sole surviving child. “One died at only four, another lived to be nine. But what to do, nine of them fell ill and died,” she told TOI. Many workers complained that since they had no notion that their wages had been drastically cut, they waited imagining that the money was still in the pipeline. Dey explained: “When the payments were made at work sites, if they were paid very little they could get together and decide to protest, or they could turn down the lower wage. But with the money now going into a bank account, there is no telling how much one might actually receive. And there is no option of refusing it or asking the bank to send it back.” (Times of India 6/6/16)

Assocham to pressurise govt for labour reforms (14)

VIJAYAWADA: The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Assocham) pitches for land and labour reforms in the state so as to make the ease of doing business model more meaningful. The industry body seeks a flexibility in hiring-terminating policy and setting a code of conduct for labour unions as part of labour reforms. The Assocham is organising a conference with a focus on reforms in these two areas in Visakhapatnam on Thursday, according to M. Muralikrishna, president, and P. Bhaskara Rao, executive director, of the AP chambers of Commerce and Industry, a partner organisation of the Assocham. The government’s drive for an accelerated industrial growth hits roadblock in view of certain irritants in acquisition of lands and the rigid labour laws, feels the Assocham. Lack of an effective lad acquisition process has made land acquisition process complex and time consuming even as the process is stretched up to one year or even more in many cases.The Assocham in a press release underlined the need to dispel the myth that the business was anti-labour and to usher in a new era of manufacturing with a perfect harmony between the industry and workforce which can happen only with `progressive’ labour reforms. The existing labour laws do not address the well-being of the workers by only trying to save the jobs which is nothing but counter-productive, it said. The programme is expected to deliberate on availability of land, land allotment, labour regulation enablers, provisions of contract labour (regulation and abolition) act, 1970, building and other construction workers (regulation of employment and condition of services act, 1996 and the minimum wages Act, 1948. The Assocham bats for minimisation of political interference in the trade unionism in industrial functioning to address the problem of unrest which results in a spurt in lockouts and layouts. The labour laws should be industry friendly also in a manner that while working out `minimum wages’ for each trade/skill, a `minimum quality output’ should be ensured so that the industry pays as per government orders and the workforce delivers a given output for the salary earned, the Assocham asserted. .. (Times of India 8/6/16)

Forced to migrate for work, UP gives ‘jobs card’ to riots displaced men (14)

MEERUT: Hundreds of men displaced by the Muzaffarnagar riots of 2103 that rendered over 50,000 homeless and killed 62 are being forced to migrate from Shamli in UP, where they had been given temporary shelter, to cities as far as Chennai, Kolkata and Bengaluru in search of livelihood as they have lost all documents in the violence and can’t even get jobs under National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) in the absence of it.Now, though, to ease their hardship the district administration has in a first lot cleared a list of 80 names to be given job-cards under NREGA. “On Friday morning, we received a list of 80 people who had been seeking employment under the NREGA. We asked the applicants to furnish some proof of identity with a photograph. They will have their job cards within the week,” said additional development officer (ADO) Manoj Kumar. Afkar India Foundation, an organisation working for the rehabilitation of riot victims, said that most displaced families lost all their documents after the riots, which made them ineligible for government schemes. As a result, they have had to migrate to other states such as Delhi, Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan for employment. Some have even gone as far as Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra as not many jobs can be found in this belt of western Uttar Pradesh. “After the riots, thousands were displaced. Countless others families were uprooted from their homes and wander around. Of these, close to 2,800 families came and settled in the neighbouring Shamli district. Some of these families were from Shamli district itself. It’s been almost three years since the riots and most of these families don’t even have ration cards yet, neither do they have water or power connections. They live in deplorable conditions and they resort to manual labour to make ends meet,” said Akram Akhtar, project manager at Afkar India Foundation, an NGO that works for the rehabilitation of riot victims. Akhtar added, “The authorities have known of this problem for a long time but they only started acting on Friday. To start with, these 80 people, who have some identification at least, have been marked for help. We have been asked to get their documents in place within a week. After that they will be put to work at a pond near Kandhla, which needs cleaning. It’s a good beginning.” (Times of India 10/6/16)

Construction workers contest govt over use of welfare funds (14)

NEW DELHI: Representatives of the workers unions in the Delhi Building and other Construction Workers Welfare Board are at loggerheads with the government over a proposal to use funds of Rs 900 crore for projects like hospitals, anganwadis and schools. Even as the government claimed that these projects would be used for the welfare of construction workers, the unions said that they won’t have exclusive rights to the facilities that would be opened up for outsiders. In a board meeting held on June 2, the government’s proposal for tentative allocation of Rs 100 crore for schools, Rs 200 crore for hospitals, Rs 400 crore for anganwadis, Rs 200 crore for temporary accommodation and Rs 50 crore towards cycles for eligible registered beneficiaries to commute to their work place, was hotly contested by some of the board members. “We know we cannot divert money and are not doing so. These facilities are being made for the benefit of construction workers — like the Army built the Research and Referral Hospital for its personnel,” said PWD minister Satyendar Jain, who chaired the meeting in the absence of labour minister Gopal Rai. Lata, one of the representatives who has opposed the government’s move, said that none of these schemes was meant specifically for construction workers. “Why are they giving out things like cycles and not safety mechanisms that labourers need? When we created a ruckus, the minister said that our objections should be sidestepped,” she said. “Every government hospital then should be counted under a welfare scheme for us if we can get free or subsidised treatment there. What is so special about the hospitals they are proposing? It is just a ploy to fund government schemes,” she added. Under the Delhi Building and other Construction Workers Welfare Board Act, the duty of the board is to “constitute building and other construction workers fund and to utilise the same for providing certain welfare schemes like financial assistance to the families in case of accident, old age pension, housing loans, payment of insurance premium, education, medical and maternity benefits to the workers registered with the board”, among others.An official in the labour department clarified that the board was authorised to decide what constitutes a welfare work and that the schemes for which funds were being sought were still in an initial planning stage. “Construction workers will get priority in these hospitals and schools; but it will not be exclusively for them. In schools, for instance, the government will have to compensate the board for every child who is not from a construction worker’s family. This infrastructure will enhance the facilities we are being able to provide for them at present,” he said. (Times of India 13/6/16)

Jharkhand lauded for implementation of MGNREGA scheme (14)

RANCHI: Jharkhand government has bagged appreciation from the union ministry of rural development (MoRD) for its effective implementation of MGNREGA schemes. The centre has allowed 50 more blocks– highest in the country– to be included in CFT project (Convergence of MGNREGS, National Rural Livelihood Mission (NRLM) and Cluster Facilitation Team (CFT)). Centre directed other states to take lesson from Jharkhand model and implement some of the best practices in their respective states. Joint Secretary, MoRD, government of India Aparajita Sarangi, who was here to conduct three day review of 10 states said that the scheme was rolled out in 10 states of the country and Jharkhand performed best among them, Chhatisgarh and Rajasthan being next two in the merit list. “It was started in 2014 to enhance rural livelihoods through MGNREGA in India’s 250 backward blocks out of which 76 blocks were picked up in Jharkhand. We are now going to allow 50 more blocks to be included under the project,” she said. Each block must have three CFTs and Centre grants Rs. 28 lakh annually for each of the CFT. The three day event in Jharkhand included visit of a 70 member team along with officials from centre under aegis of rural development department, government of Jharkhand to villages in three blocks and study the impact of CFT project. Principal secretary, rural development government of Jharkhand and NREGA commissioner, Jharkhand Siddhartha Tripathy accompanied the officials from ten states which included Bihar, Chhatishgarh, Maharashtra, Telengana, Andhra Pradesh, … (Times of India 15/6/16)

Drought-hit areas in Rajasthan to get more work days under NREGA (14)

Jaipur: The Centre on Friday announced that 14,487 villages across 19 districts of state which were declared as drought-affected until July this year by the state government would get 150 work days instead of 100 under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act in 2016-17. “In view of the likelihood of increased demand for employment on public works due to the drought situation, it has been decided to provide up to 50 days of additional employment in notified drought-affected districts ,” the letter from the joint secretary of Union department of rural development of the Central government said. (Times of India 18/6/16)

‘589 MP workers died of silicosis in Gujarat’ (14)

Indore: As many as 589 labourers, mostly tribals from western Madhya Pradesh, died due to silicosis in last 10 years while working for the quartz crushing factories in Gujarat, according to a study. The deceased were among 1,721 people from 743 families hailing from tribal-dominated Dhar, Jhabua and Alirajpur districts who had migrated to Gujarat, claims the study carried out by three NGOs including ‘Silicosis Peedit Sangh’ (SPS), between October 2015 and March 2016. Silicosis is a lung disease caused by breathing in tiny bits of silica, a mineral that is part of sand, rock, and mineral ores such as quartz. SPS worker Amulya Nidhi told PTI on Sunday that the study covered 105 villages in the three districts. He said the Supreme Court had on May 4 directed the Gujarat government to pay a compensation of Rs.3 lakh each to 238 people among the deceased on the recommendation made by the National Human Right Commission in 2010. Amulya said they have forwarded a list of remaining 351 deceased to the NHRC to facilitate compensation to their families from the Gujarat government. He said NHRC had recommended to MP Government in 2010 to prepare a rehabilitation plan for the silicosis-affected patients. The SPS worker said though some steps have been taken to help the silicosis patients in Madhya Pradesh a lot still needs to be done. “Many patients of the respiratory disease are unable to reap the benefits of Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Act (MGNREGA) and Indira Gandhi Awas Yojana,” he added. -  (The Hindu 21/6/16)

Other states to adopt Raj model on silicosis (14)

Jaipur: The Rajasthan State Human Rights Commission’s (RSHRC) pioneering efforts to provide solace to silicosis victims in state have garnered appreciation at the national level. The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has accepted it as a model programme in silicosis prevention and management for other states. Silicosis is an incurable occupational lung disease caused by inhalation of dust containing free crystalline silica. A large number of workers engaged in mining, construction, gem cutting and polishing, ceramics, slate/pencil, glass manufacture are at the risk of developing the disease. The issue caught the attention of government after RSHRC took suo motu cognizance of the problem of silicosis in 2012 and found that in Rajasthan the problem was much more serious than anticipated. It was followed by the Jaipur bench of Rajasthan High Court taking cognizance of the issue through a PIL on silicosis on July 10 last year and started monitoring the implementation of the 59 recommendations contained in the Special Report of RSHRC by Dr M K Devarajan, member, and RSHRC and to assist it in monitoring actions taken by the Central and state governments. The intervention by RSHRC has resulted in several concrete actions on the state government. Silicosis/asbestosis affected mineworkers were given ex-gratia payment of Rs 1 lakh, and further Rs 3 lakh if deceased, through the district collector by Rajasthan Environment and Health Administrative Board (REHAB). So far, REHAB and Rajasthan Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Board (BOCW) have sanctioned over Rs 40 crore, he said. Similarly, in place of just one Pneumoconiosis Board at Jaipur to certify silicosis victims, seven such boards, one in each government medical college, were constituted in 2013 and in December 2014. It has now been decided to set up Pneumoconiosis Board in each of the 33 districts and most of these boards have become functional. In a first-of-its-kind move, Rajasthan had declared silicosis as a notified disease under the Rajasthan Epidemic Diseases Act, 1957, on January 22, 2015. On preventive side, state government has also started suspending/cancelling leases of mine owners who do not practice wet drilling, register the mineworkers and whose mines are not registered with director general of mines safety (DGMS). More than 200 quarry licences have been cancelled so far for violation of statutory provisions relating to prevention of dust emission, said Devarajan. … (Times of India 23/6/16)

Gujarat: 3.57 crore jobless, 3.57% of them want work (14)

Ahmedabad: Of the state’s 6.04 crore people, nearly 3.57 crore do not work. Most of those who don’t hold a job handle household duties. These numbers emerge from the data of 2011 census. Data indicates that job seekers account for only 3.57% of the 3.57 crore non-working population of Gujarat. Thus the state has the lowest number of job seekers, in terms of percentage, in the country. According to officials, only 8.33% of India’s 72.89 crore non-workers are job seekers. In Gujarat, only 12.22 lakh of the 3.57 crore non-workers are seeking jobs. Among the non-workers in Gujarat, the proportion of job seekers is highest in the Christian community (5.22%), followed by the Sikh community (3.81%). The number of job seekers is the lowest in the Jain community (2.81%). According to data, 56.89% of the non-working population in Gujarat is either involved in household duties or is dependent. Data reveals that around 50.44% of the non-working population across the nation is engaged in household duties or is dependent. The number of people who are dependent or deal with household chores is the highest among Muslims (61.37%), while it is lowest among Christians (47.14%). According to officials the number of pensioners in Gujarat is only 1%, that is 3.62 lakh people. The figure for the nation is 1.89%. Gaurang Jani, a sociologist, said: “The number of job seekers in the state is low because not many have themselves registered. The figure of 12.12 lakh seems to be very small.” He said if dropouts after class X were considered, the number would be around four lakh. “We have failed to target the segment which has passed class X or class XII. Also, there is no registration of such people in the state or the country,” he said. He said that in the state, a large number of women are not allowed to work and this was evident from the fact that the majority of women were either dependent or toiled in households. (Times of India 24/6/16)

EPFO aims to cover all workers under PF, pension by 2030 (14)

New Delhi, Jun 28 () EPFO aims to cover all the workers in the country under provident fund (PF), pension and life insurance by 2030, the retirement fund body said in its vision document. The vision document prepared by EPFO mentions objectives such as “universal social security coverage on mandatory basis by way of provident fund, pension and life insurance for all workers of the country”, the Employees Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) said in a statement. The vision also talks about online services for all EPFO benefits with state-of-the-art technology and best service delivery practices. Central Provident Fund Commissioner (CPFC) V P Joy called a meeting of EPF officers Association and All India EPF Staff Federation yesterday to discuss Vision 2030, it added. The meeting also dwelt on identifying the requisite organisational changes needed to achieve Vision 2030. EPFO also seeks to implement policies for a benefit structure with adequate support level of social security, it said. Joy said that EPFO is implementing the largest social security scheme and is catering to 3.5 crore subscribers. “There is an immediate need to bring substantial improvement in the working of the EPF offices and to bring an attitudinal change in the employees to deal with issues relating to EPF subscribers,” he added. There is also a need to reduce member’s grievances by analysing the causes of grievances and also to settle grievances on a fast-track mode, Joy said.  (Times of India 29/6/16)

RESERVATION

SC moved for vacation of stay of Jat reservation in Haryana (25)

New Delhi: The Haryana Akhil Bhartiya Jat Aarakshan Sangharsh Samiti on Wednesday moved the Supreme Court challenging the Punjab and Haryana High Court’s interim order staying the operation of the Haryana law providing for Jat reservation. The high court had on May 26, by an interim order, stayed operation of the Haryana Backward Classes (Reservation in Services and Admission in Educational Institutions) Act, 2016, providing for 10 per cent reservation for Jat, Jat Sikh, Ror, Bishnoi, Tyagi, Mulla AJat and Muslim Jat. The top court has been moved by the Samiti president, Hawa Singh Sangwan, who has contended that the operation of a legislation passed by a state assembly could not be stayed during the pendency of a petition by which the validity of the law providing for the reservation has been challenged. Sangwan has contended that because of the interim stay granted by the high court, a number of students belonging to Jat community were deprived of taking the benefits of reservation for admission to professional courses in medicine, law, engineering and technical field. It said that admission process for academic year 2016-17 has already started. Similarly, the petition said that stay order would adversely affect the members of Jat community in the recruitment for 41,735 posts of different categories for which the Haryana Staff Selection Commission has already issued advertisements. Besides this, the petition says that the high court, by an earlier judgment, had held that the vires of a legislation cannot be challenged by way of public interest litigation. Citing the 2012 case in this regard, Sangwan’s petition said that the PIL by Murari Lal Gupta on which high court had passed the May 26 interim order putting on hold Jat reservation was not maintainable. (Business Standard 1/6/16)

No change in job reservation policy, says Paswan (25)

Kolhapur: Union Minister of Food and Public Distribution Ram Vilas Paswan on Saturday said the NDA government had no plans to change the existing reservation policy and maintained the idea of quota in private sector was only at “proposal” stage. The government is not going to make any change in the current reservation policy for SC/STs and other communities in jobs and educational institutes, the minister told reporters here. He was asked to respond to RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat’s reported comment calling for a review of the reservation policy a few months ago. The chief of Lok Janshakti Party (LJP), a key ruling ally of BJP at the Centre, was here as part of a public outreach programme launched by the NDA government which last month completed two years in office. To a query regarding setting aside a fixed proportion of jobs for people from marginalised sections in the private sector, the Dalit leader from Bihar said it is still at “proposal” stage and “we are thinking over it”.Paswan said the Cente is going to provide additional 5 lakh tonnes of wheat and rice for drought-affected people in Maharashtra. People from 14 districts will benefit from it. (Business Standard 4/6/16)

Aided institutions must implement quota, says UGC (25)

NEW DELHI: Higher educational institutions, which receive grant-in-aid from the Central government, will have to implement reservation policy in admissions as well as appointments of faculties and other staff too, the University Grants Commission has said. However, the minority Institutions, declared so under Article 30 (1) of the Constitution of India, will not come under the purview of the law mandating implementation of quota in admissions and recruitments of teaching or non-teaching staffs, the higher education regulator pointed out in a recent circular. “The educational institutions receiving grant-in-aid from the central government have to follow the prescribed percentage of reservation i.e. 15% for scheduled castes, 7.5% for scheduled tribes and 27% for other backward classes in the matter of teaching and non-teaching posts as well as in admissions to various courses,” the commission said. The UGC circular was issued to all central universities and university colleges of medical sciences for implementation of reservation policy. A section of officials, however, said that the commission’s reference for implementation of quota in private institutions funded by the government assumes significance. The Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Admission) Act, 2006 clearly stipulates for implementation of quota in government institutions as well as those funded by the government. “The law for reservation and appointment is there since 2007 but many private institutions funded by the central government are ignoring it. They have to implement quota,” the official said. The Section 2 of the Act, notified in January 2007 and later amended in 2012, clearly stipulates that any higher educational institutions which is receiving grant-in-aid from the Central Government, either directly or indirectly will have to implement quota in admissions and all appointments.  “As explained in the Act, such institution will include a deemed university and even a higher educational institution set up by the Central Government under Societies of Registration Act,” the official added. (Deccan Herald 7/6/16)

Mixed response to higher quota for women (25)

CHENNAI: The new law that provides 50 % quota for women in local bodies is eliciting mixed response from stakeholders with varied theories and assumptions on its impact on governance at the grassroots level. Until now, 33 per cent of the posts in civic bodies had been reserved for women. N. Chithra of the Human Rights Advocacy and Research Foundation, who has been working with women panchayat presidents since 2003, said that 20 years of elections had allowed the local bodies to mature. “When I began, a large number of women who contested were proxies for their relatives. They have now been replaced by women leaders who have emerged from within communities,” she said. According to her, men are angry with the expected rise in women leaders. “Men say they will be left with no powers at this rate. I think this election will see more proxy candidates,” she said. G. Palanithurai of the Gandhigram Rural Institute, however, estimates that proxy candidates may not go up because of the nature of the State’s grassroots politics. “Unlike Kerala, where political parties decide what happens even in panchayats, Tamil Nadu’s panchayats are able to take decisions on their own. This has led to the rise of a lot of women leaders,” he said. In reality, the jump to the halfway mark is not unimaginable: women have not let the 33 per cent barrier hold them back; the 2011 elections saw 39.11 per cent of all seats going to women. M. Muthammai, president of Methalodai in Ramanathapuram district, won three consecutive elections from unreserved seats. “I keep winning because the people of the area like my performance. This is one reason why I have not joined any political party yet,” she said. Muthammai said she will contest the upcoming elections.However, prospective candidates are held back by the indecision over the identification of reserved wards. “I wish I knew if my ward would be reserved for SC women this time too, so that I can start preparing,” said two-time panchayat president P. Gunapooshanam from Ichiputhur in Vellore district. She said she will contest nevertheless. “I am sure that I will win again because I have done good work,” she said. Dr. Palanithurai, who is the Rajiv Gandhi Chair for Panchayati Raj Studies at the Gandhigram Rural Institute, said that the gains of the Panchayati Raj can be sustained only by capacity-building. “We need capacity-building for all involved and we should do it in such a way that it matched their capabilities i.e., separately for women, men and Dalits,” he said. “Multiple research efforts have shown that panchayats handled by women have different priorities compared to those administered by men. With women, their functioning itself becomes more democratic,” he said, adding that the State’s women have the potential to win more than 50 per cent of the seats this election. Ms. Chithra, who is part of the Tamil Nadu Women Panchayat Presidents’ Federation, used statistics to illustrate how self-reliant the groups headed by women panchayat presidents have become. “In 2006, we had over 600 federations. By 2011, they had come down to 267. Women were telling us that they did not feel the need to be helped despite the advantages the federations offered,” she said. (The Hindu 9/6/16)

‘Base quota for Adivasis on population’ (25)

Hyderabad: Reservation for Adivasis should be proportional to total population of the clan in each State, said Faggan Singh Kulaste, Member of Parliament and Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on the Welfare of SCs and STs. Mr. Kulaste was speaking, at the 125{+t}{+h}birth anniversary celebrations of B. R. Ambedkar, in support of raising ST reservation to 9.5 per cent in Telangana at the 125{+t}{+h}birth anniversary celebrations of B. R. Ambedkar. The population of Adivasis in the State had increased from 6 per cent to 9.5 per cent post-bifurcation, he said based on inputs given by Girijan Aikya Vedika. He said Dalit Bahujans accounted for about 75 per cent of the population in the country and hence reservation as per constitutional provisions could be made accordingly. Each of the States could have a different reservation policy based on constitutional provisions, he said. Mr. Kulaste spoke in response to the vedika’s demands to improve reservations and taking up of the matter by parliamentary committee. “The committee will recommend to appoint an ST liaison officer to implement ST reservation in each of the states.” . (The Hindu 12/6/16)

Jat quota stir continues, INLD lends support (25)

CHANDIGARH: The fresh phase of Jat quota agitation continued in various parts of Haryana for the tenth consecutive day on Tuesday with the opposition INLD lending support and party’s senior leader Abhay Chautala said he will meet the agitators on Wednesday. The state remained peaceful and no untoward incident was reported, officials said here. Mr Chautala, Leader of Opposition in the State Assembly, said his party favours that reservation given to Jats and five other communities should be maintained. He said that he will visit Rohtak, Jhajjar, Jind and Kaithal districts, where agitating Jats have been holding dharnas for the last ten days in support of their demands. “Right from the beginning, we doubted the intent of the government in giving reservation to Jats and five other communities, which is why the matter has got stuck in the courts,” Mr Chautala said in a statement. Talking abut the agitation, Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar saidon Tuesday that the issue could be sorted out through mutual dialogue. He said that administrative officers have started dialogue with the agitators and it is appreciable that they are prepared for talks. “Earlier, a meeting with their leaders was fixed for June 15, but now it would be held on June 17 on request made by them,” Mr Khattar told reporters. He said with regard to reservation, an Act was enacted. “Though the issue is with the High Court, efforts are being made to get the stay vacated,” Mr Khattar said, adding the state government was vigorously defending the case in the court.The Chief Minister said the government has also offered the organisations involved in the current agitation that if they intended to hire their lawyer for pleading the case in the court, the State government is ready to pay the fee.Activists of All-India Jat Aarakshan Sangarsh Samiti have been staging dharnas at various places, mostly in Rohtak, Sonepat, Jind and Hisar districts in support of their demands for last several days, with some activists even sitting on fast-unto-death at some places.  (The Hindu 15/6/16)

HC directs TN govt to file reply on reservation for SCs, STs (25)

Chennai, Jun 15 () The Madras High Court today directed the state government to file a reply on a PIL seeking proportionate reservation for people belonging to SC and ST community, in rural posts like chairman and vice-chairman in all town panchayats and municipalities in the state. The First Bench, comprising Chief Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice R Mahadevan, which heard the PIL, directed the Secretary, Municipal Administration and Water Supply Department and the State Election Commission to file the reply and also directed the petitioners to file the rejoinder for the response within two weeks. The PIL was first filed in 2006 and in 2011, a miscellaneous petition was filed by Thol Thirumavalavan, founder of Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi, and two others. The petitioners had contended that an amendment was brought to the Tamil Nadu District Municipalities Act 1920 providing for proportionate reservation of seats for persons belonging to SC/ST in every town panchayat. The petitioners had submitted that instead of providing proportionate reservation to the members of SC, ST community, for the post of chairman of town panchayats and municipalities, the authorities are providing reservation proportionate to the general population in all the town panchayats and the municipalities in the state. Stating that it was against the provisions pertaining to reservation stipulated in Part IX A of the Constitution, the petitioners prayed for an early date of hearing of the PIL. The bench after ordering for filing a counter and rejoinders posted the matter for further hearing to August 3. (Times of India 16/6/16)

Extend quota for poor students in minority schools, says panel (25)

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court, in April, 2012, held that the provision did not extend to institutions set by minorities, which are defined as religious and linguistic minorities in India. The draft report on the new national policy on education submitted by a panel headed by T.S.R. Subramanian wants reservation for disadvantaged children to be extended to unaided minority schools. “The committee feels that the larger national obligations to meet the rights of economically weaker sections should extend to all institutions including minority [religious and linguistic] institutions,” the report has recommended to the government. While the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009, mandates that even private, unaided schools shall provide admission to children from disadvantaged groups and weaker sections in admission to Class-1 to the extent of at least 25 per cent of the admissions done, private, unaided minority institutions are exempt from this requirement. The Supreme Court, in April, 2012, held that the provision did not extend to institutions set by minorities, which are defined as religious and linguistic minorities in India. The panel report says that “it is now important to reconcile the rights of the economically weaker sections with the rights of the minorities under Article 30 (1), particularly when minority institutions appear to clutch at any prop to ensure that their obligations, met by other aided or unaided schools, are circumvented.” The report calls for further examination of this, saying that it is necessary to ensure that “minority institutions are established only for genuine reasons envisaged by the Constitution…; that they do not use their constitutional privilege to manoeuvre out of national obligations established in overall public interest.” The Right to Education Act includes the Scheduled Castes, the Scheduled Tribes and the Socially and Educationally Backward Classes in its definition of “disadvantaged group” and defines a child belonging to “weaker sections” as one whose parent or guardian earns below a minimum level of income specified by the appropriate government.Meanwhile, the former Delhi Minorities Commission chairman Kamal Faruqui told The Hindu: “Unaided minority institutions are getting nothing from the government and the Constitution is clear they have the right to establish and administer their institutions.” (The Hindu 19/6/16)

Who got quota in jobs? Badal govt has no idea (25)

Chandigarh: There is no data available with the state government on the number of scheduled castes (SC) and backward classes (BC) families in Punjab who have been availing of the benefits of government job reservation since 1995. Besides, the state also has little idea about the number of such families falling in these three categories in the financial year 2014-15. In reply to information sought under the RTI Act, 2005, by Bathinda-based activist Harmilap Grewal on these two counts, the state welfare department said no such survey had been conducted in Punjab to collect such data.”The department does not have data about the number of families under the categories, nor does it have a count of the number of families that have benefited from the reservation policy since 1995. It is this lack of a focused approach that while certain families have benefited from the reservation quota for generations, there are lakhs of others who have not availed of the benefit,” said Grewal, in a letter to the Prime Minister, seeking his intervention into the matter so that a survey is initiated. As per Census-2011, Punjab has the highest percentage of Scheduled Caste population among all states. The Scheduled Caste population in Punjab is 88.60 lakh, which is 31.94% of the total population (277.43 lakh). Punjab accounts for 2.3% of the total population and 4.3% Scheduled Caste population of India. However, a sizeable number of SC families still live below the poverty line. According to the survey conducted by the department of rural development and panchayats for rural areas in the year, 2002 and the state urban development agency (SUDA) in urban areas in 2004, out of the total 5.23 lakh families living below the poverty line, 3.21 lakh families belong to the SC which constitutes 61.38% of the total families below the poverty line in Punjab. As per Agricultural Census 2010-11, the number of operational holdings with SCs are 63,480 spreading over an area of 1,26,966 hectares comprising 6.02% and 3.20% of the total land holdings and area of the state, respectively. The distribution of SC population among the districts of the state indicates that the percentage of SC persons is high in Nawanshahr (42.51%). (Times of India 22/6/16)

Gujarat government to reply to PILs challenging EWS quota (25)

Ahmedabad, June 22 : The Gujarat High Court on Wednesday asked the state government to file an affidavit in response to four petitions challenging the 10 per cent reservation in government jobs and educational institutes for Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) from the general category. A division bench of Chief Justice R. Subhash Reddy and Justice V.M. Pancholi directed Advocate-General Kamal Trivedi to file a single affidavit in reply to the four petitions by next Wednesday. The BJP government had on May 1 issued an ordinance providing 10 per cent quota for EWS in the general category with annual family income cap of Rs 6 lakh, in the wake of the violent agitation by the Patel community seeking quota under Other Backward Classes (OBC) category. The petitioners have separately challenged the new quota, saying it violates the Supreme Court’s judgment in the’Indra Sawhney vs Union of India case capping the total reservation at 50 per cent. Petitions have been filed by Jayantbhai Manani, Dulari Basarge, a student, I.H. Syed and a group of parents of general category students who aspire to get admission in the medical colleges. (New Kerala 22/6/16)

They cleared UPSC, but face disqualification (25)

CHENNAI: A large number of candidates declared successful by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) in the Civil Services Examination 2015 are set to be disqualified. As many as 1,078 candidates were successful in the exam. But only 902 have received service allocation. Rejection of OBC status has affected around 120 candidates, of whom at least 35 are sons and daughters of those working in PSUs.Many successful candidates who have resigned jobs in the private and public sectors are keeping their fingers crossed as they have not received service allocation. The final list of disqualified candidates is likely to be released shortly. Many successful candidates whose parents are clerks and assistants in banks and PSUs have been affected by the new criteria this year. For the first time, an income criterion is being used for rejecting the OBC claims of children of PSU employees, they say. “The reason DoPT gave was they could not identify equivalent posts/class for jobs in PSU. “On clarification, it is told that equivalence has not been established for any PSU till date, which means henceforth, sons and daughters of even those who joined as peon/driver/assistants/clerks in Banks/NLC/BSNL/any PSU cannot avail themselves of OBC reservation because the yearly gross income will be more than Rs. 6 lakh,” said a candidate. For example, salary of a peon in RBI is Rs.7 lakh during retirement. The DoPT says such PSU employment will hereafter be treated on a par with business/private employment unlike government employment. Currently, at least 35 candidates have been denied allocation of service because of this issue. Many sons and daughters of PSU employees with income more than Rs. 6 lakh have got reservation in the previous examinations of UPSC and have joined government services.DoPT is planning to conduct a review of all those wards of PSU employees who joined service from 1993. The Government of India issued instructions on September 8, 1993 providing for reservation to Other Backward Classes in its services and posts. (The Hindu 25/6/16)

State to move SC on political reservation (25)

Bengaluru: Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Sunday said a review petition will be filed in the Supreme Court by the government regarding the political reservation to backward and minority communities to contest in the local body elections. After SC/ST communities were given reservation in proportion to their population, the share of backward and minority communities has come down. The chief minister was speaking at a programme organised to felicitate the elected representatives belonging to the Kuruba community from the city. The population of SC/ST community alone stands at 24.1%, while the population of backward and minority communities is 25.9% in the state. As a result, the share of SC/ST communities in the reservation is more. The chief minister said Tamil Nadu has given 69% reservation in jobs, while Karnataka has given only 50%. He said reservation should be increased and private sector should also offer reservation. Siddaramaiah advised the gathering to make use of the reservation. “Reservation should be continued till the caste system is eradicated from the society completely. The same was advocated by Dr B R Ambedkar,” he said. (Deccan Herald 27/6/16)

45% of existing 12% reservation in ITIs now for ST students (25)

Jaipur: Seats in Industrial Training Institute (ITI’s) will now be reserved for Scheduled Tribes (ST) students from districts under tribal sub-plans from coming session. Final decision has been taken on this and notification is expected to be issued soon. ST students from tribal areas will have 45% reservation in all ITI’s of the state and will be carved out from the existing 12% reserved for the community. With the decision total 17,525 seats in 1,766 ITI’s will now be dedicated for ST students from Banswara, Dungarpur, parts of Udaipur, Sirohi and Chittaurgarh. According to officials, about 45% of total ST population lives in tribal districts. Most people from scheduled tribes are directly involved in skill related jobs and were demanding to get education in these areas. “People from tribal districts raised this concern many times that they are still backward in many areas particularly in terms of education. There has been demand to give them special assistance in ITI’s so that they can grow up economically and educationally,” said the official. At present, 170 government and 1596 private ITI’s are operating in the state. Out of this, government has 54,535 seats in 170 ITI’s and private institutions have 2, 70,012 seats in 1596 ITI’s. However, Udaipur has only 72 such training institutes compared to Jaipur’s 835 and Kota’s 309 ITI’s that are functioning. “There has been some disparity as tribal areas have less number of ITI’s even though populations from these areas are more into skill based profession. Udaipur division has the lowest share. To bridge this gap, the reservation is spread across the state and not just ITI’s from particular districts,” the official added. (Times of India 28/6/16)

HUMAN RIGHTS/ CIVIL SOCIETY/ NHRC

Ready to talk rights, but as equals: Delhi (1)

Washington: India is willing to discuss human rights issues on the basis of “equality and partnership” with the US ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit here next week, but will not accept any kind of “judgemental pronouncements” in this regard, Indian officials said. The message has quietly and firmly been conveyed to the US with some of the American Senators raising their voice ahead of Mr Modi’s visit next week. In recent communications with the Obama Administration and also with legislators, senior Indian officials have acknowledged that like any society, everything is not perfect in India and there are issues of social justice and human rights within the country. “Of course, we have problems in India,” an official familiar with the conversation said, but at the same time quickly pointed out that there exists an equally strong voice against any such injustices, be it violation of human rights or religious freedom or freedom of expression. Indian officials, were quick to point out some of the recent developments inside the US itself. “All societies have problems,” officials said. (Asian Age 3/6/16)

NGO comes forward for fire-affected ragpickers (1)

Mumbai: To help the Deonar fire-affected ragpickers, who have been barred from scavenging the landfill, Apnalaya, a Mumbai-based NGO with support from Raddiconnect, India’s first online platform for raddi (scrap paper) collection and recycling, has come forward with helping hands. The NGO, which was founded in 1972, has decided to provide the Deonar ragpickers’ families medical and educational help through its initiative. Rahul Nainani from Raddiconnect, said, “After visiting Govandi a few times, few of my friends and I came across the NGO. We spoke to the CEO and project heads of Apnalaya to understand the problems faced by the people living around the area.” Mr Nainani also interacted with environmental activists, ragpickers and residents staying in the vicinity of the landfill. “We understood that the fires are common in dumping grounds. But most of these people suffer due to the smoke. Health problems like TB, asthma, deformities, malnutrition and HIV are rampant amongst the residents and they don’t even have money to spend on medicines. Since the massive fire in January, the dumping ground has been shut, which has made these waste pickers, desperate to earn money. They have no other skill to earn money either,” he added. “So to help these people, on this World Environment Day, we’re asking the people of Mumbai to pledge to recycle their raddi , the proceeds of which will be used to fund Apnalaya’s medical clinics in Govandi to help betterment of Deonar residents,” said Mr Nainani. He further added that the offer was open to individuals or corporates in Mumbai. “They can pledge to recycle at least 10 kilograms of scrap, which we will pick up from their addresses for free between June 1 and June 5. The proceeds from all the paper collected will be used for Apnalaya’s daycare centres at Deonar,” he explained. (Asian Age 5/6/16)

Over 900 human rights violation cases pending (1)

GUWAHATI: Over 900 cases of human rights violation in various forms, including that of by men in uniform, are still pending before the Assam Human Rights Commission (AHRC). This can be attributed to the pace of probes and the acute shortage of manpower in the commission. Though Union home minister Rajnath Singh earlier assured the provision of infrastructure, and financial and human resources to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) as well as the state commissions. He had also said the recommendations of the Justice GP Mathur Committee would be considered. The promises, however, are yet to be fulfilled. “As per the Mathur Committee recommendations, every state human rights commission should comprise at least 100 human resources. However, AHRC barely has some 30-32. Some of the vital positions are lying vacant including that of a member,” AHRC sources said. Sources added that the current chairperson and one member are likely to retire by the end of this year. “Though a separate research and law wing should be set up in every state human rights commission, the AHRC has none of these provisions. The NHRC and state human right commissions are autonomous bodies and not government departments and the PHR Act, 1993, does not permit direct or indirect interference by governments in their functioning. However, the quality and the quantity of the activities of the Commissions depend on the attitude and support of the concerned government and its response to their recommendations,” it said.Till May 2016, some 945 cases (including cases from earlier years) of human rights violation were pending before the AHRC since 1999-2000.”In 1999-2000, only 29 cases were pending. Over the years, public awareness has increased. The commission took suo motu cognizance of media reports of several incidents of human rights violations. But without strengthening the commissions, the desired goal will not be achieved,” an AHRC official said. Since 2010, at least 455 cases were registered against police, records said, of which at least 205 were disposed. (Times of India 6/6/16)

NHRC notice to UP government over ‘migration from fear’ (1)

New Delhi: The National Human Rights Commission has issued a notice to the Uttar Pradesh government on a complaint alleging that families of Kashyap caste are leaving Kairana area of western UP due to fear of criminals. It has been further alleged that about 250 families have migrated and left their homes out of the fear of criminals enjoying political patronage. The Commission has observed that allegations made are serious in nature. It has also directed its DIG (Investigation) to depute a team of officers for a spot enquiry in the matter covering all the allegations made in the complaint and submit a report within two weeks. According to the complaint on June 10, a woman belonging to Kashyap caste was abducted, gangraped and killed, yet no action has been taken by the police against the offenders. Then, two businessmen brothers – Shankar and Raju, were shot dead by criminals in broad day light in the market when they did not pay protection money to the criminals. A petrol pump was also looted in the area and when the police took on criminals, they shot dead a constable and managed to flee. NHRC has asked the Chief Secretary of state and Director General of Police to file reports within four weeks.On May 30, BJP MP and former union minister Hukum Singh had alleged that Kairana, a town which was affected by the riots of 2013 in Shamli district, has become a “new Kashmir”, with the exodus of 250 Hindu families over the past two years, after being allegedly targeted and persecuted by another community. “Kairana has become the Kashmir of the late 1980s, when Kashmiri Pandits were targeted by the majority Muslims and forced to flee. Similarly, Hindus here have been targeted by a community,” he had alleged. “Since Shamli came into existence in 2011, law and order has remained an issue. In 2013, a Hindu girl was kidnapped and raped by two youths, but police helped them escape as the then SP was of their community. After the incident we held a mahapanchayat and faced lathicharge,” the MP alleged. He said that governor Ram Naik and chief minister Akhilesh Yadav had been informed about the situation. However, NHRC was approached because nothing was done by state government and police. Stay updated on the go with Times of India News App. Click here to download it for your device. (Times of India 11/6/1)

NHRC notice to Rajasthan on branding women as witches (1)

New Delhi: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on Monday issued notice to the Rajasthan government on the plight of women branded as witches in the state’s Bhilwara district. Taking sou motu cognizance of the issue through media reports, the commission has learned that most often widows or women without any family support have been branded as witches. “Some of them were tortured brutally or even killed. Some of them were forced to leave their homes, and their properties were grabbed by powerful people,” a statement from the commission said. The state authorities have allegedly not taken effective action against either the offenders or to curb this menace. Accordingly, the commission has observed that the issue if true, raises serious violation of human rights of the hapless and helpless women in Rajasthan. “The notice has been issued to the Chief Secretary and Director General of Police, Government of Rajasthan calling for reports in the matter. They have been asked to indicate the action taken by the law enforcement in each such incident and the steps taken by the State authorities to address the issue,” said the statement. (Business Standard 13/6/16)

Writer Guna falsely implicated, says human rights group (1)

Trichy: Human Rights Defenders Alert – India (HRDA) has urged the National Human Rights Commission to intervene and investigate the arrest of human rights activists Durai Guna and Bhoopathy Karthikeyan in Pudukkottai district in Tamil Nadu. The duo were arrested on charges of criminal intimidation by the Karambakudi police a few days ago. HRDA said in a letter to NHRC that the human rights defenders had been implicated on false and fabricated charges. National working secretary of the HRDA Henri Tiphagne sought an order for an immediate, transparent, effective and impartial investigation into this incident by a special rapporteur of the commission. He alleged that the complainant in the case, T Sivanandham, was deceived by police personnel in the Karambakudi police station, specifically inspector Sagayam Anbarasu and sub inspector Meiappan.The SI reportedly made Sivanandham sign on a plain sheet of paper, which was later used by the police under instructions from the inspector to forge a complaint against the duo that they had attacked Sivanandham with a knife over an altercation. He sought special action against the medical officer of the Alangudi Government Hospital who admitted Sivanandam and gave a medical certificate stating he had stab injuries. Calling for steps to ensure the immediate release of the two human rights defenders by engaging senior advocates from the State Legal Services Authority, Tipagne said strict action needs to be taken against the inspector and the sub inspector. Further, the district superintendent of police and the medical officer of the Alangudi Government Hospital should be taken into task for forging a false complaint against Durai Guna and Bhoopathy Karthikeyan, urged Tiphagne. (Times of India 16/6/16)

Religious tolerance in India deteriorating: Human Rights expert to US lawmakers (1)

Washington: Religious tolerance in India is “deteriorating” while religious freedom violations are “increasing”, a rights expert has told American lawmakers. “In India, religious tolerance is deteriorating and religious freedom violations are increasing,” Robert P George, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence at the Princeton University and a former chairman of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom, told lawmakers during a Congressional hearing. “Minority communities, especially Christians, Muslims, and Sikhs, have experienced numerous incidents of intimidation, harassment and violence during the past year, largely at the hands of Hindu nationalist groups,” George alleged in his testimony before the Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organisations of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. “Members of the ruling BJP tacitly supported these groups and used religiously divisive language to inflame tensions further,” he alleged. These issues, combined with longstanding problems of police bias and judicial inadequacies have created a pervasive climate of impunity in which religious minority communities increasingly feel insecure with no recourse when religiously- motivated crimes occur, George told lawmakers yesterday. In his testimony, George said last year, “higher caste” individuals and local political leaders  prevented Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Dalits) Hindus from entering religious temples. The national government or state governments also applied several laws to restrict religious conversion, cow slaughter, and foreign funding of NGOs, he said. Moreover, an Indian constitutional provision deeming Sikhs, Buddhists and Jains to be Hindus contradicts international standards of freedom of religion or belief, George argued. India has been on USCIRF’s Tier 2 since 2009. Given its negative trajectory, USCIRF will continue to monitor the situation closely during the year ahead to determine if India should be recommended to the State Department for designation as a Country of Particular Concern, George said. In his testimony, George alleged that civil society, in particular non governmental organisations, receiving funds from overseas are facing difficulties. In April 2015, the Ministry of Home Affairs revoked the licenses of nearly 9,000 charitable organisations, he noted. “For example, two NGOs, the Sabrang Trust and Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP), which run conflict-resolution programmes and fight court cases stemming from the 2002 Gujarat riots, had their registrations revoked,” he told lawmakers. Additionally, the US-based Ford Foundation, which partially funds the Sabrang Trust and CJP, was put on a “watch list” when the Ministry of Home Affairs accused it of “abetting communal disharmony”, he said. (Deccan Chronicle 17/6/16)

NHRC Chairman asks to-be lawyers to work for society (1)

New Delhi: National Human Rights Commission chairperson Justice H L Dattu today asked law students to work for the society when they become advocates instead of taking up lucrative corporate or law firm jobs as a lot of tax-payers’ money is spent on their education. “A lot of money of tax-payers is spent on the education of law students, so once they become lawyers they have a responsibility towards the society,” he told a valedictory function of NHRC’s one-month-long summer internship programme. “However, instead of helping the people in their issues of litigation, many of them join lucrative corporate or law firm jobs doing mostly desk work on the computers,” he said, adding that corporate jobs may be well paying but the real thrill of the legal profession lies in the litigation side. He said since most of the interns were the students of law, he expected them to make the best use of their exposure to various aspects of human rights during the internship by being compassionate and helpful to those who are in trouble and difficulty. He asked them to become not only good lawyers but also good human beings. 50 students, selected from the universities and colleges in different parts of the country, completed their internship. They were sensitised on various issues of human rights and also exposed to different facets of the functioning of the Commission. Four interns shared the first, second and third award of best interns having prize money of Rs 15,000. (Business Standard 21/6/16)

Civil rights groups end dharna with demand for law on accountability (1)

JAIPUR: Civil rights groups ended their 22-day-long “Jawab Do” (give reply) dharna at Shaheed Smarak here on Wednesday with the pledge to get a powerful legal platform for ensuring transparency and accountability in the government machinery. Activists said such a law would empower citizens to monitor the outcomes of government programmes. A draft Bill of legislation on people’s participation in governance, government’s accountability and social audit was released on the occasion with the call for wider consultations in the public domain to put in place an effective system to redress the grievances of citizens.Social activist and Magsaysay Award winner Aruna Roy said the utility of such a law was proved by the “shocking exposure” to the governance methods and poverty levels during the dharna.The narratives of deprivation and lack of response by the government officers had demonstrated necessity of statutory backing for grievance redressal. Nikhil Dey of Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan said the next dharna on the issue would continue till the accountability legislation comes through. He said the right to information, realised through a prolonged struggle, had its limitations, despite the best of its applications, in ensuring accountability. The participants in the dharna, drawn from various districts of Rajasthan, provided detailed accounts of difficulties faced by them and shortcomings in the government’s actions in the spheres such as drought relief, public distribution system, forest rights, education, health care, mining, land acquisition, social security pensions and Dalit and minority rights.The draft legislation seeks the release of citizens’ charters for all government departments to enable common people to know what they may expect from them. It also seeks pre-legislative consultation to get the views of citizens and allow a public debate on financial, social, environmental and constitutional impact of any proposed policy. (The Hindu 23/6/16)

Rights panel takes cognizance of cases (1)

Jaipur: The Rajasthan State Human Rights Commission (RSHRC) has taken suo motu cognizance of the rape of a child after abducting her from a government hospital in Jaipur and the handling of the Asha workers’ agitation by the police and the administration in the light of the death of one of them recently after they were manhandled. Asha workers in the state have been on an agitation for ten days to press for their various demands. A three-year-old girl from Mumbai was allegedly abducted when the minor’s mother, who is differently-abled, was talking over the phone, from the premises of SMS hospital on June 18. The girl was found bleeding near a gate of the hospital early next morning with injury marks on her face and neck, according to police. Similarly, another child was abducted form a Gurdwara and found brutally assaulted by an alleged drug addict. The member of the state human rights commission H R Kuri while taking cognizance of the matter said these incidents of rape of minor girls who are just three years have been subjected to sexual abuse of the worst kind which has shaken the conscience of the society. This is the most heinous and inhuman act and reflection of the decadence of human values. (Times of India 25/6/16)

NHRC notice to govt. over cataract surgery (1)

CHENNAI: Taking suo motu cognisance of media reports that the vision of 16 persons was affected after a “botched up” cataract surgery at the Government Hospital in Mettur in Salem district earlier this month, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has issued a notice to Tamil Nadu government over the issue. Observing that media reports raised “serious issues of violation of human rights of the victim patients due to the apathetic attitude” of the medical staff at the hospital, the NHRC has asked the Chief Secretary to send a report over the incident, the reasons behind it and action taken against those responsible for it within two weeks, an official release from the NHRC said. A section of the media had, on June 25, reported that the 16 persons, including 12 women, who had cataract surgery and took eye drops in the hospital “were unable to see.” After being rushed to the government hospital, they were eventually transferred to a private hospital and the vision of eight patients was badly affected, while another eight suffered “minor loss of vision.” The media had also reported that at least 25,000 free eye surgeries were performed at various government hospitals in Salem district every year under the National Blindness Control Programme, “but this shocking incident appears to have happened either due to some wrong medicine or some issue with the operation theatre,” it added. (The Hindu 29/6/16)

Kangra slum razed, NHRC help sought (1)

Dharamshala: Kangras Citizens’ Rights Group from on Wednesday filed a complaint with the National Human Rights Commission objecting to the MC’s move of ‘eviction’ to 800 slum dwellers. The group has written that no alternate rehabilitation was made for the slum dwellers, grounds of eviction were inadequately explained to and the process was carried out without considering the future of the children whose exams are going on. tnnFor a community that has been settled and struggling for its existence more than thirty years now, their settlement in Himachal provided them the scope to earn a livelihood. (Times of India 30/6/16)

JUDICIARY/ LAW

Time to say triple talaq to all retrograde personal laws (19)

New Delhi: It was very reassuring to see the other day a women-heavy panel strongly advocating doing away with the practice of triple talaq on NDTV. Even more reassuring is the fact that more than 50,000 Muslims, both women and men, have signed a petition seeking ban on triple talaq. The campaign spearheaded by the Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan seeks reforms in Muslim personal laws so that Muslim women’s “constitutional and Quranic rights are safeguarded”.It is one of the rare moments in recent times when women have stood up and are seeking changes in sets of personal laws which have clearly failed the test of gender justice. It is heartening to see Muslim women taking the lead in this. After all, they have suffered the most because of, what many leading scholars say, the horrible practice of triple talaq which most certainly has no Quranic sanction. Muslim laws allow many ways to end a marriage. It includes a woman’s right to dissolve a marriage which is known as khula. The dissolution by mutual consent is called mubarra and there is a system of judicial divorce too. But the practice of giving divorce, regardless of the consent of woman, by pronouncing talaq three times at one go is the most obnoxious of them all. With the advent of digital media, talaq is now being given by sending an SMS or an email in some cases. Incidentally, the practice of triple talaq does not exist in most of the Islamic countries including Pakistan and Bangladesh. The campaign by Muslim women has afforded us a chance to reform not just this practice but many more related to personal laws of other religions too. It is time to introduce the concept of the mandatory consent of women in matters of marriage and divorce. Many personal laws fail this test. Khap panchayats in some parts of the country have been making a mockery of the idea of consent and getting away with it. There are other infirmities too. According to the provisions of Hindu adoptions and maintenance act of 1956, while giving a child for adoption, the consent of mother is mandatory. But she loses her right in case she converts and ceases to be a Hindu. Similar provisions apply in case of adopting a child. In case of inheritance of property, while a successor is entitled to his or her rights even after conversion but the children of these converts lose that right. Do we need such discriminatory provisions? Christian personal laws in the country are governed by the 1872 Act and for Parsis, there is a 1936 Act. They too have become outdated and therefore need revision. The way forward clearly is a sincere effort to have a uniform civil code that clears the crucial test of gender justice. In order to achieve the objective of making women safe at home, in office and at public places, should we not make an effort to get personal laws out of religious domain? But given the sensitivity of the issue, we should not try to impose one set of personal laws on all others. As a logical first step, efforts should be made to reform personal laws of all religions. If that means some more delay in having a uniform civil code, so be it. Muslim women have taken the first step. It is over to the legislature to take it to the logical conclusion. Any prevarication now will be quite unfair to our adhi abadi. (Business Standard 2/6/16)

Centre committed to expedite process of judges appointments: Union law minister (19)

DEHRADUN: The Central government is committed to work in tandem with the judiciary to expedite the process of judicial appointments, Union minister for law and justice D V Sadananda Gowda said here on Saturday. The Union minister’s remarks came against the backdrop of Chief Justice of India (CJI) TS Thakur’s assertion that the country needed at least 70,000 judges to clear the backlog of cases which are pending for years in courts. “With more judges being appointed on vacant posts, litigants will get quick justice,” said Gowda. He was addressing the inaugural session of Bar Council of India’s annual two-day seminar and training session. Justice Dipak Misra of Supreme Court was the chief guest at the occasion. Addressing the gathering of judges and lawyers, the Union minister said that 51 new judges were appointed this year while only 31 judges were appointed during the same period last year. On the first day of the seminar, Justice Chakradhari Sharan Singh and Justice Ahsanuddin Amanullah of Patna High Court and Justice Vimlesh Kumar Shukla, acting chief justice of Allahabad high court, gave lectures on the topic– need of continuing legal education to the lawyers. (Times of India 4/6/16)

HC dismisses PIL seeking new Commission to probe Gandhi murder (19)

Mumbai: The Bombay High Court on Monday dismissed a public interest litigation seeking appointment of a Commission of Inquiry to probe afresh the murder of Mahatma Gandhi in January 1948, and the conspiracy behind it. A bench headed by Justice V.M. Kanade was of the opinion that it cannot hear a matter that had concluded long ago. “We are inclined to dismiss the petition…the writ jurisdiction of the High Court cannot be exercised in a matter which has concluded long ago. As a long time has lapsed, we cannot go into the issue now,” said the bench. The judges said they would give a reasoned order later for dismissing the petition. The petitioner, Dr. Pankaj Phadnis, arguing in person, said he had forensic evidence with him to justify a fresh probe into Gandhi’s killing. He also said that even Supreme Court was hearing the 150-year-old matter pertaining to precious ‘Kohinoor’ diamond in public interest. On the same ground, the PIL, seeking new Commission to probe Gandhi’s death, should be heard by the HC. Notably, All India Human Rights and Social Justice Front has filed a petition in the Supreme Court demanding that Kohinoor and other famous antiques, including the ring and sword of Tipu Sultan, should be returned to India by the United Kingdom. The judges rejected the plea of Mr. Phadnis and dismissed his petition seeking fresh probe into Gandhi’s murder. Mr. Phadnis, author, researcher and trustee of Abhinav Bharat, Mumbai, had claimed that the then Jeevan Lal Kapur Commission of Inquiry had not been able to unearth the entire conspiracy that culminated in the killing of Gandhi. According to the prosecution’s story, the Father of the Nation was shot at by the assassin with a revolver which had seven compartments of bullets. Gandhi received three bullet injuries while the remaining four bullets were recovered by police from the weapon, says the petition. However, the PIL alleged that Gandhi had received four bullet wounds on him on January 30, 1948, when he was shot dead. In this regard, the petitioner has produced several media clippings to show that Gandhi had sustained four bullet injuries. The petition said that the new Commission of Inquiry should conduct a probe to find out who had fired the fourth shot and to establish whether there was any other assassin besides Nathuram Godse. The petition had urged that the new Commission should also find out whether the motive of the murder was to cause enmity between the people of India and Pakistan by sabotaging the Gandhi-Jinnah reconciliation project of ‘reviving people-to-people contact.’ The PIL claimed that Gandhi was slated to visit Pakistan to revive people-to-people contact. However, he was shot dead prior to his departure for the neighbouring country. The PIL also said that the Commission of Inquiry should conduct a probe to find out whether any person in the world — other than those accused in the Gandhi murder trial — had prior information of the conspiracy or had participated in such a conspiracy. (The Hindu 6/6/16)

Doctor couple can’t work out differences (19)

Ahmedabad: A doctor couple refused to settle their matrimonial dispute, even after Gujarat high court requested them to sort out their differences for the sake of their daughter, who was found suffering from thalassemia major. In this case the father, a professor at Civil Hospital in Rajkot, moved the high court after a family court in Rajkot ordered him to pay Rs14,000 a month as maintenance to the daughter. This order was passed in December last year, when the child was nine months old. The order was passed after his wife sought maintenance on the ground that she was forced to move out when she was pregnant. The man questioned the maintenance order, but in the meantime, it was found that the child was a thalassemia major patient. The report came after the family court ordered for maintenance, when the quarrelling couple had no clue about the child’s illness, and hence the HC was moved. The HC sent the matter for mediation, but they did not agree on a settlement. When the child’s illness was divulged, the HC refused to interfere with the maintenance order, and neither did the father dispute the maintenance amount further. However, the HC repeatedly requested the couple to reach a compromise so that the parents could bear together the expenditure of costly bone marrow transplantation surgery. However HC’s request failed to make the couple settle their differences. (Times of India 10/6/16)

”Udta Punjab’ judgement victory for freedom of speech’ (19)

Mumbai, Jun 13 () Calling it a victory for freedom of speech and expression, the legal fraternity here welcomed the judgement of Bombay High Court today, in which it ordered the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) to certify Bollywood film ‘Udta Punjab’ within 48 hours. “It is a welcome judgement which advances the cause of freedom of speech and expression,” prominent human rights lawyer Mihir Desai told . Another prominent lawyer Uday Waranjikar said the freedom of speech and expression is not absolute, but regulated. However, if restrictions are unreasonable, then the court of law is the only remedy. “I feel that by virtue of today’s High Court order, the belief of common man in judiciary will strengthen,” he said. “I also feel artists have been given a greater responsibility by the HC order. I am sure artists shall stand up by the Court order,” he said. Noted lawyer Pranab Badheka said, “The High Court order is victory for freedom of speech and expression and freedom of creative ideas of the film fraternity.” The court has upheld the Fundamental Right of freedom of speech and expression and it is a victory for people with creative ideas, he said. The HC today asked the censor board to certify the drug-themed film within 48 hours to enable its release on the scheduled date of June 17. The CBFC’s revising committee had suggested 13 changes to the film before certifying it. However, Anurag Kashyap’s company, Phantom Films, which has produced the movie moved the HC challenging the order. Stay updated on the go with Times of India News App. Click here to download it for your device. (Times of India 13/6/16)

Neighbour can’t pay for husband’s violence: HC (19)

Ahmedabad: When Bhavna Rajput filed a complaint under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act against her husband Ramesh and her in-laws, a neighbour, Ramila Suthar, was also saddled with court proceedings. Interestingly, lower courts in Mehsana had ordered this neighbour to jointly bear the responsibility to pay for Bhavna’s maintenance and residential accommodation. Bhavna quit her matrimonial home in Kamli village of Unjha, following the incident, and went to live at her parental home in Khandosan village, Visnagar taluka. Bhavna approached a magisterial court in 2013, which ordered the Rajputs to pay Rs2,000 every month towards her maintenance. The order was challenged by both parties in the sessions court, where the amount of maintenance was increased to Rs 4,000 per month besides Rs1,000 for residential accommodation. The court orders were binding upon Suthar, too, because she was also named as a respondent. Her name figured in the complaint, because Bhavna felt that she had a part behind the ill treatment Bhavna faced from her husband and in-laws. When the issue came before the Gujarat high court on Monday, it immediately dropped the case against Suthar. The court also quashed payment orders on the ground that the complaint under the DV Act against a neighbour is “not only unwarranted, but unjustified and illegal”. The HC further said that if there is no relationship between such third person and the husband or spouse, then, any court order under DV laws against third person becomes nullity and they are required to be quashed. The high court criticized lower courts for ignoring settled law that complaints under DV laws are not maintainable against a person who is not part of the family or in relationship with the spouse. “The trial court has failed to restrict such order only against husband and in-laws of the complainant. Unfortunately, similar mistake continued when the appellate court decided the appeals. Again, the appellate court has failed to differentiate the liability opponents No 1 to 5 (husband and in-laws) on one hand and opponent No 6 (Ramilaben) on the other.” (Times of India 15/6/16)

Centre, judiciary to lock horns over appointments (19)

New Delhi: With the Supreme Court collegium — headed by the Chief Justice of India T.S. Thakur — rejecting most of the Centre’s proposals on the memorandum of procedure (MoP) for the appointment of judges, the Narendra Modi government and the judiciary seem to be heading for a major confrontation. There are more than 400 vacancies in high courts, which have a sanctioned strength of 1,016. This means that most high courts are working at 50 per cent strength. Since there is an inordinate delay in finalising the MoP, the process of filling the vacancies is likely to be further delayed. With the rift wide open, the Centre has now sought the opinion of attorney-general Mukul Rohatgi for getting the MoP finalised after thrashing out the points of difference between the government and the collegium. In 2015, the Modi government enacted the National Judicial Appo-intments Commission law for the appointment of judges. The apex court struck down this law in October 2015, and the MoP was prepared by the law ministry in April 2016. With the collegium having some reservations on certain proposals, the MoP was sent back in the first week of May. The government made some improvements and again sent it on to the collegium for its consent. The collegium again rejected many of the proposals. As a result, the MoP is yet to be finalised, and for the last 10 months, no appointments could be made. Only the confirmation of additional judges are being made. The government wanted to introduce a clause where the judges are appointed/elevated to the Supreme Court on the basis of “merit-cum-seniority” as the sole criterion rather than “seniority-cum-merit”. The Centre also wanted retired judges to be involved in the consultation process. It has proposed to the collegium that during the elevation of judges to the Supreme Court or to the post of chief justice, primacy shall be given to the merit of the candidate rather than seniority alone. This was not acceptable to the collegium as, according to the senior-most judges, it will mean that a senior judge who may not be the chief justice of a high court can also be considered for elevation to the Supreme Court. This also means that the junior judge in a high court can also supersede the senior judge to become the chief justice of the high court. Another proposal that does not find favour with the collegium is the Centre’s insistence on imposing a cap of 10 per cent or maximum three senior advocates from the bar to be directly appointed as a Supreme Court judge. The collegium’s believes it is free to appoint as many advocates as it finds deserving from the bar and cannot be bound by such suggestions by the government. The government also wanted to reserve its right to reject any candidate recommended for appointment as a judge on grounds of “national security”. Under the earlier MoP, the Centre had the right to return a name back to the collegium for reconsideration. But if the collegium reiterates the recommendation, the Centre is bound to accept the recommendation. This happened recently in the case of the elevation of a high court chief justice. Though the collegium approved the elevation two times, the Centre has opposed his elevation and the issue is still pending. (Asian Age 20/6/16)

After High Court’s order, IB officer released from illegal detention (19)

NEW DELHI: An Intelligence Bureau (IB) officer detained in relation to a case of smuggling of gold at Goa Airport in 2014 has been released after the Delhi High Court held his detention to be against the law considering there was a delay of nine months in his detention after the issuance of the order. The order of detention -issued in March 2015- was not executed till the detenue surrendered himself before the Goa Police in December last year. The Delhi High Court held that delay in execution of the detention order and non-supply of material relied upon showed that there was no genuine satisfaction on the part of the detaining authority regarding the necessity of immediately detaining the person. The court was hearing a petition filed by the wife of the IB officer (the detenue) seeking quashing of the order of detention. Advocate Pradeep Jain, appearing for the detenue, said that the order was not executed even after the officer had surrendered himself. The court noted that the customs department had relied heavily on CDs and the CCTV footage and was bound to show the entire contents of the same to the detenue as a matter of right under Article 22(2) of the Constitution. As per the petition, the detenue joined the Indian Navy as a sailor in July 1993 and retired in 2008. He then joined the IB and was posted at the Goa Airport. In July 2014, when the detenue was on duty as wing in-charge in the Immigration Department, an incident of arrest of four persons on the allegation of smuggling of 19.4 kg of gold was reported. On August 2, 2014, the detenue was summoned for an inquiry with regard to the incident. His statement was recorded denying any knowledge with regard to the smuggling. Another summon was issued to him asking for certain documents such as his posting order, but he informed the IO that they were in possession of the department. In November 2014, he was transferred to SIB, Orissa. In January 2015, he was issued another notice and allegations were made against him of assisting the accused. He denied all allegations and went on medical leave. Thereafter, he got to know about the publication of the detention order in an English daily in Goa. He moved the Kerala High Court which denied him relief saying he must first surrender. The Supreme Court was of the same view. He then surrendered before the Goa Police. (The Hindu 20/6/16)

Bombay HC dismisses PIL against Satyamev Jayate (19)

Mumbai: The Bombay High Court Tuesday dismissed a public interest litigation which had taken objection to the use of ‘Satyamev Jayate’ as the title of a show hosted by actor Aamir Khan stating these words formed part of the Emblem of India and their usage was in violation of certain provisions of the law. Stating that there was no merit in the petition, a division bench of Justice A S Oka and Justice A A Sayyed said it did not find any violation on the part of show producers and the actor who were respondents to the petition. In his petition, activist Manoranjan Roy had stated that the words ‘Satyamev Jayate’ form part of the Emblem of India and hence their usage is violative under the State Emblem of India (Prohibition and Improper Use) Act and State Emblem of India (Regulation of Use) Rules. Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh, appearing for Union of India, had earlier told the court that the words ‘Satyamev Jayate’ is only the motto of the Emblem. “Use of Emblem as a whole is specifically prohibited under the act. Use of the motto is not prohibited,” Singh said. The petitioner’s lawyer, however, argued that even the use of the motto attracts violation under the act, and hence should be prohibited. The Union Ministry of Home Affairs in its affidavit filed earlier said the use of the phrase ‘Satyamev Jayate’ was not violative of the act and rules. (Indian Express 22/6/16)

Stays delay court cases by up to 6.5 yrs: Study (19)

NEW DELHI: Stays on proceedings ordered by high courts and the Supreme Court delay trial by up to 6.5 years, according to a study by the law ministry. Significantly, the average life of a case is 10-15 years. In effect, a case remains in limbo for 50% of its life span because of stays granted by the higher judiciary. The study, which covered the Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Odisha HCs, found that trial proceedings had been stayed by superior courts in more than 15,300 civil and criminal cases. The findings are based on analysis of the annual reports of these HCs. There are 24 HCs in the country, and the data coming out on the number of cases stayed is just a fraction of the total number of cases stayed, a source said. Interestingly, not all HCs are publishing annual reports, making it difficult to ascertain the “accurate and complete picture”. “There is no uniformity in the manner in which the judicial statistics are being provided in the annual reports, making it difficult to compare data,” says the report. Saying that the high number of stays being granted affect both civil and criminal cases, the report notes, “It can be observed that the average time for which the trial proceedings remains stayed in the life cycle of a case is as high as 6.5 years.” The study has also found that high number of adjournments are being granted by courts, which result in an increase in the average life cycle of cases. It has analysed the number of adjournments granted on an average during the life cycle of a case in two states of Odisha and Rajasthan. Only these two high courts are believed to have provided such data in their annual reports — that too only for their subordinate courts. In Odisha, on an average 51 adjournments are granted in civil cases and 33 in criminal cases. For Rajasthan, the adjournments are on average up to 42 in civil cases and 34 in criminal. “It is to be considered that the high number of adjournments hinders the reduction of pendency as is evident from the figures above,” the report says. The total pendency of cases remained static at around 10.59 lakh in case of subordinate courts in Odisha, and in case of Rajasthan it went up from 14.54 lakh to 14.78 lakh between January and December 2015. … (Times of India 22/6/16)

No board, nameplate at address of NGO that filed PIL 2 yrs ago (19)

New Delhi: The registered office of the NGO ICEGATE, as mentioned in its 2014 PIL seeking an inquiry against top Essar officials over alleged “illegal telephone tapping”, turned out to be in the narrow bylanes of central Delhi’s Matia Mahal area. However, there was no board mentioning the name of the NGO, not even a nameplate of the NGO vice-president, Masood Ahmed. The NGO had filed the PIL in the Supreme Court but it was dismissed on the grounds of being “defective” and referred back to the petitioner. When The Indian Express visited the address — 431, Gali Matia Mahal, near Juma Masjid — locals seemed unaware of any such NGO functioning in the area. They knew Ahmed, but did not know the nature of his job. On the second floor of the building, one Tarannum, who identified herself as Ahmed’s wife, spoke to The Indian Express. When asked about Ahmed and his NGO, she said, “My husband runs the NGO International Civil Enforcement Group of Anti-Terrorism Ethics (ICEGATE). Earlier the office was somewhere else, but recently the NGO has begun working from home.” When asked about the work of the NGO, she said, “Please talk to my husband. He will tell you.”When The Indian Express tried to contact Ahmed on his phone, a voice recording cautioned in Hindi: “The number you are trying to contact is a VIP number, and is under surveillance. Choose your words carefully when you speak.” After a few seconds, Ahmed answered. When asked about the NGO that has no board at the mentioned address, Ahmed said, “How does it matter if there is a board or not? We have been working here with three members.” Asked if the NGO had worked on any other issue, he said they did not have the time. “Since the NGO was set up, we have pursued only the Essar case,” he said. Ahmed, 44, said that over the past two years, he and the other members have been “developing means” to fight the case in court after their plea was found to be defective. “There were some defects in our plea and it was sent back to us, but we were no longer able to afford the same lawyer due to a financial crunch. Other lawyers whom we approached were not convinced, citing confidential material that we had in possession,” said Ahmed. He said he had written to the Supreme Court to avail of a lawyer who would fight the case pro bono. He also said he had written to all major political parties but got no response. Supreme Court lawyer Suren Uppal recently filed a PIL in the Delhi High Court seeking a court-monitored inquiry by a SIT on the same issue. When asked how he got the material, Ahmed said, “One of the employees who works with Essar refinery had approached us.” (Indian Express 25/6/16)

Agitation of Telangana judges: HC suspends nine more (19)

Hyderabad:  The agitation against provisional allocation of judges between Andhra Pradesh and Telangana intensified today with 200 judicial officers going on mass leave for 15 days protesting the suspension of nine more lower court judges on disciplinary grounds. Taking a tough stand, the High Court of Judicature at Hyderabad suspended nine more lower court judges on disciplinary grounds. The number of judges who have been suspended has now gone up to 11.”Nine judges, working in different parts of the state, were today placed under suspension. A committee is looking into the disciplinary issues,” official sources told . Yesterday the HC had suspended two judges. Over 100 judges, under the banner of the Telangana Judges Association, took out a procession on Sunday from Gun Park to Raj Bhavan and submitted a representation to the Governor against the provisional allocation of judicial officers. Their contention is that judges who hail from (post-bifurcation) Andhra Pradesh have been appointed to courts in Telangana. The suspension of nine more judges today prompted the Telangana Judges Association to call for an emergency meeting. “Nearly 200 judges under the aegis of Telangana Judges Association attended the meeting and passed a resolution to proceed on mass leave for 15 days from today,” a judicial officer told , adding a resolution demanding immediate withdrawal of the list of allocation of judicial officers was also passed. The Association members said that no specific reason had been given by the HC for the suspension. Meanwhile, lawyers affiliated to the Telangana Advocates Joint Action Committee held demonstrations outside the courts across the state. (Times of India 28/6/16)

POLICE/ AFSPA/ CUSTODIAL DEATHS

Mathura SP among 20 killed in clash (1)

Lucknow, June 3 : The toll in the Mathura violence rose to 20 on Friday as Superintendent of Police Mukul Dwivedi and others injured in Thursday’s clash between police and encroachers during an anti-encroachment drive, succumbed to their injuries, officials said. While 250 people have been detained for their involvement in the incident, the city continues to be tense even as heavy police reinforcement has been deployed in the violence hit region. Dwivedi, a 1995 batch officer had joined as SP (City) Mathura seven months ago and is being remembered as one of the finest in the district police force. He was leading the operations following the orders of the court to clear the park of encroachment when police team was greeted with unprovoked and indiscriminate firing by the encroachers, believed to be part of sect called ‘Satyagrahis’. While Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav has ordered a probe into the incident, sources say the slain SP many times in the past had shared his frustration about the situation in Jawaharbagh, with friends and family. Close aides said that Dwivedi had spoken to them on how his superiors in the district were dissuading him against acting against the people behind the encroachment, despite a specific court order to do so. He also allegedly told some officials that he was not being provided with adequate police force to clear the encroachment at the sprawling park. The incident has come as a setback to the Samajwadi Party (SP) government in the state which braces for elections early next year and is already faced with charges of lawlessness in the state. Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) state spokesman Vijay Bahadur Pathak told IANS that while the incident was very unfortunate it did not come as a shock as “in the past too, policemen have been targetted even as chief minister and his government have been in a state of denial”.”It is very sad that on one hand the people of the state are victims of lawlessness and even the police in the last four years has been targetted” he said while seeking action against the Mathura DM and SSP for intelligence failure. The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and Congress leaders have also slammed the state government for letting the situation spin out of control to such fatal consequences. (New Kerala 3/6/16)

No case of misuse of AFSPA in North East, says Army (1)

Kolkata: Defending the imposition of the controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in the North East, the Army on Monday said there was no recent cases of misuse of the law in the region. “In Eastern Command, during the time I have spent in Kolkata, there has not been a single incident which has been reported where AFSPA has not been used for the right reason,” Eastern Army Commander Lieutenant General Praveen Bakshi said.He said if there was any breach of AFSPA it was dealt with firmly by the Army. “If the Army is required to handle insurgency, we require AFSPA. If we don’t have AFSPA, our hands are tied and we cannot do our job. It is an enabling provision and not a draconian provision,” he said. Various human rights organisations have long been demanding repeal of the AFSPA which they call a “draconian” law. In Manipur, rights activist Irom Chanu Sharmila has been on a fast-unto-death for 15 years demanding withdrawal of AFSPA. She is forcibly nose-fed at a government hospital in Imphal. (Deccan Chronicle 6/6/16)

Bihar pays Rs 3 lakh as compensation in custodial death case (1)

New Delhi: In line with a recommendation of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), the Bihar Government on Wednesday paid Rs 3 lakh to the family of an alleged CPI (Maoist) leader, who died in police custody four years ago. According to the commission, there were several loopholes in the police theory about the death of the accused named Madan Yadav, a resident of the Palamu district in Jharkhand. “The victim was arrested on June 6, 2012 for investigation and he died the next day due to torture in police custody at Barun Police Station in Aurangabad. The commission was informed that a case was registered against the delinquent policemen,” said a statement from the commission. “The reports also revealed that there were contradictions and discrepancies in the police statements about the place of his arrest, lack of medical examination after the arrest, the reason behind injuries on his body, his stomach being without food and water etc,” added the statement. The special secretary of the Bihar’s home department said that the Government has made the compensation and the next of kin of deceased Madan Yadav had also withdrawn the amount of relief from the bank. (Business Standard 8/6/16)

Repeal AFSPA from northeast at the earliest: Naga Hoho (1)

Kohima: Naga Hoho Media Cell expressed anguish over, what it termed as, the “callous” attitude of the Centre towards repeal of the AFSPA from the northeast in general and Naga areas in particular despite repeated appeals by Naga civil societies and human rights activists. “In return, the successive governments irrespective of political parties in Delhi always decide to remain a mute spectator ever since the enactment of the draconian laws,” a release issued by Naga Hoho Media Cell had said . Pointing out that “there is peaceful atmosphere in Naga areas as of now”, the apex body said, any policy that harms the atmosphere of trust and confidence “would be dear to all stakeholders“.It said that both the Union government and the Naga people have agreed to a settlement for respecting the wishes of the people for sharing sovereign power and to establish a lasting relationship between the government and the Nagas. “We make this statement in the background that, there is an ongoing political negotiation and peace process between the government of India and the Naga people which can be testified by the signing of Framework Agreement signed on August 3, 2015,” the statement said. The Hoho maintained that the Naga people were taken by surprise with the RSS reportedly declaring its support for extension and continuation of AFSPA in the north east and Jammu and Kashmir. The Naga’s struggle for self determination cannot be equated with “terrorism” with the Union government recognising the uniqueness of Naga political history and the universal principle that sovereignty lies with the people in a democracy, the Hoho said. (The Hindu 8/6/16)

Sub-inspector among 7 cops accused of sexual harassment, torture (1)

Coimbatore: CBI sleuths filed a chargesheet before the chief judicial magistrate court two days back against seven police personnel, including a sub-inspector of police and two police constables who were attached to the Udumalpet police station, for sexually harassing a woman suspect in a murder case and torturing her brutally in the Udumalpet police station in Tirupur district. Leelavathi, a housewife from Udumalpet was found murdered at her house on August 9, 2014. Udumalpet police picked up Girija (name changed), Leelavathi’s tenant for questioning on August 11. Three days later, Girija was arrested and she was charged with Leelavathy’s murder. She was then sent to Coimbatore central prison. Meanwhile Girija’s daughter P Rajakumari filed a petition before Madras high court, saying her mother was severely tortured during the three days in police custody. She also told police injected a needle into her mother’s fingers and hung her upside down semi nude. The court ordered a CBI probe and asked the state government to provide her treatment. The murder case is still under investigation by the Udumalpet police. (Times of India 11/6/16)

Lecturer says police forced him to be spy (1)

PULWAMA: Abdul Rasheed, an English lecturer at the Government College for Women in Srinagar, had a rude awakening on the night of May 26. Army and the police’s Special Operations Group personnel barged into his house with a strange request: to identify houses in the roadside village of Parigaam, which is close to Kareemabad, where 14 youths recently joined the ranks of militants. “It was around 1.30 a.m. I was asleep when the security forces asked me to accompany them. I pleaded with them that I am a lecturer and asked them to spare me. But they paid no heed,” Mr. Rasheed told The Hindu. The Parigaam resident, who is in his thirties, said he was detained up to 3.30 a.m. “The security forces kept asking me to lead them to particular houses, quite far from my home. They wanted me to identify two-storey houses in the village,” he said. “It was scary. What if there were militants hiding in any house. I would have been the first casualty. Also, if any local had identified me with the security forces, I would have been labelled a mukhbir [informer).” Night-long operations have returned to Pulwama’s Lelhaar, Kareemabad and Parigaam areas, where militancy is showing an upward trend with local support. Pulwama Superintendent of Police Rayees Mohammad Bhat denied the allegations. “Such a practice in which civilians are used as shields during operations is not in vogue. In case of a major operation, a village head is asked to accompany the security forces,” he said. (The Hindu 12/6/16)

PIL pushes for filling up of 40% police vacancies in Gujarat (1)

Ahmedabad: Gujarat high court has sought a reply from the state government on a PIL seeking police reforms, filling up over 42,000 sanctioned vacant posts in state police department, abolition of fixed-pay structure and outsourcing various tasks to NGOs. HC has asked the government pleader to find out what the state government has to say about this PIL.The petition has been filed by NGO, Swaraj Abhiyan, through its district convener who is an advocate, K R Koshti. The petitioner has requested the HC to direct the state police to fill nearly 40% of vacant posts and regular payment in the civil and armed police forces. There are only 54,955 police personnel against sanctioned strength of 95,979 and 15,011 armed policemen against the sanctioned 20,912. The PIL cites Gujarat’s long coast, safety of fishermen and that the state shares borders with Pakistan to insist for maintaining sanctioned strength of police force. The PIL demands abolition of fixed pay structure because the state government pays a meagre amount, even less than minimum wages, to new recruits – Lok Rakshak jawans – who are inducted under this system. It has also urged to the state government to stop outsourcing services of police department to private agencies. Advocate Koshti stated that the police strength in India is only 1.28, including civil and paramilitary forces, per 1000 citizens as against 3.44 in Malaysia, 2.1 in Brazil, 2.85 in the USA and 2.3 in the UK. According to Interpol’s norms the police-citizen ratio should be 4:1000. The lawyer told the court that the poor strength in police department heightened stress level. The PIL has also quoted examples of police officials committing suicide. The petitioner has claimed that junior-level officials are not even provided official vehicles for patrolling and they have to use their personal vehicles for this. (Times of India 16/6/16)

India sees 98 deaths in police custody every year (1)

Bengaluru: As many as 1,275 people died in police custody in India between 2001 and 2013 but less than 50% of custodial deaths led to a case being registered, data from the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) show. The deaths in judicial custody—or in prisons—reported by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) are much higher. About 12,727 people are reported to have died in judicial custody between 2001 and 2010. The data for the later years (2013 onwards) are being compiled, according to the Home Minister’s reply to a Lok Sabha question. Since the turn of the century, the least deaths were reported in 2010 (70), while the most were reported in 2005 (128 deaths). On an average, 98 people die in police custody every year in India.The data do not reflect the “true picture”, according to Torture in India 2011, a report by the Asian Centre for Human Rights (ACHR), as they do not include deaths in the custody of the armed forces. The report also cites instances where custodial deaths were not reported to or recorded by the NHRC. Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat had the most custodial deaths during 2001-2013 while Bihar reported only six such cases.Among the large states, Haryana filed a case for every custodial death during the period. The states of Manipur, Jharkhand and Bihar also registered cases for 100% of custodial deaths, but they had reported only two, three and six deaths, respectively. In comparison, Maharashtra registered cases for only 11.4% of the custodial deaths. It is, however, possible that multiple deaths were clubbed under one case.Only two policemen were convicted for every 100 deaths in police custody — nationally, only 26 police officers have been convicted for custodial deaths.The possibility of police officers being convicted dwindles at the chargesheeting stage itself: 34 policemen are chargesheeted for every 100 cases registered, and 12% of the chargesheeted policemen are convicted. In Maharashtra, only 14% of cases saw policemen being chargesheeted, and none was convicted. In Uttar Pradesh, 71 policemen were chargesheeted and 17 were convicted. In Chhattisgarh, 80% of chargesheeted policemen were convicted. The Prevention of Torture Bill, passed by the Lok Sabha in 2010, has now lapsed. It was introduced in order to ratify the United Nations Convention Against Torture. While the Bill had many problems, including a six-month time limit on complaints and a narrow definition of torture, the opposition had called for its early passage. (Business Standard 17/6/16)

Girl’s death in ‘encounter’: HC seeks parents’ affidavit (1)

BILASPUR: The Chhattisgarh High Court today began preliminary hearing of a PIL seeking judicial probe of an alleged fake encounter in which a tribal girl was killed by police in Sukma district last week. The division bench of Chief Justice Deepak Gupta and Justice Sanjay K Agrawal asked the girl’s parents to file an affidavit about their version of the incident, said the petitioner’s lawyer Amarnath Pandey. According to police, Madkam Hidme was a Naxal and was killed in a gun fight between rebels and police in Gompad village in Sukma on June 13. Aam Aadmi Party’s state convener Sanket Thakur filed the PIL claiming that she was not a Naxal and the encounter was fake. Thakur has demanded a special investigation team and a judicial inquiry, along with compensation of Rs 20 lakh for the family. Advocate Rajni Soren, who also appeared for the petitioner, said, “When we informed the court that the parents of the girl were also present today, it asked them to present their side on an affidavit. Court posted the hearing for tomorrow.” (New Indian Express 21/6/16)

Jharkhand cops tie up girl in ropes (1)

Alwar: In an apparent violation of human rights, the Jharkhand police on Tuesday tied a 23-year-old girl with a rope around her waist after arresting her in a dowry harassment case. The girl was kept tied at the Railway police station in Alwar and later taken to Jharkhand in a train in the same manner.The entire incident was witnessed by the residents and local media that captured photos of the girl tied-up by her waist being escorted by the Jharkhand cops, including a woman constable. The Supreme Court holds handcuffing and tying with ropes as inhuman and in violation of human rights. According to the Alwar police, a police team from the Garhwa district of Jharkhand had come to arrest Aparna, a resident of Bank Colony here as she was an accused in a dowry harassment case filed by her sister-in law, who resides in Garhwa.”After arresting the girl, the Jharkhand police took her for a medical examination at a local hospital. The girl resisted her arrest and fled from the hospital. She was, however, arrested again from a nearby area. The police then tied her tightly by the waist with a rope and took her away ,” an Alwar police official said on the condition of anonymity . Aparna’s sister-in-law filed a complaint against her husband, father-in-law and mother-in-law, accusing them of harassing her for dowry .Upon raiding the house in Alwar, the police found Aparna’s parents and her brother missing. The police questioned Aparna and arrested her as she too was an accused. (Times of India 22/6/16)

5 cops suspended for alleged custodial death (1)

JODHPUR: Five policemen, including a Station House Officer, were suspended on Saturday after a 35-year-old farmer died allegedly in police custody. A case has been registered against SHO of Bhopalgarh police station here and four others under various sections of the IPC, Superintendent of Police (Jodhpur Rural) Harendra Kumar. Besides this, two separate inquiries have also been initiated against them by a judicial magistrate and CID-CB to ascertain the cause of death, he said. According to Kumar, Omaram Khoja had gone to the village Grid Sub Station (GSS) on Wednesday night to register a complaint against incessant power cuts. “He had a tiff with the GSS staff and following their complaint, Bhopalgarh police headed by the SHO Shivlahari Meena rushed to the spot and arrested him,” he said, adding they took the farmer to the police station, where his condition deteriorated. Thereafter, he was rushed to hospital and was declared dead, the SP said. Referring to the cause of death, Mr Kumar said it could either be due to cardiac arrest or the injuries sustained during the scuffle with the GSS staff. (The Hindu 26/6/16)

Protect dalits from torture, govt urged (1)

New Delhi: The National Convention against Torture has urged the Indian government to ratify the International Convention against Torture, particularly against dalits and other weaker sections of society while they are under custody. The issue is pending consideration since 1997. A meeting, held on Sunday, of lawyers, doctors, activists, academics and representatives of the National Human Rights Commission and the National Commission for Backward Classes strongly affirmed the demand that India should ratify the convention without further delay. The meet said the pervasive existence of torture within India is a crime deserving the fullest condemnation and punishment. Torture is a pervasive practice that has to be recognised as such and abolished immediately and completely. It goes against India’s international obligations and our Constitution and amounts to a denial of the right to a life with dignity. There must always be assured punishment for perpetrators. For those who survive the humiliating ordeal of torture, there must be assured restitution, compensation and rehabilitation. This is the right of every citizen. A resolution passed at the end of the meet wanted Parliament to immediately enact the Prevention of Torture Bill, incorporating within it the recommendations of the Select Committee of the Indian Parliament. This has been pending since 2010. It also wanted the Centre to pass a comprehensive statutory scheme for reparation and rehabilitation of torture of victims. There is now strong evidence of widespread impunity for illegal and appalling actions as a primary means of investigation when in custody and control of state actors and of torture being used as a means of coercing and subduing dissent amongst voiceless and vulnerable populations. These include large sections in the North Eastern region, Jammu and Kashmir, migrant labour, construction workers, unorganised workers, Adivasis and indigenous peoples, Dalits and India’s religious minorities who bear the additional burden of being often wrongfully associated with acts of terror. Within this women and children are especially vulnerable targets. Indeed, it is seldom recognised that children are victims of torture, often in the name of ‘disciplinary action’ in educational, care and custodial institutions. It called upon the police and armed forces in particular to acknowledge the practice and take all steps to eliminate it and punish perpetrators. (Asian Age 28/6/16)

MEDIA/ FREEDOM OF SPEECH

Accused surrenders in journalist murder case (1)

SIWAN: Laddan Mian , one of the main accused in journalist Rajdeo Ranjan murder case and a close associate of jailed RJD strongman Mohammad Shahabuddin, on Thursday surrendered before the Chief Judicial Magistrate court’s in Siwan. Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM) Arvind Kumar Singh remanded Laddan Mian to 14-day judicial custody. Mian, who is the resident of Ram Nagar area under town police station of the district, surrendered three days after the CJM court ordered pasting of notice to attach his properties. The notice gave two days’ time to Laddan Mian to give himself up to the police else his house would be attached. Following the issuance of notice for attachment, Mian’s three sisters had moved the court saying that they too had share in the properties for which notice was issued. Rajdeo Ranjan, district bureau head of a leading regional newspaper, was shot dead by unidentified men when he was going on his motorcycle near a fruit market on station road in Siwan on May 13.RJD strongman and four time former MP from Siwan Mohammad Shahabuddin has been shifted to Bhagalpur jail from Siwan after the incident. The Siwan police had on May 25 last arrested five persons from different localities of Siwan in connection with the killing of the journalist.The police had also recovered 7.65 bore country-made pistol used in the crime from one accused Rohit Kumar who the police claimed having confessed firing at the scribe. (Times of India 2/6/16)

Duta stir: Teachers divided over presence of Kanhaiya Kumar (1)

New Delhi: Members of various teachers’ associations were protesting at the UGC office on Monday while consultations were on with officials inside when Mr Kumar landed up there to show solidarity with the agitating teachers. However, he was not allowed to speak by a group of right-wing teachers who were vehemently opposed by a group of Left-wing teachers present at the protest. The fight later spilled over to social media with Delhi University Teachers’ Association (Duta) president Nandita Narain claiming that Mr Kumar was “heckled” and “humiliated” and that in future they have to face her first before reaching to the student leader. “It is most unfortunate that the JNUSU president who had come to express his solidarity to the teachers’ struggle, was heckled and humiliated by a handful of people,” Ms Narain said in a Facebook post. However, Abhishek Tandon, a DU faculty, posted that it is better to adopt the UGC amendment than to take support from Kumar. “All of us should unanimously condemn the presence of anti-nationals at the forum,” he said. (Asian Age 7/6/16)

Pained to see Udta Punjab going through this, says Aamir Khan (1)

Mumbai: The controversy over the much-talked of movie ‘Udta Punjab’ catapulted a notch higher on Wednesday (June, 8th) with Bollywood biggies throwing their weight behind the movie’s producer Anurag Kashyap. Cracking down upon the prevailing slew of allegations against Kashyap, Aamir Khan came out in support at an ’24’ trailer launch today in Mumbai. “It’s very unfortunate. Pained that the film is going through this. According to my knowledge, the film is based on drug addiction and it delivers a social message. I don’t think there is anything that should be cut or audience should be kept away from seeing. It reflects badly on CBFC (Central Board of Film Certification) and I hope the film gets justice at the tribunal.” The actor went further on and said that the voice of the film and filmmaker shouldn’t be throttled. “They should have a free voice to speak. Every Indian should have the right to freedom of speech. I read in media that CBFC has changed and they would certify film. So I’m a bit surprised to cuts being given. I find it shocking to hear.” For a while now, Shahid Kapoor-starrer ‘Udta Punjab’ has been making the headlines for one reason or another. In wake of the ongoing controversy surrounding Shahid Kapoor’s starrer ‘Udta Punjab, the Indian Film and Television Director’s Association along with ‘Udta Punjab’ team held a press conference on Wednesday where they addressed the media and put forth their perspective on the issue. Apart from Aamir Khan, Bollywood celebrities like Mahesh Bhatt, Imtiaz Ali, Kabir Khan, Zoya Akhtar, Arjun Kapoor, Vikram Bhatt, Karan Johar and Farhan Akhtar among others have extended their support to ‘Udta Punjab.’ (Asian Age 8/6/16)

Questions on human rights, tolerance disturb Modi’s American party (1)

Washington: Questions related to religious intolerance and violence, minority rights and the restrictions on civil society organisations in India have followed Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the U.S. The issues featured prominently in the conversation between Mr. Modi and President Barack Obama, according to senior U.S. administration officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity. Responding to a question whether human rights issues came up during the talks, Indian Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar, however, said: “No, I do not believe the subject came up today in the discussions.” In a related development, 18 members of the U.S. House of Representatives wrote to Speaker Paul Ryan, ahead of Mr. Modi’s address to the joint session of the Congress on Wednesday urging him to prioritise religious freedom in India during his meeting with Mr. Modi, “especially in light of ongoing violence and harassment against religious minorities, including Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, and Sikhs”. The group led by Republican Trent Franks and Democrat Betty McCollum, wrote: “Religious minority communities — including Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, and Sikhs — have endured ongoing violence and harassment for decades in India, and continue to live in a climate where known perpetrators commit violence with impunity. It is in the best interest of the United States and India to reaffirm religious freedom as a shared value in this growing partnership, and ensure that conversation concerning justice and accountability for such horrific acts of violence continues.” A U.S. official who briefed the media said these issues came up while the leaders discussed the rise of extremism. “While enhancing security measures, democratic freedoms must be protected. Issues related to the role CSOs, violence against minority communities were discussed in the context of the rise of extremism, and how this can be tackled in a democratic society,” the official said. The official said democracies have a particular challenge in dealing with extremism, as it has to deal with the problem without negating freedoms. Just as Mr. Modi and Mr. Obama were concluding their discussions, the U.S. Congress Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission began a hearing on “the current state of human rights in India, challenges to fundamental freedoms, and opportunities for advancement” on Tuesday. “…In spite of…constitutional protections, religious minority communities, including Sikhs, have experienced harassment and violence, often at the hands of Hindu nationalist groups, while impunity for the perpetrators of the violence persists. State-level “anti-conversion” laws allow government officials to decide whether conversions from Hinduism are legal – but choosing a religion is a private act that should not be subject to government regulation,” James P. McGovern, co-chairman of the Commission said. Deposing before the Commission as a witness, Musaddique Thange of the Indian American Muslim Council said: “The Prime Minister who is able to tweet birthday greetings to prominent people, took months before he even addressed the attacks on five churches and a Christian school, and even then his words fell short of an unequivocal condemnation. Mr. Modi’s response to the campaign of forced conversions to Hinduism, launched by extremist organisations like Vishwa Hindu Parishad, was to challenge the opposition to support the anti-conversion law that is generally implemented in a way that seeks to curb conversions out of Hinduism.” (The Hindu 9/6/16)

Punjab govt not contemplating any ban on ‘Udta Punjab’: SAD (1)

Chandigarh, Jun 11 () The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) today said the Punjab government was not contemplating any ban on Shahid Kapoor-starrer ‘Udta Punjab’, which is caught in a censorship row, and alleged AAP’s “hand” in the making of the film to defame the state. “I want to make it clear that SAD is not against films, media and creativity. It has always supported freedom of expression and freedom of press. It was the first to launch an agitation demanding freedom of press during Emergency in 1975,” said SAD secretary and spokesman and state Education Minister Daljit Singh Cheema. He said that the impression being created that his party was trying to censor the film was “absolutely untrue”.SAD also sought Election Commission’s (EC) intervention in the matter, urging it to convene an all-party meeting. Cheema asked Aam Aadmi Party convenor and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal to accept his party’s “role” in the making of ‘Udta Punjab’ as his “own tweets to welcome the film’s co-producer, Sameer Nair, have exposed the truth that the producer is an ‘active member’ of AAP”.”AAP which is denying any link with the producers of ‘Udta Punjab’ stands exposed with the CEO of Balaji Telefilms turning out to be a senior member of the party’s communication wing,” alleged Cheema. “Now, there is conclusive evidence that an active AAP member had a major role in the production of Udta Punjab,” he added. Urging AAP to stop “defaming” Punjabis, Cheema alleged that the party was all out to prove that Punjab is a drug haven. Urging the EC to convene an all-party meeting on the issue, Cheema said that though prior approvals are needed for every mode of campaigning after the model code of conduct for elections comes into force, this is the first time such an attempt is made to “defame” the state and its people by “financing a three-hour film”.Lashing out at Punjab Congress chief Amarinder Singh for his announcement to launch uncensored CDs of the film, Cheema said it was “highly shameful” that a senior leader was promoting films that have “vulgar, shameless, indecent and abusive language”. Cheema said the recent developments have proved that SAD’s contention of politics being played on the issue of drugs was “correct”.  (Times of India 11/6/16)

”Udta Punjab’ judgement victory for freedom of speech’ (1)

Mumbai, Jun 13 () Calling it a victory for freedom of speech and expression, the legal fraternity here welcomed the judgement of Bombay High Court today, in which it ordered the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) to certify Bollywood film ‘Udta Punjab’ within 48 hours. “It is a welcome judgement which advances the cause of freedom of speech and expression,” prominent human rights lawyer Mihir Desai told . Another prominent lawyer Uday Waranjikar said the freedom of speech and expression is not absolute, but regulated. However, if restrictions are unreasonable, then the court of law is the only remedy. “I feel that by virtue of today’s High Court order, the belief of common man in judiciary will strengthen,” he said. “I also feel artists have been given a greater responsibility by the HC order. I am sure artists shall stand up by the Court order,” he said. Noted lawyer Pranab Badheka said, “The High Court order is victory for freedom of speech and expression and freedom of creative ideas of the film fraternity.” The court has upheld the Fundamental Right of freedom of speech and expression and it is a victory for people with creative ideas, he said. The HC today asked the censor board to certify the drug-themed film within 48 hours to enable its release on the scheduled date of June 17. The CBFC’s revising committee had suggested 13 changes to the film before certifying it. However, Anurag Kashyap’s company, Phantom Films, which has produced the movie moved the HC challenging the order. Stay updated on the go with Times of India News App. Click here to download it for your device. (Times of India 13/6/16)

Mediapersons come under attack in Palakkad (1)

Palakkad: Three television journalists suffered serious injuries in an attack by alleged BJP-RSS activists on the premises of a magistrate court at Ottappalam, near here, on Tuesday afternoon. Their cameras and other equipment were also damaged in the attack. The activists turned violent when the television journalists attempted to take visuals of three BJP-RSS activists who were arrested in connection with a series of violent incidents at Nellaya, near Cherpulassery, targeting CPI(M) workers on Sunday and Monday. The arrested were being taken to the court when the incident occurred. The attackers, numbering around 15, threatened to murder the journalists. The injured have been identified as Asianet Palakkad bureau chief Shyam Kumar, Reporter TV correspondent Sreejith Kombala and City Channel cameraman V. Anoop. They were admitted to the taluk hospital with multiple injuries. The injured alleged that the police remained mute spectators when the incident occurred. The activists had asked for the identity cards of the television journalists on seeing them taking visuals. When the journalists refused to show it, they attempted to snatch the equipment resulting in the attack.Special Correspondent writes from Thruvananthapuram: Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has instructed the police to take stern action against the persons who assaulted mediapersons on the Ottappalam court premises on TuesdayA press note issued by the Chief Minister’s Office here said the government had the duty to protect media freedom. Any attempt to breach media freedom would be dealt with sternly. There would be no compromise on this. The incident at Ottappalam did not behove a democratic society, the press note quoted the Chief Minister as saying. (The Hindu 15/6/16)

Railways launches integrated social media platform for real-time grievance redressal (1)

NEW DELHI: Railways minister Suresh Prabhu launched integrated social media platform — Facebook & Twitter — for faster and real-time redressal of passengers’ grievances. Launching the service, Prabhu said, “I invite all Facebook users to interact with us on this platform and contribute to improve the services of Railways.” As of now, railways has been successfully handling more than 7000 tweets daily of various nature such as complaints, suggestions or assistance. After its immense success (more than 10 lakhs followers on Twitter), the railways has decided to interact with its fans and followers on Facebook through leveraging IT for prompt and speedy resolution of issues. The integrated social media platform is made functional from Wednesday for the posts received on Twitter and Facebook. The platform is a step forward in integration of various mediums of customer touch-points on Railways. An official said this step will strengthen our efforts of being a responsive and customer oriented organization.Any passenger or rail user can now post his grievance, suggestion or assistance on railways’ Facebook Page (“Ministry of Railways – India”).An official said that a system has been put in place to analyze the Facebook Post and the same will be forwarded internally to the concerned divisional railways manager (DRM) by the staff working round the clock in the social media cell at Railway Board.”Prompt action taken by the DRM on the grievance will be posted on the same page. This will be monitored at the Railway Board level in order to ensure that the grievances are redressed by the respective DRMs satisfactorily,” he added. (Times of India 15/6/16)

Report highlights rising dangers to internet freedom globally (1)

SAN FRANCISCO/ TORONTO: At least a dozen countries are considering or have enacted laws restricting online speech, a trend that is alarming policymakers and others who see the internet as a valuable medium for debate and expression. Such curbs are called out as a threat to the open internet in a report on internet governance set to be released today at an Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development meeting in Cancun, Mexico. The report, reviewed by Reuters, warns of dangers for the global internet, including intrusive surveillance, rising cybercrime and fragmentation as governments exert control of online content. It was prepared by the London-based Chatham House think tank and the Centre for International Governance Innovation, founded by former BlackBerry Ltd co-chief Jim Balsillie. China and Iran long have restricted online speech. Now limitations are under discussion in countries that have had a more open approach to speech, including Brazil, Malaysia, Pakistan, Bolivia, Kenya and Nigeria. Advocates said some of the proposals would criminalize conversations online that otherwise would be protected under the countries’ constitutions. Some use broad language to outlaw online postings that “disturb the public order” or “convey false statements” — formulations that could enable crackdowns on political speech, critics said.”Free expression is one of the foundational elements of the internet ,” said Michael Chertoff, former US secretary of Homeland Security and a co-author of the internet governance report. “It shouldn’t be protecting the political interests of the ruling party or something of that sort.” Turkey and Thailand also have cracked down on online speech, and a number of developing world countries have unplugged social media sites altogether during elections and other sensitive moments. In the US as well, some have called for restrictions on internet communications. …. Times of India 21/6/16)

Chhattisgarh: Journalist held for WhatsApp message gets bail (1)

Raipur: THE CHHATTISGARH High Court has granted bail to a Dantewada-based journalist, who was arrested in March for allegedly posting an “obscene message” about a senior Bastar range police officer on a WhatsApp group. Apart from provisions in the IT Act, Prabhat Singh had been charged in two cases of cheating and one of obstructing a public servant on duty, registered against him in 2015, but added to the charges later. The court has given bail on all four charges.In March, the police said Singh was arrested after a complaint about a WhatsApp message that read: “Patrakaar suraksha kanoon se keval unhen parhez hai jo already mama ki ***** mein baithe hai (Only those who are already sitting in mama’s have a problem with the journalists’ protection law). “Mama” is used by journalists to refer to a police officer. (Indian Express 23/6/16)

Social Media Day 2016 to explore the theme ‘Responsibly Digital’ in Ahmedabad (1)

AHMEDABAD: The city is all set to witness the 4th edition of ‘Social Media Day’ deliberations once again this year. ReDi, a joint collaboration between Simulations Public Relations, TejSolPro and Communicate Karo, brings ‘Social Media Day 2016′ to further the knowledge sharing on the trends and challenges of the intriguing world of digital media. Presented by Shivalik group, this year’s ‘Social Media Day’ will be hosted at Novotel Hotel on June 30, 2016 between 3 pm – 6 pm. The impact that social media generates around us need not be overemphasized. Addressing the diversity of this target audience is a challenge for all those who are still grappling to come to terms with the changing medium of communication. ‘Social Media Day aims at promoting discussions on the trends and challenges for the brands in the digital space. In the past three editions held in Ahmedabad, we have had digital mavericks from The Faking News, The Viral Fever, Exchange4media, Tech Mahindra, Ebay, Kotak Securities and Windchime Communications to address and deliberate on the visible shift in Social media and discuss relevant case studies. This year too, to take the #SMDay fervor a notch up, we have come up with a flurry of talk sessions that will provide much needed fodder to an avid virtual follower. With Social Media Influencers and Speakers known for their domain expertise on Digital forum, this is going to be one of the most sought after confluences of the #SMDay celebrations in Ahmedabad where one would get to listen to digital influencers of the likes of Heads from Logical Indian, HotStar, Instagram, UNICEF, Online news portal besides the Smart government leaders’”, said one of the organisers. A motley crew of people have been associated to decode the digital world in real time for the social media enthusiasts, consumers and brands. The event is presented by Shivalik Group and supported by Dezine Brains, Social Krossroads and Damson. Hats and Beards have joined hands as the Design partner whereas Novotel hotel has partnered as the hospitality partner for the upcoming Social Media Day 2016. (Times of India 27/6/16)

Workshop for media on coverage of child related issues (1)

CHANDIGARH: Chandigarh Commission for Protection of Child Rights organized a one day sensitization program for members of the Media on the reporting of child related issues. The primary objective of the workshop was to reinforce the knowledge on the role of Media in safeguarding children’s rights, to discuss the ethical framework on reporting issues related to children and to understand the importance of listening to children and their impression about media. Justice, S S Saron, Judge, Punjab and Haryana High Court-cum-Executive Chairman, Punjab Legal Service Authority was the chief guest for the program. Saron highlighted that electronic media has given a new dimension to print media. Saron also emphasized that wrongful reporting of cases are more detrimental and damaging than postponement of reporting. It is an important role of sub-editors to verify the report to maintain all the legal provisions which will ensure protection of child rights.Professor Devi Sirohi, Chairperson, Chandigarh Commission for Protection of Child Rights said, Media is the fourth pillar of democracy. Media tends to report on adult issues rather than children. Media should not only highlight issues relating to children but also suggest solutions. In order to bring greater support the media could also take-up impact on children of new financial and social policies. The Media needs to refrain from sensationalizing news on children. Prof Sirohi also highlighted that, “The Law prohibits the identity of child under POSCO Act and Juvenile Justice Act. She also underlined that children have the right to participation and be heard in matters concerning them”.The Resource person for the Occasion, Kannan Krishnaswamy, Consultant – Communications, said that children have the right to protection, development, survival and participation. He also highlighted the need of an ethical framework in the media coverage of children’s issues and negative stereotypes. He also spoke on the methodology to be used while reporting which needs to include verification of fact’s objectivity, research-based and taking the opinion of different stakeholders on the incident. …  (Times of India 26/6/16)

COMMUNAL RIOTS

2002 Gulberg case: Ahmedabad court convicts 24, acquits 36 (7)

Ahmedabad: A trial court in Ahmedabad on Thursday convicted 24 people of the 66 accused and acquitted 36 in the 2002 Gulberg society massacre case in which 69 persons were killed, including Member of Parliament Ehsan Jafri, and 31 persons were stated to be missing.Out of the 66 accused, six had died during the trial. Of the 24 convicted today, 11 have been charged with murder, while other 13 have been convicted for lesser offences. The court said that there is no evidence of criminal conspiracy in the case, while dropping section 120 B of the IPC. The 24 convicted includes VHP leader Atul Vaidya, BJP corporator Bipin Patel, Congress corporator Meghsinh Chaudhary and KG Erda, then police inspector of the area under which the Gulberg Society was located, are among those acquitted.Special Court Judge PB Desai acquitted 36 others including sitting BJP corporator Bipin Patel and also dropped the conspiracy charge (Section 120 B) against all the accused. The Supreme Court, which has been monitoring the case, had directed the SIT court to give its verdict by May 31. Of the 66 accused named by the SIT in the case, nine are already behind bars, while others are out on bail. Bipin Patel, who is acquitted in the case, is a sitting BJP corporator from Asarva seat. He was also corporator in 2002 when the massacre happened and won the election for fourth consecutive term last year. During the trial, riots victim’s lawyer had argued that the massacre was a pre-planned criminal conspiracy hatched by the accused to kill minority community members of the Gulberg Society.The defence had refuted the conspiracy theory of prosecution and claimed that the mob resorted to violence only after slain Congress MP Eshan Jafri fired several rounds at them. The Gulberg Society case is one of the nine cases of the 2002 Gujarat riots probed by the Supreme Court-appointed SIT. The incident had taken place a day after S-6 coach of Sabarmati Express was burnt near Godhra train station on February 27, 2002 during which 58 ‘karsevaks’ were killed. …  (Deccan Chronicle 2/6/16)

13 arrested after communal clashes in Roorkee (7)

Haridwar: Thirteen persons, including former Khanpur MLA Kunwar Pranav Singh Champion’s uncle, were arrested today in connection with the forcible evacuation of a scrapdealer’s shop which led to communal clash in Landhaura area of Roorkee. Champion’s uncle Rajkumar Krishna Singh and 12 others have been arrested in connection with the clashes that took place yesterday, leaving 32 injured, Manglaur Circle Officer Pratap Singh said. Singh has been charged with throwing a religious book and other objects kept in the scrapdealer’s shop as he wanted the scrapdealer to vacate the space that belonged to him, he said. The clashes had erupted after members of the minority community accused Singh of desecrating their religious book. The minority community members protested outside the residence of the Champion, hurling stones at it and torching four vehicles including two cars parked outside, the police official said. ITBP, RAF, local police and Provincial Armed Constabulary personnel staged a flagmarch in the area where prohibitory orders are in force to maintain law and order and instill confidence in people, the CO said . IG (range) Sanjay Gunjyal and DIG Pushpak Jyoti are camping in the area in view of the tension. Several BJP MLAs and Congress leaders, who tried to visit the area, were not allowed as it could add to the prevailing tension, the officer said. BJP MLAs Madan Kaushik, Sanjay Gupta, Yatishwaranand, former MLA Pradeep Batra and Congress leader Dhirendra Pratap were among those who were prevented from entering the area. Terming the violent protest outside his house as an attack on his life, Champion alleged it was orchestrated by Chief Minister Harish Rawat. Champion was among the nine Congress MLAs who revolted against Chief Minister Harish Rawat and later joined the BJP. “The chief minister orchestrated the attack on me as he cannot swallow the fact that I am with BJP now. My only fault is that after years of suffocation in Congress, I am breathing free in BJP,” Champion told reporters. Twelve police personnel were among 32 injured in yesterday’s clashes. Police had to resort to a lathicharge and fire several rounds in the air to disperse the clashing groups. (Business Standard 2/6/16)

 ‘Book Akhlak’s family for cow slaughter’ (7)

Lucknow: A group of BJP and Shiv Sena leaders, defying the prohibitory orders in place in Dadri, on Monday held a meeting in Bishahra, demanding action against the family of Mohammad Akhlak, who was lynched in September last by a mob over rumours that he and his family had eaten beef. Open threats and warnings were issued to the local administration that if it did not register an FIR against the family for cow slaughter, the village would witness public anger. “We give them 20 days. If there is no action against Akhlak’s family in that time, I cannot guarantee that I can control public anger,” said local BJP leader Sanjay Rana, who is also the father of Vishal Rana, one of the accused in Akhlak’s lynching. The police said on Monday that it won’t allow any panchayat or meeting in the village as it may lead to communal tension in the area. Gautam Budh Nagar District Magistrate N.P. Singh earlier in the day invoked Section 144 of the CrPc banning gathering of five or more persons in the district. Armed with the forensic report from a Mathura lab, which declared that the meat at the centre of the lynching was actually beef, Mr. Rana said, “We had been yelling at the top of our voices that a cow was slaughtered, but nobody listened to us then. That has been established now by the forensic report. The logical thing would be to do justice and punish the guilty by registering a case against Akhlak and his family for slaughtering a cow.” A recovery memo prepared by the police, however, revealed that the meat sample that was declared as beef by the Mathura lab was collected not from Akhlak’s house but from the place where the mob allegedly gathered to attack Akhlak. (The Hindu 6/6/16)

Gulberg Society case: Hearing on quantum of punishment adjourned (7)

Ahmedabad: A special sessions court on Monday adjourned the quantum of punishment to 24 people convicted for massacring 69 people at Ahmedabad’s Gulberg Housing Society in 2002. The 69 people were killed during the violence that took place in the predominantly-Muslim populated colony on February 28, 2002. Among those killed in the brutality was former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri. In his verdict 14 years after the massacre, special sessions court judge PB Desai on Thursday convicted 24 people, including Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader Atul Vaidya but rejected the charge of conspiracy.The court also observed that the quantum of punishment for an accused who has jumped parole cannot be pronounced. Arguments in the case will continue on June 9, when the quantum of punishment is likely to be pronounced. The prosecution has argued for life imprisonment, if not capital punishment, for all the accused, calling it a “rarest of the rare” case. It argued for equal punishment for all the 24 accused, as it was the case of mass murder. Of the 24, the court adjudged 11 guilty of murder and 13 guilty of lesser crime. Vaidya has been convicted for lesser crime under Section 436, among others, for attacking and burning shops and houses. The court declared 36 of the 66 accused as not guilty for want of evidence and ordered their acquittal.The massacre was one of the worst single incidents in the days-long riots in Gujarat that left more than 1,000 people dead. The incident came a day after a coach of the Sabarmati Express was burnt near Godhra train station in which 59 Karsevaks were killed. Zakia Jafir, the widow of the slain Congress MP, has termed the judgment as “half-justice”. She maintained that her battle in the case will continue in a higher court. (Hindustan Times 6/6/16)

Forced to migrate for work, UP gives ‘jobs card’ to riots displaced men (7)

MEERUT: Hundreds of men displaced by the Muzaffarnagar riots of 2103 that rendered over 50,000 homeless and killed 62 are being forced to migrate from Shamli in UP, where they had been given temporary shelter, to cities as far as Chennai, Kolkata and Bengaluru in search of livelihood as they have lost all documents in the violence and can’t even get jobs under National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) in the absence of it.Now, though, to ease their hardship the district administration has in a first lot cleared a list of 80 names to be given job-cards under NREGA. “On Friday morning, we received a list of 80 people who had been seeking employment under the NREGA. We asked the applicants to furnish some proof of identity with a photograph. They will have their job cards within the week,” said additional development officer (ADO) Manoj Kumar. Afkar India Foundation, an organisation working for the rehabilitation of riot victims, said that most displaced families lost all their documents after the riots, which made them ineligible for government schemes. As a result, they have had to migrate to other states such as Delhi, Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan for employment. Some have even gone as far as Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra as not many jobs can be found in this belt of western Uttar Pradesh. “After the riots, thousands were displaced. Countless others families were uprooted from their homes and wander around. Of these, close to 2,800 families came and settled in the neighbouring Shamli district. Some of these families were from Shamli district itself. It’s been almost three years since the riots and most of these families don’t even have ration cards yet, neither do they have water or power connections. They live in deplorable conditions and they resort to manual labour to make ends meet,” said Akram Akhtar, project manager at Afkar India Foundation, an NGO that works for the rehabilitation of riot victims. Akhtar added, “The authorities have known of this problem for a long time but they only started acting on Friday. To start with, these 80 people, who have some identification at least, have been marked for help. We have been asked to get their documents in place within a week. After that they will be put to work at a pond near Kandhla, which needs cleaning. It’s a good beginning.” (Times of India 10/6/16)

SIT to reopen 75 cases of anti-Sikh riots, complaints against Jagdish Tytler among those to be reinvestigated (7)

New Delhi: Ahead of the Punjab assembly elections early next year, the Special Investigation Team (SIT) constituted by the central government in 2015 has decided to reopen 75 cases related to the 1984 anti-Sikh riots in the capital. The decision comes in the wake of a letter submitted by Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on June 6. In his letter to the PM, Kejriwal had termed the investigation an “eyewash” and urged the Centre to look into the matter. “The SIT has failed to reopen even a single case. I urge you to either get your SIT to do something or kindly wind up this SIT and allow the Delhi government to set up an SIT for a proper investigation and get justice for the victims,” Kejriwal wrote. The cases to be reopened include the ones against Congress leader Jagdish Tytler, who was given a clean chit on his role during the riots, along with Sajjan Kumar and late HKL Bhagat. A total of 3,325 people were killed in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and other states in the riots after the prime minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated by her Sikh bodyguards on October 31, 1984. Delhi alone accounted for 2,733 deaths. The riots are considered to be one of the most violent cases of communal violence after Partition in 1947. The Human Rights Watch (HRW), in its 2011 World Report, had stated: “The government has yet to prosecute those responsible for the mass killings of Sikhs that followed the 1984 assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards. Delivery of justice for mass violence against Muslims in Mumbai in 1992-93 and in Gujarat in 2002 has been slow.” The GP Mathur committee, set up by Modi in 2014, had recommended the Centre to look into the various Sikh grievances in its January 2015 report. The committee, headed by former Supreme Court judge Justice (retd) GP Mathur, had submitted its report to Union home minister Rajnath Singh and recommended a fresh probe. In February 2015, the Centre constituted a three-member SIT chaired by Pramod Asthana, an Indian Police Service (IPS) officer of the 1986 batch. District and Sessions court judge Rakesh Kumar and additional deputy commissioner of police Kumar Gyanesh were the other members. The SIT was ordered to submit its recommendations within six months – a deadline that has overshot by almost a year now. In May 2016, the Centre approved increased compensation to 1,020 families, hit by the riots, who migrated to Punjab from different parts of the country. Punjab has been asked to reopen the cases for verification that will allow families to come forward and claim the enhanced compensation of Rs 2 lakh. Delhi had 237 anti-Sikh riot cases that were closed because of non-availability of victims or lack of evidence. After reviewing their documents, it has been decided to re-examine about 75 cases so far. Since the Modi government came to power, different Sikh groups have demanded reopening of cases. It has been 32 years since the riots and 10 commissions and committees have been formed. It was a long-standing demand of the Sikh community that an SIT be set up. The new development may be seen as a bid for one-upmanship between the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), ahead of the Punjab elections in 2017. (DNA 13/6/16)

11 of 24 convicts in Gulbarg Society massacre sentenced to life in jail (7)

AHMEDABAD: Eleven people convicted of murder in the Gulbarg Society massacre were sentenced to life in jail by a special SIT court on Friday. Of the 13 people convicted for lesser crimes, one was sentenced to 10 years in jail and 12 were given seven years in jail. The court said all the convicts will serve their sentences concurrently. Also, the court didn’t bar the state government from remitting the convicts’ sentences. That means, the convicts could end up serving shorter terms than they were sentenced to. As many as 69 people, including former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri were killed in 2002 in an attack on Gulbarg Society , a Muslim residential pocket here. “They are not a menace to society, the accused can be reformed,” said the court while delivering the sentence. Gulbarg Society, a Muslim residential pocket of about 30 bungalows and 10 apartment blocks in Ahmedabad, was attacked a day after the Sabarmati Express train was torched in Godhra. The massacre was committed on February 28, 2002 when Narendra Modi was Gujarat Chief Minister. This case’s trial lasted seven years and was conducted in front of four different judges. On June 2, the court had convicted 11 persons for murder and other offences, while 13 others, including VHP leader Atul Vaidya, were charged with lesser offences. The court has also acquitted 36 in the case. The 11 who were convicted of murder and who got life in jail are Kailash Dobhi, Yogendra Shekhwat, Jayesh Jinger, Krishna Kala, Jayesh Parmar, Raju Tiwari, Naran Channelwala, Lakhansinh Chudasma, Bharat Teli, Bharat Rajput and Dinesh Sharma. …  (Times of India 17/6/16)

Atleast 50,000 Muslims migrated after Muzaffarnagar riots: Asaduddin Owaisi (7)

Hyderabad: Asaduddin Owaisi, Owaisi, BJP, AIMIM, muslims BJP,Kairana, Kairana exodus, Muzaffarnagar riots, hindu muslim, hindu muslim conflict, india news Owaisi claimed “50,000 people had left their original places where they had lived for generations” after the Muzaffarnagar riots, and termed it as “mass uprooting” of minorities after country’s Independence. Claiming that 50,000 Muslims migrated after the 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots, AIMIM President Asaduddin Owaisi on Saturday asked the BJP if it would send a fact-finding committee there, akin to the one sent by it to Kairana on the issue of alleged migration of Hindus. The Hyderabad Lok Sabha member termed as “bogus” the list of 346 families who are alleged to have “fled” Kairana in Uttar Pradesh, adding that it suited the interests of both the BJP and the Samajwadi Party to create a “drama” over the issue. Owaisi claimed “50,000 people had left their original places where they had lived for generations” after the Muzaffarnagar riots, and termed it as “mass uprooting” of minorities after country’s Independence.“Would the BJP send a fact-finding committee? Would the BJP find some time to send delegation to find out what happened to those 50,000 people who are displaced? (after Muzaffarnagar riots),” he said. “Basically, they (BJP) have no other issue and this (Kairana issue) shows the real face of BJP that all this talk of development, ‘sab ka saath sab ka vikas’, is all a farce…unfortunately, they are being helped by Samajwadi Party,” Owaisi claimed. “It suits both BJP and Samajwadi Party. Politically, BJP wants to create a fear among majority community. Samajwadi Party wants to give a message to Muslims that you are insecure if you don’t elect Samajwadi Party. So, this drama suits both BJP and Samajwadi Party,” he said. When such issue are in the forefront, Samajwadi Party is happy as it does not have to answer questions on their failure to deliver and on “misgovernance”, he said. Owaisi said the AIMIM would contest the Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, due early next year, but added that it was too early to give the number of seats that it would contest. He said his party was open to forging an alliance in Uttar Pradesh. “Yes. I have no issue if such a proposal comes. We are open for alliance but we will have to wait and see what happens.” (Indian Express 18/6/16)

Clashes in Ranchi after man killed in land row (7)

Ranchi: The district police on Tuesday lodged three FIRs at BIT Mesra police outpost against some identified and scores of unidentified people for rioting (IPC 146/147) and for assault and deterring a public servant from performing his duty (IPC 353) besides a case of murder (IPC 302). Angry after the murder of a local land dealer, people of Nevari, a locality on the outskirts of the city, on Monday night torched 10 houses, more than a dozen vehicles and attacked a police party which tried to intervene to stop them. Nasim Ansari was killed on Monday evening. “A friend called him to a nearby village and hacked him to death. Nasim’s friend was injured in the incident. There were some business disputes which led to his murder,” officer-in-charge of BIT Mesra police outpost Anand Kishore Prasad said. The news of the murder spread in the village, infuriating the people. People claimed that a person who is an outsider (who has settled in the village from outside) killed him. It caused an outsider versus local tension in the area. Nevari is a newly developed locality where there were only a few houses a few years ago. Many Muslim families who do not originally belong to Ranchi have purchased cheap land and settled here. The divide between the outsider and local is sharp in the locality even though most of them are Muslims. “It was not a communal situation because the victims and the rioters were both Muslims. The bone of contention was the murder of a local by a person who people claimed is an outsider,” city SP Kaushal Kishore said. (Times of India 22/6/16)

Tension over graveyard land dispute in Varanasi village (7)

VARANASI: Communal tension gripped Gaharpur village of Kapsethi area when people of a community attacked the last procession of a Muslim woman in which a youth Arshad alias Kaju Ali (21) was killed on Wednesday. Angered over it participants of last procession stopped burial process. They blocked the Babatpur-Kapsethi road with the body of Arshad and staged a violent demonstration. After rushing heavy police force district magistrate VK Anand and SSP Akash Kulhary reached the incident. Officials ensured arresting of four including the main accused Vijay Singh and also assured to provide compensation to the family of Arshad. It helped in pacifying the situation but in view of tension prevailing there the officials decided to camp there till the process of burial of both bodies completed late in the evening. According to reports, Nasirun (36), wife of Suleman of Haribhanpur village, had died due to some ailment at her residence on Tuesday. To bury her body at the graveyard of Gaharpur village Suleman, his relatives and people of community carried out the last procession. When they reached the graveyard and started process for burial the former gram Pradhan (village head) Vijay Singh along with his dozens of supporters reached there and stopped Suleman from burying the body of his wife by claiming that such land was his personal property. On getting information SDM Rajatalab Tribhuvan Ram and SO Kapsethi AK Mishra reached there and ensure measuring of graveyard land. After completing this exercise they allowed Suleman to bury the body in demarcated area. However, Vijay and his supporters raised objection again after which both the groups clashed. In the meantime Vijay and his supporters indulged in brick batting in which Arshad was killed while several others including officials of district administration and police also suffered injuries. Many vehicles were also damaged in this violence. On the alert sounded by the SDM and SO Kapsethi heavy police force was rushed to the incident site from different police stations and police lines while DM and SSP also reached there. Police used force to disperse the gathering. But, people of Suleman’s community reached on Babatpur-Kapsethi road with the body of Arshad and blocked it. Taking note of their agitation DM and SSP assured them to arrest all assailants and book them under NSA. The DM also assured to provide compensation to the family of Arshad. Suleman and his group gave a complaint to lodge a named FIR against 19 persons in this connection. The SSP also engaged many teams for nabbing the accused persons after which Vijay and his three accomplices were nabbed. Following these developments Suleman and people of his community agreed to call off their stir and hand over the body of Arshad for postmortem examination. Kulhary said that additional police force and PAC was called at Gaharpur before the arrival of the body of Arshad following postmortem to avoid recurrence of untoward incident during the process of burial of the bodies of Arshad and Nasirun late in the evening. (Times of India 22/6/16)

Violence in Malerkotla after holy book desecrated (7)

Malerkotla: Forty-two people were injured while vehicles parked near ruling Shiromani Akali Dal legislator Farzana Nissara Khatoon’s residence were torched as a mob went on rampage in Punjab’s Malerkotla following desecration of a holy book on Friday night. Police reinforcements were rushed to the Muslim-dominated town in Sangrur district on Saturday from six districts to maintain order.The violence was triggered after some unidentified people in a blue Mahindra Scorpio moved around the town and allegedly threw torn pages of the Quran around 9.30pm. A Muslim cleric pacified a crowd that gathered at the scene and started shouting slogans against the government. He asked them to leave the matter for the police to investigate as he collected the torn pages and buried them at Billu Shah Kabristan. As people dispersed, another group of protesters reached the spot and set the vehicles afire. Later, Muslim, Hindu and Sikh leaders met on Saturday and assured authorities they would help calm people down.Chief minister Parkash Singh Badal condemned the desecration while urging people to remain calm. He said nobody would be allowed to disturb hard-earned peace and communal harmony. Khatoon’s husband, Mohammad Izhar Alam, accused the Congress of the desecration. (Times of India 26/6/16)

Muzaffarnagar: Three injured in clash (3)

Muzaffarnagar:Three persons were injured when a clash broke out between two communities in Toda village, Muzaffarnagar, police said today. The incident occurred on June 26 when two persons, Mastram and Ashu, had a fight over the boundary of their fields. The situation soon turned violent as members from both the communities reached the spot and started hitting each other with sticks, Station House Officer Arvind Kumar said. The injured persons– Mastram, Harendra, Brahm Singh–have been admitted to a local hospital and the situation is under control, he said. (Indian Express 27/6/16)

COMMUNALISM

Hundreds to gather in Goa to work towards Hindu nation (26)

PANAJI: The fifth all India Hindu convention (AIHC) will be held in Goa from June 19 with the objective to establish Hindu nation. The convention is been organized by Hindu Janajagruti Samiti. The convention will undertake in depth deliberation and finalize common action programme to be implemented by the Hindu organizations and sects on contributing towards the interests of the nation and Dharma, similarly, declaring Bharat as the Hindu nation, Nagesh Gade organizer, AIHC said. He also said that the resolutions in the interest of Hindus will also be passed in the convention. Beside delegates from India, delegates from Nepal, Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Bangladesh are expected to attend the convention. The last Hindu convention was attended by more than 400 representatives of 200 Hindu organization from 21 states. (Times of India 2/6/16)

Dadri lynching: Kin of accused threaten to hold mahapanchayat (26)

Dadri: Family members of those accused of beating Mohammad Akhlaq to death have threatened to hold a mahapanchayat if an FIR against Akhlaq’s family, on charges of cow slaughter, is not registered by Sunday evening. Akhlaq, 50, was killed by a mob at Bisara village in Uttar Pradesh’s Dadri district following rumours of cow slaughter and beef consumption in September last year. Sanjay Rana, a local BJP leader and father of one of the 18 accused, met Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh Saturday over the issue. “I had met Rajnath Singh along with eight other residents of the village. We raised the issue of registering an FIR against Akhlaq’s family on charges of cow slaughter. He has assured us that he will speak to the state government and justice will be served. We have decided that if police does not register an FIR by Sunday evening, we will call a panchayat in the village Monday, where our next course of action will be decided. We will also announce the date of the next mahapanchayat on the issue.”He added, “We have requested Pankaj Singh, son of Rajnath Singh and general secretary of the BJP in UP, to guide us”. A report by a forensic lab in Mathura had stated that the sample sent to the lab belonged to “cow or its progeny”. After the report became public, some Bisara residents had approached the local police station in Jharcha and filed a complaint against Akhlaq’s family for “killing a calf (bull)”. The police have maintained that they are investigating the allegations made in the complaint. On Saturday afternoon, some leaders of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) also visited Bisara to meet, according to them, “Hindu victim families falsely framed by the state government”. Surendra Jain, international joint general secretary of the VHP, said, “Their children are innocent, they have not committed the crimes that they have been charged with. They should be released.” He added, “Akhlaq was declared a martyr and his family was provided with money and flats. The families have demanded that these be taken back and given to soldiers who have died at the country’s border.” (Indian express 5/6/16)

BJP, Hindutva elements raising communal tensions over beef consumption in UP (26)

New Delhi: The CPI-M on Wednesday accused the BJP and “Hindutva elements” of trying to raise communal tensions over a “so-called beef consumption” issue in Uttar Pradesh. “The killing of Mohammad Akhlaq and the attack on his family (at Dadri in Uttar Pradesh in September 2015) is now sought to be diverted to the issue of cow slaughter and beef consumption,” the CPI-M said. Utilising an alleged report of a forensic lab in Mathura that a piece of meat found, that too not in Akhlaq’s house, was beef, a meeting in the village has demanded that cases be registered against the family members of Akhlaq, the Communist Party of India-Marxist said in a statement. “A 20-day ultimatum has been given to the administration to act in the matter with the warning that failure to so do will lead to ‘public anger’. “A minister in the Modi government, Sanjeev Balyan, who was implicated in cases connected with the (earlier) Muzaffarnagar riots, has made a provocative statement demanding a probe to find out who all had consumed beef besides Akhlaq,” the CPI-M statement said. “Other BJP leaders have demanded action against Akhlaq’s family members. “All these statements are being made with the intention of stoking communal tensions and is part of the wider gameplan of the BJP to create a communal polarization in Uttar Pradesh before assembly elections next year,” it said. The CPI-M urged the Uttar Pradesh administration to file cases against Balyan and others for inciting communal hatred. “The Uttar Pradesh government should deal firmly with all those elements who are trying to incite communal passions and provoke violence. “There should be no laxity in prosecuting all those accused in the Akhlaq murder case.” (Zee News 8/6/16)

CPI slams Sadhvi Prachi’s Muslim-free India remark (26)

New Delhi: Condemning VHP leader Sadhvi Prachi’s “Muslim-free India” remark on Wednesday, CPI accused right wing outfits of creating “communally-charged atmosphere” eying Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls. The party also asked the Centre to take action against those making such “provocative” statements. “They are creating such a situation. . .they think hatred can be spread against a particular community to polarise people on communal line,” said CPI national secretary, D Raja. Raja said it is all happening because UP is going to polls in 2017. “They want communally charged up atmosphere ahead of the polls,” he said. He urged people and “particularly those from UP” to see into the “sinister designs” of Sangh Parivar behind such statements and “not fall prey” to the same. “. . . the Union Home Ministry must also take action against those who are making such atrocious and provocative statements,” the 67-year-old parliamentarian said. On Tuesday, VHP leader Prachi had said it is time to make India “free of Muslims”. Known for courting controversies, she had claimed the mission of a “Congress-free India” has already been “accomplished” and it is now time to “rid the country of Muslims”. (Indian Express 9/6/16)

Hindu men, go home and worship your manhood: VHP leader Pravin Togadia (26)

Jambusar : Blaming growing “impotency” among Hindu men for the decline in share of the community in the country’s population, VHP leader Pravin Togadia Friday exhorted them to “go home and worship your manhood”. Addressing a gathering at Jambusar in Bharuch district to induct fresh blood into the saffron outfit, he asked Hindu couples to have more children to counter the growing numbers of Muslims in India. He also blamed “love jihad” and conversion to Christianity for slipping percentage of Hindu population. Amid chants of “Jai Shree Ram”, Togadia said: “Ab to Hindu ghatega nahi, badhega … Dharmantaran ko na, ghar wapsi ko haan; love jihadko na uniform civil codeko haan; Bangladeshi Muslim ko na… Hindu gharon me bachche paida karo (Now, the population of Hindus will rise… say no to conversion and yes ghar wapsi; say no to love jihad and yes to uniform civil code; say no to Bangladeshi Muslims… have more children in Hindu households).”He appealed to the youth to give up tobacco – one of the reasons for “impotency”. Showing a product “prepared” by him, Togadia, who is also a doctor, said, “This is a product that I have created. It is available for Rs 600, but I’m giving out to you for Rs 500 here. Take this to your wife, ask her to mix it with your meals so that you remain potent and continue to produce children.” He also stressed on protection of cows and chose Jambusar — a town where Muslims form 30 per cent of population — to argue his point. “If we (Hindus) increase our number, will anyone in Jambusar have the audacity to slaughter a cow?” Questioning “government’s policy of development without offering protection to Hindus”, the VHP leader said, “You are making bullet trains, smart cities, but who will travel in the trains if there is no Hindu?” At the event, around 50 youths accepted trishuls or tridents, taking a pledge to “never misuse the trishul and use it for protection of the dharma; and to never use it on a fellow Hindu.” (Indian Express 11/6/16)

VHP leader Sadhvi Prachi booked in Unnao for hate speech (26)

KANPUR: The Unnao Police on Tuesday registered an FIR against controversial VHP leader Sadhvi Prachi for making derogratory remarks against a particular community.The FIR was registered against Prachi in Sadar Kotwali police station on the complaint of one Sandeep Kumar of Bahujan Mukti Morcha, who stated that Prachi made a statement in Uttarakhand on June 8. Station House officer of Sadar Kotwali Sanjay Pandey told TOI that the FIR has been registered under Section 153 A (Promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion), 153 B (Imputations, assertions prejudicial to national-integration), 504 and 505 of the IPC.Known for stoking controversies, Sadhvi had claimed the mission of a Congress-free country has already been completed and it is now time to make India free of Muslims. “Now that we have achieved the mission of making a India free of Congress, it is time to make India Muslim-free,” Sadhvi had said in Roorkee. Pandey said that though the FIR has been registered in Unnao, it would be transferred to Uttarakhand as the matter belongs to their state territory. (Times of India 14/6/16)

RSS training women in lathi and unarmed combat (26)

Agra: After almost a decade, the women wing of the RSS, Rashtriya Sevika Samiti, has organised a self-defence training camp in Agra.About 500 young girls, including techies, MBA and BTech, are being trained to fight with 6 feet long ‘lathis’ and unarmed combat (Niyudh) for self-defence. Talking to TOI, RSS Sevika, Anjula Mahor, said the 18 days camp, which started on June 5, at Saraswati Vidya Mandir had seen participation of 500 women from across western UP and Uttrakhand. She said the participants are in age group of 14 to 45 years and belong to all strata’s of the society.Mahor said that the “path Sanchalan” (training) would be conducted on June 21 and the trainees would publicly display their talent at a function. She said the motive behind such camps is to “empower” the women to protect themselves in adverse situations. Besides, ‘dand’ (lathis) and ‘niyudh’ (unarmed combat), these girls are also being trained for group discussion and other activities so they can easily open up and communicate their thoughts effectively, said Mahor. She said the RSS has been organising such camps every year across the state. (Times of India 17/6/16)

VHP survey on ‘decreasing’ Hindu numbers in Uttar Pradesh (26)

Lucknow: AMID THE controversy over the alleged exodus of Hindu families from Kairana, Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) has started a state-wide survey in UP to identify areas where population of Hindus has decreased in comparison to Muslims over the years. In a three-day meet in Patna beginning June 23, around 225 VHP office-bearers from across the country would discuss Kairana and other areas, where the population of Hindus has allegedly gone down. They would also decide on an action plan to prevent further migration of Hindus from these areas.“The VHP has often raised the issue. But the situation is very serious in UP. Hence, when the Kairana issue was highlighted in the media, all district units were asked to identify areas where the population of Hindus has decreased,” VHP national joint general secretary Surendra Jain said. He added: “Till Saturday, we received a list of 60 areas in western UP where Hindus were in majority 30 years ago. But now, Muslims are in majority there.” In most of these areas — Meerut, Muzaffarnagar, Saharanpur, Sambhal, Shamli, Amroha, Bijnor and Rampur — Hindu population has come down from 15 per cent to 8 per cent, claimed Jain. Many of these areas are surrounded by Hindu-dominated localities and villages. (Indian Express 20/6/16)

Ayodhya and Kairana high on Sangh Parivar’s UP strategy (26)

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi may speak of a ‘development’ agenda for Uttar Pradesh ahead of state assembly elections due next year, but the BJP’s parivar is carrying out a parallel agenda of ‘Pro-Hindutva’. Issues like the construction of a Ram temple in Ayodhya and the alleged ‘exodus’ of Hindus from Kairana have become the core of this strategy. The two issues have been center stage for the parivar in the last few weeks. BJP MP Yogi Adityanath recently remarked that no one can stop a Ram temple from being constructed in Ayodhya. Adityanath has often raised this demand in the past but his latest remark assumes significance as it comes soon after the controversy over Kairana ‘exodus’ in western UP. The local BJP MP Hukum Singh claimed that 346 Hindus families had to flee the town over past few the years and although the state government probed the list provided by Singh and rubbished the allegations, the BJP continues to be on the offensive: its fact finding committee of MPs and MLAs who visited Kairana, backed Singh’s list in its report which they gave to UP Governor Ram Naik and demanded a CBI inquiry into the matter.For over two weeks now, the BJP has been criticized by the entire opposition for trying to polarise voters in western UP along communal lines by hyping up the Kairana issue. At the national executive meet in Allahabad, the party discussed Kairana. During the two day-meet, Kairana received more media coverage than the Narendra Modi government’s achievements in its first two years. Meanwhile, sources in the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) said that Adityanath had attended the ‘Sant Sammelan’ organised in Ayodhya last week to mark the birth anniversary of Nritya Gopal Das, head of Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas, a body formed to look after the Ram temple construction in Ayodhya. Adityanath met Nritya Gopal Das at the sammelan where sants from across the country had assembled and unanimously resolved that construction of the Ram temple should be started at the earliest. Another BJP MP Sakshi Maharaj too has been supporting the demand for the Ram temple. …. (Indian Express 22/6/16)

HJS to support Nepal for a Hindu rashtra (26)

Panaji: The Hindu Janajagruti Samiti (HJS) at its recently-concluded 5th All India Hindu Adhiveshan at Ponda resolved to campaign to address issues plaguing society. Addressing a press conference along with senior HJS functionaries, Ramesh Shinde, national convener, on Wednesday said that they have adopted eight resolutions, prominent among them being the exploration of all legal options to declare India a Hindu rashtra. It also resolved to extend complete support to Hindus from Nepal fighting for a Hindu rashtra as well. Its other resolutions are that the central government should bring a nationwide ban on cow slaughter and ensure its stringent implementation, demand an investigation into atrocities on Hindus in Sri Lanka and Bangaladesh. Since the Bangladesh government has failed to protect Hindus there, the Hindus should be allowed to have a separate homeland in Bangladesh. (Times of India 23/6/16)

VHP to launch awareness campaign on exodus of Hindus (26)

Patna: Amid reports of alleged exodus of Hindus from a western Uttar Pradesh town, Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) working president Praveen Togadia today said the organisation will soon launch a nationwide awareness campaign on the migration of the Hindus. “VHP has passed a resolution expressing serious concern over the exodus of Hindus in free India. Exodus of Hindus are taking place everywhere right from Kerala to Kashmir, Assam, West Bengal and Maharashtra,” Togadia said. “Thousands of villages and towns are witnessing exodus of Hindus. VHP would soon launch a nationwide awareness campaign to apprise the Hindus of the magnitude of their exodus,” he said while addressing the meeting of its governing council, VHP’s top decision making body. Togadia demanded that the Centre set up a Commission to probe the reasons behind exodus of Hindus in the country besides suggesting ways as how to resolve the issue. Giving a slogan ‘Palayan nahi Parakram’ for Hindus, Togadia said VHP would carry out a survey as how to provide security to Hindus in areas from where they are forced to migrate due to security reasons. The issue would be discussed during the two-day meeting of the governing council, he added. “We know there are over 200 places in Western Uttar Pradesh where exodus of Hindus have taken place. I am not saying this because there is an election in UP. We don’t want to make the exodus a political issue for any party,” he said. Exodus of Hindus is happening everywhere in the country including Jammu and Kashmir where Hindus could not be rehabilitated so far, Togadia said terming it as the biggest violation of human rights. Accompanied by VHP’s international president Raghav Reddy and joint general secretary Surendra Jain, he said the government should also take action against those because of whom Hindus were forced to migrate in their own country. He also asked state governments to take care of the human rights violations of the majority community. Togadia also demanded that the Centre come out with ‘Common Population Control Policy’. (Business Standard 26/6/16)

VHP warns of Kairana-like Hindu exodus from Bhopal (26)

Indore: The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) will launch a nationwide awareness campaign over the alleged exodus of Hindus from Muslim-majority areas, its leader Surendra Jain said on Monday, declaring that some Bhopal localities too are on verge of becoming Kairana. Kairana in western Uttar Pradesh became a political hot potato after its parliamentarian, Hukum Singh of the BJP, released a list of 346 families who he said were forced to flee the Muslim-dominated town.“The Hindu families left under duress,” he alleged, giving right-wing organisations fodder to ratchet up the issue of Hindu safety before next year’s assembly election in UP. The VHP has a list of other Kairanas in the country, especially in the Madhya Pradesh capital, the organisation’s joint general secretary and chief spokesperson Jain said over the phone from Patna. ‘VHP will stand by people who migrate from their place because of fear‘ “We have received signals. We will verify it and then take steps to stop it. We will not allow other Kairanas to happen anymore. VHP will stand by people (Hindus) who migrate from their place because of fear or alienation,” Jain said. This is among three major resolutions the VHP passed at its four-day biannual Kendriya Prabandhan Samiti or governing body meeting in Patna on Monday. Bhopal on the VHP’s radar for the past few yearsBhopal, which was ruled by Muslim princely rulers and has large pockets of Muslim population, was on the VHP’s radar for the past few years, collecting details about the socio-economic status of inhabitants and demographic changes. The organisation’s Patna conclave resolved to launch awareness drives in villages and cities where it said Hindu exodus has happened. In another resolution, it called for promoting social harmony by encouraging upper-caste Hindus to establish social ties with Dalits through invitations to weddings and family functions. The move is seen as an attempt by the VHP to rid the Sangh Parivar of the slur of ignoring the lower castes. “High-caste people should treat Dalits as family members and have same affection like they have for their own family. This will end social discrimination,” the resolution stated. (Hindustan Times 28/6/16)

TERRORISM

ISIS man recruited, sent Indians to Syria, Iraq: NIA to Court (12)

New Delhi: The NIA on Friday filed a charge sheet in a case pertaining to banned terror outfit ISIS outlining the modus oprandi of a 23-year-old alleged operative in identifying, radicalising, recruiting and sending Indians to join the terrorists in Syria and Iraq. The probe report, filed before District Judge Amar Nath, refers in detail to the role of accused Naser Packeer who was working as a web and graphics designer in Dubai. The National Investigation Agency, which has arrayed over 22 persons as witnesses, has also made his father Packeer Mohammad a prosecution witness. “In furtherance to its larger conspiracy under its leadership, members of terror groups Islamic State (IS) or Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) or Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL)…, in connivance with a few resident, and non-resident Indians have been indulging in identification, redicalization, recruitment, training and finally transfer of Indian youths to countries like Syria, Lybia, Iraq for terror acts. “For that purpose, members of the above terror groups have been using different channels/services available on internet, telephone and one to one meeting,” the charge sheet said. The sources said that the charge sheet, which was filed in court during an in-chamber proceeding, alleged that Naser, who hails from Tamil Nadu and was arrested in December last year, was involved in a conspiracy to recruit Muslim youths in India to join ISIS and shift them to Iraq and Syria to carry out terror attacks and wage war in India. The charge sheet further said that the accused, who did B Tech from a Chennai college before leaving for Dubai in 2014, used several internet based websites including Twitter, WhatsApp and Youtube to spread the base of terror organisation in India and the world. It also said that the assistance of USA through Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty and internet giants like Google and Twitter was sought in the investigation against the accused. The agency said, “The services of internet have been used by recruiters, trainers and members of above terror organisations for indoctrinating and motivating Indian Muslim youths for travelling to countries like Syria, Libya, Iraq for taking part in terror activities.” “As a result, a few known and unknown Indian youths have expressed their solidarity, allegiance and support to ISIS in different forms and left India and joined ISIS,” it claimed. NIA has claimed that several incriminating documents and articles like laptop, mobile phones, pen drives and DVDs have been recovered from the possession from the accused. “The main inspiration to motivate youths to join ‘Jihad’ were the lectures from some Islamic scholars on YouTube. The twitter account being used by the accused with the i.D. Of ‘Abu Khalid Al Hind’ was being used to deliver provocative and inciting contents and calling upon like-minded people to wage Jihad and join ISIS,” the agency said in the charge sheet. The charge sheet has been filed for the alleged offences punishable under sections of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) and the Indian Penal Code (IPC). The court has now fixed June 9 for considering the charge sheet filed by the NIA and extended the judicial custody of the accused till that date. The agency had filed an FIR in the matter on December 9 last year against unknown persons on inputs received from the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA). On October 5, 2015, Naser was apprehended by Sudani authorities for concealing his identity and trying to join ISIS in Syria. Later, he was deported to India on December 10, 2015. (Zee News 3/6/16)

 ‘5 nations including India accounted for 55% terror attacks in 2015’ (12)

Washington: Five countries including India, Pakistan and Afghanistan accounted for more than half of the terror attacks that took place across the globe in 2015, a U.S. official has said. “More than 55 per cent of all attacks took place in five countries, India, Pakistan, Iraq, Afghanistan and Nigeria,” acting U.S. Coordinator for Counterterrorism Justin Siberell said in a news conference on Thursday. “And 74 per cent of all deaths due to terrorist attacks took place in five countries, Pakistan, Iraq, Afghanistan, Nigeria and Syria,” he said, adding the figures are based on the data compiled by the University of Maryland. Although terror attacks took place in 92 countries in 2015, they were heavily concentrated geographically, as they have been for the past several years, Mr. Siberell said. The total number of terrorist attacks in 2015 decreased by 13 per cent as compared to 2014, he said while releasing the annual Country Reports on Terrorism. “Total fatalities due to terrorist attacks decreased by 14 per cent, principally as a result of fewer attacks and deaths in Iraq, Pakistan, and Nigeria. This represents the first decline in total terrorist attacks and resulting fatalities worldwide since 2012,” the official said. “At the same time, there were several countries, including Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Egypt, Syria, and Turkey, where terrorist attacks and total deaths increased in 2015,” he added. The United States and its partners around the world face a significant challenge as they seek to contend with the return of foreign terror fighting forces from Iraq and Syria, the risk of terrorist groups exploiting migratory movements, and new technology and communications platforms that enable terrorist groups to more easily recruit adherents and inspire attacks. “ISIL (ISIS) remains the greatest terrorism threat globally. Despite the losses it sustained last year. ISIL continued to occupy large areas of Iraq and Syria,” Mr. Siberell said. ISIL’s territorial control in Iraq and Syria reached a high point in spring 2015 and began to diminish thereafter, he said, adding, it is worth noting that they did not have a significant battlefield victory in Iraq after May last year and by the end of 2015, 40 per cent of their territory in Iraq had been liberated. This number has continued to increase in 2016, he said. Responding to a question, Mr. Siberell said the number of terrorist attacks in Pakistan decreased in 2015 as compared to 2014, which was a particularly violent year in Pakistan. “The Pakistani government undertook a robust response against a number of militant groups and throughout that end of 2014 into 2015,” he said. “Pakistan is a key counterterrorism partner and we have an ongoing conversation with the Pakistani government for the need to address militant activities in Pakistan and it will remain a key partner in confronting terrorism in the South Asia region,” Mr. Siberell said. (The Hindu 3/6/16)

Global threat from Islamic States remains high: UN chief (12)

UNITED NATIONS: The global threat emanating from Islamic State (IS) remains high, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has said in a report. The continued military pressure exerted in Iraq and Syria by international coalition forces has led to serious military setbacks for IS, Xinhua quoted Ban as saying in the report issued on Monday. “However, even though the territorial expansion of IS in both states (Syria and Iraq) has been halted and, in part reversed over recent months, many (UN) member states have noted that IS is not yet strategically and irreversibly weakened.” “A worrying factor is that no member state has reported that IS is short on, or lacks, arms or ammunition,” he said. Over the past six months alone, “Islamic State has carried out, inspired, or claimed responsibility for, terrorist attacks in Bangladesh, Belgium, Egypt, France, Germany, Indonesia, Lebanon, Pakistan, the Russian Federation, Turkey and the US,” he said. “The attacks have killed more than 500 individuals and injured hundreds more.” National law enforcement agencies continue to investigate those attacks, but it is already clear that they were coordinated by foreign terrorist fighters who had returned to Europe from IS-held territory in Syria, Ban noted. “This demonstrates the ability of IS returnees to quickly link up and draw on the support of established radical networks and supporters of Al-Qaeda and thereby enhance their newly acquired terrorism skills with local knowledge and support,” he said. The secretary-general also said: “Significant numbers of foreign terrorist fighters continue to travel from states around the world to join IS in Iraq and Syria.” He said this while citing a report from a member state saying that around 38,000 individuals may have attempted to travel to the region in the past few years.”Countermeasures taken by states to detect and deter foreign terrorist fighters, and increased controls at the borders of Iraq and the Syrian Arab Republic, may be affecting the numbers of such fighters able to join IS.” The UN Security Council has maintained that IS, also known as Daesh, poses a threat to international peace and security, calling upon all UN member states to fight the terrorist group, including making the joint efforts to cut off funds for it. Ban called for strengthened international cooperation to fight IS and other terrorist groups in the world. (Times of India 7/6/16)

NIA court convicts UNLF chief, 17 others (12)

Guwahati, June 8 : The NIA Special Court at Guwahati on Wednesday convicted chief of Manipur-based outlawed organisation UNLF Raj Kumar Meghan and 17 others under various sections of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and the Indian Penal Code and sentenced them for seven to ten years of imprisonment. A statement issued by the National Investigation Agency said that while the United National Liberation Front chairman Meghan and Joy Singh were awarded ten years of imprisonment, the others were sent to seven to eight years of imprisonment. The NIA had submitted the chargesheet against Meghan and 17 others in 2010 for various offences including criminal conspiracy of terrorists acts and waging war against the Government of India. Besides Meghan, the 17 convicted include Th. Herojit Singh, Sougaijam Rakesh Singh, Oinam Somorjit Singh, Wayenbam Noren Singh, Naba Kumar Singh, Kh. Jeeten Singh, Sinam Gune Singh, Mutun Ibohal Singh, KM. Chingakham Bambem Chanu, Londhoni Devi, Moniton Singha, Ningombam Dilip Singh, M. Joy Singh, N. Bomi Singh, Y. Brajabidhu Singh and A. Ibomcha Singh. (New Kerala 9/6/16)

Islamic State claims third attack in week on Bangladesh minorities (12)

Dhaka: Islamic State has claimed responsibility for 21 of the attacks since its first claim in September last year and Al-Qaeda has claimed most of the rest, according to SITE. Islamic State claimed responsibility for the killing of a Hindu monastery worker who was stabbed to death in Bangladesh, a monitoring service tracking militant online activity reported a day after the slaying. It was the third killing of a member of religious minorities in the mostly Muslim country that the group has taken responsibility for in the past week. The claim was carried by Islamic State’s Amaq news agency, Site Intelligence Group, a U.S.-based monitoring service, reported on Saturday. Police said unidentified assailants attacked Nitya Ranjan Pandey (60), while he was walking in the northwestern district of Pabna early on Friday morning. “He was found lying in a pool of blood,” district police chief Alamgir Kabir said, adding that no one saw the attackers. Hundreds of suspects have been held across the country after police launched a week-long crackdown on militants after a wave of gruesome killings. In the past week alone, an elderly Hindu priest and a Christian shopkeeper were hacked to death – both of which Islamic State claimed responsibility for – and the Muslim wife of a counter-terrorism police official was also killed. Militants have killed more than 30 people in Bangladesh, including members of religious minorities, liberal bloggers and academics, since February last year. Islamic State has claimed responsibility for 21 of the attacks since its first claim in September last year and Al-Qaeda has claimed most of the rest, according to SITE. The government denies either group has a presence in Bangladesh and says domestic militants are responsible. Five suspected members of the outlawed Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen were killed in shootouts after the woman was stabbed and shot dead on Sunday. Last month, police announced 1.8 million taka ($23,000) in rewards for information leading to the arrest of six militants of Ansarullah Bangla Team, another outlawed group they believe is behind the violence. Analysts say a climate of intolerance in Bangladeshi politics has both motivated and provided cover for perpetrators of religious hate crimes. The government blames the growing violence on political opponents linked to Islamist parties, that it accuses of seeking to create chaos and prevent courts from going ahead with war crimes trials related to the 1971 war of independence. The opposition party denies the accusations. Hindus and Christians make up about 10 percent of Bangladesh’s 160 million population. (The Hindu 11/6/16)

Babri demolition, Godhra riots led youths to al-Qaeda: Delhi Police (12)

New Delhi: Indians joining Al-Qaeda were moved by the 1992 Babri mosque demolition and 2002 Godhra riots and were committed to establish base of terror outfit Al-Qaeda in Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) here, Delhi Police has told a court in Delhi. In its charge sheet filed against 17 accused, the Special Cell of the Delhi Police said for the purpose of jihad, some of them had gone to Pakistan and had met Jamat-ud-Dawa (JuD) chief Hafiz Saeed, Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) chief Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi and several other dreaded terrorists. “While delivering jihadi speeches in various mosques, he (arrested accused Syed Anzar Shah) met Mohd Umar (one of the absconding accused) and they discussed atrocities on Muslims in India, especially Godhra and Babri Masjid issues. Umar was impressed with his jihadi ideology and speeches and committed himself to the cause of jihad and expressed the desire to receive arms/ammunition training from Pakistan,” the charge sheet filed before Additional Sessions Judge Reetesh Singh said. It said that Umar was operating from Pakistan. Police said arrested accused Abdul Rehman had provided safe hideouts in India to Pakistani militants Salim, Mansoor and Sajjad, all members of Jaish-e-Mohammed, who were later killed in a shootout in Uttar Pradesh in 2001. These three Pakistani militants had come to India to take revenge of Babri Masjid demolition and had planned to attack Ram Mandir in Ayodhya but got killed, the charge sheet claimed. The police named in its charge sheet 17 accused, 12 of whom are absconding, for allegedly conspiring, recruiting Indian youths and establishing a base of AQIS here. In its final report, the agency has charged five arrested accused — Mohd Asif, Zafar Masood, Mohd Abdul Rehman, Syed Anzar Shah and Abdul Sami — for alleged offences under the provisions of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA). All the 17 accused were listed in the charge sheet for alleged offences under sections 18 (punishment for conspiracy), 18-B (punishment for recruiting of any person for terror act) and 20 (punishment for being member of terror organisation) of the UAPA. The accused were arrested between December 2015 and January 2016 from different parts of the country. The probe agency has alleged that al Qaeda was trying to set up its base in India under the banner of AQIS and some youths from districts of western Uttar Pradesh had already left India and joined its cadre in Pakistan. It said that one of the modules of the outfit was active in Sambhal district in Uttar Pradesh. It alleged that the accused were in touch with terrorists from Pakistan, Iran and Turkey via social media and mobile phones, and they had visited these countries and had also financed AQIS and motivated the youths for jihad. Besides the five arrested accused, the agency also named in its charge sheet 12 others who are at large and the court had earlier issued non-bailable warrant against them. The absconding accused are Syed Akhtar, Sanaul Haq, Mohd Sharjeel Akhtar, Usman, Mohd Rehan, Abu Sufiyan, Syed Mohd Arshiyan, Syed Mohd Zishan Ali, Sabeel Ahmed, Mohd Shahid Faisal, Farhatullah Ghori and Mohd Umar. The FIR in the present case was registered after arrest of Asif on December 14 last year. (The Hindu 12/6/16)

13 ISIS loyalists killed, seven others wounded in Nangarhar province (12)

KABUL: At least 13 loyalists of the ISIS terrorist group were killed and seven others wounded during the clearance operations in eastern Nangarhar province. The operations were conducted in Achin and Deh Bala districts of Nangarhar province with the support of the Air Force and Artillery units, Khaama Press reported the Ministry of Defence as saying. The operations were conducted in the aftermath of an attack by ISIS loyalists on police headquarters of Haska Mina, which killed the district police chief along with five other cops. The Afghan forces have stepped up counter-terrorism operations targeting the ISIS loyalists as the terror group is trying to expand its foothold in the country. In the meantime, the Afghanistan National Security Council (NSC) approved in principle the strategy to fight the ISIS terrorist group, reports Khaama Press. The NSC has instructed relevant institutions to take all necessary actions to destroy the terror group and prevent terrorist activities in the country. (New Indian Express 13/6/16)

39 Indians kidnapped by ISIS in Iraq are alive: Sushma Swaraj (12)

New Delhi: The 39 Indians, kidnapped by the dreaded ISIS in Iraq in June 2014, are still alive, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said, dismissing reports about their killing and insisting that efforts to trace them are on. In her annual press conference, Swaraj said the government was was trying its best to ensure safe release of Judith D’Souza, an aid worker and resident of Kolkata, who was abducted by suspected militants in Kabul on June 9. The External Affairs Minister also said India was in touch with top authorities in Bangladesh after a priest of Rama Krishna Mission in Dhaka received death threat. About 40-year-old Judith, Swaraj said “We are trying our best. The way we are going ahead, I think it will be resolved soon.” Replying to a question on the 39 Indians kidnapped around two years back by ISIS militants from Mosul town, Swaraj said she did not have “any proof of their killing than the statement of Harjit Masih.”Masih, who had managed to flee from captivity of the ISIS, claimed all the 39 Indians had been killed. Swaraj questioned Masih’s claim saying two heads of states in the Gulf region told her, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Pranab Mukherjee that the Indians were alive. “I am not giving false assurance. If I had confirmation that they were killed, then definitely, I would have sought apology from their families with folded hands and said they were killed. Their killing in such a situation in Mosul in Iraq would not have been blamed on me. “When I say they are alive, I have taken on myself a major responsibility of tracing them….Nobody except Harjit Masih said they were killed. I will do injustice to them if I say they have been killed. It is my the responsibility to (find them) and I will not shy away from it,” Swaraj said, adding “I do not abandon any Indian national.” When asked about the death threat to a priest of the Ramakrishna Mission in Dhaka, Swaraj said, “It is very unfortunate. It is painful for us. We are in touch with top authorities.” Replying to a question on a spate of targeted attacks and killings of Hindus and other non-Muslims in Bangladesh, Swaraj said the Sheikh Hasina government is leaving no stone unturned in coming down hard on people who are involved in these incidents. “More than 3,000 people have been arrested. Sheikh Hasina is taking strong action. More than this, I am happy that Islamic clerics and religious leaders have issued a fatwa saying these kinds of activities are anti-Islamic and it has been signed by one lakh religious leaders,” she said. Swaraj said the government was drafting a policy to help persecuted minorities in various countries. She said the government will help people of all religions and not only the Hindus. (Indian Express 20/6/16)

Kabul attack victims’ kin in state of shock, disbelief (12)

DEHRADUN: In the small village house of Purohitwala, on the outskirts of Dehradun, the family of Ganesh Thapa has been wailing ever since they got a phone call from Kabul about his death in a terror attack on Monday morning. In the twin attacks which rocked the Afghanistan capital, 14 Nepalese security contractors were killed when a suicide bomber hit a minibus carrying them in Kabul. In another such incident, eight people were killed when a motorcycle bomb exploded in a crowded market in Badakhshan province. While Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, PM Narendra Modi condemned the attack in which two Indians, two Indians Ganesh Thapa and Govind Singh, both Dehradun residents, were killed. The first confirmation of the terror strike came when external affairs ministry spokesman, Vikas Swarup tweeted: “First the office in Kabul had informed me about the incident. It was very shocking for all of us. We never expected that something like this would happen.” In Dehradun, the tragic news spread like a wildfire and the Gorkhali Sudhar Sabha, (GSS), a city-based organization, swung into action to trace the families and provide them help. GSS president Col (Rtd) BS Chetri said: “We are in touch with both the families and providing them all the help in coordinating with the district administration and other government agencies. Govind Singh’s family and his mother are inconsolable because he was married just two years ago.” Chetri told TOI that Govind, a resident of Chandbani village, was a very down-to-earth person and used to call his family in Dehradun daily before joining the duty in Kabul. Thapa’s family has been devastated since Monday afternoon when they got a call from Kabul about the terror strike. They got a call from the company that catered security guards to the embassy. Govind Singh’s family also came to know about the incident during the same time….. (Times of India 21/6/16)

Eight CRPF troopers killed, 22 injured in LeT fidayeen attack in Kashmir (12)

SRINAGAR: Eight CRPF men were killed and 20 others were injured on Saturday as their convoy was ambushed by militants of Lashkar-e-Toiba outfit. The attack was one of the deadliest on security forces in the recent past.  Both the militants involved in the attack were also killed in the firing. Authorities, at this point, are unable to ascertain if there were more militants involved in the attack. The CRPF convoy was ambushed on Srinagar-Jammu national highway in Pampore area of South Kashmir’s Pulwama district.  According to police, around 4:35 pm, militants armed with sophisticated weapons rained bullets on a 161 bn CRPF vehicle, some 13 km away from Srinagar. The vehicle was part of a convoy returning to Srinagar from South Kashmir after a firing practice session. “The militants fired indiscriminately on the bus. They fired on the bus till they were engaged in a gunfight by Road Opening Party of CRPF,” sources said. “23 CRPF men were injured in the firing of which  three succumbed to injuries in the army hospital,” sources added. Two AK rifles and some ammunition were recovered from the encounter site. CRPF spokesman in Srinagar Bhuvesh Kumar told Express that five of the injured jawans are critical and are undergoing surgery. Immediately after attack, top police and CRPF officials visited the spot to take stock of situation. They inspected the bus that was attacked by the militants. Meanwhile, Pakistan-based militant group Lashkar-e-Toiba has claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement released by the outfit. Saturday’s attack was one of the deadliest in the Valley since the 2013 attack on an army convoy in Hyderpora area in Srinagar that killed eight army men. Earlier, on June 3, a BSF convoy on Srinagar-Jammu national highway was ambushed at Anantnag district killing three BSF personnel. (New Indian Express 25/6/16)

Pampore attack: Rajnath Singh sends tough message to Pakistan (12)

Fatehgarh, June 26 : Giving out a strong message to Pakistan, a day after a militant attack in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pampore area killed eight para-military personnel, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said India will not keep its count on the bullets it will fire if Pakistan fired one bullet to the other side of the border. We will make sure we never fire the first bullet. If Pakistan fires one bullet then we will not even think about keeping a count on the bullets that we are going to fire, Singh said. Pakistan based terror outfit Lashar-e-Taiba has claimed responsibility of the militant attack on a CRPF vehicle near Pampore on Srinagar-Jammu highway on Saturday which left eight security personnel killed while injuring 22. Two Lashkar militants were shot dead during retaliation fire while two more militants fled from the spot, officials said. This is the deadliest attack since 2013. On June 24, 2013 militants ambushed an army convoy at Hyderpora Bypass in Srinagar, killing eight army soldiers. (New Kerala 26/6/16)

Suspected Islamic State suicide bombers kill 36 at Istanbul airport (12)

Three suicide bombers opened fire then blew themselves up in Istanbul’s main international airport on Tuesday, killing 36 people and wounding close to 150 in what Turkey’s prime minister said appeared to have been an attack by Islamic State militants. One attacker opened fire in the departures hall with an automatic rifle, sending passengers diving for cover and trying to flee, before all three blew themselves up in or around the arrivals hall a floor below, witnesses and officials said. The attack on Europe’s third-busiest airport is one of the deadliest in a series of suicide bombings in Turkey, which is struggling to contain the spillover from neighboring Syria’s civil war and battling an insurgency by Kurdish militants in its southeast. Police fired shots to try to stop two of the attackers just before they reached a security checkpoint at the arrivals hall, but they detonated their explosives, a Turkish official said. “It became clear with this incident again that terrorism is a global threat. This attack, targeting innocent people is a vile, planned terrorist act,” Prime Minister Binali Yildirim told reporters at the airport. “There is initial evidence that each of the three suicide bombers blew themselves up after opening fire,” he said, adding that they had come to the airport by taxi and that preliminary findings pointed to Islamic State responsibility. The vast majority of those killed were Turkish nationals but foreigners were also among the dead, the official said. … (Deccan Herald 29/6/16)

NAXALS/ MAOISTS

Citing ill health, 3 women naxals surrender (12)

Visakhapatnam: Three women Maoists including a divisional committee leader who carried a reward of Rs 8 lakh on her head surrendered before the Visakha Rural police on Wednesday. Divisional committee leader Kudabala Lakshmi alias Sarita (29) of Chamagedda village in GK Veedhi mandal, area committee member Bonangi Ramulamma alias Bharati alias Saroja of Labadampalli village in GK Veedhi mandal and Tambelu Tummu alias Vijaya (24) of Tartal village in G Madugula mandal had apparently decided to surrender due to severe oppression by the security forces, ill health and differences with senior leader and east division secretary Chalapati. Addressing the media here where the three woman naxals were present, Visakha Rural SP Rahul Dev Sharma said Sarita joined the Maoists rank and file in 2000 as a Jana Natya Mandali (JNM) cadre. She was inducted into the naxal military formation in 2003 and worked as bodyguard to central committee member Vadkapur Chandramouli. “She was a military trainer and the only woman selected for central military training from all the naxal-affected states in 2008. She was sent to the Andhra-Odisha Border (AOB) as a central military instructor. She has trained almost all the squads in the AOB and was promoted as deputy commander for the first central regional committee (CRC) company, the military wing of the naxals,” The SP said. There are 30 cases registered against Sarita in Visakhapatnam district alone and an unknown number of cases in Odisha and Chhattisgarh. Sarita was also involved in eight exchanges of fire with security personnel. “The cadre was demoralised with the attitude of senior leader Chalapati, who did not have cordial relations with the party members. After senior leader Kudumula Venkata Rao alias Ravi and Azad died, there was a gap in leadership,” Sarita told the media and claimed that many more cadres would surrender in the future due to differences with Chalapati.Bonangi Ramulamma had worked in Korukonda and Pedabayalu and also in Chattisgarh. There are around 23 police cases registered against her in Viakhapatnam including at Darakonda outpost and Anakapalli police station. Ramulamma was also involved in eight exchange of fire incidents and ambushes and carried a reward of Rs. 4 lakh on her head, Sharma said. Vijaya, the third woman naxal who surrendered on Wednesday, had fled the movement along with her husband few months ago and settled in a village on the Orissa border and she returned to her native village Tartal recently after the death of her husband, the SP said. After she learned of the surrender of a few woman naxals including Lalita, she decided to follow suit, he said. Vijaya was involved in the kidnapping of Malkangiri collector Vineel Krishna in 2011 and carried a reward of Rs. one lakh on her head. Meanwhile, the SP said Bharati worked in Korukonda and Pedabayalu areas as well as in Chhattisgarh. “There are around 23 police cases against her in Visakhapatnam district qand an unknown. She was involved in the attack on the Anakapalli police station and in eight exchanges of fire and ambushes. The government had announced a reward of Rs 4 lakh on Ramulamma,” he said. The other woman naxal Vijaya and her husband had left the Maoist dalam and settled in a village along the Odisha border. Her husband died recently and she returned to her native village Tartal, where she came to know of the surrender by her colleague Lalita and decided to surrender herself as well. She was involved in the kidnap of former Malkangiri collector Vineel Krishna in 2011. (Times of India 2/6/16)

Naxal leader carrying a bounty of Rs2L arrested (12)

Raipur: A female Naxal leader carrying a cash reward of Rs 2 lakh on her arrest, fell in police net during a search operation carried out by security personnel in forested Pakhanjur region of insurgency-hit Kanker district, police said here on Saturday. A team of police personnel consisting of District Force  had started from Partapur police station on a search operation. While carrying out the operation at Dogejhora village a suspected woman was spotted, who was nabbed, Sub-Divisional Officer of Police (SDOP) Pakhanjur Jai Prakash Badhai informed. She was later on identified as Pandri alias Ansila (22) resident of Amatola in Chhotbethiya police station limits of the district. “She was a member of military platoon number 5 of banned organisation Communist Party of India (Maoist). She was involved in the murder of man Lalit Ram Dugga, who was killed on April 3 this year’’, the SDOP said. The State Government had declared reward of Rs 2 lakh on her arrest, he added. The held ultra had joined Maoist cadre in February 2009 as a member of Local Organising Squad (LOS) Medhki. In March 2011 she was shifted to platoon number 5. She was actively involved in spreading Maoist ideology and connecting more people with Naxal organisation, the SDOP said. (The Pioneer 5/6/16)

Maoist leader denies links with BJD (12)

Bhubaneswar: Incarcerated Maoist leader Sabyasachi Panda on Wednesday denied having received any money from ruling BJD. A day before, former Union minister and founder of Samata Kranti Dal, Braja Kishore Tripathy alleged Rs 45 lakh was transferred from BJD’s account to that of Panda. “I do not have any account in ICICI Bank in Ganjam district as claimed by Tripathy. I have not received any money from BJD. His allegations are baseless,” Panda told media persons while being produced in a court in Gajapati district. Earlier Tripathy claimed to have possessed a document, showing financial dealings between BJD and Panda. “I am in possession of documents that Rs 45 lakh was transferred from BJD’s SBI, Bhubaneswar account No. 10091755246 to Sabyasachi Panda’s ICICI Bank Chhatrapur branch (Ganjam district) account No. 203601501728 on April 10, 2014,” Tripathy had told media persons at Delhi. He further alleged that a day earlier, on April 9, 2014, Rs 1 lakh was transferred from Panda’s account to the BJD account through cheque. Tripathy alleged BJD had links with Maoists and had used the rebels for electoral gain. BJD denied the allegations. Hours after Tripathy’s serious allegation, the BJD spokesperson Amar Prasad Satapathy described the charges as baseless. Panda, accused in several cases including the killing of VHP leader Laxmanananda Saraswati in 2008 that triggered a fierce ethno-religious conflict in Kandhamal and adjoining districts, was arrested from Berhampur in Ganjam district in the late night of July 17, 2014. Police said Panda is accused in 61 cases, and apart from Laxmanananda’s murder, he is believed to be involved in the abduction of two Italian nationals in March 2012 and killing of at least 25 cops apart from looting of the armoury in Nayagarh in February 2008. He is also accused of killing 34 civilians. Panda had in August 2012 formed his own extremist outfit, Odisha Maowadi Party, after he was banished by the CPI (Maoist), of which he was secretary, Odisha State Organizing Committee. (Times of India 8/6/16)

Naxal menace brought down in 2016 with 76 killed (12)

New Delhi: At least 76 Naxals were killed and 665 arrested by security forces in the Left Wing Extremism-hit areas in the first four months of 2016, Home Ministry officials said. Security forces have achieved greater success in tackling Left Wing Extremism in recent times and there was 30 per cent decline in violence perpetrated by Maoists this year.PTI (The Hndu 9/6/16)

Chhattisgarh CM becomes ‘personal guide’ for children from Naxal-infested region (12)

Raipur: In a rare gesture aimed at bridging the gap between the VIPs and the common folks, Chhattisgarh Chief Minister became a ‘personal guide’ for around hundred children from Chhattisgarh’s Naxal-infested Kondagaon region and took them for a tour of his residence. He was seen discussing about trees and birds with the children, studying in 6th, 7th and 8th standard. The children, who hail from highly naxal affected district of Bastar, were invited to spend two days in Raipur. The group from Kasturba Vidyalay and Bal Ashram, comprising mainly of girls, were taken to the science city and the planetarium. They were also taken to a shopping mall and to watch a movie. Ironically, 17 of these children are orphans and most of them have left their native villages for the first time. (Indian Express 12/6/16)

Naxals urged to surrender (12)

ADILABAD: Adilabad Superintendent of Police Vikram Jeet Duggal on Monday urged naxalites to surrender and join the mainstream. He specifically asked Maoist Area Committee member Athram Shobhan alias Charles, hailing from Rompalli in Tiryani mandal to surrender. The call came when the SP met relatives of the Maoist at their home in the remote village which he visited apart from Thatiguda, Gundala, Mangi, Tokkiguda and Kheriguda. He interacted with Charles’ maternal uncle Parchaki Jaithu and explained to him the rationale behind the surrender. Mr. Duggal was accompanied by a team of doctors besides Additional SP (Operations) T. Panasa Reddy and Bellampally DSP A. Ramana Reddy. The doctors who accompanied the SP gave a check-up to locals in all the villages. Mr. Duggal underscored the need for improvement in relations between the police and the public. He said this would go a long way in controlling Maoism. The police officials broke bread with tribals at Mangi village. At Gundala, he asked villagers to send their children to school and assured free coaching to the eight youngsters from Gundala and Thatiguda who cleared preliminary exam for police constable recruitment. The police party gave away sports kits to youths. They also gave away books and school bags to schoolchildren. (The Hindu 14/6/16)

Fact-finding team flags fake encounters in Bastar (12)

NAGPUR: A fact-finding team of the All India People’s Forum (AIPF), which visited four districts of the Bastar region of Chhattisgarh last week, has castigated the State police and security forces for alleged fake encounters, rapes, fake cases, arbitrary arrests and fake surrenders by Maoists. An eight-member fact finding team of the AIPF, led by Kavita Krishnan, the secretary of All India Progressive Women’s Association, and assisted by tribal activist Soni Sori, also concluded that the Christian minorities in the region faced communal violence. Listing incidents, the team said: “Three village boys — Dudhi Bhima, Sodhi Moya and Vetti Lachchu were killed in a fake encounter by the police on November 3, 2015 in Arlampalli village of Sukma district. No FIR has been registered in the case yet. Four women — Rame, Pandi, Sunno and Mase were killed in another fake encounter on November 11, 2015 at Nagalguda village of Dantewada district. One of them was raped before being killed. Two small girls — Siriyam Pojje and Manjam Shanti — were killed by the police in cold blood on January 31, 2016 near Palamagdu village of Sukma. Police declared the girls as Maoists. However, villagers say they had no connection with the Maoists. A married couple was killed by the police on May 21, 2016 near Kadenar village of Bijapur district and branded as Maoists. But the couple had left the Maoist movement five years ago, claimed the AIPF fact-finding team in a press statement. The team also alleged that 22 DRG (District Reserve Guard) jawans were decorated and promoted for Nagalguda encounter “in spite of the fact that rewarding jawans for encounters is against NHRC guidelines and Supreme Court guidelines for encounters”.The team also questioned the police version of large scale surrenders in Chintalnar area of Sukma and claimed that most of the cases of surrender in this area were “not genuine”. The team claimed that the villagers resisting violations of the Forest Rights near Raoghat Mines in Kanker district were facing “repression and intimidation”. “Two AIPF teams covered 1,650 km encountering more than 60 police and CRPF camps. But In the 25 villages that the teams visited, the villagers were insecure and suspicious of each other. In these four districts, political groups and other organisations are rather inactive, suggesting that the scope for democracy has shrunk there. Most of the villages were without electricity, without roads and lacking in education and health facilities,” the team said. (The Hindu 14/6/16)

3 ‘senior-level’ Naxals killed in encounter on the Maharashtra-Telangana border (12)

Nagpur: ON HIS fourth day as the new Superintendent of Police of Gadchiroli, Abhinav Deshmukh led an inter-state operation along with the Adilabad police in Telangana to kill three senior-level Naxals in an encounter on the Maharashtra-Telangana border Sunday. The deceased were later identified as Mangi divisional committee member Charles alias Athram Shobhan (31), a resident of Adilabad district, Indarveli area committee member Mukesh (25) and Mangi area committee member Dinesh (18), both from Chhattisgarh. While Charles carried a reward of Rs 16 lakh, while the other two carried that of Rs 6 lakh each, said a press note issued by the Gadchiroli police. “This is a major success for the police, since all three were very senior cadres,” Deshmukh told The Indian Express.“We had intelligence input about movement of a Telangana-based dalam in the Kotapali forest near Vyankatapur in the Aheri tehsil of the district. So, along with the Telangana police, we conducted a joint operation in the area. Around 6 am on Sunday, an encounter ensued between police and the Naxals. After about 40 minutes of gunbattle, the Naxals ran away. But we recovered three bodies from the spot along with an AK-47, an SLR and a .303 rifle,” said the SP. With Sunday’s casualties, the total number of Naxals killed in encounters with the police in Gadchiroli this year has gone up to eight. Earlier this year, five woman Naxal cadres were killed in different encounters in the district. Deshmukh took over as SP from Sandip Patil on June 15. Patil has been transferred to Satara where Deshmukh was his predecessor. (Indian Express 20/6/16)

Maoists claim responsibility for Aurangabad explosion (12)

Aurangabad: Maoists on Monday took responsibility for Sunday’s blast at Khadiha canal under Deo police station area of Aurangabad district. A CRPF commando was killed and two others were injured in the attack. In a statement, central zone committee spokesman of CPI (Maoist) Pranjeet said the blast was a revenge of Bandh-Goreya “fake encounter” in which four of their colleagues were killed by the security personnel. Meanwhile, police have detained more than 12 persons in connection with Sunday’s blast. A three-member Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) team from Patna collected samples from the blast site on Monday to ascertain the kind of explosive used to trigger the blast. A police official said on the condition of anonymity that top Maoists Nitesh and Pramjeet may have been involved in the blast. A massive manhunt has been launched in the district to arrest the Maoists involved in the attack. Zonal IG N H Khan said anti-Maoist operation would be intensified in the area. “The Rohtas and Gaya police have also been asked to join the operations,” said the IG. Three cylinder bombs planted on Deo-Kanchanpur road had exploded when the commandos of 205th CoBRA unit were on an anti-Maoist operation in the area following information about the presence of ultras. Aporva Deka of CRPF’s CoBRA unit, who hailed from Assam, was killed in the attack. (Times of India 21/6/16)

Jharkhand wants 5 more batallions of CRPF to fight Naxals (12)

New Delhi, June 24 () Jharkhand today demanded five battalions of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) to combat Naxalism in the state. Making the demand, state Chief Secretary Rajbala Verma laid stress on the need to strengthen telecommunication and mobile network to control Naxalism. Verma took part in a meeting to review the progress of development works undertaken in the Left Wing Extremism (LWE) affected states. The meeting was held in the pressence of Home Minister Rajnath Singh. “In order to control Naxal problem in the state, Verma demanded five battalions of CRPF to run a special drive in 13 focus areas including Latehar, Banalat, Pesrar, Parasnath, Balumath etc,” an official statement said.Verma urged the Centre to increase the network of banks and post offices for financial inclusion in LWE districts so that Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana, MUDRA Yojana, Kissan Credit Card Yojana, Fasal Beema Yojana and others are effectively implemented. Noting that at presentl only 1500 bank branches are in operation in 4402 panchayats of the state, she said that increased number of bank branches, post offices, computerized sub-post offices will boost financial inclusion and also increase post office’s role in financial exchanges specially in payment of MGNREGA wages. “The CS laid stress on the need to strengthen telecommunication and mobile network to control Naxalism in the state,” the statement said. Noting that new radio and television transmission centres are the need of the hour, Verma conveyed during the meeting that at present proposals for 900 mobile towers are pending in the state and out of the five radio transmission centres, not even a single one lies in Santhal Pargana Commissionery. Verma also asked the Centre to increase the 5 per cent funds given under NRHM for health-related basic infrastructure, primary health centres and sub-centres and make it expense-flexible. She also asked the Centre to minimize the requirement of land for Central School and Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya from 10 acre and 25 acre respectively to 5 acres so that the pending 8 Central Schools and 11 Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas can be opened. She also urged the Centre to exclude linear projects like canal, tele-communication from the need of acquiring forest clearance. Stay updated on the go with Times of India News App. Click here to download it for your device. (Times of India 24/6/16)

Ten naxals surrender in Chhattisgarh (12)

Raipur, Jun 27 () As many as 10 Naxals including eight women today surrendered in Chhattisgarh’s insurgency-hit Bastar district citing increasing pressure of security forces and “atrocities” on them by senior cadres, police said. “The rebels turned themselves in before senior police and administration officials at Jagdalpur district headquarter,” Bastar Superintendent of Police RN Dash said. Among them was Asanti Kashyap, an active member of LGS (Local Guerilla Squad), carrying a reward of Rs 1 lakh on her head, he said. Seven other women cadres identified as Manisha Markam, Rekha Madkami, Sonadai Yadav, Ayte Madkami, Jajbo Podiyami, Hidme Podiyami and Sanko Podiyami surrendered along with two male rebels — Bheema Madkami and Hadkami, Dash said. They belonged to different lower rank squads of the banned outfit like janmilitia and Kisan Adivasi Majdoor Sangthan. “In their statement, they all expressed disappointment with the empty ideology of the outlawed naxal movement and violence. They also spilled about atrocities meted out to them by their senior cadres,” the SP said. Moreover, they were also impressed with the provisions of surrender and rehabilitation policy of the state government which compelled them to join the mainstream, he added. Four of them belonged to Kanger Valley Area Committee while six others, including two men, were active in Katekalyan Area Committee under the Darbha Division of Maoist which has been instrumental in executing several deadly naxal attacks in south Bastar, Dash said. Both strong area committees of Maoists had suffered a setback with the recent surrender of cadres in large numbers, he said, tagging it as a major success for Bastar police. They all will be facilitated as per the surrender and rehabilitation policy, he added. Notably, a total of 350 Naxals and their supporters have surrendered in Bastar district since December last year, Dash said.  (Times of India 27/6/16)

Ten Naxals surrender in Bastar district (12)

Raipur: As many as 10 Naxals, including eight women, surrendered in Chhattisgarh’s insurgency-hit Bastar district on Monday citing increasing pressure of security forces and ‘atrocities’ on them by senior cadres, said police. “The rebels turned before senior police and administration officials at Jagdalpur district headquarters,” Bastar superintendent of police, RN Dash said. Among them was Asanti Kashyap, an active member of LGS (Local Guerilla Squad), carrying a reward of Rs 1 lakh on her head, he said. Seven other women cadres identified as Manisha Markam, Rekha Madkami, Sonadai Yadav, Ayte Madkami, Jajbo Podiyami, Hidme Podiyami and Sanko Podiyami surrendered along with two male rebels — Bheema Madkami and Hadkami, Dash said. They belonged to different lower rank squads of the banned outfit like Janmilitia and Kisan Adivasi Majdoor Sangthan. “In their statement, they all expressed disappointment with the empty ideology of the outlawed naxal movement and violence. They also spoke about atrocities meted out to them by their senior cadres,” the SP said. Moreover, they were also impressed with the provisions of surrender and rehabilitation policy of the state government which compelled them to join the mainstream, he added. Four of them belonged to Kanger Valley Area Committee while six others, including two men, were active in Katekalyan Area Committee under Darbha division of Maoist which has been instrumental in executing several deadly naxal attacks in south Bastar, Dash said. Both strong area committees of Maoists had suffered a setback with the recent surrender of cadres in large numbers, he said, tagging it as a major success for Bastar police. They all will be facilitated as per the surrender and rehabilitation policy, he added. Notably, a total of 350 Naxals and their supporters have surrendered in Bastar district since December last year, Dash said. PTI (Times of India 28/6/16)

TRAFFICKING

HC notice to govt over kids’ trafficking (1)

Jaipur: Rajasthan High Court on Wednesday issued notice to the government over alleged trafficking of minor children from Kota on Wednesday. The division bench of Chief Justice Navin Sinha and Justice Ajay Rastogi issued notice to the principal secretary (Home), director general of police, and inspector general of Kota and superintendent of police, Kota, on a petition by Prahlad Singh Chadha. The petition said in the last 10 years (2005 to 2015), 823 cases of minors (both girls and boys) missing cases were reported in the three police stations of Kota city. These police stations are Dadawadi registered 400 cases, Gumanpura (326) and Jawahar Nagar (97). The counsel for the petitioner Kuldeep Aswal said these kids are victims of human trafficking and police are in connivance with the gang engaged in trafficking of humans. TNNThe petitioner said most of the victims of human trafficking are from the weaker sections and the police takes no interest in searching for the missing persons. The petitioner pleaded to seek a reply from the government on the measures taken to stop human trafficking. The court directed the state advocate general to file a detailed reply within four weeks. (Times of India 2/6/16)

Child trafficking, labour prevalent despite preventive laws (1)

Varanasi: For Shahin, a 12-year-old boy living in a slum of Bajardiha area, the day begins and ends with picking rags from streets and selling them to the scrap dealers. At the end of the day, he earns Rs 25-30. The children of Sukra Bibi, another slum dweller, also pick rags from the streets. Like Shahin, there are hundreds of children in the city who are engaged in rag picking and other such works. Despite laws, child rights are not protected even in PM Narendra Modi’s parliamentary constituency. It is a common sight to see children working at roadside dhabas, workshops and even in houses. The evils like child trafficking and child labour exist in the region. The International Day of Innocent Children Victims of Aggression is observed on June 4 each year. The purpose of the day is to acknowledge the pain suffered by children throughout the world, who are the victims of physical, mental and emotional abuse. This day affirms the UN’s commitment to protect the rights of children.One could see children, both boys and girls, living in slums, collecting rags from mounds of garbage. There are 227 slums spread all over the city. According to record, the total number of slum households is nearly 56,652, covering 1372.6 hectares (approximately 17%) of the city. These children do not know about their rights. The only thing they understand is that their job will fetch some extra money to support their families. “What’s the use of going to school when I am earning money to support my family,” said Shahin. There is no official data about the number of rag-pickers and street children. However, according to an NGO Vishal Bharat Sansthan (VBS), there are over 15,000 children engaged in rag picking in the city. Though the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) is committed to protect the rights of every child, unfortunately the child rights promised under Protection of Children’s Rights Act, 2005 continue to be violated. Uttar Pradesh ranks top in child lebour (18,50,566) in the country, followed by Bihar (91,2879). According to 2014 report of NCPCR, the all India child labour population according to 2011 Census is 82,28,481. However, The NCPCR mandates to ensure that all laws, policies, programmes and administrative mechanisms are in consonance with the child rights perspective as enshrined in the Constitution and also the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. “The labour department has no record of the about the number of child labourers in the city. We do not do any survey of child labour. We only rescue child labourers and take action against the employers,” additional labour commissioner Rakesh Kumar said. Another form of child right violation is child trafficking. Varanasi-Mughalsarai is a route of child trafficking, admitted former district probation officer Prabhat Ranjan, who was recently transferred to Basti district. “We have rescued a number of trafficked minor girls from brothels and have been fighting legal battle against over 1,200 human traffickers,” said Ajeet Singh of an NGO, which rescued about 100 minor girls recently from red light area of Allahabad. (Times of India 4/6/16)

Meghalaya NGOs briefed on child succour (1)

Williamnagar, June 4: Social welfare minister Deborah Marak today asked NGOs in Meghalaya to follow operative guidelines on sensitive issues associated with child trafficking and abuse of children. Marak requested the NGOs to be humane in dealing with cases related to women and children. “We have to transform society and ensure that our children are not abused or forced to work,” Marak asserted, while inaugurating one of the four children’s homes for boys and girls at Williamnagar in East Garo Hills and at Resubelpara in North Garo Hills. The social welfare department has set up the homes for the homeless to cater to the needs of the children who are victims of child abuse, violence, trafficking or those who flee their homes. Marak said if statistics of the home indicate that more children are being kept in such home, it would portray that our society is becoming “dirty” and corrective steps need to be taken. Director of social welfare Hima Shangpliang said: “The children’s homes will provide shelter, comfort and protection, apart from counselling.” He said every district headquarters in Garo hills will have such a home. He sought the people’s cooperation and urged them to report to the department about cases related to child abuse, violence and harassment. He told the gathering that officials were inducted under the Integrated Child Protection Scheme, 2012, in all the districts of the state. “They are the silent workers in society who have been instrumental in looking at the welfare of the children who need care and protection,” Shangpliang said. Women’s empowerment: Addressing a workshop on legislations related to empowerment of women, Marak said: “In matrilineal Meghalaya, women enjoy respect and regard, but it is shocking to learn that they are abused, denied rights and not treated as equals. Equality is about giving authority to decide which is denied to women. Equality must not be confined to headcount,” she said. Marak spoke at length on various topics, including protection of women from domestic violence, trafficking, rape and child marriage, among others. “Despite laws to protect women, the society has failed in implementation or enforcement of the law,” Marak said, adding that there are cases where laws were misued by women especially Section 498-A of the IPC. “Society cannot be changed by laws and legislations alone. Laws and legislations play the role of catalysts. Mindsets cannot be changed overnight, but change has to begin,” she added. On alarming cases of trafficking in the Northeast, Marak said: “It is a very serious issue and a challenge for the government.” (The Telegraph 5/6/16)

As PM Modi meets Obama, activists call for talks on human trafficking (1)

New Delhi: US President Barack Obama should press the visiting prime minister of India to strengthen his country’s anti-trafficking laws and deliver justice to victims, human rights campaigners said on Tuesday. Obama was due to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the White House on Tuesday to discuss economic growth, climate change, clean energy and defence cooperation. However, activists called on Obama to use Modi’s fourth visit to the United States since becoming prime minister in 2014 to focus on India’s anti-slavery record. India has the most slaves in the world with more than 18 million people trapped in debt bondage, forced into marriage, sold to brothels or born into servitude, according to the 2016 Global Slavery Index. “More people are enslaved in India than in any other country in the world, with millions of Indian men, women, and children trapped in debt bondage and forced to perform strenuous work,” said Amy Sobel of the Washington-based Human Rights First pressure group. “Prime Minister Modi’s trip to the United States is an opportunity for President Obama to raise concerns over India’s progress in combating modern slavery while ensuring that the US-India relationship is grounded in respect for human dignity and fundamental rights.” Forty percent of the world’s estimated 45.8 million slaves are in India, although the scourge exists in all 167 nations surveyed in last month’s Global Slavery Index, according to researchers behind the list. The US State Department’s 2015 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report shows that India’s primary trafficking problem is forced labour. Often trapped in debt, victims including women and children are forced to work in brick kilns, rice mills, agriculture, embroidery factories, and other industries to pay off what they owe to their traffickers. The TIP report ranks India as a Tier 2 country which means the government has not fully complied with US standards but is making significant efforts to meet those standards. Last week a senior US lawmaker raised concerns over India’s human rights record, noting that the 2015 TIP report indicated that Indian officials at various levels of government were complicit in human trafficking. “The government did not report investigations, prosecutions or convictions of government officials complicit in human trafficking offences,” said Senator Ben Cardin, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, during a speech in New Delhi. Indian officials, however, have pointed to a slew of initiatives taken by Modi government over the last two years which they said was proof that New Delhi was taking the issue seriously. These include the introduction of a new anti-trafficking law, an online platform to find missing children and increased focus on the rehabilitation of victims of slavery. Last week India unveiled a draft of its first comprehensive anti-human trafficking law, which provides for more shelters, a rehabilitation fund, fast-track courts to ensure speedy trials, a federal investigative agency to boost convictions. (Hindustan Times 8/6/16)

Child rights activists want strict vigil on Patna-Mumbai rail route (1)

MUMBAI: Child rights activists have demanded that monitoring at major stations on the Patna-Mumbai route be beefed up to check child trafficking. On the occasion of World Day Against Child Labour on Sunday, officials of the Mumbai-based NGO, Pratham, which has been working against child labour for years and has been carrying out its activities in Bihar in collaboration with the State government, said vigilance only on the exit and entry points wasn’t enough. Pratham is in talks with the RPF and the railway authorities to tighten vigil at various stations. “There are six major stations between Patna and Mumbai, and a strong vigil is needed on the route. They said traffickers now know the stations where there is a vigil, and board the train, say two stations ahead,” said Kishor Bhamre, director, Pratham Council for Vulnerable Children. He said if there is heavy monitoring at Kurla and Kalyan, traffickers get off with the children at Igatpuri and travel to Mumbai by road. Mr. Bhamre said the other sectors that need strict vigilance are Patna-Secunderabad, Patna-Surat, Lucknow-Mumbai, Gaya-Delhi and Gaya-Secunderabad. “We have presence at Jaipur, Secunderabad and Kurla stations. In between all these stations, the RPF and the GRP should be monitoring trains to check trafficking of children for work.” Other experts said there is a need to sensitise industries against the use of child workers. “There is child labour at garment factories, dhabas , stone quarries and construction sites. All of us have a role to play in this. Besides using labels like ‘Made in India’, it is very important that industries use the label: ‘Not made by child labour’,” said Asha Bajpai, professor of law at Tata Institute of Social Sciences, who is also the author of Child Rights in India . She said joint inspections by labour inspectors and the civil society must be made to rescue child workers and monitor the implementation of anti-child labour laws. (The Hindu 13/6/16)

Children trafficked from Bihar rescued at Thane (1)

MUMBAI: A day after the World Day against Child Labour was observed, 27 children from Bihar who were being trafficked to Mumbai were rescued at Thane station on Monday. All the children were aged below 17 years, and with the youngest among them being 10. The children were travelling to Mumbai with 21 adults in the Jansadharan Express from Bihar. Kishor Bhamre of Pratham, an NGO that works on child rights, said: “We got information that around 70 children had boarded the train from Raxaul in East Champaran district of Bihar.” Mr. Bhamre, who is director of Pratham Council for Vulnerable Children, said his team alerted the RPF. A team of Pratham members and RPF personnel landed at Kurla station, the train’s last halt. “Our team of 25 people along with the RPF was waiting at Kurla, but the last halt of the train changed to Thane on Monday. An announcement was made at the last minute, but by the time the team reached Thane, only 27 children were left,” said Mr. Bhamre. Four members of Pratham had boarded the train at Nashik to track these children, but the change in the last halt worked against their plan to intercept them at Kurla. A senior RPF official said: “Pratham got us the information and we assisted them in the rescue. Of the 27 children, in the case of some we could establish their relation with the accompanying adults. In the case of the other children, however, some said they were distantly related to the adults accompanying them or that they were from the same village and were coming to Mumbai for sight-seeing.” However, the authorities are investigating to find out where the children were headed to. Officials said cases against the 14 adults have been registered by the GRP, Thane. (The Hindu 14/6/16)

Locals say 100 children missing from Mankhurd, police deny claim (1)

Mumbai: Four-year-old Ganga was playing outside her home near Mankhurd railway station around 10 a.m. on March 6. Minutes later, when her mother Geeta Kesari couldn’t trace her, the family set out on a search. Next morning, Ganga’s body was found at a construction site not far from her home, and investigation showed that she was raped before being murdered. Ganga is merely one of several children who have gone missing from the dense slum pockets around Mankhurd railway station. A local NGO, Navjavan Bharat Sabha, pegs the number of missing children in 2015-16 at an astounding 100, and they suspect that a child trafficking ring is at work in the area. Geeta Kesari says if the police had acted promptly, her daughter would have been alive. “I saw a policeman on the street and approached him for help. But he only directed me to go to the police station,” she says. Ms. Kesari and her family were held up till past midnight, with formalities of a missing complaint before some locals discovered Ganga’s body. Senior Police Inspector Nasir Ahmed Sheikh said the girl had severe injuries to her privates and had died of suffocation. The police rounded up suspects from the area and Ms. Kesari identified a man who had tried to make comments about Ganga, and had offered her chocolates. The suspect was arrested and jailed. A response from the Forensics department over DNA results is awaited. Another four-year-old, Komal Sonkar, has been missing for years. Like Ganga, she was playing outside her home one night, when she went missing. “The police did not do anything except directing us to go to this chowky and that,” said Komal’s mother Soni Sonkar. The case was transferred to the elite crime branch, and has been pending for years. Ms. Sonkar, who sells fish to earn a living, says her kids have become more careful now. She has four children, the eldest being 17, “but my youngest is lost”. Following complaints from a large number of people, Navjavan Bharat Sabha carried out a survey in the area, and found that almost 100 children had gone missing from the area in a year’s time. On Thursday, the group took out a rally to the Mankhurd police station, voicing their demands. … (The Hindu 18/6/16)

‘India needs stringent law to combat human trafficking’ (1)

Bhubaneswar: The Draft Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill 2016 released by the Union Ministry of Women and Child Development for public opinion may be well-intended but in its present form, it is inadequate and incomplete as a national law, opined speakers in a meeting here. The meeting was organised here by the Odisha Alliance for Child Rights, DUCOM campaign, PECUC, NACG-EVAC, TdH and a host of voluntary organisations and networks. Presiding over the introductory session, OACR chairperson Ranjan Kumar Mohanty said the intention of bringing the draft bill by the Centre was highly welcomed, but the nation needs a stringent legislation to prevent and combat trafficking of persons. Speaking on the occasion, Razia Ismail of India Alliance for child Rights told that it did not define what human trafficking is and it must do so in conformity with internationally accepted interpretation and standards which India has accepted. Participating in the discussion, many eminent dignitaries opined that in seeking public comments and recommendations, the Government should be open to setting up a working group of informed and qualified persons to develop a draft of the standard and substance. The revised Bill should be sent to a select committee of Parliament for due study and assessment too, the participants viewed. The draft bill must adequately address the prevention, rehabilitation and protection issues along with penal provisions, they opined. Among others, former District Judge RS Mishra, CYSD chairman PK Sahoo, CLAP Dr Bikash Das, Harihar Naik of CCRP, advocates Dhaneswar Mohanty, Sidhartha Mishra and Ghasiram Panda of Action Aid spoke. The discussion was co-chaired and facilitated by Prakash Rath and Umesh Purohit. (Pioneer 20/6/16)

Chhattisgarh’s tribal girls pushed into sex slavery rescued from UP (1)

RAIPUR: Seven tribal girls hailing from Balod, Korba and Janjgir Champa districts of Chhattisgarh were pushed into sex slavery at Allahabad in Uttar Pradesh after being lured for good money for participating in dance contests. When they didn’t return for five months their parents reported the matter to police. Getting a tip off, Balod police team who had been camping at UP for past ten days managed to rescue seven girls and arrest two local women pimps who worked for traffickers. Police said there was a huge racket of pimps and sex traffickers pushing innocent girls into sex trade and there were at least 15 more girls identified still working at same place in UP. Although police couldn’t arrest the main trafficker Suresh Sonkar, when the team reached UP, he was tipped off propbably by local police that Chhattisgarh police were behind him. Sonkar had called up one of the cops and told him that he would free the girls but they should stop stalking him and keep away from him, police informed. State police alleged that UP police mainly at Karchana, Girdharpur, Katwa, Mirjapur never supported them rather spilled the details about our raids to traffickers and continued protecting them. Balod SP Arif Sheikh said that the girls rescued revealed horrific tales of how they were stuffed into dingy rooms whole day and were forced to wear skimpy clothes and dance in local parties to attract customers. Later when the clients would choose their choice of girls the traffickers would earn money through flesh trade. “The rescued girls informed that there were many more such women and girls being forced to work as sex slaves which included girls from Nepal and Uttarakhand too. A woman called Dhaneshwari Dewar who used to beg to earn livelihood worked actively to identify poor and needy girls and contact their families to lure them for good jobs and salaried if they allow their daughters to travel to other city,” SP explained. Further, she would tie-up with a trafficker called Surendra Sonkar in Allahabad and would transport girls with the help of her cousin Payal. Girls also complained that they were sedated and beaten very often, they weren’t allowed to talk to their parents or go out of the house. “It was only after a girl who returned to Balod revealed the details of the brutality. One of her customers who out of affection helped her get out of the hell-hole and assisted her return home. My team is still in UP and trying to trace whereabouts of other girls. This is a new trend emerging here as earlier tribal girls from Bastar and Surguja were usually pushed into domestic slavery at metro cities but now the trafficking net is expanding,” Sheikh said. (Times of India 21/6/16)

27 Nepalese nationals rescued from traffickers by police near border (1)

DEHRADUN/PITHORAGARH: Twenty-seven Nepalese nationals, including three women, have been rescued in separate raids in the Champawat district bordering Nepal during the last one week bringing into focus once again the issue of human trafficking in the state. Uttarakhand shares a 273-km long border with Nepal and Banbasa, the major entry point, is fast gaining notoriety as a key route in the trafficking business.According to sources, an anti-trafficking team based in Pithoragarh rescued a Nepalese woman on June 17. On June 22, the team spotted 20 labourers in a vehicle. On being questioned, they failed to provide any information and said that they were moving towards Rudrapur in search of a job. They were handed over to Nepalese officials and representatives of NGOs. In another incident on June 21, the police team rescued four children who were being taken from across the border. After questioning, the four minors were handed over to a Nepalese NGO working in the field of human trafficking. Manju Pandey, sub-inspector of the anti-trafficking unit who was involved in the rescue operations, told TOI, “We are vigilant on the border and the best possible effort is being made to prevent human trafficking in the region. As a result, we were successful in rescuing 27 people in the short span of a week.” Meanwhile, acknowledging that the problem of trafficking was a serious one, senior police officials in Dehradun said that a number of steps were being taken to check the problem. Mamta Vohra, head of the state’s anti-human trafficking cell, told TOI, “In most cases, the trafficking is of women. A porous border with Nepal makes the task of monitoring difficult for our team. I would not say that trafficking is rampant but cases have of late been reported in the state in the last few years. We are doing our best to ensure that the menace is curbed.” (Times of India 23/6/16)

Sex workers’ groups, rights activists call for a rethink of draft Bill on trafficking (1)

Pune: Sex workers’ organisations and rights activists have raised several concerns around the draft Bill on Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2016. Indian laws continue to be centred around trafficking for sexual exploitation and abolishing sex work, said a release issued by the National Network of Sex Workers from Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Kerala. At least 35 women from the Network attended a three-day consultation in Bangalore on the draft Bill. The women said that a significant number of poor people get duped for organ transplantation. However, the draft Bill makes no provisions for prevention, rescue and rehabilitation for such people who may have been coerced into forced labour or organ transplantation.“The draft Bill is another in a series of attempts to punish acts of trafficking. A sizeable number of people through fraud, deceit and coercion get trafficked for forced labour in various areas. Domestic work, factories, small scale units in a variety of areas from metal forging to zari work and manufacture of crackers, as well as brick-making and agriculture are some common areas where people are duped and forced to work for a pittance and in terrible work conditions,” a Network release said. In May 2016, the Union Ministry of Women and Child issued the draft Bill on its website and called for comments. The draft Bill has been translated into Marathi, Kannada and Malayalam. Telugu and Tamil translations were offered during consultation. At the meet, the women gave extensive recommendations on each section which is being shared with the Ministry. Meena Seshu, founder of Sampada Grameen Mahila Sanstha (SANGRAM), an NGO that works with sex workers to stop the spread of HIV, said that despite requests to be included in the consultations, the draft Bill has been drafted without inputs or discussions with networks and collectives of sex workers or rights activists working with sex workers. Members of Saheli Sangh, Pune, further pointed out that to complicate matters, the practice of raiding, rescuing and rehabilitating consenting adults in sex work has meant that existing sections of ITPA have been discriminatorily used against sex workers. (Indian Express 28/6/16)

State drafts blueprint for schemes against trafficking (1)

Hyderabad: As a respite for victims of trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation, the Telangana government has decided to implement schemes prescribed by the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) that ensure legal aid and assistance to the vulnerable group. The city on Saturday witnessed the first academic meeting to discuss implementation of schemes which come under the NALSA. While NALSA schemes were first implemented in 2015, the Telangana State Legal Services Authority started drafting the minimum plan of action only this month. The NALSA had asked the State to identify districts where each of the schemes was to be implemented, constitute panel of lawyers who would comply with the schemes and also suggest other schemes which could be implemented for the benefit of vulnerable sections. Inaugurating the meet, Justice V. Ramasubramanian of the Hyderabad High Court and Executive Chairman of the T.S Legal Services Authority said, “Society should be able to cleanse itself of prevalent myths about victims of trafficking. The schemes will ensure rescue and rehabilitation of such victims”. Participants of the meeting included metropolitan magistrates of Hyderabad and Ranga Reddy, special judges of POCSO (Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012) and panel of lawyers. The first academic meeting was held by TSLSA in collaboration with the department of Women and Child Development. M. Jagadeshwar, Secretary, Women and Child Development, said the department had been focusing on roping in non-governmental organisations and grassroots volunteers to implement schemes. Already, the State government had improved assistance for victims of trafficking from Rs. 5,000 to Rs. 20,000, he added. Experts present at the meeting also discussed implementation of schemes which focuses on amendments prescribed by Criminal Law (Amendment) Act- 2013. Society should be able to cleanse itself of prevalent myths about victims of trafficking. (The Hindu 27/6/16)

CORRUPTION

Anti-graft group says drugmakers failing to tackle corruption (5)

LONDON: The global pharmaceuticals industry remains open to corruption abuse, despite a raft of scandals in recent years, with both companies and governments failing to tackle the issue adequately, according to Transparency International. The anti-corruption advocacy group said on Thursday there were dangerous loopholes across the drug supply chain, from lack of publicly available research data to underhand marketing practices to poor enforcement of manufacturing standards. “It is shocking that despite scandal after scandal involving pharma companies, still policy makers simply are not taking seriously the corrosive effect of corruption,” Sophie Peresson, its head of pharmaceuticals and healthcare, said. “The red flags are being ignored.” Big Pharma has forked out billions of dollars to settle scandals involving improper promotion of drugs in the United States and, more recently, bribes paid to foreign doctors have emerged as another area of malpractice. GlaxoSmithKline, for example, paid a record fine of nearly $500 million in 2014 for bribery in China and many companies face investigation under the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. At the beginning of 2016, Transparency International said one in 10 corruption investigations by U.S. authorities involved pharmaceutical companies, significantly more than for the banking sector. The European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations agreed good governance was vital but it criticised the report for failing to mention a host of positive industry-led initiatives in areas such as financial transparency, data sharing and the fight against falsified medicines. (New Indian Express 2/6/16)

Saved over Rs 36,000 crore annually by stopping leakage, theft in govt schemes: PM Modi (5)

Vowing to root out corruption in India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday said he has “faced problems” by depriving the “sweets of many” and saved over Rs 36,000 crore annually by stopping leakage and theft in government schemes. Addressing the Indian diaspora at the end of his two-day visit to Qatar, Modi said, “We have only cleaned up the surface (on corruption) and a detailed clean-up remains.” “We have stopped the sweets of many and in doing so, I have also faced problems. But I get the strength to face these problems from the love received from 125 crore Indians,” he said, likening criticism of the government’s action to a child getting angry on being deprived of a sweet by his mother. Modi, who was repeatedly cheered by the Indian community members, said efforts to ensure financial transparency, discipline and efficiency have started yielding good results. In a veiled attack on the earlier Congress regimes, Modi said: “Today across the world, India’s image has been enhanced and the country is being viewed respectably. Everyone is being attracted to India. You would have noticed the change when people from other countries meet Indians.” The Prime Minister said that despite India facing drought for two consecutive years, it has achieved 7.9% GDP in the last quarter of the fiscal gone by. “World’s economy is in doldrums and the best of the countries are also facing an economic downturn.” “(But) India is moving ahead at a fast pace despite a lot of difficulties,” he said, adding that all the credit rating agencies, World Bank and the IMF were unanimous in recognising India as the world’s fastest growing economy. “Despite the problems, the 7.9% growth is testimony to the fact that the country is moving fast,” he said. Modi added: “Even when you go to faraway Mongolia, an Indian there also feels that times have changed (in India).” Noting that India-Qatar relations were growing, with the Indians settled here contributing significantly, he said: “When rulers of any country praise Indians, you can imagine how my chest swells with pride.” After the 14th Finance Commission, the situation was reversed with 65% of the country’s revenue going to states and the Centre having to do with only 35%, he said. In his 25-minute speech, the Prime Minister also made a reference to the One Rank One Pension (OROP) scheme for the retired defence personnel which had been pending for over four decades. “The economic burden may have been big but this cannot be less than the prestige of soldiers dying for the country,” he said. (DNA 5/6/16)

Stop shaming India abroad, Shiv Sena tells PM (5)

Mumbai, June 8 : The Shiv Sena on Wednesday asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi “to stop maligning India on foreign shores” with his public utterances on corruption in the country. The Sena took strong objection to Modi’s repeated statements criticizing the corrupt systems in India during his foreign trips, saying this would prove counter-productive in the long run. “The PM said publicly in Doha how India was steeped in graft, and outlined the measures he had initiated to clean up the mess. The gathering clapped and cheered him. This is nothing but maligning the country’s fair image abroad,” the Sena said in an editorial in its mouthpiece Saamana. It wondered who was responsible if there was talk of corruption among the masses even two years after a Bharatiya Janata Party-led government took charge of the country. “The (corruption) matters coming up in (BJP-ruled) Gujarat, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh – can the Gandhi family be still blamed for it?” it asked. “The PM knows better. He’s the country’s face and the world has faith in him. But the world may also misinterpret his statements abroad and this could directly hit our economy,” the Sena cautioned. Chiding Modi, it advised him to criticize corruption and other ills plaguing India domestically and tackle them effectively. “Enough has been spoken about the alleged corruption of Gandhi family and Robert Vadra. Now, its time for action against them. No need to travel to Europe and America shouting about it,” the editorial said. “As a nation we are all united, and despite our political differences, we are like a big ‘undivided family’ and this is the image which should be presented before the whole world.” Touching on Modi’s recent trip to Switzerland, it chided Modi’s request seeking the names of Indians holding black money in that country’s banks. This, Saamana said, was “ruining India’s image abroad”.”The Swiss economy thrives on stash monies from all over the world and they will never reveal whose black money is lying there. “Modi had assured Rs.15 lakh to each Indian by bringing back the hidden money in foreign banks. But all this must be done very discreetly,” the Sena said. Anyway, it pointed out that there was enough black money within India. “So what is being done about it?” The Sena said India must be the only country in the world where it’s a sin to eat beef, mutton, chicken, eggs, fish, garlic and onions but it is no crime if public money is stolen. (New Kerala 8/6/16)

 ‘Large-scale irregularities in distribution of subsidised tractors’ (5)

KARIMNAGAR: Cutting across party lines, all Zilla Parishad Territorial Constituency (ZPTC) members and Mandal Parishad presidents (MPP) have alleged large-scale irregularities in the distribution of tractors on subsidy to the farmers by the Agriculture Department, and demanded a thorough inquiry to punish the guilty officials. Raising the issue during the Zilla Parishad general body meeting in Karimnagar town on Wednesday, Mallial ZPTC member Shoba Rani alleged that officials sanctioned the government subsidised tractors to rich and influential farmers, denying the benefits to small and marginal farmers who own land in the range of 2.5 to five acres, by all violating norms. She charged that the eligible Scheduled Caste beneficiaries were also denied the subsidised tractors. Similar views were also expressed by the Kodimial and Medipalli MPPs, who demanded a thorough inquiry to punish the guilty officials. They also sought mandal-wise details of tractors sanctioned to the beneficiaries. At this juncture, Zilla Parishad chairperson Tula Uma intervened and stated that she received complaints about the irregularities in the same from various parts of the district. Stating that authorities have diluted the cause of providing government benefits to real beneficiaries, the ZP chairperson informed Joint Director (Agriculture) Sucharita to order for an inquiry and ensure that the tractors are provided to genuine beneficiaries. Earlier, the ZPTC members complained that the Agricultural Department officials failed to provide adequate seeds of various ID (irrigated dry) crops such as redgram, green gram, maize, etc. in the district. Boinpally ZPTC member K. Latchi Reddy said that the while the government is asking people not to take up cotton cultivation during this kharif season, it has failed to provide adequate quantity of ID crop seeds . The ZP general body meeting also discussed about the need to strengthen government schools by increasing the enrolment of students. The ZPTC members lodged several complaints against the teachers for dereliction of duties and involving in other business activities, neglecting their prime duty of teaching in the schools. Legislators T. Jeevan Reddy and D. Manohar Reddy, Joint Collector Pausumi Basu, and ZP CEO Suraj Kumar were also present. (The Hindu 9/6/16)

Punjab Medical Council urges PM to combat ‘medical corruption’ (5)

New Delhi, Jun 11 () Terming ‘medical corruption’ as the “worst” form of graft in the country, a top functionary of the Punjab Medical Council has urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to bring in a strong law with strict implementation to curb the menace. In a hard hitting open letter to Modi, G S Grewal, President of the Punjab Medical Council, has said primarily there are three types of medical corruption – exorbitantly priced drugs, cuts and commissions to the referring doctors and referring patients for diagnostic tests and medical examinations without the actual need. Noting that the profession of doctors “no longer” remained noble, Grewal alleged that referring patients for diagnostic tests without any need has given rise to “medical mafia” and politicians have also sided with the erring doctors due to which illegal practices are going on at the cost of the patients. “I want to flag for your urgent attention the ‘medical corruption’ prevailing in the country. While any sort of corruption is disgusting and condemnable, medical corruption is the worst. “The medical corruption is primarily of three types. Exorbitantly priced drug, cuts and commissions to the referring doctors and referring the patients for diagnostic tests and medical examinations without the actual need,” Grewal wrote in his letter to Modi. He said there is a need to purge the healthcare system to make it easily affordable which is quite possible without harming the genuine and justified interests of the medical fraternity. “I request you (Modi) to bring in strong law against medical corruption which is the worst form of all the corruption. Only a strong law with strict implementation can act as a strong deterrent against the medical corruption, cheating and fraud. “Otherwise, desperate and helpless patients will continue to get exploited and fleeced and even dispossessed of their possessions, earnings and savings,” he said. In India, every year three crore people are believed to slip Below the Poverly Line after spending their savings and earning or selling off their assets for medical treatment, which may or may not cure them of their diseases and ailments. (Times of India 11/6/16)

CBI files chargesheet against Vyapam scam accused (5)

Indore: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), probing the cases under Vyapam scam in Madhya Pradesh, on Monday filed a chargesheet in a special court here against an accused in connection with the irregularities in Pre-Medical Test (PMT) held in 2009. The chargesheet was filed before the special judge Raghvendra Singh Chouhan against Purshottam Khoiya under various sections of IPC for impersonation, cheating, forgery etc, a CBI official said. Khoiya is accused of sending a dummy candidate in his name to appear for the PMT and securing admission through fraudulent means in the state-run Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Medical College here. The multi-crore rupee professional examination scam allegedly involves several high-profile professionals, politicians and bureaucrats as accused. Madhya Pradesh Professional Examination Board, popularly known as Vyapam, holds examinations for various posts such as teachers, medical officers, constables and forest guards. The instances of irregularities in PMT are probed separately by the state and central agencies. (Business Standard 14/6/16)

Delhi BJP asks L-G to file FIR, order probe into tanker scam (5)

New Delhi: A delegation of the Delhi BJP submitted a memo to Lieutenant-Governor Najeeb Jung on Wednesday requesting him to order the filing of an FIR and seeking investigation by either the Anti-Corruption Branch (ACB) or the CBI into an alleged Rs. 400 crore water tanker scam in the Delhi Jal Board (DJB). The BJP delegation included National Secretary R.P. Singh, the Leader of Opposition Vijender Gupta, Delhi BJP General Secretary Ramesh Bidhuri and media in-charge Praveen Shankar Kapoor among others. In its memo, the party pointed out that no investigation was done despite a Fact Finding Committee, set-up by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government, submitting a report to AAP with all the requisite proofs pertaining to the existence of the said scam in July 2015. The memo added that Water Minister Kapil Mishra had apprised Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal about the scam 11 months ago. “Mr. Mishra had written a letter to the CM in this context and also submitted the report of the committee, but Mr. Kejriwal sat over the file for 11 months. Hence from legal point of view he is guilty of protecting the persons involved in the scam,” the party said in a statement. The party added that the government was yet to even cancel agreements with companies supplying water tankers despite being aware of the scam. Demanding a probe into the scam, the party also demanded that the L-G include Mr. Kejriwal’s name in the FIR so that the investigation agency concerned may probe the reason behind his alleged attempts to suppress the case. (The Hindu 16/6/16)

Podi scam: ACB registers FIRs against land records officials (5)

Bengaluru: The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) has registered FIRs against former Deputy Director of Land Records (DDLR) of Bengaluru Urban Raja Naik and others for irregularities in creating podi of over Rs 100 crore worth government lands. The ACB has registered two FIRs against Naik and other officials of land records department pertaining to grabbing of government lands in Channasandra, Pillahalli and Honnasandra in Bengaluru Urban district. These pricey lands were granted to a few private people after creating fake documents of podi. Subsequently, the mutation was also done in favour of the private persons. The Commissioner (Survey) Munish Moudgil had forwarded the report along with a complaint to the ACB some time ago on the illegalities committed while creating podi of government lands. There have been several reports against Naik, who is presently awaiting posting,  when he was the DDLR in the city. The cases now being investigated pertains to eight acres in Channasandra in survey number 115 (4+4 acres), two acres in Pillahalli in survey number 52, and one acre in Honnasandra in survey number 13. A senior official said that the investigation is still underway as far as the other officials involved in the case. As per the pre requirement before registering a case against a public servant, the ACB had written to the competent authority seeking sanction of prosecution against Naik. The state government has swiftly accorded the sanction to investigate the charges against Naik. However, the sanction is still awaited against certain lower rung officials involved in the cases, an official said. When he was the High Court judge, Justice Rammohan Reddy, who retired recently, had stated in the open court that some members of the public had handed him over a CD about the ‘podi’ irregularities by Naik in Bengaluru Urban district. The observation was made on October 28, 2015 during the hearing of a revenue matter. The judge, however, clarified recently that some people had tipped him of about it, but not handed over the CD. There were several reports against Naik by the previous Commissioner of Survey. It was reported that as DDLR, Naik had recommended before the District Missing File Committee, headed by the Bengaluru Urban deputy commissioner, to re-build the land grant files of the government land which were said to be missing. In most of the cases, the Committee had approved the recommendation and later Naik did the podi. There was also a report that Naik was in touch with V Bhaskar alias ‘420’ Bhaskar, one of the prime accused in the Lokayukta extortion scam who is presently in judicial custody. On February 5, 2015, Bhaskar had made seven calls to Naik on his mobile phone. (Deccan Herald 20/6/16)

BJP accuses AAP government of Rs 300 cr number plate scam (5)

New Delhi: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Wednesday accused the Delhi government of being involved in an alleged Rs 300 crore scam pertaining to high security number plates. In a letter written to Delhi Anti-Corruption Branch (ACB) Chief Mukesh Meena, which was shared with the media, the BJP has asked for “immediate action” and lodging of an FIR “so that a further loss to the public exchequer can be stopped”.”The average notified price in Delhi for high security number plates is Rs 119, but the vehicle owners are being charged Rs 1200, as found by a committee formed by the state government,” BJP national secretary R.P. Singh said. “In Delhi approximately two lakh vehicles are registered on monthly basis and this way during the 15 months of AAP government the number of registered vehicles should be around 30 lakh. Multiplying this figure with Rs 1200 amounts to a scam of approximately Rs 300 crore,” he said. He alleged that the city’s Aam Aadmi Party government was giving the company that currently has the contract for providing the high security number plates a long rope “in guise of arbitration” instead of terminating the contract. He said that the Madhya Pradesh government had terminated the contract of the same company in October 2014 for similar irregularities as being seen in Delhi. (Business Standard 22/6/16)

Corruption case against IPS officer, 5 held by Vigilance Dept. (5)

Bhubaneswar: The anti-corruption wing of the Odisha Police on Wednesday arrested five persons including an Additional Superintendent of Police (ASP) and registered cases against a senior IPS officer and five others on charge of misappropriation of public money. Tripura cadre IPS officer Jaydeep Nayak, who was on deputation to Odisha, has been identified as the prime accused in the misappropriation case involving Rs 88 lakh. Mr. Nayak, allegedly in connivance with others, disbursed Rs 88 lakh during 2014-15 in the name of making SC, ST students and SHG members computer literate when he was heading the Human Rights Protection Cell . Mr. Nayak, who has gone back to his parent cadre, could not be immediately contacted for comment. A case has been registered against Mr. Nayak and five others under Section 13(2) read with 13(1)(d)(c) of Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, 467/468/409/120-B of IPC, an official statement issued by the Vigilance Department said. Besides ex-IGP Nayak, the Vigilance Department also booked Basanta Kumar Pradhan, ex-DSP, Pracheta Kumar Mishra, former senior stenographer, all of the SC and ST Protection Cell of the Human Rights Protection Cell, Cuttack, Asutosh Mishra, Proprietor of Axis Computer, Kalyani Nagar, Cuttack, Chandi Charan Patnaik, general manager of M/s Axis Computer, Cuttack, and Mamata Rout, proprietor of Dev Graphics (Printing Press), Kalyani Nagar, Cuttack. “The six persons including Mr. Nayak allegedly showed undue official favour and disbursed an amount of Rs 88 lakh to M/s Axis Computer in violation of financial norms, without floating any tender, furnishing false and fabricated documents, bills, utilisation/completion certificates and flouting orders, for which the government has sustained a huge loss,” the statement said. “During course of investigation the accused persons including Basanta Kumar Pradhan, ex-DSP and at present Additional SP at the office of the DIG, South-West Range, Sunabeda, has been arrested today (Wednesday),” State Vigilance Director R. P .Sharma told reporters. (The Hindu 23/6/16)

Punjab orders probe after Akali leaders pocket Rs 100 crore compensation (5)

Chandigarh: The Punjab government on Friday ordered a vigilance probe into an alleged scam in which leaders of the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal, their family members and associates pocketed Rs 100 crore in compensation for land acquired for road construction projects. The alleged scam in Hoshiarpur district, 140 km from here, was highlighted by media reports. However, Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal’s order of vigilance probe came much after the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), which was approached by a RTI activist, had ordered a high-level probe by a senior bureaucrat. Badal had earlier tried to down-play the scam by asking the Hoshiarpur Deputy Commissioner to conduct an enquiry into the land scam allegations. “Taking cognizance of the media reports about alleged bungling in the purchase of land by some influential people at lower rates, which was acquired by the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) to undertake four-laning project in Hoshiarpur district, on exorbitant rates to pocket heavy compensation, Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today ordered a vigilance inquiry to probe the entire matter to get at the bottom of the case,” a spokesman of the chief minister’s office said here. He said that Badal has marked the inquiry to the Chief Vigilance Director “to ascertain the facts which led to these alleged irregularities in the acquisition of land”.Badal said that anybody found guilty would not be spared at any cost. “The state government is already fully seized of the matter and anyone, whosoever mighty or influential he may be, would be taken to task for his alleged involvement in the aforesaid acquisition,” he said. The multi-crore land scam came to light this week after it was found that Akali Dal leaders in Hoshiarpur, their family members and friends had pocketed compensation of nearly Rs 100 crore by buying barren and agricultural land at lower prices from farmers and later showed it as an approved residential colony to seek higher compensation from the state government. Among the names allegedly involved in the scam include Hoshiarpur Market Committee chairman Avtar Singh Johal, councillor Harpinder Gill and district co-operative bank chairman Satwinder Pal Singh Dhatt. These Akali leaders, allegedly in connivance with local property dealers and officials, had purchased the land notified by the NHAI for the four-laning of the highway. The land was purchased after the notification was issued in November last year. The Akali leaders bought the land notified for the road and property rights transferred to the National Highways Authority of India in 2015, built illegal colonies on these sites and pocketed crores in compensation. Sources in the Hoshiarpur district administration said that land belonging to other farmers who got much less compensation compared to the compensation received by these influential people. (Business Standard 25/6/16)

Kalu dam: accused caused Rs. 30-crore loss to State (5)

Mumbai: Investigations by the Maharashtra Anti-Corruption Bureau into the Kalu dam misconduct case have revealed that the five Konkan Irrigation Development Corporation (KIDC) officials, booked on Monday, had caused a loss of Rs. 30 crore to the State. The ACB had on Monday booked Girish Bapat, Balasaheb Patil, Satish Vadgave, Jaywant Kasar and Haridas Tonpe, who were with the KIDC when the contract for construction of a bridge over the Kalu river in Konkan was awarded to FA Constructions, along with partners of the construction firm. Bapat and Patil were also booked in connection with alleged misconduct in the Balganga dam project, the contract for which was also awarded to FA Constructions. The contracts for both the dams were awarded within a span of two months. Investigating officials said the modus operandi employed to secure both the Balganga and Kalu contracts was similar. It is known as ‘carteling’ — a process where one company makes multiple bids for the same tender through dummy companies. In the Balganga case, the ACB has found that FA Constructions entered bids through three other companies for the Kalu dam contract. “The original tender for the Kalu dam was worth Rs. 421 crore. However, FA Constructions, while submitting its final proposal, made several additions to the materials required for the project and brought the value up to Rs. 451 crore. Ideally, the proposal should have been rejected and fresh tenders issued. Alternatively, the accused officials should have sought sanction from the State government before approving the proposal. In the Kalu dam case, neither was done and the proposed funds were released to FA Constructions, causing a loss of Rs. 30 crore to the State,” said an ACB officer. The awarding of tenders for construction of dams over rivers in the Konkan region has been probed by the ACB since 2014, after the State government had sanctioned an open inquiry into the matter. (The Hindu 29/6/16)

ENVIRONMENT/ CLIMATE CHANGE

India’s e-waste growing at 30% per annum: ASSOCHAM-cKinetics study (9)

India is emerging as one of the world’s major electronic waste generators and likely to generate 52 lakh metric tonnes (MT) per annum by 2020 from the current level 18 lakh metric tonnes growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of about 30%, an  Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM)-cKinetics recent study says. The global volume of e-waste generated is expected to reach 130 million tons in 2018 from 93.5 million tons in 2016 at a compound annual growth rate of 17.6% from 2016 to 2018, according to a study on ‘Electronic Waste Management in India,’ conducted by ASSOCHAM–cKinetics joint study on ‘World Environment Day’. As Indians become richer and spend more electronic items and appliances, Computer equipment accounts for almost 70% of e-waste material followed by telecommunication equipment (12%), electrical equipment (8%) and medical equipment (7%). Other equipment, including household e-crap account for the remaining four percent it said. The sad part is that a mere 1.5% of India’s total e-waste gets recycled due to poor infrastructure, legislation and framework which lead to a waste of diminishing natural resources, irreparable damage of environment and health of the people working in industry. Over 95% of e-waste generated is managed by the unorganised sector and scrap dealers in this market, dismantle the disposed products instead of recycling it. In India, about 4-5 lakhs child labours between the age group of 10-15 are observed to be engaged in various e-waste (electronic waste) activities, without adequate protection and safeguards in various yards and recycling workshops, said D. S. Rawat, Secretary General ASSOCHAM while releasing the paper. The chamber has also strongly advocated the need to bring out effective legislation to prevent entry of child labour into its collection, segregation and distribution, reveals the study. “E-waste typically includes discarded computer monitors, motherboards, Cathode Ray Tubes (CRT), Printed Circuit Board (PCB), mobile phones and chargers, compact discs, headphones, white goods such as Liquid Crystal Displays (LCD)/ Plasma televisions, air conditioners, refrigerators and so on. As per the study, E-waste workers in India suffer from breathing problems, such as asthma and bronchitis. Many workers are children, who are unaware of the hazards and by the time they reach 35 to 40 years of age, they’re incapable of working, points out the study. About 2/3 of e-waste workers in India suffering from respiratory ailments like breathing difficulties, irritation, coughing, choking, tremors problems who all are engaged in various e-waste (electronic waste) activities due to improper safeguards and dismantling workshops. …. (Business Standard 1/6/16)

World Environment Day: SAFE to hold eco programmes (9)

CHENNAI: The Society for Automotive Fitness & Environment (SAFE), an initiative by the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM), is scheduled to mark the World Environment Day across 5,500 automobile dealers across the country on June 5. SAFE will organise various activities relating to environment safety and conservation along with a pledge to spread awareness about environment protection, sustainability and eco-conscious growth. The nationwide initiative will be held on June 5 and 6 and will be extended for a week in select dealerships for better reach and service. As global warming and climate change trigger periodic environmental crises such as flash floods, drought, erratic weather patterns, forest fires, deforestation, etc., it is imperative to garner the support of individuals, corporate and societal entities as well as communities at large for the common cause of environment protection. On the occasion of World Environment Day, SAFE is organising several mass awareness campaigns with special focus on Safety, Environment and Technology to promote environment safety and protection. Some specific activities will include free day-long PUC (pollution under control) check-ups and the issuing of free PUC certificates at various dealers across India. Several unique initiatives – such as a drawing competition for kids, environment conservation tips for customers, sapling distribution, tree plantation, green processions, awareness rallies, etc – will also be conducted at dealership outlets. This activity is part of several initiatives from the body to cater to various challenges faced by the sector.Speaking on the eve of the launch, Vishnu Mathur, director general, SIAM, said: “Being wholly committed to environmental care, World Environment Day provides the Indian Automobile Industry an ideal opportunity to drive public awareness about key environmental issues. SAFE is founded on the firm belief that community education and public consciousness about environmental issues are pivotal to curb air pollution. Accordingly, all members are coming together to spread awareness among vehicle owners and society at large about creating a cleaner, greener environment. We urge all vehicle owners across India to work towards the cause of safeguarding the environment and help us realise the goal of ensuring sustainable, environment-friendly growth in the coming years.” …  (Times of India 3/6/16)

Green activists seek stronger laws for wetland protection (9)

Guwahati: Conservationists and green groups have criticized the Centre’s new draft Wetland Rules 2016, calling it a watered-down version of the 2010 rules. They claimed that Assam’s rivers and wetlands, which criss-cross the state, may soon lose out on much-needed protection under the Centre’s new draft rules. The ministry of environment, forest and climate change (MoEFCC) recently released the draft Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules 2016. Biodiversity conservation group Aaranyak, in association with ActionAid, recently held a consultation on the ramifications of the new draft rules with various stakeholders. “Assam has more than 3,000 wetlands under different categories. These wetlands are part and parcel of the larger ecosystem. We urge the Centre to make these new rules people-centric while keeping in mind the protection of the larger ecosystem of wetlands,” ActionAid programme manager Swapan Singha said. Many participants at the consultation said in comparison to the Wetland Rules 2010, the new draft Wetland Rules 2016 offer few protective measures as far as Assam’s wetlands are concerned. They demanded a complete revision of the draft Wetland Rules 2016 to ensure better wetland management and conservation in Assam. “Many important provisions which were included in 2010 have now been removed from the new draft rules, which is alarming from an environmental perspective. For instance, rivers have now been excluded from the definition of ‘wetlands’,” Aaranyak’s wetland expert Partha J Das said.The consultation recommended that at least those parts of rivers directly connected to wetlands be recognized as part of wetland ecosystems and provided protection. Apart from this, it was also recommended that in the context of Assam’s wetlands, the connecting channels must be accorded similar protection, maintenance and restoration. Conservation India demanded that the ministry frame new wetland rules through a scientific, consultative and participatory process. “While the MoEFCC never implemented the Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules 2010, it has now brought out a new and seriously watered-down draft Wetland Rules 2016. The new rules can jeopardize wetland conservation in the country and need to be rejected in their entirety,” the South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People said. (Times of India 5/6/16)

All trains to have bio-toilets by 2019: Official (9)

New Delhi, June 6 (IANS) A Railway Board member on Monday said all train coaches will have bio-toilets by 2019, two years ahead of the deadline. “All the coaches of the Indian Railways will have eco-friendly bio-toilets with zero discharge facility. Initially, the deadline was set at 2021 but we are hopeful of achieving our target in advance”, said Railway Board Member (Engineering) Hemant Kumar. Till March 2016, as many as 35,000 bio-toilets were fitted in coaches and over 1,40,000 more toilets installed in other coaches by the end of 2019. In his budget speech, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu announced that 17,000 bio-toilets would be installed in trains and additional toilets built at 475 railway stations this year. Kumar said the railways had also set a target of recycling 200 million litres of water per day in the next three to five years. “Currently, we recycle 12 million litres of water per day. We hope to take this number to 200 million litres per day. The railways uses 200 million litres of water per day for non-potable purposes; so, at least this much we should recycle,” Kumar told reporters at the conclusion of a seminar on ‘Waste management in Indian Railways’. Railway Board chairman A.K. Mittal said: “We need to conserve every drop of water. For washing and other similar purposes, we need not use ground/fresh water.” The total water consumption of Indian Railways is 1,000 MGD (million gallons per day). (Times of India 6/6/16)

Pollution study extrapolated to defame India: Javadekar (9)

NEW DELHI: Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar today rejected a study which claimed that life expectancy in Delhi has been reduced by six years because of air pollution, stating that it was based on research done in Europe and America and has been extrapolated to “defame” India. Javadekar said this while claiming that the Earth Sciences department did not agree with the findings, a day after his ministry withdrew his statement that quoted him as having said its timing was “motivated” as the Prime Minister Narendra Modi was presently on a visit to US. The statement was withdrawn hours after it was released to the press in an unusual turn of events. The study in question was done by Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM) which is an autonomous body under the Ministry of Earth Sciences. It was conducted by IITM scientists in collaboration with the National Centre for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), Colorado, US. “We reject the claims made in a so-called article that Indians lose six years of their life because of pollution. This study is based on regional atmospheric chemistry model. “The research is based on studies done in Europe and America which are being extrapolated on India. The study is not done on sampling, ground study and long term observations. So this is completely unnecessary and defames India,” the minister told a press conference here. Titled as ‘Premature Mortalities due to PM 2.5 (finer particulate matter) and Ozone Exposure in India’, the study found that life expectancy in the national capital has reduced by six years because of air pollution while Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra are likely to account for the highest number of premature deaths. Javadekar said the Earth Sciences department has rejected the claims of the research… (Times of India 8/6/16)

Coca-Cola faces case under SC/ST Act in Kerala (9)

Palakkad: Kerala Police has registered a case against multi-national soft-drink major Coca-Cola for allegedly exploiting and polluting groundwater sources of the backward Scheduled Caste community at Plachimada here. According to the case registered at Meenakshipuram police station here, Coca-Cola’s unit at Plachimada, which after being operational for some years is shut since 2004, had “wilfully polluted” the water sources of Eravalas, one of the most backward Scheduled Caste communities in the region. When contacted, company’s spokesperson said a response on the issue can be given only by tomorrow. Top company officials have been booked for non-bailable offences under various provisions of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, police said. The case has been registered against the company’s all India head at Noida, Regional head at Kochi and the local head of the Plachimada unit, on a complaint lodged by Plachimada Samara Samithi, a public agitation council, police said. Meenakshipuram Principal Sub Inspector V S Syamkumar said the company officials would be summoned, if needed, during the course of investigation. “The case has been registered under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act and the offence is non-bailable. A detailed probe and verification of documents is the next step. The company officials will be summoned if necessary,” he told PTI. Though the company’s plant at Plachimada had downed shutters in 2004, the damage it caused to the livelihood of local people, especially the Eravalas, still remains, the complainant said. Coca-Cola closed down its unit at Plachimada in March 2004, following agitation by the locals complaining of environment pollution and over exploitation of groundwater by the company. A high-level committee appointed by the state government to report the loss caused to the people by the company had estimated the amount at Rs 216.25 crore. (DNA 12/6/16)

Environment ministry working on ‘remedial plan’ for violating projects (9)

NEW DELHI: The Environment ministry has developed a plan for considering and clearing projects that have started constructions or made expansions without obtaining an environment clearance (EC). It has issued a draft notification recently on “environmental supplemental plan” that will review and clear these projects that have violated the environment impact assessment (EIA) process by ensuring they mitigate the damage done. This because “the government deems it essential to grant environment clearance to entities which were non-compliant to make them compliant,” the draft read. The notification’s purpose is “remedial” the ministry claims. In the new plan, the expert appraisal committee or the state expert appraisal committee will refer such cases of violations to an expert group which will be constituted by the environment ministry. The expert group will prepare an ESP for restoration of the damage caused to the environment. If there is no expert group in a state the project will be appraised by the ministry. The ministry describes the ESP as “an environmentally beneficial project that is not required by law but that an alleged violator of EIA notification 2006 agrees to undertake as part of the process of environmental clearance.” Legal and environmental experts are not impressed. Kanchi Kohli and Manju Menon of Centre for Policy Research and Namati Environment Justice Program have sent their comments on the draft notification to the secretary, MoEFCC recently. They pointed that the draft notification “lays out a process, which legally allows for a violator to damage the environment and subsequently obtain an ESP to compensate for the damage. The idea of the ESP is an undue favour to a violator. It will not act as a deterrent, but will encourage the practice of non-compliance as the project proponent is at no point under scrutiny for an “illegal act,” In their mail that lists a number of issues with the notification, they also flagged that the notification negates the purpose of EIAs. “The practice of EIA internationally has been to help make environmentally sound decisions on development. It draws upon strong environmental baselines, good science and informed appraisal so that decisions for economic growth take into account socio-environmental concerns.” The draft notification proposes the “thorough assessment of pecuniary benefits” so that damage to the environment can be restored. “As you are aware, in many instances construction activities that involve felling of trees, blocking of water bodies or restriction of local livelihoods can have irreversible damage and restoration, if even possible, could take decades. Release of toxic materials and activities such blasting can also have long-term impacts on both local livelihoods as well as the ecology. Pecuniary benefits can only calculate the damage in monetary terms, which is an extremely limited form of valuation of environmental loss,” they added… (Times of India 13/6/16)

’Himalayan nations face likely food crisis, need to join hands’ (9)

New Delhi: The Himalyan countries, including India, are likely to face an unprecedented food crisis unless they strengthen regional collaboration for the development of inclusive climate resilience in the region, experts have warned. The collaboration needs to be strengthened to address the food, water and energy issues in the Himalyan region, they say. “We need to work hard to make sure that mountain issues and their downstream linkages are well reflected in regional and global discussions. We need new knowledge in this area to guide us in the development of effective adaptation strategies in the region,” said David Molden, Director General of International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), based in Kathmandu. He was speaking at the ‘Knowledge Forum on Climate Resilient Development in Himalayan and Downstream Regions’ in New Delhi, which concluded on Sunday. The event was jointly organised by the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, ICIMOD, and New Delhi-based Institute of Economic Growth (IEG). The event brought together policy-makers, scientists and development practitioners from the Himalayan and downstream countries, including Bangladesh, China, India and Nepal. The challenge to food, water and energy security is immense in Himalyan region countries as more than 40 percent of the world’s poor live there and about 51 per cent of their population is food-energy deficient. “Feeding more than 700 million people in the Himalyan region, about two-thirds of the world population, is something we need to think about very seriously,” ICIMOD’s livelihood expert Golam Rasul said. IEG Director Manoj Panda said regional collaboration is needed on knowledge in specific sectors and research on single issues. “Climate change is not uniform in the region and might be very diverse and the impact is more on low-income areas of all nations,” Panda said. “Hill people have managed their resources in micro-watershed for centuries despite absence of appropriate administrative units in watersheds. We must communicate knowledge of the mountains and hills to downstream region,” Indian Institute of Public Administration Director Tishyarakshit Chatterjee said. Qazi Kholiquzzaman Ahmad, a leading economist of Bangladesh, said the region needs to build social capital institutionally and individually at the local, regional and national levels. “We need equity and equitable development that lets all men, women and children benefit equally,” he said. Australia’s High Commissioner to India Harinder Sidhu said her country is ready to share its experience and expertise in three Himalayan river basins of the Ganga, Indus and Brahmaputra to address the issue. Molden said he hoped that the region will one day have its own ‘Himalayan Council’, like the Arctic Council, a notion echoed by Ahmad and Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change Secretary Ajay Narayan Jha. (Business Standard 19/6/16)

Coastal zone report relaxes curbs on constructions (9)

NEW DELHI: A high-power committee has recommended changes to laws governing infrastructure development along India’s coast, with the most significant being giving greater powers and responsibilities to coastal States to regulate development, maintain and conserve ecologically fragile zones and ensure that environment be protected without neglecting “basic requirements of growing population.” Also the committee has in several places recommended that local town planning regulations be preferred over the existing Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) restrictions. Former Secretary of the Earth Sciences Ministry Shailesh Nayak chaired a six-member committee in 2014 that prepared the ‘Report of the Committee to Review the Issues relating to the Coastal Regulation Zone, 2011’ and submitted it to the Environment Ministry in January 2015. Researcher and environmentalist Kanchi Kohli from the Centre for Policy Research filed a Right to Information (RTI) application in February 2015 after being denied access to the report. The Ministry refused to share it on the grounds that the government had not approved the report’s recommendations. Last month, the Central Information Commission ordered that the Environment Ministry share the report with Mr. Kohli. The report can be viewed on the CPR website. According to a statement by the CPR analysing the report, the new Act proposes the devolution of powers to State and Union Territory governments along with local authorities for CRZ II (built up cities and towns), CRZ III (rural areas) and CRZ IV (12 nautical miles into the sea) areas. These are for activities not covered under the Environment Impact Assessment Notification, 2006. The various Coastal Regulation Zone grades represent the ecological sensitivity of a region in decreasing order with I being the most sensitive. The report, which has yet to be accepted by the government, recommends that buildings can be constructed behind existing structures and roads in CRZ II areas as per existing town and country-planning norms. CRZ III areas are divided as ‘Densely Populated Rural Areas’ and ‘Rural Areas’ with lesser regulation for the former through the reduction of the ‘no-development zone’ to 50 metres. The document promotes housing infrastructure and slum redevelopment activities in CRZ II and tourism in CRZ III areas based on town and country planning norms and other State regulations. It also recommends the reclamation of the sea bed in CRZ IV area for “ports and harbour, fisheries-related activities and other infrastructure required in the larger public interest such as bridges, sea-links on stilts, roads, important national installations related to coastal security, tourism.” The report was made after consultation with Maharashtra, Karnataka and Kerala and also involved representatives from relevant Union Territories. Since January 2015 when the report was submitted, the Ministry has made several amendments to the notification and five of these are related to allowing more constructions in environmentally sensitive coastal zones and laying of new roads in CRZ areas. (The Hindu 22/6/16)

Environment Ministry withdraws draft forest policy (9)

NEW DELHI: The Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change has repudiated a ‘Draft National Forest Policy’ that it uploaded on its website earlier this month calling it an “inadvertent” error. The ‘Draft National Forest Policy, 2016’, was uploaded on the Ministry’s website on June 16 along with an office memorandum calling for comments. “The Ministry is in the process of revising the present National Forest Policy, 1988. A draft National Forest Policy in this regard has been prepared and enclosed. All stakeholders are requested to send their comments, if any, by email…by June 30, 2016,” said the official memorandum signed by A.K. Mohanty, Deputy Inspector General of Forests. The Environment Ministry had tasked the Bhopal-based Indian Institute of Forest Management, an affiliated organisation, with reviewing and revising the existing forest policy. This is the first time that the policy was being re-looked since 1988 as it wanted to update the several changes in forest laws and provide a forward-looking policy that talked about increasing India’s forest cover and tackling the effects of climate change. However on Saturday, a formal statement from the Ministry and attributed to S.S. Negi, Director-General Forest and Special Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change read: “As Director-General Forest, I would like to clarify that this document is not the Draft Forest Policy….The Ministry has not issued any draft Notification on National Forest Policy. What has been uploaded on the website was a study done by Indian Institute of Forest Management. Bhopal. The study has not been evaluated by the Ministry. The Ministry has not taken any decision on Draft Forest Policy. The study report prepared by IIFM, Bhopal was inadvertently uploaded as Draft Forest Policy on the website.” The Hindu couldn’t contact Mr. Negi for his comments. However the opening pages of the policy indicate that IIFM clearly saw itself as working on a “draft policy” and not just a study. “The draft of the National Forest Policy, 2016 has been prepared by the IIFM, Bhopal, based on village-level focus group discussions, regional and national level consultations, inputs from various stakeholders and analysis of primary and secondary datasets carried out during 2015-2016. We are grateful to the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Government of India (MoEF&CC) for entrusting this task to IIFM, and acknowledge the financial support received from the UNDP,” says the document. A top official privy to the drafting process told The Hindu that while the policy was a study that was prepared for the “consideration of the government” it was unusual for the government to so “vehemently” deny that it was a draft. “This project was funded by the United Nations Development Fund and we were allotted about Rs. 60 lakh by the Ministry for the project that was commissioned as a ‘Review of the National Forest Policy,” the official said. The draft policy, as The Hindu reported on the June 22, made several suggestions including promoting the commercial use of wood, a greater role for industry in forest management and time-bound reviews of the progress being made in effectively managing forests. It however didn’t explicitly mention the role of tribals in forest management and the protection accorded by the Forest Rights Act. As of Saturday evening, the document was still available on the Ministry’s website and open to public comments until June 30. Dr. Negi’s statement noted that a new draft policy would be made available. “…The Ministry has an elaborate procedure for preparing draft policy document, which takes into account multiple inputs from all stakeholders, State governments, think tanks and public consultation. No process has been carried out on the document prepared by IIFM, Bhopal, which is only one of the inputs. A draft Forest Policy will be put in Public Domain once due process is carried out.” (The Hindu 26/6/16)

Conservation activists express concern (9)

GUWAHATI, June 26 – For the tenth time since 2008, delegates representing the governments of Bhutan and India, along with conservation NGOs of the region met in Guwahati on June 21 and 22 to discuss “Conservation of Biodiversity – Issues and Opportunities” in the large trans-boundary landscape between India and Bhutan across the international boundary from river Sankosh in the west to the river Dhansiri in the east, referred to as the Trans-boundary Manas Conservation Area (TraMCA). The meeting saw the delegates taking stock of the status of implementation of the work plan developed for the region and also discussed the emerging issues, with special reference to proposed developmental activities having potential negative impact and continued anthropogenic pressure on the forest resources. The delegates expressed concern at the ongoing deforestation activities in the TraMCA landscape and stressed the need for scaled-up government efforts to arrest deforestation on an urgent basis. Restoration of the denuded forest areas and their protection was also discussed as the only possibility of regaining lost habitats. “Ecosystems are like Humpty Dumpty. If the balance is lost, it is lost forever. No amount of riches or power can bring it back,” DP Bankhwal, IG Forest, National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), Guwahati, said. The meeting was also addressed by D Mathur, PCCF and HOFF, Assam, who appreciated the effort of the Indian and Bhutanese foresters in bringing the group together, which is now well recognised internationally. He also assured of all support to see its progress further. A Swargowari, CHD, forest department of the Bodoland Territorial Council said that the TraMCA concept that had gained momentum during the last six years, is moving in the right direction due to efforts of all stakeholders. The delegation from Bhutan, lead by Tenzin Wangchuk, Park Manager, Royal Manas National Park, expressed concern at the current and proposed developments in the landscape and emphasised further strengthening of the collaboration of the TraMCA partners to achieve its long-term goals. At the meeting, a report on joint monitoring of tigers was also released by Mathur. The report presents the finding of joint monitoring of tigers in both Manas National Park, India and Royal Manas National Park, Bhutan. The study was carried out during February-May 2015 simultaneously in India and Bhutan across the boundary by forest officials and researchers from Aaranyak (The Assam Tribune 27/6/16)

India’s toxic e-waste needs better handling (9)

An estimated 1.8 million tonnes of e-waste is generated in the country, and is likely to grow to 5.2 million tonnes by 2020 at the predicted annual compounded growth of 30 percent, says one of its reports with cKinetics, a consultancy on sustainable business based here and in Palo Alto. “But the sad part is a mere 2.5 percent of India’s total e-waste gets recycled,” said another of the chamber’s study, in collaboration with Frost and Sullivan, attributing it mainly to poor laws and lack of adequate infrastructure. “There are two reasons for the e-waste problem – people are not aware about e-waste, and they do not have solutions to this issue,” said Deepak Sethi, Chief Executive and Co-Founder of Delhi-based recycling company, Pompom. “Worse, the waste that is segregated by the informal sector is either dumped or burnt, which is not the right thing to do,” Sethi said. “It is dumped in dustbins or sold, which is wrong. We should make sure e-waste goes to the right channels – this is what needs to change.” India does have what is called E—Waste Management and Handling Rules since May 2012, which has laid the onus of recycling on companies along with an extended producer responsibility to ensure their efficient and appropriate collection. But the role of consumers is unclear. Such waste includes discarded computer monitors, motherboards, cathode ray tubes, printed circuit boards, mobile phones and chargers, compact discs, headphones, white goods such as liquid crystal displays, plasma televisions, air conditioners and refrigerators.This is because e-waste can contains toxic substances such as lead, mercury, cadmium, gases and heavy metals, as also non-bio-degradbles like plastics, which are threats to both humans and the environment, if not handled properly. Studies show that millions of people in India are involved in scavenging e-waste or in waste management, and because of the exposure to toxic material, 30 percent of their income goes towards medicines with a life expectancy of just 45 years. The growing e—waste problem is compounded by increasing amount of e—waste dumping into India.IANS (The Hindu 27/6/16)

AGRICULTURE/ FARMERS SUICIDES

Govt. working to reduce input cost in agriculture, says Minister (20)

NEW DELHI: Union Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh on Tuesday said the Union government had chalked out a concrete plan to reduce the input cost in agriculture and provide farmers better returns for their produce. “We have resolved to double the income of farmers in next over 5 years. The government is giving priority to the enterprises linked to agricultural sector so as to achieve this target,” the Minister said at a press conference here. “We are taking a number of initiatives to minimise the cost of agricultural production…With this goal in mind, 14 crore farmers in the country are being given soil health cards.” The government, he said, had launched the ‘Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana’ to promote organic farming. “Neem-coated urea, improved varieties of seeds and planting material, and schemes such as the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana have been introduced and farmers are also being provided agricultural loans on concessional rate.” Mr. Singh said norms related to disaster relief been altered to help farmers affected by natural calamities. “The discrepancies existing in crop insurance schemes have been removed and a new scheme called Pradhan Mantri Fasal Beema Yojana has been launched…The concept of ‘one nation and one mandi [market]’, , which was a long pending marketing reform, has been taken ahead.”A new National AgroForestry scheme had been initiated for planting trees over meadows, the Minister said, adding that the dairy and fisheries sectors had made greater strides in terms of growth and development in the last two years. (The Hindu 1/6/16)

’Project Marathwada’ highlights the plight of Indian farmers (20)

The drought-like situation across Maharashtra has prompted several farmers to commit suicide. Veteran actor Om Puri portrays the plight of one such man who contemplates ending his life in the film, ‘Project Marathwada’. He plays the character of Tukaram, a distressed peasant, whose son commits suicide. He is in a hapless situation as he conducts his son’s last rites. The film highlights his grave loss and the helplessness of people living in his village. How Puri decides to end his life, after futile attempts to seek help from the corrupt system, forms the twist in the tale.Puri says, “It’s moving to see how we have abandoned our farmers, yet they continue to feed us. While playing the character, it was heart wrenching to see their miserable condition. We hope to create a strong wave through this film, which is the best medium to reach out to the larger audience and highlight their crisis.” The movie, which is written and directed by Bhavin Wadia also features Seema Biswas, Govind Namdeo, Dalip Tahil, Farrah Kedar, Caroll, Kunal Seth and Rahul Patel. While Archit Patel is the cinematographer, Sanjoy Chowdhury has composed the background music. ‘Project Marathwada’, produced by Prakash Patel, Jigna Patel, Jay Prakash Patel and Eagle Eye Entertainment, releases today. (Times of India 3/6/16)

Under 18 lakh debt, Mansa farmer commits suicide (20)

Mansa: Finding it hard to pay back a debt of Rs 18 lakh, a farmer in Samao village of Mansa committed suicide by consuming poison on Saturday night. Krishan Singh, 50, was found dead in his fields. His son Parget said, “He owed Rs 15 lakh to the State Bank of Patiala, Rs 2 lakh to Punjab and Sind Bank, and Rs 1 lakh to a village cooperative society. My father was under depression and was facing a court case filed by the State Bank of Patiala to recover the loan amount.” Krishan owned 4 acres of farmland. According to his son, Krishan went to the field in the night itself. When he did not return home, the family went looking for him and found him dead. (Times of India 6/6/16)

51% tillers who ended lives were youths (20)

Nashik: More than half of the farmers who committed suicide in the district this year were between the ages 20 and 39, a district administration report has revealed. As many as 22 farmers in the 43 suicide cases recorded in the district till Monday fell in this age bracket. The youngest was just 20 years old, while six farmers were under the age of 29. Sixteen farmers belonged to the under-39 age group. A senior officer from the collectorate said that 21 of the 43 cases have been officially confirmed as farmer suicides, while 10 have been rejected. “The decision in 11 cases is still pending. Most of them have been the recent ones. The month of May alone recorded 18 suicide cases and we have called for reports in these cases,” the official said. But the fact remains that 22 young farmers in the district ended their lives. “It is difficult to plug suicides of farmers, even though the district administration has intensified measures to identify vulnerable families and individuals. There is no way to identify and stop a person from committing suicide, but at least we can change the surroundings in such a way that people think a couple of times before deciding to let everything go,” the official said. “It is very disturbing that young farmers, whose shoulders carry the hopes of their families and society, are taking the extreme step at this promising age. This is not a good sign for society,” said Vinayakdada Patil, former state industry minister and trustee of the Maharashtra Institute of Technology Transfer for Rural Areas, headquartered in Nashik. The district administration has taken steps to identify and counsel vulnerable farmers. “So far, the counselling activity is based on the key indicator of the villages and talukas which have reported deaths. As we go deeper with the data sought from cooperatives and banks, we will be able to identify farmers in debt. Once the data is prepared, farmers with high debt and unstable families – with critically ill members and socioeconomic problems – will be identified. They will be provided with aid, without disclosing their names,” a senior official from the collectorate said.A 55-year-old farmer committed suicide in Yeola taluka, taking the toll to 44 in the district. The farmer Sitaram Jairam sonawane, 55, of village Mukhed owned 0.60 Ha of land and had some loan as well. Sonawane hung himself to the ceiling of his house at 4.00 on Monday morning. His body was noticed by family members who alerted neighbours and the police as well. “He is a farmer and there unconfirmed reports about he having taken a loan. But exact details are not available and hence at this point of time it would be difficult to say anything. The reports have been called for,” an officer from collectorate said. (Times of India 7/6/16)

Farmers skip paddy sowing for debt waiver (20)

Bathinda: Protesting to seek complete waiver of farmers’ debt, peasant organizations have decided to continue with their agitation despite the time for transplanting paddy approaching. Led by Bharatiya Kisan Union (Ekta Ugrahan), farmers have been protesting outside the office of Bathinda deputy commissioner for 16 days. Farmers had begun their protest on May 24, and have been seeking an exhaustive survey to know the number of farmer suicides since 2010. “The Punjab Settlement of Agriculture Indebtedness Bill 2016, passed in April by the state government, is full of lacunae that do not provide any major respite to the aggrieved farmers. We want the state government to waive all institutional debt pending against farmers. We are ready to make any sacrifice to ensure the writing off of the debt and will continue protesting till our goal is achieved,” said BKU (Ekta Ugrahan) general secretary Sukhdev Singh Kokri. (Times of India 9/6/16)

OHRC seeks report on Kalahandi farmer deaths (20)

BHUBANESWAR: The Odisha Human Rights Commission (OHRC) has sought a report from the State Government on farmers’ suicide in Kalahandi district. Acting on a petition filed by coordinator of Bhubaneswar-based Lohia Academy Trust Ajay Kumar Jena and and trustee Debaprasad Mohapatra, the human rights panel has asked the Principal Secretary of Agriculture Department, Special Relief Commissioner (SRC) and district Collector to conduct an inquiry and send their respective reports within six weeks. The petitioners alleged that due to failure of paddy and cotton crops during the kharif and rabi seasons in Kalahandi district, the number of farmer suicides has gone up to six including the latest incident in which one Purna Chandra Bhoi of Golamunda block ended his life by consuming pesticides. The deceased farmer is said to have taken the extreme step as he was unable to bear crop loss and repay loan amount of `60,000 along with interest, the petitioners said and claimed that more farmers are committing suicides in different parts of the State for similar reasons but unfortunately, the State government has been refuting such incidents.  Besides appealing for award of compensation of `5 lakh to the next of kin of the deceased farmer, the petitioners demanded compensation for other farmers who committed suicide due to crop loss in the tribal-dominated district. The loans incurred by farmers should also be repaid by the Government, they demanded. The Commission has fixed the next date of hearing on July 25. (New Indian Express 13/6/16)

Unemployment hitting farmers hardest: Bodies (20)

Bathinda: The farmer organisation BKU Ekta Ugrahan, protesting at Bathinda for the last 20 days demanding agri loan waiver, has termed the rising unemployment as one of the biggest reasons behind rising debt on farmers, apart from expenses on agriculture related activities. Farmers asserted that they spend large amounts on educating young sons and daughters, and when the youngsters fail to get employed it directly affects the farmer and his family. They added, “This makes paying back the loans difficult and pushes them towards suicide.” The farmers had started protest for debt waiver and survey of suicides after 2010 on May 24 and completed 20 days of protest on Sunday. BKU Ugrahan general secretary Sukhdev Singh Kokri said that though the unemployment was affecting every individual in the state but the farmers were hit the hardest. They took loans to educate their children and when educated youth failed in getting any employment, the families were devastated. The Bathinda police on Saturday resorted to lathi-charge thrice on unemployed teachers and others. Three different cases too have been registered against 25 persons, including half a dozen women under sections 283(obstruction in public way), 427(mischief causing damage) and prevention to damage to public property Act, and the highway Act. (Times of India 13/6/16)

Police collating data on suicide of farmers between 2011-2016 (20)

Madurai: The Tamil Nadu police are collating details of suicides committed by farmers across the State between 2011-2016 (till May) along with reasons attributed for taking the extreme step. The Director General of Police has instructed the Commissionerates and District police units to gather details of the suicides of farmers reported during the six-year period. The police have also sought details of reasons for committing suicides including debts, crop loss and personal issues. In the run up to the Assembly elections, AIADMK leader and Chief Minister Jayalalithaa had said that fewer farmers had committed suicide in the last five years as opposed to 2006-11 when the DMK was in power. She had accused the DMK of indulging in “false propaganda” and finding fault with the AIADMK regime for increase in price of fertilisers and farmers’ suicides. (The Hindu 15/6/16)

Farmers harvest nothing but debt, finds Government survey (20)

NEW DELHI: If a government survey is to be believed, forget making money to sustain the family, an agricultural household is accumulating Rs 3,000 debt every month. The Agricultural Household 70th Round Survey of National Sample Survey Office (NSSO), conducted during July 2012–June 2013, has found that the total income of an agricultural household per month was Rs 6,426. However, the total expenditure, including household and expenses on crop production, was Rs 9,502. “This shows why farmers are committing suicide,” says Kishor Tiwari who has been championing farmers’ cause in Vidarbha. “The situation is even worse in at least 18-19 districts and farm income is less than shown in the survey. Why do you think small and marginal farmers are migrating to cities? If I pick up the survey figure, a farmer is collecting Rs 36,000 in debt every year and cannot sustain the family. There is a need to increase farm income,” Tiwari told Express. As per the government’s own figures, as many as 116 farmers had committed suicide due to agrarian reasons till April 2016. According to the survey, the average monthly consumption expenditure per agricultural household during July 2012-June 2013 was Rs 6,223 and average monthly expenditure on productive assets used for farm and non-farm business during the same period was was Rs 1,087. The average monthly expenditure on crop production by a cultivating agricultural household during July 2012-June 2013 was estimated as Rs 2,192. The total expenditure by the household was Rs 9,502 per month. The report says about 52% of the estimated 90.2 million agricultural households in rural India reported outstanding loans. About 60% of these loans were taken from institutional sources like banks and government and 26 per cent from agricultural or professional money lenders. “Successive governments have kept farmers in this country impoverished,” observes Devinder Sharma, a well-known agricultural policy expert. The report further suggests farmers are earning the entire monthly income through agriculture. It says nearly 60% of the average monthly income per agricultural household (Rs 6,426) was estimated to have been generated from farm business, including cultivation and farming of animals, and about 32 per cent from wages or salary and 8 per cent from other non-farm business. “A farmer is making money through MNREGA. For small farmers, it could be labour work,” says Sharma. (New Indian Express 17/6/16)

Farmers block road in Bathinda (20)

Bathinda: Angered by the state government’s silence on the issue of giving compensation to the family of farm hand Ralla Singh, who had died at the dharna venue on Friday, farmers on Sunday blocked the road near Bathinda bus stand for over two hours. They lifted the blockade after an assurance from government officials. The farmers had at that time protested for debt waiver and a survey to identify families of farmers who committed suicide after 2010 (Tmes of India 20/6/16)

HC warns against filing false info on farmers’ suicides (20)

HYDERABAD: Cautioning that it will penalise the petitioners and also the respondents if it found that they had furnished false information about farmers’ suicides, the  High Court directed the Telangana government on Monday to furnish the reasons for rejecting 188 cases of suicide by farmers for payment of compensation. A division bench comprising acting chief justice Dilip B Bhosale and justice P Naveen Rao was dealing with a batch of petitions filed separately by Vyavasaya Jana Chaitanya Samithi, Pakala Srihari Rao, Prof Kodandaram and others challenging the inaction of the state governments on curbing farmers’ suicides in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. Telangana government’s special counsel  Sharath Kumar said the petitioners had submitted a list of 345 cases of suicide and officials, after inquiry, found that 188 of those deaths were not farm-related but due to other reasons. And, reports are yet to come on 43 cases. The three-member  committees at the district level have identified beneficiaries for ex gratia in 70 cases and payment was made in 60 cases so far, the counsel said. The bench adjourned the case for two weeks. (New Indian Express 21/6/16)

13% Karnataka farmers avail benefits of crop insurance (20)

Bengaluru: Farmer suicides along with the state’s poor record in crop insurance schemes is a huge concern for the Karnataka Agriculture Prices Commission (KAPC). The percentage of farmers utilizing the Prime Minister’s Fasal Bhima Yojana (crop insurance scheme) in the state is just 13, against the national average of 20%. The Institute of Social and Economic Change (ISEC) has been tasked with investigating the reasons for farmers not availing the benefits of crop insurance. “The study will find out what makes crop insurance schemes more farmer friendly. Poor response to National Agriculture Insurance and Modified National Agriculture Insurance schemes saw them being scrapped,” said Pramod Kumar from the Agricultural Development and Rural Transformation Centre. “Farmers are plagued by risk at every stage owing to excessive dependence on nature. A farmer can incur losses despite a good harvest if he fails to get the right price for his produce,” said Meenakshi Rajeev from the Centre for Economic Study and Policy. ISEC held the first round of meetings with farmers, insurance companies and banks. (Times of India 23/6/16)

Agriculture should be declared public service in India: P Sainath (20)

New Delhi: Veteran journalist P.Sainath on Monday, terming “inequality” the fundamental reason for water and farm crisis in the country, said agriculture should be declared a “public service” in India. Delivering the Delhi Assembly Lecture Series’ inaugural talk on “Water and Farm Crisis in India”, he also called for a special parliament session on it. “The Swaminathan Commission report is lying in the Parliament for 10 years. There has been no discussion on it. There should be at least a 10-day-long session on water and farm crisis,” Sainath said. Defining drought as a “mega water crisis” in the country, he contended that looking at the agricultural crisis in the country and the rate of farmers’ suicides, agriculture should be declared a public service by the government. “The agriculture credit is going to agri-business and not going to the agriculturists. Credit crisis has pushed millions of farmers into debt. Since 1991, there has been a reduction in the population of 150 lakh farmers,” said Sainath. “Agriculture in our country should be declared public service and farmers should be guaranteed cost of production plus 50 per cent. He said people think drought is due to meteorological factors, but there is a hydrological factor to it. “I call drought a ‘mega water crisis’, which is caused due to overuse of ground water. Even if you get three monsoons, there may be relief, but it is not the solution to drought. In the last 20 years, India stands naked in water and farm crisis,” said Sainath. Talking about his visit to the source of the Krishna river in Satara (Maharashtra) and the source of the Godavari at the Ram Konda Ghat, he said: “For the first time in the history the river sources are drying up because of extensive deforestation and concretisation.” “At the Ram Konda Ghat, every day 60 to 90 tankers of water are poured into the river for the people to take bath. People take bath in the sacred waters of a tanker,” he quipped. Giving example of Maharashtra, he said: “No state has spent more money to produce less water than Maharashtra.” Terming the water crisis as policy-driven, he said: “The interest of ordinary people come last. “First we should think whether drinking water is a human right or a commodity? Top one per cent of Indians owned 53 per cent of total wealth as of 2015. Nowhere has inequality grown faster in the last 15 years. “This inequality in the country reflects on water issues, education, health and every other aspect. Basic rights of Indian citizens such as health, water and food need to be guaranteed. The rate of growth of inequality is the highest in the country,” he added.”Worldwide a trend is emerging of urban agriculture. Rooftop, balcony agriculture, neighbourhood plants can be taken into account seriously. In Europe, it is very common in crowded cities. This is something that we can examine whether it is feasible. Some important supplements of the diet people can grow for their families,” said Sainath. (Business Standard 27/6/16)

Two more farmer suicides raise toll to 52 (20)

Nashik: Reports of two more farmers from different parts of the district committing suicide have trickled in, taking the toll to 52 this year so far. Of the 52 suicides reported so far, the state government has rejected the cases of 20 farmers as they could not meet the criteria laid down for the beneficiaries to obtain aid. According to the revenue officials, the two farmers from Niphad and Trimbakeshwar talukas reportedly ended their lives in the past week. Shantaram Nathu Vaze (60), resident of Shreerampur in Niphad taluka reportedly ended his life on June 25 by consuming poison. The revenue officials have called for further details in the case. “We got the report from the talathi of the village about a person committing suicide. We have sought further information in the case from the officials concerned, including the land records, the cooperatives as well as the police. We will raise the proposal with the district committee, which ultimately decides upon the proposals of farmer suicides,” a senior official from the office said. Another farmer, Dashrath Trimbak Bhoye (42) hailing from Dalpatpur village, Trimbakeshwar, reportedly committed suicide on June 22. “The farmer is survived by his mother, wife, a son and a daughter. This is the first suicide reported in the tribal taluka of Trimbakeshwar. Bhoye, with an annual income of Rs 35,000, is most likely to have taken the extreme step in view of continuous failure of crops for the last several years and thus monetary issues facing the family,” the officer said. The district administration, meanwhile, has accepted 29 of the 52 proposals it received this year. It has rejected 20 cases for not being able to meet the criteria, while three are stilling pending. Aid of Rs 1 lakh will be given to the family members of farmers whose suicide cases were accepted by the district committee based on the criteria announced by the state government. The toll of suicide cases has risen to 52 this year as compared to 23 cases last year during the corresponding period. “There is no single criterion or factor that can be linked to farmers’ suicide and can indicate that the farmer is going to commit suicide. However, the government needs to address the needs of the farmers as those committing suicide are the ones who are small or marginal farmers. Such farmers would often refrain from working as labourers in others’ farms,” said Rajesh Lahamge, who is associated with an NGO working for farmers’ upliftment. Farmers can only earn money by selling crops; but a glut in production or a drought seriously affects their livelihood, thereby lowering their moral, he added. (Times of India 28/6/16)

LAND ACQUISITION/ DISPLACEMENT

Government notifies new land acquisition policy (4)

PANAJI: The state government on Tuesday notified a new land acquisition policy to acquire land for public projects on priority basis. The policy promises to benefit rural landowners . This policy, notified under the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013, provides for procurement of land by way of a deed of conveyance. The entitlement of the owner of the acquired land shall be protected by providing adequate consideration as deserved by the owner, said revenue secretary Sudhir Mahajan . The market value of land to be procured will be determined by the land rates notified under the Stamp Act as in force in Goa, under sub-rule (3) of rule 4 of the Goa Stamp (Determination of True Market Value of Property) Rules, 2003, without any remission or rebate over the notified rates. If the government acquires land in a rural area at a government-notified price, the government will pay the landowner the same amount multiplied by two, plus an additional amount of 100% of the government notified price. Additionally, interest of 12% will be paid on the amount from the date of consent till the time payment is made and sale deed executed. Urban land acquisition will be done as per the market price notified by the government. Valuation of standing structures in land to be procured will be assessed and included in the consideration. Valuation will be carried out by the Public Works Department. Valuation of standing crop or trees will be assessed by the Directorate of Agriculture or Forest Department . “The owner of the land can either opt for the consideration or avail benefits in kind, said Mahajan. “Such benefits may include grant of a shop or other single business unit for self-sustenance by the owner, or proportionate increase in FAR to the extent the land lost.” If a house is lost for procuring any land under this policy, a constructed house shall be provided by the Requiring Department to the affected families. The size of the house shall be equal to the house lost by the families and same shall be made available in the close vicinity of the house lost. Close vicinity shall mean within a radius of 1 to 5 km from the land procured. The house can be accommodated either within the procured area itself or on any other land belonging to the government in the vicinity. The government’s decision in this regard will be final. (Times of India 1/6/16)

Compensation under Land Acquisition Act sought (4)

GHANAPUR ANICUT (MEDAK DISTRICT): The farmers who converged for a meeting organised by Telangana Rytu Sangham to discuss the compensation to be paid with regard to land submergence, here on Saturday were an agitated lot. “What happened to the promise made by Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao that there would not be submergence after increase in height of Ghanapur project? Why is he silent now when about 400 acres would be submerged?,” asked Ahammad Hussain, who came to attend the meeting. He said that Chief Minister promised to construct a wall to prevent submergence and wondered whether it could be implemented. “What would be the increase in the height of the project? Mr. Chandrasekhar Rao said that it would be one metre while Irrigation Minister T. Harish Rao says it will be two metres. Our land yields two crops a year. Why not government pay compensation under the Act?,” asked Mallanna, another farmer. “The Act was passed while Mr. Chandrasekhar Rao was Lok Sabha member. Why is it that he did not oppose the Act?” asked Rytu Sangham leader A. Mallesh. He has suggested that the villagers constitute a struggle committee at every village. “We are not against construction of projects and we also want development. Pay the right compensation to farmers so that they live happily,”said Mr. Mallesh. B. Chandra Reddy, general secretary, Telangana Rytu Sangham, said G.O. 123 and G.O. 214 are against the spirit Land Acquisition Act 2013 passed by the Parliament. “We got the compensation for those who had their land in possession without pattas. Unite and fight and you will get the right compensation under the Land Acquisition Act,” he said. About 100 villagers from different villages participated in the meeting. (The Hindu 5/6/16)

450 hawkers evicted from Colaba Causeway (4)

MUMBAI: The BMC has cleared 450 hawkers from south Mumbai’s famous shopping street Colaba Causeway after a fire destroyed the century-old Metro House in the area. Civic officials have said that of the 450 hawkers only 125 had valid licences. The 125 vendors may be allowed to hawk their wares on the street only after the civic corporation completes a structural audit of the building (Metro House). However, members from the hawkers’ association have protested against the BMC’s massive eviction campaign. The civic body has already written to Maharashtra Housing and Development Authority (MHADA) in connection with the structural audit of the building. The audit exercise is expected to be initiated from this week. While permission was sought from the civic body to instal a monsoon shed over the building, the BMC has issued approvals only for a scaffolding. The assistant municipal commissioner from A ward, Kiran Dighavkar, said, “We cannot allow the hawkers to operate at a time when the structural audit of the building is on. We will not be allowing the unauthorized hawkers to continue especially as we have been receiving complaints from the shopkeepers’ association.” A Shaikh from the Colaba hawkers’ association said that they have been operating in the area since many years. “Suddenly they cannot come and take action against us like this. We are ready to remove the obstruction. But we should be allowed to sit there,” said Shaikh. (Times of India 7/6/16)

Land acquisition: farmers in a fix over land price (4)

KONDAPAKA (MEDAK DISTRICT): In the backdrop of farmers seeking implementation of Land Acquisition Act 2013 to acquire land by the government for various purposes in the district, a discussion is on among the farmers on what would be the market price of the land and how it would be decided by the officials. The government has been proposing to acquire more than 50,000 acres for projects like Mallanna Sagar reservoir, National Investment and Manufacturing Zone (NIMZ), increase in the height of Ghanapur anicut and laying of pipelines for Mission Bhagiratha. The revenue officials claim that farmers would get more benefit under GO 123 issued by the State government when compared with acquisition under Land Acquisition Act where the market price is given – that is the price as per the registrar’s office, much lower than what the government has been offering– Rs. 5.8 lakh per acre plus Rs. 5.04 lakh per house in addition to the actual cost of the house. “Some political parties are misguiding the agitators who are already charged with emotion. They will lose hugely if the Act were to be implemented and would take longer to get compensation. This is not being understood by the agitators properly,” said a senior officer in the Revenue Department on condition of anonymity. Stating that the farmers would be offered three times of the card- registration- price which is about Rs. 80,000 and that comes to Rs. 1.8 lakh per acre approximately, the officer said that they will get other benefits such as Indira Awas Yojana house for which the estimated cost is about Rs. 53,000. “Though the land is being sold for about Rs. 8 lakh to Rs. 10 lakh per acre, no one is showing that in registration and as most of the registrations are done quoting lesser price, the average will be taken in to consideration,” added that officer. The question being asked by the land oustees is that why the price paid by the government for farmers under land purchasing scheme (LPS) or the price being paid by the government to farmers under Mallanna Sagar project can be considered as basic price of the land value in the district. While average price paid under LPS per acre stands at Rs. 4.5 lakh, the price being offered under the project under GO 123 is about Rs. 5.8 lakh per acre. (The Hindu 9/6/16)

Social impact survey for Kovvada plant soon (4)

SRIKAKULAM: A notification for conducting social impact survey is expected to be issued in a couple of days. The survey is aimed at knowing the socioeconomic conditions of people living in Kovvada and the surrounding areas, where the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) is going to establish India’s biggest atomic power plant. The survey is considered a crucial step in taking things forward for the establishment of the project in which U.S. companies are going to invest over Rs.1.5 lakh crore. Land survey, which was taken up on May 18, will be completed by Monday, according to revenue officials. The notification will be given after the report on land issues is ready. The government is considering enlisting the services of the Hyderabad-based Environment Protection Training and Research Institute (EPTRI) for conducting the survey, which is compulsory under the New Land Acquisition Act-2013. “We will complete the social impact survey by the end of July. Then, we will approach the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests. After that, a public hearing will be conducted,” a senior official told The Hindu .NPCIL senior officials, including Kovvada Project Director G.V. Ramesh, are currently in Mumbai and will stay there for a couple of weeks for completion of talks with delegates of the American company, Toshiba Corp’s Westinghouse Electric, which will supply reactors for the atomic power plant. The representatives of the company recently visited the Kovvada site discreetly and reportedly expressed their willingness to join hands with the NPCIL for the construction of the nuclear power plant. “Both the Union and State governments are very keen on the project, particularly after the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the United States. With the directive from the governments, we are going to complete land survey and acquisition very soon. We request the people to accept the package, which is the best in the country. They should not compare rates with Bhogapuram, where an international airport is going to come up,” said a senior official. (The Hindu 11/6/16)

RSP oustees to intensify agitation to get back land (4)

ROURKELA: ARMED with the report of the National Commission for Schedule Tribes (NCST), the displaced persons of Rourkela Steel Plant (RSP) on Sunday resolved to build up pressure on the State Government and the RSP to act on the NCST recommendations, including return of su rplus land to original owners. A meeting of the displaced persons’ association, RSP and Marshalling Yard Displaced Persons Committee (RSPMYDPC), led by president Lachhu Oram, decided to submit a representation to the Rourkela Additional District Magistrate (ADM) on June 20 to redress grievances of land oustees as per the commission’s recommendations. The house threatened to intensify its agitation in August if the administration and the RSP fail to fulfil their demands. The meeting decided to rope in two other factions of displaced persons, all political parties, seven MLAs and two MPs of Sundargarh district, including Union Tribal Affairs Minister Jual Oram, for taking up their case. Among other demands, they insisted on return of about 5,000 acres of surplus land to original owners, jobs in RSP to displaced families on the lines of the Central PSU Coal India Ltd (CIL), dismissal of impersonators working in RSP as land oustees and other rehabilitation measures. Lachhu Oram claimed that his family had lost 53 acres of land decades ago. Making mockery of the rehabilitation package, they were offered low amount of compensation. While his family was denied employment benefit, in lieu of their land, barren wasteland was allotted at about 150 km away at Aamgaon in adjacent Deogarh district. They are yet to receive record of rights (RoR), he alleged. Mangra Oram said his eight acres of land were acquired and later five acres were surrendered by the RSP only to set up the Plant Site police station there. His family is yet to get compensation. Rama Oram claimed that of his 17 acres, only five acres of land have been in occupation of RSP. But there is no effort to return the surplus vacant land to him, he added. Tribal leader Manilal Kerketta alleged that the RSP had acquired vast tracts of tribal land in the area by paying negligible amount of compensation (New Indian Express 13/6/16)

’Development has displaced more people than war’ (4)

JAIPUR: Academic Shiv Visvanathan set something of a record at the Jawab Do Dharna on Wednesday by delivering his speech in English. Aruna Roy of the Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sanghatan said his native tongue was Tamil, and since few understood it, he will speak in English. She then stepped in to offer an eloquent translation not only in Hindi but also in the local dialect. “Development has caused many more people to be displaced in India than war – while four crore people have been displaced by ‘development’ projects, about one crore have been rendered homeless by communal riots,” he said. Visvanathan said that at a recent meeting with Medha Patkar who led the Narmada Bachao Andolan, he heard her lament that people had forgotten all about the massive displacement that occurred with the construction of the Sardar Sarovar Dam in Gujarat. “There is a civil war in the country, between democracy and development. Our Constitution was made for democracy. There are now theories of science and development that will destroy you – to give you just one example, it was decided in the 1960s that only those languages that have a script will be recognized as official languages. At one swoop, 2,000 languages were just written off. And there are over 1.5 lakh varieties of rice grains in the country. But if the Green Revolution were allowed full play, there would be about 10 left.” Visvanathan said that at the Baba Atomic Research Centre in Mumbai, each time a leak needs fixing, it is not experts that are called in but local villagers, who fix the leak only to die a miserable death afterwards from radiation exposure. “Development is murder sanctioned by law,” Visvanathan said, adding that this aspect of what is called development is not peculiar to India. “In France the nuclear leaks are fixed by students, in the US blacks are used for the purpose; in Germany, old people.” Gujarat-based rights activist Sagar Rabari too spoke at the dharna on Wednesday. “While our political leaders claim the state has made massive strides in development, the standards of education and healthcare have seen great decline. Gujarat now ranks among the lowest states where education is concerned. The hospital in Bhuj that was reconstructed with funds from the PM’s Relief Fund after the earthquake in 2001 has now been handed over to the Adani group. Those who speak of development seem not to care for common people,” Rabari said. (Times of India 17/6/16)

Posco-hit demand land back (4)

PARADIP:  Hundreds of land losers under the banner of Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti have threatened to intensify the stir if the Government fails to return their land. The PPSS has been observing June 22 as Black Day and on Wednesday they took out rallies to mark 11th anniversary of signing of MoU between State Government and Korean Steel Giant, Posco. The PPSS activists took out rallies from Dhinkia village and congregated at Patana village under Dhinkia panchayat demanding withdrawal of the project from the locality. With uncertainty hanging over the project, they have urged the State Government to come out with a statement that Posco has withdrawn from Odisha. The activists also demanded that the State and Centre restore all farming land and betel vines acquired for the company to genuine owners and withdraw false cases against the project protesters. More than 2000 villagers and activists are facing over 350 charges for protesting against the Posco operations. Among others PPSS leaders Prasant Paikray, Prafulla Samantray and Manorama Khatua spoke. Land losers of Gobindpur village and victims of Posco project called off their strike on Wednesday after intervention of the district administration. They had staged a dharna in front of the Collectorate demanding compensation towards demolition of their betel vines during land acquisition. On Tuesday, irate locals staged the agitation over their demands. Meanwhile, Collector Yamini Sarangi has sought clarification from IDCO authorities regarding payment of compensation after demolition of betel vines in 2013. Sources said during land acquisition for Posco project, IDCO officials had demolished betel vines of 52 persons of Gobindpur village. But compensation in this regard was not paid to the farmers. Erasama Tehsildar, in his inquiry report, had also mentioned about their plight and demolition of betel vines in the village. (New Indian Express 23/6/16)

Government proposes programme for providing land to the landless (4)

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Keeping up its promise in the election manifesto, the LDF government on Friday declared that all the landless will be provided land and public land will be protected. The Government has proposed to implement a time-bound flagship programme for providing land to the landless. This was announced in Governor P Sathasivam’s customary policy address in the assembly on Friday. With a major chuck of paddy fields being reclaimed, the government said that a database, as envisaged in the Kerala Conservation of Paddy Land and Wetland Act, 2008, will be prepared with the help of satellite imagery and published within one year. In its attempt to protect public lands, the government is for effectively implementing the Kerala Land Reforms Act in letter and spirit without diluting any of its aims and objectives. It has also warned of strong action to prevent encroachment of Government lands. Noting that the tribal population were still deprived of land in the state, the government said that they have not benefited from the Land Reforms Act though the legislation itself was designed to reduce landlessness. “The State has witnessed several harrowing struggles clamouring for land for the tribal people – a blot on the conscience of any democratic society. Let me emphasise here that the projects and policies of my Government will focus on provision of land for the landless tribal population, progressive reduction in poverty and creation of employment, improving standard of living and quality of life and developing and strengthening infrastructure for further economic growth,” the governor said in his address. Another initiative of the government that would be taken up is completion of the resurvey process that has been pending for long years. The government intends to draw up a time frame to complete the re-survey process and redress petitions related to resurvey. (New Indian Express 24/6/16)

Land oustees dig into earlier agreements (4)

ERRAVALLI (MEDAK DIST): Even when Irrigation Minister T. Harish Rao announced that the government was ready to acquire land as per the Land Acquisition Act-2013, villagers of Erravalli are digging into the agreements made in the recent past. One of the land oustees of Mallannasagar reservoir came across a document which had a mention of the erstwhile Andhra Pradesh government paying compensation between Rs. 30.5 lakh and Rs. 52.9 lakh per acre depending on the location. The document pertains to writ petitions filed by farmers whose land was acquired for construction of Right Main Canal, Unit III, Indira Sagar (Polavaram project). Three writ petitions were filed by the farmers of 12 villages in Nuziveedu, Bapualapadu, Agiripally and Gannavaram mandals in 2006 and they received a huge compensation in June last. The consolidated statement on fixing the market price was signed by Special Collector, Land Acquisition, Indira Sagar Project on June 21, 2015. The land oustees are also quoting another case related to the proposed Bhogapuram airport in Vizianagaram district. The Andhra Pradesh government has been acquiring more than 5,300 acres of land for construction of Greenfield airport. The rate fixed for at least three villages are Gudepuvalasa- Rs. 33 lakh and Kancheru and Kavulvada- Rs. 28 lakh each. The compensation is decided as per the Land Acquisition Act- 2013, means three times the market value of the land. Manne Mahipal Reddy, a resident of Erravalli and an IT employee, said when the AP government could offer a good compensation package to farmers despite having a deficit budget, why was the Telangana government hesitating to do so, even when it was a surplus State. (The Hindu 25/6/16)

Oustees seek release of compensation (4)

NALGONDA: People across four villages of Peddhavoora mandal staged a dharna before the superintendent engineer office, GENCO, in Adavidevulapally village of Damaracharla mandal on Monday demanding release of compensation for their land given up for the construction of Nagarjunasagar (NSP) tail pond project. The project is a multipurpose reservoir located 21 kilometres downstream of Nagarjunasagar dam near Satrasala of Guntur district. Construction of the project began in 2006 and the government had sanctioned compensation of `1,25,000 per acre to oustees. Villages of Nadigadda and Chityala of Chinthalapalem and Jalikunta thandas lost their land due to the project. On Monday, the oustees of tail pond project under the banner of Raithu Sangham and Agriculture Labour Association, alleged that many farmers are yet to receive compensation and rehabilitation. Raithu Sangham leader M Sudhakar Reddy said, “Farmers are yet to receive compensation for about 270 acres of land. We want the government to arrange for rehabilitation centres to about four villages and provide jobs to unemployed youth.” (New Indian Express 28/6/16)

RIGHT TO HEALTH

Tobacco cancer on rise, 400 cases in KGH so far this year (3)

VISAKHAPATNAM: ONE out of three persons are consuming tobacco and 35 out of 100 patients suffering from palate cancer are affected by smokeless tobacco like khaini, gutkha and jarda in the three North Andhra districts, experts say. The oral cancer cases are on the rise in the city, if the hsopital records are of any indication. The Mahatma Gandhi Cancer Hospital and Research Institute in the city receives around 120 oral cancer cases every month. “They are more than the other forms of cancer. Oral cancer cases are 30 per cent of the total cancer cases. We are getting five to six cases daily,” says Dr Muralikrishna Voonna, surgical oncologist of Mahatma Gandhi Cancer Hospital .The cases of oral cancers are rampant among fishermen and in the tribal areas in the agency. “In the last three years, we have registered 2,500 cancer cases of which 762 patients affected by chewing tobacco,” says Dr B Ravi Shankar, consultant clinical oncologist of the Queen’s NRI hospital. The Department of Oncology at the KGH registered of 1,133 cancer cases last year of which 90-95 per cent were due to tobacco. This year, so far 400 cases have been reported.The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has started a Cancer Registry Programme in the city to keep a tab on the cancer patients, Head of the Department of Oncology at KGH Dr N Sujatha has said. As part of the programme some ICMR representatives are collecting date data and the process will be completed by end of the year, she said. “However, we need a registration building setup here for the purpose. In most of the cases, patients, owing to social stigma attached to the disease, approach the hospital in the advanced stage, which may prove fatal for the patients,” she adds. (New Indian Express 3/6/16)

NGO comes forward for fire-affected ragpickers (3)

Mumbai: To help the Deonar fire-affected ragpickers, who have been barred from scavenging the landfill, Apnalaya, a Mumbai-based NGO with support from Raddiconnect, India’s first online platform for raddi (scrap paper) collection and recycling, has come forward with helping hands. The NGO, which was founded in 1972, has decided to provide the Deonar ragpickers’ families medical and educational help through its initiative. Rahul Nainani from Raddiconnect, said, “After visiting Govandi a few times, few of my friends and I came across the NGO. We spoke to the CEO and project heads of Apnalaya to understand the problems faced by the people living around the area.” Mr Nainani also interacted with environmental activists, ragpickers and residents staying in the vicinity of the landfill. “We understood that the fires are common in dumping grounds. But most of these people suffer due to the smoke. Health problems like TB, asthma, deformities, malnutrition and HIV are rampant amongst the residents and they don’t even have money to spend on medicines. Since the massive fire in January, the dumping ground has been shut, which has made these waste pickers, desperate to earn money. They have no other skill to earn money either,” he added. “So to help these people, on this World Environment Day, we’re asking the people of Mumbai to pledge to recycle their raddi , the proceeds of which will be used to fund Apnalaya’s medical clinics in Govandi to help betterment of Deonar residents,” said Mr Nainani. He further added that the offer was open to individuals or corporates in Mumbai. “They can pledge to recycle at least 10 kilograms of scrap, which we will pick up from their addresses for free between June 1 and June 5. The proceeds from all the paper collected will be used for Apnalaya’s daycare centres at Deonar,” he explained. (Asian Age 5/6/16)

Tribespeople draw up priority list (3)

Palakkad: Organisations working for the welfare of the tribespeople and civil society movements are stressing on the need to restore alienated landholdings of the tribes in Attappady apart from restoring their livelihood. The demand follows the government move to address poverty and malnutrition in Attappady by appointing an IAS officer to coordinate welfare schemes and strengthen the community kitchen initiative. Welcoming the move to appoint an IAS officer, as lack of coordination among departments has derailed many welfare schemes, tribal leaders remind authorities that community kitchens that ensure nutritious meal once a day to pregnant and lactating tribal women and their children must be considered only as a short-term measure. “Instead of forcing them to visit community kitchens with bowls once a day to get the meal, the government must help the tribes engage in agriculture so that they could earn a livelihood,” opined Rajendra Prasad, president of tribal organisation Thambu. “Attappady stands testimony to how encroachment and flawed development perspectives of successive governments could shatter a self-sustained community. We have submitted a detailed list of priorities to SC/ST Welfare Minister A.K. Balan to avoid a repeat of the follies committed by earlier governments,” said K.A. Ramu, a tribal activist. Mega projects started in Attappady in the name of tribal welfare such as the Attappady Hill Area Development Society, Attappady Valley Irrigation Project, Attappadi Farming Society, Attappadi Goat Farm, and the Western Ghats Development Project have failed to make any impact on the tribespeople though they incurred heavy loss to the exchequer. “Despite spending crores of rupees, these projects could not make the tribes a self-reliant community. Instead they were made mere wage labourers,” tribal folk art singer S. Palaniswamy says. “Such projects only paved way a contractor- politician- official nexus. They only benefitted,” he said. The priority list submitted to Mr. Balan included promotion of agriculture suitable to soil conditions, social audit of welfare schemes, punishing corrupt officials, ensuring potable water in hamlets, reconstitution of tribal elder collectives, implementation of Forest Rights Act and Right to Education Act, and establishing of more primary health centres and community health centres. (The Hindu 8/6/16)

Medical insurance net set to cover all Delhiites (3)

NEW DELHI: The Delhi cabinet has given an in-principle approval for introducing a health insurance scheme for everyone in the state. Slated to empanel government and private hospitals, it will be rolled out by the end of this year, health minister Satyendar Jain told TOI. “There will be three categories for payment of premium, the highest payment for which should not exceed Rs 3,000 annually. For those below poverty line, the government will pay the premium and effectively open up private healthcare for those who have not been able to afford it so far,” the minister said. Everyone with a valid proof of residence in the capital – passport, voter ID or Aadhaar card – will be eligible for the scheme. The scheme, which draws many features from similar ones in Andhra and Tamil Nadu, will cover 1,800 medical procedures. “An accident insurance will be included, which may be free for everyone, under which it will be mandatory for all hospitals, empanelled or not, to admit and treat an accident victim. Police will have to take an accident victim to the nearest hospital instead of a government one,” Jain said. The government will distribute health cards, starting with government hospitals and then extending the service to private hospitals as well. At present, patients get financial assistance under the Delhi Aarogya Nidhi scheme. However, it has few takers as it requires a lot of approvals and paperwork. Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojna (RSBY), another health insurance scheme provided by the state, is also for the poor. Officials in the state health department said the scheme is expected to cost the government well over Rs 700 crore. The Congress government in Delhi had also proposed to introduce a similar health insurance scheme for all. It had formed a governing board of trustees which considered integration of RSBY scheme with the proposed health insurance plan. However, it could not be implemented. .. (Times of India 9/6/16)

Infant mortality rate has dipped in Karnataka, says dept of planning principal secretary (3)

Mysuru: The infant mortality rate in the state has come down by almost 10 percent in the last two years, said Uma Mahadevan, principal secretary, Department of Planning, Programme, Monitoring and Statistics. She was speaking at the valedictory of the workshop on ‘Policy Analysis and Evaluation’ organized by the Grassroots Research and Advocacy Movement in association with Cornell University (USA) at Vivekananda for Leadership Development (V-LEAD) here on Friday. She said, the infant mortality rate that indicates the number of infant deaths per 1,000 births, has come down to 28 in 2015-16 from 31 in 2013-14. She also said students and the parents have given thumbs up to the Ksheera Bhagya scheme under which school children get free milk every day. The government is now planning to improve it further, she added. She said, Karnataka is really progressing in all departments and doing well especially in education and health sectors. Dr Balasubramaniam, founder of V- LEAD, mentor Arun were also present. As many as 22 persons from across the country had participated in the workshop. (Times of India 11/6/16)

3 lakh children to be vaccinated after polio strain found in sewage (3)

NEW DELHI: The Ministry of Health plans to urgently immunise around 3 lakh children against the crippling polio virus after a strain of the highly contagious disease was detected in sewage in Hyderabad. India was declared polio free by the World Health Organization in March 2014 after an almost two-decade long, multi-million dollar effort — lauded as one of the country’s biggest public health achievements in recent times. A health ministry statement confirmed media reports that a strain of the virus was discovered in a sewage sample taken near Hyderabad’s Secunderabad railway station, but said that no children in area were found to be affected. “India continues to be polio free as the country has eradicated wild polio virus and the last case was seen on 13th January, 2011, and it is more than five years that no wild polio virus has been detected,” the health ministry said. The statement said a recent survey of the area found 94 percent of children had received at least three doses of the oral polio vaccine and therefore transmission was unlikely. However “as a precautionary measure” a special immunisation drive would be held from June 20 in the high-risk districts of Hyderabad and Rangareddy, targeting around 300,000 children between the ages of six weeks and three years, it said. Vaccination booths will be set up, the ministry said, and parents encouraged to get their children injected with the Inactivated Polio Vaccine which will provide additional protection against all types of polio. Afghanistan and Pakistan are the only countries left in the world where the virus remains endemic. The polio virus attacks the nervous system and can cause irreversible paralysis within hours of infection. It often spreads in areas with poor sanitation, and children under five are the most vulnerable. India – where more than 50,000 children were once afflicted with the virus every year – was considered one of the toughest places in the world to eradicate polio. Millions of health workers were involved in India’s mammoth drive to immunise children by giving them polio drops. They targeted migrant families at bus stations, on trains and at festivals. Some used motorcycles or trekked to reach villages. … (Times of India 15/6/16)

More girls than boys die in UP before they turn five (3)

Lucknow: If Uttar Pradesh is known for its people’s bias against the girl child and preference for sons, the latest bulletin of Sample Registration Survey (SRS) has just reinstated the fact. The bulletin which examined the infant mortality rate for the state showed that more girls than boys died before they turned five. What comes as a bigger shock is that the ‘bias’ was more marked in urban areas than in rural areas. An infant is a child between 4 to 52 weeks old while infant mortality rate (or the number of infants dying among every 1,000 live births) is an important health, social and development indicator. The bulletin showed that the total IMR for UP was 48. It was found to be 47 among males and 50 among females. A rural-urban comparison however exposed the gender bias. In rural areas, 51/1000 boys and 52/1000 girls died before they could turn five. In urban areas, however, 31/1000 boys and 43/1000 girls couldn’t survive. “This means that against 31 boys, 43 girls died within 52 weeks of birth. The difference proves the fact that the health of girl child remains neglected and she is not given the required care she deserves. It also suggests that preference for the male child is no myth,” said Neelam Singh, who has been crusading against sex selective abortions for the past 25 years. She added that the bias also reflects in findings from the Annual Health Survey as well. On comparing state’s data with other bigger states, one can easily conclude that a UP-like trend was not seen elsewhere. Chhattisgarh was closest to UP with IMR of 30 for boys against 39 for girls in urban areas. Health activist Vishwajeet Kumar shared that preference for sons was deeply rooted in UP. “So deep is the bias that no one expects you to celebrate the birth of girl child. This is what happened with me as my wife delivered our second daughter,” he said. …  (Times of India 18/6/16)

Doctor suspended, two Burla hospital staffers sacked for alleged transfusion of infected blood (3)

Bhubaneswar/Sambalpur: The state government on Saturday suspended a doctor and sacked two employees of VSS Institute of Medical Sciences and Research (VIMSAR) at Burla in connection with alleged transfusion of infected blood to two persons in the hospital recently. The health and family welfare department in a statement said Dr Rajendra Patnaik, in-charge of blood bank at VIMSAR, was suspended. A laboratory technician and a data entry operator working at the blood bank were removed from service for administrative lapses. The government action follows allegation of infected blood, one HIV and another hepatitis C, being transfused on two patients, which came to light on June 15. VIMSAR, however, ruled out hepatitis C infection citing results of its ELISA test on the donor’s sample, results of which came on Friday. There is no clarity on HIV infection as yet. VIMSAR superintendent Braja Mohan Mishra, said, everything will be clear by Monday. (Times of India 19/6/16)

‘589 MP workers died of silicosis in Gujarat’ (3)

Indore: As many as 589 labourers, mostly tribals from western Madhya Pradesh, died due to silicosis in last 10 years while working for the quartz crushing factories in Gujarat, according to a study. The deceased were among 1,721 people from 743 families hailing from tribal-dominated Dhar, Jhabua and Alirajpur districts who had migrated to Gujarat, claims the study carried out by three NGOs including ‘Silicosis Peedit Sangh’ (SPS), between October 2015 and March 2016. Silicosis is a lung disease caused by breathing in tiny bits of silica, a mineral that is part of sand, rock, and mineral ores such as quartz. SPS worker Amulya Nidhi told PTI on Sunday that the study covered 105 villages in the three districts. He said the Supreme Court had on May 4 directed the Gujarat government to pay a compensation of Rs.3 lakh each to 238 people among the deceased on the recommendation made by the National Human Right Commission in 2010. Amulya said they have forwarded a list of remaining 351 deceased to the NHRC to facilitate compensation to their families from the Gujarat government. He said NHRC had recommended to MP Government in 2010 to prepare a rehabilitation plan for the silicosis-affected patients. The SPS worker said though some steps have been taken to help the silicosis patients in Madhya Pradesh a lot still needs to be done. “Many patients of the respiratory disease are unable to reap the benefits of Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Act (MGNREGA) and Indira Gandhi Awas Yojana,” he added. -  (The Hindu 21/6/16)

Kerala to incorporate health projects under UN programme (3)

Thiruvananthapuram: The state has decided to incorporate all the projects in the health sector under the United Nations sustainable development programme. Health minister K K Shylaja said that according to the sustainable development programme the third programme is the development of health sector. Since 2015 all the health policies of all countries have been made on these programme. Tackling of maternal and infant mortality, HIV, tuberculosis, malaria, waterborne diseases and other epidemics, to bring down the death rate in the life style diseases, curbing the use of alcohol and narcotics, universal health coverage, providing quality and affordable health care, are some among the focuses under this programme. The state government has decided to go ahead as per this programme plan and will be announcing the goals to be achieved soon. It has been decided to have discussion with the experts and for this additional chief secretary (health) has been asked to submit a report based on this discussion. The minister has asked to submit a report within one month. The minister said that the government is aiming at to incorporate the various projects with the internationally acclaimed programmes approved by the United Nations and World Health Organisation. Through this the government is intending to bring in a comprehensive development of the health sector in the state, she added. (Times of India 22/6/16)

UP kids malnourished, DMs told to run feeding programme (3)

Agra: Malnutrition among children remains abysmally high in Uttar Pradesh. There are 14.60 lakh highly malnourished children of age more than six months and less than six years in the state. Concerned over the alarmingly high figures, chief secretary Alok Ranjan in a letter to all the district magistrates has directed the district administrations to run the Hausla feeding programme with renewed vigour. The state government identified these 14.60 lakh highly malnourished children during the weighing day campaign in September 2015, as part of which children in age group of six months and less than six years were weighed. Before this, the rapid survey of children, which was conducted in 2013-14, had also found serious malnutrition among large number of children in the state. According to the September 2015 statistics, 34.9% of the children below five years of age in the state are underweight while 12.9% children are highly underweight. As per the data, 22.5% children weigh less than 2.5kg at the time of birth. In Agra district, a total of 5,03,466 children up to age of six years are registered with Anganwadi centres. The total number of malnourished children in the district is 1,06,138 and number of highly malnourished children is 22,652. In the wake of these figures, the state government decided to initiate Hausla feeding programme in order to strengthen the supplementary nutrition programme under the integrated child development services (ICDS). Under the new programme, highly malnourished children will be served cooked food with fruits in midday meals on a regular basis. Some amount of ghee will also be included to the diet. Besides, mothers of highly malnourished children will be given health consultation and suitable immunisation and supplementation of malnourished children have to be ensured. (Times of India 26/6/16)

India leads world in deaths of under-5 kids (3)

India is one of the five countries where the highest number of children aged under five years die of preventable causes, Unicef’s latest assessment shows. The other countries are Nigeria, Pakistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Ethiopia. In 2015, India recorded an under-five mortality rate of around 48 deaths per 1,000 live births. Around 1.26 million children aged below five years die in the country every year, and, according to official estimates, 57% of the deaths are caused by prematurity and neonatal infections. Pneumonia and diarrhoea are major reasons for death in the post-neonatal period. Though the rate of child death in India as well as globally have improved over the past few decades, the UNICEF report says there is an urgent need to focus interventions on “disadvantaged” and poor children. Highlighting disparities between the richest and poorest, it says compared to the richest, poorest children are twice as likely to die before turning five. Globally , under-five mortality has been more than halved since 1990. In 24 low and lower-middle income countries, the child mortality rate has plummeted by two-thirds or more.According to the report, unless the world accelerates progress and addresses the plight of its most disadvantaged children, almost 70 million children under the age of five will die of largely preventable causes by 2030. (Times of India 28/6/16)

HIV/AIDS

2234 people reported to have got HIV after blood transfusion: NACO (3)

NEW DELHI: Over 2,000 people have reported to have been infected with HIV while getting blood transfusion in the past 17 months in the country, NACO today said, refuting reports, based on its RTI reply, that contaminated blood is spreading the disease as “factually incorrect”.In reply to an RTI query filed by Mumbai-based activist Chetan Kothari, NACO said a total of2,234 cases involving patients getting infected with HIV while getting blood transfusion were reported across the country within a period of 17 months.The number is highest for Uttar Pradesh where 361 such cases were reported while Gujarat came second with 292 cases, Maharashtra third with 276 and New Delhi fourth with 264 such cases, Kothari told PTI. Kothari said the actual figure might be “double or triple” of the official data. “The information provided in response to the RTI query refers to information on self-reported transmission of HIV recorded by counsellors from clients attending Integrated Counselling and Testing Centres (ICTC). This is further not corroborated by any scientific means to confirm that transmission is indeed due to blood transfusion,” NACO said. The report indicating that contaminated blood is spreading HIV in India is “factually incorrect” since all blood banks have to mandatorily test all collected blood units for five transmission transmitted infections including HIV, HBV, HCV, Syphilis and Malaria, it said. The National AIDS Control Organization (NACO) said despite the best testing facilities, there still exists a window period during which an infection cannot be detected by any test, even nucleic acid test (NAT). “Blood transfusion account for less than one per cent of total HIV infection and no increasing trend in HIV transmission through blood are reflected in ICTC data,” NACO said. (New Indian Express 1/6/16)

AIDS epidemic still driven by human rights violations, UN experts warn (3)

New York, June 4 : Ahead of next week’s high-level meeting on ending AIDS by 2030, United Nations independent experts are warning that the epidemic is still being driven by human rights violations, urging all Governments to remove punitive laws, policies and practices. Such laws and practices impede, and sometimes altogether bar, certain populations from accessing information, as well as health goods and services that are critical to the prevention, treatment, and care of HIV, said a joint statement by Special Rapporteurs on the right health Dainius Pūras; on extreme poverty, Philip Alston; and on violence against women Dubravka imonovic; and the Chairperson of the UN Working Group on Discrimination against women, Frances Raday. For instance, barriers to access health services, such as third party authorization, deter many adolescents and young women from seeking sexual and reproductive health information and services. This in turn can lead to higher level of unsafe abortion, unwanted pregnancies, and HIV infections. We have an historic opportunity not to be missed: to put an end to AIDS within our lifetimes. The international community has made great progress in the fight to end HIV/AIDS, but it has been uneven. The present challenge is to reach the many who are still being left behind, they said. Specific populations that continue to be left out and bear the brunt of the epidemic include people who inject drugs, who are 24 times more likely to acquire HIV; women in prostitution/sex workers, who are 10 times more likely to acquire HIV; men who have sex with men, who are 24 times more likely to acquire HIV than adults in the general population; transgender people, who are 18 times more likely to acquire HIV; and prisoners, who are five times more likely to be living with HIV than the general population. Evidence shows that health care settings are among the most frequent environments where people experience HIV-related stigma, discrimination, and even violence, the experts noted. Examples include denial of health care and unjust barriers in service provision, extreme violations of autonomy and bodily integrity such as forced abortions and sterilizations, undue third party authorizations for accessing services, and mandatory treatment; or compulsory detention, they said. The UN General Assembly will convene a High-Level Meeting on Ending AIDS by 2030 from 8 to 10 June in New York. (New Kerala 4/6/16)

Times Impact: BHRC grants 50k to HIV+ woman (3)

Patna: The Bihar Human Rights Commission (BHRC) on Monday granted a compensation of Rs 50,000 to an Aurangabad woman who was denied treatment during her pregnancy at the local sadar hospital last month because of being HIV positive. The BHRC had taken suo motu cognisance of a report “Aurangabad hospital shoos away HIV-positive pregnant woman” published in The Times of India, Patna’s May 19 edition and asked the Aurangabad DM to submit a report in the matter. According to the report, a patient was allegedly refused treatment by the doctor on duty, Dr Lalsa Sinha, and was asked to go away so as not to spread the disease to others. “The DM had directed the Aurangabad civil surgeon-cum-chief medical officer to probe the matter. His report states that the lady doctor in question misbehaved with the HIV+ pregnant woman and has been found to be ill-treating patients on previous occasions also,” BHRC member Neelmani said. He added, “Dr Sinha’s plea that required medical kits and post-operative medicines were not available in Aurangabad hospital were found to be totally false. Her claim that she was not trained to handle HIV+ patients was also false as she had taken training for the same.” He added the civil surgeon has already recommended to the state health department initiation of departmental proceeding against the lady doctor. The commission thus directed the state health department to pay a compensation of Rs 50,000 to the HIV+ patient for the human rights violations she has suffered at the hands of the lady doctor. “The department will also apprise the commission efforts initiated for sensitization of doctors and paramedic staff towards reception of HIV+ patients at government hospitals,” he added. The case is listed for next hearing on August 9. (Times of India 6/6/16)

UN to scale up fight against AIDS (3)

United Nations: The UN General Assembly has adopted a political declaration to scale up fight against HIV and end AIDS epidemic by 2030. The 193 UN member states on Wednesday renewed their commitments to reducing the global numbers of people newly infected with HIV to fewer than 500,000 per year and people dying from AIDS to fewer than 500,000 per year by 2020, according to the political declaration, Xinhua news agency reported. The document was adopted at a high-level meeting on ending AIDS. The meeting aims to focus attention on a fast-track approach to respond to the epidemic. UN statistics show that young women and girls, sex workers, prisoners, gay men, transgender people and people who inject drugs are being left behind in the response. Addressing the meeting, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said there is “a window of opportunity” to radically change the trajectory of the epidemic and put an end to AIDS forever over the next five years. He called on the international community to reinforce the approach by ensuring funding for AIDS response, removing punitive laws that violate people’s dignity, and also making sure that everyone affected have access to comprehensive HIV services. According to the most recent report published by UNAIDS, declines in new infections among adults have slowed alarmingly in recent years. Every year, the number of new adult infections remained static at about 1.9 million. (Business Standard 9/6/16)

Sex workers, HIV patients to get rice at Rs 2 per kg in Bengal (3)

KOLKATA: In a first, the West Bengal government has decided to provide rice at Rs two per kg to sex workers and poor HIV patients in the state. “This project is the brainchild of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. For the first time in the country, a state government has decided that sex workers and poor HIV patients will be given rice at Rs 2 per Kg,” state Food and Supplies Minister Jyotipriyo Mullick told PTI here. Poor leprosy patients, deaf and dumb children in various homes will also be included in the scheme and in the first phase, about one lakh beneficiaries from across the state will be identified for the purpose, the minister said in an interview. The state food department, he said, is all set to start a survey in a few days to identify sex workers and HIV positive patients in the state. “The survey will be completed in the next six months and the implementation of the project will start from January next year,” Mullick said. “We have seen how old and ill sex workers suffer at times. So this project of providing them rice at a subsidised rate will help them to some extent. The same applies for poor HIV patients in the state,” he said. The survey would be first carried out in the red light areas of the state such as Sonagachhi in the city. It would be done by officials of the food department in coordination with local authorities. “To identify HIV positive patients, we will appoint a food department official in all the state-run hospitals. We will collect the data from the hospital and send those details to the health department for further verification,” Mullick said. Once the verification is complete, ration card numbers of the HIV positive patients will be put into the data bank of the food department so that they can avail rice at Rs 2 per Kg from nearby ration shops, he said. (New Indian Express 12/6/16)

26 years on, women in Assam still ‘ignorant’ about HIV (3)

Guwahati: Even after 26 years since the first case of AIDS was reported in Assam comprehensive knowledge of HIV/AIDS among women in the age bracket between 15 to 49 years of age is minimal as per the latest National Family Health Survey (2015-16) report that was released recently. The NFHS report in one of its key indicators under the Knowledge of HIV/AIDS among adults, reported that 9.4 per cent of women between the age group of 15 to 49 years of age had comprehensive knowledge about HIV/AIDS. The term ‘comprehensive knowledge of HIV/AIDS’ as per the report is defined as knowing about reducing the chance of getting HIV/AIDS through consistent use of condoms in every sexual occasion, and having just one uninfected faithful sexual partner. The report also defines it as having knowledge that a healthy-looking person can have HIV/AIDS, and rejecting the two most common misconceptions about transmission or prevention of HIV/AIDS. The 9.4 per cent figure appears minimal when compared to that of 29.0 percent of women in Andhra Pradesh in the same age bracket having basic knowledge on AIDS, 34. 6 percent in Goa, 28.2 percent in Andaman and Nicobar Islands, 40.7 percent in Manipur, 25.5 percent in Sikkim, and 28.0 percent in Tripura. “I think the 9.4 percent figure is a bit much. In reality the picture is more shocking. It is said that 70 percent of the AIDS budget is spent on awareness. Where is the money going? It is shameful that even after close to 30 years of the AIDS scourge only 9.4 percent of women are aware about it,” said Jahnabi Goswami, AIDS activist and the first women in the region to publicly declare her HIV positive status. Even though Assam is categorised as a low HIV prevalence state the annual HIV new infections has risen at an rate of 2.5 percent from 1219 in 2007 to 2408 in 2011. Till 31st December, 2014 a total of 9991 HIV positive cases were detected out of which 3445 were females.States like Bihar and Meghalaya with 10.1 percent and 13.3 percent respectively haven’t performed well either when it came to women having comprehensive knowledge on HIV/AIDS. “There is an acute shortage of manpower and resource in the health department overseeing HIV/AIDS scenario in the state. The figure appears shocking and it is not good. It needs serious thinking and introspection to do. There has been an ongoing fund crunch for AIDS from the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO),” said a source at the health department.Till September, 2015 38 percent of HIV positive cases were detected from Kamrup (metro) followed by Cachar, Dibrugarh, Nagaon districts. From Kamrup (metro) district alone 4268 HIV positive cases were detected till September, 30, 2015. (Times of India 15/6/16)

HIV patients cry foul over govt apathy (3)

DEHRADUN: Over 7,500 HIV-infected patients in Uttarakhand say that they have been overlooked by the state which despite 16 years of its formation has not crafted even a single scheme for them.At a conference in Dehradun this week organized by NGO Mamta-Vihaan and Uttarakhand State AIDS Control Society (USACS), the patients said that they face a major problem while travelling to and from Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) centres in the state which has led many patients to stop the treatment altogether. Talking to TOI, one of the HIV patients who attended the conference, said, “The state has crafted no scheme to rehabilitate HIV patients and is not concerned about mothers who are HIV-infected. Uttarakhand has recorded over 420 pregnant women with HIV and the future of their newborns remains in dark due to health department’s apathy.” Sukhwinder Singh, HIV and TB coordinator, Mamta-Vihaan, said, “The need is to provide free travelling facility to these patients followed by implementation of schemes which are present on government papers, but not in actuality.” Talking to TOI, director general, Dr Kusum Nariyal said, “We will certainly come up with schemes for AIDS patients in the near future. The provision of cost-free travelling should also start from this year hopefully.” (Times of India 18/6/16)

City doctor awarded for service to HIV patients (3)

BENGALURU: Her decision to work for HIV-infected patients was endorsed by a few and doubted by many. But this 62-year-old doctor knew her calling. Dr Glory Alexander’s 18 years of relentless service towards one of the most stigmatized sections of society has finally borne fruit. The city-based doctor has been selected for the prestigious Dr B C Roy national award. Dr Glory, founder of ASHA Foundation, a city-based NGO that has been providing medical, emotional and social support to patients suffering from HIV/Aids since 1998, has been selected for the award in the category of outstanding service in the field of socio-medical relief. “I am elated and honoured. I am glad that I could stand by my ethics and values through my career and help HIV patients fight against all odds and stigma and live with their heads held high,” the doctor said. An alumna of Christian Medical College and Hospital (CMC), Vellore, Dr Glory worked in Bangalore Baptist Hospital between 1986 and 1998, after which she set up ASHA Foundation. Ever since, the organization has touched thousands of lives with its range of services, including awareness and counselling programmes, comprehensive treatment and clinical research. Today, the NGO boasts of initiating the first private automated Aids helpline in India, all under Dr Glory’s guidance. “This award is for all ASHA workers who have served HIV patients with all their dedication. This award is a victory for all infected patients who fight social stigma and negativity around them,” said Dr Glory. (Times of India 21/6/16)

HIV+ve girl forced out of school (3)

KENDRAPARA: IN yet another case of social discrimination,  the fate of a 15-year-old HIVaffected orphan girl student remains uncertain after she was forced to leave her school due to the stigma attached to the disease. The girl, who was studying at the Central Government-run Jawahar Navodaya  Vidyalaya at Barua village in Kendrapara, was apparently thrown out of the residential school two years  back. The matter came to light on Thursday after the intervention of some social workers. They later reported the matter to the district  administration, which decided to take  action against the residential school after an enquiry. “She was bullied at the school due to which she had to leave the hostel,” alleged Biraja Pati, a social worker.  The girl, whose parents succumbed to AIDS 10 years back, now studies at Olaver village, but appears for her examinations at the Navodaya Vidyalaya. Two years back, the Supreme Court had issued notice to the  Centre and all States on a writ petition for a directive that children living with, or affected by, HIV/AIDS should not be denied admission to, or expelled from schools,  added Pati. “Everyone is aware of my HIV status  at the school. I was mocked by other students in the school due to which I left the school hostel two years back,” said the HIV-affected girl student. “My study takes a back seat as I am not attending  the classes regularly,” she added. The district administration has already started an enquiry into the matter. Contacted, ADM Dhanjaya  Swain said, “No child affected by HIV would be denied admission, suspended, segregated or expelled on the basis of their HIV status or the status of  their parents or guardians.” “After getting the enquiry report, we will take action against the authorities of Navodaya Vidyalaya,” he added. The principal of Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya, Parbati Pradhan, however, denied the allegations. “We have  never discriminated against the HIV affected girl student in our school. She left the hostel as she was feeling home sick,” Parbati said. “Her health condition is  also not good. Though this is a residential school, we sometimes allow students to reside in their houses on health grounds,” she said. “We have asked her guardian to allow her to stay  at the hostel from July 1 after the end of summer vacation,” she added.   (New Indian Express 24/6/16)

Drug use by men impacts women, who face higher rate of HIV, physical violence in India: Report (3)

New Delhi: The United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC) released the World Drug Report 2016 on Sunday. The report pays special attention to the impact of drug abuse on health as well behaviour patterns, particularly violence on women and children. Providing an insight into the effect of drug abuse in India, the report sheds light on the spread of HIV epidemics among the general population not only through infected syringes but also through heterosexual contact, from predominantly male consumers of drugs to their spouses and other sexual partners due to lack of protected intercourse using, for example, a condom. The report also says that that there is an indirect relation between drug use and sexual behaviour of people.“It has been hypothesized that the use of certain drugs increases or decreases sexual desire and levels of sexual activity and has a disinhibiting effect, making users less likely to engage in safer sex, thus exacerbating the negative health impact of drug use,” says the report. Cocaine and ATS have been found to be the most common stimulants associated with high risk sexual behaviour and HIV transmission. The other worrying effect of drug use by men in India is the impact it has on the women of the family, as per the report. In a study of over 4,000 women who were with men who injected drugs, it was found that unsupportive partners, diagnosable mental health problems, poor decision-making powers and economic dependence characterised these women. The women also have a high rate of exposure to domestic violence but low rate of seeking help. UNODC documented that out of a sample of 179 women in India, physical violence by a male family member currently using drugs was reported by 43 percent and verbal aggression was reported by 53%.The report further projects that women consuming drugs are also at a higher risk of getting abused by their partners or law enforcement personnel and data on them is hard to project. (Indian Express 26/6/16)

Plan to get AIDS patients married flounders at caste hurdle (3)

Bareilly: It has been over a year that the Anti-Retroviral Therapy centre in Bareilly has been looking for life partners for HIV positive patients there. But their search has yielded no results as the men have insisted on marrying only those whose caste matches theirs. Officials at the centre said it becomes extremely difficult to find a life partner for these men in such a scenario. In the past one year, six HIV positive men have filled forms seeking life partners. No HIV positive woman has applied for it till now. There are 1,568 HIV positive patients registered with ART centre in the city. When 25-year-old Akash (name changed) who is HIV positive applied at Anti-Retroviral Therapy (ART) centre in Bareilly to seek life partner nearly a year ago, the officials showed him bio-data of nearly five HIV positive women. However, Akash and his mother, also an HIV positive, refused all proposals. When officials at ART centre enquired about reason for these rejections, they learnt that they wanted a girl of their own caste. “We tried to counsel them, but the son was adamant on marrying a girl belonging to their own caste. Even though they belong to a wealthy family, they were not ready to compromise on the caste factor,” said Manoj Verma, data manager at the ART centre. Akash’s is not an isolated case. It has been over a year that the ART centre in Bareilly has been looking for life partners for HIV positive patients here. But their search has yielded no results as the men have insisted on marrying only those whose caste matches theirs. Officials at the centre said it becomes extremely difficult to find a life partner for these men in such a scenario. Of 1,568 HIV positive patients registered with ART centre in the city, two women and 13 men have recently attained the age of 18, but they are not interested in marriage yet. “Once any person fills the forms for seeking a life partner, we circulate his bio-data at 34 ART centres and five financially independent ART centres in Uttar Pradesh. However, we have not been able to fix a single marriage at our centre in Bareilly in the past one year as men prefer to marry in their own caste,” said Dr Sanjeev Mishra, medical officer at ART centre. Officials at the centre added that another reason behind this could be the fact that there are less number of unmarried HIV positive women in comparison to men. “Though we try to create awareness among them, they need more counselling,” said Dr Mishra. Nodal officer for ART centre, Dr A M Agarwal, said, “Due to social prejudice, people still prefer to marry in their own caste. However, there are also other factors, including less education among them.” (Times of India 29/6/16)