Posted by admin at 20 October 2014

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 DALITS/SCHEDULED CASTES

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TRIBALS

6. Tribals oppose thermal power plant (6)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WOMEN

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CHILDREN/ CHILD LABOUR

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

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

17. Infant deaths high in India (14)

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

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

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

19. AP child welfare panel needs revamp (14)

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

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

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

MINORITIES – GENERAL

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

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

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

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

23. Skills institute for minorities (7)

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

MINORITIES – MUSLIMS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MINORITIES – CHRISTIANS

27. Kandhamal village binds religions (7)

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

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

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

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

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

REFUGEES/ MIGRANTS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

RIGHT TO INFORMATION

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

RIGHT TO EDUCATION

39. 203 unrecognised schools in Trivandrum (11)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

RIGHT TO FOOD/ HUNGER

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

LABOUR/ MGNREGA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

53. Job scheme dilute finger at Gadkari (14)

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

RESERVATION

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

HUMAN RIGHTS/ CIVIL SOCIETY/ NHRC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

JUDICIARY/ LAW

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

POLICE/ AFSPA/ CUSTODIAL DEATHS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MEDIA/ FREEDOM OF SPEECH

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

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

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

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

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

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

75. Journalist thrashed, case registered (1)

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

COMMUNAL RIOTS

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

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

77. Ahmedabad Police file FIRs against rioters (7)

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

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

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

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

79. Communal violence in Indiranagar (7)

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

COMMUNALISM

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

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

81. Row over RSS Hindutva on Doordarshan (26)

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

82. Hindutva no longer a poll plank (26)

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

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

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

TERRORISM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

88. 18 terrorists killed in infiltration bid (12)

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

NAXALS/ MAOISTS

89. Naxals kill panchayat secretary in Chhattisgarh (12)

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

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

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

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

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

92. Incentives fail to lure Naxal rebels (12)

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

TRAFFICKING

93. PIL on placement agencies disposed of (1)

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

CORRUPTION

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ENVIRONMENT/ CLIMATE CHANGE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

AGRICULTURE/ FARMERS SUICIDES

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

LAND ACQUISITION/ DISPLACEMENT

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

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

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

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

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

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

112. Activists demand clarity on land pooling (4)

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

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

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

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

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

RIGHT TO HEALTH

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

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

116. Infant deaths high in India (3)

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

117. Second human development report ready (3)

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

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

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

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

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

HIV/AIDS

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Posted by admin at 10 October 2014

Category: Uncategorized

DALITS/SCHEDULED CASTES

1. Fear returns to Dharmapuri (2)

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

4. Dalits denied entry to Kalitheerthalkuppam temple (2)

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

TRIBALS

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

11. Tribal body suggests changes in CTA (6)

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

 

WOMEN

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

CHILDREN/ CHILD LABOUR

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

MINORITIES – GENERAL

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

MINORITIES – MUSLIMS

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

MINORITIES – CHRISTIANS

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

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

 

31. Mizoram plea on missionaries (7)

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

 

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

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

 

REFUGEES/ MIGRANTS

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

RIGHT TO INFORMATION

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

RIGHT TO EDUCATION

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

RIGHT TO FOOD/ HUNGER

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

LABOUR/ MGNREGA

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

54. NREGA workers’ march chokes traffic (14)

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

 

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

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

 

RESERVATION

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

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

 

57. Eunuch leaves MBBS midway, begs (25)

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

HUMAN RIGHTS/ CIVIL SOCIETY/ NHRC

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

JUDICIARY/ LAW

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

POLICE/ AFSPA/ CUSTODIAL DEATHS

70. Court seeks report on police atrocities (1)

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

MEDIA/ FREEDOM OF SPEECH

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

COMMUNAL RIOTS

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

82. Communal clashes in Vadodara after stabbing (7)

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

 

COMMUNALISM

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

TERRORISM

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

NAXALS/ MAOISTS

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

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

 

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

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

 

93. Top Maoist arrested in Bihar (12)

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

 

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

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

 

95. Two naxals surrender in Chhattisgarh (12)

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

 

TRAFFICKING

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

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

 

97. 10 girls rescued in Odisha (1)

BERHAMPUR: : Ten girls including seven minors, who were being illegally trafficked outside Odisha, were rescued from the Berhampur railway station by activists of Childline and a social organisation. At the instruction of the Child Welfare Committee (CWC) of Ganjam district, all the rescued girls have been taken to the Berhampur Childline campus. According to Childline activists, nine of these girls were from Markandi area and one from Rameyapatna village of Ganjam district. A dubious middleman who had promised their parents to get them employed in a marine product processing unit in Andhra Pradesh was taking them outside the State. Sudhir Sabat, State convenor of Campaign Against Child Labour (CACL) alleged that Berhampur had become a major transit point for trafficking of children from different districts of south Odisha. According to him, every day around 100 girls and child labourers get illegally transported outside the State via Berhampur. According to him there was an immediate need of creating awareness about measures to check trafficking at the grassroots level. (The Hindu 22/9/14)

 

98. Officials worry over child trafficking in Krishna dist.(1)

MACHILIPATNAM: Officials of Women Development and Child Welfare (WD&CW) Department and the Child Welfare Committee (CWC) have alerted the police over the spurt in kidnapping and trafficking of children cases in Krishna district. The Integrated Child Protection Unit (ICPU) officials rescued an 11-year-old boy in August this year, who was found begging in Eluru. During inquiry, the boy revealed that he was a native of Nellore and some miscreants from Nuzvid had abducted him. West Godavari CWC chairman T.N. Snehan said during inquiry, it was found that a ‘begging mafia’ was operating from the Krishna district. The boy, who was sent to his home, said some other children had also been abducted from other places by the gang and they were forced to beg at different places. Krishna District Superintendent of Police G. Vijay Kumar said that they had not received any complaint from the CWC. However, police will collect details of the boy and inquire into the ‘begging mafia’, he said. WD&CW Project Director of Krishna District, K. Krishna Kumari said the ICPU staff conducted special drives in Machilipatnam and Vijayawada and took a few women into custody for using children in begging. During investigation, it was found that some of the women were not their biological mothers. “Some children were hired for begging. The women used some sedatives to keep the infants drowsy or make them sleep for a long time. We bound over the women and admitted the children in the government-run Sishu Gruha,” said the PD. “The children were hired from different places in the city and from the neighbouring districts. Interestingly, nobody approached the officials. We are trying to find out their parents. The District Child Protection Unit and the Integrated Child Development Scheme staff will launch drives at various places in the district to stop engaging children for begging ,” said Ms. Krishna Kumari. (The Hindu 26/9/14)

 

99. Anti-Human Trafficking Cell Launched (1)

KOCHI: The country’s first Anti-Human Trafficking Cell with the involvement of students was launched at the Traffic West station here on Saturday.   The cell was inaugurated by Kochi Range IG M R Ajithkumar. The chief guest of the function was City Police Commissioner K G James. The event was held under the aegis of the Kochi City Police Advocates Association, the Kerala High Court and the Raising Our Voices Foundation (ROV). Student clubs of the four law colleges in the city also participated in the event.   On the occasion, technical workshops were conducted on providing legal, procedural and psychosocial support to victims of trafficking. Senior advocate Gopalakrishna Kurup delivered a lecture on the various sections of the law pertaining to human trafficking. ROV principal coordinator Monolita Chatterjee led a workshop on being effective advocates to ‘abuse and assault’ victims. DCP R Nishanthini conducted an informative session on the procedures involved in rescue and rehabilitation operations. (The New Indian Express 28/9/14)

 

CORRUPTION

100. Railway bribery case: Court recording Bansal’s statement (5)

New Delhi: A court here Monday began recording of the statement of former railway minister Pawan Kumar Bansal, a prosecution witness in the Rs.10 crore railway bribery case. Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Special Judge Swarna Kanta Sharma started recording of the statement of Bansal, who was testifying as CBI witness in the case against his nephew Vijay Singla. Bansal failed to appear before the court Sep 16 due to illness and the court on that day directed him to appear before it Sep 22. Last week, the court began trial in the case against Singla and nine other accused. The court had framed charges of criminal conspiracy under the Prevention of Corruption Act against all 10 accused in March. The other accused in the “cash-for-post” case are suspended Railway Board member Mahesh Kumar, middlemen Sandeep Goyal, Samir Sandhir, Sushil Daga, Ajay Garg, Rahul Yadav, businessman Manjunath and his aides M.V. Murli Krishan and Venugopal. The CBI had filed a list of 90 prosecution witnesses along with the charge sheet and named Bansal as a witness in the case. Bansal resigned as railway minister after the case came to light last year. (New Kerala 22/9/14)

 

101. Scams hit real estate prospects in Bhubaneswar (5)

BHUBANESWAR: Recent developments in land and chit fund scams have worsened miseries of the real estate industry in the city. After it came to light that government records had been manipulated in the hub of real estate activities at Chandaka, investors will be wary about putting their money in the city, feel developers. The Ponzi scam money trail into realty has already hit the market. Villages such as Shampur, Gothaptana, Daspur and Andharua are sought-after destinations for real estate projects. However, after the government discovered collusion of revenue department officials in manipulating department records and creating patta (record of rights) for buyers illegally last month and the arrest of some officials earlier this month, the real estate sector is shaken. “There may be a handful of dubious players, but the sector has suffered a major trust deficit in the city. If people can’t go by government records, they have reason to be suspicious,” said Pradipta Biswasroy, president of Real Estate Developers Association of Odisha (Reda). Biswasroy said the majority of the players would remain unscathed, but it will take years to regain investors’ confidence, he said. The government has begun verification of a complaint by residents of Gothapatna, Ghangapatna and Malipada that some known developers grabbed government land, grazing grounds and communal land amounting to more than 50 acres and built apartments without approval from the Bhubaneswar Development Authority (BDA). Change of lease-hold property to free hold and their conversion from agricultural to homestead land has come under the government scanner in various localities. The timing of this development could not have been worse as the real estate sector has been going through a phase of slowdown for the past three to four years. “Of late, very few new projects have been floated because of the uncertainty. Most developers have been striving hard over the past couple of years to complete the ongoing projects,” said D S Tripathy, joint secretary of the Confederation of Real Estate Developers’ Association of India (Credai). Tripathy said the Modi government’s relaxed norms for foreign direct investment (FDI) in the real estate sector, announced in Budget 2014-15, were expected to give huge push to housing projects in tier II cities like Bhubaneswar in the forthcoming festive season when non-resident Indians come calling. However, the ongoing situation may dash the city’s real estate market’s hopes to invite FDI, he said. The Centre eased criteria for FDI by reducing minimum size of project from 50,000 square metres to 20,000 square metre and investment amount from at least US$ 10 million in a project to US$ 5 million. Notably, High-Tech Group, Seashore, Artha Tatwa and Sarala Realcon, all having real estate interests in the city, have come under the scanner for dubious money circulation business. Umesh Patnaik, president of Association for Odisha Real Estate Developers(AFORD), said the market was going through a delicate phase. It would be, however, difficult to assess or blame any single factor for this. (Times of India 23/9/14)

 

102. Anti-Corruption Bureau smells Rs 2.5 crore scam in Jaipur Municipal Corporation..(5)

JAIPUR: The Anti-Corruption Bureau on Wednesday registered five FIRs against a few officials of JMC after it found that the corporation had unduly favoured a contractor for deploying security guards at various parks in the city. ACB officials said that it could be a scam of nearly Rs 2.5 crore in which the accused officers did not even bother to check the physical presence of the security guards deployed in the park for which the JMC paid huge money. The officials against whom cases were registered include two former chief executive officers, Lal Chand Aswal and Jagroop Singh Yadav, apart from six others. “During the tenure of CEO Jagroop Singh Yadav, it was decided that for the security and maintenance of parks in the city, there is a need to award separate contracts. Thus, tenders were floated and three companies gave their quotes as Rs 166 per day per guard, Rs 241 per day per guard and Rs 270 per day per guard,” said Bajrang Singh, additional superintendent of police, ACB on Wednesday. He said that despite the fact that one company had the lowest bid of Rs 166, it was neglected and the firm which bid for Rs 241 per day per guard was awarded the contract. “Basically, the firms giving two price quotes as Rs 241 and Rs 270 belonged to the same man, Dhan Kumar Jain. So, giving contract to one company and that too despite having higher rate was the first bid in corruption and misuse of office. Later it was decided that rather than Rs 241, the JMC will pay Rs 234.50 per day per guard,” Singh added. Despite the fact that Rs 234.50 was fixed, the firm generated bills of Rs 241 and got payments accordingly. “There is also another discrepancy. The JMC officers never bothered to go for physical verification of the guards which the firm claimed were on duty at 250 parks in the city. It appears that the guards were merely on paper,” said a senior officer of ACB. Thus, based on previous complaints given by various people including mayor Jyoti Khandelwal, the ACB has registered a case of cheating, misuse of office and misuse of government money. The others included Badri Prasad Sharma, commissioner, parks, Rakesh Mehnoot, park superintendent, Munshi Ram former financial advisor, Ram Swaroop Gill, assistant accounts officer and Anil Sharma, accountant and Dhan Kumar Jain, the contractor whose firm was given the job of security maintenance. (Times of India 26/9/14)

 

103. Jaya convicted, sentenced to 4 yrs in Jail; 100 cr fine (5)

Bangalore: Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa was today convicted and sentenced to four years jail in an 18-year-old corruption case in a judgment that will unseat her from the post, disqualified her immediately as an MLA and can impact the Assembly elections due in 18 months. Since she has been sentenced to a term of more than three years, the Chief Minister has been taken to jail and she can apply for bail only from Karnataka High Court. The 66-year-old AIADMK supremo has also been slapped with a fine of Rs 100 crore, highest imposed on any politician, by a special judge John Michael D’Cunha who heard the case of Rs 66.65 crore disproportionate assets acquired during her first term as Chief Minister between 1991 and 1996. The conviction in the high-security court complex of Parappana Agrahara near here came amidst dramatic scenes outside where AIADMK supporters burnt effigies of DMK leader Karunanidhi and Subramaniam Swamy who had initially raked up the case. The conviction also evoked sporadic violence in Tamil Nadu where public vehicles were attacked and shops closed. The Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-corruption had filed a charge sheet in the case which was transferred to the court here in 2003. The court also convicted three others–Jayalalithaa’s close friend Sasikala, Sasikala’s niece Ilavarasi and her nephew and Chief Minister’s disowned foster son Sudhakaran –and sentenced them to four years of jail term. Special Public Prosecutor Bhavani Singh said a sum of Rs 10 crore has been imposed on the other three convicts. He said the four can apply for bail by moving an application before the High Court. Under a Supreme Court judgment of July last year, any MP or MLA who is convicted of a crime with more than two-years sentence will be disqualified as an elected representative from the date of conviction. Unless the conviction is stayed or overturned by a superior court, she will be disqualified under the Representation of the People Act from contesting elections for a period of 10 years–four years from the date of conviction and six years thereafter. Jayalalithaa has had the dubious distinction of having to resign in 2001 following a Supreme Court judgment that nullified her appointment in view of her conviction in TANSI land deal case. Today’s verdict immediately triggered speculation as to who will replace Jayalalithaa as Chief Minister. The names of senior minister O Panneerselvam, who had taken over as Chief Minister in 2001 after she was unseated and till her return, Transport Minister V Senthil Balaji and Electricity Minister R Viswanathan and even former Chief Secretary Sheela Balakrishna are doing the rounds. The verdict has come as a jolt to the ruling AIADMK as it had been enjoying a winning spree in all the elections held since April 2011, when the party trounced DMK. The party had put up a stellar performance in the Lok Sabha polls this year, winning 37 of the 39 states in the state, though its hopes of a pivot role in the Centre failed with the BJP mustering majority on its own. However, there is no threat to the party government as AIADMK has a solid majority of 150 seats in the 234-member Assembly. She had been acquitted in several other cases filed during the DMK regime. The conviction in the high-security court complex of Parappana Agrahara near here came amidst dramatic scenes outside where AIADMK supporters burnt effigies of DMK leader Karunanidhi and Subramaniam Swamy who had initially raked up the case. The conviction also evoked sporadic violence in Tamil Nadu where public vehicles were attacked and shops closed…. (Deccan Herald 27/9/14)

 

104. 300 Kovai DMK men plan to defect to AIADMK (5)

COIMBATORE: In a surprising twist to the assets case saga, a group of DMK cadres from Coimbatore have decided to join the AIADMK after party functionaries celebrated Jayalalithaa’s conviction. According to the deserters, the DMK is the most corrupt party in Tamil Nadu, and its cadres have no right to celebrate Jaya’s setback. More than 60 DMK members gathered in front of the Anna Statue here on Sunday afternoon and discarded their membership cards in front of the statue in protest. They were led by V Balraj, urban district organizer, DMK district art, literary wing, Coimbatore and K Kathirvel, deputy organizer of DMK district farmers’ wing. The cadres plan to join the AIADMK after Jayalalithaa is released from prison on bail. “The DMK has been involved in scams worth 1.76L crores. They have no right to talk about corruption. We condemn their vulgar celebrations,” said V Balraj. More than 300 DMK men plan to defect to the AIADMK, he added. When contacted, Pongalur N Palanisamy, former DMK minister and party district secretary said that this defection won’t affect the party. “Balraj and his supporters have a long-running dispute with an AIADMK MLA. Thus, he has decided to leave the party,” he said. “I received information that a group of DMK cadres discarded their membership cards in front of the Anna Statue, and they plan to join the AIADMK. I need to investigate what actually happened,” said Coimbatore mayor P Rajkumar. (Times of India 29/9/14)

 

ENVIRONMENT/ CLIMATE CHANGE

105. FRA rights have destroyed forests, says study (9)

Nagpur: When the Scheduled Tribes & Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006, popularly known as the Forests Rights Act (FRA), was enacted, environmentalists had warned it may result in legalized encroachment on forests and their destruction. It appears their worst fears are coming true. A study conducted by The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), a policy research organization working in the fields of energy, environment and sustainable development, issued this month clearly shows that people granted rights on forest lands under the Act have converted them into agricultural farms. The study suggested that the Union ministry of tribal affairs (MoTA) must revisit the process of FRA. FRA was enacted in 2007 to recognize and vests individual forest-dwellers with rights to live in and cultivate forest land occupied before December 13, 2005, and grant community forest rights (CFRs) to manage, protect, regenerate forest and own and dispose of minor forest produce (MFP) from forests where they had traditional access. The study used remote sensing-geographic information system (RS-GIS) based analysis of FRA rights in Maharashtra to know the fate of such lands. “The objective was to assess impact of FRA on reducing carbon sequestration capacities of forests and assess impact of land use change in increasing the vulnerability of the ecosystems and the people,” said forest officials. As per tribal development ministry, till July 2014, in Maharashtra 3,49,271 claims (3,43,729 individual & 5,542 community) have been filed. The total number of titles distributed is 1,08,112 consisting of 3,05,562 hectares of forest land in 22 districts. For the estimation of emissions due to deforestation, a pilot study was conducted in Gondia to assess the biomass loss due to deforestation. Gondia forest division has 1,73,180 hectares area of which 18,617.50 hectares fall under Sadak Arjuni range. Around 630 hectares covering three strata in Sadak Arjuni was selected for biomass assessment in FRA areas. Within these three strata, around 225 forest rights were surveyed covering over 135 hectares. The biomass assessment was carried out for 2002, before FRA implementation and considered as a baseline year and compared with the year 2011, after FRA implementation. The estimation of carbon stock based on remote sensing technology shows huge loss of above ground biomass due to deforestation. Total above ground forest biomass in 2002 for the surveyed area was 2,358.19 tonnes, while in 2011 it came down to 346.97 tonnes. The total loss of biomass between 2002 and 2011 is 2011.22 tonnes. Similarly, the report states that a total of 1,748.45 hectares forest area recognized as individuals’ forest right was under tree cover in 2005. The total biomass on this area has been converted into greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) equivalent to 4,57,486.6 tonnes. “Since analysis is only for the rights recognized till 2011-12, the quantum of GHG emission and loss of carbon sequestration opportunity could be more if rights recognized till date are studied,” says the report. The report suggests decrease in water bodies by 50% and increase of barren lands by 50% in the surveyed area in Gondia between 2002 and 2011. This is indicative of increased vulnerability of forests and the forest dependent communities due to land use change due to wrong recognition of rights under FRA, 2006… (Times of India 20/9/14)

 

106. Multiple-use approach to conservation in Western Ghats (9)

Thiruvananthapuram: As many as 34 panchayats in the Western Ghats region in Kerala are set to become the crucible of an experimental project seeking to minimise the impact of commercial and livelihood activities on fragile ecosystems. Funded by the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the India High Range Mountain Landscape Project involves a participatory, multiple- use approach to conservation and natural resource management. The project region covering over 3,000 sq km of biodiversity-rich land in Idukki, Ernakulam and Thrissur districts is home to half the remaining global population of the Nilgiri tahr. It is also one of the last pockets of the grizzled giant squirrel and one of the five viable breeding centres of tigers in India. The State government has entered into a tripartite agreement with the Central government and UNDP for the project. A preliminary assessment carried out by the participating agencies has revealed rapid erosion of biodiversity, degradation and fragmentation of key habitats, proliferation of invasive alien species, increasing human-animal conflicts and unsustainable exploitation of natural resources as major challenges to biodiversity conservation in the region. The five- year project seeks to establish an effective governance framework for multiple use management of mountain landscape. Additional Chief Secretary P.K. Mohanty told The Hindu that the baseline data generated by the participating agencies would be used to chalk out an action plan covering three major areas, namely biodiversity conservation, sustainable development and livelihood support. The action plan, he said, would be implemented on a pilot scale in small areas within the region. The panchayats would be taken into confidence for implementation, he added. (The Hindu 24/9/14)

 

107. What cuts? India blow to US climate wish (9)

In a blow to US hopes of reaching an international deal to fight global warming, environment minister Prakash Javadekar yesterday said that India would not offer a plan to cut its greenhouse gas emissions ahead of a climate summit next year in Paris. Javadekar said in an interview that the Indian government’s first priority was to alleviate poverty and improve the economy, which he said would necessarily involve an increase in emissions through new coal-powered electricity and transportation. He placed responsibility for what scientists call a coming climate crisis on the US, the world’s largest historic greenhouse gas polluter, and dismissed the idea that India would make cuts to carbon emissions. “What cuts?” Javadekar said. “That’s for more developed countries. The moral principle of historic responsibility cannot be washed away.” Javadekar was referring to an argument frequently made by developing economies — that developed economies, chiefly the US, which spent the last century building their economies while pumping warming emissions into the atmosphere — bear the greatest responsibility for cutting pollution. Javadekar said that government agencies in Delhi were preparing plans for India’s domestic actions on climate change, but he said they would lead only to a lower rate of increase in carbon emissions. It would be at least 30 years, he said, before India would likely see a downturn. “India’s first task is eradication of poverty,” Javadekar said, speaking in a New York hotel suite a day after a United Nations climate summit. “Twenty per cent of our population doesn’t have access to electricity, and that’s our top priority. We will grow faster, and our emissions will rise.” India is the world’s third-largest carbon polluter, behind China and the US, and Javadekar’s comments are a first indication of the direction of the environmental policies of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the author of a 2011 e-book, A Convenient Action. Although the book, a response to the movie An Inconvenient Truth, presents the moral case for action on climate change, Javadekar said that coal, the world’s top source of carbon pollution, would provide more than half of India’s power for the foreseeable future. In coming decades, as India works to provide access to electricity to more than 300 million people, its emissions are projected to double, surpassing those of the US and China. (The Telegraph 26/9/14)

 

108. People’s Climate March in Delhi (9)

Delhiites of all ages and many others from across the country came together in the capital recently for the People’s Climate March, to demand that the government take swift and decisive action on climate change. In attendance were more than 2,000 people – school and college students, farmers and social activists – drumming, shouting slogans and marching from Mandi House to Jantar Mantar. Usha Saxena, national coordinator, People’s Climate March, said, “This is our first step towards creating awareness about climate change, which is already having a significant impact on the lives of millions of Indians. Extreme heat, deadly droughts, increasing incidence of extreme rainfall and flooding events – cyclones, hailstorms etc – are just part of the impact we are witnessing. The idea behind organising this protest is to change the debate around climate change. We have sent our demands to the PM, and we hope they (the government) consider and act upon them immediately.” Among the protestors were many foreigners, including Erik Juncker, an American, and Nadia from Russia. Tanushree Bhushan, social activist and a farmer, said, “Erratic monsoon, droughts and extreme heat are some of the many changes that we are witnessing in our climate. The consequences are disastrous for farmers and have pushed them into a vicious cycle of debt and even suicide.” The rally had over 100 students participating, who were from various Delhi colleges like Ramjas, Hansraj and LSR. Ayesha Dsouza, one of the organizers of the rally, said, “We received a good response from various colleges in Delhi, from both south and north campus. The students had a two-week long training period and also made the hoardings and banners that were used during the rally.” The rally concluded with a nukkad natak titled Mausam by Asmita Theatre Group. Arvind Gaur, the group’s director, told us, “We prepared a 15-minute play that highlighted the various causes and problems related to climate change. It is high time we voice the demand for the government to support us in this endeavour.” (Times of India 27/9/14)

 

AGRICULTURE/ FARMERS SUICIDES

109. PIL on farmer suicide: SC seeks Centre’s reply (20)

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday sought the Centre’s response on a PIL seeking direction to the government to take steps to prevent increasing farmer suicides across the country. A bench headed by Justice H L Dattu issued notice to the Centre through Ministry of Agriculture and sought its response on the PIL filed by Punjab-based NGO Youth Kamal Organization. The PIL also sought the apex court’s direction to the Centre to implement the recommendations of the report of National Commission on Farmers (NCF) chaired by agriculture scientist M S Swaminathan in 2006 on farmer suicides. Citing various problems faced by farmers which compel them to take their life, the petition filed through the NGO’s president G S Happy Maan, said, “Farmers are forced to buy seeds every planting season which increases poverty and indebtedness, compelling them to commit suicide. “Interest rate at which loans are given to the farmers is very high and they are not able to repay the same. As per the report, it should not be more than four per cent.” It also said that farmers do not know how to cope with the changing economy and “need counseling from the government or society to survive it”.”Absence of counseling from government or society on how to survive changing economy” is also a reason for their suicides, it said. “There is no crop insurance and rural infrastructure is poor, particularly harvest technology. Youths in villages are reluctant to take up farming as a career because of the cost-risk-return structure,” the PIL said. The NGO also told the court that in June 2014, the ministry of agriculture had said that it has started implementing the recommendations of the NCF, but so far nothing has been done for the benefit of farmers. (Zee news 22/9/14)

 

110. The cotton blow to farmers (20)

ADILABAD: With 40 suicides in 100 days, there is an urgent need for farmers to focus on other crops. The scale of finance for cotton is Rs. 24,000 per acre for un-irrigated crop while for red gram, black gram and green gram it is Rs. 11,000, Rs. 9,500 and Rs. 9,750 per acre. Adilabad seems to be holding onto to its position among the top ranking districts in the country in terms of cotton farmer suicides what with 40 crisis tormented farmers ending lives within a span of 100 days, starting June 24 this year. The three lakh small and marginal farmers with dry land holdings between two and five acres in this district, depend upon agricultural borrowings for personal and family expenditure in the absence of even subsistence income from agriculture operations. “One of the ways to ease the agrarian crisis is to wean them away from cotton by enhancing the scale of finance for other crops,” suggests B. Goverdhan Reddy, farmer leader and secretary in the State unit of Telangana Rashtra Samiti. “Cultivation of food crops on a commercial scale, for example, can be a viable alternative,” he adds. The scale of finance for cotton is Rs. 24,000 per acre for un-irrigated crop while for red gram, black gram and green gram it is Rs. 11,000, Rs. 9,500 and Rs. 9,750 per acre. “The cost of production of cotton is a minimum of Rs. 20,000 per acre and the same for pulses is about Rs. 8,000,” says retired Assistant Director of Agriculture C. Narsingu. “If the cultivation of the latter is improved by using modern methods, the yields can be increased to 5 to 6 quintals per acre which will almost be on a par with cotton and the economics will work out fine for the farmers. The pulses command a price of Rs. 4,500 per quintal while cotton is likely to fetch a price of around Rs. 4,000 per quintal,” he points out. Facing Combating the cotton blowThe scale of finance is fixed every year by the District Level Technical Committee (DLTC) based on the cost of production and the minimum support price of a given variety of produce. “The DLTC can instead take into consideration the chances of repayment before deciding upon, or to enhance the scale of finance for crops,” Mr. Reddy opines. * Adilabad district has around 3 lakh small and marginal farmers and 80 per cent of cultivate cotton. * The income graph of almost all the small and marginal farmers is perennially in the negative. * There were 40 suicides of cotton farmers since June 24 and 75 since January this year besides the 64 in the second half of 2013. *Borrowings from banks and private sources materialise in June-July every year and a good portion of the money is spent on consumption. *Scale of finance from banks for cotton is Rs. 24,000 per acre for un-irrigated crop while that for redgram, blackgram and greengram is Rs. 11,000, Rs. 9,500 and Rs. 9,750 per acre. *Cost of production for cotton is Rs. 20,000 per acre and that for pulses is about Rs. 8,000 per acre. * The average yield of cotton in dry lands is about 6 quintals and that of the pulses is about 4 quintals. *Minimum support price for cotton is Rs. 4,050 and pulses command a market price of Rs. 4,500 per quintal on an average. (The Hindu 23/9/14)

 

111. Farmers need an alternative to Bt cotton: Experts (20)

AURANGABAD: Cotton farmers in Marathwada should explore options beyond Bt cotton seeds as the costs of cultivating the genetically modified variety were higher, but with no added productivity, profitability or sustainability, said agriculture department officials and other experts. “Bt cotton has been cultivated on a large area in Marathwada. But due to diminishing profit margins, farmers should plan to evolve other straight varieties (desi cotton) of seed that would help reduce cultivation costs and increase the profitability and sustainability of the crop,” vice-chancellor of Vasantrao Naik Marathwada Krishi Vidyapeeth (VNMKV) B Venkateswarlu said at a workshop organized under the All India Co-ordinated Cotton Improvement Project in Devgaon village, Paithan taluka. About 60% of the farmers in Paithan taluka have already turned their backs on the Bt cotton seed variety that they had used for years. “Next year, the farmers can use cotton seeds of the desi variety produced on their farms this season. It is important to increase the availability of seeds of this variety,” Venkateswarlu added. Director of the Cotton Research Station, Nanded, under the aegis of the VNMKV, Dattaprasad Waskar said, “Ever since farmers took up the cultivation of the Bt cotton seed, input costs in the form of fertilizers and pesticides have gone up manifold and the crop is not longer sustainable – more so in the dry zone of Vidarbha and Marathwada.” Waskar, while making a demonstration on farmer Deepak Joshi’s farm in Devgaon, said, “Compared to other states, Bt cotton yield continues to be the lowest in Maharashtra, whereas the cost of cultivation has been rising steadily. In fact, the cost of cultivation in the state is the highest in the world. So there is an urgent need to review the performance of Bt cotton.” Joint director of agriculture, Aurangabad, J J Jadhav said, “In view of Bt cotton failing to live up to its promise of high yields and reduced pesticide use, farmers now appear ready to return to desi seed varieties. To encourage farmers to adopt alternate methods, a demonstration was conducted that director of Extension Education B B Bhosle, district superintending agricultural officer Panditrao Lonare, scientists, officers of agricultural department and farmers of Jai Jawan Jai Kisan group of Devgaon attended. “Bt cotton has proved to be a bitter experience for farmers who were not cautioned that the technology is premised on the availability of irrigation facilities almost absent in the region. The drought is now compounding the problem,” said Jadhav. Cotton specialist at the Cotton Research Station, Nanded, K S Baig said, “Universities are developing more varieties suited to different cotton growing districts. The process is long drawn one and no miracle can be expected soon. But that should not deter researchers from working for the benefit of the farmers who suffer huge losses every year due to failure of the crop which is largely dependent on rains.” Baig described the desi variety as having similar fibre properties compared to hybrid cotton, but cultivated at a lower cost. He said the cotton produce from the desi variety of seed could fetch the same price in the market as that from Bt cotton. (Times of India 28/9/14)

 

112. Activist Calls for New Green Revolution (20)

CHENNAI: A new green revolution is needed to promote natural farming and protect agricultural lands, said D Gabrielle, national convenor, National Alliance of People’s Movements. The activist was addressing farmers and students on Saturday at a two-day State level conference on Farmers Livelihood Protection organised by NAPM and Department of Social Work, Loyola College. Gabrielle said that a new green revolution should give the right to farmers to feed themselves and preserve traditional seeds. “The green revolution brought in genetically modified crops that ruin the natural seeds. We have seen what happened in Punjab where farmers committed suicide and many cancer cases were reported,” she said. Highlighting the present status of agriculture and farmers’ livelihood in the country, she alleged that the governments were taking over agricultural lands in the name of development and growth. “The government considers irrigated lands as agricultural lands while the rest are considered as ‘wastelands’ and acquired for development. Tens of thousands of acres of land have been taken, and all of them are not necessarily used. This leads to loss in agriculture, turning farmers to migrants who leave to cities in search of jobs,” said Gabrielle, recalling how farmers have been opposing to give up their lands for setting up industrial estates. Gabrielle urged students, farmers and activists to join hands and fight to protect agricultural lands and farmers’ livelihood. The two-day conference had panel discussions on various issues including protests against land acquisitions and relocation of slum dwellers. (New Indian Express 29/9/14)

 

LAND ACQUISITION/ DISPLACEMENT

113. Govt changes rules of land acquisition to give a leg-up to industry (4)

New Delhi: Clearing the decks for land acquisition under the UPA-enacted land acquisition law, the NDA government has notified the rules for its implementation. The new rules notified last month, while bringing clarity in the process of social impact assessment and reducing the scope for litigations, also addresses some of the concerns of the industry. Under the rules the public hearing has to be conducted in all the gram sabhas where members are directly or indirectly affected by acquisition of the land. Again a gram sabha with half of its members present can pass the resolution in favour or against the acquisition by a majority vote. Giving a leeway to the acquiring authority from listing out all the families affected by the acquisition, the rules give the leeway to give just a representative sample. To ensure acquisition of minimum amount of land and to facilitate its utilisation, the rules makes it mandatory for the government to prepare a district level inventory of waste and barren land and unutilised public land. Under public private partnership projects and projects by the private companies, a list of all affected land owners from whom consent is required has to be drawn out by the district authorities. This list has to be made available in the affected area for at least 10 days before obtaining consent. In order to do away with any ambiguity in preparing the social impact assessment (SIA) report, the new rules give out an exhaustive list of socio economic and cultural parameters to be covered by SIA. For example in defining the health impact, it specifically mentions the impact of the project on the health of the women and elderly. The rules however stick to the contentious six months deadline for submission of the SIA report. The industry had objected to the periods saying it was too long and results in cost escalation of the projects. (Hindustan Times 20/9/14)

 

114. Compensation amount released, but not given to claimants (4)

JAIPUR: Amid chaos and blame-game over the widening of Jaipur-Gurgaon stretch of national highway 8, there are nearly Rs 200 cr lying in the accounts of state government meant for distribution to those who lost their land. Some of the amount has been transferred from the agencies almost a year ago. As per the records of National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), Rs 16 crore was transferred for the land acquired at Amber to concerned authorities. Similarly, Rs 42.7 cr distribution is pending for the land acquired at Kotputli and Rs 10 crore at Behror. The amount is much more on the Haryana side in the same project. “Most of the amount was transferred a year ago. They are yet to be released it to those who actually have claims,” said an official. “This money belongs to poor people. Nobody can imagine their condition,” he said. The district administration agreed that compensation money is yet to be released. But they asserted that it was due to confrontation between the families owning the land that the payment is getting delayed. Where land entitlements were clear, all money has been given. In few cases, there is infighting between the families over land holding and unless those are settled, it is not possible for us to issue the compensation,” said Birbal Singh, SDM, Amber. Sunil Punia, land acquisition officer, posted at Kotputli expressed his complete ignorance about the issue. Not just compensation for the land acquisition but Rajasthan government also failed to fulfill its commitment to clear encroachments after getting paid for it. For transferring government structures at several patches, Rs 2.14 crore were transferred in October 2013. Yet many of them are yet to be relocated. “For nine religious structures, PWD demanded Rs 73 lakh which was issued in June 2014. But now we have been told to wait till December to get that land. There are also some government structures for which payment was made in 2013 but they are still there,” added the NHAI official. (Times of India 24/9/14)

 

115. Rajasthan high court rejects plea to stop takeover of land (4)

JAIPUR: The Rajasthan high court on Wednesday rejected the demand of land owners for a stay on JDA efforts to take physical possession of the remaining land acquired for the ambitious ring road project. The court order came on a writ petition filed by Virendra Singh and 32 others seeking to restrain the JDA from taking physical possession of the land by force till their writ petition was disposed of by the high court. Justice Bala M Trivedi said at this stage no interim relief could be granted to the petitioners. The court also refused to entertain the argument that under the new land acquisition act, if the land was not taken possession within five years of the award, it will become infructuous. The court has listed the next hearing of the case to the third week of November. Senior advocate Anil Mehta appeared for the petitioners. The petitioners contented that JDA is acquiring 360 meters of land for a road which has a width of just 90 meters. The remaining land on both sides of the road acquired has been earmarked for commercial activities which they say, is at the cost of the farmers. Additional advocate general Rajendra Prasad, appearing for the government, argued that the project is in public interest and a majority of the famers have already accepted the compensation package announced by the government. He said it will reduce the pressure of the heavy vehicles on the city roads which will reduce accidents and increase long life of city roads. Construction of Ring Road around Jaipur was conceived by PWD in December 2000 on BOT basis. In Phase I & II, a road with a length of 47 km will be constructed in the south of Jaipur, connecting Ajmer Road, Tonk Road and Agra Road. In Phase III, a road with a length of 97.75 km will be constructed in the northern part of Jaipur and will connect Agra Road, Delhi Road, Sikar Road and Ajmer Road. It will consist of a six-lane access controlled expressway; a three-lane service road on both sides; a 135 m R&R and an investors’ development corridor on both sides. The road is envisaged as a toll-free and signal free expressway. (Times of India 26/9/14)

 

116. Telangana villagers say no to industries (4)

The new government in Telangana is faced with a peculiar problem. People in interior villages are unwilling to part with their land for industries. And even if an industry is sanctioned on government land, villagers do not want it citing the resultant pollution of air and water. Despite senior officials holding several contact programmes in the rural areas to convince people that industries will generate employment and boost the local economy, villagers are unconvinced. The latest protests came from people living in Thalakondapally mandal of Mahbubnagar district. Recently, Mahbubnagar district joint collector L Sharman, along with local tehsildar Anita, went to Thalakondapally for site inspection for a pharma factory. However, a group of about 1,000 villagers stopped the revenue team on the village outskirts, forcing them to return without inspecting the site. Interestingly, the local legislator, along with some sarpanches participated, in the agitation. Similar protests were witnessed last month at Akuthotapally village of Amangal mandal when a revenue team tried to hold a public hearing for a proposed bulk drug unit. Protesters in Pollepally village of Jadcherla mandal even attempted to attack officials. People, whose lands were acquired for Pollepally Special Economic Zone, alleged that the government had paid paltry sum for their lands. Some of them have turned into migrant workers after their lands were acquired. There have also been instances where officials and industry representatives were chased away by angry villagers in Nalgonda and Mahbubnagar districts. In Nalgonda, villagers, particularly tribals, are against even government projects. Sources pointed out that in many cases, local politicians are instigating villagers to protest against setting up of industries in villages. The politicians, it is alleged, have their own agenda behind the protests. However, villagers disagree. “The protests are spontaneous. It is wrong to say they are organized. People do not want industries that cause pollution of air and ground water,” said Y Jangaiah, a villager of Akuthotapally. Villagers are also irked that most of the promises made by the government and industry representatives are not kept. For instance, a company which came up at Penjeral village did not recruit locals in large numbers as promised. “Why should the locals bear the trouble of pollution when they are not assured of jobs or other economic benefits,” wondered Kadempally Srinivas, former sarpanch of Kothur. Recently, a group of villagers submitted a memorandum to chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao during his visit to Mahbubnagar recently, urging him to ensure that companies setting up units in villages give 80 per cent of the jobs to locals. (Times of India 29/9/14)

 

117. Sabari Rail: Families Rue Slow Pace Of Land Acquisition (4)

KALADY: Several residents in Kalady share an unfortunate fate with the majority of families across the state, whose plots have been identified for acquisition for the Sabari rail project. For over a decade, these families have been unable to modify, sell, pledge or make any financial deal with regard to their lands due to a freeze order clamped by the government as a precursor to acquisition. However, the procedure has been getting delayed over and over again, as the state government and the railway debated over the feasibility and estimated cost of the project. While 14 plots within Kalady have been acquired and the families compensated, more than 75 such properties lying north to Sree Sankara bridge are still awaiting the acquisition procedure to commence or roll back of the freeze order. “Most of the families here do small businesses. Sometimes we need to obtain loan so as to get our businesses going. But, how are we going to get a loan if we can’t pledge our only collateral?” asks Paul Thomas, a local businessman in Okkal panchayat in Kalady. He said 22 cents out of his total 74 cents has been frozen by the government for acquisition years ago. “I don’t know when I will get my compensation or get my land freed,” he lamented. Though the railway has compensated the families from whom it has acquired the land, the evictees here complain that they have not been paid the interests on their compensation, which had been distributed several years after being sanctioned. Sadasivan ‘Appu’, whose 16 cents of land was acquired two years ago, received close to Rs 28 lakh, at the rate of Rs 1.80 lakh per cent as compensation two years ago. But like the rest of the families, he is yet to receive eight years worth of interest. “The survey for the acquisition was done some 15 years ago and they took this long to give us the compensation. By that rate, they might take a lifetime to give us the interest,” he said. The rail line, which was proposed in 1996-97, aimed at linking Angamali with Sabarimala, to cater to the travel needs of Sabarimala pilgrims. The rail line would cover five municipalities namely Pala, Thodupuzha, Muvattupuzha, Kothamangalam, Perumbavoor and Angamali, and 11 other small towns. The estimated expenditure of the project, which was Rs 550 crore then, has been increased to Rs 1,550 crore 15 years later. Even after this long, the project does not have a complete road map to finish the project in a time-bound manner. (New Indian Express 30/9/14)

 

RIGHT TO HEALTH

118. Over 2,000 underprivileged kids vaccinated for free under German exchange programme (3)

NAVI MUMBAI: Over 2,000 underprivileged children from various schools and slum pockets were administered vaccinations for Measles, Mumps, Rubella ( MMR), typhoid and Hepatisis free of cost at Terna Vidyalaya and Junior College and Terna Sahayadri Hospital from Wednesday to Friday. Eleven German students from Bremen, who were in the city for a 10-day visit as part of an exchange programme, also took part in the drive. They even donated 2,000 Euro for the drive. The students visited the slums in Navi Mumbai to spread awareness about administering these optional vaccines free of cost, as they are not included in the national health programme of the government and are expensive. “We are here to learn more about health problems among underprivileged sections,” said Cedric Haberland, a German student. Sandra Boesch, a teacher accompanying the students, said the drive was to create awareness about the importance of vaccines. (Times of India 20/9/14)

 

119. Health Ministry announces plan to reduce infant mortality rate (3)

New Delhi: Aiming to reduce the number of baby deaths, the Union health ministry has announced a time-bound action plan to expand several health care services to save infants. Reuters file photo. For representation purpose Aiming to reduce the number of baby deaths, the Union health ministry has announced a time-bound action plan to expand several health care services to save infants.  The India Newborn Action Plan (INAP) aims to reduce the number of babies who die within 28 days of birth from the present level of 29 per 1,000 live births to 24 by 2017, 21 by 2020, and under 10 by 2030. “I don’t believe in long-range targets. We must achieve our goal within a short time,” Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said while launching the programme.Vardhan said the government was confident of reducing the newborn mortality rate to single digits  before the 2030 target date. Out of 2.8 million newborns who die at birth worldwide, India contributes 7,00,000. “These are preventable deaths and now we have an action plan for preventing them,” he said. Six evidence-based and effective strategies impacting still births and newborn health, include preconception and antenatal care, care during labour and child birth, immediate newborn care, care of healthy newborns, care of small and sick newborns and care beyond newborn survival. “The three main problems are asphyxia, infection and pre-maturity. All of them are preventable and the targets under INAP are achievable,” S S Kamath, a Kerala-based child specialist, who is the president-elect of Indian Academy of Paediatrics told Deccan Herald. As per the official statistics, about 76 per cent of India’s estimated annual 26 million babies are born in clinics or at home under the care of skilled attendants. The INAP wants to raise this to 90 per cent by 2017 and 95 per cent by 2020. Breastfeeding a baby within an hour of birth is a life-saving practice. The INAP seeks to raise the first hour breastfeeding rate to 75 per cent by 2017 from the existing level of less than 50 per cent and 90 per cent by 2020. Another aspect of the plan is to provide a dose of corticosteroids to women who experience pre-term labour as several research studies have demonstrated corticosteroids beneficial effect to bring down mortality in premature babies. (Deccan Herald 22/9/14)

 

120. BMC ties up with private health services to reach out to TB patients (3)

Mumbai: In a move to cover a larger number of tuberculosis infected patients under the civic umbrella, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has recently initiated a unique tie-up with NGO Path which will work to control and diagnose TB in the private sector of the city. Dr Minnie Khetarpal, TB control officer, BMC, said, “We have evaluated that 50 per cent of the total TB burden goes to private sector for treatment either because they don’t want to avail public services or they get no access. In this program, the NGO will work with private clinics, laboratories and hospitals to provide better treatment to infected patients.” The move comes after the civic body realised that several TB patients start their treatment late due to delayed detection and lack of diagnostic facilities. According to Dr Amita Athavale, head of chest medicine department at civic-run KEM hospital, on an average, the treatment onset of people infected with TB in Mumbai witnesses a delay of 30-45 days. Additionally, the treatment regime given to several patients by private doctors does not follow the Revised National Tuberculosis Control Programme (RNTCP) guidelines which is followed by the civic body. The program, which has so far covered close to 200 patients, has tied-up with four diagnostic laboratories and 16 clinics and hospitals in the city. Whenever new cases visit these clinics or hospitals, the respective doctor will refer them to the diagnostic facility if she doubts whether the patient has contracted TB. “We have given vouchers to doctors in these clinics. A patient can avail medicines and treatment for free using these vouchers. The doctors will act as a link between us and the patients. The treatment will be absolutely free,” said Shibu Vijayan, project director of Path. With this facility, instead of paying Rs 2,000 for detection of multi-drug resistant (MDR) or extremely-drug resistant (XDR) TB in a private facility, a patient has to produce the voucher and pay a concessional amount of Rs 500. The project will now expand in the coming months to attach with over 80 clinics and hospitals. The sample collection of patients and transportation cost involved will be handled by the NGO and BMC. (Indian Express 24/9/2014)

 

121. Child death rate drops in 2013, says report (3)

Ranchi: At a time when people of Jharkhand are battling rickety health infrastructure, a newly released survey hailed it as the safest place to give birth among 10 least developed provinces in the country. The sample registration survey (SRS) 2013, released this month said Jharkhand recorded the lowest infant mortality rate (IMR) while Madhya Pradesh and Assam recorded the worst performances. According to the survey, a total of 37 children died per 1000 live births in Jharkhand in 2013. MP and Assam recorded 54 deaths per 1000 live births last year, followed by Odisha and Uttar Pradesh that stand at 51 and 50, respectively. This comes at a time when the national average of IMR recorded a fall from 2012 to stand at 40 in 2013. Goa remained at the top with nine while Assam and MP are the worst among all 29 states. Mission director of the state wing of national rural health mission (NRHM) Ashish Singh Maar said it was a welcome development. “The main factors that have led to the drop is better immunization services at the grassroots levels. The state has also fared well in institutionalized deliveries that has contributed to statistics,” Maar added. A well-placed state health official also corroborated Maar’s statement and added that the rise in breastfeeding practice as the main reason behind the improved statistics. While the state IMR has bettered the national average, the maternal mortality rate (MMR) hovers above the national average. While the national average stands at 178, the state MMR remains at 219. (Times of India 28/9/14)

 

122. Experts for strict enforcement of tobacco laws (3)

Bangalore: Public health experts, on Monday, stressed the need for strict enforcement of tobacco control laws, rather than just creating awareness on its harmful effects to deter people from smoking. Addressing a workshop, to educate enforcement officials on sections of Cigarette and Other Tobacco Products Act to be enforced, National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences Department of Epidemiology Assistant Prof Dr Vivek Gupta, said  while smoke free zones in public places, banning tobacco advertising, increasing taxes on tobacco, and addiction services were fine, in the absence of strict law enforcement, people were bound to break it. Stating that tobacco that kills half its users, he said, bidis were worse since they contained more nicotine and produced more carbon monoxide. Elucidating chewing tobacco was just as harmful, he observed that in half an hour, a consumer ingests nicotine equivalent to that from four cigarettes. Ministry of Health and Family Welfare Regional Director Dr N R Suresh said many were unaware of requirements to sell tobacco products. A spot check carried out in Vijayapura to see how people were complying with the Act, he said they seized imported cigarette boxes since they did not carry health warnings covering at least 40 per cent of packaging, as required by law. The latest Global Adult Tobacco Survey shows a third of Indians (35 per cent) use tobacco and it was on the rise. (Deccan Herald 30/9/14)

 

HIV/AIDS

123. 97 of 14,071 inmates in Tihar have HIV/AIDS (3)

New Delhi: As many as 97 people with HIV/AIDS are lodged in Tihar Jail, Asia’s largest prison. The HIV-infected inmates are lodged in the jail with other prisoners as there is no separate cell for such patients. The HIV-infected prisoners are, however, treated by the jail authorities at various hospitals at government expense. Of the 14,071 prisoners lodged in Tihar till the end of 2013, as many as 97, including two women inmates, reportedly had HIV, which is about one per cent of the jail’s total population. Of the 97 HIV-positive inmates, 14 are on antiretroviral therapy (ART). Sources said a majority of the HIV-infected inmates are reportedly intravenous drug users. They are being treated under an opioid substitution treatment (OST) de-addiction programme by the jail authorities. These revelations were recently made in a reply to a RTI application. At present, there are about 14,071 prisoners in Tihar. The prison has a capacity of only 6,250 inmates. Of the total inmates in Tihar, 13,445 are male and 626 are female. There are as many as 10,588 undertrials, including 281 foreign nationals. The jail houses 16 prisoners on death row. The data available with this newspaper shows that there has been no major increase in the number of HIV-positive inmates in Tihar since 2009. While the number of HIV-infected inmates in 2009 was 109, the number went up to 124 in 2010. The number of HIV-positive inmates in 2011 was 115 and in 2012 the figure fell to 91. There is reportedly no data available with the authorities to suggest whether any inmate contracted HIV after being lodged in Tihar Jail. The authorities, however, claimed that not a single person has so far complained of having contracted HIV after coming to Tihar. The authorities claimed regular check-ups are carried out and patients are also provided with free medicine. In its reply to the RTI, the authorities claimed they have adequate arrangements for testing of HIV and they also conduct awareness campaigns. The RTI reply said: “All HIV-positive are under regular follow-up from Central Jails as well as ART (Antiretroviral Therapy) Centres in outside referral hospitals. They are provided Antiretroviral Therapy and other medications, as prescribed, along with additional medical diet apart from normal jail diet… Patient diagnosed with HIV/AIDS is reviewed at the designated ICTC (Integrated Counselling and Testing Centres) counsellors at DDU hospital where patient gone for CD4 count and other required investigation/test. If doctor of ICTC advised ART they are provided with ART medicine from ICTC DDU hospital (sic).” (Asian Age 22/9/14)

 

124. Decline in HIV prevalence among sex workers in state (3)

JAIPUR: One out of 30 sex workers in brothels of the state is living with HIV. The prevalence of the virus among sex workers in brothels is higher than street-based and home-based sex workers, according to an RSCACS report. Rajasthan State AIDS Control Society’s (RSACS) state report released recently shows that one out of 71 street-based sex workers and one out of 208 home-based sex workers are living with HIV. “HIV prevalence varied depending upon type of sex work. Higher prevalence of 3.25% has been found among brothel-based sex workers followed by 1.4% among street-based and 0.48% in home-based sex workers,” according to the report. The report elaborates that HIV prevalence varies among female sex workers (FSW) on the time they had spent in the work. “Considering the duration of sex work, highest positivity has been recorded among those who are in the profession of sex work for around 3 to 5 years. During the HIV Sentinel Surveillance (HSS) 2008, the highest positivity of 6.25% was seen among new entrants (i.e. six months to one year of sex work). In HSS 2010-11, among new entrants, the HIV prevalence is only 1.67% which is reduced by 5.58% as compared to HSS 2008,” the report says. The HIV positivity among sex workers with one to six years in the profession is 1.67%, among those with one to 3 years is 0.38%, those with 3-5 years have highest prevalence of 2.39% and with more than 5 years in profession, such workers have 1.36% of prevalence. RSACS officials claimed that the HIV prevalence among sex workers have declined over the past few years. “Result of the HSS 2010-11 shows that the overall HIV prevalence amongst female sex workers is 1.28%, a significant decrease of 2.53% from 2008. Three consistent sites Ajmer, Alwar and Banswara showed significant decrease in prevalence,” the report says. The result of HSS 2010-11 shows that highest HIV prevalence rates among FSWs have been recorded in eastern and southern parts of the state. “Nearly one out of 20 female sex workers are living with HIV in Alwar, while Udaipur and Ajmer have almost one out 100 sex workers with HIV, Ganganagar has one out of 200 sex workers with HIV,” the report says. Alwar has higher prevalence as the work is brothel based. An RSACS official said the prevalence among the sex workers is on the decline because they are more aware of precautions and also the officials are conducting individual tracking to prevent HIV infections among FSWs. While comparing prevalence between rural and urban areas, it has been found in HSS 2010 data that prevalence rate is higher in rural areas (1.95%) as compared to urban areas (0.57%).”A scrutiny of higher vulnerability to HIV rendering to the characteristics of the population marks that women who have certain education are more informed, and thus better able to protect themselves from HIV. This was observed in HSS 2010 data where educated female sex workers comprised a lower proportion (1.01%) of the total number of HIV positive than their illiterate counterparts,” the report says. Moreover, the positivity is on the decline among young female sex workers aged 20-29 years. It was 4.24% in 2008 compared to 1.78% in 2010-2011, a decline of 2.46%. (Times of India 23/9/14)

 

125. Country running out of anti-HIV drug stock (3)

CHENNAI: Members of HIV-positive people’s networks in the country are warning of an impending shortage of the anti-retroviral drugs that keep the virus in check. Any break in consumption of the drugs could lead to the virus gaining higher resistance to them and, thereby, to a resurgence of the AIDS epidemic in the country. Over the past two years, people living with HIV/AIDS have sounded the alarm on frequent disruptions or delays in disbursing the drugs. “Nearly every State in the country has been affected. Maybe, the States such as Tamil Nadu managed to tide over the crisis by funding the [supply of] drugs during the shortage, but others suffered. The worse is yet to come, however,” P. Kousalya, president, Positive Women Network, says. The community of positive people says that unless emergency steps are taken within two weeks, patients may have to go without the drugs in October. “The situation is all set to get really critical because buffer stocks are fast running out,” says Loon Gangte of the International Treatment Preparedness Coalition, South Asia. “Even optimistically, I think we can give it about two weeks before we hit a serious crisis.” A doctor who has worked extensively with people living with HIV/AIDS says the first-line drugs, both in adult and paediatric combinations, are soon going to run out. Technically, she says, this is likely to set the country back by several important advancements. The quality of life of the people who are denied these drugs will drop significantly. “At the very least, NACO [National AIDS Control Organisation] urgently needs 60 lakh tablets of Tenofovir 300 mg and Lamivudine 300 mg to prevent a stock-out of first-line regimens in ART [antiretroviral therapy] centres across the country in the coming month,” says a statement from positive people network representatives. “It’s not just HIV medicines, viral load kits have also not been available in Mumbai, Delhi and other centres for months,” says Daxa Patel of the National Coalition of People Living With HIV. (The Hindu 25/9/14)

 

126. High Court bails out family of HIV-infected boy (3)

CHENNAI: Coming to the rescue of a poor family, the Madras High Court has asked the government to pay a woman Rs.50,000 to meet the expenses of treatment of her HIV-infected son. The woman said her son, now 16, had contracted the infection because of negligence on the part of medical officers of the Institute of Child Health, Government Children’s Hospital, Egmore, in 1999. Justice S. Vaidyanathan said that as the boy’s health was deteriorating day by day, the authorities should give him better treatment free of cost. He should get the benefit of the government schemes for AIDS victims. He directed the boy’s mother, who filed the petition, to approach the civil court for alleged liability for negligence, and said the civil court should entertain the application without insisting upon limitation. The petitioner said she and her husband were illiterate and daily wagers. Her son fell ill and was admitted to the GCH in February, 1999. After surgery, blood transfusion was done. Within two days of discharge, he fell sick again and was treated at the hospital. Tests done in September 1999 revealed that he was HIV-positive. She and her husband were found not infected. She said that blood transfusion without tests caused the infection and sought compensation for negligence and future treatment.The hospital countered that blood bags were put through ELISA tests or Rapid Tests in emergencies. So, there was no question of infected blood being used. Mr. Justice Vaidyanathan said the petitioner, who was very poor, might not have approached any private hospital, as contended by the authorities, during the intervening period between March and September 1999. After discharge, as advised by doctors, the woman went to the hospital regularly once in two days. Citing a slew of court decisions on violation of fundamental rights, the judge said he was ordering payment as the petitioner had incurred a considerable expense for his treatment. (The Hindu 27/9/14)

 

127.  ‘Shortage of anti-HIV drug will be addressed soon’ (3)

Bangalore: Union Health and Family Welfare Minister Harsh Vardhan on Monday said the shortage of a vital anti-HIV drug — Nevirapine — that had hit patients across the State in the last two months would be addressed in the next 10 days. Nevirapine is a crucial drug that prevents multiplication of the virus and reduces its presence in the blood. Replying to queries by presspersons here during a videoconference from Delhi, the Minister said other than this drug, there was no shortage of anti-HIV drugs in the country. Nearly 90 per cent of the 1.09 lakh people who are on ART in the State are on a Nevirapine-based regimen. (The Hindu 29/9/14)

 

Posted by admin at 30 September 2014

Category: Uncategorized

DALITS/SCHEDULED CASTES

1. Delay in Probing Complaints Filed by SC/STs: Report (2)

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The state police have come under sharp criticism of the Kerala State Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes for the inordinate delay in investigating complaints filed by the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. In its recently released 2012-13 annual report, the Commission said that the provisions of Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, were seen violated in majority of cases. Rule seven of the Act said that officials in the rank of DySP should inquire into criminal cases against SC/STs which is seldom followed. “Police officials who violate this provision are liable to be prosecuted under the Act,” the Commission said. The forming of protection cell against atrocities and preventive detention are also not followed in many districts. In several cases, the accused are given anticipatory bail which too is a blatant violation of the Act. Higher officials do not conduct mandatory inspections in police stations to take action against erring station house officers. “Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes find difficulty in filing cases as the police are reluctant to share relevant information. Officials concerned often violate the Commission’s directive to appear before it. Complaints and reports are also not forwarded to the Commission on time,” the report said. (New Indian Express 10/9/14)

2. Hooda government announces debt waiver for dalits (2)

CHANDIGARH: To woo the dalits and backward classes ahead of Haryanavidhansabha polls, the Hooda government has announced to waive off their debt of Rs 155 crore benefiting about 1.64 lakh beneficiaries. Dalits consist 20% of population in the state and play significant role in the state politics. The Congress government has waived off debt of those who have taken loans from Haryana Scheduled Castes Finance Development Corporation (HSFDC) and Haryana Backward Classes and Economically Weaker Sections Kalyan Nigam (HBCKN). Welfare of Scheduled Castes and Backward Classes Minister Geeta Bhukkalsaid on Thursday that as it was a long pending demand of people belonging to Scheduled Castes and Backward Classes to waive their debt. Now this decision had made them free from debt. She said that HSFDC had waived debt of Rs. 73.52 crore of 1,20,787 loanees whereas HBCKN has given a waiver of Rs 81.23 crore to 43,173 people of backward classes categories. The Minister said that waiving of huge amount is a bold decision for the welfare of members belonging to SCs and BCs in the state and the present government had honored its commitment for their wellbeing. (Times of India 11/9/14)

3. Dalit girl gang-raped in rajasthan (2)

Jaipur: A 15-year-old Dalit girl was allegedly gang-raped by three youths in a bus stand in Hanumangarh district’s Mallisar, police said on Friday. The incident took place on the night of September 10 and the girl was recovered at the bus stand in an unconscious state on Thursday morning. In an FIR filed at the Bhadra police station,e girl’s father alleged that she was lured by Vikas Jat, Jeetu and one unidentified youth to the bus stand around 10 P.M. on Wednesday and raped. The accused have booked under various sections of IPC, the Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, and the Protection Of Children From Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, a police officer said. A police team led by Bhadra police station SHO is on a hunt to nab the accused, the officer added. PTI (The Hindu 13/9/14)

4. Congress tunes up SC cell, to fight for community, dalit’s cause (2)

JAIPUR: After facing consecutive defeats in assembly and Lok Sabha polls, Congress in Rajasthan is striving to regain its lost support base. Resolved to bring issues of Scheduled Caste (SC) and dalits to the core of its politics, Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) appointed seven conveners in SC cell after deliberations in a state-level SC leaders’ meet. The appointed offices bearers will reach out to SC voters in districts and block levels and raise their issue at suitable fora. They have also been mandated to identify new talents in SCs and support them in their endeavors to become future leaders from the community. “Our aim is that through the SC cell we can rebuild our organization and fight for cause of SCs and dailts. These conveners will reach out to people at block levels and give a voice to the problems and issues of SC community,” said K Raju, chairman of the SC cell. Raising the bar in the attack against the BJP government in the state, Raju said, “The state government has so far been apathetic towards SCs, dalits and its stand has been anti-poor. Their mindset is evident form the fact that not a single dalit has been made a minister.” PCC chief Sachin Pilot pointed that such restructuring is being initiated in very few states and Rajasthan is one of them. “What we have done today is reflective of our Congress leadership’s vision. This model will then be replicated nationally. The motive is to re-energize the department.” “Atrocities on SCs have increased while women are being abused and raped. But these cases are brushed under the carpet just because BJP enjoys a heavy majority. But we will not let it happen and everyone will see the tangible impact of restructuring our SC cell,” Pilot added. Newly appointed conveners while spanning out their strategy indicated that for the rights of SCs, Congress will not shy away from organizing street protests. “The previous Congress government started schools in hamlets mostly dominated by SCs and dalits. But in the name of unification policy, these have been shut down. These students now have to walk kilometers to attend schools. If same situation persists, Congress will protest against it,” senior Congress leader Bharosilal Jatav said. (Times of India 15/9/14)

5. Agricultural land for Dalit families sought (2)

KHAMMAM: The demand for allocation of agricultural land for Dalit families living in the tribal sub-plan (TSP) mandals of the Bhadrachalam Agency is gathering momentum. Moved by the plight of thousands of Dalit families living in abject poverty in the Agency areas, various organisations working for the welfare of Dalits have decided to take up their cause. The Kula Vivaksha Vyatireka Porata Samithi (KVPS) has drawn up plans to represent the long pending demands of the Dalits, inhabiting the Agency areas, with the government departments concerned. Over 8,000 impoverished Dalit families are leading miserable lives devoid of even a cent of land in more than 20 TSP mandals in the Agency, said Machha Venkateswarlu, district president, KVPS. The TRS government should extend the land distribution scheme to Dalit families in the Agency areas, he said, demanding that the government should recover vast tracts of encroached lands in the plain areas surrounding the TSP mandals for distribution among the landless Dalit families. The government has so far distributed only 23 acres of land to just nine Dalit families under the scheme in the district, he pointed out. (The Hindu 16/9/14)

6. SC/ST fund diversion for CWG: BJP slams AAP for not ordering probe (2)

New Delhi: Delhi BJP today came down hard on AAP questioning why the Arvind Kejriwal-led government did not investigate the alleged diversion by the then Sheila Dikshit dispensation of funds meant for SC/ST welfare projects to finance certain works for the 2010 Commonwealth Games (CWG). The BJP attack came a day after AAP “linked” the Delhi government’s silence over the “missing” Commonwealth Games files to Dikshit’s comments supporting the Lt Governor’s move to invite the saffron party to form government in Delhi. BJP accused Kejriwal of ignoring the matter despite the Home Ministry writing to then Chief Secretary S K Srivastava seeking details of the SC/ST funds on December 30 last, when he was heading Delhi government. “We want to ask why Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP government did not investigate or raise the matter during their 49 days’ regime and did not bring to light the letter sent by the Home Ministry seeking details of the alleged diversion of SC/ST welfare funds in the 2010 Commonwealth Games,” said Delhi BJP president Satish Upadhyay. “Kejriwal’s silence on the matter establishes AAP’s connivance with Congress with which it had earlier formed government in Delhi,” he said. Upadhyay also demanded explanation from Delhi Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung and former Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal over the “missing” files related to the Commonwealth Games. “It is the responsibility of the Lt Governor to reply to the Home Ministry… and inform about the file and where this fund was spent in Delhi and whether the Government of Delhi returned the fund to the SC welfare fund after the Games,” the Delhi BJP chief said. Upadhyay said a delegation of BJP would meet Home Minister Rajnath Singh in this connection and demand that a CBI inquiry into the matter. BJP MP Udit Raj said Congress and AAP who claim to be the saviours of Dalits have been exposed. He said the diversion of funds meant for SC/ST development was suppressed as Congress was also ruling at the Centre that time. “Kejriwal has been talking about taking action against corruption by former Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit again and again, but remained silent on misappropriation and embezzlement of SC welfare fund during his 49 days’ rule,” the BJP MP said. (The Financial Express 18/9/14)

TRIBALS

7. Salwa Judum: Chhattisgarh tribals in AP, Odisha to get resettled in Bastar (6)

RAIPUR: Nearly a decade after the launch of controversial anti-Naxalite movement Salwa Judum in Bastar, Chhattisgarh government is now making efforts to bring back and rehabilitate thousands of tribals, who had fled to neighbouring undivided Andhra Pradesh, in their respective villages — a step aimed to build confidence among people that the Maoist-affected tribal region is fast returning to normalcy. Forced to get dislocated from Bastar’s ground zero fight between state security forces and Maoists during and after Salwa Judum movement since 2005, estimated more than 50,000 tribals went to settle at Khammam, Karimnagar, Warangal in Andhra Pradesh and parts of Odisha. Devoid of voting rights and other facilities, tribals of Chhattisgarh have been caught in a crossfire. Inspector general of police, Bastar, SRP Kalluri said, “Tribals are attached to their land and always want to come back to their own villages. About 500 families from Bhejji region in Sukma district contacted us to come back.” Kalluri said that taking into consideration their desire to return, Chhattisgarh government and state police has planned to resettle them after monsoon. “Under various schemes like Atal Awas Yojna and Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan, the project will be carried forward initially with 500 families as large scale resettlement carries security risk. Hence, we have asked those families to get in touch with neighbouring villages for discussion, which will strengthen the bonding between them. Once, the first resettlement goes smoothly, more families would be called upon,” the IG explained. Keeping it inconspicuous, Chhattisgarh government has asked for 10 battalion of Central Reserve Police Force and would deploy at least two company of CRPF at Bhejji. However, the process would begin only after monsoon. Over 50,000 tribals have been identified from interiors of Sukma, Konta and Bijapur regions who have dislocated to parts of AP after advent of anti-Naxalite movement Salwa Judum as they were caught between physical and mental harassment at the hands of both Maoists and security personnel, IG said. According to a report, with initiation of Salwa Judum around 3.5 lakh tribals — Koyas, Dorlas, Halwas, Bhatris, Murias and Marias— were affected, many of whom were sent to Salwa Judum camps. But they had to face death and attack by Maoists on returning home to collect their belongings. Migrating to AP and Odisha didn’t bring peace either. Without identity documents, they can’t vote or have access to welfare schemes. However, state government’s project to resettle them brings a major concern of their security and rehabilitation, food, livelihood etc for which Kalluri said would be taken into consideration steadily. (Times of India 11/9/14)

8. Tribal party’s lone voice for a separate state in Tripura (6)

Agartala: A tribal-based political party has stepped up its agitation for a separate state to be carved out of Tripura. The Indigenous People`s Front of Tripura (IPFT), which launched a stir for the division of the state on August 23 last year, held a massive rally here last month. It has now announced that the party members would go to Delhi to meet union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and union Tribal Affairs Minister Jual Oram to press for the demand. The IPFT organised a 72-hour hunger strike in Delhi December 10-13, 2013. It also held a meeting with officials of the Union Home Ministry on December 13 on the issue. The IPFT has been for many years demanding a separate state, to be carved out of Tripura, by upgrading the Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council (TTAADC). The state`s ruling Left Front led by the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) is now at the helm of affairs of the TTAADC, which was formed by amending the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution in 1985. IPFT president Narandra Chandra Debbarma accused the Left Front government of creating the TTAADC only as a “lame-duck institution” – having no real powers – for the development of the backward indigenous people. “The fundamental problems of the people have not been solved. Tribals continue to lose their lands. Even the state of affairs of the Kokborok language of the indigenous tribal people is miserable,” Debbarma told a news agency. He said the tribals were once a majority in Tripura and are said to have been living in the state for more than 5,000 years, but their situation is now precarious. “We submitted an eight-page memorandum to the (union) Home Ministry last year. The ministry officials said our demand would be considered positively. Talks between the leaders of IPFT and the central government would continue,” IPFT chief said. The Left Front, the main opposition Congress, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and other political parties have strongly opposed the IPFT`s demand. They said the demand would encourage outlawed militant groups to further revive their strength in the state. The CPI-M`s two tribal youth wings – Tribal Youth Federation (TYF) and Tribal Students Union (TSU) – organised a mammoth colourful rally here Wednesday strongly denouncing the separate state demand. CPI-M spokesman and senior party leader Gautam Das said: “A small state like Tripura cannot be divided further. They (IPFT) are merely trying to regain relevance in the state politics by raising such an impractical demand.” “The IPFT`s demand would only encourage the demands of the extremists and inimical forces,” he told a news agency. “Tripura`s tribals are much better off than the tribals living elsewhere in the country. It was evident from the central government assessment and official documents and also the opinion of many scholars.” Chief Minister Manik Sarkar has categorically rejected the demand, saying that the Left Front government would not allow any attempt to divide the state. He also said that he would resist any such move with all his might. Congress leader Ashish Saha said his party strongly opposed the demand. “Tribals in Tripura are deprived in many vital segments… Some political parties are exploiting the sentiment of the tribals,” Saha told a news agency. The Congress, the BJP and the Indigenous Nationalist Party of Tripura (INPT) – also a tribal based party – while opposing the demand for a separate state said more powers should be given to the TTAADC and development of the tribal areas should be stepped up. State BJP president Sudhindra Dasgupta said: “Our party strongly opposed the separate state demand in Tripura, but we want more development of the remote and hilly areas and all-round development of the tribals.” Tripura`s two militant groups – National Liberation Front of Tripura and All Tripura Tiger Force – have been seeking secession of Tripura from India. Both the banned groups have their bases in neighbouring Bangladesh and Myanmar. The TTAADC, which has been playing a key role in the socio-economic development of tribals, has jurisdiction over two-thirds of Tripura`s geographical area of 10,491.69 sq km. Over 12.16 lakh people, more than 90 percent of whom are tribals, reside in the areas administered by the council. Notably, tribals constitute a third of Tripura`s total of 3.7 million people. (Zee News 12/9/14)

9. NGO accuses Maharashtra govt. of diluting Forest Rights Act (6)

NEW DELHI: While campaigners for forest rights and Adivasis say it is an act of brazenness for the Maharashtra government to have drafted the Village Forest Rules in March this year, Andhra Pradesh had diluted the FRA in 2008 itself by giving community forest rights (CFR) certificates to joint forest management committees instead of gram sabhas. After protests, the Union Ministry of Tribal Affairs had kept the rules in abeyance but efforts are on by the Union Environment and Rural Development Ministers to get that decision revoked. Shankar Gopalakrishnan of the Campaign for Survival and Dignity told The Hindu that the FRA overrode other legislation regarding forest rights to forest dwellers and it was Central legislation, so States could not bring in rules contravening it. Also, while the notification said the village forest rules were not applicable to community forest rights (CFR) areas under the FRA, many CFR claims were pending in Maharashtra. Till May 2014, Maharashtra received 3,46,230 (3,41,085 individual and 5,145 community) claims and of these, 1,03,797 (1,01,426 individual and 2,371 community) were given titles. The trick was in the pro-FRA provision — in reality, every village should be given CFR if it had a forest area and if not, the district administration had to give reasons which had to be recorded, Mr Gopalakrishnan said. But the new rules had hijacked the CFR provision in the FRA and effectively, minor forest produce would be taken back by the Forest department. Other dilutions to the FRA had already taken place. On July 4, the Environment Ministry issued guidelines stating that proposals seeking prior approval under the Forest Conservation Act for prospecting on forest land were exempt from submitting documentary evidence in support of settlement of rights in accordance with the FRA. The Supreme Court’s Central Empowered Committee had recommended that in-principle clearance should be given for mining lease renewals without FRA compliance, Mr. Gopalakrishnan said. In addition, the Campaign for Survival and Dignity found that several mining projects had forged gram sabha resolutions favouring projects. In one case in Madhya Pradesh, the High Court had ordered an inquiry into the forgery but nothing had happened.Mendha Lekha village in Gadchiroli district of Maharashtra was the first in the country to be given the rights to harvest and sell bamboo in 2011. Since then it has earned crores of rupees in bamboo sales which it ploughs back into village development. The new rules bring back the Forest department into pre-eminence instead of the gram sabha. Village forests will be managed by a Van Vyavsthapan Samiti on the lines of a Joint Forest Management Committee with a forest official on board. (The Hindu 14/9/14)

10. Celebrities Come Out in Support of Adivasi Stir (6)

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: On the 68th day of ‘Nilppu Samaram’ by tribals here at the behest of Adivasi Gothra Mahasabha, the organisers had an unexpected pack of supporters from the film industry who turned up for expressing their solidarity with the protestors. Award winning filmmakers Aashiq Abu, Dr Biju, screenplay writer Abhilash Kumar, actors Sreenath Bhasi, Soubin Shahir, Mythili, Srinda Ashab and Pearle Maaney are the celebrities who visited the venue of their protest in front of the Secretariat on Sunday. The celebrities were welcomed by the protesters with their traditional music and dance. Aashiq Abu said that the attitude of the State Government towards the strike is a gross violation of human rights. “The government should be more sensitive to these issues. These people also have the rights to lead a peaceful life just as everyone has,” said Aashiq. Adivasi Gothra Mahasabha leader C K Janu, who spoke on the occasion, said that they would extend the protest to various centres, if the government failed to take action on their demands. The ‘Nilppu Samaram’ raising demand to honour the package, which was promised by the State Government in 2001, was started on July 9. (New Indian Express 15/9/14)

11. Tribals Being Shortchanged by ‘Shahukars’ (6)

PADERU (VISAKHAPATNAM DT) : It looks like there is no end to the plight of tribals in Agency areas of the district. They are being fleeced, cheated and robbed almost in every sphere of their lives. Here is a classic example of how the ‘shahukars’ or the money-lenders loot the tribals with the banned instruments of measuring foodgrains. The ‘shahukars’ shortchange the tribals as the latter barter their foodgrains for money. Old means of measurements like ‘addedu’ and ‘kunchedu’ were banned for long but they never cease to go into oblivion in the tribal tracts of this district. The money-lenders charge high interest rates and realise them in terms of foodgrains, fleecing the tribals heavily in the process. Officials of the Legal Metrology Department and ITDA seems to be little bothered about the unfair practices being employed by the ‘shahukars’. According to the available statistics, there are about 86,458 ‘kamatas’ (farming lands measuring 1.59 acres) spread across 11 Agency mandals that fall under the jursidiction of ITDA, Paderu. The tribals cultivate ‘rajma’, ‘turmeric’, ‘valiselu’, ‘pippallul, ‘ragi’, ‘samalu’, ‘maize’, ‘chiru kandulu’, ‘timedalu’, ‘srirama pikkalu’ and ‘siram kandulu’ apart from many other crops. They sell their yields to the middlemen in archaic fashion with the containers called ‘kunchalu’, a prcatice has been banned by the government a long time ago. The tribals borrow money between June and September every year on the condition that they should return the amount along with interest in kind. The half-yearly interest charged on `1,000 is a whopping `500 to `650. The crops are usually harvested in n December/January and ‘shahukars’ return around that time to claim their pound of flesh… (Times of India 17/9/14)

12. FRA rights have destroyed forests, says study (6)

Nagpur: When the Scheduled Tribes & Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006, popularly known as the Forests Rights Act (FRA), was enacted, environmentalists had warned it may result in legalized encroachment on forests and their destruction. It appears their worst fears are coming true. A study conducted by The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), a policy research organization working in the fields of energy, environment and sustainable development, issued this month clearly shows that people granted rights on forest lands under the Act have converted them into agricultural farms. The study suggested that the Union ministry of tribal affairs (MoTA) must revisit the process of FRA. FRA was enacted in 2007 to recognize and vests individual forest-dwellers with rights to live in and cultivate forest land occupied before December 13, 2005, and grant community forest rights (CFRs) to manage, protect, regenerate forest and own and dispose of minor forest produce (MFP) from forests where they had traditional access. The study used remote sensing-geographic information system (RS-GIS) based analysis of FRA rights in Maharashtra to know the fate of such lands. “The objective was to assess impact of FRA on reducing carbon sequestration capacities of forests and assess impact of land use change in increasing the vulnerability of the ecosystems and the people,” said forest officials. As per tribal development ministry, till July 2014, in Maharashtra 3,49,271 claims (3,43,729 individual & 5,542 community) have been filed. The total number of titles distributed is 1,08,112 consisting of 3,05,562 hectares of forest land in 22 districts. For the estimation of emissions due to deforestation, a pilot study was conducted in Gondia to assess the biomass loss due to deforestation. Gondia forest division has 1,73,180 hectares area of which 18,617.50 hectares fall under Sadak Arjuni range. Around 630 hectares covering three strata in Sadak Arjuni was selected for biomass assessment in FRA areas. Within these three strata, around 225 forest rights were surveyed covering over 135 hectares. The biomass assessment was carried out for 2002, before FRA implementation and considered as a baseline year and compared with the year 2011, after FRA implementation. The estimation of carbon stock based on remote sensing technology shows huge loss of above ground biomass due to deforestation. Total above ground forest biomass in 2002 for the surveyed area was 2,358.19 tonnes, while in 2011 it came down to 346.97 tonnes. The total loss of biomass between 2002 and 2011 is 2011.22 tonnes. Similarly, the report states that a total of 1,748.45 hectares forest area recognized as individuals’ forest right was under tree cover in 2005. The total biomass on this area has been converted into greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) equivalent to 4,57,486.6 tonnes. “Since analysis is only for the rights recognized till 2011-12, the quantum of GHG emission and loss of carbon sequestration opportunity could be more if rights recognized till date are studied,” says the report. The report suggests decrease in water bodies by 50% and increase of barren lands by 50% in the surveyed area in Gondia between 2002 and 2011. This is indicative of increased vulnerability of forests and the forest dependent communities due to land use change due to wrong recognition of rights under FRA, 2006… (Times of India 19/9/14)

WOMEN

13. Anti-dowry law abused but can’t suspect every complaint: Court (8)

New Delhi: Abuse of anti-dowry law is repeatedly increasing but every complaint cannot be suspected, a Delhi court has observed while discharging a woman accused of subjecting her brother’s wife to cruelty. Additional Sessions Judge Manoj Jain, while discharging the woman, who was the sister-in-law of the alleged dowry victim, termed the allegations as “generic” and “trivial”.”Abuse of section 498A of IPC (subjecting woman to cruelty) is repeatedly increasing but that may not ipso facto mean that every complaint has to be suspected. “Of late, there are several judgements and instances which show that this benevolent provision is being misused also by some of the unscrupulous persons,” the judge said, while allowing the revision petition filed by the accused woman. He said, “I cannot shut my eyes to the fact that revisionist (woman) was already married and was working and residing at a different station. “Moreover, the allegations attributed to her are indeed very generic and trivial keeping in mind the fact that these are stated to be spread over the period of seven years or so. These stray allegations seem to be too minor to justify trial for a serious offence of cruelty under section 498A IPC.” The woman had filed a revision petition against the trial court order charging her under section 498A with section 34 of IPC (husband or relative of husband of a woman subjecting her to cruelty with common intention). The woman had claimed that allegations were very general and vague and there was nothing which may show that she made any demand of dowry or harassed the complainant for dowry and, therefore, there was no occasion for the trial court to have charged her for the offence. The complainant had alleged that her sister-in-law had rebuked, taunted her and had sided with her mother-in-law to go for abortion, when it was learnt that she was carrying a female foetus. The judge, however, refused to buy the arguments and allegations and said, “I would merely say that the allegations are too general in nature. These create a ‘mere suspicion’ as opposed to ‘strong suspicion’.” “Suffice it to say that keeping in mind the fact that revisionist is a married sister-in-law residing separately at a different place and the fact that there is no serious allegation showing her continuous interference in the matrimonial life of the complainant amounting to cruelty and harassment, I am left with no option but to allow the revision petition,” the judge said. (Zee News 10/9/14)

14. 42 percent girls under the age of 19 face sexual violence in India: Unicef study (8)

A Unicef study titled ‘Hidden in Plain Sight’, which looks at child abuse across the world, says the close to 42 percent of all girls in India have faced some sort of sexual violence before the age of 19. According to a Times of India article, data from the study showed that 10 percent of Indian girls would have faced sexual violence when they are aged 10-14, and 30 percent in the 15-19 age group. Additionally, the data shows that close to 77 percent of the girls in the age group of 15-19 faced sexual violence from their current partner or husband. In 6 percent of cases, the perpetrator was a relative, while 4 percent said it was friend or acquaintance who sexually assaulted them. Cases of stranger rape or sexual violence in India for the age group stood at mere 3 percent. The numbers indicate that for most girls growing up in India, sexual violence is fairly common and that in most cases it is not strangers but rather husbands or partners that are committing such acts. Where sexual violence is concerned, the only bit of good news is that India doesn’t fare as badly as the African nations. According to the report, prevalence of partner violence is 70 percent or higher in Congo and Equatorial Guinea and approaches or exceeds 50 percent in Uganda, Tanzania and Zimbabwe. Overall the report notes that globally,  one in 10 girls around the world under 20 years old, (an estimated 120 million), have been forced into sex acts, and one in three married adolescent girls, about 84 million, have been victims of emotional, physical or sexual violence committed by their husbands or partners. But the India numbers gain more significance in the backdrop of another report published by UNICEF which states that after Bangladesh, India has the second highest rate of child marriage in South Asia. The percentage of women who were married before the age of 18 in Bangladesh stood at 65 percent, while in India it stood at 43 percent. The study also noted that almost half of all girls in South Asia marry before the age of 18 and that overall one in five girls in the region ends up getting married before 15. The report noted that girls with no education are 5.5 times more likely to marry or enter into union as those with at least 10 years of education. When one looks at the two reports together, it makes sense as to why 42 percent of girls have faced violence. As the UNICEF report on sexual violence shows that in India girls between the age of 15-19 are most likely to be abused either by their husband or partner or a relative and not strangers. Given that nearly 43 percent are married off before the age of 18, the stats on sexual violence are not all surprising. (Firstpost 12/9/14)

15. Crimes against Women: Dubious Record of Rural Areas Continues (8)

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Thiruvananthapuram Rural police limit, which topped the list of number of rape cases during the last three years, still continues as a haven for rapists and anti-socials. As per the statistics with the police, the number of cases registered in connection with rape and molestation (of women) from January to May this year in Thiruvananthapuram Rural was 316. Out of which, rape cases numbered 52, whereas the total rape cases registered at 21 police districts in the state was 558. When it came to molestation, a total of 264 cases had been registered, when a total of 2,033 such incidents came to light during the same period across the state.  A report in this regard submitted before the Legislative Assembly by the Home Minister in January this year also reveals that the most unsafe zone for women in the state is Thiruvananthapuram rural. According to the data submitted in the House, as many as 326 rapes were reported, 32 women were murdered and 336 girls went missing in Rural Police limit during the past three years. According to District Police Chief (DPC) Rajpal Meena, most of the cases registered could be termed as cheating cases. “In majority of the cases, the victims were sexually molested under the cover of relationships. During the period of their relationship, the victim and the culprits engaged in sex and later the accused use to dump the women.This was the background of most of the rape cases,” said the DPC.  He said that the victims in most of the molestation cases were minors and majority of the accused were relatives or  residents of nearby areas.  “The enmity between families is what results in this sort of heinous crimes. Theaccused in most of these cases are\ people known to either the victim or her family,” he said. According to the police official, the number of criminals who are arraigned as ‘accused’ in such cases was very less.  As per the statistics, the number of cases filed against the husband or relatives is 162. The total number of cases registered for crimes against women in Rural Thiruvananthapuram was 551, including kidnapping cases, eve-teasing and other offences.  “We have started a detailed surveillance to track down the anti-socials who indulged in these crimes,” said Rajpal Meena.  Meanwhile, he said a number of ‘in-house’ molestations are still being reported. “Last week, a case was registered against a person who tried to assault his wife under the influence of alcohol, in front of their children. A number of such complaints are being lodged, which has resulted in the big figures,” he said. (New Indian Express 15/9/14)

16. Governments lack concern for female child: SC  (8)

NEW DELHI: Pulling up the Union and State governments for the “sloppy” implementation of the pre-natal sex determination law despite its existence for the past 20 years, a Supreme Court Bench of Justices Dipak Misra and N.V. Ramana on Tuesday said the approach reflects “lack of concern for the female child.” The observations came on an application filed on August 2013 by Sabu Mathew George, a member of the National Inspection and Monitoring Committee (NIMC) set up under the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PCPNDT) Act of 1994, alleging that pre-natal sex determination continues to be done by doctors, hand-in-glove with conniving authorities. Dr. George charged that female foeticide continued unchallenged despite a March 2013 judgment by the Supreme Court. The court had at the time observed that eliminating female foetuses after pre-natal diagnostic tests had pushed the female child ratio down nationwide. “The government has become sloppy. Central and State governments are supposed to organise camps. They don’t. Then what awareness can you spread?” Justice Misra asked Additional Solicitor-General Neeraj Kishan Kaul, representing the Union government. (The Hindu 17/9/14)

17. Tihar official arrested for murder bid on son’s wife (8)

New Delhi: A 50-year-old deputy superintendent of Tihar Jail and his son were arrested for allegedly trying to burn alive the latter’s wife for not fulfilling their dowry demands. The incident happened in south Delhi’s Mahipalpur on Wednesday. The victim, identified as Usha Singh, 25, has been admitted at Safdarjung Hospital with 65% burns. The arrested men are Gyan Singh and his son Nitin, 27. Gyan Singh is a deputy superintendent at Tihar and incharge of the Central Public Relations Office. His son Nitin works for a private security firm in Faridabad. “In her statement before the sub-divisional magistrate, Usha alleged that she was being harassed by her husband and in-laws for dowry. Her father-in-law injured her wrist with a blade and set her ablaze with kerosene oil,” said Premnath, DCP (south). The father and son were booked under section 498 (enticing or taking away or detaining with criminal intent a married woman) and 307 (Attempt to murder) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). The case was registered at the Vasant Kunj police station and the duo was sent to Tihar. The role of the victim’s mother-in-law’s is being probed, but she has not been arrested as she suffers from paralysis. Usha has accused her mother-in-law of abusing her verbally.A senior police officer said the incident was reported around 4 pm on Wednesday when a neighbour called the police control room. “The neighbours had heard the victim’s screams for help and poured water on her to douse the flames,” said a senior police officer. Since Usha and Nitin were married less than seven years ago, her statement was recorded at the hospital by a sub-divisional magistrate. Gyan had been ordering her to get money from her home. When she refused, Gyan and his son beat her up. On Wednesday, the officer said, there was an argument between the victim and her father-in law. “Gyan allegedly went on to slit her wrist with a blade. He brought kerosene, poured it on her and set her ablaze. Her neighbours barged into the flat on hearing her screams,” the officer said quoting the victim’s statement. (Hindustan Times 19/9/14)

CHILDREN/ CHILD LABOUR

18. Over 54 children rescued from bonded labour in Jaipur (14)

JAIPUR: Fiftyfour child labourers were rescued by police from Shastri Nagar area on Tuesday following a tip-off. Most of the rescued children are from Bihar and Jharkhand. This year so far, over 751 children were rescued from Jaipur. The child rights activists informed police about the children and raided several houses in the area to rescue them. A few of them were reportedly sold by their parents to the middlemen who had further sent them here in gems and polishing units. The rescued children were in the age group of 7 to 17 years. Most of them were here for the past one month to 4.5 years. All of them were kept in inhuman condition by the employers with two meals a day along with Rs 10 to Rs 50 per day that too for meeting traveling expenses. They were made to work for 14-16 hours a day with no leaves at all. Most of them also appeared to be underweight. Of the total, 50 were from Bihar and rest from Jharkhand. They were shifted to Bal Grah and Tabaar (NGO) till they were sent to Bihar which is likely to take a week. “We will approach the government to issue them Bonded Labour Release Certificate under Bonded Labour Prohibition Act 1956 which will help them in rehabilitation,” said Vijay Goyal, coordinator, Rajasthan Bal Adhikar Samrakshan Sajha Abhiyan (collective body of child rights NGOs) This is the third rescue operation this month alone. The gems, polishing, hotels and restaurants industry in Jaipur are pulling hundreds of such children every month. ActionAid, a human rights group carried a study on 659 child labourers who were rescued from Jan 2013 to March 2014. “The main reason for these children being forced into bonded labour was poor background of family. Our report said that 96% of the interviewed children were from BPL families,” said Shabnam Aziz, regional manager, ActionAid, Jaipur. The finding says that 85% comes from Bihar and 50 from Jharkhand and 32 from UP. Surprisingly, the number from Rajasthan is negligible. Children even from the tender age of 5-6 were evolved in child labour. Among the surveyed children, 30% of them were below 10 and 455 were between 11 and 14. The social classification says that 78% were dalits and 15% were Muslims which indicates that this practice is prevalent among the deprived and underprivileged communities. (Times of India 10/9/14)

19. India has second-highest number of child marriages: Unicef (14)

UNITED NATIONS: India had the highest number of unregistered children under age five between 2000 and 2012 and the second-highest number of child marriages, according to a U.N. report which said the country still needs to improve immunisation coverage and stop gender-based sex selection. The report “Improving Children’s Lives, Transforming the Future — 25 years of child rights in South Asia” by the United Nations’ children agency, Unicef, analyses the progress made over the last quarter century on key issues that directly affect the lives of children in the region. At 71 million, India had the largest number of children under the age of five whose births were not registered between 2000-2012. The report said that birth registration levels in South Asia have increased since 2000, but progress has been slow. India, along with Afghanistan, Bangladesh and the Maldives, has been recording “significant improvements” in birth registration but about 100 million children in the region are still not registered at birth. India has the greatest disparity between the poorest and richest households, with children in the poorest households being three times less likely to be registered than those in the richest. Religion also appears to play a role as Muslims have the lowest level of birth registration in India (39 per cent) followed by Hindus (40 per cent) while the Jains have the highest (87 per cent). Almost half of all girls in South Asia marry before the age of 18. One in five girls are married before the age of 15. These are the highest rates in the world. “These figures confirm that child marriage is rooted in gender norms and in expectations about the value and roles of girls,” the report added. In India, 43 per cent of women aged 20-24 were first married by the age of 18 between 2005-2013. Girls with no education are 5.5 times more likely to marry or enter into union as those with at least 10 years of education. On gender-biased sex selection, the report said the practice is more prevalent in the west and northwest part of the country. The child sex ratio, which is the number of girls per 1,000 boys, among children aged 0-4 in India was 924. On immunisation coverage, it said some countries in South Asia, particularly Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal, have made significant improvements since 1990 but coverage is still far too low in Afghanistan, India and Pakistan. The report was released to commemorate 25 years since the 1989 U.N. adoption of the Convention of the Rights of the Child. It pointed to some improvements over the past two decades as South Asian government adopted policies to protect child rights. The prevalence of children with stunted growth in the region dropped from more than 60 per cent in 1990 to 38 per cent in 2012 as nutrition improved, the report said. Still, the report said regional averages mask disparities, with stunting far more pervasive among children from poor families, rural areas and oppressed ethnicities. It said more than 2 million South Asian children die before their fifth birthday of preventable causes, and nearly 38 per cent of children have chronic malnutrition. (The Hindu 12/9/14)

20. 11 child labourers rescued from West Delhi factories (14)

NEW DELHI: Eleven child labourers were rescued from factories in west Delhi on Friday after a team of officials raided their quarters. Police said all of them were trafficked to the city from Bihar and Jharkhand. They said that the owners of the factories are absconding and will be arrested soon. Police had received a tip-off from volunteers of the Bachpan Bachao Andolan and conducted a raid under the supervision of Daniel Masih, SDM, Punjabi Bagh, and volunteers from the labour department. In the first phase, six children were rescued from a room near the factory in Nihal Vihar. The children were taken for a medical examination and later sent to a children’s home in Punjabi Bagh on directions from CWC. Police said that five children were forced to work as child labourers in small scale industries in Ruchi Vihar. “All worked for a pittance for eight hours,” Ranvir Singh, additional commissioner, west district, said. (Times of India 13/9/14)

21. Little care, concern for lost and found children (14)

New Delhi: For children living in the outskirts of the capital, a walk to their favourite shop or a game of hide and seek near the colony park can mean the end of childhood. Children here are picked up like rabbits by falcons. And most children lost in the capital are never found again. Those, who do come back, often tell a story of abuse, torture, confinement and lingering trauma. It’s probably because the number of those recovered is so abysmal that the authorities haven’t been so alarmed yet about how the families and the children cope with this second coming. Thirteen-year-old Ritesh Sarma, for instance, was a lively kid strolling around his house in Sangam Vihar when a few men sitting in a car stopped him and paid him to get them a pack of cigarettes. When he returned with it, they took him away. Sarma was lucky to have come back after two years. But months of slogging at a circus and facing violence at the hands of employers had left him unsmiling and reticent. Another boy, 15-year-old Anuj had gone missing from near his house in February this year. He is back and happy but nothing is same. “He uses ji after everything he says. He won’t go out to play or agree to go to school. He is disoriented most times of the day. He never tells us how he reached Amritsar from the streets of Aman Vihar,” said Sunita Devi, his mother. The officials of a local NGO helping her out in the matter suspect it may be a case of drug abuse or even sexual exploitation. But the mother is unaware how to deal with the situation. She has not heard of family counseling provided by the state. Nor does she know anything about the man who held her son captive all this while. “He sometimes asks me to let him speak with the man who kept him at his home for seven months. He tutored him at home but didn’t let him step out. He says he beat him sometimes. Who knows what was on his mind?” she said. Between January 1 and August 31 this year, 3,391 children have gone missing across 146 police stations in the city. Only 33% of them – 1127 – have been found. Most cases were in outer Delhi. Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights (DCPCR) launched a network of 100 children homes last month to track missing children. It too has drawn a blank so far. “Many times when these children come back, they are quite withdrawn. They stop talking and do not want to go to school. While there is a provision for family counseling, affected families are usually not taken for it,” said Soha Moitra, Regional Director (north) Child Rights and You. “There is absolutely no system for community counseling either. Communities should be sensitized and explained that they should not label the child. The western countries have a dedicated system for it,” she added. She also blamed Delhi Police for not keeping pace with the movement of the traffickers who operate in a highly structured manner taking the child away to another state in no time. “The child is exposed to so much within 24 hours even as the police are still registering the FIR,” she said. She added that even the Juvenile Welfare Officers (JWOs) at every police station, who are supposed to handle the cases of children, are burdened with investigations into other cases. The police, however, maintained that there is no delay in filing a formal complaint and their response is even quicker. DCP Crime Rajan Bhagat, spokesperson, said, “Not filining an FIR happened two years ago but no longer. The only delay is the time taken to write the FIR. But even before that process is complete, we alert our teams at railway stations, bus terminus and at state borders. The Standard Operating Procedure is followed.” He added that most police stations have two to four JWOs to handle such cases. Even other officials are sensitized and trained to deal with cases related to children…..  (Hindustan Times 14/9/14)

22. Child rights commission seeks probe into boy’s arrest in assault case (14)

HYDERABAD: Responding to allegations that the Bhavani Nagar police arrested and subjected a 15-year-old boy to third degree treatment, the State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (SCPCR) has issued a notice to DCP, South Zone, Sarvsreshth Tripathi to conduct an inquiry into the incident. On Tuesday, certain child rights NGOs and local politicians alleged that the Bhavani Nagar police had arrested a 15-year-old boy from Talabkatta in an assault case citing him as a major and subjected him to third degree treatment, due to which the boy was admitted to Osmania Hospital. Responding to the allegations and news reports in the media, the SCPCR has issued a notice to the DCP, South Zone, to inquire into the matter and submit an explanatory report by October 8. The Bhavani Nagar SHO has been directed to be personally present before the commission on that day. (Times of India 18/9/14)

MINORITIES – GENERAL

23. Minorities panel to examine complaint against BJP legislator (7)

NEW DELHI: The National Commission for Minorities (NCM) will look into the complaint against Bharatiya Janata Party legislator Usha Thakur, who is reported to have asked her party workers to ensure that Muslim youths were not allowed to enter garba venues in her constituency, Indore. The NCM was petitioned on Wednesday after a section of the media reported that Ms Thakur, who is also the BJP’s Madhya Pradesh vice-president, had asked party workers to stop Muslim youngsters from participating in the annual Navdurga festival. She alleged that the youngsters used the festival to lure Hindu girls and convert them to Islam as part of “love jihad.” In his petition, lawyer Shehzad Poonawalla said Ms. Thakur’s remarks were a “flagrant violation” of law and amounted to “deliberately, intentionally and maliciously outraging religious feelings, inciting hatred and ill-will” among communities. The petition has requested the NCM to register an FIR against the BJP legislator, direct the National Commission for Women to take cognisance of the issue, direct the Election Commission to take a structured view on hate speech by members of the BJP, and initiate appropriate legal action against the party for violating the Representation of the People Act, 1951. The Election Commission on Tuesday issued a show-cause notice to BJP Member of Parliament Yogi Adityanath for his reported “hate speeches.” Last week, the NCM condemned the “communally charged statements attributed to prominent people in public life” and asked the government to verify media reports on ‘hate speeches’ to prevent any further deterioration of the situation, especially in the politically sensitive regions where by-elections were due. (The Hindu 10/9/14)

24. Minority schools need not admit EWS students under reserved category, says HC (7)

The Delhi High Court, in its September 1 judgment, has ruled that minority institutions on public land are no longer bound to admit EWS students from non-minority category. The bench has followed a Supreme Court judgment issued in May that stated that the minority stature of an institution cannot be changed by the government or by amending the Constitution. The move is expected to benefit around 30-odd minority schools in the capital. Several minority schools had approached the High Court earlier this year against the nursery admission guidelines, which had prescribed mandatory reservation of 20 per cent for EWS and DG students in all schools. “As the Constitution bench has held that even after amending the Constitution, the state cannot abrogate the rights of other minorities to establish and administer schools of their choice… then the government certainly cannot appropriate the right to nominate non-minority EWS students to a minority school…,” the judgment pronounced by Justice Manmohan states. The move has been widely welcomed by minority schools situated on public land. “It goes to show that in the eyes of the court, constitutional law is above contractual law. We are very pleased with the decision as it has given us complete freedom to administer our schools with full autonomy,” V K Williams, principal, Mount Carmel School, said. But the decision is likely to be challenged. “Minority schools are under obligation to admit 20 per cent EWS students as per their contracts and that obligation cannot be diluted as it is in public interest. Why can’t they admit EWS students from their own community? We will challenge the decision in court,”  Khagesh Jha, an advocate and social jurist, said. During the pendency of these cases, the government had also stated that minority institutions were “free to admit disadvantaged students belonging to their respective minority communities,” so that the EWS rule would not “interfere with the administration” of minority schools. The Supreme Court, in its May 2014 judgment, had stated that the “minority character of an aided or unaided minority institution cannot be annihilated by admitting students from communities other than the minority community…” (Indian Express 11/9/14)

25. Minorities’ panel to write to Rajnath to curb hate speeches (7)

NEW DELHI: Faced with many complaints about “hate speeches” by Sangh Parivar leaders, the National Commission for Minorities (NCM) decided on Tuesday to write to Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh to “restrain people in responsible positions from making irresponsible statements.” Asked what difference the letter would make when a similarly worded resolution it adopted in early September yielded no results, a commission member said it was stepping up pressure on the government in a graded manner. “If this does not work, then we will consider other options,” he said. In its letter, the commission will enclose the complaints it received over the past week, the latest being against Sakshi Maharaj, Unnao MP, who alleged on Sunday that “Muslim youths were being motivated in madrasas for ‘love jihad’ with offers of cash rewards to marry Hindu, Sikh and Jain girls.” The Bharatiya Janata Party has distanced itself from the MP’s statement, saying it was his personal opinion. On Tuesday, the commission looked into a complaint that a BJP legislator from Madhya Pradesh, Usha Thakur, asked her party workers to ensure that Muslim boys were not allowed into Garba venues during the Navdurga festival in her constituency, Indore. She alleged that the boys used the festival to lure Hindu girls and convert them to Islam as part of “love jihad.” The commission’s resolution did not name Yogi Adityanath, Gorakhpur MP, though it was passed after a complaint was made against him. It condemned the “communally charged statements attributed to prominent people in public life,” which was “creating this atmosphere of mistrust and heightened tension” in the country. (The Hindu 17/9/14)

26. UP State Minorities Commission says it never studied status of minorities in UP (7)

LUCKNOW: Will the status of cabinet minister to its chairman bring a turnaround for UP State Minorities Commission? UP governor Ram Naik has questioned the ‘haste and urgency’ shown by chief minister Akhilesh Yadav to accord “cabinet minister status” to the chairman of UP State Minorities Commission. Now, it’s the dismal record of the commission in carrying out its duties which makes the government’s favour to the head of a statutory body which is ‘near-redundant’ in the state even more questionable. The commission has replied in negative to almost every RTI query on its duties and functions. It says it has no record available on the number of communal riots that have taken place in UP and has done nothing to ensure effective implementation of Sachchar committee recommendations in the state. The state minorities commission says it has done no study to assess the progress and growth of minorities in UP, as goes the mandate. It also has not monitored if the benefits given to minorities under various laws are reaching the intended in UP. When asked to provide the list of recommendations made to the government for betterment of minorities under RTI, the commission sought ‘time’ to compile the information due to “dearth of staff and resources.” In between June 2009 and June 2014, commission received about 18,445 complaints but it also included grievances of the commission’s own staff and its internal correspondence. In that case, to say how many of these complaints had to do with the rights and betterment of minorities in the state is not possible. The commission has meted out no (zero) punishment in the five year period, recommended no (zero) compensation, took up no (zero) complaints for case studies, did no (zero) study on educational, social and economic issues of the minorities and have no (zero) annual reports to share. Among the many objectives of the commission, the important ones are to study and assess the growth of minorities in the state, act against any infringement of the rights of minorities and raise the matter at relevant forums, investigate and resolve any discrimination practiced against minorities besides preparing and submitting reports on difficulties faced by minorities to the state government. RTI applicant Salim Baig who had sought the information has now written to the governor highlighting the state of the minorities commission. A single-member Minorities Commission was established in UP In 1969. Later, in 1974, Commission was constituted with equal representation from every minority group in the state. It was given statutory powers in 1994. (Times of India 18/9/14)

MINORITIES – MUSLIMS

27. VHP bid to lure Hindu girls away from Muslims (7)

Ahmedabad: It might not be a word of caution about love jihad but it is a step further cautioning  parents for taking care of their grown up girls and keeping them away from Muslim youths.  A Gujarati pamphlet has statistics and figures of the increasing number of Hindu girls being lured away by Muslim youths and how they were being convinced to get married and remain as the second, third or fourth wives in the families. The pamphlet goes on to say  how large amounts of money were being made available to Muslim youths so that they could be trained to lure Hindu girls from colleges, schools and work places. It describes that many a time young Hindu girls get lured by the well-dressed youths and it is only after marriage that most of them come to know about the religion when they are forced to get converted. The pamphlet further says all possible support to parents would be extended and for that they would need to keep their daughters away from vulgar beauty competitions. (Deccan Herald 10/9/14)

28. Riot-hit Muslims back in Muzaffarnagar (7)

MUZAFFARNAGAR: One year after the savage riots of Muzaffarnagar drove almost all the Muslims out of Khera Mastan in Budhana, the village has slowly begun to fill up again. The mosque is crowded on Fridays and the local market sees groups of women, many in burqa clutching their kids, haggling for meat and vegetables. They are still tentative as they venture out, but they say they are now here to stay, despite occasional taunts of ‘Laden’ and ‘Mullah’ being hurled their way as they walk the streets. Many, of course, realized after all these months in the refugee camps that they just had nowhere to go. They had to return to the place where they were born, raised families, grew crops and did small businesses. Touchingly, though, some said one reason they could gather the will and courage were the persistent pleas by Hindu friends who assured them help and protection. Abdul Wajid of Khera Mastan, a village of around 2,000 Muslims and close to 4,000 Hindus an hour and half away from Muzaffarnagar town, lived in the Jhola camp 5km away all this while. On Saturday, as he sat outside his brick and cement house with peeling paint, he said, “We left with 350 other Muslim families in September last year. It was miserable there as we lived off donations. We kept thinking of home. We finally decided four months ago that we need to return. Our mukhiya also said everything would be done to maintain communal harmony and we need fear no danger. Village elders from Hindu families would visit and urge us to come back. It seemed to be better than living on charity. Others will follow, I am sure.” Sajid Attar from Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, an organization that has been working closely with refugees of the riots, said that to return is sometimes the way forward. “Our organization visited every possible camp to convince people to return. If the Muslims of Muzaffarnagar don’t show the courage to leave the camps, future riots will displace many more from many more districts.” Life at Khera Mastan is slowly resembling what it was before the violence of August-September last year that left over 60 dead and more than 50,000 displaced. “Some Muslim families have come back for their land. We collectively own 2,200 bighas,” said Umaid Ali, a Muslim Jat from nearby Kharad. “Mine alone is 3 bigha. Yeh wahi khet hai jismein logon ne aag lagai thi (These are the same fields that were set on fire by some rioters.) We meet some of them while going for work and they are apologetic. We are trying to pick up from where we left.” But it is hard. Though Ali’s father is back, the old man isn’t at peace. “My brother Mohammad is still at the camp,” he said, his voice breaking. “That day when we fled, Mohammad was very happy as he was getting ready for the wedding of his son. Everything was destroyed.” Pradhan Tham Singh of neighbouring Fugana said he is still persuading those at the camps to return. “We have ties, we work together, we celebrate festivals together. Let the bypolls get over, I will meet Muslim leaders and urge them to get the others back too,” he said. “My work has suffered 100%. We provided the milk for the Eid sewai. I was always present at the bidaai of their daughters. For those times, they must return. We must stand together now.” The younger ones are hopeful, too. Nivil Malik, a 28-year-old Jat, said the community ties will survive. “We will reclaim that. It will take some time.” (Times of India 14/9/14)

29. Muslim clerics slam MP on madrassa-terror remark (7)

NEW DELHI: A day after Sakshi Maharaj’s remarks that children in madrassas were being trained to become terrorists, the Muslim clerics are up in arms against BJP Unnao MP. In fact, some are planning to submit a memorandum against him to the PM. Slamming the remarks, Muslim clerics said madrassas do not teach terrorism, and it is only about Quran teachings for peace. “Those who make such statements should be punished,” said Muslim cleric Maulana Mohammad Sajid Rashidi. Nowadays, many madrassas along with Islamic teachings are also imparting modern-day education. In Okhla’s Da’wah Centre, boys are taught all subjects. “Madrassas have been in India for more than 400 years and there are instances of even Hindus studying in them. Had the government found any misdoings, the NDA government would not have allocated Rs 100 crore for madrassas,” Mohd Abidullah of Markaz Ul-Marif, that runs the madrassa in Okhla, said. First ‘love jihad’ and now defaming madrassas, these are all ways widen the gap between communities and divide India on religion lines,” said Abidullah. Even Shia leaders have urged the government to probe the case and if no truth is found in the statement then Maharaj should apologize. Maharaja had also said that madrassas don’t celebrate Independence and Republic Day as they do not hoist Indian flag. To this, Darul Uloom said hoisting a national flag doesn’t make anyone more Indian. “All madrassas ensure that these are celebrated and many hoist the flag. Saying such things shows that Sakshi Maharaj isn’t an Indian himself,” said Mufti Abul Qasim Naumani from Deobandh. (Times of India 16/9/14)

30. Hindu body calls for keeping Muslims out of garba events (7)

Vadodara: Hindu organisations, including the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), have made elaborate arrangements to keep Muslims in Godhra out of garba venues during the Navratri festival, toeing the line of VHP leader Pravin Togadia and Madhya Pradesh BJP vice-president and MLA from Indore, Usha Thakur, who recently expressed similar views apparently to counter the bogey of “love jihad.” A newly-floated body, Hindu Asmita Hitrakshak Samiti, has even created a team of “volunteers” who will ensure that no Muslim youth are allowed inside the festival venue, claiming that the festival is a religious gathering. The organisation, which is yet to register itself, enjoys support from the VHP, a senior VHP leader from Godhra, Ashish Bhatt, said. The 9-day Navratri festival begins on September 25. “Muslims are always against anything related to India, be it national anthem, national flag, and they largely keep themselves away from Hindu festivals, then why should they be so keen on participating in garbas? They do so to lure Hindu girls. We are here to oppose such intrusions and stop them. A team of volunteers will work in this direction and will patrol the venues of garba events,” said Jaimin Shah, a member of the organisation. He said several volunteers have joined the organisation with the sole aim to keep a check on Muslims entering the venue. “Godhra is probably the epicentre of love jihad. This has been the case in the city since long but this year, we have decided to take action against it,” he said. Senior VHP leader from Godhra, Ashish Bhatt, said that the concern raised by the organisation is genuine. “Our wives, daughters and sisters participate in garba as a religious event. It’s not a social gathering. So, the presence of Muslims makes no sense. Last year, too, we had asked around half a dozen Muslim youths to leave the venue as they might have created nuisance,” he said. Two large garba events are organised in Godhra every year — Ardh Shakti Garma and Ma Shakti Garba. The former is organised with the support of the Panchmahals police. This year, a police headquarters ground has been selected as the venue of for the event. . (Indian Express 16/9/14)

MINORITIES – CHRISTIANS

31. Christian body challenges Bastar village ban on non-Hindus (7)

RAIPUR: Chhattisgarh high court has issued notices to state government seeking reply within three weeks on a writ petition challenging the constitutionality of resolutions adopted by certain village councils, known as gram sabhas, banning entry of non-Hindu religious leaders in their respective villages in tribal Bastar region. The single bench of Justice M M Shrivastava sought reply on Monday from the government on the petition filed by Chhattisgarh Christian Forum president Arun Pannalal and others. The petition sought quashing of the resolutions adopted by Gram Sabhas of certain villages in tribal Bastar district and disciplinary action against district administration officials and local police station officials for their alleged dereliction of duty for not taking timely action. Christian organisations have moved the high court after village councils of a number of villages in tribal Bastar region adopted resolutions under section 129 (G) of Chhattisgarh Panchayati Raj Act 1994, banning entry of non-Hindu religious missionaries in their respective villages. Petitioner’s counsel Nathulal Soni contended that the ban was a blatant violation of fundamental rights as per the constitution and provisions of Panchayat Act cannot have an overriding effect on them. The petition sought legal action against all officials concerned for dereliction of their duties for allegedly not acting in accordance with law despite complaints that Christians in the village were being harassed. The issue had cropped up in May this year after few gram sabhas of certain gram panchayats adopted a resolution under section 129 (G) of Chhattisgarh Panchayati Raj Act 1994 banning all ?non-Hindu religious propaganda, prayers and speeches in the villages.’ The Sirisguda gram panchayat in the Tokapal block of Bastar had passed the resolution at a special Gram Sabha organised on May 10. The copy of the resolution stated , “To stop the forced conversion by some outsider religious campaigners and to prevent them from using derogatory language against Hindu deities and customs, the Sirisguda Gram Sabha bans religious activities such as prayers, meetings and propaganda of all non-Hindu religions.” There have been reports that few right-wing organisations had motivated the local villagers to adopt such a resolution under the provisions of Panchayati Raj Act. (Times of India 10/9/14)

32. City Christians protest against IS killings (7)

Bangalore: The Archbishop of Bangalore Bernard Moras on Sunday called upon leaders of various religions to make united efforts against the massacre of innocent people in Iraq,  Nigeria and Syria by the Islamic State (IS). He addressed the gathering organised by the Archdiocese of Bangalore at St Joseph’s Indian High School grounds on Grant Road near Kanteerava Stadium, after a mass prayer was conducted in the memory of those killed by the IS and those who were washed away in the recent Kashmir floods.  Earlier, scores of Christians had taken part in a march from St Patrick Church on Brigade Road to the St Joseph’s Indian High School grounds. “Over 1.75 lakh Christians have been massacred in Iraq, Nigeria and Syria by the IS. The inhuman, brutal and uncivilised acts of massacre and violence should come to an end. Terrorists have targeted innocent citizens of all religions, not just the Christians. The exploitation of and atrocities against innocent human beings seem to be endless, while the number of sexual assaults on women is on the rise. It is a sin to witness such acts and keep silent. Hence, leaders of all religions should come together and raise their voices against such instances,” he said. Shanthaveera Swamiji of Kolad Mutt termed the killing of innocent citizens in Iraq acts of devils and witches. “The killing of Muslims by Muslims amounts to cheating Allah, the Almighty. No religion in the world ever propagated violence. Everybody should realise this principle and end the violence,” he said. Former deputy chief minister R Ashoka said that while all other nations in the world focused on development and welfare of human societies, countries like Pakistan, Iran, Syria were breeding terrorists. The atrocities on the Christians should be condemned, he added. “The terrorists have not spared the Indian soldiers who were carrying out rescue operation of thousands of people stranded in floods in Jammu and Kashmir.  Hence, every Indian should raise voice against such acts,” he said. Shanthinagar MLA N A Haris was present on the occasion. (Deccan Herald 14/9/14)

33. Indian panel backs Christian women’s right to inherit from children (7)

Delhi: Christians in India are supporting a recent law commission recommendation to give Christian women the right to inherit the property of their deceased adult children. India’s law commission on September 12 recommended to the federal government that an amendment be made to the Indian Succession Act, 1925, which governs Christian rights. Under the current law, Christian women have no right to inherit the property of their deceased children who have not written a will. The law gives inheritance rights only to fathers and in the case of the father’s death, to siblings. The recommendations came after the government asked the law commission to look into the matter following petitions by various Christian women groups. “This has been a long-pending decision. It has come on the demands of the Christian women who have been making representations before this government and the governments before it,” said John Dayal, general secretary of the All India Christian Council and a member of the National Integration Council. A senior law ministry official told ucanews.com that based on the recommendations, the government will soon bring an amendment before parliament. However, while lauding the move, some Christian leaders believe any change in the law should be made only through consultation with the affected parties. Sister Helen Saldanha, secretary of the office for women of the Indian bishops’ conference, said a change in the law would help widows who are dependent on their sons. She added that the “government through consultation must engage the Christian community in areas of personal laws”.Echoing the same views, Samuel Jaykumar of the National Council of Churches in India, said they will have to “wait and watch what the government comes up with”.”Concerned groups should be taken into confidence before amending the bill otherwise it will be of no use,” he said. UCA News 17/9/14)

REFUGEES/ MIGRANTS

34. Clarify status of children of Tamil refugees: court (13)

CHENNAI: The Madras High Court on Tuesday directed the Tamil Nadu government to clarify within two weeks the status of the children of Sri Lankan Tamil refugees who were born in India for extending them benefits. The First Bench, of Chief Justice S.K.Kaul and Justice M.Sathyanarayanan, passed the interim order on a petition by R. Sri Priya of Ambattur, an advocate. The petitioner said T. Nandhini, daughter of a Sri Lankan Tamil refugee staying in the Arachalur camp in Erode district, applied to join MBBS. But her application was rejected on the ground that she was a refugee. The girl scored a cut-off mark of 197.5 for counselling. The rejection of the application showed how the State sought to override human rights guaranteed to refugees under the Constitution and the international convention on the status of refugees. In a counter, Health Secretary J. Radhakrishnan said the applicant belonged to the open category (OC) with a cut-off mark of 197.5. The cut-off mark for admission to government medical colleges under the category was 199.25. For self-financing colleges, it was 198.25. Hence, Nandhini was not considered. In 2002, the Full Bench of the High Court observed that special reservation should be applicable only to physically challenged, eminent sportsmen and children of freedom fighters and ex-servicemen. All other special categories were deleted from the list by the court. Among the conditions for admission through the single-window system was that a candidate be a citizen of India and a native of Tamil Nadu. The Bench said the government’s affidavit, however, appeared to indicate that the girl did not deserve consideration. The authorities should clarify what could be the status of a child of a Tamil refugee who was born in India: whether any benefit at all was to be given to them or not. (The Hindu 10/9/14)

35. Sri Lanka’s expulsion of refugees goes to highest court (13)

Colombo: Sri Lankan rights activists have gone to the country’s highest court in a bid to stop the government summarily deporting Afghan, Iranian and Pakistani refugees, their lawyer said. Six human rights defenders have petitioned the Supreme Court to challenge the expulsions, which are being carried out despite warnings that Sri Lanka is in breach of its international obligations, lawyer Lakshan Dias said. “The case is coming up on September 29,” Dias said. “We feel that some of the people who are being sent back face real danger. They have life-threatening conditions if they go back. That is why local rights defenders decided to file this case.”Sri Lankan rights activists have gone to the SC in a bid to stop the government deporting Afghan, Iranian and Pakistani refugees. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees in a statement yesterday urged Sri Lanka to stop arrests and deportations of those who have filed refugee claims with the agency’s Colombo offices and sought access to those already detained. Sri Lanka’s Court of Appeal, which is one step lower than the Supreme Court, earlier this month overturned an order suspending the deportations and cleared the way for the authorities to continue expulsions. The UNHCR said Colombo had initially responded to its appeals and released 71 Pakistanis and two Iranians earlier this month, but 102 people, 38 Pakistanis and 64 Afghans remained in custody and fresh arrests were taking place. Between September 3 and 11, 62 Pakistanis and three Iranians had been arrested and 40 of them had already been deported, the UNHCR said. The refugee agency has maintained that the deportations go against the principle of no forced return, or non-refoulement, enshrined in international law. The agency has also noted that returning an individual to a country where they face the risk of torture is prohibited under the UN’s Convention Against Torture, which Sri Lanka has ratified. Hundreds of Pakistani Christians and Afghans fleeing persecution in their countries have been arriving in Sri Lanka seeking UNHCR protection in the capital Colombo. Sri Lanka had earlier defended the action taken against the asylum-seekers, saying that a state’s responsibility to international obligations had to be “nuanced and balanced in the context of domestic compulsions”.Sri Lanka’s foreign ministry also accused the UNHCR of processing asylum claims too slowly, and of not taking responsibility for repatriating those whose refugee claims were rejected. (CNN-IBN 14/9/14)

36. A refugee’s life is always between the frying pan and the fire (13)

New Delhi: India, where an estimated 200,000 refugees live, is not an Elysian Garden for people escaping intolerable conditions in their home countries. Their escape to India just puts them on a precipice between, proverbial, frying pan and fire. Rohingyas from Myanmar and Afghans are the two largest refugee groups in India, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. The UN refugee agency assists around 24, 000 refugees across India, of which 11,500 are Afghans, 9,000 Rohingyas and 700 Somalians. It also provides support to less than 6,000 asylum-seekers. The refugees or asylum seekers have two options of reaching India overstaying their short visit visas or sneaking in through porous borders. Six months ago at midnight, Abdullah, a Rohingya Muslim from Maungdaw in Rakhine, hastily stuffed his duffel bag with clothes and hopped into a rickety boat to cross the Naf river for Bangladesh. In next two hours, he was among the unfamiliar faces at Teknaf in Bangladesh, leaving behind his old parents, and friends due to “persecution perpetuated by Myanmar military.” Bangladesh was just a transit point as he wanted to be in India. To familiarise himself with the route to India, he slogged for a Bangladesh border contingent as a porter. There he got in touch with a people smuggler who charged him Rs 5,000 for his flight to India. Money greased the palms on both sides of the Indo­Bangaldesh border and the crossing, what was thought to be a perilous journey, proved to be a cinch. According to one estimate, India provides shelter to over 10,0000 Rohingyas. Clad in a lungi and a sagging vest, Abdullah squints in the scalding heat of Delhi and recounts his escape, “I didn’t know how long it would take to reach Teknaf. But, I reluctantly left and got into a beat-up boat which danced on the currents. It was scary as I heard incidents of refugees being drowned while crossing the river.” Abdullah, a new arrival in Delhi, lives at Madanpur Khadar. Sneaking through Indo­Bangladesh and Bangladesh­Myanmar borders has become far easier for Rohigyas for two reasons: porous borders and posse of people­smuggling agents who are involved in human­trafficking for prostitution and bonded­labour purposes. There are few pockets in India where modern­day slavery is the order of the day, says a highly­placed source in the UN agency. When death and starvation gnaw at somebody gullibility is the instant product. “Human trafficking agents go to Bangladesh to ensnare most credulous people by painting a rosy picture of India a downright lie,” the source says reproachfully. Hameed proudly reveals his cousin works as a middleman to help his compatriots. “He knows the route and ensures safety from Maundaw to Madanpur Khadar for as little as Rs 5,000­-7,000, depending on the condition of families in distress,” Hameed says. Rohingyas, who are described as the most persecuted refugees in the world, usually opt for the Naf route to flee to Bangladesh. Sayyed (name changed on request), who is in the know of the escape route, says, “Along the river, there are points where it hardly takes five minutes to cross, but barbed wires and high fences make the crossing impossible. However, loose wires and crumbling fences at some places have prised open the opportunity. The easiest part of the journey is to wake up Myanmar border soldiers at night and say, ‘Hey, we are leaving our country.’ They are happy to see us off and gloat over our situation,” he says sardonically. (Asian Age 15/9/14)

37. Refugees angry with UNHCR over paucity of help (13)

New Delhi: Foreign refugees in India have a long list of complaints against the UNHCR on various grounds such as issuance of I-cards, financial assistance, differential treatment between refugees and neglect. On refugees, the UNHCR and the Indian government have a division of labour, says the UNHCR chief of mission in India, Dominik Bartsch. Rohingyas are critical of the agency for its better treatment of Chins (Myanmarese Christians who are relatively well-off in Delhi) vis-à-vis health, education and financial aid. Somalians pillory it for corruption and neglect. Kassim, a Somalian blogger and freelance journalist, claims that the UNHCR has been a mute spectator to the privations of his compatriots, who are starving to death for want of financial assistance in India. At Madanpur Khadar in New Delhi, almost no Rohingya family get any subsistence allowance, reveals a UNHRC source. Initially, they were given around Rs 1,000-2,000 per month, depending on their vulnerability, the source adds. On the issue of subsistence allowance, Mr Bartsch notes that around 10-20 per cent of the UNHCR-assisted refugees get monetary help. “You have to recognise that we have not been able to provide support in a wholesome manner to all the refugees. We are only able to provide direct assistance to those who are most vulnerable. It is a small minority, around 10-20 per cent, who receive direct assistance from the UNHCR and get something tangible. For the majority, our support is around livelihoods, including vocational training with our partners to prepare refugees for jobs.” When asked about differential treatment between Chins and Rohingyas, Mr Bartsch says the term was an emotive one and denied discrimination by the UNHCR. “Chins and Rohingyas are living in different circumstances. The former have been living in India for long; hence, they have a strong community network. When it comes to Rohingyas, many of them are recent arrivals and they are not all residing in Delhi. We have not been able to reach all of them in the various sites outside Delhi,” he explained. Hitting out at the UNHCR, a Rohingya mocks, “If the UNHCR is not able to reach out to non-Delhi refugees how can they claim to cover the whole world?” Rohingyas also claim that the agency does nothing to prevent human trafficking, bonded-labour and prostitution. “Our compatriots are languishing in Kolkata jails. If the (refugee) agency strives to get them freed, the jail authorities will listen to it; but it has no will-power in this regard,” complains a Rohingya source. Another UNHCR official reveals that six Rohingyas girls (aged 18-21) were trafficked four months ago for sex trade in Delhi, of which two died during a gangrape. The version could not be authenticated independently. Similar modern-day slavery cases are rampant in India. “When Rohingya slaves from far-flung areas come to Delhi for UNHCR cards, they tell their harrowing tales to the agency. It means that the UNHCR is familiar with sex trade and slavery cases. But it does nothing to improve the situation,” the source added. Another thorny issue is related to visa overstay penalties on refugees. “How can Indian government charge us for visa overstay especially when we are uncertain about our next meal?” is an oft-repeated complaint. “Legislation is needed to define the status of refugees and make it compatible with the Foreigner’s Act, which is in black and white: A person has either arrived legally in the country or illegally; there is no provision for someone to explain why he was obliged to run away,” notes Mr Bartsch. (Asian Age 17/9/14)

RIGHT TO INFORMATION

38. MCG backs RTI pleas, but finds them too ‘cumbersome’ to answer (1)

GURGAON: Much as the MCG might claim it favours RTI applications, the fact of the matter is it doesn’t care much for the rationale behind and dynamics of the Right to Information Act. While the Act mandates that information be provided within 30 days of application, in many cases it takes more than four months to do so. Recently, the MCG also trashed an application saying the question asked was too “cumbersome” to answer. On several occasions, the state information commission has reprimanded the MCG for failing to respond within the stipulated timeframe and also asked it to compensate applicants. Residents, on the other hand, complain that most RTI replies sent by the municipal corporation are vague and officials often shift the onus to other departments like HUDA or the deputy commissioner’s office. “The MCG never provides information on time. On many occasions, the RTI application gets automatically forwarded to the first appellate (the MCG joint commissioner) because the officials, who are supposed to reply, keep transferring the application from one department to the other. And many a time, even the first appellate does not respond in time and I have had to go to the second appellate (the SIC) at least 75 times because of this. On at least five occasions the SIC has directed the MCG to compensate me for delay in providing the information,” says RTI activist Aseem Takyar. He said he was forced to file the RTIs because the MCG does not provide basic information on its website. “Things like details about sanitation contracts should be made available on the MCG website. Because of lack of general information, residents like me are forced to file RTIs. Even their grievance portal does not work efficiently,” he said. Though the CIC had directed government departments to appoint a transparency officer, the MCG is yet to do so. Officials acknowledge that there is absolutely no transparency and accountability. “Whenever an RTI application is received by an executive engineer of any department, they have a tendency to mark it to another executive engineer on some pretext or the other,” said an official. (Times of India 10/9/14)

39. President’s intervention sought on appointment of CIC (1)

New Delhi: Former Chief Information Commissioners and several Right to Information (RTI) activists on Thursday sought the intervention of the President in ensuring the appointment of the CIC in the Central Information Commission without any further delay. The post has been lying vacant since August 22 and this has never happened for a day since the Commission was set up in 2005. The practise till now has been for the senior-most Information Commissioner to be appointed CIC and the announcement was in the past made before the post fell vacant. The President was petitioned after a similar plea to the Prime Minister by the National Campaign for Peoples’ Right to Information on September 2 yielded no result. Citing Section 12 (4) of the RTI Act which states that the “general superintendence, direction and management of the affairs of the Commission shall vest in the CIC’’, the signatories to the petition said the vacancy has the “potential to adversely impact the effective functioning’’ of the Commission. Asked about the delay in the appointment, Union Minister of State for Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions Jitendra Singh on Tuesday said it was in the process. Also, according to him, the Ministry was awaiting the Lok Sabha Secretariat’s opinion on the selection committees for the appointment of several such posts in the absence of a Leader of the Opposition (LoP). However, the petitioners pointed out in the letters to both the President and the Prime Minister that the RTI Act clearly specifies that in the absence of a LoP, the leader of the single largest party in the Opposition in the Lok Sabha can be made a member of the committee to appoint the CIC. According to the petition, there is already a huge backlog in the Commission with close to 25,000 appeals and complaints pending. “Often people have to wait for more than a year for their appeals and complaints to be heard. The lack of a Commissioner will cause the pendency in the Commission to further increase.’’ The signatories to the petition include former CICs Wajahat Habibullah and Deepak Sandhu, former Information Commissioner Sailesh Gandhi, besides RTI activists Aruna Roy, Nikhil Dey, Anjali Bhardwaj, Venkatesh Nayak and Shekhar Singh. (The Hindu 12/9/14)

40. CIC Issues Notices to Six Political Parties (1)

NEW DELHI: The Central Information Commission (CIC) has issued showcause notice to the chiefs of six political parties for not acting on its order bringing them under the ambit of the RTI Act. It was on Wednesday that the CIC had served notice on the presidents and general secretaries of the BJP, the Congress, the NCP, the CPI, the CPM and the BSP asking them why an inquiry should not be instituted in matter of non-compliance of its order to implement the RTI Act. Acting on the plea filed by RTI activist Subhash Agrawal, the CIC had declared six national parties — the Congress, BJP, NCP, CPI, CPM and BSP — as public authorities, thereby bringing them under the ambit of the Right to Information Act. However, none of the parties contested the decision in court or followed the instructions of the panel. The Commission had earlier issued a notice on February 7 and March 25 to these political parties seeking their detailed comments on Agrawal’s complaint. “Therefore, a notice is issued to show cause within four weeks as to why an inquiry should not be initiated in the matter of non-compliance of the Commission’s order dated June 3, 2013, under Section 18 of the RTI Act, 2005. Take further notice that if you fail to respond within the prescribed time, the matter will be processed on the strength of material on record, in accordance with law,” the notice said. The move comes close on the heels of a Delhi High Court order which directed the CIC to decide in six months on a complaint against Sonia regarding the issue of non-compliance with the transparency panel’s directions that the party was answerable under the RTI Act. Refusal to provide information or not furnishing complete information is deemed an offence under the RTI Act and attracts a penalty for the public information officer of the public authority of Rs 250 per day from the date the information became due to the day it was furnished. None of the parties have so far obtained any stay order against the CIC’s decision declaring them to be public authorities, which implies that they must adopt the procedures for processing RTI applications. (New Indian Express 15/9/14)

41. RTI reveals MPs, MLAs defaulter in payment to HPTDC (1)

SHIMLA: Fund starved Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation (HPTDC) has failed to recover Rs 180 lakh outstanding from the VIPs who after availing boarding lodging or transportation facilities had failed to make the payment. An RTI information has revealed that many VIPs including MPS and governor have not paid the HPTDC since long. RTI Activist Dev Ashish Bhattacharya on June 5 this year had sought information about MPs, ex-MPs, MLAs, ex-MLAs besides members and board of directors of HPTDC who had not cleared their dues. In response to his application, PIO of HPTDC informed that out of total number of payment defaulters, so many are MPs, ex-MPs, MLAs and a sitting minister. RTI documents shows that former BJP MP Rajan Sushant ows Rs 53,200 since 2009, Chander Kumar, ex-MP Congress Rs.30,150 since 2005, BJP’s Rajya Sabha MP Bimla Kashyap Rs 57,056 since 2010-11 and Suresh Bhardwaj, ex-MP BJP and sitting MLA Rs 6230 since 2006. They all owe the money to HPTDC due to the boarding and lodging facility being availed by them at Himachal Bhawan, Delhi. BJP MP Anurag Thakur ows Rs 1,07,650 to HPTDC since 2010-11 as boarding and lodging charges in Himachal Sadan Delhi. Same is the case with BJP MP Virender Kashyap who owns Rs 9350 since 2009-10, BJP’s Rajya Sabha MP J P Nadda ows Rs 46,700 since 2012-13 they too had availed the boarding and lodging facilities at Himachal Sadan Delhi. Mani Shankar Aiyyar, Congress MP also failed to pay Rs 11,603 since 1995 for availing boarding and lodging facility at Himachal Bhawan Delhi. transport minister of Himachal Pradesh G S Bali also ows Rs 36,403 as the cost of boarding and lodging at Dharamsala. Kuldeep Kumar, Congress MLA, ows Rs 11,846 for availing boarding and lodging facility at Peterhoff, Shimla since 2013. Lat Sat Mahajan, Congress leader, ows Rs 7280 for boarding and lodging charges being availed at Himachal Bhawan Delhi in 1996. “Matter of concern is this that one of the members of the Board of Directors of HPTDC Surender Sethi also ows Rs 9315 to HPTDC for availing Transport Facilities and is not bothered to pay back the dues despite the media disclosure earlier,” said Dev Ashish Bhattacharya who obtained the information under RTI. He said that as on December 31, 2013 accumulated debts of HPTDC has risen to 180.37 lakh. He said that a letter from HPTDC managing director dated February 22, 2014 further revealed MD has put the entire blame on the Junior officers and did not have the courage to issue the reminders to these politicians through his hand and seal. “It is also found from the records provided to me that the reminders were only issued to Kuldeep Kumar and not to any of the MPs and the transport minister,” he claimed. He said that latest information prior to this because of the constant follow up and media revelations, the payments were realised from Shanta Kumar, Pratibha Singh, Harsh Mahajan and part payment from GS Bali and Virender Kashyap. (Times of India 16/9/14)

42. HC Changes Rules of RTI game, wants Purpose Specified (1)

CHENNAI: Redefining the scope of the Right to Information Act (RTI), Madras High Court has held that anyone seeking information under the statute must show that the purpose is either personal or of public interest. Under both circumstances, the RTI applicant must disclose at least the minimum details as to what is the personal or public interest requiring such information. If such details are either absent or not disclosed, such query cannot be construed as the one satisfying the requirement of the RTI Act, the Court further ruled. A Division Bench of Justices N Paul Vasanthakumar and K Ravichandrabaabu made the observation, setting aside an order of the CIC, directing the High Court Public Information Officer (PIO) to furnish information to an applicant, refused on the ground that it fell under the restricted category. The Bench was allowing a writ petition from the PIO, seeking to quash January 23, 2013 order of the CIC. The order directed the PIO to furnish answers to a set of umpteen number of questions, raised by one B Bharathi with regard to the fate of his complaint against the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate in Egmore and appointment of Registrar-General to the High Court. Holding that the information sought for by the applicant fell under the restricted category, the PIO refused to furnish the reply and Bharathy moved the CIC. Setting aside the order of the CIC, the Bench observed on September 17 that the word ‘Right’ is not defined under the RTI Act. In the absence of any definition of ‘right’, it has to be understood to mean that such a right must have a legal basis. Therefore, the ‘right’ must be coupled with an object or purpose to be achieved. Such object and purpose must, undoubtedly, have a legal basis or be legally sustainable and enforceable. It cannot be construed that a request or query made ‘simpliciter’ will fall under the definition of ‘right to information’.“Therefore, we are of the view that the impugned order of the CIC is bereft of any material particulars in so far as those applications referred to in the order and the direction issued to the PIO in that regard is also not sustainable,” the Bench said. The Bench also pulled up Bharathi for overloading the HC Registry by making several queries or complaints under the RTI Act. It cannot be the way to redress his grievances. He cannot overload a public authority and divert its resources while seeking information and the dispensation of information should not occupy the majority of time and resource of any public authority, the Bench added. (New Indian Express 19/9/14)

RIGHT TO EDUCATION

43. 192 Sambalpur Schools Lack Girls’ Toilets (11)

SAMBALPUR: Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call for toilet for girls in every school to check drop-out rate seems to have come at the right time for Sambalpur district. Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan (SSA), the implementing body for Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act (RTE), officials said of the total 1492 school – both primary and upper primary – girls’ toilets need to built in 192 schools. But in 272 schools, though toilets for girls exist, they are not fit to use. This is as per the survey report released by the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) last month based on data collected by Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) through a system called the Unified District Information System for Education (UDISE) and is for the 2013-14 academic year. UDISE is a databank maintained by the Centre about all schools in the country so that the statistics help in planning and executing policies. As per UDISE 2013-14, 22 schools in Dhankauda, eight in Bamra, 12 in Jamankira, eight in Jujumura, 10 at Kuchinda, 28 in Maneswar, 23 in Naktideul, 18 in Rairakhol, 47 in Rengali – all blocks – one under Rairakhol NAC and 15 under Sambalpur Municipality limits, do not have toilets for girl students. All schools in Burla NAC, Hirakud NAC and Kuchinda NAC have separate toilets for girls. When it comes to 1330 Government primary schools in the district, 295 of them do not have girls’ toilets and 299 have combined toilets that are meant for girls as well as children with special needs. As per information from Dhankauda Block Education Office (BEO), which includes Sambalpur Municipality, Burla and Hirakud NACs besides Dhankauda block, there are 270 primary schools of which, 64 do not have girls’ toilets. Around 31 primary schools in Maneswar do not have separate toilets for girls and the number is 22 in Rengali block, 29 in Jujumora, 33 in Rairakhol and 31 in Naktideul. Of the 125 primary schools in Kuchinda NAC and Kuchinda block, 25 schools are devoid of separate toilets for girls. Under Jamankira BEO, there are 150 primary schools and 28 of them do not have girls’ toilet. Bamra has 139 primary schools of which, 32 are without toilets for girls. Technical consultant of SSA, Sambalpur, Pradeep Kumar Badhei said work is on to school sanitation and implementation of sanitation and hygiene in schools is being monitored. Apparently, after the MHRD report, School and Mass Education Secretary Usha Padhee asked all the district collectors to make toilet facilities functional in schools within the next 30 days. “Functionality and maintenance of sanitation and hygiene facilities in schools is a critical issue which has greater impact on quality and retention. Though there have been several directions issued from time to time, these basic facilities are not provided in a time-bound manner. The effectiveness has been far from satisfactory,” Padhee noted in her letter. (New Indian Express 11/9/14)

44. 65% people in Bihar literate: CM (11)

PATNA: Chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi on Sunday claimed that 65% of the 11 crore people in Bihar are literate. Attributing this to the enormous expenditure on the education sector, the CM claimed the state was a pioneer in this field with over 24% of its annual budget being spent on education. Holding that financial constraints were major impediments for the students from marginalized sections of the society, the CM said the state government gives a scholarship of Rs10,000 to the students from the scheduled castes and tribes besides those from the minorities who secured first division in matriculation while those with second division get Rs8,000. Manjhi said the number of government schools was being increased and announced that one higher secondary school would be opened in each of the 8,400 panchayats by 2017, taking their count to 18,000 in Bihar. He said former CM Nitish Kumar, during his tenure, recruited over 4 lakh teachers to ensure quality education in the state. Manjhi said there were 75,000 primary and 25,000 middle schools in the state. Speaking at a seminar organized on the role of public-private mode in education and development of Bihar at SK Memorial Hall, he urged the parents to send their wards to schools regularly. He also claimed that over 14 lakh bicycles had already been distributed among the school students in the state. The CM said teachers had actually deviated from their fundamental task of “character building of the students” and exhorted them to restore the lost glory of the profession. He said the private schoolteachers get a maximum of Rs10,000 but those in government schools drawing a monthly salary of Rs40,000 often resort to protests. He said perseverance and good conduct were essential components of a student’s life and only teachers could inculcate these values in them. (Times of India 14/9/14)

45. Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan teachers press demands before HRD minister (11)

CHANDIGARH: A 50-member delegation of SSA teachers, under the leadership of Arvind Rana, president, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan Teachers Welfare Association, UT, submitted a memorandum to HRD minister Smriti Irani. They requested the minister to take up the case of primary and upper primary teachers in the government schools of UT against the posts sanctioned under SSA and implement norms of the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan and Right to Education Act, 2009. According to delegation members, norms of the SSA framed by the MHRD, department of school education and literacy specify that these posts should be created on a regular basis. But the UT appoints teachers on contract basis under the state implementation society. The secretary, MHRD asked the UT to appoint these teachers on a regular basis under the education department and not on contract under Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan Society, UT in 2011 but the matter is pending. “Already, two proposals have been sent by the education department, Chandigarh to secretary, MHRD on June 30 and July 7 to comply with mandatory norms formed under the SSA and sanction 647 posts of masters and 728 primary teachers. Currently, the file is pending with MHRD director Meenakshi Jolly,” said Arvind Rana. The delegation requested the HRD minister and state BJP president Sanjay Tandon to look into the issue personally and sanction the posts as early as possible. (Times of India 15/9/14)

46. Exempt minority schools from unification, demand students, parents (11)

JAIPUR: Perturbed over the closing down of linguistic minority schools, students and parents staged a protest at the district collectorate demanding that the government exempts these schools from the ambit of unification of schools on Monday. State recognizes four linguistic minority languages-Sindhi, Gujarati, Punjabi and Urdu. Many such minority schools were merged into general schools which don’t have courses, infrastructure and teachers who can teach in these languages. In Jaipur alone, 16 Urdu schools running in mosques were shifted into other schools. These mosques-cum-schools were serving double purpose of providing religious and school education under one roof. All of them were located in the densely populated Muslim areas. “The merger will see a sharp rise in dropouts since students will have to choose between religious and school education. Secondly, some of these schools were merged with schools located in far off places thus violating the RTE act,” said Ameen Kaimkhany, president of Rajasthan Urdu Teachers’ Association. Aslam Baig, a resident of Ramganj, whose three daughters were shifted from a minority school to a normal one, said, “In the new school, we had come to know that they don’t have Urdu subject, which is just not a language for us but brings our children close to their culture.” Kisen Kishnani, a social activist and leader of Sindhi community, echoed the concerns of Baig. He added that Sindhi who took refuge in Rajputana were promised that their culture and language will be promoted. “Already the language is losing its numbers as economic progress of our community can be seen in the decline in number of students in government schools,” said Kishnani. In Jaipur alone, 10 Urdu and three Sindhi and one Punjabi schools were merged into general schools. Voicing the concern over the issue, former education minister Vasudev Devnani has shot a letter to the chief minister and education minister urging the two to exempt linguistic minority schools from the process of merger. “I am sure that Vasundhara Raje and Kalicharan Saraf will pay heed to the issue and will understand the importance of these schools for minorities in promoting their culture,” said Devnani. Sources said that Devnani was also under pressure from the Sindhi community for the government order. State has merged over 15 Sindhi community schools in the state leading to the widespread anger among them. Senior government officer requesting anonymity said that these linguistic minority schools have been causing underutilization of resources. “The declining enrollments in these schools have indicated that students of these linguistic minorities are dissuading from their mother tongue schools for general or private ones,” he said. (Times of India 16/9/14)

47. Vidyasiri has benefited 50,000 students, says Anjaneya (11)

Hassan: Social Welfare Minister H. Anjaneya said here on Monday that the State government’s Vidyasiri scheme had benefited 50,000 students in the State this year. College students who do not get hostel allotments would get Rs. 1,500 per month under the scheme, he said after inaugurating three hostels and a Morarji School constructed at a cost of Rs. 17.68 crore at Guddenahalli near Hassan. Funds would be credited directly into the bank accounts of beneficiaries of the scheme.“People from lower castes have been denied the right to education for many years. The government’s priority is to provide them education. I have instructed the officers to make hostel seats available to every applicant in the case of pre-metric students. If necessary the officers can take private buildings for rent,” he said. H.C. Mahadevappa, Public Works Minister, said the State government had earmarked Rs. 15,384 crore for the welfare of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. “The government has launched many schemes to provide quality education to the oppressed classes. The people of from these communities should make better use of the schemes,” he said. (The Hindu 18/9/14)

RIGHT TO FOOD/ HUNGER

48. Envoy takes rice bucket challenge (21)

New Delhi: German ambassador Michael Steiner on Tuesday took up the “Rice Bucket Challenge”, donating rice to more than 300 families residing in a slum here, days after Indian netizens came up with this desi version of ALS ice-bucket challenge. “Many people are taking up the ice bucket challenge but here in India, it is not about ice but rice. The idea is that the society still accepts the fact that there are poor people and we have to change that,” Mr Steiner said. Around 392 families residing in Vivekanand Camp in Chanakyapuri area here queued up to receive a bucket filled with five kilograms of rice each. Rachna, a differently-abled woman, was happy that such initiatives were being undertaken to support those in need. “Ration is something we really require to feed children. This is very helpful,” said Rachna. Organised by the German embassy in collaboration with NGO “Chintan”, the idea was to raise awareness among people to help in eradicating poverty. “Of course, this is just a gesture. Unfortunately, our society still accepts poverty as unavoidable and we have to change that,” Mr Steiner said. Reiterating that poverty can be eradicated by a sustained will, the ambassador said slum rehabilitation by providing housing to everyone in India is the need of the hour. The ambassador also announced that another slum upgrading project, to which Germany wants to dedicate Rs 27 crore, is being prepared. The original ALS ice bucket challenge had been designed to raise funds for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease and motor neurone disease. Days after the campaign went viral, netizens took up the Indianised version “Rice Bucket Challenge”, in line with the mantra of “charity begins at home” and posted videos, pictures on social networking websites as they donated rice to the needy. (Asian Age 10/9/14)

49. Emancipate women farmers to eradicate hunger: Experts (21)

Hyderabad: Economic emancipation of women farmers will go a long way in eradicating hunger and poverty, agricultural experts said here Friday. “Of the two billion small-holder farmers in the developing world producing majority of the world’s food, 70 per cent are women, mostly living in extreme poverty. If we are to eradicate hunger and poverty, we need to level the playing field by economically empowering women farmers,” said William Dar, Director General, International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT). Women farmers are the backbone of agriculture, Dar added, addressing over 1,500 women farmers from across 12 states of India at a function to mark ICRISAT women farmers’ day. He said that a UN study showed that empowering women farmers with new technologies and resources could help increase yield by 20-30 percent. “It will also reduce the number of hungry people in the world by 100-150 million people.” Suhas Wani, director of ICRISAT development centre, said it is important to recognise the role of women in agriculture so that they can be an important engine of growth and poverty reduction. “The number of rural women living in poverty has doubled since the 1970s. Rural women produce 50 percent of the world food but own only one percent of the (cultivated) land,” he said. ICRISAT recognised 30 women farmers at the function for displaying leadership qualities and achievements in their communities despite personal and social difficulties. Thirty women farmers were felicitated as golden awardees, and 53 as silver ones for their exemplary leadership, and to encourage them to help more women farmers in their regions and motivate others to come forward and take leadership roles. “… we apply fertiliser based on recommendation and adopt organic farming. This allows us to cultivate healthy food with reduced cost,” said Rajeshwari V. Patil, a woman farmer leader from Karnataka. To commemorate the occasion, profiles of these women farmer leaders were put together into a book, which was released at the function. The ICRISAT women farmers’ day is a celebration of the achievements of India’s outstanding women farmers whose ingenious and resourceful ways have placed them at the forefront of the fight against poverty, hunger, malnutrition and environmental degradation. (New Kerala 12/9/14)

50. Home Dreams Elude Urban Poor with Low Credit Flow (21)

CHENNAI: The dream of owning a home in Tamil Nadu has eluded low-income groups during the last decade as the flow of credit from public sector banks fail to reach the lower strata. Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation (MHUPA) has stated that despite increase in flow of credit to the housing sector in general, credit flow to the urban poor remains a challenge. “Inclusion of ‘housing’ under priority sector lending has not significantly helped the economically weaker sections as well as low income group segments,” a MHUPA official stated. MHUPA statistics reveal that loans below Rs 2 lakh from public sector banks have declined from 5.1 per cent in 2001 to 4.1 per cent in 2014 in relation to overall housing loans. Similarly, loans for houses up to Rs 5 lakh have declined from 36 per cent in 2006 to 9.75 per cent in 2010 in relation to the number of housing units financed. Interest-subsidy schemes like Rajiv Rinn Yojana (RRY)that subsidises interest payments made by the poor have been sub-optimal because of a lack of financial inclusion of the urban poor, a lack of awareness of the scheme at the branch level of primary lending institutions (PLI) and technical gaps in identifying the urban poor beneficiaries. MHUPA conducted a meeting with key stakeholders on credit flow to economically weaker sections. Meanwhile, the state government is also working on strategies to provide housing to all residents of the state by 2022. Tamil Nadu Housing Board states it has suggested amendments to the New Land Acquisition Act 2013 for acquisition of land exclusively for economically weaker sections besides increasing the floor space index to overcome the unavailability of land. Other suggestions include mass housing construction using factory-made pre-cast structures for speedy execution of projects including providing raw materials at controlled rates to low income groups. (New Indian Express 14/9/14)

51. 100m people saved from hunger in last decade: UN (21)

The number of hungry people in the world has dropped by 100 million over the last 10 years, though one in nine are still undernourished, with Asia home to the majority of the underfed, the UN said on Tuesday. The UN’s food agencies said the global number was down over 200 million since the early 1990s, but warned that despite the progress made, “about 805 million people in the world, or one in nine, suffer from hunger.” The Millennium Development Goal of halving the proportion of undernourished people by 2015 is within reach “if appropriate and immediate efforts are stepped up,” the Food and Agriculture Organisation, International Fund for Agricultural Development and World Food Programme said in a joint yearly report. To date, 63 developing countries have reached the target and six more are on track to reach it by 2015, they said. “This is proof that we can win the war against hunger and should inspire countries to move forward, with the assistance of the international community,” the agencies said in a joint message. The report said access to food had improved rapidly in countries that had seen overall economic progress, notably in Eastern and South-Eastern Asia, but also South Asia and Latin America. (Asian Age 17/9/14)

LABOUR/ MGNREGA

52. Centre mulls job link to clean toilet (14)

New Delhi, Sept. 10: The Centre is planning to link cleaning of public toilets to the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) and implement it in Bihar first, giving a big push to Prime Narendra Modi’s ambitious Clean India mission. Upendra Kushwaha, the Union minister of state for rural development and drinking water and sanitation, said while the government was giving great emphasis on constructing toilets, their maintenance was a big problem. Hence, a change in the existing policy was required, he said. “In villages, there are toilets in schools, anganwadi centres, panchayats and other community buildings but they are mostly in a shambles. In most cases, they are so filthy that they are virtually unusable. In Bihar and several other states, even availability of water is not a problem but no attention is paid to keeping the toilets clean once they are erected. On my trips to various districts in Bihar in the past few weeks, I could not find a single usable public toilet and it struck me that maintenance of the toilets has to be assigned to somebody. Only then will it be done properly. We, therefore, are planning to bring maintenance of toilets under MGNREGA. We would first introduce it in Bihar and then take it to other states,” Kushwaha told The Telegraph. The minister, however, conceded that introducing such a provision would require tweaking of the act — often touted as the world’s largest social security measure. It aims to guarantee the right to work and ensure livelihood security in rural areas by providing at least 100 days of guaranteed wage employment in a financial year to every household whose adult members volunteer to do unskilled manual work. “We have asked officials to look into the act and see how the provision can be made. At present, MGNREGA mainly involves works that lead to asset creation,” the minister added. Union minister Nitin Gadkari had earlier announced the decision to delink MGNREGA from the toilet construction programme, saying the scheme started by the previous UPA government did not work well on the ground. Officials in the ministry, meanwhile, said people did not mind using pay toilets while in urban areas, but it was a big challenge to keep toilets clean in the rural parts. “Seldom are there dedicated cleaners in public toilets and there is no provision for providing for maintenance staff once these are constructed. We will see how provisions can be made in MGNREGA and Nirmal Bharat Yojana to accommodate these suggestions,” said a senior official. (The Telegraph 11/9/14)

53. Panel Finds Cases of Bonded Labour in Mysore, Belgaum (14)

BANGALORE: She lives in abject poverty. With a dead father, a devadasi mother and a sister waiting to get married, Usha (name changed) had no other option, but to jump into the well of bonded labour. “I have to toil hard from six in the morning till nine in the night. Only God knows of my travails and of the harassment I face to fill my stomach. No matter how hard I work, I get only `8,000 a year,” said a teary-eyed Usha, who works in the house of a wealthy family in Bellary. Anjanappa’s entire lineage has been bonded labourers. This landless farmer from Challakere in Chitradurga followed his father’s footsteps into bonded labour, while his eight-year old son goes to school. “I have been a jeeta (slave) from the time I was paid `5 a day. Now, my landowner pays me `150. I get paid slightly better if I graze cattle,” Anjanappa said. A large number of bonded labourers like them assembled in the Bangalore University Centre for Ambedkar Studies on Jnanabharathi campus on Friday for a state-level seminar on this issue organised by Jeevika, an organisation working towards eradication of bonded labour.  In June, the government appointed former journalist Shivaji Ganeshan as chairperson of a state-level investigation committee on bonded labour, whose present mandate is to determine prevalence of bonded labour in Mysore and Belgaum districts.  “I visited the two districts and found that bonded labour exists significantly. I found 830 cases of bonded labour in Mysore and 356 in Belgaum. Government programmes are not reaching rural masses, which is forcing people into this. The beneficiaries are always the politicians and their supporters,” Ganeshan said. The Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1976, has done little to get rid of this practice, Ganeshan rued. “I used to ask myself if this practice existed in the backdrop of this law. But now I am convinced that it still exists. The government should support such people to build their own lives by providing small portions of land,” he said. Dalit poet and Centre for Ambedkar Studies Director Siddalingaiah cited “expensive marriages” as one of the main reasons for many cases of forced bonded labour. “The poor borrow loans to marry off their kin, but repayment often results in getting into bonded labour. That is why I believe there should be mass marriages that don’t require raising loans,” he said. According to Jeevika coordinator Kiran Kamal Prasad, there are 3.5 lakh bonded labourers in the country, of whom 2.5 lakh are in Karnataka, predominantly belonging to Dalit and Adivasi communities. Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Minister H K Patil did not attend the programme, disappointing many participants. (New Indian Express 13/9/14)

54.  ‘Many States fail to give effect to Unorganised Labour Act’ (14)

PUDUCHERRY: Mr. Justice Mukhopadhaya, who was here to inaugurate a legal awareness programme for college students and also open Village Legal Care and Support Centres, told the gathering that a majority of poor people were not in position to approach the court and were unaware of their rights. “In 2008, Unorganised Labour Act was enacted. Still the act had not been given effect to by a majority of States. No beneficial scheme had been prepared by the State governments for the workers in unorganised sector.” He appealed to Chief Minister N. Rangasamy who was present on the occasion, to chalk out a scheme. Mr. Justice Mukhopadhaya said particularly in north India, he found a large number of cases of atrocities against women. But, many did not know about the Domestic Violence Act and relief measures provided in the Act for victims. Chief Justice of the Madras High Court S.K. Kaul declared open the District Legal Services Authority for Karaikal. While calling upon the judges and judicial officers to regularly attend the court, the Chief Justice wanted lawyers to abjure strike and absenteeism. “Onerous responsibility lies with the Bench and the Bar as they are two sides of a coin,” he said. Mr. Rangasamy said his government was committed to fulfilling all requirements of the judicial system, including filling of vacancies in the judicial staff and creation of infrastructure. He also promised a monthly assistance for young lawyers, besides creating an Advocate Welfare Fund. Justice Satish K. Agnihotri, executive chairman of Tamil Nadu State Legal Services Authority, opened Conciliation Cells at the Indira Gandhi Government General Hospital and Post Graduate Institute and Dr.Ambedkar Government Law College. (The Hindu 14/9/14)

55. Centre diluting labour laws to favour corporates: trade unions (14)

New Delhi: Eleven Central trade unions, including the BJP-affiliated Bhartiya Mazdoor Sangh, held a national convention of workers here on Monday protesting the “dilution of labour laws and tripartite committees in various sectors” by the NDA government. The unions have called for a national protest day on December 5, 2014, and State-level protests on October 15, 2014, in Rajasthan, which was the first to propose amendments to labour laws including the Factories Act, the Industrial Disputes Act (IDA), and the Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Act. “The government is diluting labour laws to give large benefits to corporates without consulting trade unions. Officials asked us to meet them as a courtesy call on June 24 but since then they have not consulted us or called for suggestions on any proposals including most recently on the changes proposed to the Apprentice Act, 1961. The government is hurriedly dissolving a number of tripartite committees of employers, workers and trade unions which served as a safety valve in industrial disputes,” said All India Trade Union Congress general secretary Gurudas Dasgupta. “Changes such as making the IDA applicable only if the case involved 300 workers or more will put 50 to 60 percent outside the purview of all laws. Increasing overtime from 50 to 100 hours per quarter will legalise the long hours workers are being forced to put in already and will be a detriment to hiring of new workers,” said Hind Mazdoor Sabha general secretary H.S. Sidhu. Officials in the Ministry of Labour and Employment denied the allegations that unions were not consulted. “There are records of unions being called on June 24 and we have considered their proposals. This process of amendments was begun during the UPA’s tenure and is a continuation,” said a senior official. “Before June 24, 2014, before proposing changes to Factories Act, 1948, for instance, we had consulted Central trade unions on January 19, 2011, February 10, 2011, and March 3, 2011, after the setting up of the Jadhav Expert Committee under the UPA,” said another official. (The Hindu 15/9/14)

RESERVATION

56. Third gender cabinet nod (25)

Patna, Sept. 9: The cabinet today decided to recognise kinnar/kothi/hijra/transgender (eunuch) as “third gender”. The cabinet gave its nod to the general administration department’s proposal to declare them (kinnar/ kothi/ hijra/ transgender) as backward class annexure II category, cabinet secretariat department’s principal secretary Brajesh Mehrotra told reporters here. The state government’s move to put them in back- ward class annexure II category would provide them quota benefit for availing or getting government jobs, he said. In a judgment delivered on April 14, the Supreme Court created the “third gender” status for hijras or transgender. The court had asked the Centre to treat transgender as socially and economically backward. The apex court said the transgender would be allowed admission to educational institutions and given employment on the basis that they belonged to the third gender category. They would be considered as OBCs, the judgment said. While passing the order on a PIL filed by National Legal Services Authority (Nalsa) urging the court to give separate identity to transgender by recognising them as third category of gender, the apex court, in its judgement, said absence of law recognising hijras as third gender could not be continued as a ground to discriminate them in availing equal opportunities in education and employment. In another decision, the cabinet gave its nod to increase the stipend for persons doing internship in all the disciplines in government medical, dental, ayurvedic, homoeopathic, unani colleges. The health department’s proposal to increase scholarships for interns would incur an additional annual financial burden of Rs 4.15 crore on the state’s excheque. The amount of scholarship would be increased from Rs 7,000 to Rs 12,000 per month for persons doing intern- ship in all the disciplines in government medical, dental, ayurvedic, homoeopathic, unani colleges, Mehrotra said. “We have been demanding for Rs 17,000 as stipend for interns as neighbouring Bengal and other states are giving the same amount (as stipend),” said a Patna Medical College and Hospital (PMCH) MBBS intern wishing anonymity. Health department official sources put the number of MMBS interns around 450. This excludes the number of interns of dental, ayurvedic, homoeopathic, unani colleges. The cabinet also gave its nod to home (special) department’s proposal to extend the term of judicial commission making an inquiry into the Bhagalpur Communal Riot cases of 1989 for another six months. It also decided to extend all the benefits and facilities to the Jain community as minorities. (The Telegraph 10/9/14)

57. CM strongly advocated continuation of reservation for dalits (25)

MYSORE: Chief minister Siddaramaiah on Sunday said that reservations should continue to exist as long as caste system prevails in the country and Dr B R Ambedker also professed this principle of reservations. Speaking after inaugurating the fifth all India conference of Dalit Sahitya parishat a self styled organization of dalit litterateurs on the lines of Kannada Sahitya parishat, he said the caste system can be eliminated only if there is social, economical and political equality among the masses. “I strongly advocate the reservations for the downtrodden in the society,” he reiterated, adding that mere slogans or mantras will not eradicate caste system. Siddaramaiah said development of dalits and other downtrodden social groups had not taken place on the expected lines despite people aspired for a faster development of the dalits and other low caste people. He said there is lot of difference between literature created by the caste Hindus and the dalit litterateurs. Not once the caste Hindu litterateurs tried to highlight the sufferings of the dalits in their writings. “Only people who have experienced and suppressed know the sufferings of the dalits and how the other can know it?” he asked and said only dalit litterateurs who have seen and experienced the hardships of life cane create a literature on dalits. Referring to Dr Amebdker, he said Ambedker stands apart when it comes to fighting the ills of the society. “Even Ambedker was castigated by the unclean minds and these minds even dubbed Ambedker as anti-India” he opined and said they even alleged Ambedker of conniving with colonial rulers. “Arun Shourie’s book worshipping false gods reflects the rotten mind of the casteiist forces,” he said . Chief minister said not only people by catse are dalits, even the people who are not empowered are also dalits. “Even women in the society are dalits,” he added. Caste system in the society is deep rooted and it gets shaken only when there is some stimuli from the movements and settles down after these pressures die down” he said. He said there are people in the society who question the relevance of such conferences, but how people will know the real sufferings of the dalits. “Now you have sought funds for such conferences and I will provide funds,” he said. Revenue inister Srinivasa Prasad said still his blood starts boiling when dalits are subjected to problems and are exploited. Even after 68 years of independence untouchability has not vanished , one can tolerate the hunger but not this discrimination, he said governments should take a serious note of the situation on this front. (Times of India 14/9/14)

58. Maha govt justifies reservations for Marathas, Muslims (25)

Mumba: The Maharashtra government on Wednesday justified in the Bombay High Court its decision to provide reservations for Muslims and Marathas in jobs and educational institutions, saying that these communities are socially and economically backward. The division bench headed by Chief Justice Mohit Shah is hearing a bunch of public interest litigation challenging the recent government notification announcing reservations. “Maratha community was socially and economically backward and the decision to provide 16 per cent reservation for it was absolutely justified,” said advocate general Darius Khambata. The decision was based on the report of Narayan Rane committee, said Khambata. Regarding Muslims, he said they too were socially and economically backward. While providing five per cent reservations to them, the government had taken into consideration recommendations of Rajinder Sachhar committee and Mahmoodur Rahman committee, both of which had sought reservations for the community, the advocate general said. Khambata also clarified that those Muslims who are eligible for reservations under Other Backward Class category shall not get the benefit of reservations under the new quota.  (Zee News 17/9/14)

59. Caste census to commence in November (25)

MYSORE: H. Kantharaj, Chairman of the State Backward Classes Commission, said the Commission would take up the caste census in Karnataka for the first time since 1931 and it would commence from November. Over 1,25,000 personnel — including enumerators and supervisors. The government has allocated Rs. 117 crore for the census work and has given the commission three years to submit the report, he said. Addressing a presspersons here on Wednesday, Mr. Kantharaj said that there were over 1,076 castes in the State apart from Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. He said there are over 101 SC sub-castes and over 49 ST sub-castes. Mr. Kantharaj said many more castes may come to light during the census. The government has provided 27 per cent reservation for backward classes in panchayats, apart from benefits in various other departments in order to provide them social justice, Mr. Kantharaj said, adding that the survey would enable the government reach those in need. Such a census had not been conducted since independence, he said, adding that a nine-member Bench of the Supreme Court had recommended such a census on November 16, 1992. Mr. Kantharaj said teams have been formed at the district-level headed by Deputy Commissioners of the respective district and the census personnel would visit all the villages in their respective area. He said there was a provision for those who do not like to be identified on the basis of caste as well. The survey would also help to analyse the socio-economic progress of each caste. To a question, he said the commission would not avail the services of teachers as the government had stopped utilising teachers for survey work. Anganawadi workers, unemployed youth who have experience in conducting the survey work would be involved in the census, he said. (The Hindu 18/9/14)

HUMAN RIGHTS/ CIVIL SOCIETY/ NHRC

60. Over seven lakh affected in Kashmir floods: NGO (1)

New Delhi: Over seven lakh people have been affected by the incessant rains and floods in Jammu and Kashmir while 160 people have died, NGO Action Aid India said Tuesday. “The latest information says over seven lakh people are affected and 160 lives have been lost. Sources tell that there has been extensive damage to land, livestock and houses in over 2,000 villages,” the NGO said in a release. The situation has worsened in Srinagar with the Jhelum river breaching two embankments and flooding 80 percent of the area, it said. The NGO said local groups and volunteers have informed it about urgent need for basic food items, tents and first aid kits to help the flood-hit. “Action Aid India is coordinating with the government, the resident commissioner of Jammu and Kashmir based in Delhi and government bodies like the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) besides civil society organisations and local partner organisations in the flood-affected regions,” the release said. Sehjo Singh, director (programme and policy) at Action Aid India, said: “It is important to reach out to women, girls and children who are most vulnerable. Most of the survivors are on the road without any tent or cover. With chilly nights, our efforts are to reach to them.” “Local groups have informed that the rubber tubes in boats have suffered wear and tear, forcing the rescue teams to reduce the number of people they can accommodate per boat. This is affecting rescue. We hope more boats arrive on time,” she added. (New Kerala 10/9/14)

61. Israel likely to have committed Gaza war crimes: HRW (1)

Jerusalem: Israel is likely to have committed war crimes in Gaza, Human Rights Watch said on Thursday, a day after the Army announced five criminal investigations into incidents involving its forces. The 50-day Gaza war between Israel and Hamas-led militants ended on August 26 after killing more than 2,100 Palestinians, most of them civilians, and 73 people on the Israeli side, 67 of them soldiers. The New York-based rights watchdog said in a statement that in three cases it examined, Israel caused “numerous civilian casualties in violation of the laws of war”.The incidents were the separate shellings of two UN schools in northern Gaza on July 24 and 30, and a guided missile strike on another UN school in the southern city of Rafah on August 3. The attacks killed a total of 45 people including 17 children, HRW said. “Two of the three attacks Human Rights Watch investigated… did not appear to target a military objective or were otherwise unlawfully indiscriminate. The third attack in Rafah was unlawfully disproportionate if not otherwise indiscriminate.” “Unlawful attacks carried out wilfully — that is, deliberately or recklessly — are war crimes,” it said. A top Army legal official said Wednesday the military was already launching criminal investigations into five incidents, including the July 24 case, where Israeli shelling killed at least 15 people at a UN school in Beit Hanun in northern Gaza. The Army is to look into several dozen other cases for potential criminal investigation, but has not yet mentioned the July 30 or August 3 incidents. The official said the Army had already dismissed seven incidents referred for review, including the death of eight members of a single family in an Israeli air strike on their home, and the killing of a man reports said was a media worker. “Israel has a long record of failing to undertake credible investigations into alleged war crimes,” HRW said. The United Nations and international rights groups have condemned Israel for numerous attacks, and Washington slammed the July 24 UN school attack, but refrained from placing the blame squarely on Israel. The Palestinians have threatened Israel with action at the International Criminal Court over war crimes allegations, and Hamas has signed a proposal for Palestinians to join the body, potentially opening itself up to investigation. (Zee News 11/9/14)

62. NHRC chief asks Madhya Pradesh CM to appoint suitable head for MPHRC (1)

BHOPAL: Chairman of national human rights commission Justice KG Balkrishnan urged MP chief minister to appoint a suitable person as chairman of MPHRC, which is currently headed by a retired police officer. Interacting with media after conclusion of the three-day open hearing, on Friday he said human rights violations are on a large scale in every state and Madhya Pradesh is not an exception and cannot be compared to other states. He pointed out non-registration of complaints by cops, crime against women, bonded labour, untouchability, sanitation, delay in submission of investigation reports including magisterial inquiries and incidents like Ratangarh stampede among several issues of concern in MP. However, he refrained from speaking against state or central governments or even against insensitivity of officials. Poor infrastructure in schools, health of mining workers, state of juvenile homes and child welfare committees in districts also add to problems of human rights violations in the state, he said. NHRC heard 74 fresh complaints of which about 20 cases were finally disposed of after hearing the complainants and authorities during open hearing. There was a need for comprehensive survey for practice of bonded labourers in the state to ensure their release and rehabilitation measures were effective, commission observed. Replying to a question if NHRC has moved court against government or officials for ignoring its recommendations, he said, commission can go to court, but have not done so far. Commission has been vested with such powers and state commission here has thrice gone to court against MP government, including on issues like malnutrition and closure of wine shops in residential areas. Commission also recommended a compensation of Rs 5 lakh each to family of 110 people who died in Ratangarh stampede in Datia district and Rs 50,000 each to 164 injured persons. Of the compensation amount, 3 lakh will be given by Union government and rest will be borne by state government. On a question if human rights are violated of a person in case of justice getting delayed in courts, the chairman chose not to speak on functioning of judiciary. Whether NHRC would give a notice to Gujarat government on mining labourers from MP working in Gujarat, who suffer from silicosis, he said notices are served as and when required. Further, on action against officials held responsible for incidents like Ratangarh stampede, NHRC said there should be a strong disaster management in state to avoid such incidents and it will recommend action against officials if found guilty in report of commission set up for the purpose. NHRC observed officials are sensitive and turned up for hearings. Regarding the poor conviction rate of cases against SC and ST in state, the authorities said it is due to a variety of reason ranging from improper investigation to lodging false complaints. On crime against women, commission said there are stringent laws in place and police should immediately register case on getting a complaint. When asked why the camp sitting was only for scheduled caste and not for all, the officials said the wish to take up issues of human rights violation of every section of society. (Times of India 13/9/14)

63. People power provides lifeline in Kashmir (1)

NEW DELHI: The flood tragedy in Jammu and Kashmir has given birth to heroes across the world who have succeeded in reaching essential supplies to inundated areas. Using social networks and online applications, civil society has created supply chains using unpaid volunteers — many of whom are themselves affected. One such effort, www.jkfloodrelief.org has brought corporates and NGOs together to channel supplies to those stranded. Started by a group of professionals in India, the United States and Singapore, the group has delivered more than 30 tonnes of supplies. One of its members, Raheel Khursheed — Head of News, Politics and Government at Twitter India — said they had tied up with local groups such as the Sajid Iqbal Foundation (SIF). “We now have a person at Srinagar Airport who takes supplies to the warehouse from where volunteers of the SIF and Goonj take it to remote areas. We are using places where a mobile network is available as hubs to reach out to other areas,” he said. The group has also set a target to collect Rs.10 lakh by November 11 through crowd-funding. Save our Souls messages on social networks and text messages are being fed into Google’s Person Finder, which is being monitored by the Army’s control room in Srinagar. On Twitter, the hashtag ‘#KashmirFloods’ is being used to transmit rescue messages. Volunteers have flown supplies out to affected areas in the Valley. The residence of the Resident Commissioner of Jammu and Kashmir on Prithviraj Road was abuzz with activity on Sunday. Over the past few days, visitors have been streaming in with donation materials. Speaking to The Hindu , Sona Gupta, who is in-charge of the collection point, said they were ensuring that the materials reached the affected areas as quickly as possible. “Right now, what they need the most is water, edible oil, basic medicines, salt biscuits, diapers, sanitary napkins, masks and blankets,” she explained. Companies like HeyMath in Chennai are also flying food and medicines out to the Valley. “ We’ve bought medicines with monetary contributions and are flying them to Delhi. They are taken to a centre in Nizamuddin from where other volunteers get them to Kashmir,” said the company’s MD Nirmala Sankaran. (The Hindu 15/9/14)

64. NHRC notice to Delhi govt after boy drowns in a pit (1)

New Delhi: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has issued a notice to Delhi Government over drowning of a boy in a pit at Metro construction site. “The National Human Rights Commission has taken suo motu cognizance of a media report that a student of 8th class drowned while four others were rescued from a water pit made near a Metro construction site in Karkardooma, East Delhi on September 6,” the NHRC said. The locals alleged that the Metro Administration had left open pits which resulted in such incidents. The boy, identified as Kartik, aged 15 years, was the resident of Arya Nagar Colony in Karkardooma. He was returning home from the Sarvodaya school in the evening when he along with his friends decided to take a dip in the pit when this incident happened. Kartik was rushed to Dr Hedgewar Hospital in a critical condition where he was declared brought dead. “The contents of the report, if true, raise a serious issue of violation of human rights of the victim child,” observed the Commission. The Commission has sought a report in this matter from Delhi Chief Secretary within two weeks (Zee News 16/9/14)

JUDICIARY/ LAW

65. Smokers likely to face heavy fine for puffing in public (19)

NEW DELHI: The government is considering a proposal to ban the sale of loose cigarettes, a move that will hit ITC and other cigarette makers hard as 70 per cent of retail takes place in this form. This is one of the many measures proposed by an expert panel set up by the health ministry. Other suggestions include raising the age limit for consumption and increasing the fine for smoking in public spaces to Rs 20,000 from Rs 200, apart from making this a cognizable offence. If accepted, these suggestions on curbing tobacco consumption could soon be part of tougher legislation being drafted by the Modi government, which it wants to introduce in the winter session of Parliament as it looks to curb the damage caused by the habit in the form of cancers, cardiovascular diseases and other health issues. Headed by the Delhi government’s former principal secretary Ramesh Chandra, the expert panel submitted its report to the health ministry last week.The expert panel also wants the government to impose a harsher penalty of Rs 50,000, up from Rs 5,000 now, on manufacturers for violating the provision on carrying pictorial warning signs on cigarette packets. Members of the committee, who spoke to ET on condition of anonymity, said the panel also recommended raising the age limit for tobacco consumption to 25 years from 18 years, banning advertisements at the point of sale, and increasing the size of health warnings to cover almost 80 per cent of packaging. (Times of India 10/9/14)

66. Repeal 72 obsolete laws, recommends law panel (19)

The Law Commission on Friday gave an interim report to the ministry of law and justice, recommending repeal of 72 of 261 laws it has identified as obsolete. Many of those recommended for repeal date back to the colonial era. The oldest is the Bengal Districts Act of 1836. Other Acts so recommended include the Converts’ Marriage Dissolution Act of 1866, Ganges Tolls Act of 1867, Foreign Recruiting Act of 1874, Prevention of Seditious Meetings Act of 1911, Companies (Donation to National Funds) Act of 1951 and Land Acquisition (Amendment) Acts of 1962. The Commission, in its interim report to Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, said it would further study the laws in question “with a view to providing a firm recommendation for repeal of obsolete statutes and those inconsonant with modern times”. “The government is keen to repeal obsolete laws. Already, a Bill seeking to repeal 32 such Acts is pending in Parliament. We will take up the issue of repealing more such obsolete laws in right earnest in the next session,” Prasad said after receiving the report. The interim report is part of a series on obsolete laws that the commission is likely to give in the next couple of months under its project titled ‘The legal enactments: Simplification and streamlining’. It will aim to recommend repeal of all laws that are obsolete, not relevant and inconsistent with modern and newer laws or with Supreme Court judgments and international conventions. It has mapped all 1,086 existing central laws in 49 “carefully” demarcated subject categories. In addition, it has found that 253 laws the PC Jain commission recommended for repeal in 1998 continue to exist, and that 34 laws already repealed still feature on government websites, while certain laws passed by Parliament are not listed in the chronological list of central Acts. The Commission’s report says there are hundreds of Appropriation Acts whose purpose has been served and can safely be repealed. It has suggested all Appropriation Acts older than 10 years be dropped. These come to as many as 700. The Commission has noted that Australia has a built-in sunset clause for such laws. The Commission also recommended a series of amendments to the Indian Succession Act, as it considered the present provisions unfair to Christian women and termed these also prejudicial to the status of women. Various Christian organisations have made similar recommendations on the issue. (Business Standard 13/9/14)

67. Law panel wants Christian women to get rights over dead children’s property (19)

NEW DELHI: The Narendra Modi government is readying an amendment in the Indian Succession Act of 1925 that will allow Christian women to get rights in the property of their deceased children. As per Sections 41 to 48 of Indian Succession Act, 1925, governing Christians, it gives mothers no right to inherit property of deceased children who have not left behind any will. All such properties are to be inherited by the father. If the father is not alive, the properties go to the siblings. Section 41 of the Act provides that rules of distribution where the intestate has left no lineal descendants shall be contained in Sections 42 to 48, “after deducting the widow’s share if he has left a widow”.The law ministry had asked the Law Commission to give its recommendations on removing this inequality against women in the Succession Act that continued since the British era, though Britain itself removed this gender-based discrimination in the 1950s. (Times of India 15/9/14)

68. Centre, Supreme Court spar over appointments of CVC and vigilance commission (19)

New Delhi: The Centre and the Supreme Court are once again at loggerheads after their earlier differences over appointment of Lokpal and Judicial Appointments Commission. This time, it is over the appointments of Chief Vigilance Commissioner (CVC) and Vigilance Commissioner. Raising questions on the manner in which the NDA government was going ahead with the appointment of CVC and a vigilance commissioner, the apex court asked Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi to “seriously examine” complaints that they were in violation of rules laid down by the apex court. While the term of CVC Pradip Kumar ends on September 28, Vigilance Commissioner JM Garg retired on September 7. “What should we do? For us also it appears the government is restricting the appointment to one category of people (civil servants) where as the statute provides others. Anyway, you examine it and tell us tomorrow (Thursday),” Chief Justice RM Lodha said to Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi. The court has also asked the government should not be a minimum knowledge and experience in vigilance matters as essential criteria for appointment as CVC and VCs. Lawyers Ram Jethmalani and Prashant Bhushan, appearing for petitioner NGO Centre for Integrity, Governance and Training in Vigilance Administration, alleged the Centre was going ahead with the appointments without giving any publicity. They referred to the July 21 letter issued by the Secretary, Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT), to secretaries in government to suggest names for empanelment for the post of CVC and VC, allegedly aimed at keeping away the common people. “The letter of July 21, 2014, is contrary to the directive issued by apex court in the cases of Vineet Narayan v/s Union of India,” the petition said. Jethmalani said it was not necessary to put a restriction that every person who applies for the post should be a civil servant. Bhushan said the letter suggests that no application can be directly entertained by the DoPT and only those sponsored by the Secretaries would be in the zone of selection. The bench told Rohatgi that the application seeking to restrain the government from proceeding ahead with the appointment has been filed when this court has already on August 4 issued notice and sought DoPT’s response for making the appointment more transparent. Besides raising the issue that the zone of consideration has been restricted, the application said officials working with state governments such as chief secretaries have been excluded. The petitioner also said necessary condition of experience in the field of vigilance for the appointment of CVC and VCs has been omitted. (Indian Today 18/9/14)

POLICE/ AFSPA/ CUSTODIAL DEATHS

69. Man hangs himself in Haryana police lockup (1)

Gurgaon : A young man accused of trying to kidnap a child hanged himself in a police lockup Wednesday, officials said. Wasim, said to be around 25 years old and a resident of Chilli village in Palwal district of Haryana, committed suicide in the Sohna police station lockup. He was nabbed by people Tuesday when he allegedly tried to kidnap the minor son of his former employer in Sohna, 26 km from Gurgaon. He was later handed over to the police who booked him for the kidnapping attempt. Wasim Wednesday tore a strip from the blanket he was provided in the lockup and hanged himself, police said. His family members alleged foul play and demanded a post-mortem examination. A magistrate later recorded the statements of the family members. (Business Standard 10/9/14)

70. ‘Protect rights through mutual respect’ (1)

MYSORE: Unless human beings learn to respect one another, no legislation can help in curbing human rights violation, said registrar of University of Mysore C Basavaraju on Monday. Delivering a valedictory address of a refresher course in ‘Human rights: Dimensions and issues,’ organized by the political science department, the registrar said though there are stringent laws to protect human rights, violation is rampant. If people honour the dignity of one another, rights will be protected,” he said. Most human rights violations are reported in prisons. Around 60 per cent prisoners are victims of atrocities in one way or the other. Inhuman living conditions are lock-up deaths are common in prisons, he noted, while hailing the recent Supreme Court order of releasing undertrials on condition. UoM political science department head Muzaffar H Assadi rued that several state-run institutions are violating human rights and the police department is one of them. This is mainly due to lack of awareness among the staff. The state needs to sensitize the police forces, he said. Speaking on farmers, Assadi said institutions are taking away rights and life of farmers and the marginalized sector in the name of development. In several cases distressed farmers are committing suicide after their lands are grabbed forcefully for development works. Development should be restructured to prevent violations. Sensitizing the public and institutions is the need of the hour to build a civilized society, he added. (Times of India 10/9/14)

71. Withdraw AFSPA from the northeast, say rights groups (1)

Guwahati/Shillong: Human rights organisations from different parts of the northeast states have yet again reiterated that the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), giving special powers to the armed forces, should be withdrawn. A few NGOs met in a convention against the AFSPA in Guwahati Thursday and passed a resolution to mobilise people against the act and engage with other movements opposing “the draconian law”.They also decided to lobby with the MPs from the region to take up the issue in parliament. The resolutions were made to mark the 56th year of the act which came into force in 1958. The act is in force in most parts of the region. Many human rights activists and NGOs have criticised it, complaining of custodial torture, extra-judicial killings, and sexual harassment of women because of the special powers with immunity the act gives the security forces. The convention was attended by representatives of the Centre for Research and Advocacy, Human Rights Alert, Manab Adhikar Sangram Samiti, WinG-India, North East Dialogue Forum, and the Borok People Human Rights Organization. “We will try to meet our MPs from northeast and urge them to take up our long-pending demand for repealing the act in parliament…,” Babloo Loitongbam, the executive director of Human Rights Alert, said. Member of WinG-India, Anjuman Ara Begum said sexual violence against women by security forces executing the AFSPA was a serious cause of concern in the region. The North East Dialogue Forum (NEDF) Thursday wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, urging him to repeal the AFSPA. In the letter, NEDF consultant P.B.M. Basaiawmoit said the AFSPA limits the powers of the judiciary to take action against cases of false arrests, fake encounters and rapes by the security forces and police. He said the act was passed by parliament Aug 18, 1958, and was signed by then president Sep 11, 1958, and then invoked by various state governments, namely Nagaland, Tripura, Manipur and Jammu and Kashmir to counter the growth of the insurgency movement. Urging the prime minister not to extend the AFSPA as it is due so Nov 30, the NEDF suggested that the government repeal the act. Irom Sharmila Chanu, a human rights activist, has been on an indefinite strike for nearly a decade in Manipur, demanding the withdrawal of the APSPA from the state. Several human rights groups, including the North East Students’ Organisation, have also been demanding withdrawal of the AFSPA. (New Kerala 12/9/14)

72. Two suicides in fortnight: Tihar steps up counselling at jail (1)

New Delhi:  Following two alleged cases of suicide and one of accidental death — all within the last fortnight — the Director General of Tihar Prisons Alok Verma  inspected the two suicide spots on Monday and later issued a circular for all jail superintendents, listing remedial procedures to prevent such incidents. All jail superintendents have been ordered to regularly hold cultural programmes and counselling sessions for inmates inside the jail to ensure that inmates live in a better and positive environment. The authorities have also been asked to bring in more psychiatrists, under the ‘Gumsum Panja’ initiative, to counsel inmates. The initiative was launched earlier this year to curb the rise of suicides in prison. On Sunday, the body of 38-year-old Sirajuddin was found hanging in the toilet of Ward Number 1 in Jail 7, 8. Earlier this month, the body of Amolkar (40) was found hanging inside Jail Number 3. Amolkar’s body was found less than 12 hours after another inmate Vinod (26) died of a suspected epileptic fit. In all cases, an inquest proceeding has already been ordered. The inquiry is being conducted by an officer of the rank of an SDM. Preliminary findings in Amolkar’s death has revealed that he was earlier placed under suicide watch. Sources said he had been admitted to AIIMS in the past, after consuming a poisonous substance. After his discharge from AIIMS, though authorities were monitoring his movements, Amolkar’s body was found hanging inside the toilet. Sirajuddin was found dead just a day before he was to present himself in connection with a dowry case at a court in Bijnor, Uttar Pradesh. (Indian Express 17/9/14)

73. HC Impleads Home Secy, DGP in Udumalpet ‘Torture’ Case (1)

CHENNAI: Madras High Court has sou-motu impleaded the State Home Secretary, DGP and the Tiruppur Superintendent ofPolice as parties in the case pertaining to the alleged custodial rape and torture of a woman in Udumalpet on August 10. When the matter came up before Justice V Ramasubramanian today, two miscellaneous petitions were filed by the petitioner, one seeking a probe by an independent agency on the allegation of rape and the other demanding compensation. The Judge noted that unfortunately, the petitioner had neither impleaded the State government nor the DGP as parties and hence, the prayers could not be considered without giving an opportunity to the State government. “Though I am dealing with the writ petition under Article 226 of the Constitution and though in normal circumstances, the State is deemed to be represented by the police inspector, in a case which falls under the public domain and praying for a larger relief, it is imperative that the State is also given an opportunity of being heard. Therefore, I hereby suo-motu order the impleadment of the State by its Home Secretary……..’’ the judge said. Directing the Special Government Pleader IS Inbadurai to obtain instructions from the government with regard to the prayers, the Judge adjourned the matter till September 19. Originally, in her writ petition one Rajakumari alleged that her 49-year-old mother Mallika (name changed) was tortured and raped by cops at the police station in Udumalpet on August 10. The police wanted to implicate her mother in the murder of Leelavathy, the owner of Mallika’s small house. However, the police had strongly denied the allegations. (New Indian Express 18/9/14)

MEDIA/ FREEDOM OF SPEECH

74. Journalists in Tamil Nadu outraged by circular by Chennai Police Commissioner (1)

Chennai: Journalists from Tamil Nadu expressed their outrage over the circular issued by Chennai Police Commissioner S George, which has asked all police officers to keep crime reporters under supervision. In an exclusive interview with ANI, Anbazhan, president of the Madras Union of Journalists, said, “Around two-three ago, the Chennai Police Commissioner sent out a circular to police officials regarding the monitoring of the media. The circular stated that the journalists be placed under the supervision of the police officials, without the knowledge of the said journalists. Calling it a “serious threat to fair and free journalism”, he further said, “Controlling and monitoring the journalist will spoil the democracy of the country.” Agreeing, R Subramanian, secretary of the Chennai Press Club said, “The city police has failed to check the ever growing crime rate. In order to hide the numbers from the public, they are indulging in these activities against journalists. In other cities, the police have got spokespersons to interact regularly with the media. In Chennai, this is not the case.” Earlier this week, Chennai Police Commissioner S George had allegedly issued an internal circular, asking officials to keep a tab on media houses to ensure there are no negative reports by the media in the city. (New Kerala 10/9/14)

75. Internet, social media affecting print media: Venkatachaliah (1)

Bangalore: The former Chief Justice of India M.N. Venkatachaliah has said the Internet and social media have affected print media to a great extent for a decade now. Delivering the 15th convocation address of the M.P. Birla Institute of Management (MPBIM) here on Saturday, the former Chief Justice of India opined that e-mail and social media had changed the way business is carried out, and that it had affected the print media. No wonder the circulation of leading newspapers in the United Kingdom had come down in the past decade. In fact, the circulation of Daily Mirror, Guardian, Sunday Mail and Telegraph had gone down by 50 per cent. Besides, the Internet and social media has changed “our notions of what is good and moral”. Mr. Venkatachaliah expressed dissatisfaction over the new corporate culture distancing from bondages, unbending beliefs, traditions and dogmas. “We must be practical as it is the only way business is run across the world. Human intellect without values would be a self-stultifying instrument. Increase in knowledge without a corresponding growth in wisdom can be source of disaster,” he added. Blaming the western industrial and economic philosophy for the present state of the country’s economy, Mr. Venkatachaliah said India had been weakened by its macro economic instability. While no single policy can trigger development, he noted that a comprehensive approach is needed to achieve the same. During the convocation, 24 students received medals for excelling in academics. (The Hindu 13/9/14)

76. Media should make legal issues mainstream’ (1)

AURANGABAD: It is the role of the media to make socio-legal issues part of the mainstream discussion. To increase transparency and reach, popular court hearings should be telecast through the electronic media, said socio-legal analyst Asim Sarode. He was speaking at a two-day national seminar on ‘Reporting of Judicial and Legislative Proceedings by Media’ being hosted by Manikchand Pahade Law College that started on Saturday. Chief Justice of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana high court Kalyan Jyoti Sengupta inaugurated the seminar at Tapadia Natya Mandir in the presence of advocate R D Deshpande, the president of Marathwada Legal and General Education Society (MLGES) which runs the college. Sarode, an expert on socio-legal and human rights issues, is an advocate of the Bombay high court and fellow of reputed international Ashoka Fellowship. “Discussion on various judgments related to controversial cases has diluted the concept of contempt of court, however, the sting operations being conducted to expose corruption has given power to the concept of freedom of expression. Though the media plays a prominent role in defending the democracy of the nation, there is an outcry that media trials are being conducted,” he said. He added that there is a need to condemn attacks on various media houses, assaults against journalists and use of law to defame investigative journalists. Also speaking at the programme, Justice Sengupta said that mass media should not cross their limit while reporting judicial and legislative proceedings. Sarode said, “The emergence of Right to Information Act, 2005 has added a new dimension to reporting as bureaucratic practices and the secrecy which used to be maintained by the existence of Official Secret Act got diluted.” He added that there should be a mandate to determine whether the emerging trends are threat to freedom of expression or there is a need to create parallel governance over freedom of press. The Press Information Bureau (PIB) also suggested that the corporates be restricted to take shares and own the media houses, said Sarode. Sarode pointed out that apart from traditional media, social media in the form of Facebook, Whatsapp, twitter, blogs, and websites are creating new trends in journalism. The commitment of the Indian Constitution towards freedom of speech and expression has been enshrined as part of highest democratic value. On this background it can be notably observed that with the passage of time media is developing its role in accordance with the constitutional mandate and we can see the expression of vibrant press in bringing the socio-legal issue into main stream of discussion. To make the reach of popular court hearings wider and transparent such cases should be telecast through electronic media, said well-known socio-legal analyst Asim Sarode. He was speaking at a The Aurangabad district administration on Sunday said that it had enrolled more than 62,000 new voters between June 9 and June 30 and nearly 24,000 voters in July and August taking the number of voters in the district to 24,46,600 being hosted by Manikchand Pahade Law College was kicked off on Saturday. Chief Justice of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana High Court Kalyan Jyoti Sengupta inaugurated the seminar at Tapadia Natya Mandir while advocate R D Deshpande, the president of Marathwada Legal and General Education Society (MLGES) which runs the college, presided. Sarode also a practicing advocate of Bombay High Court mainly practicing in Socio-Legal and Human Rights issues and Fellow of Reputed international Ashoka Fellowship said, “On one hand discussion on controversial matters related to various judgments given by higher courts has diluted the concept of contempt of court and on the other hand string operations are being conducted to expose high level corrupt behaviour which can be considered as giving powerful effect of using freedom of expression. The continuous prominent role is being played by the media in defending democracy but at the same time there is outcry that media trials are being conducted.”… (Times of India 15/9/14)

77. IJU takes exception to attacks on the media (1)

TIRUPATI: The Indian Journalists Union (IJU) has taken serious exception to the dwindling recognition to media’s freedom of expression and also the physical assaults on journalists, be it by the state, anti-social elements or communal forces. Giving details on the resolutions adopted at the union’s three-day National Executive Committee (NEC) meet that concluded in Tirupati on Monday, president S.N. Sinha and secretary-general Devulapalli Amar said the conclave dwelt on the formation of a Media Commission, implementation of TRAI’s recommendations on cross media ownership, monopoly of corporate media and domination of political party ownerships in media, besides the implementation of the Justice Majithia Wage Board recommendations and the need for state governments to set up tripartite committees to ensure payment of statutory wages to journalists, including those in the mofussil areas. The duo called as ‘unfortunate’ the decision of the Telangana Multi-System Operators (MSOs) to block the TV9 and ABN Andhra Jyothi channels for over three months, indicating that as mere business entities, they had no role in deciding what people should watch. Flaying the State for remaining indifferent, Mr. Amar dubbed as ‘hardly convincing’ its contention that it had no role in the spat between channels and MSOs. While disapproving the ‘unethical’ portrayal of MLAs in a TV programme which apparently led to the ban, they said the Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhara Rao’s overbearing statement in Warangal too smacked of arrogance due to power. The Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N.Chandrababu Naidu was also in for flak for denying entry to ‘Sakshi’ journalists to his press conferences. Mr. Sinha said the IJU expressed deep shock at the barbaric beheading of US journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff by Islamic Jihadi terrorist groups. The conclave also took exception to the dismissal of Geetartha Pathak, Secretary of IJU and Assistant Editor of Assamese weekly ‘Asam Bani’ and the arrest of Jaikhlong Brahma, Kokrajhar correspondent of ‘Newslive’ and ‘The Sentinel’, under National Security Act. The IJU expressed concern over the non-implementation of the Wage Board recommendations by some newspaper establishments, even after the Supreme Court ruling to this effect. (The Hindu 16/9/14)

COMMUNAL RIOTS

78. Muslim students to counter ‘love jihad’ protests (7)

Meerut: In an attempt to counter protests against “love jihad” by saffron organisations, Jamaat-e-Islami Hind students’ wing will start a 10-day campaign next month in all 28 districts of western Uttar Pradesh, spreading among youth the “real and pious” meaning of words love and jihad. Activists of Student Islamic Organisation (SIO), which has strong presence on the Aligarh Muslim University campus and among other Muslim students, would visit colleges in the region spreading the message “bridge the gulf, bring the change” and also how certain Hindu outfits are “trying to draw political mileage out of these protests (protests against love jihad), many of which have taken a violent and communal turn in several towns so far”. “Love and Jihad are separate and pious words, but by putting the two together some organisations are trying to serve vested interests and trying to drive a wedge between the two communities. There never had been such a mistrust between the two communities in western Uttar Pradesh towns, but it was deliberately created during and after riots in Muzaffarnagar,” Nazeer-ul-Islam, west wing chief of SIO, told The Indian Express over phone from Aligarh. “We never do any discrimination on religious lines and this can be surmised from our 10-day campaign during which volunteers will not go to colleges only belonging to our community, but also to other colleges where the majority of students belong to the other community,” said Nazeer. The SIO’s move comes after recently BJP’s students’ and youth wings — Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad and Bhartiya Janata Yuva Morcha — along with Vishwa Hindu Parishad formed a “shared forum” which would have units in all districts of western Uttar Pradesh to fight alleged conversions, abductions and mass rapes in the name of love jihad. The forum has opened its first unit Meerut Bachao Manch, under which volunteers took out a peace march and handed over the copy of a memorandum to the local administration appealing for an immediate check on “love jihad”. This forum plans to hold debates and seminars from September 15 in schools and colleges warning students, especially girls, against love jihad. (Indian Express 11/9/14)

79. Police scan CD of Yogi Adityanath’s speech (7)

NOIDA: Gautam Budh Nagar police have lodged an FIR and opened probe into an inflammatory speech allegedly made by BJP leader Yogi Adityanath at a bypoll campaign rally in Noida on September 7. Police have accessed a CD in which the programme, including the speech, is recorded. The meeting was held at the Sector 45 park. Talking to TOI, SSP Preetinder Singh confirmed an FIR had been lodged against Adityanath. “Our team is examining the CD. We will also question prominent people who had attended the event, the organizers and the videography team of the district administration,” Singh said. On whether Adityanath would be arrested, Singh said police were gathering proof. “We’re also recording statements. Further action will be decided after a thorough examination of facts and evidence,” Singh added. Adityanath was at the centre of controversy after the Election Commission on Tuesday served him a notice for incendiary remarks he allegedly made at the Noida rally. During his speech, Adityanath had reportedly equated the increase in communal violence in western UP with the rise in population of a particular community. “Under Akhilesh Yadav, UP has witnessed 450 communal riots. Why are there no riots in eastern UP?” he had apparently said. (Times of India 13/9/14)

80. Dhule riots commission has till December 31 to finish probe (7)

Mumbai: The one-member judicial commission probing the communal riots in Dhule district in 2013 has been granted an extension till December 31. Six policemen had died in the firing. Member of state minority commission and head of Jamiat-e-Ulema Maharashtra Legal Aid committee Gulzar Azmi said, “Last month the tenure of the commission got over and Justice Shrikant Malte had decided that it could not continue without the government’s permission and stopped the commission’s work. Though the term of the commission was over, the probe is still far from over so the Jamiat wrote a letter to the Maharashtra chief minister Prithviraj Chavan and state home minister R.R. Patil, requesting them to grant an extension of six months to the commission.” “On Friday, advocate Niyaz Ahmed Lodhi from Malegaon received a phone call from commission’s secretary and former Magistrate Yardeker informing him that the term of commission has been extended till December 31 and it would start examining remaining witnesses from Tuesday,” Mr Azmi said. According to him, the commission received more then 400 affidavits but statements of only 23 persons have been recorded so far. Public prosecutor Shashir Hire confirmed the news. He also said that all witnesses from police’s side are yet to be examined. According to him though there is a list of 43 witnesses from the police’s side, it would not call all of them to depose before the commission. He also confirmed that none of them have been examined till date. (Asian Age 15/9/14)

81. Uttar Pradesh lesson (7)

In Uttar Pradesh, the results of the by-elections for 11 assembly seats and one Lok Sabha seat have proved to be dramatically different from those of May 2014. The victory of Tej Pratap Singh, nephew of Mulayam Singh Yadav, in Mainpuri, the family’s Lok Sabha seat, is not surprising. But the BJP has won just three assembly seats while the SP has won eight. The Congress drew a blank. Two of the assembly seats are located in western UP, the scene of communal riots over the past year, and are part of Lok Sabha constituencies that the BJP won in May. The bypoll results have now boosted the morale of the ruling SP, which had performed badly in the national elections. The campaign for the UP by-elections was followed with great interest after the BJP won only four out of 10 seats in the Bihar bypolls in August, losing out to the RJD-JDU-Congress combine. Both UP and Bihar point to a complete turnaround in voter choices in the Hindi heartland. Since May, the political situation and the atmospherics had changed in UP. After the BJP’s stunning victory in the national elections, expectations did not seem to run high among most parties, and the campaigns were low key. Voter turnouts were also much lower than in the national election — 53.18 per cent for the assembly seats and 56.4 per cent for the Mainpuri Lok Sabha seat. Only the Thakurdwara assembly segment in Moradabad witnessed a high 69 per cent turnout. In some urban constituencies, such as Lucknow East and Noida, it was hardly 34 per cent. The BSP decided not to contest, but this is not surprising. The party has usually kept away from bypolls. It felt that collaborating with the SP, which might have brought together the minorities, backwards and Dalits, was not possible, given the acrimonious relationship between the two parties. Also, Mayawati’s chief target is the Congress, which has been the party of the Scheduled Castes in the past. More importantly, she has decided to move away from the BSP’s “sarvjan” strategy and concentrate on regaining the support of her core constituency, the Jatavs. She has also begun preparing for the next assembly elections, which many believe will be held earlier than scheduled. The Congress, yet to recover from its humiliating Lok Sabha defeat, did not make effective preparations, in terms of either candidates or campaign strategy. Badly divided internally, it is concentrating on rebuilding the party organisation. In these bypolls, then, it was a straight contest between the ruling SP and a BJP grown aggressive and over-confident after its earlier performance. This worked to the SP’s advantage as minority, backward and Dalit votes were not divided. (Indian Express 18/9/14)

COMMUNALISM

82. RSS launches strategy for repeal of Article 370 (26)

New Delhi: The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) has launched an ambitious plan to reach out to at least 10,000 key opinion makers – jurists, bureaucrats, etc – in the next two years to dispel “misinformation” related to Article 370 of the Constitution. The Article gives Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) a special status. The state has its own set of laws related to citizenship and ownership of property. As is the case with several areas in the Northeast and Himachal Pradesh, outsiders cannot purchase property in the state. The RSS push for more debate on the issue comes months before Assembly elections in the state. The Sangh is keen on leveraging the positive public opinion which, it believes, the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government has generated by efficient rescue operations in the flood-hit Kashmir valley in recent days. As part of a two-pronged strategy, the RSS plans to question the legality of the Article, as well as convince the populace of the state the Article has done them, particularly disempowered sections such as tribals and women, harm. Arun Kumar, member of RSS’ national executive, is leading this initiative. “The problem of J&K is only about information – misinformation in J&K and lack of information in the rest of the country,” he says. On Wednesday, Kumar unveiled a study in this regard, Impact Analysis of Article 370. The study, published in Hindi and English, has been conducted under the auspices of the Madhya Pradesh government-funded Makhanlal Chaturvedi National University of Journalism and Communication. RSS-affiliated think tank Jammu & Kashmir Study Centre assisted in the study. The 20-page study report argues due to Article 370, J&K has lost much in terms of central grants for legislation such as Right to Education, as well as in the case of benefits to women and tribal and backward populations. The RSS study says, “Undoubtedly, Article 370 has a huge negative and depressing impact on women in J&K.” Citing Chief Minister Omar Abdullah’s family, it said former chief minister Farooq Abdullah had married an outsider, a citizen of the UK, who became a permanent citizen, as did their children Omar Abdullah and Sara. But while Omar married an outsider and their children became permanent residents of the state, the children of Sara and her husband and Congress leader Sachin Pilot couldn’t become citizens of J&K. “So, a UK citizen, who is Sara’s mother, can become a permanent resident, but Sara’s kids, who are Indians, cannot be citizens of the heaven on this planet,” it said. Article 370 had also hindered granting of political reservation for the state’s 11 per cent Scheduled Tribes, it added. The RSS’s agenda goes beyond questioning the usefulness of Article 370. Kumar said much of the debate on the subject had wrongly focused on how repeal of the Article could endanger the state’s ties with India. He added his engagement with opinion makers through the next two years would be a step towards removing this “misconception”.Kumar is convinced Article 370 has encouraged separatism. He says the Centre shouldn’t engage with separatists such as SAS Geelani, Mirwiaz Umer Farooq and Yasin Malik. The RSS expects the Modi-led government to deliver on its promise to review Article 370. “There are many in this government who agree with us on repealing Article 370. We expect them to contribute to our objective,” Kumar said. (Business Standard 11/9/14)

83. Ban entry of Muslims in Garba events: Togadia

Ahmedabad: Saturday Muslims must not be allowed inside the Garba events and insisted identity cards of each and every person be checked for participants in and visitors to such events. “We must be alert so that not a single Muslim person can enter in our Garba festival. Identity cards of each and every person must be checked at every Garba event,” Togadia said in Amreli town in Saurashtra. He said “Navratri is the festival of Mother Amba’s prayers and worship, so we cannot allow beaf-eaters Muslims to enter into Garba places.”  BJP MLA in Madhya Pradesh Usha Thakur had recently asked party workers to ensure that Muslim youths are not allowed to enter Garba venues in her constituency, Indore (3), during the upcoming annual Navdurga festival alleging that Hindu girls are lured by them and converted to Islam as part of the ‘love jihad’ to distort population ratio in the country. Thakur, who is also state BJP vice-president, had said she would soon be writing to all garba organisers in her constituency to allow only Hindu men inside the garba venues by making electoral photo-identity cards mandatory for entry. Speaking about ‘love jihad’, Togadia said “we need to be alert about love jihad. If it is love, then where is the need of conversion?” Togadia said. On Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s offer of relief to flood-affected Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK), Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) Togadia today said tanks should be sent there along with relief materials. (Hindustan Times 14/9/14)

84. Hindu body calls for keeping Muslims out of garba events (26)

Vadodara: Hindu organisations, including the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), have made elaborate arrangements to keep Muslims in Godhra out of garba venues during the Navratri festival, toeing the line of VHP leader Pravin Togadia and Madhya Pradesh BJP vice-president and MLA from Indore, Usha Thakur, who recently expressed similar views apparently to counter the bogey of “love jihad.” A newly-floated body, Hindu Asmita Hitrakshak Samiti, has even created a team of “volunteers” who will ensure that no Muslim youth are allowed inside the festival venue, claiming that the festival is a religious gathering. The organisation, which is yet to register itself, enjoys support from the VHP, a senior VHP leader from Godhra, Ashish Bhatt, said. The 9-day Navratri festival begins on September 25. “Muslims are always against anything related to India, be it national anthem, national flag, and they largely keep themselves away from Hindu festivals, then why should they be so keen on participating in garbas? They do so to lure Hindu girls. We are here to oppose such intrusions and stop them. A team of volunteers will work in this direction and will patrol the venues of garba events,” said Jaimin Shah, a member of the organisation. He said several volunteers have joined the organisation with the sole aim to keep a check on Muslims entering the venue. “Godhra is probably the epicentre of love jihad. This has been the case in the city since long but this year, we have decided to take action against it,” he said. Senior VHP leader from Godhra, Ashish Bhatt, said that the concern raised by the organisation is genuine. “Our wives, daughters and sisters participate in garba as a religious event. It’s not a social gathering. So, the presence of Muslims makes no sense. Last year, too, we had asked around half a dozen Muslim youths to leave the venue as they might have created nuisance,” he said. Two large garba events are organised in Godhra every year — Ardh Shakti Garma and Ma Shakti Garba. The former is organised with the support of the Panchmahals police. This year, a police headquarters ground has been selected as the venue of for the event. . (Indian Express 16/9/14)

85. Attack on Ujjain University VC: VHP activists held (26)

Ujjain: Ujjain Police on Wednesday arrested 11 Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and Bajrang Dal activists for allegedly manhandling the vice-chacellor of the Vikram University and vandalising his office on Monday. Prof Jawaharlal Kaul, who had to be hospitalised after the incident, had earned the ire of the saffron brigade because of his appeal for help to students from flood-hit Jammu and Kashmir. There are at least 100 Kashmiri students pursuing various courses at the Vikram University. The activists surrendered at the Madhav Nagar police station on Wednesday morning. Among those who were arrested are two VHP office-bearers Mahesh Anjana and Hemant Singh Chouhan. Objecting to Kaul’s appeal to students for helping their Kashmiri classmates, a group of VHP and Bajarang Dal activists on Monday allegedly manhandled him and ransacked his office forcing the administration to provide him with security. Kaul was admitted to the Sanjeevani Hospital with high blood pressure following the attack. He was released on Monday night. The teacher and staff at the university had gone on a strike on Tuesday to protest Kaul’s alleged manhandling. They also marked their protest by orgainsing a rally. Police had on Tuesday arrested two persons in connection with the incident. (Hindustan Times 17/9/14)

TERRORISM

86. Qaeda India branch reinforces need for global strategies: UN (12)

United Nations: Al Qaeda’s announcement to set up a new branch in the Indian subcontinent “reinforces” the need for global strategies to combat terrorism, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s spokesperson said here on Tuesday. “We have all seen the reports by al Qaeda, which I think reinforces the need for global strategies to fight the issue of terrorism,” Ban’s spokesperson Stephane Dujarric told PTI. Last week, al Qaeda’s media arm as-Sahab had declared to open a new branch “Qaedat al-Jihad in the Indian subcontinent” to wage jihad, revive its caliphate, and impose sharia in the Indian subcontinent in a video posted on social media outlets. The new group, headed by Pakistani militant Asim Umar, would report to Afghan-Taliban chief Mullah Omar. Al Qaeda is active in Afghanistan and Pakistan, but the groups’s leader Ayman al-Zawahiri said “Qaedat al-Jihad” would take the fight to India, Myanmar and Bangladesh. The Indian government sounded a country-wide alert after the Qaeda (Zee News 10/9/14)

87. Crack the whip on Indians joining ISIS, Centre may tell NIA (12)

New Delhi: With security agencies identifying 22 radicalised youth leaving India in response to the ‘jihadist’ call of the Islamic State in Syria and the Levant (ISIS), the government may ask the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to file an FIR against unknown persons affiliated to the organisation. The action is aimed at preventing more Muslim youth from going to Iraq and taking action against those who return. The NIA can register an FIR on the basis of the UN Security Council Resolution 2170 that has placed the ISIS under terror sanctions and asked the member countries not to allow fighters from joining the extremist Wahabi group headed by Abu Bakr al Baghdadi. Several countries that voted for this resolution have reportedly been warned of retaliation in a letter from ISIS spokesman. While security agencies believe that the ISIS should be banned as a terror organisation by listing it under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) to act against Indian ‘jihadists’, a section of the government feels that such a move could adversely impact the lives of 39 Punjabi labourers apparently held in Mosul since June 15. Indian diplomats dealing with the issue are convinced that the labourers are alive but in captivity. The internal security establishment’s concerns are now shared by Indian Muslim religious outfits, who have come out strongly against the so-called Khalifat of Baghdadi and al Qaeda’s Ayman Al Zawahri’s statement establishing a branch in the Indian subcontinent. These umbrella organisations have asked youth to desist from getting trapped into the “propaganda” of Baghdadi or Zawahri. But as the Muslim youth, albeit in miniscule numbers, are getting radicalised on the internet, the security agencies have asked all airports to maintain vigil on young Indians bound for the Middle East countries, particularly Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Turkey. (Hindustan Times 14/9/14)

88. BJP Unnao MP Sakshi Maharaj claims madrasas offering cash rewards for love jihad (12)

Lucknow: Days after Home Minister Rajnath Singh denied any knowledge of “love jihad” and assured the minority communities that there would be no discrimination on the basis of religion or caste, his party MP from Unnao, Sakshi Maharaj, alleged on Sunday that madrasas across the country are imparting “education of terror” and “love jihad”. He claimed that Muslim youth in madrasas are being motivated for “love jihad” with offers of cash rewards — Rs 11 lakh for an “affair” with a Sikh girl, Rs 10 lakh for a Hindu girl and Rs 7 lakh for a Jain girl. Education of terrorism is being given in madrasas. They (madrasas)… are making them terrorists and jihadis….It is not in national interest. Addressing an event in Kannauj, he also alleged that these madrasas do not hoist the national flag on Independence Day or Republic Day, and the government should stop giving them financial aid. He said he would  speak to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and also raise the issue in Parliament. When contacted over the phone, Sakshi Maharaj admitted that he had made these remarks. He said the madrasas were making the students “terrorists” and “jihadis” and their education was not in the national interest. “Neither is the national flag hoisted on August 15 and January 26, nor is the national anthem sung there. They hoist only green flags,” he alleged. When asked about the basis of such allegations, he claimed some of his men had converted to Islam and taken admission in these madrasas. He alleged that some Muslims had also informed him about such actvities by the madrasas. The BJP MP further alleged that Muslim MPs also avoid attending functions in Parliament where the national anthem is sung. “I will demand that they should be removed as MPs. How can they be a member of the Indian Parliament when they do not hold regard for our national anthem?” he said. (Indian Express 15/9/14)

89. ISIS excludes social studies, math from kids’ syllabus (12)

Thousands of children in swaths of war-torn Syria, now controlled by dreaded ISIS militants, can no longer study math or social studies under new diktats issued by the jihadists. While sports is banned, the children will not be allowed to learn about elections and democracy. Instead, the children will be subjected to the teachings of the radical Islamist group. And any teacher who dares to break the rules “will be punished.” ISIS announced its new educational demands in fliers posted on billboards and on street poles, CNN reported. In the letter, ISIS said alternative courses will be added. It also said teachers must erase the phrase Syrian Arab Republic — the official name of Syria — and replace it with Islamic State. Educators cannot teach nationalistic and ethnic ideology and must instead teach “the belonging to Islam … And to denounce infidelity and infidels.” Books cannot include any reference to evolution. And teachers must say that the laws of physics and chemistry “are due to Allah’s rules and laws.” The letter ends with a firm warning: “This is an obligatory announcement, and all violators will be punished.” 200 Syrians killed in one day. The brutal advances of ISIS in Syria come as the country grapples with a three-year civil war with no clear victor in sight. (Asian Age 18/9/14)

NAXALS/ MAOISTS

90. 10 naxals including seven women surrender (12)

Nagpur: Ten Naxals, including three couples, surrendered before Gadchiroli Superintendent of Police Sandip Patil on Friday. The Naxals include a platoon commander and his deputy. Seven of the surrendered cadres are women. Police have been identified them as Jagdish alias Ramesh Katwo( 28) — the platoon commander, company number 4 — his deputy Sandhya alias Jyoti Tumreddy (25), and members of various dalams identified as Imla alias Tullo Madavi (23), Munni alias Chukli Narote, (22), Ranita alias Sanno Gawade, (23), Surekha alias Rajkala Madavi,  (23), Ashish alias Tibru Pendam,  (28), Suman alias Saguna Madavi, (25), Sadhu alias Ramesh Holi, (25), Chinni Baklu Telami, (23). They had been in touch with the police for some time and had expressed desire to lead normal life.  Police officials said the naxals will get benefits under  the surrender policy and would also get higher compensation. However, police did not identify the couples in the press note issued on Friday  (Indian Express 13/9/14)

91. Naxal mine blast in Gadchiroli kills jawan, hurts four (12)

NAGPUR: One Indian Reserve Battalion (IRB) jawan was killed while four others were injured in a Claymore mine blast allegedly triggered by Naxals near Yerkad in Dhanora tehsil of Gadchiroli on Monday. A combined squad of 18-member security force, comprising district police and IRB, was heading towards weekly market at Yerkad village when the mine planted on the side of the road exploded, killing one jawan instantly. The security forces were deployed at Yerkad Armed Outpost. A State Reserve Police Force camp is also located in the AOP where the IRB battalion is posted. The incident, with the state assembly election exactly a month from now, has left the police and district administrations rattled. After the rebels suffered repeated setbacks, intelligence wing had started sending feedback of a possible strike back by them. It is learnt a couple of attempts made by the Naxals had been thwarted in the last one month despite police operations being interrupted by rains lashing the district. Desperate Naxals were also trying to target the civilians. Inspector general of police, Nagpur and Naxal range, Ravindra Kadam stated that Naxals could not risk meeting the cops head-on in gun battles so have to try triggering blasts like this. “The recent blast too is likely to be an outcome of one-man ambush. The culprit must have anticipated the police movement and had been waiting for it. He seemed to have fled into forest,” said Kadam. He added that the rebels were trying to make a desperate comeback in north Gadchiroli after losing several top leaders and cadres in police encounters. IRB jawan Chetan Salve was declared brought dead at city’s Orange City Hospital where the injured were flown from the spot of incident by a helicopter sent to evacuate the jawans. Another IRB jawan, Nitesh Bandekar’s condition is learnt to be critical. Kamlesh Mahajan, also in IRB, is learnt to be stable. Two other district police constables- Manik Mankar and Subhash Samarth- are also conscious. The police party was heading towards the market for purchasing vegetable and also keeping a vigil on the market where Naxals too come. After a series of incidents, police had been keeping these weekly markets under scanner. Superintendent of police, Gadchiroli, Sandeep Patil felt the latest blast would not have repercussion on the next month’s election. “The mine was concealed under the ground. The Naxalites had used muck on the surface to ensure it could not be traced on the wet ground,” he said. Patil stated that police had also started chasing the suspect but he managed to flee. “The suspect could not be chased as the injured cops too had to be taken care of. The choppers were pressed into action immediately after the incident,” he said. (Times of India 16/9/14)

92. State to Give Naxals Rehab Grant of up to Rs 5 Lakh (12)

BANGALORE: The state government has announced a rehabilitation package to wean away Naxals from their guns and persuade them to join the social mainstream. Naxalites who surrender could expect a grant-cum-loan of up to `5 lakh and other benefits. The rehabilitation package, recently announced by the state home department, offers cash incentives to those who surrender arms and provide information to nab other extremists or help unearth arms dumps. The left wing extremists have been grouped into ‘A’ and ‘B’ categories. The team leaders or Dalams, most of whom are known to have committed heinous crimes, belong to category A and the other members are in category B. The notification states, “A grant-cum-loan of `5 lakh or the amount of reward announced on his or her capture, whichever is higher, will be released to the surrendering left wing extremist group member. Fifty per cent of the amount will be a one-time grant and the other 50 per cent will be sanctioned as loan through the District Cooperative Bank.” If the surrendered member wants to take up a vocation, a training stipend of `5,000 per month would be paid after the person enrolls for the course. The amount would be for a maximum of one year and support would be extended for two years if a member pursues formal education. If the surrendered member brings and gives up any weapon or equipment, he or she would get further incentives (see box). Those ready to surrender could submit their request to the district-level committee headed by the district magistrate. However, the request should be approved by the state-level committee headed by the home secretary. (New Indian Express 16/9/14)

93. Probe to find how Naxals get bulletproof jackets (12)

Patna: The Gaya police Wednesday set up a team under a deputy superintendent of police to find possible links between serving or retired Armymen and conduits of Maoist leaders in supplying bulletproof jackets to some top Naxals in Bihar. A joint team of STF and Gaya police had arrested two persons, including an ex-Armyman, and seized a bulletproof jacket that had to be delivered to a local Maoist leader, Shivji Dhobi alias Tyagiji. The police, who recovered an Army bulletproof vest from one Mohammed Shams on Monday, said he had procured the jacket from Rajiv Kumar, a retired Armyman from Ark Devaria village. Rajiv Kumar, who now works as a guard at a bank in Aurangabad, has also been arrested. Shams was arrested when he was to deliver the jacket to one Gautam Kumar, a Sherghati (Gaya) resident, who had to give it to Maoist leader Tyagiji. The police were now looking for a serving Armyman, Amresh Kumar, who is currently posted at Ranchi. Shams told the police that he had to deliver two more jackets to top Maoist leader in Magadh zone Sandeepji. A senior STF officer said: “On prima facie, it looks an Army bulletproof jacket. We are trying to know how the jacket reached an ex-Army man and if serving Armymen are behind this.” Rampur police station in-charge Gaurishanker Gupta said, “An FIR had been lodged against Shams and Rajiv Kumar, Gautam Kumar and Amresh Kumar under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act and some IPC sections.” Gaya DSP Alok Kumar Singh had been asked to probe the matter. (Indian Express 18/9/14)

TRAFFICKING

94. Three girls rescued from ‘auction’ (1)

NEW DELHI: The owner of a city ‘placement agency’ held an ‘auction’ for three Jharkhand girls, including a minor, intending to sell these trafficked women to the highest bidder in a throwback to the days of slavery, police said. The girls, brought to the capital on the promise of jobs as domestic helps, were rescued by the anti-human trafficking unit ofthe crime branch. Police have arrested the owner of the placement agency and are now looking for other suspects. Ravindra Yadav, joint commissioner of police (crime), said the cops received a tip-off about the auction at Shakurpur area of northwest Delhi after which a special team led by DCP Dinesh Gupta was constituted. “We raided the premises of the agency, K D Enterprises, and rescued the girls. The owner, Kapil Deo Chawdhary, has been apprehended. The girls were provided with counseling,” Yadav said. The agency was functioning out of house number J-414. Cops are trying to ascertain the age of the victims but said two of them appear to be around 20 while another was around 15 years old. Police said the first round of the auction was held on Teachers’ Day (September 5) but the women were not ‘sold’ because the owner did not get a good price. One of the ‘buyers’ at the bidding is learnt to have tipped off the police. Police sources investigations are on to track the buyers, most of whom appear to be into flesh trade. Police said Chawdhary had ‘bought’ the women from local agents in Jharkhand for Rs 5,000 each but expected to get Rs 50,000 for each of them. “We have registered a case under IPC Section 370 (buying or disposing of any person as a slave), confinement and the juvenile justice Act. The girls were produced before the child welfare committee and their statement recorded before a magistrate under 164 CrPC,” Yadav said. The women told cops and their counsellors that they had been brought to Delhi to work as domestic helps. They were promised a good life and their parents were assured of a monthly income. However, once here, they were subjected to torture and were to be pushed into flesh trade, sources said. Police said they had contacted their counterparts in Jharkhand and were trying to track the girls’ parents. They have been sent to a shelter home in west Delhi. Police are tracing the agents in Jharkhand who sold the women. NGOs say trafficking in Delhi and NCR has grown manifold in the past 10 years. Most victims are minors. The maximum number of women trafficked from Jharkhand are brought to Delhi followed by Mumbai, Pune and Goa. While some work as domestic helps, many are pushed into prostitution, an officer from the unit said. Unregistered placement agencies have mushroomed in the past five years in several areas. Police said some of these agencies were involved in sex trafficking and forced labour. A number of domestic helps who are rescued from homes in the city have complained of sexual abuse, data suggests. (Times of India 10/9/14)

95. Cases of traffickers luring poor girls on the rise in Visakhapatnam (1)

VISAKHAPATNAM: Recently, two girls were rescued by sleuths of the City Task Force from an upscale apartment near Muralinagar, where they were allegedly being used for flesh trade. The girls hailed from Bhadrachalam and Vizianagaram. Two things were common in them — both had lost their father at a young age and were from poor families. This was a clear case of trafficking. Both the girls were lured into the trade either by offering money or forced into it, said CTF Inspector G.V. Ramana Rao. “Luring girls from poor families into flesh trade is on the rise, as 80 per cent of the cases that we have cracked fall in this category. And most of the girls are either from Telangana or from East and West Godavari districts of Andhra Pradesh,” he added. In the last the six months, the CTF alone busted 30 sex rackets, and a senior police officer from the Law and Order wing said that such crimes would only increase with the city transforming into a metropolis.“The first being a brothel run by a person or a group or, at times, by a couple claiming to be husband and wife. The girls are mostly from economically backward families, who take up the profession out of compulsion to support their family. The organisers operate from rented premises and spread their network through cellphone and run the show,” said Mr. Ramana. The second is categorised as hi-tech set-ups, wherein the entire business may be remotely controlled through Internet or cellphone, and they may have a pan India network. Two such cases were recently busted at Seethammadhara and MVP Colony, and the girls involved were from Kolkata and Mumbai. “In both the variants, they have a well oiled network and function in an organised way. In many cases, it has been seen that there is an exchange of girls between the organisers across cities. We are trying to asses whether girls are being trafficked through these networks,” said Mr. Ramana. (The Hindu 15/9/14)

96. Police start drive to trace missing Ghaziabad kids (1)

GHAZIABAD: Ghaziabad police on Monday launched a month-long programme to track and rescue children who have gone missing in the district over the last few years, so that they can be rehabilitated or reunited with their families. Cops will undertake search and rescue operations across the country under this programme. The month-long programme, known as Operation Smile, was launched by Ghaziabad senior superintendent of police (SSP) Dharmendra Yadav, after cops rescued eight children involved in child labour on Sunday night. These children, rescued mostly from dhabas and near the bus stand, were handed over to NGO Childline. “The plight of these children, who wanted to go home but could not, threw light on the need of a bigger programme to trace children who have gone missing from Ghaziabad. Data of missing children have been mined from our records and a detailed schedule has been chalked out to trace them,” said Yadav. A total of 164 children below the age of 18 years, comprising 110 boys and 54 girls, have been missing from Ghaziabad since 2006. Ghaziabad police will undertake the operation in three parts – tracking, rescue, rehabilitation or reunion. In the first phase, six teams of cops will be sent to Delhi, Gurgaon, Faridabad, Chandigarh, Haridwar and Dehradun on Wednesday in a search operation. In these cities, the teams will contact shelter homes and NGOs that rescue working children to help locate the missing kids. Given the possibility that these children might be trapped in begging rackets, cops will scan railway stations, bus stations, traffic intersections and other public places too. In the second phase, six teams will also be sent to Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Hyderabad, Bangalore and Ahmedabad to conduct similar operations. This will be followed by visits of a team each to Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Nepal and two teams to the north-eastern states. Besides, NGOs and shelter homes in Ghaziabad, both registered and unregistered, will be scoured to track the missing kids. As part of tracking operations, Ghaziabad police will also share information with NGOs and shelter homes located in other parts of the country to check if any of the missing children from the city are in their radar. Police agencies like the National Crime Records Bureau, Missing Persons Cells and Anti-Human Trafficking Units, and statutory bodies like the Juvenile Justice Board and Child Welfare Committees, will also be coordinated with during the course of operations. As part of rescue operations, police will undertake four drives during the course of one month at railway stations, bus stands, hotels, dhabas, traffic intersections and micro-industries in the city to locate the kids. Surprise raids are planned to be conducted at these places. Records of placement agencies for domestic servants will also be verified to check if underage children are not employed. As part of the rehabilitation aspect, police will ensure that the traced children are either re-united with their families, depending on court directions, or are handed over to shelter homes for adoption. An awareness-cum-training programme for the poor, who generally spare their kids for labour, will be organized in the city. Besides, the police will ask demand the state government to set up a big shelter home in Ghaziabad. (Times of India 16/9/14)

CORRUPTION

97. Lokpal rule on declaration of assets of babus’ wives stayed (5)

NEW DELHI: In Lokpal Act’s first brush with courts, the Delhi high court on Tuesday stayed one of its rules on public declaration of assets of spouses and dependent children of government employees. A bench of Justices S Ravindra Bhat and Vipin Sanghi directed that information on asset liabilities of spouses or dependent children will not be revealed to the public by government departments. It said such information will only be furnished to respective departments in a sealed cover. Till its further orders in November, the court made it clear the sealed envelopes reaching all departments shouldn’t be opened. The court order comes as a huge relief to harried civil servants and central government employees forced under the Lokpal Act to file declarations of their assets and liabilities and those of their spouses and dependent children. HC granted conditional stay on the Lokpal rules on a petition by the wife of a central government employee who termed the government dictate a violation of her “fundamental rights of equality, life, personal liberty and privacy as flowing from Article 14 and 21 of the Constitution of India.” Vinita Singla, through her lawyer Manish Jain, questioned the government’s decision to seek her assets with the intention to display the information on its website. “Even otherwise the constitutional and legal rights, privileges and liberties of the Petitioner cannot be jeopardized and/or affected, just because of the reason that the Petitioner is married to a public servant. “The Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013, which is inter-alia unreasonable, arbitrary, unjustified and unconstitutional, as the same is seeking declaration in the form of information from the public servant even for the assets of the spouse and dependent children, which has not been generated from the income and/or contribution of the public servant in any manner whatsoever and that the said information is further directed to be published on the website of such ministry or department, which will make the said information visible to the public at large, which inter-alia may be detrimental and cause prejudice to the said spouse and/or children of the public servant,” Singla argued in HC. (The Hindu 10/9/14)

98. 23,000 anti-corruption complaints in a month (5)

New Delhi: Delhi Police’s anti-corruption helplines have been buzzing continuously. Around 23,000 complaints have been received on two anti-corruption helpline numbers since they were launched over a month ago and the police vigilance department has begun scrutinising the complaints. According to police sources, the vigilance department has received the complaints on its new anti-corruption helpline numbers – 1064 and 9910641064, a WhatsApp helpline – between August 6 and September 12. “The cases that relate to corrupt policemen will be handled by the vigilance team, while other complaints will be handed over to the departments concerned,” said the sources. Deputy Commissioner of Police (Vigilance) Sindhu Pillai told IANS , “A total of nine policemen of the rank of constable to sub-inspector and a home guard have been booked in six cases under the Prevention of Corruption Act. ” —IANS (The Hindu 15/9/14)

99. HC Rejects PIL against Lokpal Provisions on Assets Declaration (5)

NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court Monday dismissed a PIL challenging certain provisions of the Lokpal and Lokayukta Act which make it mandatory for public servants to disclose assets of their spouses and children, saying that the authority, under the statutes, has not been set up so far. A bench of justices S Ravindra Bhat and Vipin Sanghi refused to entertain the plea of Baswa Nand, who had retired as a class II public servant after serving in the Revenue Department of Finance Ministry, and said that he has neither any “locus standi” to file the PIL nor he is “directly affected”.”We are not entertaining the petition. The petitioner is not aggrieved by any of the provisions,” it said, adding that the “the Lokpal under Act has not been yet constituted”.The petitioner had opposed the Lokpal provisions contending that they were violative of Fundamental rights. The petition, filed through advocate Kaanan Kapoor and Bhushan Kapoor, had contended that the Lokpal and Lokayukta Act of 2013 is ultra vires as well as contrary to the provisions of the RTI Act and Income Tax Act. It had said that online publication of the finances and other assets of spouses and children of public servants amounts to violation of right to privacy. Easy access to such information would also pose a threat to the life and liberty of the public servants, posted or employed in areas with law and order problems, as well as their family, the counsel had said. It said if independent liabilities of the spouse and or the dependent children, which have no relation with the public servant, are disclosed on government website, they will “cause prejudice and humiliation before the public at large”.However, a similar plea, which has been filed by Vinita Singla, an employee with a private IT firm and wife of a public servant, is still pending decision in the high court. Under the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013 every public servant shall make a declaration of his assets and liabilities in the manner as provided under the Act besides the assets of his spouse and his dependent children are, jointly or severally, owners or beneficiaries. (New Indian Express 15/9/14)

100. Rs 500cr fraud at CKP bank, alleges public interest litigation (5)

Mumbai: A public interest litigation filed in the Bombay high court has alleged a Rs 500-crore fraud at the Mumbai-based CKP Cooperative Bank through illegal disbursement of loans. It may come up for hearing before Justices V.M. Kanade and P.D. Kode, said petitioner Shreeprakash Neel. As per the petition, the registrar of cooperative societies, on receiving complaints, appointed an administrator to run the bank in 2012. An audit which followed revealed that board of directors, general manager and other senior officials had illegally sanctioned loans of crores of rupees which turned into non-performing assets. Mr Neel says his complaints to the anti-corruption bureau and the Reserve Bank of India elicited no response. (Asian Age 16/9/14)

101. CBI books former Madhya Pradesh chief minister’s son, four others for fraud (5)

BHOPAL: Central bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Wednesday booked five people, including former state chief minister Kailash Joshi’s son Yogesh, for their alleged role in a fraud causing a loss to a nationalized insurance company and raided their residential premises. Yogesh Joshi is general manager (storage) of Madhya Pradesh State Cooperative Marketing Federation Limited (MARKFED), Bhopal. Agency has also booked a Development Officer and two agents of New India Assurance Company, Mandideep Branch, and Raisen under section 120-B, 420 of IPC and various sections of Prevention of Corruption (PC) Act 1988 on the basis of a complaint. It was alleged that the accused entered into criminal conspiracy with each other and issued insurance coverage of MARKFED’s Stock and paid commission to the agents and incentive to Development Officer on the basis of false certificate issued by GM, MARKFED. However when tenders were issued, there were clear instructions to keep agents out of the proceedings. Thus the accused cheated New India Assurance Company to the tune of Rs 30.46 lakh and corresponding gains to themselves. CBI officials said that six premises were raided in this case, after obtaining search warrants from the Special Judge for CBI Cases, Bhopal. Some incriminating documents have been seized during the searches which are under scrutiny. (Times of India 18/9/14)

ENVIRONMENT/ CLIMATE CHANGE

102. Carbon emissions surged at a record pace last year: World Meteorological Organization (9)

NEW DELHI: Devastating floods in Jammu & Kashmir are already raising alarm about climate change induced extreme weather events, now the World Meteorological Organization’s (WMO) Greenhouse Gas Bulletin released on Tuesday revealed some grim statistics. The Greenhouse Gas Bulletin showed that between 1990 and 2013 there was a 34% increase in radiative forcing or the warming effect on climate because of long-lived greenhouse gases (GHG) such as carbon dioxide (CO2), methane and nitrous oxide. CO2 levels increased more between 2012 and 2013 than during any other year since 1984 according to WMO’s Global Atmosphere Watch (GAW) network. “We know without any doubt that our climate is changing and our weather is becoming more extreme due to human activities such as the burning of fossil fuels,” said WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud. “The Greenhouse Gas Bulletin shows that, far from falling, the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere actually increased last year at the fastest rate for nearly 30 years. We must reverse this trend by cutting emissions of CO2 and other GHG emissions across the board,” he said. “We are running out of time.” In 2013, concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere was 142% of the pre-industrial era (1750), and of methane and nitrous oxide 253% and 121% respectively. This time the bulletin also has a chapter on ocean acidification “The ocean cushions the increase in CO2 that would otherwise occur in the atmosphere, but with far-reaching impacts. The current rate of ocean acidification appears unprecedented at least over the last 300 million years, according to an analysis in the report,” says WMO’s statement on Tuesday. (Times of India 10/9/14)

103. Eco-damage: action plan to be drafted (9)

The long-awaited action of the State government to mitigate environmental damages caused by mining in Bellary, Chitradurga and Tumkur has begun. Several departments, including Forest, PWD, Education, Health and Panchayat Raj, have been asked to prepare an action plan for approval from the newly-formed Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) titled the Karnataka Mining Environment Restoration Corporation (KMERC). Deputy Commissioner Sameer Shukla, who is also a member of KMERC, confirmed this to The Hindu. However, the action plan would be limited to the current year and a detailed action plan for the next nine years would be later prepared in consultation with experts. The KMERC was formed as a sequel to the Supreme Court’s directions to act as an SPV to implement the comprehensive Environment Plan for Mining Impact Zone. Ten percent of the sale proceeds of iron ore through e-auction has been set aside to implement the environment plan. At present, Rs. 3,500 crore has been accumulated for the purpose. Developing nurseries to take up afforestation, soil moisture and water conservation measures, relaying of damaged roads, construction of railway sidings, conveyor-belt system for transportation of iron ore, way side facilities-cum-truck terminals, internal roads, lighting, roadside plantations, improving basic infrastructure facilities in villages such providing quality education, setting up technical institutions, hostels, vocational training centres,rejuvenation of tanks, promotion of improved/high yielding agriculture and horticultural practices, drainage and sanitisation and drinking water projects were proposed to mitigate the impact of mining in villages. Journalist-turned-politician Shivakumar Malagi, while welcoming the government’s decision to set in motion the process of mitigating the environmental damaged caused by mining, has underlined the need for authorities concerned to exercise caution and care to prevent possible siphoning-off funds by ‘unscrupulous’ people and associations. Mr. Malagi is also the executive committee member of Jana Sangram Parishat which has been spearheading a movement to protect the environment and ecology in villages ravaged by rampant mining activities. “The task is herculian not only in terms of implementing the plan but also with regard to spending a huge amount. The KMERC should entrust the task of systematic preparation and execution of plans through expert agencies in the field and at the same time constantly monitor its execution through renowned experts in the field of environment and ecology,” he said. (The Hindu 14/9/14)

104. Climate change cause of floods? Not quite (9)

New Delhi, Sept. 15: Neither the prolonged floods in Kashmir this year nor the flashfloods that ravaged Uttarakhand last year can be directly attributed to climate change, Rajendra Pachauri, the head of the UN panel of climate change, said today. “No single extreme weather event can be attributed to climate change,” Pachauri, chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, said but warned that climate change is driving an increase in the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events. But Pachauri, who is also the director-general of The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), New Delhi, said climate change research seeks to capture long-term trends and available observations suggest that extreme events will rise in numbers in the coming years. “India will need to accelerate efforts to adapt to such events,” he said, speaking at a seminar on climate change organised by the UN Information Centre here. Sections of environmental activists have attributed the floods following heavy rainfall over Kashmir this year and over Uttarakhand last year as signatures of climate change, although conceding that environmental degradation and poor infrastructure planning have exacerbated the impacts of heavy rainfall. The Centre for Science and Environment, a non-government organisation, had last week said that the floods in Kashmir and Uttarakhand, a cloudburst in Leh in 2010 and heavy rainfall in Mumbai in 2005 could all be viewed as events linked to climate change. Pachauri said states should commission rigorous research studies to identify vulnerable zones, prepare local populations for possible impacts of extreme weather events. TERI has, for instance, already prepared vulnerability reports for Bengal and Maharashtra, he said. “It is absolutely essential that other states also do this,” Pachauri said. He said TERI has been in discussions with various arms of the Narendra Modi government to “sensitise” them about what India must do to improve energy security. “Our imports of coal and oil are alarming — our oil imports come from a small region of the world,” Pachauri said. “We need to take efforts to reduce this dependence on coal and oil for multiple reasons — it’ll help curb our greenhouse gas emissions, clean our air and improve our energy security.” India was the world’s fourth largest emitter of greenhouse gases in 2012 with 6 per cent of total global emissions, after China which accounted for 29 per cent, the US (15 per cent), the European Union (11 per cent), and followed by Russia (5 per cent). Pachauri said that while India should seek to rapidly expand the use of renewable energy, several short-term measures such as policy initiatives to curb the use of private transport and promote the use of rooftop solar panels could be taken up immediately. (The Telegraph 16/9/14)

105. Diverting carbon fund to Ganga clean-up illegal’ (9)

Kolkata: Joyashree Roy, a key member of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), has flayed the Narendra Modi government’s attempt to divert funds meant for cleaning the energy sector into the Ganga rejuvenation plan. “The proposal is ridiculous, politically flawed and illegal,” Roy told TOI on the sidelines of a climate change conference organized by CII. Climate experts and green activists like Rita Pandey and Nandita Mongia of National Institute of Public Finance and Policy have also expressed reservations about the proposal. “When the Manmohan Singh government proposed the National Clean Energy Fund (NCEF) by imposing a coal cess of Rs 50 per tonne of coal, it was hailed as a brilliant move to address India’s dependence on thermal energy. Since the objective was to fund research and innovate in clean energy technology, it was seen as a step towards decarbonization of the Indian economy. But with the Narendra Modi government now enhancing the cess amount to Rs 100 per tonne and deciding to dip into the huge corpus to fund the clean-up of Ganga, an important activity but in now way related to thermal power, it considerably weakens India’s moral standing at the Lima Climate Change Conference scheduled in December,” Roy said. According to the lead author of the industry chapter of Working Group III of the IPCC Fouth Assessment Report, India had the opportunity to showcase the NCEF as a major decarbonization initiative, proudly stated ‘look, we are taxing carbon’ and sought a matching grant from developed nations. Instead, the Central government has unilaterally decided to channelize the funds elsewhere without entering into a dialogue with coal bearing states that should be a beneficiary of the cess. Cess is collected from a sector with a clear purpose to develop it. Hence, cess from petrol and diesel goes into creating better road infrastructure. It is unlike a tax where money can be raised from one source and spent on another. Roy believes the government’s intent to divert cess to clean the Ganga can be challenged in court. But what she is concerned about more is the Centre’s absolute disregard to consult with the states on the issue. “We are fighting for equity between developed and developing nations but are not practicing it at home. It will be a cause of major political dissent between Centre and states. Money from the cess pool should have flowed back to Bengal, Jharkhand, Orissa, Chattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra,” said Roy. Since 2011, the NCEF corpus has swelled to over Rs 40,000 crore with just over 1% or Rs 500 crore being allocated a measely 1.6 crore spent on clean energy projects. Pointing to the Gulf where revenue from oil, a depleting resource was being spent to create renewable energy resource for future, Roy said similar action would have secured India’s vast energy needs as well. The ambitious ‘Green Corridors’ project, alternative transmission infrastructure for renewable power, subsidy amount to off-grid renewable solution providers and viability funding to the solar power project developers under the National Solar Mission were all dependent on NCEF. But finance minister Arun Jaitley while presenting this year’s budget, enlarged the NCEF ambit and increased the cess on coal to make the corpus big enough to finance other activities including Ganga cleaning. (Times of India 18/9/14)

AGRICULTURE/ FARMERS SUICIDES

106. KCR Blames Cong for Suicide of 146 Farmers (20)

NARSAPUR ( MEDAK ):Proving that none can beat him when it comes to paying his opponents in their own coin, chief minister and TRS chief K Chandrasekhar Rao turned the tables against Congress party and its state chief Ponnala Lakshmiah, holding them responsible for the 146 suicides of farmers, which Congress party had claimed to have happened in the last 100 days. Wondering how a three-month-old TRS government be held responsible for the deeds of the previous government, KCR said that the deaths were the result of the past sins of the Congress misrule. “Ponnala  and his party are only responsible for the farmers’ suicides,’’ he said. Lashing out at Ponnala’s remarks that nothing had happened in the last three months, the chief minister said “it was true I could not do much but I am happy that I did not do what Congress would have done. If it were Congress rule, the leaders would have gorged Rs 3,000 to 4,000 crore in these 100 days,” the chief minister said. “I am son of a farmer and a farmer myself. I am aware of problems of the farmers. As I had already said farm loans worth Rs 1 lakh will be waived. The Cabinet has taken a decision and it will be implemented,’’ he said. Further elaborating, he said he is not lying or misleading the people and it was true that there were problems and RBI had been approached for rescheduling of loans. KCR said there was no need for having any apprehensions on the commitment of the government over the farm loan waver. He said as promised in his election manifesto, his government had waived autorickshaw taxes, will implement Kalyana Lakshmi scheme from Dasara, under which girls from Muslim and Dalit communities would be  given Rs 51,000 at the time of marriage. Breathing fire at the BJP for choosing Jagga Reddy as its candidate for Medak LS seat, he said Jagga Reddy is Telangana betrayer and by choosing him as candidate BJP had done a mistake. He wondered why one should vote for the BJP. Is it for giving away seven mandals of the state to Andhra Pradesh? he asked. (New Indian Express 11/9/14)

107. No talk on farmer suicides during NHRC chief’s visit to MP (20)

Bhopal: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on Friday said it has not received any grievances pertaining to farmers’ suicide cases. State human rights commission had in 2011 took cognisance of incidences of farmers committing suicide and had prepared an expert committee report. The National Human Rights Commission Chairman K G Balakrishnan today had a meeting with state chief secretary Antony Disa, Director General of Police Nandan Dubey and other senior officials and members of non-government organisations. “None raised any issue pertaining to farmers’ suicide,” said Balakrishnan. In its report submitted to the state government, the state human rights commission had said, high input cost leading to crop failure, debts, and eventually extreme stress conditions were the main reasons behind farmers committing suicide in Madhya Pradesh. The NHRC began a three-day open hearing to examine 74 complaints related to human rights violations. The commission visited the state to improve the human rights scenario in Madhya Pradesh, which has a large “marginalised population.” The complaints which NHRC received, he said, were mainly related to rehabilitation,discrimination and compensation for displacement, said the official. On Thursday, the commission had ordered Rs 5.5 crore to kin of 120 victims of Ratangarh Temple stampede in Datia district take took place ten months ago. The stampede at the temple took place during October 13, 2013 during Navratri when devotees were going to the temple to offer prayers. As many as 120 people were reportedly killed and many received sever injured in the tragedy.The Commission also ordered to conduct a health survey for all the migrating workers in the Jhabua district that shares its borders with Gujarat state. “Laboureres migrate from Jhabua and works in nearby mines in Gujarat. They acquire a deadly disease silicosis,” he said. (Business Standard 12/9/14)

108. ‘‘Cutting Off Access to Means Can Help Prevent Suicides’ (20)

CHENNAI: Chennai has recorded the highest number of suicide attempts among metros in India, said Lakshmi Vijayakumar, psychiatrist and founder-trustee, Sneha, an NGO working in the field of suicide prevention. At a conference organised by Sneha on World Suicide  Prevention Day on Wednesday, concerns were raised over the high number of suicide attempts and deaths in the country. The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) reports show 1, 58,000 recorded cases of suicide in 2013, of which, a majority of victims are youth. Despite India’s high population of 1.2 billion and high rates of suicide, barely 4,000 psychiatrists are available to help survivors, she rued. With help not readily available, the key to reducing the number of suicides is through increasing awareness and reducing access to the means. “The cause for suicides varies with the type of people. Women below the age of 30 usually commit suicide as a result of not being able to handle stress and marriage-related issues. Farmers who commit suicide mostly consume pesticides,” she said. Therefore, identifying suicide hotspots, the factors contributing to high suicide rates and the means used can help to reduce the number of cases, she said. Citing the large number of suicide attempts at the Kotturpuram and Adyar bridges,   Lakshmi lauded the Chennai  Corporation Commissioner Vikram Kapur’s action in raising the height of the sidewalls, in an attempt to curb suicide attempts. Speaking about the means to reduce occurrences, MK Narayanan, the  former Governor of West Bengal, called for early intervention and an aggressive approach to deal with suicides.  He lauded Sneha for their services. (New Indian Express 13/9/14)

109. ‘Decision on GM Tech Should Be Left to Farmers’ (20)

CHENNAI: Taking out a sharp attack on the anti-GM environmental activists, Professor Dr Shanthu Shantharam of the Iowa State University’s Seed Science Centre said that the decision on the usage of GM crops should be left to farmers and not to environmental activists. He was speaking at a seminar on ‘GM Technology – Myth and Reality’ organised by the Industrial Economist magazine on Saturday at the CLRI. “Let farmers give the verdict,” said the scientist who has worked for biotechnology and bio-safety for the US-AID and the UN-FAO. Countering arguments that Bt Cotton was a failure, he said that farmers were using Bt Cotton in spite of the criticism leveled against it. Allegations that Multi National Companies are taking over India through GM crops and farmers are committing suicide because of GM, are politically motivated, he said. “These allegations are perpetuated by a small group of environmentalists with a clear political agenda. While they use the best of technology to advance their activities, they do not want the farmers to get the benefit from the science,” he said. He urged the Indian scientific community to take up the issue and dispel the attacks on GM food. He said that after the Green Revolution the farmers in the country have not had access to any scientific technology. “GM crops should be allowed to be tested and used in the country. He said that scientific complexities associated with GM crops including bio-safety, long term environmental impact and human health impact can be dealt with scientifically Some farmers at the event also agreed with the scientist. Raveendran, a farmer from Thiruvarur district pointed out that he has been able to increase his productivity and reduce costs on pesticides with the introduction of Bt Cotton. He said that the quality of the cotton produced was also better. Others speakers at the event added that the scientific community must do more research in the area, and produce evidence to dispel fears. (New Indian Express 16/9/14)

110. Undivided AP witnessed 2014 farmer suicides last year (20)

HYDERABAD: In what could be seen a possible reflection of an agrarian crisis, 2014 farmers — 1211 in Telangana and 803 farmers in Andhra — committed suicide in the undivided state in 2013. The data provides a comprehensive analysis and break-up based on age, gender and districts on all farmers’ suicides recorded last year. Among districts, Mahbubnagar topped the list in Telangana with 287 deaths and in Andhra, this disgrace is shared by Anantapur with 293 deaths recorded last year. The gender-wise break shows 1,554 men farmers committing suicides as against 560 suicides by women farmers in the undivided state last year. Again, in age-wise category, the highest number of suicides was resorted to by farmers in the age group between 30 years to 44 years – the victims in this category total 773 in all in the undivided state. This data dished out by Cyber Crimes (CID) of Telangana, was furnished this month to RTI activist B Kondala Reddy, a member of Rythu Swarjya Vedika, an umbrella group of voluntary organisations working on farmers’ issues. Explaining the reasons, RTI activist B Kondala Reddy blamed a host of factors like unseasonal rains, debt trap, delay in germination of seeds, high input costs to failure of borewells and poor availability of underground water. “If statistics are an indication, the agrarian policy in the undivided AP state was faulty as it always kept reaching the 2000 suicide mark, year after year. Barring the 2007, farmer suicides crossed the 2000 mark in all the remaining years since 2004,” said Kondala Reddy. However, in case of Ananatapur and Mahbubnagar – the two districts topping the deaths in AP and Telangana – CPI AP Rythu Sangam president K Ramakrishna and TRS MLA from Mahbubnagar Ch Lakshma Reddy cited specific reasons for the high number of deaths. In the predominantly groundnut growing Anantapur, CPI leader K Ramakrishna mainly singled out drastic fall of groundwater levels (the average always hovers around 20 metres depth) while in Mahbubnagar, TRS Zadcherla MLA Lakshma Reddy blamed lack of irrigation projects. “Though the Krishna river runs for 360 kilometres in Mahbubnagar, the previous Congress government kept Kalwakurthy Lift Irrigation project hanging pending for a long time,” said Lakshma Reddy. Meanwhile, Kapilavai Ravinder, BJP Telangana state human rights cell convenor, claimed that only a small percentage of families benefited from GO No 421, which was issued in 2004 by the then AP government to provide ex-gratia of Rs 1.5 lakh to the families of farmer suicide victims. (Times of India 18/9/14)

LAND ACQUISITION/ DISPLACEMENT

111. Centre to cancel SEZs of 9 firms (4)

New Delhi: Government is likely to cancel the approvals granted by it to nine companies including Hindalco Industries, Essar and Adani for setting up of SEZ as no work has been done to execute the projects. The development commissioners have recommended to the BoA to cancel these SEZ projects. The formal approval had been granted by BoA. “However, since there is no significant progress made by the developer/co-developer, the concerned DC has proposed for cancellation of formal approval granted to the developer,” the agenda of the BoA meeting said. The meeting is scheduled for September 18. Hindalco Industries has proposed to set up an aluminium product SEZ in Orissa. The formal approval to the developer was granted in July 2007. The developer was granted extension from time to time and the last extension granted has expired on December 31, 2013, according to BoA. “The developer did not make any request for extension. DC FSEZ had taken up the matter with the developer. “Since no communication has been received, DC has recommended for cancellation of formal approval of 115 hectare and in-principle approval for 740 hectare,” it said. Essar Jamnagar SEZ Ltd had proposed to set up a multi-product zone in Gujarat. The formal approval was expired in August 2009. The developer did not make any request for extension, it said, adding that the DC had taken up the matter with the developer but no communication has been received. Adani Townships & Real Estate Company Ltd had proposed an IT/ITeS zone in Gujarat. “The formal approval expired on June 11, 2010. The developer has reported that they could not proceed with the SEZ project due to adverse demand from IT sector. Accordingly they are not interested in perusing the project. DC has recommended that the formal approval may be withdrawn,” it added. (Asian Age 10/9/14)

112. State to Register Protest against TN Stance on Dam (4)

IDUKKI:  Kerala is likely to register its strong protest against Tamil Nadu’s uncooperative attitude towards recording the findings of the five-member Mullaperiyar safety sub-committee. Kerala’s stance will be registered at the meeting of the three-member apex panel to be held at Kumily on Monday, V J Kurien, representing the state in the apex body said. But he did not specify the strategy to be adopted by the state at the meeting. The objection raised by Kurien that the  raising of water level in the dam from 136 ft to 142 ft would cause violation of some Central Acts was trashed by the other members of the apex committee at its first meeting at Kumily on August 19. Kurien had said that the state fully respected the apex court directive allowing Tamil Nadu to raise the water level, but by doing so it was likely to infringe the Central Tribal Act and Environment Act among others. Ever since its constitution by the apex panel on August 19, the five-member sub-committee had not been free from controversies. Though the first dam visit by the sub-committee on September 1 remained free from disputes, the visit on September 5 had created furore for not inviting members from Kerala. The meeting of the sub-committee on September 11 witnessed Tamil Nadu walking out of it as Kerala stuck to some of its demands,  including entering into the minutes the need to inspect suspected leaks found in the dam. Another issue to which Kerala expressed objection was Tamil Nadu’s refusal to give the data of the seepage through the dam collected during the last three years. Kerala’s objection over a non-invitee Rajesh, Superintending Engineer, Vaigai Dam River Basin, Madurai, signing in the minutes also did not go well with Tamil Nadu.  Kerala did not object to his attending the meeting in lieu of a member, Madhavan, Executive Engineer. Tamil Nadu had opposed Kerala’s stance on entering the name of the sub-committee as Mullaperiyar New Dam Investigation Sub-Division. (New Indian Expres 14/9/14)

113. Centre seeks consensus on amending Land Acquisition Act (4)

New Delhi: The Government on Monday sought “consensus” to bring changes in the Land Acquisition Act to make it more investor-friendly but said it was not happening due to the “contradictory views” within political parties which are wanting changes in the legislation. Rural Development Minister Nitin Gadkari also hit out at the “microscopic minority” of Opposition leaders for stalling the government’s efforts to build consensus on bringing changes in the key farmer-friendly Act passed during the United Progressive Alliance regime. The Minister said he was “confused”. “The issue is the microscopic minority leaders sitting in Delhi. Their practical chief ministers are saying something. They are giving in writing (the need for bringing changes in the Act). These people (microscopic minority leaders) are saying something else. I am confused,” Mr. Gadkari said reacting to questions on the status of the government’s efforts to bring changes in the Land Acquisition Act. Replying to the Opposition’s allegations that the government was bringing changes in the Act to please the industry, he also made it clear that the priority of the NDA was welfare of poor and there was “no question of reducing compensation package for farmers whose land is acquired for projects“. “Leaders from every political party were telling me in writing to bring changes in the Act… I wish to make it clear that whenever there will be a consensus on the matter, then the government will take a decision. There is no general consensus on the issue right now,” the minister said at a press conference convened to highlight the achievements of his ministries during the first 100 days of the new government. “Leaders of the parties which have presence in Parliament are saying that you do something to bring changes in Land Acquisition Act. These are people from the CPI (M), Congress, NCP and BJP..,” Mr. Gadkari said. (The Hindu 15/9/14)

114. Government to aid land acquisition for Chinese industrial parks in Gujarat (4)

Trade and cooperation were in focus on the first day of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit on Wednesday as provincial officials of the two nations inked agreements in the areas of governance and industry. The agreements were signed at a function in the presence of Mr. Xi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and dignitaries from China, Gujarat and leading industrialists. Adani Group chairman Gautam Adani and heads of Gujarat-based businesses were among the special invitees for the occasion. One MoU was signed between China Development Bank and iNDEXTb (Industrial Extension Bureau) – a State government body for facilitating investments — to encourage Chinese investment in Gujarat, especially in the manufacturing sector. As per the understanding China will set up industrial parks in several areas in Gujarat beginning from Vadodara. The Gujarat government will facilitate land acquisition and provide requisite clearances for these parks so that Chinese manufacturers, chiefly in electrical, electronics, plastics and plastic processing are able to set up their units in Gujarat. The MoU will be in force for three years. The event also saw the signing of a State-to-State agreement between the governments of Gujarat and Guangdong Province in south China for cooperation in trade, education, culture, urban planning and infrastructure . Another agreement was signed to establish sister city relations between Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong and the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation. Both the agreements will be in force for five years. “We hope the agreements will be a new beginning in the relationship between India and China and Gujarat. In general, Chinese investment in India is not much, but the country is looking to increase its investment starting with Gujarat,” D.J. Pandian, Additional Chief Secretary (Industries & Mines), Gujarat, said. (The Hindu 17/9/14)

RIGHT TO HEALTH

115. Initiatives to Curb Infant Mortality Unsuccessful in Kerala (3)

KOCHI: Despite the government launching intensive programmes to reduce neonatal deaths, it continues to be a threat to the Kerala’s enviable status as a state of low infant mortality rate (IMR). “Poor infrastructure facilities, untrained medical officers and practical hurdles make the conduct of the government programmes a hard nut to crack,” says experts.    Neo-natal deaths usually occur within one month after birth. It is pre-term deaths, which occur between 24 and 37 weeks of gestation, that is of immense concern. “Unfortunately, the State does not have expert hands and the facilities to execute programmes in this area,” said Dr Naveen Jain, professor of neonatology at KIMS, Thiruvananthapuram. “We have sufficient funds and doctors, but they have not been given specialised training. Nurses, who play a major role in neonatal care, have not been imparted training at all.  They are also reluctant to come forward to undergo training. Most of the equipment bought for the purpose lay idle as we do not have staff who can operate them,” he pointed out.   “Another big hurdle is dearth during neonatal transportation. If a baby is to be transferred from a primary health centre to a district hospital you need an ambulance with all the required facilities, which we do not have. The healthcare system of Tamil Nadu has exclusive ambulances for the purpose. Besides, the anomalies of newborns are not covered in insurance. Hence, treatment in private hospital will be a costly affair,” he said. In addition, the natural causes that trigger neonatal deaths are a real challenge. It would not be wrong to say that various causes such as pneumonia and diarrhoea have not been brought under control by using high treatment protocols. “But, what about the pre-term births and congenital anomalies (defects imbibed by child at birth) that are the primary reasons for neonatal deaths?” asks IAP president Dr Sachitananda Kamath. “The IMR in Kerala was 12 per cent in 2012, while it was 44 in the country. We will have to really struggle to achieve a single-digit IMR as 75 per cent of infant deaths are neonatal,” he said. A combined study conducted by the IAP, the NRHM and the State Government two years ago showed that 34 percent of pre-term deaths were caused by congenital anomalies. “Around 50 percent of the causes of pre-term deaths are unknown. There are many issues a mother could face right from the gestation period. Even the economic status of the family could cause neonatal deaths,” he said. Dr Kamath noted that the ‘referral system’ was not being utilised to its optimum. “If a sick baby cannot be given care at a Primary Health Centre it should be referred to a district hospital or a medical colleges/private hospital,” Dr Kamath said. (New Indian Express 11/9/14)

116. Activists want rabies to be declared notifiable disease (3)

JAIPUR: Animal welfare activists on Saturday asked the government to declare rabies, one of the most dreadful disease, as a notifiable disease both for humans and animals. Experts and animal welfare activists participating in a three-day “India For Animals 2014” international conference in Jaipur also advocated the need to initiate a campaign to make India rabies free. This could be done by the government with the support of the animal welfare groups. Chinny Krishna, vice chairman of the Chennai-based, Animal Welfare Board of India, a government statutory body said that according to the World Health Organisation (WHO) data around 205 billion people in 100 countries are at risk of contracting this disease. It is the tenth biggest cause of infectious disease and the most effected areas are Africa, Asia and South America. Mr. Krishna said since 1985, India has reported an estimated 25,000 to 30,000 human deaths from rabies caused by the dog bites. “The Central Bureau of Health Intelligence (CBHI), in its last report in 2013 said that there were only 232 deaths due to dog bite. But our estimate is more than 5000 humans lose their lives annually in India because of the rabies caused by dog bites. Since it is not a notifiable disease this figure is likely to be underestimated. In order to produce an authentic estimate of the incidence of rabies in India, making rabies a notifiable disease in order to have population wise data of confirmed cases” said Mr. Krishna. According to various studies of the animal welfare groups the main biting animal is dog followed by cats and other animals. The control of stray dog population by neutering and immunization by mass vaccination of stray animals with annual boosters holds the promise of controlling and eventually eradicating the disease from the country. The chief executive of the world’s largest dog welfare charity United Kingdom’s Dogs Trust, Clarissa Baldwin said dogs welfare is a challenging proposition and Dogs Trust cared for almost 17,000 dogs last year in United Kingdom. In the last 20 years the number of dogs euthanised by the government has reduced dramatically from 30,000 to 6,500 each year. Famous Hollywood actor Brigitte Bardot’s foundation is supporting a programme in Sikkim that would make Sikkim, the first rabies-free State in India. Since 2006 it has been funding a care programme of sterilisation and vaccination that has curbed the proliferation of dogs and cats, more than 80,000 dogs have already benefited from the programme. The Brigitt Bardot Foundation is also working in Dharmshala, Ladakh and Bodh Gaya. Mission Rabies, another global welfare organisation that is working in Goa hopes to eliminate rabies from the world by 2030. Mission Rabies experts Iilona Otter and Kate Shervil said that under a massive programme undertaken in September 2013 in India, 60,000 dogs were vaccinated. The Health in Suffering, a Jaipur based organization on an annual basis vaccinates and sterilise 3000 to 4000 dogs and its effort has made Jaipur a rabies-free city. (The Hindu 13/9/14)

117. 1,84,000 rescued in flood-hit Kashmir, focus now on health (3)

Srinagar: Over 1,84,000 people marooned in the floods in Jammu and Kashmir have been rescued so far by the armed forces and NDRF, and the focus now will largely be on the health situation, officials said Sunday. There is a fear of outbreak of water-borne diseases in the state, and attention is now being paid to draining out the flood water, and providing clean drinking water to the people. As drinking water remains a problem, 13 tonnes of water purifying tablets and six water filtration plants with a capacity to filter 1.2 lakh bottles per day have already been rushed to Srinagar. Engineering stores, including suction pumps from Vishakhapatnam, have reached the flood-affected areas to drain out the water. More heavy duty pumps are being airlifted from Jodhpur and Raipur to other flood-hit areas. Sewage pumps from Delhi have also been dispatched to the Kashmir Valley. Thirty generator sets of three to five KVA capacity have been sent to Srinagar to augment continuous power supply in relief camps and field hospitals. Additional communication equipment of BSNL are being dispatched to restore the communication systems in the state. A statement from home ministry said the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) was working to prevent water-borne diseases like diarrhoea from spreading in Srinagar. “Since water in most of the places recedes, threat of diarrhoea and other water-borne diseases may arise,” the home ministry said in the statement. “Thus, the NDRF has established five medical camps in various water-logged areas of Srinagar to provide healthcare facilities to the marooned people,” it said. Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan, who visited Srinagar Sunday, proposed floating clinics on boats to send medical teams and supplies to people in the inundated areas. Eighty medical teams of the Armed Forces Medical Services are already operating full swing in the affected areas. Four field hospitals have been established in Avantipur, Pattan, Anantnag and Old Airfield, where medical aid is being provided to the ailing people. “Till now, doctors have treated around 51,476 patients,” a statement said. “Two additional fully-equipped field hospitals with laboratory testing equipment facility have also been established in Srinagar. More relief materials, including blankets and tents, water bottles from the IRCTC and food packets, are being airlifted from Patna, Delhi, Ahmedabad and Amritsar,” it said. According to the defence ministry, 84 transport aircraft and helicopters of the Indian Air Force and the Army Aviation Corps are continuing their efforts in rescue and relief operations. “The army has deployed around 30,000 soldiers for rescue and relief operations in the flood-affected areas. More than 5,08,000 litres of water, 3,10,000 food packets and over 1,054 tonnes of cooked food have already been airdropped and distributed in the flood-affected areas,” an army official said. So far, 2,253 sorties have been undertaken by the helicopters and aircraft of the armed forces and 3,017 tonnes of relief materials dropped by the Indian Air Force. A total of 224 boats of the army and 148 inflatable boats of the NDRF are actively involved in the rescue operations. The armed forces have also established 19 relief camps in Srinagar and Jammu region. In Srinagar region, camps were established at B.B. Cantt, Avantipur, Old Airfield, Sumbal, Chattargam and Jijamata Mandir, where thousands of rescued people are being sheltered. They are also being provided with food and other basic amenities. To restore road connectivity, five task forces of the Border Roads Organisation (BRO), which include 5,700 personnel, have been deployed in Srinagar, Rajouri and Akhnoor. “As of now, they have restored road connectivity in Batote-Anantnag and Srinagar-Sonamarg. The Srinagar-Baramulla road is now open for light vehicles. On the Jammu-Srinagar highway, BRO personnel have cleared the road up to KM 172 (Ramsu). Work is in progress to clear fresh landslides in areas that were cleared yesterday (Saturday) on this road,” a statement said. “The situation is being continuously monitored and progress of the events are updated in the headquarters of the Integrated Defence Staff in New Delhi,” a defence ministry statement said. (Business Standard 14/9/14)

118. India made progress in fighting child deaths, malnutrition, but short of goals: UN (3)

New York: India has made progress on the twin fronts of reducing hunger and child mortality but is still short of development goals, two international reports say. Fewer Indian children under five are dying, with infant mortality rate coming down from 126 per 1,000 in 1990 to 53 last year, a UN report released in New York said. And according to a Food and Agriculture Organisation report released in Rome, between 1990-1992 and now there are 21 million fewer hungry people in India. However, both reports also show how much needs to be done, sketching despite the progress a bleak scenario. On both fronts, India is lagging behind the Millennium Development Goal targets set for 2015. The 2015 target for infant mortality is 42 per thousand against 53 now, making it unlikely India will reach the target. Halving the proportion of the hungry people between 1990 and 2015 was the target, but there has only been a reduction of 9.5 percent. The Millennium Development Goals were adopted at the UN Millenium Summit in 2000 and set targets to be achieved by 2015 in eight areas ranging from malnutrition to environment. FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva, who visited India last week, remarked on the nation’s efforts to combat hunger, saying that India has recently approved its National Food Security Act scaling up the country’s effort to end hunger, could create one of the world’s biggest family farming food purchase programme and was scaling up financial inclusion for direct transfers.” Globally, mortality rate for children under five has dropped by 49 percent between 1990 and 2013. Mickey Chopra, head of Unicef’s global health programmes, said, “There has been dramatic and accelerating progress in reducing mortality among children, and the data prove that success is possible even for poorly resourced countries.” However, according to the UN report, “New Estimates in Levels and Trends in Child Mortality,” the overall progress is still short of meeting the global target of cutting under-five mortality by two-thirds between 1990 and 2015. Last year, 6.3 million children under five died from mostly preventable causes. Even though that is 200,000 fewer deaths than in 2012, it still means that 17,000 children die everyday, the report said. FAO’s report, “The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2014”, estimates that, around the world, 805 million people were chronically undernourished in 2012-14. This meant, however, that their number is down by 100 million over the last decade, and 209 million less than in 1990-92. (Zee News 17/9/14)

HIV/AIDS

119. HIV drug shortage fear (3)

New Delhi, Sept. 12: Coalitions of people infected with the human immunodeficiency virus have expressed concern at what they claim is a looming shortage of government-supplied anti-HIV drugs that are used to keep them in good health and prolong their lives. Several government-run clinics that provide the drugs free to HIV-positive patients across the country have already run out of stocks of some medicines and more may face similar situations, the National Coalition for People Living with HIV said today. The Coalition said many clinics were expected to soon run out of a tenofovir-lamivudine combination, which is prescribed to adults, and a lopinavir-ritonavir combination syrup that is given to children. Several anti-retroviral therapy (ART) clinics in Delhi last month ran out of nevirapine, a drug used to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV. Pregnant women are supposed to receive a single dose of nevirapine at the time of labour and their newborn babies get a single dose of nevirapine syrup immediately after birth. “Many babies in Delhi have missed this required dose,” said Vikas Ahuja, president of the Delhi Network of Positive People. The associations have estimated that the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) will need six million fixed dose combination tablets with tenofovir-300mg and lamivudine-300mg to prevent a stock-out of these first-line drugs in ART clinics in the coming month. “In Assam, we are already facing a shortage of nevirapine syrup and the tenofovir-lamivudine combination,” Jahnabi Goswami, president of the Indian Network for People Living with HIV, said in a joint media release issued by several associations of HIV-positive people. “Next month, we estimate that nearly 200,000 people living with HIV who are on this tenofovir-based first line drug regimen could face stock-outs of their medicines,” said Loon Gangte of the South Asia branch of the International Treatment Preparedness Coalition. The National Coalition for People Living with HIV has said drug supplies appear to be under threat because of delays in the procurement processes. A NACO source said there were “significant shortages” of some ART drugs, but declined to provide details. “Each time, we take this up with NACO authorities, they have some excuse — from our perspective, there seems to be a lack of will to work efficiently,” Ahuja said. “It’s not just medicines, kits to determine viral loads have not been available in Mumbai, Delhi and other centres for some months,” Daxa Patel, a member of the Coalition, said through the media release. (The Telegraph 13/9/14)

120. Joint efforts to rehabilitate HIV-infected (3)

Kozhikode: Various departments will work together for the rehabilitation, palliative care, and educational projects for the HIV/AIDS infected people in the State. A meeting held in Thiruvananthapuram recently in which Minister for Social Welfare M.K. Muneer, Education Minister P.K. Abdu Rabb, and senior officials of the Health Department participated, decided that the Health, Social Welfare, and Education Departments will lead the projects. The Social Security Mission will appoint candidates with MSW degree as counsellors in the ART centres all over the State. The HIV positive persons will be appointed from the AIDS Control Society’s list to take care of seriously-ill patients. Hyderabad-based organisation Prajwala will work in the advisory capacity. (The Hindu 13/9/14)

121. School trauma for HIV couple’s daughter (3)

NEW BARRACKPORE: A seven-year-old girl, whose parents are HIV-positive, is staring at an uncertain future after the guardians of her school friends threatened to withdraw their kids from the school in North 24-Parganas’ Sajirhat, barely 28 kilometres from Kolkata. Sources said recently, the girl’s uncle dragged her parents out of their home and declared in public that the couple were HIV-positive. While the two of them have kept themselves confined to a room, the girl, who was diagnosed negative after her birth, has allegedly been cornered in her school. “My best friend is avoiding me. She told me: ‘tor rog hoeche, ma boleche tor gae haat na dite, tor pashe na boshte, tor shathe khelao na korte’ (Your are a patient. My mother told me not to touch you or sit beside you. She has also asked me not to play with you),” the girl said. Sumana’s father, a tea stall owner, can’t even open his shop. “During my wife’s pregnancy, a routine test revealed that she was HIV-positive. I also underwent a test immediately seven years back that confirmed me as a positive carrier. Both of us are under medication. But by God’s grace, my daughter was diagnosed negative. I don’t know why is she facing this trauma in her school?” he asked. “The teachers have told us that some of the guardians have complained against our child. They have also threatened not to send their children to the school if our child studies there,” said the girl’s mother, who is in her thirties. According to her, the school has called a parent-teacher meeting on Monday. “We have been told to bring our child’s blood reports,” she added. Kalpana Chatterjee, the headmistress of the primary school, said, “In the meeting, we’ll talk to all the guardians. We have invited a doctor to convince the parents who are afraid of sending their kids to our school. Some regular students have already stopped coming to the school.” Suniti Chakrabarty, the local councillor and former teacher of the school, said the child would not be deprived of education. (Times of India 15/9/14)

122. HIV scare in Mumbai as fund crunch hits NGOs’ efforts (3)

Mumbai: For the last six months none of the non-governmental agencies working for HIV prevention in the city and the state have received their grants. The fund crunch has practically stalled the HIV programme even as the organizations grapple with attrition and depletion of cash reserves. The crunch in funds has directly affected efforts made by agencies to protect an estimated 2.3 lakh high-risk individuals in the city. Twenty-odd NGOs and 12 community-based organizations that handle a total of 51 intervention projects for the high-risk population, including female sex workers, men having sex with men, intravenous drug users, transgenders, truckers and migrants, have not received funds since May. The shortage of funds has now given rise to an HIV scare as the regular supply of syringes, condoms, lubricants and medicines to fight the virus has disappeared from susceptible pockets. Maharashtra is one of the states with highest HIV prevalence and Mumbai its most volatile pocket. Nearly one lakh people in the city are estimated to be living with the disease of which around 70% are under the antiretroviral treatment. Funds allocated to each of the targeted intervention projects vary from Rs 8 lakh to 20 lakh. NGOs handling more than one project are the worst hit. “At least five of the trained staff, including two counsellors, have quit. Who would care for a programme if they are not assured of a salary,” said a member of a south Mumbai-based NGO. “Even if we manage a supply of condoms, volunteers are not willing to go and distribute them,” said the member. “Counsellors are now convincing people to continue working for the project instead of counselling patients.” Eldred Tellis, director of Sankalp Rehabilitation Trust, said that even for big NGOs, the buffer of funds runs out in a month or two. Gauri Sawant, who runs a CBO for transgenders in Malwani, said many have defaulted on the rents and power bills. “The authorities still insist on reports not understanding how we will keep our internet connections running or even buy stationery.” Dr Shrikala Acharya, additional project director of Mumbai District Aids Control Society, said, “The funds have arrived from NACO but are lying with the state government due to technicalities.” A senior cabinet minister told TOI that funds for HIV have massively dried up. “NACO is sending funds to the state. It is a new system as earlier these bodies got the money directly. The finance ministry is creating separate heads after which the money will be sent to treasury and then disbursed.” (Times of India 17/9/14)

 

Posted by admin at 19 September 2014

Category: Uncategorized

DALITS/SCHEDULED CASTES

 1. Four dalit huts set ablaze in Koppal (2)

HUBLI: The three-month long cold war between dalits and upper castes took to a fiery turn in Marakumbi village of Koppal district on Friday night, when four huts belonging to dalits were set ablaze. Koppal police arrested 52 people and registered cases against 96 persons. Tension was sparked after a few upper caste men quarrelled with some youths when they went to Gangavati town to watch the Kannada film Power. Bhimesh Hanumantappa, a dalit who filed a police complaint, said said clashes were common between the two communities. “Manjunath and some others, belonging to the upper caste, had a quarrel with some youths at the cinema. They presumed that dalit youths were behind the clashes in Gangavati. On returning to the village, Manjunath and 95 others attacked dalits and set fire to four huts,” he said. Channaveerayya, who was arrested, alleged that dalits themselves set fire to their huts and filed a complaint. “We were not in the village when the incident occurred,” he added. Gangavati Rural CPI Prabhakar Dharmatti said, “Two cases were registered — one against 96 persons and another against 67 persons. The accused belong to both communities. (Times of India 31/8/14)

2. 6 tea shop owners held for keeping separate tumblers for Dalits (2)

Chennai: Dharmapuri police arrested six tea shop owners, including two women, on Saturday for discriminating against Dalits by serving them tea in separate set of glasses. A senior police officer said the arrests were made following raids they conducted at tea shops. The officer added that two persons, G Sivalingam (50) and Shanthi (30), were arrested in Pennagaram, a small town near Dharmapuri, about 300 km from Chennai. Subsequent raids in other parts of the district led to the arrest of S Sidhayyan (50), S Murugesan (55), V Veerabadhran (61) and C Devaki (49). Known as “double tumbler” system, tea shops in several villages have been maintaining a practice of keeping separate tumblers for Dalit customers. D Chellakannu, leader of the Untouchability Eradication Front in Madurai said a lot of shops continue to maintain such practices. “There are shops where Dalit customers have to take separate tumblers and wash them after use. Another practice is giving disposable glasses to Dalits while non-Dalits are served in silver tumblers,” he said. While untouchability continues to be rampant in many parts of Tamil Nadu, villages in Madurai and Dharmapuri districts are notorious for such practices. “Since local politicians are in favour of non-Dalits, who are mostly OBCs, many complaints go unheard or suppressed at the village level,” said the senior police officer. (Indian Express 1/9/14)

 3. Two Dalit brothers beheaded at Chidambaram (2)

CHIDAMBARAM: Dalit brothers Kumar alias Ambulance Kumar, 40, and Rajesh, 30, of Annamalai Nagar here were hacked to death by a gang while they were asleep at home on Monday night. The killers also beheaded them, took the heads in sacks and kicked them around before dumping them on either side of the entrance of the Rajah Muthiah Medical College Hospital. When they were chased by some persons, they lobbed crude bombs at the house and at a hotel located in front of the hospital, injuring six of the relatives of the deceased and damaging a car and a van owned by Kumar, who was running an ambulance service and hiring out freezers for mortal remains. The injured were Muthamizhan, 21, of Pappireddipatti in Dharmapuri, a final- year agriculture student of Annamalai University; Vincent Paulraj, 22, an engineering student; Soundar, 27, of Arakkonam; Pandian, 27, of Cuddalore; Mani, 19, driver of Kumar; and Prabhakaran, 20, a third-year engineering student of Sankarapuram in Villupuram district. All of them are undergoing treatment at the Rajah Muthiah Medical College Hospital. The condition of Pandian was said to be serious. Pattabhi, Sivamani, Gajendran and Pathayiram have been detained for interrogation. The police also detected two unexploded devices on the scene and defused them. Superintendent of Police A. Radhika rushed to the spot with a contingent of police and arranged for taking the torsos and the heads to the Chidambaram government hospital for post-mortem. Meanwhile, the family members, friends and relatives of the victims gathered in front of the hospital and refused to take the bodies for funeral rites unless the attackers were brought to book. (The Hindu 3/9/14)

4. Dalit boy’s wrists cut for wearing watch to school in Tamil Nadu

MADURAI: A dalit boy was allegedly attacked and his wrists were cut by his non-dalit seniors in a village in Tamil Nadu on Wednesday night as he wore a watch to school on Monday. Police said Ramesh (16), son of Paramjothi of Thiruvalluvar colony in Thiruthangal in Virudhunagar district, was a plus one student at the Government Boys Higher Secondary School in Thiruthangal. His seniors allegedly questioned him when they found him wearing a watch. They removed it from his wrist and threw it away. The boy fought with the seniors over the issue, and tension prevailed on the school premises. Two days later, on Wednesday night, the boy was walking near the Thiruthangal railway station when a gang of about 15 boys, who are said to be his seniors, waylaid him. They allegedly cut his wrists with knives. The boy managed to escape from them and got first aid at a private hospital. He was later admitted to Sivakasi Government Hospital. This school is known for caste issues among the students. The dalit students are often pulled up by non-dalit students for issues like wearing slippers. The issues are often solved in meetings of the PTA, school authorities and education officials. Usually, such attacks on dalits are carried out by students who just passed out from the school. The Thiruthangal police registered a case and were investigating. (Times of India 4/9/14)

5. State creating a dalit-less Chennai: Evicted residents (2)

CHENNAI: The atmosphere was surcharged at a review meeting held by the National Commission for Scheduled Castes, with members of the community alleging that the government was on a mission to create a ‘dalit-less Chennai’ by evicting them to Okkiyam Thoraipakkam on Old Mahabalipuram Road where tenements built by the government lacked basic amenities. The review meeting by the National Commission for SC for Chennai district had officials representing various government departments such as Chennai Corporation, Slum Clearance Board and Police. The participants were up against the eviction of hundreds of families who were hitherto living along water bodies. With in-situ housing being ruled out, it is alleged that their education and daily earning is hit. “A majority of those living in slums are dalits, and by displacing them to far off places, the state is creating a dalit-less city,” said R Kannan of Movement of Slum Dwellers’ Right to Livelihood. “Let the government take up restoration of water courses, but it should also consider in-situ housing rather than throwing us out of the city.” This set off a series of allegations from the members, prompting NCSC member P M Kamalamma to seek reactions from the slum clearance board. The officers passed the buck to the corporation. Chennai Corporation is the nodal agency for identifying beneficiaries, the slum clearance board said, and the board’s role was confined to building tenements. S K Siva of Tamil Nadu Untouchability Eradication Front said, “It (eviction) is a sort of modern untouchability. Officials call us encroachers, but the contribution of dalits to this city’s development is unmatchable.” Later, Kamalamma visited the tenements at Okkiyam Thoraipakkam and pulled up the departments to provide more amenities. (Times of India 6/9/14)

6. Dalits face ‘boycott’ after landlords announce fine on those hiring them (2)

Sangrur: Punjab Scheduled Castes Commission member Dilip Singh Pandhi will on Monday visit Namol village in Sangrur, where trouble is brewing between Dalits and other villagers. Two days ago, the village landowners had allegedly announced that anyone who hires Dalits to work in their fields would be fined

Rs 10,000. Following the announcement on a loudspeaker, the district administration is on alert. The bone of contention is 6.5 acres of land in the village, which is reserved for Dalits. Sanjeev Kumar Mintu, president of Krantikari Pendu Mazdoor Union, said, “The landowners want the land to be auctioned according to their will, and they want to present some dummy Dalits for the auction. The actual users will be the landowners. So they have played this game of boycott. Already one auction has been cancelled because of the controversy.” The boycott was called off by the landowners after a meeting last night, sources said. Block development officer Charanjit Singh Walia had intervened and assured justice for Dalits. Similar trouble was reported in Baupar village, where Dalits faced boycott over the auction of land meant for Dalits. Baladkalan village also witnessed similar controversy over 117 acres of land. There was no boycott there, but a clash took place on the day of auction on June 27. The Zamin Prapati Sangrash Committee wants the land to be given to them after the paddy season. They have decided to pay 40 per cent of the total amount on which the land is auctioned. However, no decision has been taken yet. (Indian Express 8/9/14)

TRIBALS

 7. Tribal undertrials: Don’t be a mute spectator, SC tells govt (6)

New Delhi: Regretting that the “system has gone from bad to worse”, the Supreme Court Friday censured the apathy being shown towards more than 36,000 tribal undertrials and called for a meeting of the Centre and all state governments to resolve the issue. “This is a very serious matter. It cannot be left to the court. This is the obligation of states and every state has to take care of undertrial prisoners. The system has gone from bad to worse but it cannot be allowed to go on any further,” said a bench led by Chief Justice of India R M Lodha. The bench, also comprising Justices Kurian Joseph and Rohinton F Nariman, said such a dismal state of affairs could not be defended by an increase in jails and that the matter required comprehensive look from all the stakeholders. On being nudged, the counsel for the Centre said it would convene a meeting of home secretaries of all states to find a solution to the problem. The bench asked the Centre not to remain a “mute spectator” and act as a nodal agency. The court said the meeting would be convened within six weeks and a report shall be filed thereafter. It further asked the Centre to also adduce before the bench the status of all undertrial prisoners as on March 31, 2014 It was hearing a PIL filed by Jinendra Jain on behalf of society ‘Fight For Human Rights’, alleging that thousands of tribals were languishing in various central jails without any trial in Naxal-affected states like Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand and West Bengal. (Indian Express 30/8/14)

8. Scheduled Tribes Panel Visits 2 Irula Settlements (6)

PUDUCHERRY: Dr Rameshwar Oraon, chairperson, National Commission for Scheduled Tribes, along with other officials undertook a field study to identify the tribal inhabitants and inquire into their living conditions, on Monday. The visit followed the Puducherry administration’s proposal to the Centre to include five backward tribe communities in the central list of Scheduled Tribes. The commission’s chief along with the secretary of  NCST, R Vijayakumar visited T N Palayam and Vathanur  to undertake an on-the-spot assessment. Dr Oaran went into a hut of an Irular family at TN Palayam and enquired whether the free rice and other schemes of the administration were reaching them. The commission officials also interacted with the tribal community members. T N Palayam has 41 huts and 300 tribal inhabitants. The NCST panel then visited another hamlet in Vathanur and made inquiries with them too. Speaking to the media, Dr Rameshwar Oraon said the Union government was in favour of recommending the inclusion of Irula community (including Villi and Vettaikaran) on the list of Scheduled Tribes and had sent the proposal in this regard to the commission. The Puducherry government has submitted a proposal to the Centre to include five communities — Irular (including Vettaikkaran and Valli), Kattu Nayakar, Malakuravar, Yerukkula and Kuruman — on the Scheduled Tribes list, he added. The Centre has sent the list to the Registrar General of India (RGI), who in turn recommended it to the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes to identify and undertake a study on the living conditions and submit a report at the earliest. Dr Oaran said the NCST would submit its report at the earliest and if its recommendations are accepted, then the President of India would issue a notification to include the five communities on the Scheduled Tribes’ list. He added that normally the commission’s recommendations are accepted by the Centre. Later in the day, they held discussions with representatives of the Scheduled Tribe communities, the anthropologists, sociologists, and officials of the administration in the presence of welfare minister P Rajavelu. (New Indian Express 2/9/14)

9. Tribal organisation decides to intensify agitation (6)

KALPETTA: The Adivasi Gothra Maha Sabha (AGMS) plans to extend its ongoing ‘stand up’ agitation in front of the Secretariat in Thiruvananthapuram to other parts of the State. Addressing a press conference here on Wednesday, AGMS coordinator M. Geethanandan said the agitation, launched on August 9 demanding rehabilitation of the landless tribal people who had participated in the Muthanga land struggle in 2003, could garner the support of various socio-cultural movements in the country. As part of intensifying the stir, the AGMS would hold demonstrations at Muthanga, Aralam, Agali and Devikulam on September 10. Though the 800 landless tribal families who had participated in the Muthanga stir were entitled to land as per the Forest Rights Act, only 20 of them got land so far, Mr. Geethanandan said. The Kerala High Court and the State Human Rights Commission had also directed the government to give compensation to the agitators, but to no avail. However, many landless families, including non-tribal families, who had participated in land agitations in 2002-03 under the aegis of the Adivasi Kshema Samiti received land under the Forest Rights Act. Hence, the government should provide land and compensation to the families participated in the Muthanga agitation, he said. (The Hindu 4/9/14)

10. Primitive tribe in Telangana survives on forest animals (6)

Warangal (Telangana): They live close to the town but are miles away from civilization, living in utter poverty and inhuman conditions. They are Chenchus, a primitive tribe, in two villages barely 45 km from this town in the heart of Telangana state. The majority of the 57 families in Chenchu Colony, a tribal hamlet of Chennapur village, survive on rats, cats, dogs, squirrels and other animals they hunt. Similar are the conditions of 24 families of Bhavusinghpally village. The fruits of development have not reached the Chenchus, a majority of whom never stepped out of their villages till this week when Telangana assembly Speaker S. Madhusudana Chary brought them to Warangal to take them around. Though this aboriginal tribe mostly lives in the forests of Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Odisha, the two Chenchu villages are located in the plain area. Their ancestors are believed to have come from deep forests and settled down over a century ago. Wretchedness is writ large on their faces. With no decent and proper roof available to them, the frail–looking men and women and their children are prone to many ailments. Some work as farm labourers in nearby villages but their earnings are not enough to make both ends meet.The Chenchus feel reluctant to speak to outsiders. “I don’t know what this tour is all about,” said Bandikoramma as she accompanied her son, daughter–in–law and other family members in the bus which brought them to the town. “They want to continue their traditions. But it is not just their hesitation to accept changes which is responsible for their pathetic conditions. Successive governments have also failed to ensure that development reached them,” said G. Bhaskar, a professor of economics at Kaktiya University, Warangal. The houses built by the government for them in 2001 were of poor quality and lacked toilets and even doors. Some families send their children to schools in other villages. Swamy’s two children walk four kilometres each day to reach their school. The village had no cement road or electricity till Madhusudhan Chary, the leader of the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) from Bhupalapally constituency, took the initiative. After taking over as the speaker in June, he spent money from his salary to distribute rice, clothes, bulbs and fans among Chenchus. He ensured the construction of an anganwadi centre and a road.IANS (The Hindu 6/9/14)

11. Upset with school affairs, Bondas refuse to return (6)

KORAPUT: Even after four days of deserting the sevashram (residential school for the SC and ST students), not a single of the 302 students belonging to the Bonda tribe returned to the school at Mudulipada in Malkangiri district on Saturday. They left the school on Wednesday alleging massive maladministration by the headmaster, Bholanath Majhi. “Quality education has taken a beating. Classes are not being taken properly. When we complained about it to the headmaster, he asked us either to keep quiet or leave the school. So, we all left,” alleged Nakul Kirsani, a student. The Bondas are categorized under Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Group. According to one student, except English and mathematics no other subject is being taught in the school. “If we complain about it then we are subjected to corporal punishment,” complained another student. The school is on the Bonda hill under Khairput block. The school run by the SC and ST development department has classes from I to VII. Though district officials visited the school on Saturday to inquire into the matter, they failed to persuade students to return. “We are inquiring into the matter and have recommended the government for disciplinary action against the headmaster,” said sub-collector (Malkangiri) Nruparaj Sahu. “By visiting villages our teachers are trying to convince students to return. We hope normalcy will be restored soon,” he added. Spread over an area of 137 sq km, the Bonda hill consists of 32 villages with a population of over 6,000. Children of all 32 villages depend on the Mudulipada sevashram for their academic activities. Only 8% of the Bondas are literate. (Times of India 7/9/14)

12. Social media stand up for tribespeople (6)

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Adivasis on a ‘Stand Up’ stir before the Secretariat for the last two months, seeking implementation of the 2003 government promise to provide land to the landless tribespeople in the State, received a boost when activists of the social media group ‘Oppumaram’ joined them in their stir on Monday. The social media activists, who marched to the venue of the Adivasi stir, declared solidarity with the agitators and vowed to use the social media to garner support for it. Inaugurating the gathering, veteran journalist B.R.P. Bhaskar said the decision of the youngsters in the social media group indicated that the Adivasi stir was gaining in popular acceptance. Messages from writers Paul Zacharia, political commentator Jayasankar and noted social activist and writer T.T. Sreekumar were read out at the meeting. Greeting the agitators, Adivasi Gothra Maha Sabha (AGMS) leader C.K. Janu said there was no question of the Adivasis ending their stir until the government kept its word. Ms. Janu pointed out that other than holding a preliminary meeting with them, the government had done nothing to address their demands. That the government would have to show tremendous political will to settle the issue was clear from the fact that half the land identified after the last agreement between the Adivasis and the government had been taken over by the land mafia, she added. The agitators had observed a fast on ‘Thiruvonam’ day on Sunday. (The Hindu 9/9/14)

WOMEN

 

13. Norms made for sensitisation on date rape drugs: DCW to court

New Delhi: A set of guidelines has been prepared for sensitising people on ‘date rape drugs’, the Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) has informed a court here. DCW has filed a report in the court following its last year’s judgement in a rape case in which it had expressed concern over the increase in number of cases where women were administered drugs and then sexually exploited. The court had stressed on the need for sensitising people on the issue of “date rape drugs” and had asked DCW to take up this issue with competent authorities including the Delhi Police Commissioner and the Delhi government. Advocate Vandana Chauhan, appearing for DCW, said in the report that the commission had sent letters to various departments and Department of Women and Child has constituted an advisory committee of experts on prohibition of drug abuse. “The committee expressed serious concern over date rape drugs. The advisory committee was of the view that school and college students and general public need to be made aware of the misuse of such drugs, the report said. “The advisory committee prepared a set of guidelines which enumerate the precautionary steps which should be taken by the potential victims. These guidelines have been circulated to various educational authorities,” it said. It also said the committee includes representatives from AIIMS’s Nation Drug Dependence Treatment Centre, Department of Education, Chairman of Health Care Foundation of India, psychologist and officers of Department of Women and Child Department and Prohibition. The court had passed the judgement in February last year while awarding 10 years jail term to a youth for raping a girl, known to her, after giving her drugs and blackmailing her by making indecent videos. (Zee news 31/8/14)

14. Real threat to women from own families (8)

LUCKNOW: While Bharatiya Janata Party and its detractors are busy debating the veracity of ‘love jihad’, there are so many other issues afflicting women in UP—from female foeticide to dowry death and maternal mortality—that miss the attention. Social indicators and crime pattern shows that the real threat to women in UP is actually from their families. Female foeticide, poor maternal care and dowry within their own family, together kill one woman or girl every four minutes in the state. Similarly, one third of the total rape cases, one third are from within the family or relative. Every day, foeticide kills 330 unborn girls in UP, poor maternal health 46 women and dowry six women – total 382 per day. This amounts to one killing per four minutes. Several government and non-government studies, including one by United Nation Population Fund, have revealed that the female foeticide is rampant in UP. The child sex ratio (number of girls against 1000 boys in 0-6 age group) declined from 916 in 2001 Census to 902 in 2011, a 14-point drop. This means, in UP, only 902 girls take birth and survive till six years against 1,000 boys. The national CSR is 919 and natural 945. On comparing natural CSR with that of UP, it comes out that in the past six years, 7.2 lakh girls were killed before taking birth in UP, which comes to 1.20 lakh every year, 10,000 every month and 330 daily. The skewed sex ratio, say experts, is one of the reason for rise in sex crime against women. According to the National Crime Records Bureau, rape cases increased by over three times in UP from 911 in 2003 to 3050 in 2014. And, of 3050 cases, in more than one third (1226) offenders were close family members, relatives or neighbours. Similarly, molestation increased by over six times from 1098 in 2003 to 7303 in 2014. The NCRB data also shows around six women are being killed daily for dowry in UP. Dowry deaths in 2003 were 1322, which increased to 2335 in 2014, a 75% rise. And, the cases of cruelty by husbands increased by over three times from 2626 in 2003 to 8781 in 2014. In comparison to other states, UP ranks first in the country in dowry deaths and fourth in cruelty by husbands. According to the latest Annual Health Survey the maternal mortality ratio of UP is 300, among highest in the country. In comparison India’s MMR is 212. The MMR is the number of women who die during pregnancy and childbirth, per 100,000 live births. This means every year 16,500 mothers die in UP while giving birth to their child, which amounts to 46 deaths per day. “Crime against women have increased tremendously in the past 15 years, during which period every big party has ruled UP. This shows that parties are only interested in dividing people for electoral gains and not in waging war against social ills, which is their duty in a democracy,” said activist Madhu Garg. (Times of India 1/9/14)

15. Sulabh begins ‘toilet for every house’ drive from Badaun (8)

Lucknow: Taking a cue from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Independence Day speech, Sulabh International on Sunday kick-started its nationwide ‘Toilet for Every House’ campaign from Katra Sadatganj village in Badaun that has been in the news for the killing of two girls when they ventured out of their homes in the dark to relieve themselves. Terming the entire campaign a tribute by the leading sanitation NGO to the two cousins whose bodies were found hanging from a tree in their village, Sulabh founder Bindeshwar Pathak said: “Absence of toilets in houses, particularly in rural areas, is behind such incidents of rapes and sexual assaults in villages … I hope this campaign will exhort corporate houses and big organisations to come forward and adopt villages and build toilets in each household.” After the gruesome killings of the two sisters in May this year, Sulabh International adopted the village and built 108 toilets, covering every house in the village that now has Sulabh’s unique and low-cost toilet. “This campaign is the most fitting tribute to the girls whose death triggered a national debate on women’s right to safe toilets. I hope the government wakes up to this mammoth challenge and starts building toilets in each household on a war-footing,” said Dr. Pathak. Quoting U.N. figures, he said of India’s over 1.2 billion population, only 665 million had access to toilets. “A U.N. study in 2010 found that more people in India have access to a mobile phone than to a toilet … It’s a shame. For the first time , the issue of toilet attained such an importance in the speech of any Prime Minister from the ramparts of Red Fort. So, I am confident that now everyone will have access to toilets in not too distant a future.” (The Hindu 2/9/14)

16. Dowry Deaths on the Rise (8)

BANGALORE: A 22-year-old pregnant woman committed suicide at her house in Jagjeevanram Nagar on Saturday. She reportedly killed herself after continuous harassment by her husband and his family for dowry. According to NGOs working for women’s rights, every day one woman dies in Karnataka due to dowry harassment. While there is more awareness now about dowry deaths and the laws to prevent it, sadly, little has changed in Karnataka in the last three years. A report recently released by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) shows that 267 people died due to dowry harassment in the state in 2011, 218 in 2012 and 277 in 2013. The situation is the same in Bangalore city, with no decline in reported cases. Vimochana, a women’s rights organisation campaigning against dowry for more than 10 years, says there is a pattern in the deaths. Explains Donna Fernandez, chairperson of Vimochana: “The registered number of dowry deaths are not indicative of the real scenario. Many women who have been murdered, the reason has been dowry. We need to consider this number too.” She said some specific categories of deaths such as suicides, murders, accidents due to stove burst etc,  are also directly connected to dowry. The number of deaths has been increasing for the last 10 years, but the government has been reluctant to do anything about it, she said.On April 7, 1999, a joint House committee, chaired by BJP MLA Pramila Nesargi, was constituted to investigate atrocities against women and dowry deaths, and make recommendations for their prevention. A report was submitted, but no steps have been taken till now, Fernandez rued. Speaking to Express, Alok Kumar, Additional Commissioner of Police (Law and Order), said since dowry death is a social crime, there is very little the police can do. “Karnataka’s population is increasing every year. Many migrants are settling here, leading to a change in family structures,” he said. Sometimes, people file false complaints and sometimes they don’t even report these cases, he said. Minister for Women and Child Welfare Umashree admitted that dowry deaths have not come down in the state and said, “We need more time to control this.” Amita Prasad, Principal Secretary to the Women and Child Welfare Department, said the department has no role to play in this. “Crime is the Home Department’s matter. If police are not working properly, then that is not our fault. The state has a separate women’s commission, why are they not active against these issues?” she asked. When contacted, Manjula Manasa, chairperson of the State Women’s Commission, said, “We are going to each district and urging people to lodge complaints against offenders.” (New Indian Express 4/9/14)

17. Over 29,000 complaints of crimes against women in last 3 years: NHRC (8)

New Delhi: Since January 2011, the NHRC has received over 29, 000 complaints of crimes against women in the last three years and the number continues to grow. NHRC Chairperson KG Balakrishnan expressed his dismay at the “Despite very strict laws to curb crimes against women, violations of womens’ human rights and sexual assault cases” continue to be a major “point of concern.” The Chairperson’s observations came during a three-day-long human rights event organized by the NHRC in New Delhi. The panel was discussing women and girl’s human rights and the work done by the NHRIs in this regard. During the same presentation, Commission Member, Mr. Justice D. Murugesan said since January, 2011 to 31st August, 2014, 29, 935 cases on women related issues had been taken up by the NHRC alone. Balakrishnan also expressed hope that there would be quick and effective implementation of APF’s five strategic objectives geared towards promotion and protection of human rights, particularly of the vulnerable sections of the society, for the next five years from 2015 to 2020 in the Asia Pacific Region. Ending gender-based discrimination and violence had been slotted as an over-riding priority in the on-going 12th Five Year Plan of the Government of India. (Hindustan Times 5/9/14)

18. Teach girls meaning of ‘Love Jihad’: Bhagwat (8)

Ghaziabad: RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat on Saturday raked up the issue of ‘Love Jihad’ saying the girls should be taught its meaning and ways to save themselves from the “trap”, more than a fortnight after BJP avoided its mention in political resolution at its executive meet in UP. Addressing the closing session of the two-day All India Women Coordination Conclave at Krishna Dental College in Mohan Nagar here, the RSS chief exhorted the women to work towards their emancipation and empowerment. “Girls of the coming generation should be told the meaning of ‘Love Jihad’ and the ways to save themselves from their traps,” Bhagwat said. He also raised the issue of female foeticide. “Awareness drives should be initiated to eradicate the age-old tradition of female foeticide?with all force, as it has become a curse for?the Indian society,” the RSS chief said. Media coordinator of the conclave, Ghanshyam Sharma, told through a press release that 270 women delegates from most of the provinces attended the programme. (Hindustan Times 6/9/14)

19. Bihar: woman locked up in bathroom for 3 years (8)

Darbhanga: In a shocking case of human cruelty, a 25-year-old married woman was allegedly kept confined here in a bathroom for the last three years by her husband and in-laws for not meeting their dowry demands, police said on Monday. The victim was rescued yesterday by police from a house in Rambagh locality of Darbhanga town, around 140 km north east of Patna, they on Monday. The Women Police Station SHO Seema Kumari found her in tattered clothes, unkempt dry hair and with overgrown nails. “The woman could barely open her eyes in the sunlight, as she had survived in darkness and dim light, closeted in the small space. Though married, she had neither vermillion on her head nor ‘bindi’ on her forehead,” Kumari said. “The woman revealed that she was thrown into the bathroom and locked there. She was not allowed to see her child, and given leftover food irregularly. It was as if her in-laws were seeking revenge for not bringing ample dowry and giving birth to a girl child,” the SHO said. The woman hails from Patsan village in Andrathadi police station area in Darbhanga district. She was married to a Prabhat Kumar Singh in 2010. Soon after the marriage, her husband and in-laws allegedly started torturing her for more dowry, police said. The torture increased when the dowry demands were not met and peaked when she gave birth to a girl child. “She was never allowed to go to meet her parents. When her relatives visited Darbhanga to meet her, they were dissuaded or shooed away. She was also barred from interacting with anybody from outside,” Kumari said. “She immediately asked for her three-year-old daughter and wept inconsolably when the child could not recognise her,” the SHO said. The woman was rescued after much effort by her father Shyam Sundar Singh, who had finally complained to Darbhanga SSP Kumar Ekle, who in turn instructed the woman inspector to pursue the case immediately. The police has registered an FIR against the women’s husband, father-in-law Dhirendra Singh and mother-in-law Indra Devi and has taken them into custody. (Hindustan Times 9/9/14)

CHILDREN/ CHILD LABOUR

 20. 191 cases of crime against children reported (14)

Imphal, August 29 2014 : Even though Manipur witnessed 191 cases of crime against children in the last two years, only two accused involved in a rape case were convicted. According to a report compiled by the Manipur Alliance for Child Rights (MACR) based on newspaper reports, Manipur witnessed 191 different cases of crimes against children between September 2012 and August 17 this year. Of the 191 victims, 104 were girls while the remaining 87 were boys. These crimes included 36 cases of sexual assault and 99 per cent of the victims of sexual assault cases were girls. Child trafficking constituted 86 cases of crime against children. Out of them, 67 children have been rescued while 11 children could not be traced till date. Four children were freed after serving as child soldiers for some period. In the meantime, it was suspected that two children were recruited as child soldiers. Five children sustained injuries in different incidents of bomb explosion. Kidnapping attempts were made on two children while five children were molested. During the same period, 31 children have been subjected to physical assault.Four children were killed while three others were murdered after being sexually assaulted. One child died during communal clash. Nine children reportedly committed suicide even as six newly born dead kids were abandoned at different places. Talking with The Sangai Express, MACR convenor K Pradipkumar decried that rate of conviction in cases related to crime against children is dismally low whereas crimes against children have been rising at an alarming rate. Counselling and rehabilitation of the victim children is far from satisfactory. The State is unable to implement the Prevention of Children from Sexual Offence (POCSO) Act effectively, Pradipkumar said. Against 36 cases of sexual assault, two individuals involved in a rape case were convicted and sentenced to 15 years imprisonment. Commando driver Yumnam William s/o Y Deben of Khagempalli Panthak and actor Thongam Arun s/o Th Jayenta of Thangmeiband Sinam Leikai were sentenced to 15 years imprisonment after they were found guilty for gang raping a girl inside a restaurant. Recording of statements of children who have been made victims of sexual assault either at police stations or other places by police personnel in uniform is not permissible according to the Juvenile Justice Act 2000, Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Rule 2007 and POCSO Act 2012 . With regard to some cases where the victims were summoned to police stations for taking their statements, some police officers told The Sangai Express that there are juvenile police units in every district of Manipur as per the provisions of JJ Act. But all these units do not have adequate infrastructure. Police personnel assigned to juvenile police units are sent to other unrelated duties too. “It is against the law to summon rape victims, particularly children, to police stations for taking their statements and we are aware of it but we don’t have vehicles to go to the victim’s home or other places where the victim would find it convenient,” said one police officer. As such, the guardians/parents are requested to bring the victims to police stations for taking their statements, he added. To effectively tackle crimes against children, systematic changes are required apart from equipping all juvenile police units with adequate infrastructure, said the police officer. Quoting provisions of POCSO Act, Pradipkumar said that police should complete collection of evidence within 30 days after a crime against children has been committed. Trial of such cases must be completed within a year. Hospitals should admit and treat victims without waiting for registration of FIR, he added. (E-Pao 30/8/14)

21. Anti-child labour campaign begins (14)

GUWAHATI: With an aim to wipe out a social evil like child labour in Kamrup (metropolitan) district, Assam State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (ASCPCR), in collaboration with two voluntary organizations, launched Red Signal on Monday. It is a campaign to create social awareness involving locals, ward councilors, labour department and school students. The other partners are WAY Foundation and MIND India. Guwahati is considered a transit point of child trafficking in the Northeast region. The aim is to set an example in Guwahati. The organizers would seek recommendations of youth. The three-month-campaign will include workshops involving children in the age group of 14-18 years. A series of group discussions will be conducted with the locals, ward councillors, labour department officials to chalk out constructive plan. “The demand for child labour is increasing by the day and there is a constant supply from NE and Guwahati serves as the transit point. The menace needs to be tackled. The problem is an obstacle in the social and economic development of the region as a whole. Even with so many stringent laws in place, this menace is spreading its tentacles as none of the laws are properly implemented,” said Runumi Gogoi, chairperson ASCPCR. “Law alone cannot do much. There is the need for social awakening among the people. Survey says most of the people who employ children as labourers are educated. People need to change their mindset. The youths have an important role to play,” said Mukesh Sahay, additional director general, CID. (Times of India 2/9/14)

22. Over 50 child labour rescue calls pending, says NGO (14)

NOIDA: Even as students of city schools get ready to listen to Narendra Modi’s speech to mark Teacher’s Day, more than 50 boys and girls of school-going age continue to slog as labourers in the city. Data with Childline, a child rights NGO working under the Union ministry of woman and child development, shows that their 24-hour emergency phone outreach service received over 50 rescue calls from February to August this year, on pace to match the 101 calls it had received throughout 2013. Satya Prakash, senior programme officer of Childline, said they had received calls regarding children employed as domestic help or at tea stalls in different sectors of Noida. Some children were also employed at water distribution outlets in the city, he said. Activists say that in many cases, it is very difficult to verify the claims, as many children work in houses and flats. They also blamed slow rescue operations on the apathy of the labour department. “We verified two cases where children were employed as labourers in the city. We wrote letters to the labour department last month but they are yet to respond to it,” said Satya Prakash. M K Joshi, assistant labour commissioner of Gautam Budh Nagar, said he had received the letters and has directed enforcement officers to conduct rescue operations. “Operations will be conducted soon and these children will be rescued in the next two-three days,” Joshi said. (Times of India 3/9/14)

23. CRY Helps Rid Child Labour in 83 Villages (14)

VISAKHAPATNAM: The Child Rights and You (CRY) has succeeded in making 83 villages across the state of truncated AP and Telangana free from child labour. It may be recalled that the unified state of AP stood sixth in the country insofar as child labour is concerned. Addressing a press conference here Wednesday, CRY regional director (South) Suma Ravi called upon the people to complement their efforts to root out child labour. She said the impact of CRY could be felt in 10 districts of AP and 481 villages in Telangana. “We have managed to ensure that 4,620 children are brought back to school in these states,” she added. CRY members produced five children of East Godavari and Vizianagaram districts who were liberated from the curse of child labour. The children spoke about their problems when they were labourers and how they managed to go to school with the help of CRY’s NGP partners. Rama, a 13- year-old from Kiligupeta village in Vizianagaram, expressed happiness over going back to school after a stint as a domestic servant in Kakinada. CRY’s AP and Telangana state leader Peter Suneel and other members were present. (New Indian Express 4/9/14)

24. National Commission for Protection of Child Rights seeks report from UP on riot-hit children

LUCKNOW: The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) has sought explanation from the Uttar Pradesh government on complaints about children in riot-affected areas of western UP not being able to appear for exams despite assurances by authorities of Muzaffarnagar, Shamli and Bagpath districts. The letter from NCPCR, a copy of which is with TOI, states that it has received a complaint that several students of the riot-affected districts are facing problems in getting admitted to schools in new areas they have been shifted to and taking examinations. The commission’s letter to UP government says that while former DIOS RK Tiwari had declared that fresh exams would be held on July 26 for those who has failed in class IX and XI and will be then promoted, he was transferred and the person who replaced him did not follow this. The letter has sought a reply and the action taken report. The commission, acting on a detailed survey and a report prepared by national convener of RTE Forum Ambrish Roy has sought explanation from UP chief secretary Alok Ranjan as well as district magistrates of Muzaffarnagar, Shamli and Bagpath. (Times of India 5/9/14)

25. 78 sexual offence cases against children reported in Muzaffarnagar in 9 months (14)

Muzaffarnagar: At least 76 cases of sexual offence against children have been reported in last nine months in this western Uttar Pradesh district. According to police records, 78 cases have been registered in various police stations under Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012 and also various sections of Indian Penal Code from December 19, 2013 to August 30, 2014. Forty-nine out of 78 were rape cases and the rest were of eve-teasing and kidnapping in the district, the statistics said. A special court of Additional District Sessions Judge Manyank Chouhan has started hearing these cases. The victims’ statement in this connection has been recorded under section 164 of CrPc. (Zee news 8/9/14)

MINORITIES – GENERAL

26. Push for protecting languages whose speakers a minority (7)

New Delhi: At a time when the NDA and the PM have shown their preference for Hindi, and when the UPSC aptitude test CSAT has seen protests over the perceived advantages it grants English-medium students over those of Hindi medium, the Commissioner for Linguistic Minorities in its 50th report has made a case for safeguarding linguistic minorities in various states. It has, in 27 recommendations, reaffirmed the status of the mother tongue, even if spoken by a minority in a state, and called for its inclusion in education up to the primary level, recruitment and state-level exams. The Constitution accords as much primacy to linguistic minorities as it does to religious minorities. Articles 29 and 30 speak of safeguarding that diversity. The Commissioner for Linguistic Minorities, set up in 1957, has in its latest report made a recommendation that could have far-reaching implications if followed — a call to states for “identification and declaration of Linguistic Minority Concentrated Areas”. The commission says states and UTs should declare/notify areas populated with linguistic minorities who constitute more than 15 per cent of the local population at the local level (district, municipal, taluk). Taking note of erosion across states of languages spoken by a minority, the commission has observed that in almost all states, learning the state official language has been made compulsory in the curriculum. It argues that instead, representation for redress of grievances in states should be allowed and encouraged in languages that may not be the main language of the state, but are spoken. The commission says it has been told by states that state services recruitment examinations do not allow the use of languages other than the regional language for answering questions. This, it has recommended, must change and “knowledge of state official language need not be insisted upon as a prerequisite at the time of entry into state services”. During enrolment of children in school, the commission has said, it is of the view that registering the child’s mother tongue should be made compulsory, along with asking the parents their preferences for first language and optional language. This, writes the commission, would be well within the three-language formula. It has emphasised a meaningful application for the three-language formula in schools and called for providing a “level playing field for linguistic minorities” and “facilities for instruction in their mother tongue at the primary stage of education within their territory.” The report has also called for encouraging the teaching of minority languages in schools by filling in teacher vacancies, improving the teacher-student ratio for languages in a minority, and enabling the availability of textbooks in those languages at the start of the academic session. “Our centuries-old multilingual, multicultural ethos has held the country together like the thread in a rosary of beads and this diversity is more emphatically presented in the multiplicity of languages spoken by people in different parts of the country,” said commissioner for linguistic minorities Prof Akhtar ul Wasey. “The point of zabaans is to foster samvaad, not vivaad.” (Indian Express 29/8/14)

27. BJP MP links riots to minorities (7)

New Delhi: Firebrand BJP leader Yogi Adityanath has attacked the minority community, saying riots happen wherever they are more than 20 per cent in number at a place. Defending his provocative speeches, the Gorakhpur MP, who is among the three party leaders entrusted with leading the BJP campaign for the coming by-elections in Uttar Pradesh, said Hindus would reply “in the same language” if they were subjected to attacks or forcible conversions. Talking about communal riots, he told Rajat Sharma in ‘Aap Ki Adalat’ programme on India TV that there are three categories of places where they occur, according to a press release issued by the channel. “In places where there are 10 to 20 per cent minorities, stray communal incidents take place. Where there are 20 to 35 per cent of them, serious communal riots take place, and where they are more than 35 per cent, there is no place for non-Muslims,” he said. The BJP leader is under attack after two CDs recently surfaced in which he is shown making inflammatory speeches. (The Hindu 1/9/14)

28. Minority Promoters an Unhappy Lot (7)

PALAKKAD: As many as 903 ‘minority promoters’ are on a warpath as they have not been receiving the honorarium for the last one year. It was on March 2013 minority promoters were appointed by the Kerala State Minority Department to empower and educate the minority communities in the state. The workers alleged that the government expelled them without providing the fixed honorarium of `4,000 a month. The minority promoters alleged that the government has to pay them each a sum of `48,000. The appointments were made on contract basis. Each panchayat got one minority promoter while municipality and Corporation got three each. Five communities – Muslim, Christian, Sikh, Buddhist and Parsis – are considered minorities as per the census of 2001 and Minority Promoters were appointed from all these communities. Among the 903 Minority Promoters, 760 are Muslims and 143 from the Christian, Sikh, Buddhist and Parsi communities. “We worked to empower the minority communities by making them aware of various welfare schemes available for them and the ways to make use of it. It helped them a lot to evade exploitation. We didn’t expect such an attitude from the government,” said Rafeeque K, a minority promoter from Kasargod. They spent a good amount of money from their pockets to empower the minorities with the hope that the government would pay them the honorarium. With a sense of being betrayed, Joseph Peter, a minority promoter from Kollam, said, “We conducted surveys to study the issues of the communities and conducted classes and camps. The reports of these were sent to the government. But at the end of the day we were cheated.” The Minority Welfare Department officials informed that they had handed over the files to the government for getting the honorarium sanctioned. P Nazeer, Director of Minority Welfare Department, said that the authorities have framed a new system for the early disbursal of honourarium. “The delay will not occur again as we framed a new system according to which  the Collectors have to submit the reports on promoter’s performance on month end and the honorarium will be distributed accordingly  through the district administration,” he said. (New Indian Express 5/9/14)

29. Queer India stands up for other ‘minorities’ (7)

MUMBAI: “Coming out of the closet” is fast acquiring a whole new meaning as India’s queer community spotlights a variety of issues other than its own. The same colour, vibrance and bawdy humour with which the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community discussed alternate sexualities is now being put to use to talk of other matters that lie buried within a closet. The community does not see itself in isolation, but as part of the broader framework of human rights. Many prefer calling themselves “equal rights activists” rather than simply ” gay rights activists.” On Monday evening, Gaysi, an organization run by lesbian women, will host its annual entertainment programme, Dirty Talk, at a Mumbai cafe. In addition to a musical performance by India’s first gay choir, the open mic session will have people coming on stage to share their stories, crack jokes and engage in light-hearted banter. But the money generated from the event will not go to the LGBT community. Instead, it will go to acid attack victims. Hair-stylist Sapna Bhavnani, spokesperson for Stop Acid Attacks says that when people give towards their own cause alone, they’re often trapped in a bubble. ” Why should people support only one community? Both the LGBT community and acid attack survivors are fighting similar battles for their rights,” she adds. This year’s theme for Dirty Talk is Women in Contemporary India, says MJ, one of the event’s organizers. “As a lesbian woman, my identity as both a woman and lesbian are equally important,” says MJ. Dirty Talk hopes to address women’s rights and choices through jest. “If we said we were celebrating an evening for acid attack victims, I’m not sure anyone would turn up,” jokes Hairsh Iyer, one of India’s most prominent LGBT faces. He made it to Guardian’s list of most influential LGBT people worldwide for 2013. Iyer featured in an earlier edition of Dirty Talk themed “Survivors.” A victim of child sexual abuse, Iyer has spoken out on television in graphic detail about an uncle who raped him through his childhood, after which he received over 50,000 emails from other survivors sharing their stories. “There’s a selfish reason behind my speaking of what happened to me. Survivors of abuse often have blank spots in their memory. Barring a few graphic instances, I had blocked a lot of what happened to me from my memory. Speaking about it helped unblock my memory, and was a way of therapy for me,” says Iyer. He recently featured in a video which began with him talking of how much he ” loved cock.” This was not an attempt at obscenity. Mid-way through the video, he picks up a rooster to clarify what he’s talking of, and then proceeds to detail the cruelty meted out to chickens in meat industry. The video was shot for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) during the LGBT pride month in June this year, urged people to ‘wipe hate from their plate’ with a pledge to go meat-free. Discrimination against those who are different forms the basis of racism, sexism, homophobic behaviour and speciesism (a bias favouring one’s own species), says Poorva Joshipura, CEO, PETA India. ” Oppression of people who are not heterosexual and the oppression of animals are both examples of the abuse of power,” she says, Iyer has taken the idea a step further with an online page called the “Ministry of Miniscule Minorities,” which encourages those on the fringes of society to share their experiences. (Times of India 8/9/14)

MINORITIES – MUSLIMS

30. Two booked for forcing wives to embrace Islam in Madhya Pradesh (7)

BHOPAL: Close on the heels of a national shooter claiming she was being coerced by her husband to embrace Islam, similar allegations of forced conversions have stirred the cauldron in Madhya Pradesh’s restive Chambal region. Two dalit youths, who converted to Islam and were also forcing their wives to change their religion, have been booked under the MP Freedom of Religion Act 1968. This is the first ever FIR on forced conversions in the region. The incident was reported from the state’s Shivpuri district where Maniram Jatav, 30, and Tularam Jatav, 19, have been booked under Sections 4 and 5 of the Act also known as Madhya Pradesh Dharma Swatantraya Adhinivam. Police said Maniram Jatav, resident of Shivpuri’s Khanidana village, embraced Islam two years ago, changed his name to Abdullah and started a small business in the area. Maniram also got his wife converted without completing any legal formalities, said police. Maniram then lured Tularam Jatav, a labour for religious conversion, said police. Tularam changed his name to Abdul Kareem in 2013. However, he was thrown out of his home by his family after the conversion. The matter surfaced after he subjected his wife to a month of torture for refusing to accept Islam, said sources. She reported the matter to her family who subsequently approached an organization and got a complaint registered. “Maniram is a convert and also the convertor. Investigations revealed that both of them had violated the law for religion conversion,” said SS Jadon, station house officer (SHO) of Khanidana police station where the FIR was registered. During investigations Tularam alias Abdul Kareem submitted an affidavit that he wanted to be a Hindu again. “Once an offence has been committed, it cannot be condoned. There is a laid norm for conversation to any religion, it should have been followed,” said the SHO. As per the Madhya Pradesh Dharma Swatantraya Adhinivam 1968, “Any person contravening the provision contained in section 3 shall, without prejudice to any civil liability be punishable with imprisonment which may extend to one year or with fine which may extend to five thousand rupees or with both; provided that in case the offence is committed in respect of a minor, a woman or a person belonging to the Schedules Castes or Scheduled Tribes the punishment shall be imprisonment to the extent of two years and fine up to ten thousand rupees.” Also, the district magistrate should be intimated about the same. “If any person fails with sufficient cause to comply with the provisions of the said Act, he/she shall be punishable with imprisonment which may extend to one year or with fine which may extend to one thousand rupees or with both,” the act says. Before the last assembly elections, the BJP government had proposed the Madhya Pradesh Freedom of Religion (Amendment) Bill, 2013 against the 1968 legislation mandating prior permission was compulsory and a stringent jail term for forcible conversions. While the 1968 legislation provided a jail term of one year for forcible conversions, the proposed Bill stipulates a jail term of up to three years or a fine up to Rs 50,000, or both, for conversion is done using force, allurement or any other fraudulent means. A similar move by the MP government to pass a similar amendment in 2006 was rejected by the President on grounds that it will violate freedom of religion guaranteed in the Constitution because it insists on prior permission. The issue of ‘love jihad’ has been raised again in the country after a national level shooter Tara Shahdeo alleged that she was tricked into marriage and tortured by her husband when she refused to convert to Islam. (Times of India 30/8/14)

31. ‘Cops framing Muslims for Vadodara riots’ (7)

VADODARA: Former M S University (MSU) professor and activist J S Bandukwala has alleged that the police are arresting innocent persons belonging to minority community after the recent communal riots in the city. Bandukwala and some minority community leaders met city police commissioner E Radhakrishnan on Tuesday and urged him to take action against the people who are actually involved in the riots. “Large numbers of Muslims have been wrongly arrested in the city after the recent communal riots. While riots have been happening during Ganesh festivals for the past 40 years, this time it is being done deliberately ahead of Lok Sabha bypolls here. The BJP is trying to polarize voters to win by a good margin,” Bandukwala alleged. He also said most of the minority community members arrested by the police are poor working class people. “Those actually involved in the rioting with the help of politicians should be arrested. I have urged the police commissioner to not arrest innocent persons,” Bandukwala added. Radhakrishnan said, “We are arresting people after proper verification. Why should we arrest innocent persons? Bandukwala and other minority community leaders claimed the police had made wrong arrests. When I asked them to furnish names of persons who were arrested wrongly, they couldn’t provide any names.” (Times of India 3/9/14)

32. SC order to release undertrials will come to aid of Muslim prisoners (7)

NEW DELHI: Muslim prisoners are likely to be the biggest beneficiaries of the government’s decision to facilitate release of undertrials languishing in jails for long. This is because the rate of undertrial Muslim incarceration is almost twice that of Hindus. Calculated on the number of undertrials per lakh population (of people adhering to that particular religion), while the Hindu undertrial rate is 21.5, the Muslim rate is 38.81, suggesting more Muslims keep languishing in jails without a trial as compared to Hindus. Another fact pointing to this is that while 17% of the convict population in jails constitutes Muslims, in the undertrial category it is 21%. In the case of Hindus, the reverse is true -71.4% of convicts are Hindus but only 69.9% of un dertrials profess the faith. Similarly, Sikhs constitute 4% of undertrials and 4.9% of convicts while Christians make 3.5% and 4%, respectively . This clearly indicates that Muslims, who constitute just over 13% of India’s population, are at a disadvantage as far as getting bail is concerned. (Times of India 6/9/14)

33. Al-Qaeda threat: expert warns against alienating Muslims (7)

NEW DELHI: Critical of the “high alert” being issued by the Union Home Ministry in the wake of the Al-Qaeda video, Mr Ajay Sahni, Director of New Delhi-based Institute of Conflict Management said such measures usually translate into harassment of Muslims, often offending and alienating them. Mr Sahni pointed out that de-radicalisation programmes in many European countries like U.K. and Belgium had failed. “There is no need for a knee-jerk reaction and to blindly ape the West. Our accommodative and pluralistic culture where Muslims and non-Muslims interact at several levels is the best guarantee against radicalisation of the youth towards extremist ideology. This multi-cultural thread has to be reinforced,” he said. “Muslims in India have never supported terrorism. Islam in India has been very organic for the past hundreds of years and Muslims and non-Muslims have co-existed peacefully. It is the strength of Islam in India that fringe elements, despite past 18 years of statements from outfits like Al-Qaeda, have been held back,” he said. However, he favoured strong covert measures against subversive elements who were trying to bring alien ideology to India. “The need of the hour is to drive home the message that all citizens are equal and their rights as citizens are being respected. Despite special schemes for Dalits and Muslims, they have remained poor and deprived. They should get all benefits as Indian citizens as our Constitution guarantees equality and justice to all citizens without any discrimination,” he pointed out. (The Hindu 7/9/14)

MINORITIES – CHRISTIANS

34. Christians appeal to CM to protect their faith, property (7)

ALIGARH: Perturbed by brief take-over of a Seventh Day Adventist church in Asroi village of neighbouring Hathras district by members of another religious persuasion, the Christians in Aligarh have appealed to UP chief minister Akhilesh Yadav to intervene, to protect their faith and their properties. In a memorandum to the chief minister, the Christians have condemned the conversion of the church in Asroi to a temple. A similar attempt to convert another place of Christian worship was reported soon afterwards from Hasayn in the same district. Meanwhile, on Saturday, at Surajpur in Greater Noida, 10 pastors were questioned by police in connection with the “forcible conversion” of Hindus to Christianity. In the memorandum, the Christians have objected to the destruction of the identity of their places of worship, and condemned the activities of the Dharam Jagran Vibhag (JBV), a branch of the RSS, which was involved in the “re-conversion” of the 72 people in Asroi. “The series of atrocities did not end with Asroi. It was reported that at Hasayn the pracharaks wanted to conduct the same purification inside the church but were stopped by the police,” said Osmond Charles, an advocate. The JBV, meanwhile, has claimed that the church at Hasayn has become a “Harijan chatralaya” (hostel for Dalit students). The Christians are worried about the loss of their property, which had been donated by a man who converted to Christianity from Hinduism. “We are sending the memorandum to bring to the chief minister’s notice the jungle raj in the state, even though the ruling party stands for secularism. This should be controlled. We want to build public opinion, as there is no end to such attacks. Just two months back, Reverend Jaipal was attacked by Hindu right wing activists in Bulandshahr, and accused of forcibly converting people to Christianity,” Charles said. (Times of India 1/9/14)

35. Christians urged to give land for establishing cemeteries (7)

THENI: Demands for extension of benefits enjoyed by the Scheduled Castes to converted Christians, separate cemeteries for Christians in all taluks and speedy disbursal of bank loans dominated the special interaction meeting held at the Collectorate here on Tuesday. Presiding over the meeting, Tamil Nadu Minority Commission Chairman M. Prakash said Christians in several divisions demanded separate cemeteries for them. It was not possible, and they should come on a single platform to provide sites for this purpose. One site could be given in one taluk and two places in thickly populated areas, he said. Some converted Christians said they had enjoyed all benefits extended to the SCs by the government before conversion. The Chairman said Christians were classified as BCs. They could enjoy the benefits extended to the BC communities. Converted Christians could not get the benefits extended to the SCs, he noted. Commenting on the delay in disbursal of loans to minority women, he said files had to pass through 14 departments before loans were sanctioned. Reducing loan amount would speed up the process. A representative of a minority community complained that priest in Andipatti did not allow a Christian woman, who married a Hindu boy, to pray in the church though their in-laws and husband allowed her continue her religious practice. Mr. Prakash asked the woman to give him a complaint in writing to initiate action against the priest. She should be allowed to pray in the church and continued to live as a Christian. The State government had allocated Rs.1 crore to help 500 Muslims go on Haj trip and ordered supply of 40 kg of sandalwood for Nagore Dargah festival. About 4,100 tonnes of rice was allotted to more than 3,000 mosques during Ramzan period, he noted. Educational assistance of Rs.48.38 lakh had been disbursed to 2,970 students in primary and secondary classes and 272 students in higher secondary classes in 2013-14, said Collector K.S. Palanisamy. Commission Members Allah S. Syed Khameel Sahib and A.M. James accompanied Mr. Prakash. (The Hindu 4/9/14)

36. Prayer meet held in Kolkata on Mother Teresa’s death anniversary (7)

Kolkata: Special peace prayers were held today to observe the 17th Death Anniversary of Mother Teresa at the Mother House here. Prayers and floral tributes were offered at her grave. The Superior General of Missionaries of Charity, Sister Prema told ANI, “We remember her constantly for what she has given us and passed on to us.” Spreading the message of peace she said, “I think the message mother wants to give to the world is to give God the priority and after this the human being is valued and appreciated in the dignity which God has given them.” After the beatification of Mother Teresa, the Roman Catholic Church had declared September 5, the day Mother Teresa left her earthly abode, as Feast Day – a day for joy and celebration. Albanian born Mother Teresa made Kolkata her home and dedicated her life to the service of poor and destitute children. The Pope beatified the Nobel laureate in October 2003, paving the way for her canonisation, or being declared a saint. She qualified for beatification after Vatican officials acknowledged that she was responsible for a miracle in which an Indian woman was cured of stomach cancer through her intervention. She came to India in 1929 at the age of 18 and took up teaching and became an Indian citizen in 1948. She started working in slums and later set up her Missionaries of Charity, which was approved by the Vatican in 1950. Mother Teresa received several national and international awards for social service during her lifetime. They include the Magsaysay Award in 1962, the Pope John XXIII Peace Prize in 1971, the John F. Kennedy International Award in 1971 and the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979. (New Kerala 5/9/14)

37. 15 Christians held in Pakistan on blasphemy charge (7)

Lahore: Pakistani police have arrested 15 Christians and booked 45 other members of the minority community under the controversial blasphemy law for allegedly desecrating Muslim graves in a village in Punjab province, sparking tension in the area. The case was registered after a local cleric filed a complaint alleging that the Christians had desecrated over 400 Muslim graves to occupy the land in Chak village in Faisalabad, about 150 km from Lahore. Condemning the police action, a rights group alleged that a “fake” blasphemy case was filed against them on the pressure of the cleric and Muslims as they did not want the land allocated to Christians. “In fact there was not a single grave in the land allocated to the Christians by the local administration for their graveyard,” Human Liberation Commission Pakistan Chairman Aslam Sahotra said. He demanded that Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif look into the matter. (The Hindu 6/9/14)

REFUGEES/ MIGRANTS

38. 1.6 mn people displaced in Iraq: UN (13)

United Nations: More than 1.6 million people in Iraq have been displaced since the start of the year, a UN spokesperson said here Friday citing a report. “It is estimated that over 600,000 people were displaced in August alone,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said quoting The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in a report. The internally displaced people were living in over 1,500 locations across the country, often in extremely dire conditions, Xinhua quoted the official as saying. The rise in the number of displaced persons was due to fresh violence in various parts of the country, particularly Ninewa, Diyala and Anbar provinces, he said. The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) and its partners have conducted assessments for nearly 190,000 people since February, Dujarric said. The World Health Organisation (WHO) is hoping to deliver medicines and supplies to Al Alam district, in Salah Aldin Governorate. The shipment will help some 15,000 people for a month. The surge in violence between armed groups and government forces has left hundreds of thousands of people in need of assistance in Iraq. (Zee News 30/8/14)

39. Brus demand status like Kashmiri Pandits (13)

AGARTALA, Aug 31 – More than 30,000 displaced Reang/Bru tribal people from neighbouring Mizoram, sheltered in seven camps in North Tripura district, have demanded a status like Kashmiri Pandits or Tamil refugees. The Mizo Bru Displaced People’s Forum (MBDPF), the only organisation of the inmates, submitted a 13-point charter of demands including the status like Kashmiri Pandits or Tamil refugees to a Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) delegation led by its Additional Secretary Rajib Gauba when it visited the camps, MBDPF general secretary Bruno Mesa said. Mesa said the inmates were living in “inhuman” conditions for the past 17 years since they trickled into the camps following ethnic clashes with the Mizos. “There is no school for the children. Though a few schools were being run by some NGOs, they closed down due to funds crunch. There is hardly any healthcare provision for the inmates. Infant mortality is high because there is no vaccine or nutrition for them,” Mesa alleged. He said, since repatriation would not be possible soon, the living condition of the camp inmates should be improved and they should be given proper healthcare and opportunity for education. For a permanent solution, the Bru people should be repatriated in their homeland in Mizoram with adequate land, compensation and proper security, Mesa said. There are 30,289 people in the seven evacuee camps. The MHA team would submit its report to the Ministry by September 12. – PTI (Assam Tribune 1/9/14)

40. No mass exodus of Assamese people from Meghalaya: Minister (13)

Shillong: Meghalaya Tuesday said there was no danger to people from Assam residing in the neighbouring mountainous state and warned miscreants against spreading rumours about their safety. “There is no mass exodus of people from Assam residing in the state. I appeal to people not to pay heed to rumour-mongers,” Home Minister Roshan Warjri told IANS. “However, some migrant labourers engaged in the construction of the permanent campus of the Indian Institute of Management-Shillong at Umsawli left the place Monday night due to internal problems with the construction company,” he said. Meghalaya government officials said most of the migrant labourers were pushed back from a construction site after they failed to produce valid documents. Warjri said she had a telephonic conversation with Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi following media reports about the mass exodus of Assamese people from Meghalaya. “I informed him (Gogoi) that there is communal tension between the indigenous people of Meghalaya with communities from Assam residing in the state. The Assam chief minister assured me that his government would issue a statement to clarify the matter.” Atul Bora, president of Assam’s regional party Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), rushed to Shillong to discuss with the government the alleged mass exodus of communities from Assam residing in Shillong. “There was panic that people from Assam have been asked to leave the state. We have asked the home minister to provide security to Assamese people and they have assured us,” Bora told journalists. Shillong Socio Cultural Assamese Students’ Association leader Krishna Borah said communities from Assam residing in Shillong were “safe and secure”. (Business Standard 2/9/14)

41. Chin Refugees: Life is elsewhere (13)

Shivani Dass starts the book with a question, ‘Does it [a photograph] or can it really ever tell us anything beyond what it shows?… Or is it also capable of insinuating meanings that are not apparent to the eye, but can be understood effectively in retrospect?’ Dass’ photographs of members of Myanmar’s Chin ethnic minority living in exile in India attempt to answer these questions, and successfully so. These stories stay with you long after you have closed the book.  Dass takes you to Bodella, a village in west Delhi, where the lanes are crammed with hardware shops and ramshackle dwellings. According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, of the 7,000 Chin refugees in India, nearly 400 of them live in Bodella. Dass embarked on this project with the idea of documenting the lives of both Chin and Rohingya refugees — part of Myanmar’s seven ethnic minorities — in Delhi. However, the Rohingyas weren’t very comfortable with the idea, so she turned her focus on the Chins instead. The opening image is of 44-year-old Ciin Lam Vung, from the Tiddim community, who fled Myanmar in July 2011. She crossed the border with the help of strangers with her four daughters and two sons. Her eldest, Ning Khan Lun, was pregnant at the time and gave birth to her daughter, Victoria, on arriving in India. Both mother and daughter work in a local tailoring unit. In the photograph, Vung forms a tiny figure standing on a muddy track, flanked by jaundiced walls. She is almost part of the background, a nondescript figure with no assertion of her individuality. The picture speaks volumes about the life of the Chin refugees in Bodella, where they live on the fringes of society, almost hidden in the back alleys of the village, camouflaged by webs of dangling wires and close set houses. Dass documented their everyday lives over a course of eight months. The images also show the subjects’ increasing comfort level with Dass — the camera transforms from an intrusive object to a friend with whom they can share histories, hopes and disappointments. For instance, Vung’s 3-year-old granddaughter, Victoria, initially frowns at the camera but later goes about her daily chores with ease, often coming close to the lens. The stories in the book have a common thread of political persecution. Most of the Chin refugees come from an agricultural background with limited access to education. However, the rise of the army and the house arrest of Aung San Suu Kyi after the general elections of 1989 wreaked havoc on their lives. Most made their way to India through north eastern states such as Mizoram and then travelled to Delhi in the hope of a better life. But, it has been a challenge for them to move from rural lives to urban dystopias. Today, only the informal economy is available to them and many find work as labourers in factories, as beauticians and security guards — a job pool for which they compete with other refugees and migrant workers from various parts of India. This double-edged life is marked by penury and health issues, with no money to access healthcare. The photographs capture shared spaces, often inhabited by 10  to 11 family members. The objects in the room frequently speak louder than the people inhabiting the pictures. In Vung’s house, a red velvet dress is seen hanging on the wall, maybe a frock that Victoria wears on special occasions. A chart on shapes and colours shares space on the wall with a poster of sayings such as ‘The lord will lighten my darkness’. In the middle of the ‘yellow gloom’, these are all signs of coping and looking ahead. Yet another photo series shows Biak Rem Sang, 38, who fled after his uncle was beaten to death by soldiers. He is surrounded by his sons Van Lal Cung Nung, 12, John Lal Ro Pui, 8, and daughter, Esther, 6. His wife, Suizi Sung, who works in a factory that makes mobile phone chargers, seems to be ailing and is confined to bed. There is a marked difference between the demeanour of the old and the young. The elders like Sang often stare vacantly into space or have a haunted expression, but the young look full of life and positivity. Their lives seem to be in constant transit, with half-packed suitcases and cartons shoved under the bed. Most, like 32-year-old Van Hup Mang, have shifted five times since they arrived in Delhi. Mang used to work as a security guard but was injured and now stays at home. Even today, he seems ready to shift at a short notice .In the midst of the images of despair, there are stray rays of sunshine in the form of Tint Swe’s clinic. His clinic is known among locals as the ‘Burmese Clinic’. A photograph of Aung San Suu Kyi adorns the wall behind his chair and the waiting room is full of ailing refugees. “Back home I was a physician as well as a member of parliament. I belonged to Suu Kyi’s party. One day the authorities came to arrest me, but I escaped,” said Swe, when I met him for an interview last year. Swe has been in India for the past 23 years and his name was on the blacklist till 2012, his house and clinic are still sealed. His clinic in Bodella, equipped with an examination and a labour room, receives 500 to 700 patients a month — mostly Chins, a few Karens and the rare Rohingya — where he treats them free of cost. The book captures the homes and hearth of the Chins in Delhi beautifully, but it would have been nice to see them at work, maybe at the factories or at the Refugee Assistance Centre in Bodella. An outsider’s gaze, maybe of the locals — the landlords, the grocers, the neighbours — who consider them as aberrations that disturb the daily flow of their lives, would also have made for interesting viewing. Also missing are pictures of the refugees at the Burmese Church. Housed on the top floor of a commercial complex in Bodella, the church binds the community together and also offers financial assistance to them during need. Business Standard 4/9/14)

42. 1,800 refugees still in Shamli camp (13)

LUCKNOW: A year after one of the worst riots in the history of the state, 1,800 refugees are still living in the relief camps of Shamli district. This is quite in contrast with the state government’s claim that all the camps in riot-hit Muzaffarnagar and Shamli districts have been closed down. Shamli district magistrate NP Singh has confirmed to TOI that these 1,800 persons were still in the camps in his district and the administration were trying to motivate them to go back home. He claimed that no coercive measures were being adopted against them and the administration was taking care of their security, health and other needs. He said that most of the refugees were from adjoining areas like Baghpat and Muzaffarnagar and officials had written to the government that they were not genuine riot victims. Over 60 persons lost their lives and more than 50,000 got displaced after communal riots in Muzaffarnagar, Shamli and Baghpat districts in September-October last year. There were hundreds of refugee camps set up for these displaced victims. The state government announced a compensation of Rs 5 lakh for their rehabilitation, but a large number of them didn’t want to go back – either out of fear, or because they had nowhere to go back to. A year on, 1,800 of them are still in the camps and their agony is that Shamli district administration has disowned them. Shamli DM has sent a detailed report on these camps to the state’s home department. As per this report, there are six relief camps in the district out of which two are regular and four satellite .Two regular relief camps are situated in Malakpur and Barnavi housing 131 families 654 persons and 43 families 221 persons respectively while the rest are in the satellite camps in Akbarpur Subheti, Issopur Khurgan Khathai river, Dhabedhi Khurd, and Bibipur Hatia. “Hume koi yeh bata de koi apna ghar baar chhor ke mahino jungle mein rah sakta hai kya aur kyon; koi DM or SP rahega kya? (Just tell me, will anyone leave the comfort of one’s home without any compelling reason and stay in the jungles for months? Will any DM or SP do that?,” asks Haji Dilshad, who was earlier convenor of one of camps in Shaml. “Has anyone checked that the ancestral houses and agricultural land of the refugees of the Shamli camps have been forcibly captured by rioters and the riots have reduced them into orphans? Now, administration is claiming that they were not riot victims and greedy persons,” Haji retorted. (Times of India 8/9/14)

RIGHT TO INFORMATION

43. Disclose report of Mudgal Committee on lobbying: CIC to Centre (1)

New Delhi: The Central Information Commission (CIC) has directed the Centre to disclose confidential file notings related to the constitution of the Justice Mukul Mudgal Committee which probed alleged lobbying by Walmart in India. CIC also directed the government to make public the committee’s report along with the steps taken by the Centre to prevent possible lobbying in the country by foreign companies. The one-member committee of former Chief Justice of Punjab and Haryana High Court Mudgal was constituted by the UPA government to investigate alleged corruption charges against retail giant Walmart in India. The Committee had to probe if Walmart undertook activities in India in contravention of any Indian law and any other matter relevant or incidental to the case. The case came before the CIC on a plea by activist Subhash Agrawal, who had sought the information from the Corporate Affairs Ministry, which had refused to provide it. “Information needs to be provided under Section 8(2) of RTI Act which mentions providing of information if public interest overweighs the harm protected. “There is definitely public interest involved in the whole matter where media reports indicate attempt at lobbying by private foreign companies with even those in PMO,” Agrawal said in his appeal. Agreeing with Agrawal, Information Commissioner Yashowardhan Azad directed the ministry to provide the information, along with the file notings, related to the constitution of the committee. He also directed it to provide report of the committee along with the file notings. The Commissioner directed the ministry to forward the RTI application to the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion for its response as regards the details of the steps taken to prevent any lobbying in India by foreign companies. (Business Standard 31/8/14)

44. Departmental Promotion Committee proceedings can be sought under RTI (1)

RAIPUR: In a significant decision, Chhattisgarh State Information Commission has ruled that proceedings of Departmental Promotion Committee (DPC) shall be treated as non-confidential and open documents which can be supplied to information seeker under Right to Information (RT) Act. Allowing an appeal filed by Sarita Tiwari, deputy commissioner (Development), state’s chief information commissioner Serjius Minj also recommended to state government to review and re-consider General Administration Department (GAD) circular of 2006 that declared DPC proceedings as confidential. Tiwari had filed an application with public information officer of Chhattisgarh state Public Service Commission (CGPSC) seeking proceedings of DPC but was denied information on basis of a GAD circular which stated that DPC proceedings are confidential and it did not fall under the purview of RTI. After the first appellate authority also upheld the decision, the applicant preferred a second appeal with the state information commission. The state commission quoted in its order decisions of union public service commission (UPSC) and Central Information Commission (CIC) to point out that DPC proceedings shall be treated as non-confidential and open documents and allowed to be accessed by anybody who seeks it. Allowing second appeal filed by deputy commission, the state commission ordered PIO and first appellate officer of state public service commission to provide relevant documents as sought by the applicant, free of cost within 15 days. Besides, the commission also recommended that GAD circular be re-considered for withdrawal or cancellation. (Times of India 2/9/14)

45. Centre taps over 1 lakh phones a year; many more by states (1)

New Delhi: Big brother watching? Men speak on their mobile phones on a seafront in Mumbai. Reuters Reuetrs photo for representation only More than one lakh phone tapping orders are issued by the central government every year, but the total number of such interceptions can be of a ‘staggering scale’ after taking into account the directions from state governments, a new study has found. The study, ‘India’s surveillance state’, prepared on the basis of RTI replies given by the government, also found that 26 companies including foreign firms expressed interest in setting up Internet monitoring systems for the government. These included companies offering “far more potent surveillance technologies including phone interception, social media network analysis and data mining and profiling”.The study was conducted by Software Freedom Law Centre, a non-profit legal services organisation, and was released at recently held Internet Governance Forum in Istanbul. “…on an average, more than a lakh of telephone interception orders are issued by the central government alone every year. On adding the surveillance orders issued by the State Governments to this, it becomes clear that India routinely surveills her citizens’ communications on a truly staggering scale,” the 68-page report said. The state surveillance of citizens’ private communications is authorised by legislative enactments such as the Indian Telegraph Act and the Information Technology Act, which allow Indian law enforcement agencies to closely monitor phone calls, texts, e-mails and general Internet activity on a number of broadly worded grounds. The issue of phone tapping has often led to controversies in India including in 2010, when tapped conversations of corporate lobbyist Niira Radia with businessmen, politicians and journalists got leaked. Only a few agencies in India are authorised to tap phones and a rigorous screening process is said to be in place for grant of such authorisations. As per the report, Network Traffic Analysis (NETRA) storage servers will be installed at more than 1000 locations across India. The Controller of Certifying Authorities uses Section 28 of the IT Act, an ambiguous provision, to collect user data from technology companies. An RTI request revealed that they have made 73 requests under this provision in 2011. (Deccan Herald 4/9/14)

46. RTI activist shot at after seeking info from village head in UP (1)

Meerut: A 48-year-old RTI activist was shot at near his home in Tofapur village here after he had sought information from the village head about the development works undertaken in the area. The victim, identified as Kailash, was attacked yesterday and is now out of danger, police said. Resident of Tofapur, Kailash had twice sought information under the RTI from the village head about the development works undertaken in the area and the expenses on them, SHO, Inchauli police station, T S Yadav said. After being allegedly denied information by the village head (‘gram pradhan’), Kailash lodged a complaint in this connection with the State Information Commission in Lucknow and the SIC had fixed a hearing on September 5, Yadav said. The activist was shot at near his house when he was on his way to Lucknow yesterday, he said. He was taken to nearby hospital where the doctors removed the bullet he had sustained in the attack, he said. Four persons including the village head have been booked after a complaint filed by the family of the victim, police said. (Zee news 5/9/14)

47. Now, track your RTI appeal online (1)

CHENNAI: The Tamil Nadu state information commission, often in the news for the wrong reasons, is now set to facilitate a system where applicants seeking information under the Right to Information Act can track their appeals. The system, through which case details will be provided to RTI applicants via SMS, is expected to be in place by month-end. Those filing appeals with the state information commission will receive an SMS mentioning the case number and the date of hearing. The commission now sends notices to applicants by post. The facility will be available to only those who mention their mobile phone numbers on appeals and make a specific request to avail of the facility. The commission had conducted discussions with Electronics Corporation of Tamil Nadu (Elcot), National Informatics Centre (NIC) and mobile service providers like BSNL to develop the software and integrate the messaging service. Under the plan, every RTI petitioner will receive three text messages – the first when the case number is generated, the second after the case is posted for hearing and the third when it is disposed. Initially, an information commission official said, they would send only the first message to applicants on a trial basis. The petitioner will be able to track the application by the case number. “Applicants can also use case numbers to get information and check the status of the case on www.tnsic.gov.in,” he said. Details such as the names of petitioners and respondents, case number and address will be available on the website, he added. The commission, which each year receives as many as 56,000 appeals, is hamstrung by a severe shortage of manpower and funds. Asked if there was a plan to introduce an online appeal filing system for applicants on the lines of the a system in Bihar, he said a proposal had been sent to the government. “We haven’t received any response.” Under the system that is in vogue in Bihar, citizens can file RTI applications by simply dialling the Jaankari helpline number that was launched in 2007. The operator receiving the call drafts the application and sends it to the Public Information Officer (PIO) of the department concerned for providing the requisite information to the applicant. RTI activists in Tamil Nadu have for long been demanding that the government replicate that system in the state. (Times of India 9/9/14)

RIGHT TO EDUCATION

48. Check dropout rate among tribal students: DDC (11)

KALPETTA: A district development committee (DDC) meeting chaired by Collector Kesavendrakumar on Friday directed the Sarva Siksha Abhiyan (SSA) officials to take steps to check the dropout rate among tribal students. The district administration had taken up the issue seriously and would convene a meeting of officials of the Education Department, Sarva Siksha Abhiyan, District Institute of Education and Training, and Rashtriya Madhyamik Siksha Abhiyan here soon, Mr. Kesavendrakumar said. The meeting directed engineers of local administrative bodies to submit estimates for projects of the district panchayat before September 15. Pointing out the pathetic condition of the district medical office building at Mananthavady, District Medical Officer Neeta Vijayan requested the DDC to shift the office to a nearby building of the Kerala Medical Services Corporation. The meeting directed the lead bank manager to ensure that all banks in the district followed the guidelines of the Reserve Bank of India in providing education loans to beneficiaries. The meeting urged the government to fill vacant posts of senior officials in the Revenue Department in the district. Senior officials of various departments attended the meet. (The Hindu 31/8/14)

49. CBSE evaluation system needs thorough review, says Haryana report (11)

New Delhi: The CBSE’s Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation (CCE) system, which entails frequent evaluation of students, needs a “thorough review” in design and appropriateness, as well as in teaching training and implementation, says an impact evaluation report carried out in various government schools in Haryana. The CCE, which intends to help improve a student’s performance by identifying his/her learning difficulties at regular intervals and employing suitable remedial measures, was introduced by the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) in 2009 under the Right to Education (RTE) Act. Carried out in 500 government primary and upper primary schools in Haryana, the evaluation intended to quantify the effect of CCE and NGO Pratham’s Learning Enhancement Programme (LEP) that provides teachers with the “right tools and space” enabling them to teach according to a child’s competency level. “There are a variety of issues that affect the Indian education system — lack of physical, human resources and financial inputs, lack of teacher accountability, inappropriate pedagogy and curriculum, health, knowledge barriers of students and parents,” Shobhini Mukerji, executive director, Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J—PAL), South Asia, told IANS. The Haryana government partnered with research centre J-PAL to conduct a rigorous randomised impact evaluation of both CCE and LEP in two districts — Mahendragarh and Kurukshetra. The primary schools evaluated were divided into four groups of 100 each. Group one received only CCE treatment, group two received only LEP, group three received both programmes simultaneously and group four received neither. The students were tested on their abilities in basic Hindi and basic math — written and oral. The 100 upper primary schools surveyed were divided into two lots, one where CCE was in force and other where it wasn’t. (The LEP is applicable to only primary schools.) Sharing the results of the evaluation, Harini Kannan, senior research manager, J-PAL South Asia, said that the LEP demonstrates that government teachers can improve learning outcomes through changes in teaching practices. “The CCE programme had no significant effect on test scores for students in either primary or upper primary schools. The CCE scheme, in its current form, needs a thorough review in design and appropriateness, as well as in teacher training and implementation,” Kannan told. (The Hindu 1/9/14)

50. U’khand pvt schools asked to register with education dept (11)

DEHRADUN: Private schools in the city have been asked to adhere to the Right to Education (RTE) Act and register themselves with the state education department. In a letter to the department, the state commission for protection of child rights (SCPCR) has asked to initiate registration of all CBSE and ICSe schools in Uttarakhand. Private schools affiliated to these two prominent boards that had not registered with the department were violating RTE norms. “There is some confusion in the education department regarding the RTE Act. CBSE and ICSE are examination affiliation boards in India and have nothing to do with standards mentioned in the RTE which are compulsory for a school to function. Education being a state subject, recognising schools is the work of the education department,” said Ajay Setia, chairperson of SCPCR. The SCPCR has now asked the education department to submit a report regarding the current situation of the private schools and their recognition within 15 days. Post the implementation of the RTE Act in the state, all private schools were to be recognised by the state education department, if they met basic standards mentioned under section 18 of the Act. Schools that had been established before the Act came into force had to re-register themselves. The education department gives the schools recognised status and issues no-objection certificates only if they meet basic standards as per the Act. Thereafter, they can further apply to respective education boards for affiliation. (Times of India 3/9/14)

51. Delhi’s govt schools not hiring Urdu teachers, Muslim students forced to study Sanskrit (11)

NEW DELHI: Over 14,800 Muslim students across 100 Delhi government schools are being forced to study Sanskrit as there is no recruitment of Urdu teachers. Some schools, like the Sarvodaya Kanya Vidyalaya, Sultanpuri Block H, have as many as 789 Muslim students; yet there are no Urdu teachers appointed. According to NGO Nawa-E-Haque.Despite, despite directions from Directorate of Education (DoE), a majority of schools don’t have Urdu teachers, thereby violating the Delhi School Education Act, 1973 and other constitutional laws, which grant the option of opting for one’s mother tongue as third language from class VI to X. On May 21, 2012, the welfare branch of DoE issued a circular directing heads of the schools to record the student’s language preference at the time of admission; and also directed the Post Fixation Cell (PFC) to intimate the DoE about requirement of teachers in the opted language. Again, on July 15, 2013, the assistant director of education (PFC) wrote to all deputy directors of education in every district for creation of posts for Urdu teachers in Delhi’s government schools. The deputy directors were asked to give the exact number of Urdu teachers required, based on current student enrolment, by July 24, 2013. Asad Ghazi, president of Nawa-E-Haque said that, based on an RTI with regard to a 100 schools, despite official orders, “A majority of Delhi government schools do not have provisions for teaching Urdu due to which Muslim students are left with no option except studying Sanskrit.” According to Ghazi, a representation and the first list of 100 schools have been forwarded to the DoE, National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions, National Commissioner of Linguistics Minorities, Central Board of Secondary Education and Urdu Academy. He said that they are also working on a second list, where the situation looks no different. Of the 100 schools cited by the NGO, 50 of them have 100 or more Muslim students and 16 of them have 250 or more such students who are made to study Sanskrit. Despite many attempts, the director of DoE could not be contacted. (Times of India 2/9/14)

52. Madhya Pradesh govt decides to re-introduce board exams to Class V, VIII (11)

Madhya Pradesh government has decided to re-introduce board exams for classes V and VIII. Currently this is in contravention to Right to Education Act and mandates an amendment in the act. A decision to this effect has been taken in a bid to improve the deplorable state of education in government schools. Chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and his cabinet colleagues including school education minister Paras Jain, tribal welfare minister Gyan Singh and rural development minister Gopal Bhargava acknowledged poor performance of students of government schools and blamed it on absence of board exams in classes V and VIII. “It is necessary to re-introduce class V and VIII board exams to improve performance of students. However, this goes against Section 30 of RTE Act whereby no board exams would be conducted till class VIII. We have sent a proposal to the Union government to repeal this section accordingly,” said Chouhan. He also subtly criticized banning of corporal punishment under RTE Act and called it love of the teacher. “When we were late to school, our teachers used to punish us and even our parents supported them to make us better humans. Now teachers are scared to even raise a finger lest they be penalised for it. A student cannot develop without such discipline,” he said. Chouhan also advocated setting up of an education commission that will provide suggestions for improving the syllabus. “Commission will comprise experts who would recommend changes in syllabus to state government and other related matters,” he said. Minister of state Deepak Joshi said that 39,000 vacancies of teachers in the state will be filled up. At felicitation function, 12 teachers were given away Rs 25,000 each. Teachers conferred President’s Medals last year were also felicitated on the occasion. Deepti Agnihotri and Dhirendra Singh Tomar from Bhopal were among those felicitated. (Times of India 5/9/14)

53. ‘Minority’ Becomes an Excuse to Evade RTE Admissions (11)

CHENNAI: Although the number of admissions through RTE for this academic year has almost doubled since the last, exemptions for minority institutions and the very criteria for being a ‘minority’ are giving schools an escape route. Under the Supreme Court ruling in May 2014, minority institutions are not obliged to reserve 25 per cent seats for economically weaker students; the schools are supposed to have a certificate declaring them as a minority institution in order to avail the exemption. RTE awareness volunteers have found that some schools use the easy excuse of being a minority and deny admissions. Chennai has a list of 40 schools that officially have minority status, and around 30 others have applied for it, says A Subramanian, Inspector for Matriculation Schools. “But the number who claim minority status is far more,” says Kota Ashwim Kumar, a project coordinator from the NGO Bhumi, which has been actively working for RTE awareness and implementation.  “One school in Tondiarpet that we approached told us not to bother with the RTE quota in his school as they were definitely going to get the minority status,” he says. In States such as Karnataka, the Directorate of School Education has put up the list of recognised minority schools online, so that the public can easily check if the school’s claim is validated. But in Tamil Nadu, according to an official from the Directorate of Matriculation Schools, a list has been made and is still being updated. The idea of ‘minority’ itself had undergone dilution over the years. According to Subramanian, the minority tag used to be decided based on the population of the area and the percentage of students who fell under the official minority groups. “But after a Government order in 2008, the law was amended. Now, if the management of the school belongs to a minority community, it gets the minority status,” he says. “The Tamil Nadu government is being strict about granting minority status and has rejected many applications, but in some cases, the rejected applicant has taken the case to the Central government in order to fight for the status.” With many schools making the application that also leaves the question of what will happen to the students who get admitted through RTE in a school that later gets minority status. Subramanian responds that the department will protect the admission status of these children. “The exemption is not compulsory and we will reimburse minority schools that have given admission under the RTE,” he says. (New Indian Express 9/9/14)

RIGHT TO FOOD/ HUNGER

54. Widespread poverty & joblessness a reality: Hamid Ansari (21)

Dehradun: Vice-President of India Hamid Ansari on Tuesday said widespread poverty and unemployment were realities in India and the fruits of development had reached people unevenly in the country. “While much has been achieved by us as a people in the decades of independence, the fruits of development have reached the public unevenly. We still have starvation deaths, which exist with high levels of malnutrition and under nutrition. Widespread poverty and unemployment are realities. So is the lack of basic civic amenities such as healthcare, education, water-supply, sanitation, transport and communication. Acute social and gender inequality and related discrimination are pervasive in our society. India ranks 135 out of 187 countries on the UNDP’s Human Development Index,” Ansari said at the inauguration of the 89th Foundation Course at the Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration in Mussoorie, near here. Stating that India had the dubious distinction of being home to the largest number of poor in the world with around one-third of the population below poverty line, he said this was compounded by the existence of the social discrimination and inequality based on caste, religion and region. “This does not mean that successive governments and generations of civil servants in independent India have not tried to address the maladies that afflict our economy and society. Programmes aimed at poverty alleviation, employment generation, literacy, food security, healthcare and shelter have been launched. Subsidies for food, energy and agricultural inputs have been provided at a heavy cost to the exchequer. Nevertheless, the outcomes of these programmes could have been better,” Ansari said. “Besides the magnitude and complexity of our developmental challenges, poor programme implementation or leakages in the public services delivery have been diagnosed as reasons for our under-achievement in the development agenda. The figures of leakage and wastage of resources are astronomical. If these are plugged and resources utilised more efficiently, realisation of our development goals could be hastened substantially,” he said. In this overarching philosophy of governance and public administration, Ansari said the civil service became the principal vehicle for delivery of public goods and services to the people. A politically neutral but committed to public service bureaucracy was thus a sine qua non for the smooth functioning of a democratic government, such as India, the Vice President said. (Business Standard 2/9/14)

55. Half of Delhi’s 18 lakh ration cards fake (21)

New Delhi: More than 850,000 of Delhi’s 1.8 million ration card holders are suspected to be bogus, a government enrolment drive has found out. Delhi government had launched the initiative to update their database and enrol people for providing subsidised ration under the food security scheme, which caters to nearly 6.5 million people in the Capital. After the scheme was rolled out last year, about 632,000 card holders under various categories  — below poverty line, Antyodaya Anna Yojana, jhuggi ration cards and resettlement colony ration cards — were automatically included and started getting subsidised ration. “Immediately after, we launched a drive asking everyone to come forward so that we could update their information but 152,000 didn’t come forward, despite several opportunities. We have now stopped their ration supply as we suspect these are bogus cases,” said a senior Delhi government official. In addition, the government asked 1.15 million people — under the above poverty line (APL) category — to enrol for the programme. These people weren’t part of the food security scheme when it was launched last year but received ration under existing plans. “Out of the 1.15 million, 700,000 didn’t enrol themselves, despite several reminders. We immediately stopped their ration in July. We suspect these card holders do not exist and some fair price shop owners were using them to divert food grains,” the official said. But enrolment is still on and if some of these defaulters are still able to provide details, they will be included, the official added. More than 500,000 new ration cards have been issued in the Capital to extend the food security scheme, he said. Delhi was the first state in the country to roll out the food security scheme in September 2013. Under the scheme – launched in two phases – the eldest woman in a family gets rice for Rs. 3 and wheat for Rs. 2 per kilogram respectively. Any family whose annual income is less than Rs. 1 lakh is eligible for the scheme. (Hindustan Times 3/9/14)

56. Telangana’s forgotten people: Primitive tribe survives on forest animals (21)

Warangal (Telangana) : They live close to the town but are miles away from civilization, living in utter poverty and inhuman conditions. They are Chenchus, a primitive tribe, in two villages barely 45 km from this town in the heart of Telangana state. The majority of the 57 families in Chenchu Colony, a tribal hamlet of Chennapur village, survive on rats, cats, dogs, squirrels and other animals they hunt. Similar are the conditions of 24 families of Bhavusinghpally village. The fruits of development have not reached the Chenchus, a majority of whom never stepped out of their villages till this week when Telangana assembly Speaker S. Madhusudana Chary brought them to Warangal to take them around. Though this aboriginal tribe mostly lives in the forests of Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Odisha, the two Chenchu villages are located in the plain area. Their ancestors are believed to have come from deep forests and settled down over a century ago. Wretchedness is writ large on their faces. With no decent and proper roof available to them, the frail-looking men and women and their children are prone to many ailments. Some work as farm labourers in nearby villages but their earnings are not enough to make both ends meet. Like all others, Swamy of Chenchu Colony has no count of his age. “I don’t know. It may be 40 to 45,” Swamy told IANS. Working as a part-time labourer, he and his wife earn Rs.250 a month each to look after a family of four. Swamy was a sarpanch or village head of Chennapur a few years ago. People in the village say he was made the sarpanch as the post is reserved for a Scheduled Tribe but other people exercised the powers on his behalf. “We are just carrying on with our lives,” says a dejected Swamy who wears no footwear. The condition of others in the village can be imagined. The Chenchus feel reluctant to speak to outsiders. “I don’t know what this tour is all about,” said Bandikoramma as she accompanied her son, daughter-in-law and other family members in the bus which brought them to the town. “They speak Telugu. But when we go to their village, they hesitate to say anything and also get frightened on seeing outsiders,” said L. Raji Reddy, a former sarpanch who lives in Chennapur. “They want to continue their traditions. But it is not just their hesitation to accept changes which is responsible for their pathetic conditions. Successive governments have also failed to ensure that development reached them,” said G. Bhaskar, a professor of economics at Kaktiya University, Warangal. The houses built by the government for them in 2001 were of poor quality and lacked toilets and even doors. Some families send their children to schools in other villages. Swamy’s two children walk four kilometres each day to reach their school. The village had no cement road or electricity till Madhusudhan Chary, the leader of the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) from Bhupalapally constituency, took the initiative. “I had promised that I will do my best to improve their condition. I am fulfilling this promise,” Chary told IANS. After taking over as the speaker in June, he spent money from his salary to distribute rice, clothes, bulbs and fans among Chenchus. He ensured the construction of an anganwadi centre and a road. He took interest in organizing the tour of the town and showed them historic places like Warangal fort, the thousand pillar temple and the Bhadrakali temple. A Telugu film was screened for them. Chary is also drawing up plans to provide better source of livelihood for the tribals. “I want to see light in their lives,” said the speaker. (Business Standard 5/9/14)

57. Wars in west Asia threaten world’s food security (21)

Millions of people could in future face starvation as an indirect result of the violent turmoil in the Middle East, which has the highest concentration of wild crop plants needed to produce new food varieties, scientists said. Civil wars raging in Syria and Iraq threaten future food resources because of the crucial role the region plays as the home of the wild plants continually needed to improve genetic quality of domesticated crops. The region, part of the Fertile Crescent, an ancient area of fertile soil and vital rivers stretching in an arc from the Nile to the Tigris and Euphrates and encompassing Iraq, Syria and the Lebanon, has the greatest diversity of “wild crop relatives” in the world. Yet many of these plants are endangered as a result of the civil strife, said Nigel Maxted of the University of Birmingham’s School of Biosciences. “The Middle East is where the basis of our future food security is located… Wheat is not a native UK species. It was brought from the Fertile Crescent centuries ago,” Maxted said. “If we’re trying to get food security in Europe, the issue is not conserving species that are currently found in Europe, but conserving species that are found in the Fertile Crescent, which is where the crops that we consume every day generally come from.” Experts from Birmingham University are involved in a new initiat tive by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to help I conserve the wild relatives of crops in countries where they are found, especially in conflict zones. “You can have a range of seeds, but the best thing is to conserve them where they are found,” Maxted said. The two sites with the richest concentrations of wild crop relatives anywhere in the world lie within Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Israel. The inventory indicates that, globally , about 21% of wild crop relatives face extinction. (Times of India 9/9/14)

LABOUR/ MGNREGA

58. 56 bonded labour of Chhattisgarh rescued from J&K brick kiln (14)

RAIPUR: Following several incidents of bonded labour and human trafficking in Chhattisgarh, fresh case of nearly 56 bonded labours of state being kept in confinement and forced to work without payment and food at Jammu & Kashmir has come to the fore. Cases of rescuing bonded labour of state has taken a toll in last two years with 350 labours rescued by a Delhi based NGO — Bonded labour liberation front. Director of NGO Nirmal Gorana told TOI that these 56 labours were sold off by Faggu to a contractor in Jammu who shuttled them from Jammu to Kashmir as per the requirement of work. “The lot of 56 includes 31 children with minimum seven month old baby to maximum 50 year old man. The children were also used as labours at brick kiln. While they lead their life with advance payment given to them in tits and bits, the contractor has neither paid them from last three months, nor has provided food or allowed them to return home,” Nirmal said. The natives of Chhattisgarh are on their return journey and after working for over a year, they have nothing to bring back home, in stead the little silver ornaments and utensils they had were sold off to arrange for food. Talking about insensitive attitude of Chhattisgarh government and administration at J&K Nirmal also alleged of receiving threats not to indulge amid non co-operative attitude of governments. Rather a divisional commissioner at Jammu claimed that they have not noticed any initiation by Chhattisgarh government on the issue while thousands of labour from state migrate to J&K through local brokers who violate interstate migrant worksmen Act. “But there was no monitoring or regulation being done against the local touts by labour department,” Nirmal alleged. Over 117 bonded labours were rescued from J&K in February this year by same NGO. (Times of India 29/8/14)

59. Minimum pension of one thousand rupees under EPFO; wage ceiling up at Rs 15K (14)

New Delhi: The much-awaited minimum monthly pension of Rs 1,000 and a higher wage ceiling of Rs 15,000 for social security schemes run by retirement fund manager EPFO will be implemented from September 1. The government’s decision to fix pension entitlement of Rs 1,000 under the Employees’ Pension Scheme 1995 (EPFS-95) will immediately benefit 28 lakh pensioners who get less than this amount at present. The move to enhance the minimum wage ceiling for becoming a subscriber of Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation to Rs 15,000 per month is expected to bring 50 lakh additional formal sector workers under the ambit of the body. “The government has notified enhancement of wage ceiling to Rs 15,000 per month, fixed minimum monthly pension at Rs 1,000 under EPS-95 and enhanced the maximum sum assured under the Employees’ Deposit Linked Insurance (EDLI) Scheme to Rs three lakh,” EPFO’s Central Provident Fund Commission K K Jalan told PTI. Jalan said: “Now the maximum sum assured under the EDLI works out to be Rs 3.6 lakh including 20 per cent ad hoc benefit over the prescribed amount under the notification.” This means that in case an EPFO subscriber dies, his family will be entitled to maximum sum assured of Rs 3.6 lakh instead of existing Rs 1.56 lakh. Jalan said the notification regarding minimum pension, wage ceiling and EDLI would be effected from September 1. Thus all pensioners getting less than Rs 1,000 per month would get at least this much pension from October. The decision to provide the entitlement under EPS-95 was taken by the Union Cabinet in its meeting held on February 28. But it could not be implemented earlier because the model code of conduct came into force after the general election dates were announced on March 5. The decision will immediately benefit about 28 lakh pensioners, including 5 lakh widows. In all, there are 44 lakh pensioners under the EPFO scheme. The EPFO’s apex decision making body the Central Board of Trustees (CBT) had met on February 5 and decided to amend the EPS-95 scheme for the purpose. (The Financial Express 29/8/14)

60. Water conservation works under rural job act (14)

New Delhi: The rural development ministry Tuesday ordered district administrations to ensure that water conservation work like construction of check dams and de-silting of traditional water bodies are taken up under the rural job act to mitigate drought-like situation. The order was given by Union Rural Development Minister Nitin Gadkari in a bid to mitigate drought and drought-like situation and scarcity, an official release said. The minister ordered that 50 percent of all jobs taken up at district levels under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA) should be for water conservation like check dam construction, de-silting of traditional water bodies, minor irrigation tanks and canals. The decision was taken in response to widespread criticism by parliamentarians and people’s representatives at the local level that MNREGA has become a source of corruption and that no productive assets are being created through the rural job scheme, the release said. Gadkari also directed his ministry to ensure that all payments and fund transfers to states be made on e-payment platform and on a just in time basis so that wage payment is not delayed beyond one week in any case. (Business Standard 2/9/14)

61. Gadkari orders sweeping changes in rural job scheme (14)

New Delhi: Union Minister for Rural Development Nitin Gadkari has “ordered sweeping changes” in the MGNREGA(Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act), mandating that 50 per cent of all the works that are taken up at the district-level under the scheme should only be for water conservation, according to an official statement released here. The Minister has taken this decision with a view to mitigating drought and drought-like situation, it added. The other changes that Mr. Gadkari plans to introduce include focussing the Centre’s efforts only on the 2,500 backward districts identified by the Planning Commission, a top Ministry source told The Hindu. He also instructed the officials to reverse a 2011 decision of the UPA government which allowed States to seek funds from the MGNREGA allocations for constructing Individual Household Latrines (IHHL) under the guidelines of the Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan. When contacted, an expert warned that the Rural Development Minister’s move to dictate from Delhi what works should be taken up at the district level goes against the spirit of the Act even if his intention seems fine in a period of monsoon shortfall. “He could have instead called for educating Gram Sabhas on the need for water conservation works right now and let them make the final choice as the Act mandates,” the expert said requesting anonymity. Commenting on Mr. Gadkari’s decision to dictate to line agencies at the district-level, Rajya Sabha member and CPI (M) Polit Bureau member Brinda Karat told the The Hindu: “The decision is incremental dilution by Nitin Gadkari to completely destroy the MGNREGA… the Gram Sabhas deciding the works is critical to the Act, but he is centralising this and making changes to an Act passed by Parliament without reference to Parliament.” In a period of drought, the main effort of the Centre should have been to provide work and livelihood to those dependent on agriculture, and instead it has reduced fund allocations and is now telling States to target only certain districts, Ms. Karat said. The UPA government had in September 2011 approved sanitation facilities as one of the permissible works under the Act on the basis of requests from States, according to a Ministry circular. The Ministry source explained that the two schemes were converged as the rules under the Act provided for physical inspections to check if the IHHLs were actually constructed. Nirmal Bharat, however, had no such a provision by which the Centre could effectively find out what was happening to the funds it was allocating, he said. Though it could be argued, he said that even under the MGNREGA the physical inspections, audits and other checks remained largely on paper but at least the provision was there. (The Hindu 4/9/14)

62. Bank accounts for unorganised labourers in Chhattisgarh (14)

Raipur : Saving accounts of more than 1.4 million labourers, of unorganised sector, will be opened in various banks under Pradhan Mantri Jan-Dhan Yojana in Chhattisgarh. The decision was taken in the review of meeting of labour department that was chaired by Chief Minister Raman Singh. He opined that both Chhattisgarh Building and Other Construction Labourers Welfare Board (Chhattisgarh Bhavan Avam Anya Sannirmaan Karmkaar Mandal) and Chhattisgarh Unorganised Labourers Welfare Board should work for registration of labourers so that they could avail the benefited under different schemes. The meeting decided that the labourers would be encouraged to open bank accounts under Pradhan Mantri Jan-Dhan Yojana. The Chhattisgarh Building and Other Construction Labourers Welfare Board has registered 747,000 labourers and Chhattisgarh Unorganised Labourers Welfare Board has registered 664,000 labourers, till date. Pradhan Mantri Jan-Dhan Yojana would encourage the labourers to develop the habit of saving. Under the scheme, they would be provided accidental insurance of Rs 1 lakh and general insurance cover of Rs 30,000. The meeting also discussed child labourers’ issue. The chief minister said that rehabilitation of child labourers was important and the assignment should be taken with a serious note. Various departments of the state government would work with mutual coordination for identification and rehabilitation of child labourers and to provide them education facilities. Grade-III field-level officers of all the development-related departments would be given powers of labour inspector for identification of child labourers. The officers would conduct surprise inspections and file criminal case in labour courts against the employers, who are found to have hired child labourers of age 14 years and below, under rules and procedures of Child Labour Act. Singh said the industries involving jobs of life-risk should ensure security of labourers as top-most priority. The labourers should be provided required security equipment and should be trained in using these equipment. (Business Standard 7/9/14)

63. Govt contractual workers bereft of social security, leave (14)

New Delhi: Contractual workers employed with some of the Union ministries and departments are not extended benefits like Provident Fund, pension and other social security schemes, according to a reply to an RTI query. The employees working on contract or those hired via outsourcing from different agencies don’t have any provisions of availing extra leave apart from the mandatory national holidays and weekly-offs, the Ministry of Labour and Employment said in reply to a RTI petition. The employees also have no provisions for annual salary appraisal and are continuing on the same salary for years, it said. Moreover, after the end of their contract period they have to sit for an exam or an interview for the same post. The contractual workers are recruited by the ministries or departments directly while outsourced workers are hired via contractors or agencies. However, outsourced employees get PF benefit which is provided to them by the concerned contractor or agency through which they are hired, even though they do not get extra holidays. “Workers hired through outsourcing do not get any holidays except national holidays and weekly-off,” the Ministry said. It also said that the PF scheme is not extended to contractual workers. Till July 2014, a total of around 700 contractual or outsourced employees were working in the Union Ministry of Labour and its related bodies. However, the ministry did not reply on the number of such workers in other Central ministries and departments. (Zee news 8/9/14)

RESERVATION

64. Dhangars stage protest to push ST status demand (25)

NASHIK: Members of the Dhangar Samaj Aarakshan Kruti Samiti staged a protest at the district collectorate on Monday to push their demand for inclusion of the community in the Scheduled Tribe (ST) category. Members sported black ribbons and submitted the requisition to the district collector. The members alleged that the state government was deliberately delaying decision regarding their demand, which has hurt the sentiments of the people in the community. Members of Dhangar, a shepherd community, have been consistently seeking their inclusion in ST category claiming that the community was already listed in the Centre’s ST list. They were only seeking implementation of the same in the state. They have threatened to boycott polls if the demand is not met. The Dhangar community has reservation under Nomadic Tribes in the state and is the only caste under the banner enjoying 3.5% of reservation. The ST category, however, has 47 different tribes with reservation of 7% and the SC category has 59 castes with reservation of 13% in the 52% reservation in the state. Bhaulal Tambde of the Samiti said that the issue has not been resolved since 1980, when the state government took back its recommendation to the central government that the community should be included in the ST category for reservations. “The Centre has included ?Dhangad’ in ST category and even the state government in the year 1976 had sent a letter to the central government saying that the ?Dhangar’ in Maharashtra was same and ?Dhangad’ and hence it be included in ST-fold. The government, however, withdrew its letter in 1980,” he added. (Times of India 2/9/14)

65. Gujjars plan a ‘final showdown’ with govt on quota demand (25)

JAIPUR: The Rajasthan Gurjar Aarakshan Sangharsh Samiti has declared to launch a “final agitation” from September 28 to get 5% quota in government jobs for the special backward classes (SBC). The decision was taken at a meeting presided by the Samiti leader Kirori Singh Bainsla at his village near Hindaun late Tuesday night. “The state government has ignored two ultimatums of 15 days each to act on our demand. In the month-long period the government made no attempts to talk to us or make its stand known in any way, thereby letting us believe that it was not interested in a peaceful resolution of the issue. We, therefore, have no option but to launch an agitation,” Samiti spokesperson Himmat Singh told TOI on Wednesday. Singh added, “But this would be our final agitation; this time we will take our quota at any cost.” The SBC quota of 5% was currently stuck in Rajasthan high court as it was on contravention of the Supreme Court guidelines. The guidelines mandate that the total quota for socially backward communities in government jobs and educational institutes should not exceed 50%. Rajasthan already had a quota of 49% (21% for OBC, 16% for SC and 12% for ST), before the previous Vasundhara Raje government (2003-2008) passed an Act to add 5% quota for the SBC too. The Raje government did so following violent agitations by the Gujjars in 2007 and 2008 wherein around 70 people from the community were killed in police firing. “BJP’s manifesto for the 2013 assembly elections clearly mentioned that our demand will be fulfilled by getting the reservation Act covered by Constitution’s Schedule IX to take it out of the courts’ purview. After becoming the chief minister, Vasundhara Raje repeated the promise during Lok Sabha elections. Yet, in past nine months nothing has moved in the matter,” the Samiti spokesperson said. “Chief whip Kalu Lal Gurjar and MLA Prahlad Gunjal (both from the Gujjar community) are now misleading people that the matter was sub-judice so they cannot speak about it. If it were so, why did the BJP include it in its manifesto?” Singh pointed out. The Samiti also targeted education minister Kalicharan Sarraf and minister of state for social justice and empowerment Arun Chaturvedi for two recent government decisions. As per the Samiti, the government failed to give admissions to 800 SBC students under the Dev Narayan Gurukul Yojana. Further, the Samiti said, the government was allowing 50% seats in the schools exclusively meant for SBC children to be filled with students from SC and ST categories. “This is treachery with us and we are going to oppose BJP in the assembly bypolls on this matter,” spokesperson Singh said. The Samiti would lunch the agitation from village Katara-Ajij, which is 4 km from Bainsla’s village Mundia and 8 km from Hindaun in the heart of “Jagroti”?the region of 84 villages of Gujjar dominance in north-eastern Rajasthan. “For next 15-20 days we will hold small community panchayats across the state to prepare Gujjars for a final battle with the state government,” said Singh. The Samiti was bitter about the alleged phone calls being made by the police to their leaders to demand personal details like names and addresses of their relatives, their properties and occupations. (Times of India 4/9/14)

66. Kerala BJP Seeks Discontinuation of Ranganath Report on Dalits (25)

NEW DELHI: Kerala BJP Sunday sought discontinuation of the Ranganath Mishra Commission report which has recommended inclusion of convert Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims in the list of Scheduled Castes. Kerala BJP chief V Muraleedharan expressed hope that Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who will take part in the 152nd birth anniversary celebrations of Kerala Dalit icon Ayyankali here tomorrow, would articulate the government’s view on the report. He said that any move to implement the Ranganatha Mishra Commission report would “jeopardise the interests of Scheduled Castes”.”Ranganatha Mishra Commission report should discontinue.That view (of BJP) is well known. I hope on this occasion, Prime Minister may make some reference on this aspect,” Muraleedharan said, amid demands from a significant section of the society that the converted Dalits should be granted reservation under SC quota. Noting that Scheduled Caste status in the country was decided on the basis of untouchability which prevailed only in the Hindu society, he said no religious follower other than a Hindu should be granted any reservation as Scheduled Castes in the community. “We are not demanding that their (convert Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims) backward status should not be considered.If at all there is backwardness still existing after embracing other faiths, let them be given some other reservations. Not as part of the existing SC reservation,” he said. BJP has said that educational level of Scheduled Castes children remains much lower than that of convert Dalit Christians and Muslims and if they are granted reservation under SC Quota, the children of converts would grab major share of reservation in government jobs. The party also says that the convert Dalit Christians and Muslims would become eligible to contest election on seats reserved for Scheduled Castes, if the Ranganatha Mishra Commission report is implemented. The Kerala BJP also fears that implementation of report would encourage conversion and destroy the fabric of Indian society. Ayyankali’s birth anniversary celebrations are being jointly organised by the National Scheduled Caste Morcha of BJP and Kerala Pulayar Mahasabha, a Dalit organisation once close to CPI(M) in Kerala. (New Indian Express 7/9/14)

67. Appeal to extend reservation to all SCs without discrimination (25)

PUDUCHERRY: The Puducherry Scheduled Caste (SC) People’s Welfare Association has appealed to Government to extend reservation to all SC people without showing any discrimination among them. The office bearers of the association led by its president M.Panchatchram submitted a memorandum to the Chief Secretary Chetan B.Sanghi on Wednesday. In the memorandum they said, the government had been conferring reservation benefits upon SC people living in the Union Territory from 1964 to 1995 without any discrimination. Such reservation had been abruptly denied to section of SC people who were treated as SC migrant from 1995 onwards. In 1998, the Supreme Court had asserted the right of SC people in the Union territory to avail reservation- without any discrimination against ‘migrants’. The association said in disregard to directions of the Supreme Court, the government issued two orders in 2005 which deprived the fundamental rights of reservation to SC people. By its latest judgement, the apex court has once again bailed out SCs. “As per 2011 census, the SC population is 1,96,325 which constitutes 15.73 per cent of the total population. The government should provide for 16 per cent reservation to all without showing any discrimination between them, said Mr.Panchatcharam. (The Hindu 8/9/14)

68. Transgenders to be part of RTE quota in private schools (25)

CHENNAI: D. Sabitha, secretary, School Education, recently said the State will include the transgender community in the 25 per cent reservation in private schools for economically backward sections, children from the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes and orphaned children. Under the adult and continuing education programme, a pilot project in Salem, Erode, Dharmapuri and Villupuram has been started. “Rather than starting a separate programme for transgender people, we decided to include them in the regular education programme, promoting inclusive education,” said V. Balaji, director of the State Resource Centre for Adult and Continuing Education. Mr. Balaji said the adult education programme deploys transgender activists in each of the districts. “Since the transgender association has a census of the number of persons and the literacy levels of the people in their community, it makes things easier for us. We have also trained transgenders to be resource persons,” he said. Activists say these are all positive steps, but more needs to be done. Though their inclusion has been mandated by law, transgenders still face practical problems when it comes to enroling in schools and colleges. In spite of the notification for the inclusive education of transgenders under the Right to Education Act in 2011, so far, not a single transgender has been enroled in schools through the scheme. Problems such as having to use the common toilet with others or even the general lack of sensitivity are among the stumbling blocks being cited by transgender activists. “Tamil Nadu has always been ahead when it comes to promoting transgender rights. This year, both Anna University and Madras University have allotted seats for transgenders. Encouraging the transgender population to study will help,” transgender activist Stella Mary from Dharmapuri said. R. Jeeva from the We Community Action Network (We CAN) said, while there were a number of very useful schemes in place, there was a need to make transgender rights part of policy decisions. “So far, there have been no budgetary allocations in educational institutions for transgenders or a separate policy on what happens if they are sexually harassed or ragged,” she said. Others feel that there is a need for a gender counselling centre. According to transgender activist Priya Babu, “Many transgender students go through harassment including sexual abuse and ragging. With a gender counselling centre, these students will be able to access help readily. Also, if the institution appoints one transgender teaching or non-teaching staff member, the stigma associated with them will also come down.” Another serious problem that transgender students face is the lack of toilets. “When they are young, transgender students are confused about which toilet they should use, which creates a lot of psychological issues. There has to be a separate toilet for transgender in schools and colleges,” she said. (The Hindu 9/9/14)

HUMAN RIGHTS/ CIVIL SOCIETY/ NHRC

69. Amnesty accuses Islamic State militants of ethnic cleansing in Iraq (1)

BAGHDAD: Amnesty International has accused the militant Islamic State group of carrying out a systematic campaign of mass killings, abductions and ethnic cleansing in northern Iraq that could amount to war crimes. The rights group said the extremists, who in June overran parts of northern and western Iraq, have systematically targeted religious minorities. In a report on Tuesday, Amnesty said the Islamic State group fighters expelled Christians, Shiites, Yazidis and others from their homes. The report documented several cases where the militants carried out mass killings of Yazidi men, rounding up men and boys and killing them in groups. The report also documented the abduction of hundreds of Yazidi women and children. It said the fate of most of the abducted women and children is still unknown. (The Hindu 2/9/14)

70. NHRC to host annual meet of rights groups today (1)

New Delhi: The National Human Rights Commission will on Wednesday host the 19th annual general meeting of the Asia-Pacific Forum (APF) of the National Human Rights Institutions. The meeting aims to promote cooperation, coordination and promotion of human rights issues in the Asia-Pacific region. The forum that includes 15 NHRIs and six associate members across the Asia-Pacific region will discuss their collective agenda on human rights of some vulnerable sections of the society in the next five years. “There will also be a dialogue of the representatives of the NHRIs with Asian NGO Network on National Human Rights Institutions (ANNI) to discuss practical and constructive ways in which they can engage and cooperate on the APF’s Strategic Plan,” a news agency quoted National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) secretary general Rajesh Kishore as saying on Tuesday. “On the last day of the meeting on September 05, specific decisions will be taken on human rights issues related to women and children,” he had said. The APF was established in 1996 when four NHRIs of India, Australia, Indonesia and New Zealand met in Darwin, Australia. The NHRC is hosting the meeting for the third time. It organised the second and the seventh APF annual general meeting in 1997 and in 2002, respectively. (Zee News 3/9/14)

71. NHRC gets highest no of complaints in Asia-Pacific (1)

NEW DELHI: The National Human Rights Commission deals with the highest number of complaints every year, way ahead of its counterparts in the Asia Pacific region. The largest among them involve human rights violations by police. On the eve of the annual general meeting of the 21-member Asia Pacific Forum (APF) hosted by the NHRC, J S Kochhar, joint secretary of the panel, said, “The NHRC gets about one lakh complaints every year.” India is a founding member of the APF based in Sydney. Official data show NHRC registered 1,01,010 cases in 2012 and 1,00,112 cases in 2013. Up to July 31, 2014, the number stands at 61,790 cases. These cases belong to various categories, including rights violations by police, defence and paramilitary forces, violations against women and children and also violation by mafia/underworld. Of these, the highest number of 86,647 cases registered in one category between 2012 and 2014 deal with rights violations by police. In 2012, 34,330 such cases were registered, 33,753 cases in 2013 and 18,564 cases till July 31 this year. Cases of rights violation registered against defence and paramilitary forces are a fraction of those against police. For instance, 136 cases involving defence forces were registered in 2012, 134 cases in 2013 and 65 cases till July 31 this year. Between 2012 and July 31, 2014, 500 cases were registered against paramilitary forces. The next category that notched the highest number of cases involves rights violations against women: 7,110 cases in 2012; 9,269 cases in 2013 and 5,718 in 2014. Speaking to reporters, NHRC secretary general Rajesh Kishore said, “During the three-day meeting, specific decisions will be taken on human rights issues related to women and children.” There will also be a dialogue of the representatives of national human rights institutions with Asian NGO Network on National Human Rights Institutions (ANNI) to discuss practical and constructive ways in which they can engage and cooperate on the APF’s strategic plan for next five years. (Times of India 4/9/14)

72. Islamic militants killed 770 Iraqi troops: Human Rights Watch

An international rights group says Islamic State militants carried out a mass killing of hundreds of Iraqi soldiers captured when the extremists overran a military base north of Baghdad in June. Human Rights Watch said on Wednesday that new evidence indicates the Islamic State group killed between 560 and 770 men captured at Camp Speicher, near the city of Tikrit. The New York-based watchdog says the number of slain Iraqi soldiers is several times higher than previously reported. Earlier, Human Rights Watch said between 160 and 190 men were killed. Human Rights Watch says the new number is based on analysis of new satellite imagery, militant videos and a survivor’s account. In June, the Islamic State group claimed it had “executed” about 1,700 soldiers and military personnel captured from Camp Speicher.  (Indian Express 5/9/14)

73. Amnesty International accuses Ukraine rivals of war crimes (1)

KIEV: Amnesty International accused rival fighters in the Ukraine conflict of war crimes including indiscriminate shelling, abductions, torture, and killings, in a report compiled ahead of the ceasefire deal.”All sides in this conflict have shown disregard for civilian lives and are blatantly violating their international obligations,” Amnesty Secretary General Salil Shetty said in the report published today. The London-based rights group also charged that Russia – accused by the West of secretly sending in troops and heavy weapons to support the rebels – had been “fuelling separatist crimes” in Ukraine. It said its researchers on the ground had interviewed people fleeing the fighting in a string of cities across the war-ravaged eastern industrial belt. Civilians they spoke to said Ukrainian government forces had subjected their neighbourhoods to heavy shelling. “Their testimonies suggest that the attacks were indiscriminate and may amount to war crimes,” it said. “Witnesses also said that separatist fighters abducted, tortured, and killed their neighbours.” Much of the report was devoted to Amnesty’s charges that Russia had been fuelling what it described as an “international armed conflict,” both through direct interference and by supporting the separatists. It said it had satellite images and testimony that provided “compelling evidence” of the flow of Russian weapons, claims also made by Western leaders and NATO but dismissed as propaganda by Moscow. “Russia must stop the steady flow of weapons and other support to an insurgent force heavily implicated in gross human rights violations,” it said. Amnesty said it had also received credible reports of abductions and beatings carried out by volunteer battalions operating alongside regular Ukrainian armed forces. “Civilians in Ukraine deserve protection and justice,” Shetty said. “Without a thorough and independent investigation, there’s a real risk Ukrainians will harbour the scars of this war for generations.” (The Economic Times 7/9/14)

74. NHRC to hold open hearing, camp sitting in Bhopal (1)

BHOPAL: A high level delegation of the National Human Rights Commission, led by its Chairperson, Justice K.G. Balakrishnan will hold an open hearing and camp sitting in Bhopal from September 10 to 12. Besides the Chairperson, the team would comprise of Members, Justice Cyriac Joseph, Justice D. Murugesan, and S.C. Sinha and senior officers of the Commission. The programme would be held at RCVP Noronha Academy of Administration and Management. On the first day, the Commission will hear 74 complaints of aggrieved people belonging to Scheduled Caste communities and the problems faced by them in seeking justice from the Government agencies. These complaints were received in response to the public notice published in the national and local dailies. In connection with these complaints, the responses of the concerned authorities have been called, which will be taken up during the open hearing in the presence of senior officers and the complainants. On the second day, 45 pending cases will be taken up in a camp sitting by the full Commission at the same venue. These cases include matters relating to the stampede at Ratangarh temple in Datia district of Madhya Pradesh last year due to alleged inaction by the State Government, deaths in police custody, indignity to women, and discrimination against SC children in schools. On the concluding day, the Commission will hold a meeting with local NGOs on human rights issues for one hour from 10.00 a.m. to 11.00 a.m. and thereafter have discussions with the Chief Secretary, Director General of Police, district magistrates, superintendents of police, and other senior civil, police and jail officers on the issues raised by the NGOs and on the issues raised during the open hearing and the camp sitting. The three-day programme is being held in different States as a follow to the recommendation of a panel that the Commission organise such sessions at least once a year so that victims of atrocities could present their experiences and grievances in seeking justice from Government agencies and to enable human rights bodies, non-governmental organizations, social workers and activists apprise the Commission of difficulties encountered by them in taking up their complaints. (The Hindu 8/9/14)

JUDICIARY/ LAW

75. Even if no longer Indian citizen, divorce only under Hindu Marriage Act if married under it (19)

MUMBAI: Once a couple marries under the Hindu Marriage Act, they can only get a divorce under the same law even if they are no longer Indian citizens, the Bombay high court has held. Hearing a petition filed by a man against his wife, both British nationals of Indian origin and doctors, a division bench of Justices Vijaya Kapse Tahilramani and V L Achliya recently upheld a family court order granting interim custody of the couple’s 3.5-year-old daughter to the woman. The daughter too is a UK citizen. “The Court at London is not the competent court of jurisdiction to decide the issue of dissolution of marriage between two Hindus married in India as per the Hindu Vedic rites,” observed the judges. Dr Seema Deshpande, who had come back to India with her daughter in 2012, had filed a petition before the Bandra family court seeking divorce and the child’s custody. Dr Vinod Ranade, her husband, claimed that a London court had ordered the child’s return to the UK. “Once the provisions of Hindu Marriage Act apply, they would continue to apply as long as the marriage exists and even for the marriage’s dissolution. The Hindu marriage gives rise to a bundle of rights and obligations between the parties to the marriage and their progeny,” added the court. Ranade’s lawyers had claimed that since all three were UK citizens, their domicile was in that country. The HC, however, said that prima facie the wife seemed to have returned to her original domicile in India. The court said that Ranade could submit evidence on domicile before the family court. It also pointed to Supreme Court judgments that held that the domicile at the time of marriage and not at the time of initiating legal proceedings would matter. The HC refused to disturb the family court order granting interim custody to Seema. It pointed out that the Bandra court had passed its order before the London court and the former would take precedence. It also said that the child’s welfare would be paramount, more than the couple’s legal rights. “The minor is a 3.5-year-old girl. It is doubtful if Ranade will be in a position to take better care of a girl child so young. On the other hand, Seema, who is in India, has the support of her sister, mother and other relatives who can help her in looking after the child,” said the HC. It said the child was brought to India, where its mother tongue is spoken and where the social customs are the same as her parents’. Seema and Ranade married in 2009. The same year he became a UK national, while Seema got her citizenship in 2010. Their daughter was born in 2010. The couple started staying separately in 2011 and Seema returned to India the following year with her daughter and filed a petition seeking divorce. The HC stayed its orders for five weeks to enable Ranade to file an appeal. (Times of India 1/9/14)

76. Why law can’t assure sexual bond (19)

CHENNAI: Marriages cannot be made to work by court orders and medical certificates, say jurists responding to a recent suggestion by the Madras high court that pre-marital clinical examination should be mandated to test against sexual impotence. In a judgment, the court suggested to state and Central governments that they should amend marriage laws and provide for the testing so that those who are “impotent” or suffering from dangerous and incurable diseases don’t enter into wedlock. Justice N Kirubakaran, taking note of the high incidence of impotence-related marriage failures, described such marriages as “avoidable human tragedies.” He said women were the worst sufferers, and that these dysfunctional marriages violated their basic right to a decent and meaningful life. “The first brick of legislation is definition of the offence or the issue it seeks to address. How do we frame a straightjacket definition of impotence or frigidity?” asked a jurist, adding, “Enacting a new law can never be an answer to set right new complexities.” Fast tracking impotence-related matrimonial cases in family courts can be done by tweaking existing procedural formalities, said a former judge of a family court. Judicial separation is an honourable way out, so why should courts feel agitated about it, asks former judge of the Madras high court K Chandru. Impotence is a myth, he said, adding, “Given a situation anyone may feel impotence or frigidity.” Despite the legal requirement, at present registration of marriage cannot be made compulsory, he said. “What is the consequence of not registering a marriage? Nothing. Leave alone courts, even governments cannot tamper with personal laws,” Chandru said. Conceding that in the Hindu Marriage Act, impotence is ground for divorce, he said most of the pending matrimonial issues pertain to adjustment problems relating to work pressure, lifestyle and spouses’ inability to live together. “Are we ready for a pre-marital clinical examination to assess the mental capacity of prospective couples to live together,” he asked. “I have a handled a case where a celebrity couple had a child, but the wife still said her husband was impotent. In the same breath, she said he was having an affair with a young girl although he did not engage in full-fledged sex with her,” a senior jurist told TOI. “On the basis of this case, how do you define impotence? Sex is more a psychological issue than a mere physical act. It is very complex, and a pedestrian understanding of the issue will help none,” he said. “In the US, traffic rule violations could entail inquiries and blood tests, but in India an undertrial can refuse blood sampling. When, without his consent a blood sample cannot be lifted, how can we accord legal sanction for pre-marital clinical examination for impotence and diseases,” asked advocate V Kannadasan, a former special public prosecutor at the human rights court in Chennai. “Marriage in Indian context does not involve two individuals alone. It is an alliance between two families. No self-respecting family would consent for such pre-marital clinical examination. Any law without social acceptance and compliance is doomed to fail,” said advocate M Antony Selvaraj of Masum Associates. “Moreover which doctor will test a couple and issue a testimonial certifying that they are fit to be spouses and lead a healthy sex life? There are no fool-proof methods as yet to check sexual potency,” Selvaraj said. Counselling, for both would-be and married couples, is the answer, he said. Another jurist said institutionalizing live-in relationships, allowing prospective couples to spend a short period together and preparing them for a life-long alliance is a possible solution. “But, will our society permit this,” he asked. (Times of India 2/9/14)

77. Child marriage worse than rape, says Delhi court (19)

New Delhi: Child marriage “is an evil worse than rape” and should be completely eradicated from society, said a Delhi court while ordering registration of a case against a girl’s parents for getting her married at a tender age. Metropolitan magistrate Shivani Chauhan issued the direction while hearing a case of dowry harassment filed by the girl’s parents against her husband and in-laws. While ordering lodging of case, the court held that “giving and taking dowry is punishable under the law”. The court directed the police to register a case under the appropriate provisions of the “Prohibition of Child Marriage Act” and under the Dowry Prohibition Act against the parents of the 14-year-old girl as well as her in-laws, against whom a domestic violence case was already registered. “Child marriage is an evil worst than rape and should be completely eradicated from the society. This would not be possible if the stakeholders like State fail to take appropriate action against the offenders. “The court is not expected to sit as a mute spectator and let the evil perpetrate,” the magistrate said while directing the DCP, South, to file status report by October 19. The court pulled up the girl’s parents, saying that they too had committed a “serious offence”. “There are serious outcomes of child marriage. It is the worst form of domestic violence against the child, not only by the respondents (husband and his family)but also by her own parents. “Child brides have a diminished chance of completing their education and are at a higher risk of being physically abused, contracting HIV and other diseases, and dying while pregnant or giving birth,” the magistrate observed, adding that luckily this girl was “healthy”. “… But this does not in any way diminish the seriousness of the offence which her own parents, relatives and the husband are alleged to have committed upon her person,” the court added. (Indian Express 7/9/14)

78. SC stays execution of Nithari killer Surinder Koli (19)

NEW DELHI: ​The Supreme Court has stayed the execution of Nithari killings convict Surinder Koli by a week. ​The bench comprising justices H L Dattu and A R Dave passed the order in the intervening night of Sunday and Monday, staying Koli’s execution on a appeal by him. Koli, whose mercy petition was rejected by the President, was to be hanged on Monday morning in the Meerut jail, sources said on Sunday. “We will withhold the execution of Surinder Koli for 7 days and then wait for further orders,” SM Rizvi, Meerut Jail superintendent said. Koli was transferred from the Dasna jail in Ghaziabad district to Meerut on September 4 for the execution of his death warrant issued by the CBI court.Although jail officials were tightlipped about the exact date of execution, speculation was rife that the Nithari killer may be hanged at 5.30am on Monday, sources said. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court in Ghaziabad issued a death warrant to Koli after his mercy petition was rejected by President Pranab Mukherjee. Koli was shifted to Meerut because of the absence of hanging facilities in Dasna. Koli was convicted for the murder of a girl Rimpa Halder who went missing in Noida in December 2006. After a police investigation, she was found to have been murdered by Koli. During the probe, the skeletal remains of many other children were recovered from a drain adjacent to a house in Noida where Koli worked as domestic help for businessman Moninder Singh Pandher. Both Koli and Pandher were sentenced to death, but later the Allahabad high court acquitted Pandher and upheld the death sentence of Koli. Koli’s sentence was then upheld by the Supreme Court. He filed a mercy petition before the President which was turned down. (Times of India 8/9/14)

POLICE/ AFSPA/ CUSTODIAL DEATHS

79. Plea alleges rape-torture of woman in police custody (1)

CHENNAI: An allegation of custodial rape and torture has hit the Tamil Nadu police. Shocked at the narration of how a middle-aged woman arrested by the Udumalpet police in Tirupur district was allegedly tortured by seven policemen, who even inserted a lathi into her private parts, the Madras high court has ordered a probe by a district judge into the incident. Justice V Ramasubramanian, pointing out the allegations made Girija (name changed) that her mother was subjected to worst form of bestial treatment by police, on Thursday asked the district judge of Coimbatore to take the woman for medical examination in a government hospital and file a report by September 3. Girijay said her mother, employed in a hotel and earning Rs 200 a day, was living in a house in Udumalpet on rent. Her trouble started when houseowner Leelavathy was found murdered on August 10. Girija, who was living in Madurai district with her husband and sick father, said police informed her over phone on August 14 that her mother was being arrested in connection with the murder. Girija said it was when she met her mother at Coimbatore central prison that she came to know about the horrible third-degree harassment in custody. “When my mother tearfully narrated the torture meted out to her, it sent chills down my spine. I started trembling and shivering,” she said in her affidavit. She said her mother was tortured by seven policemen. “They injected a needle into her fingers, nails and hand. They beat her mercilessly and hanged her upside down after removing all her clothes except her inner skirt. The policemen behaved like beasts and beat my mother with lathi on her thighs, back, legs and all over her body.” … (Times of India 31/8/14)

80. Sharmila’s fast may’ve spurred AFSPA rethink (1)

New Delhi: Saying that the long struggle of human rights activist Irom Sharmila has impacted the government’s thinking on the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) in Manipur, Union minister of state for home affairs Kiren Rijiju called for finding a way out, keeping in mind security issues. The minister did not deny a rethink on the AFSPA. Mr Rijiju told a news channel that the government has to admit Ms Sharmila’s struggle but also find a way out. Ms Irom Sharmila, who recently walked free after a court order, was re-arrested for “attempt to suicide” and sent to 15-day judicial custody. Immediately after her freedom, Ms Sharmila had continued with her fast, staging a protest not far from the jail hospital which she left after her release. She said that the AFSPA imposed in Manipur is a “draconian law” which must be withdrawn. On the refusal of several UPA-appointed governors to shift to the north-eastern states, especially Mizoram, the minister, who is from Arunachal Pradesh, said those governors must “apologise to the nation”. “It is a very emotive issue for me. When a person is posted to the Northeast and he refuses to go there, that person loses the moral authority to speak on equality in the country. If people like governors and IAS and IPS officers will only choose serving in metropolitan and comfortable cities, then they don’t deserve to be in their position,” he said. (Asian Age 1/9/14)

81. Women’s panel slams LIC for not settling widow’s claim (1)

BHOPAL: Women’s panel has slammed Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) for being insensitive to settling claims of an Indore-based man, who after he was tortured in lock-up, committed suicide in 2010. The company has since refused claims of wife even though the national human rights panel and a judicial inquiry instituted had found it a case of custodial death. State Women’s Commission (SWC) is also mulling registering an FIR against LIC officials under Section 406 of IPC (criminal breach of trust). Aashish Sharma from Indore committed suicide in lock-up after he was beaten and tortured by cops. The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and a judicial inquiry reports have found this to be to be a prison death because of torture. Slamming LIC officials for lack of empathy, chairperson Upma Rai told TOI, “The man was harassed, beaten and tortured to the extent that he hung himself. However, despite such reports from established committees, insurance company is yet to provide relief to the victim’s wife.” Appearing before the commission, manager claims of Indore division D K Jain pleaded helplessness stating that ?suicide clause’ in LIC’s company policy did not allow them to cash out the claim as Aashish’s ?suicide’ happened within a year of buying the policy. “We will summon Indore’s divisional manager of LIC in next hearing. Also, FIR under section 406 is being discussed by the panel as the company has broken the policy holder’s trust,” Rai said. In another case, a Bhopal-based woman, resident of Shahpura and married to a Canadian NRI was duped by her husband when she found out that he already had a wife. After fighting for four years in Canada court, she managed to retrieve her passport, which was kept by her husband. The woman has a 10-month-old baby and moved SWC on Wednesday. SWC has ordered Mahila Thana to register cases under sections 495, 420 and 376 (forgery, rape and dowry harassment). “After registering of FIR, the man could also be extradited if needed,” Rai said, adding “there has been a steep increase in the number of such complains from NRIs.” (Times of India 4/9/14)

82. Four lakh prisoners stuck for long without conviction to walk free (1)

New Delhi, Sept. 5: The Supreme Court today ordered the release of prisoners detained without conviction for at least half the maximum term the alleged offence entails, the order expected to benefit up to four lakh accused. The relief doesn’t apply to people accused of murder, terrorism or repeat rapes, where the death sentence is a possibility, but is available to suspects in crimes such as first-time rape and armed robbery. The formal process for the release must start by October 1, the order said, providing huge relief for India’s “undertrials” — those awaiting trial or being tried — who make up at least two-thirds of the country’s prisoner population. “Because of the inability of the government we are suffering all round,” the court said, underscoring how the states had failed to implement an eight-year-old law under which today’s order came. It cited the shortage of courts and judges that was slowing justice delivery and boosting the undertrial population, ruing that many states don’t “even look at the letters we write to them” to enhance the judicial infrastructure. It directed judicial magistrates and chief judicial magistrates to visit jails every week from October 1, examine how long each undertrial has been in detention, and order the release of those who meet the half-the-maximum-term criterion. After two months, the magistrates must send compliance reports to the registrars-general of their high courts, who will forward them to the secretary-general of the Supreme Court “without delay”. The apex court will take a re-look three months from now. The bench of Chief Justice R.M. Lodha and Justices Kurien Joseph and R.F. Nariman passed the order in the light of Section 436A of the Code of Criminal Procedure (Amendment) Act, 2005. The directive came during the hearing of a public interest plea filed by Jammu and Kashmir politician and senior advocate Bhim Singh on the prolonged imprisonment of Pakistani prisoners in India. Singh told the media the order would benefit nearly four lakh prisoners. A month ago, the same bench, hearing the same plea, had directed the Centre to draw up a comprehensive framework to fast-track the criminal justice system. Today, the court agreed with attorney-general Mukul Rohatgi that releasing prisoners was the state governments’ responsibility but regretted that its repeated orders for more courts and judges were being ignored. “Yes, it is broadly a job of the state government…. But in a federal structure, finance is the main problem. They want expenditure to be borne. This cannot be done by the Chief Justice of India,” Justice Lodha said. “Many of them (the states) even do not look at the letters we write to them for creating infrastructure. Many orders have been passed over the past 10 years…. We have 15 to 20 per cent recurrent vacancies in the subordinate judiciary (trial courts).” The bench gave the attorney-general three months to come out with “a road map” for improving the judicial infrastructure. Rohatgi had earlier said the Centre was “in the process” of calling a meeting of chief ministers and state law ministers to nudge them to comply with Section 436A, but still urged the court to pass an order. “The chief ministers and chief justices of the high courts may be sensitised in that order,” he told the court. Rohatgi suggested that all the pending criminal cases in the trial courts be transferred to the respective high courts at one go for fast disposal. But the apex court said the law left no room for this. “I don’t think we have a readymade solution — it needs a multi-pronged strategy. The time has come for a concrete resolution,” Justice Lodha observed. Prolonged detention of undertrials, who the law says must be presumed innocent until found guilty, not only violates the constitutional right to liberty but has clogged the jails and worsened inmates’ living conditions. Three in four of the inmates in Tihar, the country’s biggest and best-known prison, are undertrials. Many of them have spent over five years in jail. Human rights activists have long been stressing the need to decongest the jails and speed up trials. (The Telegraph 6/9/14)

MEDIA/ FREEDOM OF SPEECH

83. Woman scribe accuses former MLA of sexual assault (1)

DEHRADUN: A woman journalist working in a local magazine on Saturday accused former MLA Yashpal Singh Rawat, currently chairman of Pauri Nagar Palika, of sexually assaulting her on August 23. She alleged that Rawat also threatened her with severe consequences in case she complained against him. Following her complaint, a case under Sections 354 (a) (sexual harassment), 294 (obscene act and songs), 506 (criminal intimidation), 376-511 (rape and attempting to commit offences) was registered against the former MLA at Dalanwala police station. However, the probe was later shifted to Pauri. Dehradun SSP Ajay Rautela said, “Following the complaint made by the woman, a case has been registered but since it falls in the jurisdiction of the police in Pauri district, the probe has been shifted.” As per the woman’s complaint, Rawat had approved an advertisement worth Rs 3,000 for her magazine for August 15 and had called her to his office on August 23 for some queries. She claimed that during the conversation, he caught her hand and molested her. According to the complainant, the nagar palika chairman tried to rape her and when she protested, he threatened to get her entire family arrested by using his “influence”.”I was scared to inform police since he has good connections in the political corridors,” she said at the SSP office. She added that the former politician called her twice on August 24 and asked her to forget the issue and “come along with him to a hotel to have fun.” The woman maintained that the former MLA called on her mobile phone on several occasions on August 26 and threatened her. “After returning to my husband’s residence at Dehradun, I could muster the courage to lodge a complaint against him,” she said, while adding that she has enough evidence against Rawat. Meanwhile, Rawat termed the allegations “baseless” and said that someone was trying to “tarnish his image”. “Till recently, I was not even aware who this woman was. She had approached me in connection with an advertisement for a magazine. I fail to understand from where did this matter crop up,” he said. (Times of India 30/8/14)

84. U.S. appalled by murder of another journalist (1)

Washington: The U.S. is appalled by the brutal murder of another American journalist, if a video purporting his beheading by the Islamic State terrorists is genuine, the Obama administration has said. “We have seen a video that purports to be the murder of U.S. citizen Steven Sotloff by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). The intelligence community is working as quickly as possible to determine its authenticity,” National Security Council Spokesperson Bernadette Meehan said. “If genuine, we are appalled by the brutal murder of an innocent American journalist and we express our deepest condolences to his family and friends. We will provide more information when it is available,” Meehan said after the video surfaced on social media websites yesterday. If found genuine, this would be the second brutal murder of an American journalists by ISIS, an al-Qaeda splinter group which has seized hundreds of square miles in Iraq and Syria. “This is something that the administration has obviously been watching very carefully, since this threat against Sotloff’s life was originally made a few weeks ago. Our thoughts and prayers, first and foremost, are with Sotloff and Sotloff’s family and those who worked with him,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters. “The US has dedicated significant time and resources to trying and rescue Sotloff. I’m not in a position to confirm the authenticity of that video or the reports at this point, obviously, since I just walked out here,” he said. “Our hearts and prayers go out to the family of Sotloff and all those who have suffered under ISIL’s barbaric behavior,” Senator Lindsey Graham said. Describing Sotloff as a man of enormous courage and decency, Senator Marco Rubio said through his execution, ISIL has demonstrated yet again its limitless capacity for cruelty and its unbridled hatred of freedom-loving people everywhere. The Committee to Protect Journalists said the beheadings on camera in a two-week period of first James Foley and then Steven Sotloff appear to be an acceleration of a pattern — dating at least to Daniel Pearl’s killing in 2002— of criminal and insurgent groups displaying the murders of journalists to send a broad message of terror. Leaders of the Maryland Muslim community joined representative of the Council on American—Islamic Relations (CAIR) to condemn the killing of Sotloff by ISIS. (The Hindu 4/9/14)

85. Crucial issues affecting journalism discussed (1)

GUWAHATI, Sept 7 – “At a time when there is no opposition to speak of, either within Parliament or outside, when a reconfiguration of power is being effected between the executive and the judiciary, and when all kinds of regressive social and political forces are making their presence felt, India needs fearless, objective, professional journalism.” Touching the core of some of the most critical issues affecting journalism and functioning of media organization in India, Siddhartha Varadarajan, distinguished academic, journalist and former editor of The Hindu, delivered the 10th Brajamohan Sarma Memorial Lecture in Guwahati today on ‘Crisis of media in India.’ Organized in the memory of the Late Brajamohan Sarma, a philanthropic social worker and advocate, the annual lecture event saw a galaxy of distinguished personalities deliberating on the topics of significance. The list included Prabhat Patnaik, Dhiresh N Choudhury, Patricia Mukhim, Dr Hiren Gohain, Sitaram Yechury, Jayati Ghosh and Brinda Karat, among others. Asserting that the media has lost its moorings when it was most needed, he said that it was drifting aimlessly, buffeted by the fickle headwinds of a business and governance model that prefers risk aversion, trivia, entertainment, ephemera and opinion mongering in the guise of news. Making a comparative analysis of the growth of the Indian print and electronic media and the inroads of web journalism, he said that the apparent good health of media was also subjected to big financial crisis in terms of most of the news channels making losses and the obsolete business model of print media, which was very lowly priced, largely dependent on advertisements, low news gathering costs, revenue squeezing tactics like paid news and use a media property to develop additional business interests. “Journalists at the media company are unlikely to be able to do critical stories about the businesses their owners are involved in,” he said. Terming the Indian media as the watchdog that does not bark, he said that the silence with which the media accepted the appointment of Amit Shah as the president of the BJP despite his being chargesheeted in a serious murder case, and many decisions of the NDA government, passing below the radar, were just a few examples. “If the business and governance model is the Achilles’ heel of Indian journalism, surely the future lies in creating media that operates within a different financial and structural framework. “Can we think of a model of journalism where the reader as citizen consciously decides to pay for news that she knows is essential to the political and social health of the society and country she lives in? Patient, philanthropic capital, coupled with citizens who recognize the intrinsic value of journalism and are willing to pay for what they read – this is the direction the media in India needs to take,” he said. Rishikesh Kalita, who secured highest marks from Bajali High School in HSLC examination, was also presented the Brajamohan Sarma award. Every year, one meritorious student from Bajali High School, where late Sarma had studied, is given the award. (The Assam Tribune 8/9/14)

86. Print Media is Dying in USA, Says Expert (1)

BANGALORE: Digital media is becoming popular in India, said Mandy Jenkins, digital journalist and media trainer. Delivering a talk on ‘New Media and Social News’ at Karnataka Media Academy here on Monday, Jenkins said, “Print media is dying in the US. Newspapers are shutting shop. Earlier, newspapers were competing with television and radio. Now, they have to compete with the likes of Candy Crush,” she remarked. “With low penetration of Internet and literacy, there is still a long way to go (in India). Print media needs to adapt to new and emerging trends such as participatory journalism to elicit opinions of readers,” Jenkins observed. (The Indian Express 9/9/14)

COMMUNAL RIOTS

87. Communal Tension Flares up in Biramitrapur (7)

ROURKELA:  The bordering Biramitrapur town in Sundargarh district witnessed a communal flare up on Monday after members of a particular community took to the streets protesting smuggling of cows. The protesters brought life in the town to a standstill and demanded strong action against the accused. With the situation remaining grim, three platoons of police forces have been deployed in the area with Sundargarh SP Dayanidhi Gochchhait, Panposh Sub-Collector HS Behera and Biramitrapur Tehsildar G Gopal Krishna trying to pacify the agitators. Sources said at around 8 am, two pick-up vans laden with eight cows and three buffaloes were intercepted on Raiboga road by members of the community. Alleging that the cattle was being taken to a slaughterhouse, the agitators beat up the drivers of the vehicles and handed them over to Biramitrapur police. They demanded action against those behind the smuggling. On the other hand, supporters of the drivers, belonging to another community, laid siege to the police station. Both communities stopped short of a direct confrontation after police swung into action and brought the situation under control. Later in the day, those protesting the smuggling of cattle formed several groups and effected a complete shutdown of the entire Biramitrapur town, located on the border of Jharkhand and infested with Jharkhand’s banned outfit People’s Liberation Front of India (PLFI). SP Gochchhait claimed that the situation was under control and precautionary measures have been taken to arrest the situation from flaring up. He said efforts are on to restore normalcy. Sources said Monday’s tension is believed to have stemmed from the simmering anger after a youth of a community eloped with a girl of another community which is protesting the cattle smuggling. Till the filing of the report, the situation in the town remained grim as hundreds of people gathered on the streets. (New Indian Express 2/9/14)

88. 97 cases of communal violence reported in 2 years (7)

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Data provided by the ministry of home affairs indicate that the number of cases related to communal violence in the country has increased by 23% in the last two years while deaths due to communal violence too registered a rise of 41% in the same period. Uttar Pradesh topped the states with 247 cases registered last year, a 109% increase in the last two years. The number of deaths in the state increased by 97%, from 39 deaths in 2012 to 77 deaths last year. Maharashtra — with 88 incidents of communal violence — came second, followed by Madhya Pradesh with 84 and Gujarat with 68 incidents. Incidents of communal violence in Kerala dropped to 41 in 2013 from 56 in 2012. While one person was killed and a total of 65 persons injured last year, 71 were injured in 2012. No deaths were reported in 2012. In 2012, 56 incidents of communal violence were reported in the state. A total of 71 persons were injured in all but no deaths were reported. Hardly any case of communal violence was reported in northeastern states like Assam, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh and Union territories like Daman and Diu. Experts said the data reveals that the onus of controlling such violence lies with the respective state governments and that the increase in numbers indicate failure on their part, especially in Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra. In Muzaffarnagar district, for example, over 60 persons were killed in communal clashes last year. The Supreme Court had held the state government prima facie responsible for not taking appropriate action to prevent the riots. The court also flayed intelligence agencies under the Central government for not passing sensitive information to state agencies which may have prevented the riots. “The UPA government had proposed the Prevention of Communal and Targeted Violence Bill, 2011, to prevent and control targeted violence, including mass violence. The bill would have given protection to scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and religious minorities in the country against organized violence, but it did not see the light of the day,” said D B Binu, an RTI activist who filed a query on the issue. The bill also proposed constituting a national authority for communal harmony, justice and reparation. “The authority was supposed to monitor the effectiveness of steps taken by public servants for prevention of communal and targeted violence, record information on offences committed by public servants and monitor investigation and prosecution,” he said. (Times of India 5/9/14)

89. Yogi slams SP for riots in west UP (7)

NOIDA: Accused by opposition parties of making provocative statements, BJP MP Yogi Adityanath courted more controversy in Noida on Sunday when he equated the rise in communal violence in western UP with the increasing population of a particular community. In the city to support BJP candidate Vimla Batham, Adityanath, the face of the party’s campaign for the September 13 bypolls, said the UP government had failed to maintain communal harmony because the ?population of a certain community had risen several times’. “Under the leadership of Akhilesh Yadav, UP has so far has witnessed 450 communal riots. Why are there no riots in eastern UP?” he said at a public meeting in Sector 45. “We will not tolerate harassment of Hindus in the state at any cost. Various parts of UP witnessed communal riots but eastern UP remained untouched. If anybody tries to touch Hindus in eastern UP, he will have to face the consequences,” he added. Adityanath also accused the state government of ?funding’ one community. “The UP government is biased towards one community. Rather than funding one particular community, the government should spend the money on improving the electricity situation in the state.” Turning his focus to problems of water and power in Noida, he said, “There is a need to improve hard water in Noida. Nothing has been done to improve electricity supply either. UP puts the blame on the Centre for not supplying enough power but the fact is that UP is not paying for power.” (Times of India 8/9/14)

COMMUNALISM

90. BJP mounts pressure, Sena says alliance is bound by Hindutva (26)

Mumbai: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) continued to mount pressure on ally Shiv Sena by discussing the observers’ report from Maharashtra ahead of the much-awaited seat-sharing between the two for the upcoming assembly polls. Though the BJP said it discussed seats where it has been contesting over the years, the party is learned to have shortlisted names for the remaining segments in case the ‘fragile-than-ever’ alliance ends in view of BJP’s demand for a half share in the 288 seats going to polls. BJP’s demands are expected to unsettle Sena further because the party’s mouthpiece Saamana said in its editorial on Monday that their alliance was bound to stay intact because of its basic foundation of Hindutva. “The resurgent Sena has digested the poison repeatedly. The BJP knows that we two are bound by the thoughts of Hindutva and we will never separate,” the editorial said. The development in the BJP’s state parliamentary board which met on Monday is crucial in view of party president Amit Shah’s visit to Mumbai on September 4. Sources said state BJP has prepared a report for Shah’s perusal. Shah also is not too keen on appeasing Sena much, and has left senior leaders from both sides confused over his plans to meet Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray. State president Devendra Fadnavis said Shah was not scheduled to interact with Thackeray, but his party colleague Vinod Tawde said the two would definitely meet. When asked, Sena leader Diwakar Raote, who addressed a press conference on Monday, refused to comment on the BJP’s posturing. One of the allies, Swambhimani Paksha expected the Sena to meet its demand for 12 seats in a couple of days. Party’s leader Sada Khot said Thackeray has promised him a fair share. (Hindustan Times 2/9/14)

91. RSS member’s murder: Bandh hits normal life across Kerala (26)

Thiruvananthapuram: The hartal called by Sangh Parivar in Kerala in protest against the murder of an RSS district functionary in Kannur paralysed normal life across the state on Tuesday. Protesters disrupted vehicular traffic in many places, and forced offices and shops to close down. Unidentified persons hurled bombs at shops in two places in Kannur district, where police are keeping tight vigil in the wake of the murder. RSS Kannur district leader E Manoj was hacked to death on Monday morning at Kathiroor near Thalassery. Another RSS worker had sustained injury in the attack. Stranded Passengers at ThiruvananthapuramCentral Railway Station during the hartal called by RSS in Kerala. (Express Photo by Shaju Philip) Stranded Passengers at Thiruvananthapuram Central Railway Station during the hartal called by RSS in Kerala. (Express Photo by Shaju Philip)  BJP senior leader P K Krishnadas alleged that CPI (M) was behind the murder. The party was worried over the flow of its workers to the BJP. The brutal murder was committed with the connivance of the CPI (M) national leadership. the murder was a bid to shatter the peaceful situation prevailing in the district. BJP also found fault with the police investigation, saying the investigating officer was a pro-CPI (M) man. (Indian Express 2/9/14)

92. VHP wants Pakistani lifestyle exhibition in Delhi scrapped (26)

NEW DELHI: The upcoming Pakistani lifestyle exhibition at PragatiMaidan, ‘Alishan Pakistan’, could face trouble from Hindu groups. Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) has written to event organiserFICCI, LGNajeeb Jung and Delhi Police commissioner BS Bassi that the event must be called off unless it is called ‘Terrorist Pakistan’ instead of ‘Alishan Pakistan’. The four-day exhibition is taking place at Pragati Maidan from September 11-14 with over 150 exhibitors. In a letter addressed to FICCI chairman, state secretary general VHP-Delhi Ram Krishna Srivastava has said that the sentiments of Indian citizens would be hurt if promotion of any product of Pakistan, which has been attacking India by various means, was carried out. VHP spokesperson Vinod Bansal said, “An exhibition like this could have been allowed if it was named ‘Terrorist Pakistan’, ‘Anarchist Pakistan’ or ‘Kapoot Pakistan’ but not ‘Alishan Pakistan’.” The letter says, “This exhibition would promote products of the country which is continuously attacking us directly and indirectly. The activities of last fifteen days have been even more intolerable. It is not only violating ceasefire but also promoting separatists on our soil.” Bansal said if the exhibition was not cancelled in its present form then by calling Pakistan “Alishan” (Magnificent), we would be promoting jihadi terrorism and gun culture reigning in Pakistan. (Times of India 4/9/14)

93. Sangh re-converts Dalit Muslim converts (26)

Shivpuri: A day after they were arrested for converting to Islam, four Dalits were “re-converted” to Hinduism by VHP and Bajrang Dal activists in a ceremony at the Hanuman Temple here on Thursday. Calling it “Ghar Vapasi”, the Hindu organisations also brought in over half-a-dozen other Dalits who had expressed their willingness to embrace Islam, and subjected them to a “purification” ceremony amid chanting of mantras by the temple priest. The four converts — Maniram Jatav, his wife Makhobai Jatav, their son Nilesh Jatav and another relative Tularam Jatav — claimed that nobody had forced them to return to their original faith. On Wednesday, they were arrested under the state’s anti-conversion law for not informing the district authorities in Shivpuri before converting to Islam. They were later released on bail. They claimed that they had converted to Islam because they were being discriminated against by upper castes. Meanwhile, Maniram’s two other sons refused to participate in the “re-conversion” ceremony today. They said efforts were on to persuade them to return to Hindu fold. “I decided to return to my original faith after Hindu leaders in our area promised that we would not be discriminated against in future,’’ said Maniram. Before the ceremony, the Bajrang Dal workers made him shave and wear new clothes. “No religion teaches discrimination. I have read the Gita, Bible and Quran. We faced a lot of difficulties and chose to convert to Islam but now we have been promised a better future,’’ he said. Maniram remained a Muslim for 14 mont