Posted by admin at 11 November 2013

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HUMAN RIGHTS/ RIGHTS GROUP/ NHRC (2)

1. National Human Rights Commission of India to hear SC, ST issues from November 26 (1)

VARANASI: A public hearing by National Human Rights Commission of India for the issues related to scheduled castes and scheduled tribes will be held in the city on November 26th and 27th. As many as 23 cases will be attended to on the occasion. A five member team consisting of NHRC, chairperson KG Balakrishnan, and others will be present on the occasion. To discuss the programme, divisional commissioner, Chanchal Kumar Tiwari held a meeting with concerned officials on Wednesday. The 23 cases that will be heard on the occasion are from Varanasi, Jaunpur, Ghazipur and Chandauli districts. Divisional commissioner asked the concerned officials to prepare themselves accordingly and also asked them to carry out the required verifications by handing over the list of the cases of Varanasi division and get back by November 10th. (Times of India 1/11/13)

 

2. Irom detention: NHRC notice to Manipur govt (1)

Imphal: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has sent the Manipur government a notice calling the conditions under which Irom Sharmila, who began 14th year of her protest fast on November 2, is being held as unconstitutional. The commission, which visited the activist in Imphal last month, has questioned the fact that Sharmila is not allowed to meet any member of the public without the state government’s permission. The restrictions imposed on access to Sharmila must be immediately removed as “these are in breach of India’s obligations under international human rights standards and principles, and a grave violation of human rights”, says the October 30 notice. The NHRC wants the Manipur Chief Secretary to report to it by December 6 on the steps taken by it in response. “Justice Joseph and I had gone to meet Irom along with some senior officials of the NHRC team. We spent around an hour and a half with her and asked her if she had any complaints. One of the reasons we met her was that the NHRC had received a number of complaints regarding the conditions of her imprisonment. She said she was under no discomfort but her only complaint was that she was not allowed to meet anyone and that she was kept in isolation from her people,” NHRC member Satyabrata Pal said. Pal noted that prisoners are allowed to receive family members and visitors on a slotted day or time in the week. “The Joint Home Secretary who accompanied us didn’t seem to know why conditions had been imposed on Irom unlike the privileges other prisoners were given. He was only able to confirm that it was not possible to meet her without the permission of the Chief Minister himself and, in his absence, the Deputy Chief Minister.” The NHRC notice states, “If the government of Manipur could deny permission to its Special Rapporteur, a retired director general of police, and Special Rapporteurs of the UN to visit Ms Sharmila, it is unlikely that it gives others access to her. It would appear that, while keeping her alive, since her death would create problems for the state government, it is trying to break her spirit through this enforced isolation, for which there is no judicial mandate.” (Indian Express 4/11/13)

 

3. NHRC registers case

Bhubaneswar: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has registered a case on the sexual harassment and subsequent burning of deceased Ragagada teacher Itishree Pradhan, who was killed after being set ablaze at her school by her foes recently. The apex human rights panel registered the case, based on a petition filed on October 29 last by activist-lawyer Radhakanta Tripathy of Bhadrak district. Tripathy said that the victim was killed in the most gruesome way on October 28. She was poured with kerosene and then set ablaze while sleeping at her school. She was not provided minimum medical assistance immediately. She had drawn animosity with her former headmaster by bringing allegation of sexual misconduct against him and ever since had been feeling insecure. Despite repeated pleas with the police and the district administration, she was ignored. This is serious violation of human rights, the petitioner pointed out. He requested the NHRC to conduct an impartial investigation to punish the wrongdoers. (Pioneer 5/11/13)

 

4. Dhaka sends 152 soldiers to gallows for 2009 mutiny (1)

Dhaka: A Bangladesh Court sentenced 152 soldiers to death on Tuesday for the 2009 mutiny by disgruntled border guards who killed dozens of military commanders during a brutal, two-day uprising. The sentences followed a mass trial involving 846 defendants — a process criticised by a human rights group who said it was not credible and that at least 47 suspects died in custody. The border guards, known at the time of the mutiny as the Bangladesh Rifles, say they revolted over demands for salaries in line with their commanders’ in the Army; assignments on UN peacekeeping missions, which come with generous perks; and better facilities. The mutiny broke out on the border guards’ leafy Dhaka compound, an oasis inside the city complete with its own rose garden and a small zoo. By the time the insurrection ended, 74 people were dead, including 57 military commanders. Corpses were found stuffed inside manholes and buried in mass graves. The case exposed deep tensions between the Government and the military. The military was furious with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for negotiating with the mutineers instead of allowing the Army to attack. Dhaka’s Metropolitan Sessions Court Judge Md Akhtaruzzaman announced the verdicts in a packed courtroom under tight security. Besides the death sentences, 161 people were sentenced to life in prison; 256 people received prison terms between three and 10 years; and 277 people were acquitted. Maj Gen Aziz Ahmed, director general of the Bangladesh Border Guards, said he was satisfied with the outcome. “It was a huge massacre. We are glad that justice has been delivered,” he said. The defense vowed to appeal. The death penalty is frequently carried out in Bangladesh for crimes like murder. New York-based Human Rights Watch has criticised the legal proceedings and called for a new trial. The group said at least 47 suspects have died in custody while the suspects have had limited access to lawyers. “Trying hundreds of people en masse in one giant courtroom, where the accused have little or no access to lawyers is an affront to international legal standards,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. (Pioneer 6/11/13)

 

LAND ACQUISITION/ SEZ

5. Industrial growth efforts get thumbs up, but policy remains a concern (4)

Indore: If one looks at the last decade of the BJP rule, industry in Madhya Pradesh grew at a CAGR (compounded annual growth rate) of 14.49% from 2004 to 2012. The exports at Indore SEZ have crossed Rs. 1,289 crore during the first six months of the current fiscal as compared to `947 crore during the corresponding period of the previous year, thus marking a growth of more than 36%.The total (annual) exports in 2006-07 were Rs. 217 crore. While a lot has been done, concerns remain over proper implementation of the industrial policy and the pace of development of industrial infrastructure. The industrial centres too are mainly concentrated around major cities. While the state government has announced 27 new growth centres, it will take time to develop infrastructure. At present, a weakening rupee and rise in cost of funds due to high interest rates is causing problems for the industry. Except for the last one year, things have been good for the industry in the last five years, Pithampur Audyogik Sangathan president Gautam Kothari said. Now global factors are causing problems for the industry. While the imports have turned costly, the exporters too are not benefitting from a weak rupee. There is also a scope for further improvement in the bureaucracy to streamline the entire investment process, he added. Last year was significant from the industry’s point of view because of the global investors meet that took place in Indore. A remarkable feature was that government gave equal importance to micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) sector and signed 113 MoUs worth about Rs. 670 crore in the sector. However, the global investorsf meet was global only in name as very few foreign companies took part and almost all the speeches were in Hindi. If official figures are to be believed, the state has signed MoUs worth about Rs. 4.5 lakh crore in the last two investors meet out of which production has started in projects worth Rs. 1 lakh crore and another Rs. 2 lakh crore worth of projects are in the pipeline. The small-scale industry sector, however, is not too thrilled with the investment climate. gThe BJP government under chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has made sincere efforts for industrial growth and to make the environment industrial friendly, but has been unsuccessful in this endeavour. The main reason is the failure to implement the industrial policy in its true spirit. The bureaucratic red tape and corruption is still taking its toll on the industry, former president of association of industry Ashok Jaiswal told HT. It will take some more time to create an industrial friendly atmosphere at par with Gujarat, he added. The state government finally finished the construction of Crystal IT Park in October 2012 and gave it away on lease to the local IT companies. Land has also been allocated to TCS and Infosys in the super corridor for setting up development centres. Land acquisitions for Pithampur-Betma industrial cluster and Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC) continued to hog the limelight with farmers opposed to the move and the government determined to acquire the land. The DMIC project has been delayed due to delay in the land acquisition, but some progress can be expected in the coming months. Overall, the industry has had a good run in the past five years, but has been suffering due to falling rupee and high interest rates in the past few months. The industry expects that the new government will carry out tax reforms and agree to introduction of goods and services tax (GST). (Hindustan Times 4/11/13)

 

6. Parsvnath Infra to surrender IT SEZ in Uttrakhand (4)

New Delhi: Parsvnath Infra has approached the government for surrendering its IT/ITeS special economic zone in Uttrakhand in the backdrop of the state government not coming out with its SEZ policy. The request of the developer would be considered by Board of Approval (BoA) headed by Commerce Secretary S R Rao in a meeting on November 8. “Now, the developer has requested for de-notification of the SEZ as in spite of the best efforts Government of Uttarakhand has not yet come out with their SEZ policy due to which the layout plan of the SEZ, even though submitted as early as March 2008, cannot be approved,” the agenda of the BoA meeting said. The company has planned to set up the zone in Dehradun. It was to come up in an area of 13.54 hectares and it was notified on September 28, 2007. The development commissioner has recommended the request for de-notification as no activity has been carried out by the developer, it said. Another developer Mayar Infrastructure Development has also requested to denotify its sector specific SEZ for Biotechnology at Gurgaon. “The developer has requested to de-notify complete 25.7177 hectares of his SEZ for the reason that the project is not viable considering the huge cost and expenses,” it added. Special Economic Zones (SEZs), which emerged as major export hubs and investment destinations started loosing sheen after the global economic crisis and imposting of minimum alternate tax. Exports from these zones declined by 4.1% during the first quarter of the current fiscal. However, the government is taking steps to revive interest of investors for SEZs. Recently, it had unveiled a package of reforms including easing of land norms to revive investments in SEZs. (Business Standard 6/11/13)

 

7. Damodar Valley Corporation’s mega power plant may move out of Bengal (4)

PURULIA/KOLKATA: Bengal is on the brink of losing Damodar Valley Corporation’s 2,520MW mega thermal power project because a section of the landlosers in Purulia’s Raghunathpur have stalled work, demanding jobs along with price of the land as compensation. DVC chief engineer and Raghunathpur project head Debashis Mitra has sent a report to his company bosses, saying that it is not possible to continue work on the project site and has suggested shifting it to Jharkhand. Mitra told TOI that DVC has got no response to its repeated pleas for the district administration’s support. Industries minister Partha Chatterjee reacted strongly, calling Mitra’s remarks “irresponsible”.The project has been on for six years and DVC has already invested Rs 5,500 crore, but a 51-acre water corridor is proving to be the bottleneck that could scupper the scheme. Landlosers in this sector have forced a stop-work until they get jobs. The DVC ultimatum has rattled the Bengal administration. Officials are scrambling to prevent a repeat of the 2007 debacle that led to the Tatas pulling out of Singur and taking the Nano project to Sanand, Gujarat. Ironically, it was the same year that the then power minister Sushilkumar Shinde had announced the DVC Purulia project with Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee at his side. The Left Front government succeeded in acquiring 1,534 acres — 926 acres for four plants, 508 acres for setting up an ash pond, 51 acres for the water corridor and 49 acres for a rail corridor. DVC had offered Rs 2.2 lakh per acre of land. Two power plants of 600MW each were to be set up in the first phase and two of 660MW each in the second phase. Trouble broke out while setting up the water corridor in the second phase in 2012. Landlosers in 11 mouzas, including Hatapathar, Sidhpur, Monagram, Ayodhya, Guniara and Ranibandh, accused DVC of reneging on its promise of jobs that was a part of the initial compensation agreement. DVC refutes the claim. As in Singur, landlosers stand vertically divided in Raghunathpur, with 800 of them accepting compensation cheques and 800 others refusing it until the DVC gives them jobs. They are ranged in two groups, both led by Trinamool Congress — Raghunathpur Thermal Power Landlosers’ Association, which wants the power plants, and Raibandh Jamihara Sangram Raksha Committee, which demands jobs. It was the committee, led by Nikhil Mandal, which blocked the main gate of the plant in August and has stalled work on the water corridor. Alarmed by this, DVC chairman Rabindra Nath Sen called on commerce and industries minister Partha Chatterjee who took him to chief minister Mamata Banerjee. “The DVC chairman had a discussion with the CM, who asked him to sort out the problem through dialogue. I wonder how the DVC chief engineer could make such an irresponsible comment without taking the effort to sort out the impasse with landloser families. How is it that work is going on smoothly at the three other locations? I have asked our men in the zilla parishad and colleagues such as Santiram Mahato to look into the matter,” Chatterjee said. The industries minister wants DVC to stick to its agreement. “I am not sure if DVC had promised jobs to landlosers. I would only expect them to stand by the agreement,” he said. Mandal vowed to continue with the stir till every landloser gets a job. “Most of them come from the poorest families. We want DVC to give them compensation and a job,” he said. Bedilal Majhi, who gave a bigha to the project, said: “I come from the Majhi Maora community and have nothing to fall back upon. I want my land back.” The committee had raised their demand at the district level meeting on October 9, soon after Mamata Banerjee’s Purulia visit. Chinmoy Chatterjee of the pro-power plant association isn’t harping on jobs, though. “We went to the meeting called by additional district magistrate, development, Sabuj Baran Sarkar on October 9. Another group barged in and asked the DVC representative to give their compensation promises on a stamp paper. This shouldn’t continue. I will go to DM to seek his intervention,” Chatterjee said. District magistrate Tanmoy Chakrabarty wants DVC to make specific complaints if it wants the administration to take steps. “I told them to make complaints against acts of coercion or violence at the project site. They didn’t do so,” the DM said. (Times of India 7/11/13)

 

TRIBALS

8. Lok adalats to benefit tribals in Udaipur (6)

UDAIPUR: To give free legal services to the weaker sections of society, Lok Adalats in all spheres of judiciary will be held nationally on November 23. They will also help reduce the large number of cases pending in various courts. In Udaipur, the camps will be held from November 18 to 23. Advocates have started sorting cases and counselling parties which they feel can be compromised in the lok adalats. District judge Ram Chandra Jhala in a meeting of the judicial officials of all courts issued instructions to route all cases to lok adalats in which there is a possibility of amicable settlement. Litigations under simple IPC sections, civil, motor vehicle and negotiation instrument acts would be disposed of in National Lok Adalat. The unofficial target of cases expected to be put up before lok adalats is nearly 20%, sources said. Law experts believe the initiative is likely to bring relief to hundreds of petitioners, especially those incapable of meeting legal expenses and awaiting justice since years. Udaipur being a tribal-dominant district, majority of the cases involve tribal people who have to come from far and interior villages for the hearings. “Most of the tribal cases are of criminal nature related to petty quarrels and physical assault. Such cases can easily be resolved in lok adalats, we have started counselling the clients,” senior lawyer Arun Vyas said. However, officials are working out the number of cases which can be routed. Even if 10% to 12% of pending cases are resolved, it will be a great achievement, he added. (Times of India 2/11/13)

 

9. Two more tribal infants dead in Attappady (6)

PALAKKAD: Death continues to stalk tribal infants at Attappady. Two more tribal infants died on Saturday of alleged malnutrition, taking the toll to 38 since January this year. The three-day-old child of Shantha and Subramaniyan of Chindakki primitive tribal hamlet in Pudur grama panchayat died on the way to the Coimbatore medical college. Shantha had delivered the child at the Mannarkad taluk hospital on October 28. The mother and child were shifted to the Kottathara tribal specialty hospital at Attappady on October 31. With the condition of the child deteriorating, the Kottathara hospital authorities referred the infant to the Coimbatore medical college. In the other incident, the eight-month-old child of Vijayan and Chiinna Swamy of Cheerakkandav Ooru in Pudur grama panchayat died at the Nutrition Rehabilitation Centre of the Public Health Centre, Pudur. The child weighted only four kg. The child was underweight even at the time of birth, relatives said. The two deaths come after a gap of three months. K.A. Ramu, convener of ‘Thampu,’ a voluntary organisation working among the tribal people, said though various special packages had been announced for Attappady by the Union and the State governments, the deaths of tribal infants at regular intervals showed that nothing much had changed on the ground. Mr. Ramu said there was no dearth of health centres at Attappady. But they lacked specialised care. The 52-bed Kottathara hospital did not have specialist doctors and facilities to handle serious cases. The hospital generally referred patients to the medical colleges in Thrissur, Kozhikode, and Coimbatore. Referring patients who were in a critical condition to medical colleges as far as 50 km to 80 km away was a major cause of death, he said. (The Hindu 3/11/13)

 

10. 20 Jharkhand tribal children ‘held captive’ at marble factory (6)

As many as 20 tribal children aged 12-18 from Giridih district of Jharkhand allegedly held captive at a marble factory in a Rajasthan town will be rescued in a day or two, officials said on Monday. Francis Tuddu, a resident of Gandey, said a week ago one Sunil Yadav of Koderma district in Jharkhand told the parents of these children he will get them work fit for children in Delhi or Jaipur. “But one of the boys escaped from the factory and told us how the owners and the management seized their mobile phones to prevent them from contacting their families. He told us they were forced to perform hazardous tasks,” Tuddu told the media at the district collectorate on Saturday. Giridih deputy commissioner Diprabha Lakra said the administration swung into action soon after the parents of these children from nearly a dozen villages in the district complained to him on Saturday. “After contacting Rajasthan authorities, we have learnt the factory is located in Pauta locality on Delhi-Jaipur highway, about 90km from Jaipur. If everything goes well, the children would be released within a day or two,” Lakra said. (Hindustan Times 4/11/13)

 

11. Brinda Karat bats for tribal people (6)

KHAMMAM: Asserting that traditional methods of cultivation, including ‘podu’ (step) cultivation, are permitted under the law, CPI(M) Polit Bureau member Brinda Karat has vowed to spearhead a spirited struggle to enable tribal people secure their rights. She was addressing a huge gathering of tribal people at the Pavilion grounds here on Wednesday organised by the CPI(M) to protest against the denial of pattas to tribal people for lands under their occupation and foisting of cases against party cadre for fighting for the tribal people’s cause. Tribal people from across the district took out a large rally which later culminated in a dharna in front of the Collectorate here. Ms. Karat accused the Forest department of blatantly violating the Forest Rights Act in the State by handing over vast tracts of forest lands to the Van Suraksha Samithi (VSS) in the name of community rights. “This amounts to illegal grabbing of forestland and undermining the interests of scores of Adivasis,” she said. Lack of governance in the State due to the extreme opportunistic politics being pursued by the persons at the helm of affairs had jeopardised the interests of Adivasis and all other marginalised sections, she said, accusing the government of rejecting more than 50 per cent claims of the tribal people under the Forest Rights Act. Earlier, speaking to reporters she said that eviction and displacement of tribal families was rampant in Andhra Pradesh. The greatest violence against tribal people is the violation of the Forest Rights Act, she alleged. (The Hindu 7/11/13)

 

MINORITIES: MUSLIMS, CHRISTIANS & COMMUNAL RIOTS

12. Riots likely to split 2014 votes on communal lines in UP (7)

NEW DELHI: Continuing communal violence in western Uttar Pradesh has raised a serious threat of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections being held in the shadow of intense polarization, reviving prospects of voting patterns not seen since the Ayodhya mobilization. Fresh killings in Muzaffarnagar — a month after massive clashes saw 40,000 Muslims fleeing their homes for relief camps — has led to questions if polarization due to religious violence could spread and become a statewide phenomenon. As renewed violence jolted hopes of normalcy, exposed claims of the Samajwadi Party (SP) government and revealed that communal divides are running deep, the possibility of passions remaining inflamed till elections cannot be ruled out. The fear is for real if the communal cauldron keeps simmering. Presented an opportunity to reverse its marginalization in a caste-driven calculus, BJP feels it can make the most of the situation and its MLAs have not lagged in fanning communal sentiments. Though SP looks the biggest loser as Muslims question the party’s claim to being “pro-minority”, the party does not seem to altering its strategy – choosing to blame BJP and overlook its own role in acting selectively against mischief makers. If both SP and BJP persist with their current political game plans, the Lok Sabha election in India’s most populous state could be an ugly, violence-hit affair. Many believe the clock could turn to when communal considerations subsumed other considerations in a state imbued in caste. If predictions of a reduction of SP’s Muslim base prove correct, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) might find its fortunes improving. In fact, but for BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi seeming to capture the imagination of voters, BSP might have stood to gain even more strongly as its leader Mayawati has carefully nurtured an image of being strict on law and order issues. SP’s tactic of allowing communal tensions to simmer in order to consolidate Muslims seemed to be working until things got out of hand in Muzaffarnagar. The storm of criticism over the Akhilesh Yadav government’s inept – and some feel deliberate – handling of the situation has preempted the possibility of the ruling party in the state playing savior. Some of BSP’s local leaders are suspected to being involved in partisan politics, but the party may still do well due to comparisons between the insecurity spawned by SP and Mayawati’s relatively peaceful regime. Even Congress is hoping to gain in the region where it has thin political muscle. While the minority vote seems adrift, BJP can relish the prospect of a communal divide, especially with Modi at the helm of the Lok Sabha campaign. The party would hope the mood in western UP influences the sentiment elsewhere and has been encouraged by the response the leader received recently in Kanpur. Rashtriya Lok Dal, the local outfit confined to western UP, also seen a big loser. With Muslims and Jats as its vote base, a divide between the two communities will splinter its electoral compact. While RLD chief and Union civil aviation minister Ajit Singh has been urging the Hindus in western UP to bring back the Muslim refugees to villages, the fresh violence is likely to be a setback to his efforts. (Times of India 1/11/13)

 

13. CM says marriage fund scheme for all minorities as KJP protests (7)

Bangalore: Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said on Thursday a new scheme to gift Rs 50,000 to women for marriage was for all minority communities, not just Muslims. The statement came amid protests by the opposition Karnataka Janata Party (KJP) of B S Yeddyurappa, which said the scheme was only for the benefit of Muslim women in homes with annual incomes below Rs 1.5 lakh. The notification for the scheme issued by the minority welfare department also clearly states that the Rs 50,000 marriage grant is exclusively for poor Muslim women. The KJP held a protest in Bangalore under the leadership of Yeddyurappa demanding that the scheme be extended to poor women from all communities. The scheme to be launched on November 1 is yet to get a proper name because of differences on whether it is meant for Muslim women or minorities in general. Minority welfare department minister Qamarul Islam has cast his vote in favour of Bidayee Bhagya but two other names — Nikaah Bhagya and Mangalya Bhagya — are also doing the rounds. It was first proposed in July in the 2013-14 state budget by Siddaramaiah “as a scheme for providing financial assistance for the marriage of girls of minorities”. The scheme is now under the minorities welfare ministry. The target of this financial year is 20,000 girls with a Rs 10-crore outlay. (Indian Expresds 1/11/13)

 

14. Conversions send Kerala cops on prayer hall raids (7)

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Kerala police have started collecting data on Christian missionary institutions functioning in the Attappadi tribal belt. A team of officials led by Agali deputy superintendent of police R Salim met representatives of various sects functioning in Agali earlier this week. The move follows reports of conversion drives conducted by Christian denominations in the region after incidents of malnutrition deaths. The Intelligence Wing of the state police also submitted a report to the home department, warning about the possibility of communal tension in the area. Salim said the police are in the process of collecting data about institutions run by missionaries, including prayer halls, schools, hospitals, de-addiction and meditation centres. ‘’We asked them not to engage in any type of conversion activities,” he said. It is learnt that most of the representatives who attended the meeting were Pentecostal pastors who were accused in the Intelligence report of luring tribals to their faith. The police are learnt to have planned similar meetings at the Sholayur police station limits. The officials termed the data collection a cumbersome task as many of the prayer halls were functioning in the houses of pastors or converted tribals. “As churches need to register with the panchayat, some sects run prayer halls in the residences of pastors or converted tribals to bypass the rule,” they said. Attappadi block panchayat president Usha Raju said the initiative, though belated, was welcome. “The pastors have succeeded in converting a significant population in hamlets like Pothupadi, Vattilakki and Kattekad,” she said. Maruthi, secretary of Thaikula Sangham, an organisation of tribal women, alleged that many of Sangham’s development project proposals were rejected by the government. But missionary organisations easily bag them which gives them genuineness among the tribal population. (New Indian Express 3/11/13)

 

15. Poverty falls fast for dalits and Muslims (7)

During the period of fast economic growth in the 2000s, how did poor minorities fare? Some heartening answers have been provided in a Columbia University paper by Panagariya and More (Poverty by Social Religious and Economic groups in India and its Largest States, 1993-94 to 2011-12). Poverty has declined much faster for dalits and tribals than for upper castes or the overall population. And it has declined faster for Muslims than for Hindus or the national average. Using the so-called Tendulkar poverty line (which is close to the UN and World Bank’s poverty line), the two economists calculate that in the seven years between 2004-05 and 2011-12, the all-India poverty ratio fell by 15.7%. The decline was much higher at 21.5% for dalits and 17.0% for tribals. The decline in the poverty ratio of the upper castes was much lower, at 10.5%. This represents very substantial progress in poverty reduction. In the earlier decade, between 1993-94 and 2004-05, the decline was only 9.6% for dalits and 3.7% for tribals. The overall poverty ratio declined by 8.0%.In as many as 12 states, the poverty ratio for dalits was actually lower than the national average. This is an astonishing achievement which shows that the caste gap, which once yawned as wide as the Brahmaputra, is now closing fast. In the Hindi heartland (nicknamed the BIMARU states), dalit progress continues to be modest. But in southern and western India, dalit poverty has fallen dramatically. It is lowest in Kerala and Tamil Nadu. The news for Muslims is also good. Their poverty ratio declined in this seven-year period by 18.2%, faster than the 15.6% for Hindus. The absolute level of Muslim poverty remains higher than of Hindus. But the gap has almost halved, from 6.1% in 2004-05 to 3.5% in 2011-12. In rural areas, the difference has almost disappeared. But in urban areas it remains high. Muslim literacy and school graduation rates are far lower than for Hindus, partly because of lower school enrolment of girls. Unsurprisingly, this leads to a poverty gap between the two communities. The good news is that the gap in both poverty and school enrolment is closing. The Sachar Committee in 2006 portrayed Muslims as a disadvantaged community, especially in education, bank loans and representation in government jobs. But it revealed that Muslim poverty was declining much more sharply than Hindu poverty. That trend has continued. Panagariya and More provide a whopping surprise: in as many as seven states, Muslims are less poor than Hindus. This is unsurprising in Kerala, where Muslims have been major beneficiaries of migration to and remittances from the Gulf. But the ratio is even lower in Tamil Nadu. In four states it is below 10%, and in the fifth, Gujarat, it is 11.4%.The authors also look into the rural and urban divide. Astonishingly, the rural Muslim poverty ratio is lowest of all in Gujarat, at 7.7%. This is much lower than the urban ratio, and so raises the question whether it is a statistical quirk. Muslims in Gujarat were victims of terrible violence in 2002, and many still feel unsafe. But their economic position has improved a lot. Poverty is lowest for Jains, followed by Sikhs and Christians. So, most minorities do well in India. Muslims are an exception. The Sachar Committee implied that Muslims were in some ways as badly off as the dalits. Not so for poverty ratios. In 2011-12, 25.4% of Muslims were below the poverty line, much better than dalits (29.4%) or tribals ( 43%).Some caution is required in interpreting the data. First, 2004-05 was a bad monsoon year while 2011-12 witnessed a good monsoon, and this may exaggerate the achievement in this period. Second, the year-wise variations in some states look very steep, and seem to need a pinch of salt. Third, the government has decided to create a new poverty line, and all the data will have to be recast after that. Yet there can be no doubt that the overall trend is excellent. Panagariya and More conclude that rapid GDP growth in the seven years between 2004-05 and 2011-12 must have been the main cause of record poverty reduction, with its attendant inclusiveness for dalits and Muslims. Some socialists will disagree, saying poverty fell mainly because of government schemes like MNREGA, the rural employment programme. But this cannot explain the especially sharp fall of poverty in urban areas. Income inequalities as measured by NSSO surveys do not show improvement, and indeed have worsened slightly. The main cause of declining poverty has been a rising tide of incomes benefiting all sections. dalits and Muslims have benefited most. (Times of India 3/11/13)

 

16. Shaadi Bhagya for 1,000 Muslim brides this year (7)

Bangalore: Even as political parties in the State are engaged in a war of words on whether the Shaadi Bhagya scheme amounts to “minority appeasement”, the target fixed for the districts by the Directorate of Minority Welfare is limited. The physical and financial target of beneficiaries earmarked for this financial year under the scheme is 1,000, which will cost the Exchequer about Rs. 5 crore at the rate of Rs. 50,000 per beneficiary. Subject to 13 conditions, the scheme promises household goods and cash to Muslim brides from economically backward families. The circular sent by the Directorate of Minority Welfare to the deputy commissioners makes it clear that the number of beneficiaries cannot cross the target and the “poorest” have to be selected from among the applicants. The district-wise break-up shows that the highest beneficiary target set is for Bangalore city at 135 and the lowest Chamarajanagar at six. Syed Mohammed Iqbal, general secretary of the Karnataka Muslim Muttahida Mahaz (an umbrella organisation comprising 28 groups), welcomed the new scheme but said that the target is limiting. “It should have been at least 10 times more, considering that the poverty ratio among Muslims is high,” he said. The Muslim population in the State is pegged at 64.63 lakh. Mr. Iqbal underlined the fact that the money being spent on the scheme was not a new allocation, but from within the existing budget of the Karnataka Minority Development Corporation. “So the argument that it leaves out other communities does not hold water,” he said. A section of Muslims also feels that schemes of this kind serve a narrow purpose. K.M. Ashraf, State secretary, Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, said that while the scheme is welcome, it should be need-based rather than have fixed targets. “The government should come up with a comprehensive package based on the Sachar committee recommendations as promised in the budget,” he said. Writer, activist and advocate Banu Mushtaq said that while popular schemes such as the Shaadi Bhagya come and go with governments, the real need is for sustained programmes that empower women. “We need campaigns that make marriage itself a matter of choice for a woman,” she said and added that only strong educational and skill-development initiatives can help achieve that. “Women should be able to define marriage as a relationship between a man and a woman on an equal footing, rather than one that involves ‘give-and-take’ of the monetary kind,” Ms. Mushtaq said. Shahanaz M., president of Sahana Women’s Counselling Centre and editor of the magazine, Anupama, says that while extending a helping hand during marriage is a good gesture, there should be emphasis on issues such as dowry harassment and domestic violence. “On priority, we need a legal system that empowers women,” she said. (The Hindu 5/11/130

 

17. Sena attacks Modi for ‘appeasing minorities’ (7)

Mumbai: In a veiled attack on ally BJP and its prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, the Shiv Sena on Wednesday said issues like Ram temple at Ayodhya and uniform civil code are being ignored for the sake of gaining power. In an apparent barb at Modi, the Sena said, “Special efforts are being made to bring in burqa-clad women faces to (Modi’s) public rallies. Everyone is in a hurry to appease minorities. Rather than opposing the Congress, all are getting in the race of appeasing minorities,” an editorial in Sena mouthpiece Saamana said. Targeting BJP’s politics, the newspaper said, “People forgot the Ram temple issue in a bid to seek power.” The Sena comments have surfaced even as BJP is trying to reach out to Muslims ahead of the assembly and general elections, in a bid to seek acceptability for Modi, who has been under fire over the 2002 riots. The editorial also claimed that appeasement of minorities will be detrimental to country’s interests in the long run. “We had seen earlier that to get power, Ram temple issue was sidelined, issues like common civil code were kept aside,” the Sena said. (Hindustan Times 6/11/13)

 

18. Court restrains bishops from using liturgy book (7)

CHENNAI: A City Civil Court has granted a permanent injunction restraining Roman Catholic Bishops and priests from using a Tamil translation of the Missal 1993, the liturgical book, in churches under their jurisdiction. T. Chandrasekar, IV Assistant Judge of the City Civil Court, said ‘Thiruppali Puthagam’, a translated work by the bishops was illegal, improper, incorrect, unbiblical and ultra vires of the Code of Canon Law. Consequent to the judgement, Catholic churches across the State are not in a position to use the book for mass. Terming the translation as ‘careless’ and ‘confusing’, the judge said there was no documentary evidence to show that a committee was appointed for translation. The judgement was delivered on a suit filed by G. Alex Benziger, Leonard Vasanth and J.V. Fernando of Chennai, who described themselves as members of the Roman Catholic Church. They contended that contrary to earlier translation, the bishops replaced “udal” for body instead of ‘sareeram’ and the word ‘sin’ was found totally removed. When asked about the history of translation, Rev. Fr. L. Anandam, Rector, St Peters Seminary, Madurai, said there were three translations of the Missal in the past. After the Second Vatican Council in 1965, Pope Paul VI granted local translation of the Missal, which was in Latin and belonged to the period of Pope Pius V (16th century). Again, Pope Benedict XVI sanctioned the latest translation, which is in use since 2011-12. He said theologically there was nothing wrong with the word “udal”. Rev. Fr. Joe Arun, a cultural anthropologist, said the argument of the petitioners would turn the clock to the days of Hellenisation when the Bible was translated from Aramaic – the language Jesus and his disciples spoke – and Hebrew into Greek and symbolises the supremacy of the language of the conqueror and dispensing with culture specific translations. “Here, the battle is between conservatives and reformists. We need a culture specific Missal that accommodates the people’s language,” he said. Fr. Vincent Chinnadurai, one of the secretaries of the All India Catholic Bishops Conference, said only a microscopic minority opposed the Missal 1993 and it was the same conservatives who opposed translation of Missal from Latin to Tamil. (The Hind 7/11/13)

 

19. Not just Patna, Gujarat riots a refrain in many other blast probes (7)

New Delhi: The recovery of a CD of the Gujarat riots from the Patna blast suspects’ hideout matches what security agencies have called a pattern: the 2002 violence recurring as a refrain in interrogation reports related to almost every terror attack since then. A scrutiny of the reports, accessed by The Indian Express, reveals that investigators and police officials in several states, including Gujarat, have mentioed the riots — and the subsequent sense of “grievance and injustice” — as a “motive.” Co-nsider the following key cases: * The chargesheet filed by National Investigation Agency (NIA) on July 17, 2013, against 12 alleged Indian Mujahideen (IM) accused linked the alleged IM’s genesis to “Babri Masjid demolition (1992) and the riots in Gujarat after the Godhra incident (2002).” * In his affidavit in the September 13, 2008 Delhi serial blasts, then Assistant Commissioner of Police, Mehrauli Sub Division, Sanjeev Kumar Yadav quoted 26-year-old accused Kayamudin Kapadia’s disclosure statement that he had joined the Students’ Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) in 2002-03 “to take revenge for atrocities on Muslims in Gujarat riots 2002.” Yadav also referred to a statement by another accused about a presentation “Inhuman Gujarat” and how “atrocities on Muslims in Gujarat…provoked me to work for jehad.” * In a 2006 case related to alleged recovery of arms at Verul-Aurangabad road (Maharashtra), Investigating Officer Assistant Police Commissioner, ATS Vinod Damodar Satav filed five chargesheets against 21 accused and reco-rded statements of 10 under MCOCA Act. Every alleged confession report mentioned the Gujarat riots. A statement by 33-year-old accused Mohd. Sharif Shabir Ahmad was illustrative: “We used to discuss the communal riots in Gujarat…it was felt that we have to be prepared to save ourselves.” * In her affidavit in the Ishrat Jahan fake encounter case, ACP Parikshita Gurjar explained why Gujarat is “prime target for terrorist action”. She claimed “the killing of Muslims in these (2002) riots have been exploited by Pak ISI, Pak-based Islamic terrorist groups in order to motivate Muslims to take revenge against the alleged kill-ing of innocent Muslims and launch a jehad against alleged fundamentalist Hindu forces.” (Indian Express 7/11/13)

 

WOMEN

20. Odisha teacher dies after being set on fire (8)

Bhubaneswar: A woman teacher in Odisha’s Rayagada district died Friday, four days after she was set ablaze by an unidentified assailant for allegedly refusing to withdraw a sexual assault complaint. DH Illustration. For representation Only. A woman teacher in Odisha’s Rayagada district died Friday, four days after she was set ablaze by an unidentified assailant for allegedly refusing to withdraw a sexual assault complaint. “She succumbed to her injuries at a private hospital in Visakhapatnam in the  neighbouring state of Andhra Pradesh where she was undergoing treatment. Her condition was critical,” district Superintendent of Police Rajesh Pandit told IANS. Itishree Pradhan, 28, was set on fire on the night of Oct 27 after she reportedly refused to withdraw a complaint of sexual assault against local school inspector Netrananda Dandsena in July. The incident took place in a residential government school at Tikiri in Rayagada  district, about 420 km from state capital Bhubaneswar. She was watching a television show along with some children when the assailant entered the school room, poured kerosene on her and set her on fire. Pradhan had sustained more than 90 percent burn injuries. The district administration has suspended Dandsena, a district inspector of schools, and also a police officer who was investigating the case. Dandsena had been absconding ever since Pradhan filed a complaint with the police against him in July this year. A committee against sexual harassment at the work place, which probed the allegation, had found Dandsena guilty and recommended action against him. Police arrested Dandsena Wednesday and are investigating if he set the teacher on fire himself or whether he had hired someone to commit the crime. (Deccan Herald 1/11/13)

 

21. 53% JNU women face sexual harassment, says survey (8)

New Delhi: After an internal study revealed that 53 per cent of women in Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) face sexual harassment, the varsity which has India’s most liberal campus is likely to set up a Women’s Resource and Advocacy Collective (WRAAC), and conduct gender-orientation programmes and courses soon. These measures were recommended by a 10-member committee that was set up in the wake of an axe attack on a student inside the campus on July 31. The attacker, the student’s spurned lover, later committed suicide. The recent study on sexual harassment within the campus was conducted and compiled by professor Ayesha Kidwai of the Centre of Linguistics and professor Madhu Sahni of the Centre of German Studies through an online anonymous questionnaire. Of the 529 students who participated in the study, 21 per cent one in every five declared themselves to be in an abusive relationship  According to the study, 53 per cent of the women stated that they had to face sexual harassment ‘once in a while.’ And 96 per cent of the respondents were upset over the July 31 incident, which triggered a widespread debate on ‘gender sensitisation’ in the university, which is considered to be one of the safest place for women in the capital. Professor Sudhir Kumar Sopory, the vice-chancellor of the university, in an interaction with dna earlier, asserted that the varsity was committed to bringing in reforms in the wake of the panel’s recommendations, wherever and whenever necessary. The committee had submitted a 21-page report in September this year, after which various faculty members were asked to chalk out a detailed course of action to implement the recommendations. “The study should not be taken in a negative sense. It reflects that JNU is a place that is ready to accept its problems and work out solutions by open discussion and debate,” said professor Kidwai, adding, “It only strengthens the need to implement the recommendations of the committee immediately.” According to the recommendations report, the WAARC will serve many purposes such as functioning as a crisis centre and safe haven from violence. it would also provide counselling facilities. It read that existing courses on gender and discrimination should be widely publicised and new courses should be designed in a variety of ways and different centres should come up with modules. The committee also recommended strengthening the existing Gender Sensitisation Committee Against Sexual Harassment and treating it as part of the JNU administration. (DNA 6/11/13)

 

22. Sexual assault: Jodhpur police file chargesheet against Asaram (8)

Jodhpur: Jodhpur police on Wednesday filed a chargesheet against self-styled godman Asaram and four of his aides in a sexual assault case. Asaram, 72, has been accused of raping a minor in the chragesheet that runs into more than 1,300 pages, reported NDTV. The chargesheet records statements of over 140 witnesses. Asaram was arrested on September 1 on charges of raping a 16-year-old girl in his ashram near Jodhpur. He is currently lodged in Jodhpur central jail. The teenager said Asaram called her to the ashram on August 15 for an “exorcism ritual” and assaulted her while her parents waited outside. On October 6, Asaram was slapped with another sexual assault case on a complaint by a woman from Surat. The woman and her younger sister lodged separate complaints against Asaram and his son Narayan Sai, accusing them of repeated sexual assault between 1997 and 2006. The sisters were then living in his ashram on the outskirts of Ahmedabad, according to the complaint. Gujarat Police had also grilled Asaram before bringing back him to Jodhpur on October 23. Sai has been absconding. Asaram, who runs more than 400 ashrams across India, was denied bail by Rajasthan high court. He has been under judicial custody since September 2, and the district court had earlier extended his judicial custody for 12 days on October 25. “We have prepared a chargesheet against Asaram and the co-accused and will produce it before the district and sessions judge (Jodhpur) on Wednesday,” deputy police commissioner Ajay Pal Lamba had told Hindustan Times on Tuesday. Lamba said there was sufficient evidence against the godman and his accomplices – Chhindwara gurukul caretaker Sharat Chandra, hostel warden Shilpi, Asaram’s personal caretaker Shiva and his driver-cum-personal cook Prakash. (Hindustan Times 6/11/13)

 

23. ‘Ahimsa Anuvrat’, a rally to save the girl child (8)

CHENNAI: School students from the city took part in a rally ‘Ahimsa Anuvrat’ in support of the girl child, on the Marina Beach on Tuesday. The event was flagged off by chief guest Sailesh Pandey, chief editor of Rajasthan Patrika, Chennai The rally was an initiative by the Terapanth Educational and Medical Trust.  Teachers and 700 students of the Terapanth Jain Vidyalaya Matriculation Higher Secondary School took part in the rally that began near the Kannagi Statue and ended at the Gandhi Statue, with the message to spread awareness to save the girl child and the environment. The event was part of the activities held in commemoration of the Jain Terapanth Acharya Gurudev Sri Tulsi Centenary celebrations Carrying slogans on preventing female infanticide, saving the environment and saying no to drugs, the students  took morning walkers by surprise as they marched ahead despite sudden showers. A beach clean-up initiative was also part of the rally, as students collected the Deepavali waste on the beach as part of  ‘Save Environment Project’. (New Indian Express 6/11/13)

 

24. TISS to carry out research on crime against women in Assam (8)

GUWAHATI: The Assam State Commission for Women (ASCW) has asked the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) to carry out a research on crime against women in Assam. The basic objective of the research is to find out the reasons, causes and factors responsible for crime against women. Between 2010 and 2012, about 358 cases of domestic violence, bigamy, maintenance, dowry, rape, kidnapping, sexual harassment, land and miscellaneous were registered with the women’s commission. It registered 148 cases of domestic violence, 20 cases of bigamy and 16 cases of maintenance during this period. About 30 dowry cases, 17 rape cases, seven kidnapping cases, two sexual harassment cases, 20 land-related cases and 108 miscellaneous cases were registered. ASCW member-secretary Monideepa Borkataky said, “Indicators say crime against women is increasing but the exact cause behind its rise is still not known. As per the National Crime Bureau Record (NCBR), Assam ranks second in the country in crime against women. Women are now not afraid to report any criminal incident and this could be a reason behind the rise. It has to be proved that certain factors are responsible for the increasing number of crime against women. Hence, we have asked the institute to take up a research project.” She said the research project should study the scenario of the entire state, rather than concentrating on Guwahati. TISS associate professor Meghali Senapati said, “A lot of research projects on women have been undertaken by TISS in places like Rajasthan, Haryana and Mumbai, but so far no such research has been conducted in Assam. These projects are called women-centric social work. Last year, after the GS Road incident, chief minister Tarun Gogoi had said that there should be a research on crime against women by TISS, but due to certain factors it could not be carried out. This time, the ASCW has asked us to carry out a research and we have welcomed it. We will submit a proposal either to the government or some other organization for funding our project. We have to form a research team, as well.” She said this is not a legal problem but a social problem. The texture of the problem has to be understood, she said. “We have to focus on the causes and strategies and a holistic understanding is required. We have to find out the strategies to deal with violence and crime against women. We have to analyze the legal, social and psychological aspects,” she added. (Times of India 7/11/13)

 

25. In-laws shut door on woman for giving birth to 3 girls (8)

HYDERABAD: A housewife approached the Saroornagar women police alleging that her husband and in-laws were unhappy with her for giving birth to three daughters and demanding additional dowry. The victim, Ramadevi, 30, is the wife of Vaikuntham, a spice merchant from Chaitanyapuri. Seven years ago, Ramadevi married Vaikuntham and they have three daughters. A few days ago, Ramadevi went to her parent’s house in Parigi with her three daughters, and when she returned on Wednesday evening, she found the house locked. As she could not contact either her in-laws or husband, Ramdevi approached the police alleging that they were harassing her for giving birth to three daughters. She also feared that they might take away from her 80 tola gold jewellery given to her by her parents. “Ramadevi is not willing to lodge a police complaint against the husband or in-laws. Our women police station staff is trying to counsel both the parties to amicably settle the issue,” ACP, LB Nagar, B Venkat Reddy said. (Times of India 7/11/13)

 

26. NGO receives $25k grant to empower women in slums (8)

PUNE: A city-based non governmental organization (NGO), Development Support Team, has received a $-25,000 grant from the UPS Foundation for a project on improving financial literacy and making livelihood interventions for women living in Pune’s slums. “The aim of the project is to understand and improve the economic status of women living in slums in Pune and Pimpri Chinchwad. The project looks at three aspects-improving the financial literacy of the women, providing them training to improve their livelihood opportunities and monitoring the financial performance of self help groups (SHG),” said a consultant at Development Support Team, Sonia Garcha. The project titled ‘economic empowerment of urban women through financial literacy and livelihood intervention’ started on November 1 and slums in eight areas of the city have been identified for the intervention, Garcha said. The project will have an impact on over 6,000 women members of 304 SHGs, she added. Garcha explained that the NGO has been working towards empowering women in slums using the SHG and federation models for several years. Three core areas that require intervention have been identified for the socio-economic development of these women-financial and business management skills and new livelihood options for SHG members. According to the project note, when families migrate from rural to urban areas, they face difficulties in settling in the new surroundings. They are forced to continue living in poverty due to lack of social and financial support. A minor illness, accident or social occasion like marriage can lead the family to debt. The project will identify women who belong to such vulnerable families and attempt to provide them with better financial management skills and information on save credit and saving options. (Times of India 8/11/13)

 

ENVIRONMENT/ CLIMATE CHANGE

27. Green tribunal notice to govt, temple trust for illegal expansion of Akshardham complex (9)

New Delhi: The National Green Tribunal on Friday issued notices to central and Delhi government departments on an appeal seeking cancellation of a post-facto environment clearance granted for expansion of the Akshardham Temple complex on the banks of Yamuna river. The appeal filed by Manoj Misra of environment grouping Yamuna Jiye Abhiyan has sought directions to authorities to demolish the illegal expansion and disclose all such clearances granted after completion of construction. The appeal also seeks action against the state environment impact assessment authority (SEIAA) for granting the clearance and the temple trust for carrying out construction without prior environment clearance. “The post-facto environmental clearance is in contravention of the provisions of the environment impact assessment notification 2006, issued under the environment (protection) Act, 1986,” the appeal says. “The clearance is illegal and has no legal sanctity because the SEIAA has imposed several conditions to be complied during construction while the construction was the already complete.” Misra said, “This way, any project proponent would complete his project by causing irreversible damage to the environment and then seek post-facto environmental clearance making the provisions of EIA Notification infructuous. The grant of post-facto clearance defeats the very purpose of environment protection law and the mandate of obtaining environmental clearance as per the provisions of EIA notification.” The notices have been issued against Union ministry of environment and forests, state environment impact assessment authority, Delhi development authority, Delhi pollution control committee, Yamuna river development authority and BAPS Swami Narayan Sanstha. HT had reported that the temple trust, Bochasanwasi Sri Akshar Purshottam Sanstha, in 2010 began expanding the complex, adding a built-up area, as big as half of the old structure, without seeking the mandatory environment clearance. The SEIAA on July 30, 2013 issued the clearance to for expansion, subject to safe construction practices, care for environment and pollution control, almost two years after the construction started. JK Gadhiya of the trust had told HT: “We didn’t know it [the expansion] needs environment clearance. We approached the SEIIA as soon as we knew the clearance was mandatory.” The trust built the old complex at a cost of Rs. 100 crore after it got 12 hectares in 2000 from the Delhi Development Authority. The construction of a built-up area of 55,410 sqm got over in 2005. The old complex did not require environment clearance because it came up before the ministry of environment and forests made EC mandatory for all projects in a built-up area of 20,000 sqm and more only in 2006. In late 2010, the trust started building an additional built-up area of 25497.38 sqm but submitted to the SEIIA an application for environment clearance only on December 19, 2012, when most of the expansion was complete. “Yamuna is not only a sacred river of India but an aquatic lifeline for millions of people and others dependent on it for sustenance. Delhi requires every inch of its riverbed protected for water security. It is critically threatened by unrelenting encroachment of its floodplains and by increasing pollution load. Such illegal expansion will further increase the pressure on the river,” said Misra. (Hindustan Times 2/11/13)

 

28. Corporation should address climate change issues: Experts (9)

KOCHI: Rising sea levels, temperature, waterlogging and groundwater contamination are issues that have to be addressed seriously by the city corporation, said experts from German-based ICLEI, which promotes sustainable local governments, while issuing draft guidelines to address problems related to climate change. During the interaction with Kochi corporation officials last week, experts from the agency, coordinating the AsianCities Adapt project, asked local authorities to spread awareness on the issue among stakeholders, including citizens. “We had done a vulnerability assessment of Kochi city and identified urban systems that are already fragile. After studying the data and discussing the issues with various experts from different fields, we have drafted guidelines on how to communicate the same to stakeholders. This has been given to the city corporation,” said Sunandan Tiwari, project coordinator, ICLEI South Asia. According to the draft, urban systems that will suffer the most from climate change are sewerage and septage management, drainage, health, solid waste management, transportation, sea erosion, water supply and related resources. “The water supply system is fragile because of shortage of water supply during summer, salt water intrusion and groundwater contamination due to poor septage management system. Increased precipitation can lead to flooding and consequent contamination especially in Fort Kochi and Mattancherry,” experts said. “We have to develop an adaptation strategy and implement a number of measures to minimize the impact at local level. But with the support of data, we will be able to incorporate changes at policy level,” said town planning standing committee chairman K J Sohan. Corporation’s centre for heritage, environment and development director Rajan Chedambath, who is the local coordinator, said that ICLEI has asked for feedback after interactionswith resident associations, institutions, stakeholders and government organizations. “Based on our feedback, the action plan will be developed by ICLEI for all the four cities, including Kochi, Vizag, Howrah and Madurai,” he said. (Times of India 4/11/13)

 

29. Ooty NGO wants the whole of Nilgiris declared ecologically sensitive (9)

UDHAGAMANDALAM: The Nilgiri Documentation Centre (NDC), an Ooty-based NGO involved in ecology and environmental issues, has demanded that the entire Nilgiris district be declared an ecologically sensitive area (ESA) as defined in the Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel (WGEEP) report prepared by Madhav Gadgil. Human activity, especially construction, will be strictly regulated and monitored in an area declared as ESA. The NDC has said that as per the recommendations of the high-level panel headed by K Kasturirangan that reviewed the Gadgil report, only about 56 per cent of the hill district has been declared as ESA. The Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) recently notified the Kasturirangan panel recommendations. As per the review panel, only 37 per cent of the Western Ghats has been declared as ESA. In the case of the Nilgiris, the panel identified 1,475 sq km out of a total area of 2,572 sq km as ESA which includes about 25 villages. Dharmalingam Venugopal, director, NDC said, “While the notification has to be welcomed, already around 60 per cent of the area in the district, including a national park, a tiger reserve and reserve forests, are protected. This leaves about 40 per cent of the area under tea, cultivation and townships without environmental protection”. Therefore, according to NDC, there is a strong case for the state government and local public interest groups to recommend to the panel that the rest of the Nilgiris also be included as ESA. “The issue of including the entire area as ESA is the need of the hour. The state government should take up the matter strongly with the panel,” said Venugopal. The MEA’s draft notification has been placed in the public domain for comments from stakeholders including state government of the region. The boundary of the ESA as also the regulatory regime would be fixed thereafter. Geetha Srinivasan, an environmentalist and president, INTACH-Nilgiris Chapter, said, “Entire Nilgiris should be treated as a protected area considering its ecological sensitivity.” M R Srinivasan, former chairman of Atomic Energy Commission and a resident of Ooty, told TOI that some parts which are not part of the forest are also ecologically sensitive in the Nilgiris. “More human activities would crop up in these areas which in turn would exert more pressure on the hills if they are not brought under ESA.” Building Materials and Technology Promotion Council (BMTPC), Government of India, has classified the district as one prone to ‘severe to very high’ landslides since 2003. NDC members argue that if the whole of the Nilgiris is declared as ESA, then the ongoing conversion of agriculture lands, grass lands and private forests in the hills into real estate will stop. Hence, the hills will be saved from further ecological damage. The Madhav Gadgil panel had recommended that the entire Western Ghats, which extends to nearly 1,500 km across six states including Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu, be declared as an ecologically sensitive area as it was a bio-diversity hotspot. But the report was opposed by all the concerned state governments and the MoEF.(Times of India 7/11/13)

 

EDUCATION/ RIGHT TO EDUCATION

30. CBSE to introduce open-book examination in 2014 (11)

Kolkata: In a move that should go a long way towards ridding the country’s schools of the twin plagues of students being forced to learn by rote and cheating during examinations, the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) is ushering in an educational revolution in the form of an open-book examination system from March 2014. The Open Text-Based Assessment (OTBA) will be launched as a pilot project for the Class 9 and 11 annual examinations next year and the board has already released the study material for the examination. The new testing system will cover English, Hindi, mathematics, science and social science for Class 9 and geography, economics and biology for Class 11. In line with the CBSE’s directive, its schools will implement the OTBA system only in those subjects for which study material has already been published. There are some differences between the CBSE’s version of the open-book examination system and that followed by the IITs, law universities and Bengal Engineering and Science University, as well as many schools and universities abroad. Under the conventional system, students are allowed to take textbooks into the examination hall and can consult these while answering questions, which are structured to test understanding and concepts rather than mere ability to memorise facts and figures. The CBSE’s customised version of the OTBA allows instead for students to be given a set of study material four months ahead of the examination. This material will also be printed as part of the question paper and all questions in the examination will be based on it. In order for the system to work, the OTBA must contain only questions requiring higher order thinking skills, some of which may be subjective, creative or open ended. The format, according to the CBSE, will also discourage cheating. But schools are not yet very clear about the manner in which the OTBA is to be conducted. “We only recently got the circular and aren’t yet sure how to go about it. I don’t really know whether it’ll help or not and only after the school reopens after the puja vacation will we find out more. But it’s definitely a much-needed step towards discouraging rote learning. Mugging up is no longer of any help. Students now need to understand what they’re studying,” Anjana Saha, principal of Mahadevi Birla World Academy, said. The CBSE circular to all its affiliated schools states that, “OTBAs are meant to incorporate analytical and theoretical skills, thus moving away from memorisation.” In order to accommodate OTBA the CBSE has reworked its marks distribution process. Anticipating teething problems with the new system, the board has included a failsafe by deciding to restrict the OTBA’s initial scope to just 10 marks in the annual examinations for classes 9 and 11 in the subjects already mentioned. (Hindustan Times 2/11/13)

 

31. Private schools fail to adopt CCE system (11)

HYDERABAD: Although the State government has made it mandatory for schools in the state to switch over to the Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation (CCE) last academic year, many private schools have failed to fall in line with the government’s decision. With the government keen on implementing it all over the state without any exemption – be it in government, private or aided schools – a Government Order (GO) has been passed in this regard. The State government GO Ms. No.60 issued on October 24 states, “After careful examination of the matter, the government has considered a proposal and hereby issues orders that Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation for assessing academic achievements of children shall be adopted in all schools which come under the purview of school education.” Following the enactment of Right to Education Act in 2009, the Union Ministry of Human Resource Development has made it compulsory for schools all over the country to adopt the CCE model. It was aimed at mitigating the stress of students who undergo severe depression as they have to perform well during the annual examination. Instead, in the new system, students are evaluated continuously without having to write one final examination. Ranks and marks are replaced by grades. Here, there are two  methods of assessment: summative and formative assessments. In a given academic year, there are three summative and six formative tests. “In the summative system, a student’s ability to learn a subject matter is evaluated, while the formative assessment deals with student’s classroom participation, project work and other aspects. The chapters on which once a test is conducted, will not be repeated,” explained S Seshadri, a school teacher from Chittor.  The State Coucil of Education Research and Training (SCERT) and the Rajiv Vidya Mission (RVM) are the apex bodies in the state to implement the changes. However, the private schools have compromised with the mandated changes due to poor enforcement. “The GO is targeted at the private schools, otherwise it is well implemented in the government schools. Now that the government has ratified the method, we will ensure that the system is further streamlined and effectively enforced even in private schools,” said V Usha Rani, state project director for RVM. However, she clarified that it was not a time-bound process and minor changes will be carried out regularly based on suggestions from experts to make the system better. Admitting that the changes were yet to become fully operational in many schools, SCERT director G Gopal Reddy said, “This a major overhaul from the existing system of evaluation and many schools and teachers are yet to come to terms with this. So it will take a few years before it becomes fully operational and effective.” (New Indian Express 4/11/13)

 

32. Court asks collector to decide on students’ plea (11)

KOCHI: The high court on Wednesday asked Thrissur collector to decide on a claim by a group of Kendriya Vidyalaya students on the right to free transportation to school and back under the Right to Free and Compulsory Education Act of 2009, commonly known as Right to Education (RTE) Act. Justice P R Ramachandra Menon was considering a petition by students of Kendriya Vidyalaya at Puranattukara in Thrissur. They had alleged that charging for transportation to school and back infringes their constitutional right to education guaranteed under Article 21A and section 3 of RTE Act. In the petition filed through advocate C V Manuvilsan, the students had challenged a communication issued by the school’s PTA sub committee that managed transportation, asking the students using the school bus to pay for transportation. It was argued by the students that it was the duty of the school authorities, central and state governments, and the CBSE to provide facilities to children to attend school and ensure right to compulsory education. Provisions in RTE Act declare a visible right to every child, of the age of six to 14, to free and compulsory education in a neighbourhood school till completion of elementary education and for this purpose, no child shall be liable to pay any fee or charge or expense which may prevent him or her from pursuing and completing the elementary education, the petition had said. The Supreme Court had held in 2008, in the Ashok Kumar Thakur v Union of India case, that the government should “fully implement” the RTE Act in the entire country. The court also said without article 21A (right to education), the other fundamental rights were effectively rendered meaningless, the students had argued. Defining compulsory education, the RTE Act includes attendance also as the obligation of the government, granting children undergoing elementary education the right to free and compulsory transportation to the school, it was contended. (Times of India 7/11/13)

 

NAXALS/ MAOISTS

33. In a first, Congress manifesto has strategy to tackle Naxal menace in Chhattisgarh (12)

Raipur: After confronting Naxalism for 13 years, the Chhattisgarh polity has finally included the issue in its political programme as the Congress spelt out a strategy to tackle the Red movement in its election manifesto released Monday. “Restoration of trust” and security operations only when they are “necessary”, the party emphasised, are keys to resolve the crisis. “For this, gaining the trust of Scheduled Tribes will be given priority,” the document said. After two elections in 2003 and 2008, this is the first instance insurgency has found its way in a poll manifesto. Released by AICC treasurer and chief of Congress election campaign committee Motilal Vora in Raipur, the manifesto noted that “the extremists who join the mainstream will be treated with complete sympathy”, and officers posted in the Naxal-hit regions will be transferred to normal zones “as per their desire”. Jeeram Ghati, the spot where Maoists launched their biggest attack on a political convoy and killed several prominent Congress leaders, will be developed as a “martyr memorial”. The party also promised to rehabilitate “tribals displaced either from home or the state due to Maoist violence or violence in its retaliation”. By focusing on the trust and governance deficit, the manifesto only carries forward the strategy of slain PCC chief Nand Kumar Patel. Going ahead of the state government’s populist subsidised rice scheme, the party promised that “except tax payees, all BPL and APL families in the state will be given 35kg free rice”. At present, Antyodaya families get 35kg rice at Rs 1 per kg and priority households get the same quantity at Rs 2 per kg. Promising a slew of measures to woo farmers and tribals, the party claimed if voted to power it would procure paddy from farmers at Rs 2,000 per quintal, and of this Rs 500 will be directly transferred to a woman of the farmer’s family. (Indian Excpress 5/11/130

 

34. Naxals planning to attack “soft targets” in cities (12)

RAIPUR: With heavy security deployment in hyper-sensitive areas of Bastar region ahead of polls, Naxalites are apparently trying to change their course of action and mobilising cadres to town areas to attack “soft targets” outside their core hold, intelligence sources said. The Maoists are deploying small action teams in city areas of Bastar region to carry out operations, because of the security scenario inside forest pockets, according to Intelligence Bureau sources. The cadres have also been told to maintain security of their senior leaders commanding them during operations. They are reportedly setting up cadres in cities of Bastar region for disrupting the polling process, a senior police official said on condition of anonymity. Intelligence inputs indicate that these groups are working with an objective of creating an atmosphere of fear, besides planning to abduct candidates of political parties and indulging in arson. Inputs also suggest that the Reds have been threatening government employees, especially school teachers, not to take up poll duties. However, no government employee has so far complained of getting threats, the official said. Following the inputs, security personnel have been alerted to keep a hawk eye on the movement of people from remote areas to cities for taking part in political rallies in Bastar, the official said. Eighteen Naxal-affected constituencies of eight districts- Bastar, Bijapur, Kondagaon, Sukma, Narayanpur, Dantewada, Kanker and Rajnandgaon will go to polls in the first phase of Chhattisgarh elections on November 11. Notably, the police have received inputs that Naxals are planting IEDs near polling booths, main highways and arterial roads and mobilising cadres from adjoining Odisha, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra in a bid to disrupt the electoral process. Taking a serious note of the Maoist threat, the Centre has sent additional 400 companies (40,000 personnel) of paramilitary forces to ensure peaceful polling. (New Indian Express 6/11/130

 

35. Forces seizing explosives almost daily in Bastar (12)

RAIPUR: Security personnel on maximum alert in tribal Bastar region in Chhattisgarh ahead of polls, had seized two Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) from an isolated forest stretch down South Bastar on Thursday, but the recovery was nowhere close to places where Congress president Sonia Gandhi and BJP prime ministerial aspirant Narendra Modi were to address elections meetings. With more than a lakh security personnel being deployed in Bastar for smooth conduct of polls, road opening parties are regularly carrying out exercise to detect and defuse landmines in all seven districts of tribal Bastar division, while security forces are also carrying out search and combing operations in areas close to forests to keep rebels at bay, inspector general of police (Bastar), Arun Dev Gautam said. The 58-km long kuccha road from Dornapal to Jagargunda—from where security forces recovered two IEDs-is nearly 160 kilometres away from Jagdalpur, where BJP’s Narendra Modi addressed the public meeting on Thursday. Congress chief Sonia Gandhi’s public meeting was at Kondagaon, which is nearly 200 kilometres away. The IEDs were recovered from an area close to dense forests of Tadmetla, where Naxalites in 2010 had carried out the deadliest attack on security forces deployed for anti-Naxal operations, as they killed 76 of them in a single ambush. This area falls in the so-called liberated zone of Dandakaranya of Maoists where presence of civil administration and the police is virtually non-existent. Security forces have penetrated deep into remote areas for search and area domination exercise, leading to frequent recovery of crude explosives in the area. Police sources said security forces deployed in Bastar region have been recovering explosives from many places during the last one month. On Thursday, an explosive was found in an area close to the residence of BJP MLA Bheema Mandavi, who is contesting for Dantewada (ST) seat. Dantewada is about 90 kilometres away from Bastar divisional headquarters. “Para-military forces deployed in the area are doing their job and making seizures of explosives in the Maoist-dominated areas almost every day. We cannot fathom why the police preferred to alert the media about seizure of IEDs only on the day of Modi’s visit. May be BJP wanted to escalate fears over his safety to make a strong case for Special Protection Group (SPG) cover his for its PM nominee”, said state Congress media cell in charge Shailesh Nitin Trivedi. (Times of India 8/11/13)

 

36. Forces fighting Maoists find new enemy (12)

Raipur: The security forces deployed to take on Maoists in Chhattisgarh’s Bastar district have found mosquitoes as their new enemies. While malaria has already claimed life of a Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF)  jawan, half a dozen others are battling for life after being hit by the mosquito borne disease, officials said. 54-year-old Puran Singh, who was a trooper of 223 battalion of the CRPF, succumbed to the disease on Tuesday morning. A native of Haryana, Singh was suffering from malaria for past several days. He had been sent to medical college and hospital at Raipur on Oct 31 after test confirmed he was having malaria. He was battling life for several days in critical condition. It is not the first time that a paramilitary trooper was detected positive for the mosquito borne disease. Such incidents have almost become common. Four such troopers were sent to the same hospital from Sukma area on Oct 23 after they detected positive for the Malaria. They were discharged from the hospital on Thursday in good health after several days of treatment. According to the troopers, they spend nights mostly in the forest and often don’t get pure drinking water. They also often drink water which are not fit for consumption. The jawans said they are capable of fighting the left wing extremists but they conceded defeat in their battle against mosquitoes. (Pioneer 8/11/130

 

LABOUR/ MGNREGA

37. NRLM, Bandhua join hands to combat bonded labour (14)

New Delhi: The Government’s flagship National Rural Livelihood Mission (NRLM) on Thursday joined hands with Bandhua 1947 to combat bonded labour and fund rehabilitation projects in 10 vulnerable districts. Announcing the joint initiative, Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh said that despite an Act, bonded labour was yet to be abolished in India. “It may be true on paper and we have laws on it, but we haven’t managed to finish it (off),” he said. He said under the NRLM, pilot projects would be taken up in 10 districts to locate bonded labourers, get surveys done, rehabilitate them and create conditions for alternative livelihood. Starting December , NRLM will fund projects in Gaya (Bihar), Bastar, Kondagaon (Chhattisgarh), Bolangir, Naupada (Odisha), Gumla (Jharkhand), Prakasam, Chittoor (Andhra Pradesh), Kanchipuram, Vellore (Tamil Nadu). The projects will be provided grassroots support by NGOs under the umbrella of Bandhua 1947 alliance, a movement that was launched last year. According to recent studies, there are well over 10 million bonded labourers in India, mainly in brick kilns, rice mills, mining, construction, among others. Most of such labour is often uneducated, illiterate and from the Dalit or tribal communities. (Business Line 1/11/13)

 

38.  ‘Labourers unaware of NREGS wage’ (12)

KARIMNAGAR: A majority of the farm labourers engaged under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) are not even aware of the amount they are entitled to get as wages, Dr. Diego Mairano, a post-doctoral fellow of the Institute of Human and Social sciences, University of Liege, Belgium, has said. As part of his post-doctoral works, Dr. Diego is currently doing a research on the implementation of the NREGS programme in Andhra Pradesh and Rajasthan. He is collecting information pertaining to the scheme from the beneficiaries of Karimnagar, Visakapatnam and Chittoor districts. During his interactions with the farm labourers in Karimnagar, Mr. Diego found that a majority of the beneficiaries did not even know the exact amount they were entitled to get as wages. “The labourers said that they would be getting wages anywhere between Rs. 60 to Rs. 90 per day where as the wage is Rs. 149 per day,” Mr. Diego said after visiting Ganneruvaram and Mailavaram villages of Bejjanki mandal. He took help from Right to Information activists and Karimnagar Consumers’ Council leaders in collecting feedback from the labourers. Blaming the unawareness of the beneficiaries on illiteracy, he further said that most of the beneficiaries in the district did not know that there was a provision of social audit to check the irregularities in the implementation of the programme. The research scholar also found that family planning scheme was successfully implemented in Karimnagar district. (The Hindu 5/11/13)

 

39. Move to use job scheme to clean up Ganjam district (14)

BERHAMPUR: Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) is being thought of as a tool for cleaning and restoration work in Phailin cyclone-hit Ganjam district. It may be noted that even three weeks after the cyclone hit, most rural areas of Ganjam district bear devastated look. The debris of devastation has not yet been properly cleaned up. Large uprooted trees and their broken branches as well as other solid waste like the debris of houses and other buildings continue to pile up in rural pockets. The local bodies do not have the proper amount of manpower and resources to clean them up. The continuous rains and floods after the cyclone have added to the problem. It has started to become a major headache for maintenance of sanitation and hygiene. It is also a hindrance in bringing normalcy back these areas. Cleaning of private premises and agricultural fields is a major problem. Most owners do not have resources to get it done. Unless each and every part of a village and its periphery is cleaned up, it can never get back to its original state. Apart from it, the menial work force in rural areas is also lacking employment due to devastation of agriculture. According to sources, there has been a proposal to use MGNREGA for the restoration and cleaning work in cyclone and flood devastated areas of Ganjam district. But the stumbling block for this proposal is that, it would need special approval from the Central government. Sources say, the Ganjam district administration has already come up with the proposal before the State government and the State government has also sought approval from the Centre regarding the matter. If approved by the Centre, MGNREGA may be used for cleaning and restoration work in all the villages of the Ganjam district. This would also provide some added income to the people who lost their fruit bearing trees during the cyclone. Apart from the compensation they would get for the fallen trees, they may also get some extra income for cleaning up the debris. When contacted, Ganjam district Collector Krishan Kumar said at this juncture MGNREGA could become a major catalyst for restoration work while providing employment scope for the rural poor who have been devastated by the natural calamities. (The Hindu 7//11/13)

 

40. Bonded labourers want govt to implement welfare schemes (14)

TRICHY: Frustrated by the reluctance of the state and central governments to implement welfare schemes for them, the oppressed rescued bonded labourers here began a novel rally by walk towards Chennai. The rally was flagged by PV Rajagopal, president and founding member of Ekta Parishad in Trichy on Thursday. The rally proceeded through the main thoroughfares of Trichy towards Chennai. As many as 250 rescued bonded labourers including women have undertaken the march towards Chennai. The rallyists are scheduled to reach Chennai on November 24 after passing through Perambalur, Villlupuram and Kancheepuram districts. The main objective of the rally is to seek the state government to implement the welfare schemes mentioned in the law. “We commenced the rally from Trichy to draw the attention of the chief minister to implement the welfare schemes because the rescued bonded labourers are left in the lurch. So, the situational exigencies push them into bondage. Hence, this is the high time for the government to consider our rightful demand,” said T Karunanidhi, Trichy district president of Nirman Mazdoor Panchayat Sangh. R Geetha, all-India additional secretary, Nirman Mazdoor Panchayat Sangh said the livelihood of bonded labourers is still at stake. “India has a large number of bonded and child labourers. If they had been given due recognition for their survival, they would not have been borrowed money. And, the situation of getting into bondage would not have arisen,” Geetha said. In Trichy and Perambalur districts in the region, many people are subjected to bondage in stone quarries, rice mills, brick kilns and farms. “As far as Trichy is concerned, we conducted a public hearing in January which revealed that there were many labourers still bonded in stone quarries in the district. The revenue divisional officers of the respective areas are responsible for the rescue and rehabilitation. But it is sad the government officials are reluctant to take up the task for the welfare of the oppressed bonded labourers,” added Geetha. Even though many labourers were rescued from northern India, they were not given even the release certificate. “For instance, 19 bonded labourers of Trichy district were rescued from Madhya Pradesh in 2004 by the police. Unfortunately, none of them was issued ‘release certificate’ by the RDO concerned, as a result of which they were unable to get benefits like housing plots, loans, milch cows and others as recommended by the law. All the above, if the government implements the regulation of wages, the bonded labour system will cease to exist,” Geetha said. Moreover, they sought the government to give stone quarries on a long-term lease to a group of bonded labourers for their survival. “We want the government to lease out stone quarries to the rescued bonded labourers so that they can make both their ends meet,” said A Aruldass, convenor of Bonded Labour Liberation Front. (Times of India 8/11/13)

 

JUDICIARY/ LAW

41. Supreme Court refuses to stop media from doing anti-Asaram stories (19)

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday refused to entertain a plea of self-styled godman Asaram Bapu seeking a direction restraining media from broadcasting stories allegedly projecting him in bad light after he was charged with sexual assault of a minor. “Why should we restrain them? How can we stop them if they get information from police and other people. Can we say them not to publish?,” a bench headed by Chief Justice P Sathasivam said as it summarily refused the plea of Asaram who alleged that he was being victimised by “frivolous” reporting against him. Senior counsel Vikas Singh, appearing for Asaram, 72, referred to some stories and reports projecting him as “Dracula”. He submitted that the court should pass a direction against media. The bench, however, was not satisfied with his arguments and said “your remedy lies elsewhere” and dismissed the plea. Singh then agreed to withdraw the petition. Asaram was arrested in August on the charge of sexually assaulting a minor girl and has been in prison at Jodhpur in Rajasthan since then. He is being investigated in other cases of sexual assault too. (Indian Express 1/11/13)

 

42. Week after SC’s damages award, IMA wants doctors out of consumer law’s ambit (19)

New Delhi: A week after the Supreme Court awarded a landmark compensation of Rs 5.96 crore in a 15-year-old case of medical negligence, the Indian Medical Association (IMA) has decided to ask the law ministry to withdraw medical services from the ambit of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986. The CPA allows people with complaints against doctors to move consumer courts. The IMA, the nodal body of medical practitioners in the country, wants that a medical tribunal be set up instead, with medical experts under a judicial officer to hear such complaints. Dr Narender Saini, secretary general of IMA, said, “Health is not a concept that can be broken down in mathematical terms like any other commodity. Despite clinical experience and diagnostics, there is at least a 10 to 15 per cent chance of error. While judicial officers can identify obvious medical malpractices, subject knowledge is necessary to distinguish between a medical accident and medical negligence, and only a doctor can have that.” Dr K Vijaykumar, national president of the IMA, said the association will submit a memorandum to the law ministry this month. “We will submit a memorandum at the earliest. We are also exploring other options to see how we can push our case,” he said. Dr Vijaykumar added that the IMA is also seeking legal opinion to explore if it can become a party to the review petition that Kolkata-based AMRI Hospitals and its doctors are likely to file against the compensation order. On October 24, the Supreme Court asked the hospital and some doctors to pay damages of Rs 5.96 crore to US-based Dr Kunal Saha whose wife Anuradha Saha died due to medical negligence in 1998. Saha had moved the SC against the National Consumer Forum award of Rs 1.72 crore compensation. (Indian Express 2/11/13)

 

43. Centre to move SC against Gauhati HC order on CBI (19)

New Delhi: Taken aback by the Gauhati high court order holding as unconstitutional the setting up of the CBI, Centre said on Friday that it would move the Supreme Court as early as Monday next to challenge it. In a significant ruling, the Gauhati high court has declared the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), the country’s premier investigating agency, an illegal entity on the grounds that it has not been created by law. Any organisation whose functions curtail personal liberty, through means such as arrest, has to be set up through a legislation, it said. The CBI, which functions under the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act (DSPE) 1946, was created by a home ministry resolution on April 1, 1963. The verdict has far-reaching implications for high-profile cases such as the 2G, Commonwealth Games and Coalgate scams being probed/prosecuted by the CBI. Acting on a petition filed by a BSNL employee, Navendra Kumar, who was being prosecuted by the CBI in a corruption case, justice Iqbal Ahmed and justice Indira Shah said, “…we do hold that the CBI is neither an organ nor a part of the DSPE and the CBI cannot be treated as a ‘police force’ constituted under the DSPE Act, 1946.” Reversing the verdict of a single judge who had on November 30, 2007 rejected Kumar’s petition questioning the validity of the CBI, the bench quashed the April 1, 1963 resolution by which the CBI was created. It also set aside the CBI charge sheet against Kumar as also the trial. However, it said the verdict would not act as a bar to any further investigation by police having jurisdiction over the subject matter. While the CBI contested the case, the Union government chose not to file any affidavit. The high court said the 1963 resolution was not even a proper executive order as it was neither a cabinet decision, nor was it signed by the President. The bench said the impugned resolution can, at best, be regarded as departmental instructions, which cannot be termed ‘law’, nor can it be termed “procedure established by law”, as envisaged by Article 21 of the Constitution. Article 21 says no person shall be deprived of his life or liberty, except in accordance with procedure established by law. Former additional solicitor general and senior advocate Vikas Singh said: “I have not read the verdict. But prima facie it appears to be correct. But the Supreme Court in all probability will stay it, given the huge ramifications for high-profile cases such as the coal and 2G scams being probed by the CBI. If the Supreme Court finally upholds the high court’s verdict, all CBI cases will fall flat. But the cases in which convictions have already taken place cannot be overturned.” Minister of state for personnel V Narayanasamy said, “I am not aware of what the court has ruled and I won’t be able to comment till I have gone through the judgment.” Government sources, however, termed the verdict “strange and legally unsustainable” and said it would be challenged in the Supreme Court at the earliest. Additional solicitor general of India PP Malhotra, who appeared for the CBI, said the judgment was “totally erroneous and the Centre will appeal in the apex court on November 11″.The government’s top law officers are likely to mention the matter in the apex court on Monday, when it reopens after the Diwali break. The CBI’s spokesperson told HT, “We are yet to receive a certified copy of the court order. Once it is received, it will be examined and appropriate steps in this regard will be taken.” A CBI official said, “CBI probes, including those pertaining to the coal block allocation scam and 2G spectrum scam, are monitored by the apex court and high courts. Many high-profile cases are in fact handed over to the agency by the apex court and high courts. Would they be doing this if the CBI was an invalid organisation?” (Hindustan Times 8/11/13)

 

Posted by admin at 6 November 2013

Category: Uncategorized

RIGHT TO INFORMATION

1. RTI comes to rescue of 22 nomadic families (1)

RAJKOT: Right to Information (RTI) has done something that orders of chief minister’s office (CMO) couldn’t. Despite categorical directions from the CMO, authorities in Banaskantha district were dilly-dallying the inclusion of 22 nomadic tribe families in Deodar town in the list of below poverty line (BPL) since a year. It was only after a RTI application filed by Mittal Patel, coordinator of Vicharta Samuday Samarthan Manch (VSSM), which works for nomadic and de-notified tribes in the state, that the District Rural Development Agency (DRDA) promptly included them in the list in July. Patel had written a letter to chief minister Narendra Modi in September 2012 and sought his intervention in including the poorest of the poor Mir community, a nomadic tribe, in BPL so that they get benefits of government’s welfare schemes. “I got a prompt reply from CMO, assuring that they will look into the matter. CMO forwarded the same matter to concerned government department in Gandhinagar and Banaskantha districts,” Patel said. The nomadic tribe families in Deodar are living in extremely poor condition as they are not included in BPL category. After CMO’s instructions, DRDA initiated the process to register 22 families into BPL list, but it could not go ahead after some months. “Later, I filed an RTI seeking details about the progress on CMO’s instruction in this regard and when it would be completed. As soon as I filed an RTI in July, local authorities swung into the action and within a month, all the families of Mir community were included in BPL category,” Patel added. Mir families work as daily wagers in Deodar. Traditionally, they are musicians. (Times of India 2/11/13)

 

2. Aided schools come under RTI Act (1)

Kochi: In a move aimed at making appointments to teaching posts in government-aided schools in the State more transparent and in conformity with the laws, the State government has decided to bring aided-school managers within the ambit of the Right to Information (RTI) Act with immediate effect. The Education Department has issued an order in this regard recently and it is now being circulated among school managers and headmasters across the State. The initiative was in response to a recommendation from State Information Commissioner M.N. Gunavardhanan, who was approached by K.V. Seenamol of Nettur in Ernakulam district on rejection of her RTI query to SM High School, Cherayi, over the nature of an appointment. While considering Ms. Seenamol’s appeal in February, Mr. Gunavardhanan asked the State government why it was not appointing school managers as information officers. Rejecting government’s argument that school managers are not appointed by the government, he ordered that they must definitely come under the RTI Act as they handled public money. “It is the State government that pays salary, benefits and even pension to teachers appointed by managers of aided schools. Managers are answerable to the government because they are running the schools with financial help from the government. The General Education Department must issue an order bringing aided-school managers under the ambit of the RTI Act,’’ said the State Information Commissioner. The Government Order, issued by General Education Deputy Secretary V. Ratnamma last week, said the decision to bring managers under the RTI Act was taken after close examination of the nature of appointments in aided schools and the way they were getting government money. As per the order, managers of Lower Primary, Upper Primary and High Schools are State information officers bound to reply to RTI queries and the appellate authority would be the Assistant Education Officer concerned. In higher secondary and vocational higher secondary schools too, the managers are bound to answer RTI queries. Higher Secondary Regional Deputy Director and Vocational Higher Secondary Regional Assistant Director will be the appeal authorities respectively. Ms. Seenamol had sought details of a fresh appointment made by the school management in 2000 but the manager returned the RTI query saying the rule was not applicable to him. Her appeal was rejected by the District Education Officer later. Then she approached the State Information Commission. “It is a remarkable order. The order can make functioning of aided schools transparent and make the managements accountable to society,” said Kochi-based RTI activist D.B. Binu.  (The Hindu 3/11/13)

 

3. Parliamentary panel to examine proposed changes in RTI Act (1)

New Delhi: A parliamentary standing committee will commence proceedings Wednesday to examine the amendment to the Right to Information Act which seeks to neutralise the verdict of the Central Information Commission (CIC). The amendment to the RTI Act is rooted in the June 3, 2013 verdict of the CIC. The CIC had held that since six national political parties, including the Congress, the BJP, the CPI-M, the CPI, NCP and BSP, were being “substantially financed” by the central government, and given the “criticality” of the role played by them in the country’s “democratic set-up and the nature of duties performed by them that point to their public character, they ought to be brought under the ambit of Section 2(h) (of the RTI Act).” Under Section 2(h) of the RTI Act, “public authority” also includes “non-government organisation substantially financed, directly or indirectly, by funds provided by the appropriate government”.”Political parties are the unique institution of the modern constitutional state. These are essentially political institutions and are non-governmental. Their uniqueness lies in the fact that in spite of being non-governmental, they come to wield or directly or indirectly influence exercise of governmental power. It would be odd to argue that transparency is good for all state organs but not so good for political parties, which, in reality, control all the vital organs of the state,” the CIC had said in its verdict. The CIC had said that besides tax exemptions, the political parities enjoyed many other privileges, including prime air time during elections, government accommodation and land for their offices. The bill to amend the RTI Act, which was introduced in the Lok Sabha Aug 12, 2013, was referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Personnel, Public grievances, Law and Justice for examination Sep 5, 2013. The amendment bill intended to remove the “adverse effects” of the CIC decision by keeping political parties out of the purview of the RTI Act, as it would “hamper” their “smooth working”.The amendment, now under the scanner of the Parliamentary Standing Committee, said that bringing the political parties in the ambit of the RTI Act was not the objective of the transparency law. The Rajya Sabha secretariat, in an advertisement issued in newspapers Sep 21, 2013, invited suggestions from the public on the proposed amendment in the RTI Act. The amendment to the RTI Act, which witnessed an unprecedented unanimity among political parties, cutting across ideological lines, had to be shelved and referred to the Stating Committee in the face of stiff resistance by RTI activists and members of the civil society. The government decided to refer the bill to the parliamentary standing committee on Ministry of on Personnel, Public grievances, Law and Justice for examination, and it was given three months to submit its report. RTI activist and transparency campaigner Subhash Agrawal, who is opposing the proposed amendment, said: “The apprehensions expressed by political parties about the possible outcome of the verdict are based on misconceptions… Transparency Act does not give absolute and blanket power to citizenry to ask any type of questions.” He described as unfounded the apprehension that the CIC verdict would open floodgates to applications seeking to know the considerations that weighed in deciding political strategy, including selection of candidates during elections. Agrawal said, “RTI Act provides only for giving information materially available on record. Verbal deliberations can only be termed material on record, to be provided under the RTI Act if there is some provision to get it recorded in audio or video.” Besides, he says, there are 10 sub-clauses under Section 8(1) of the act, which offer exemptions from disclosing information and which would provide sufficient powers to political parties for denying information. There is also section 7(9) which empowers public authorities to decline any such information which may divert the resources of public authorities disproportionately. (New Indian Express 4/11/13)

 

4. CBI arrests Gujarat BJP MP for RTI activist murder (1)

NEW DELHI: Three years after the murder of an RTI activist near the Gujarat High Court, the CBI on Tuesday arrested Gujarat BJP MP Dinu Bogha Solanki, who was earlier given a clean chit by the Gujarat Police in the case. The victim, Amit Jethwa, had filed numerous RTI applications and a PIL in the Gujarat High Court against illegal mining in Gir forests. Dinu Bogha Solanki was quizzed by the CBI following instructions from the High Court. Solanki, the MP from Junagadh, came to CBI headquarters on Tuesday morning for questioning and was subsequently placed under arrest. Solanki will be produced in a Delhi court on Wednesday and further probe in the case is in progress, the agency said. The agency registered a case on the directions of Gujarat HC, which had criticised state police for their shoddy probe into the murder. Jethwa was an environment and RTI activist. He was shot dead outside the Gujarat HC on July 20, 2010. A case was registered and state police arrested six persons, including Shiva Solanki, nephew of the BJP MP, and sharp shooter Sailesh Pandya. However, the police gave Solanki a clean chit. The father of Jethwa approached the High Court seeking CBI probe into the murder after RTI activists raised concerns that whistleblowers were in danger.  In his plea before the High Court, it was alleged Gujarat Police had not properly probed the case and the state government was shielding the BJP MP. The High Court noted that the probe in the case was “far from fair, independent, bona fide or prompt”. The court said that the MP and his nephew were living together in a joint family and no investigator could have been easily satisfied with the statements that they did not interact in respect of the conspiracy to commit a capital crime. The CBI has also questioned six persons already arrested by state police in connection with the crime. (Deccan Herald 6/11/13)

 

POLICE/ TORTURE/ CUSTODIAL DEATHS

5. Rights group urges govt to probe foreign funding, harassment of NGOs (1)

NEW DELHI: At a time when the home ministry and other agencies are closely monitoring foreign funding of NGOs, especially to probe the terror angle, activists have been complaining of harassment by the government. Human Rights Watch on Thursday sought a probe into allegations about officials using the law on foreign contributions to repress groups critical of the government. It also demanded that the government amend the 2010 Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act to protect the right to freedom of association and expression. “The Indian government is using the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act to make advocacy groups toe the line,” said Meenakshi Ganguly, HRW’s South Asia director, adding, “Non-profit and advocacy groups say officials harass them with constant queries and threaten investigations in apparently deliberate efforts to curtail dissent.” While rights groups like MASUM welcomed HRW’s stand, Asian Centre for Human Rights director Suhas Chakma said, “The Indian government’s contradiction is that while it’s trying to choke foreign funding to the country’s NGOs, it is funding organizations overseas. The government should come out of this hypocritical policy.” HRW cited the instance of Indian Social Action Forum, involved in protests against the nuclear plant at Kudankulam, which lost permission to receive foreign funds. “At least two other groups doing important work opposing custodial torture and providing assistance to victims of domestic violence are contending with inquiries from home ministry officials,” HRW said. The FCRA has drawn flak internationally, too. “During India’s 2012 Universal Periodic Review, the US specifically raised concerns over the application of the law to advocacy groups that created significant challenges to their funding,” said HRW. During her India visit in 2011, Margaret Sekaggya, UN special rapporteur on human rights defenders, had expressed concern that the Act could lead to abuse by the authorities when reviewing applications of groups critical of the government. She recommended the National Human Rights Commission to “monitor the denial of registration and permission to receive foreign funding for NGOs”.”India is setting a bad precedent in the region because several other countries are contemplating laws similar to India’s to restrict advocacy groups. Indian authorities must investigate all denials, delays and cancellation of Foreign Contribution Act requests, and to reverse all decisions that are arbitrary, illegitimate, or influenced by political interests,” HRW said. (Times of India 1/11/13)

 

6. Ban pepper gas, pellet guns: Hurriyat (1)

Srinagar,: A day after the Jammu and Kashmir High Court dismissed three clubbed Public Interest Litigations (PIL) seeking ban on the use of pepper gas and pellet guns to quell mobs during unrest in Kashmir, moderate faction of Hurriyat Conference Thursday decided to file a review petition against the judgment. “The legal cell of the Hurriyat is exploring provisions of a review petition or filing an appeal against the High Court’s judgment in a few days,” moderate Hurriyat chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq said. However, chairman of hardline faction of Huriyat Syed Ali Geelani blamed the counsel for petitioners for the petition’s dismissal by the high court. “It is a very serious matter and those who filed the PIL should have taken the case seriously. It should not have been taken for granted,” he said in a statement. “Usage of pellet guns and pepper gas was a delicate case, which demanded seriousness and maturity,” Geelani added. He termed the dismissal as the ‘message’ to Kashmir’s pro-freedom leadership that they are taking things ‘non-seriously’. “It is a serious lapse on our side and it has taught us again to remain vigilant about the serious issues,” he said. In its judgment, the court had said the petitioners had oblique motive in their petition. The court said that the prayers in the petition cannot be accepted in view of the law’s interpretation laid down by the Supreme Court and their own observations. Meanwhile, the petitioners of the PIL have decided to file a review petition against the High Court’s judgment. Advocate Aijaz Ahmad who had filed the petition said he will file a Special Leave Petition (SLP) in the Supreme Court besides filing the review petition over the recently dismissed PIL. (Deccan Herald 1/11/13)

 

7. CPI(M) demands judicial inquiry into custodial death (1)

Kolkata: The Communist Party of India (Marxist) on Monday demanded a judicial probe into the death of an activist who allegedly died in police custody. Karim Gazi was picked up by the police from Kultali area in the South 24 Parganas district on Sunday. His family members alleged that he was beaten severely in custody and then taken to a state-run hospital where doctors declared him dead. Departmental proceedings have been initiated into the death, a senior police official said. The police said that Mr. Gazi was picked up on suspicion of involvement in a criminal case. Alleging that the police were acting on the diktat of the Trinamool Congress leaders, Sujan Chakraborty, secretary of the South 24 Parganas district committee of the CPI(M) told The Hindu that the party demanded a judicial inquiry into the incident. (The Hindu 5/11/13)

 

8. Cops may be suspended for delay in filing FIR (1)

MUMBAI: A departmental enquiry has been recommended against two officers of the Dindoshi police station for their alleged indifference toward the 16-year-old gangrape survivor’s complaint. Deputy police commissioner Pravin Patil, in his report, has also said sub-inspector DG Dasime and inspector Bharat Gaikwad should be suspended till the conclusion of the probe. The survivor’s family had complained to Patil that they were humiliated by the duo when they went to lodge an FIR early on Saturday. The officers were allegedly rude and insensitive to the survivor. “They asked the survivor questions such as why she went out with the accused in the first place and whether she had fun. They also asked her if she was a habitual drug user and an alcoholic,” a relative said in the complaint, a copy of which is with the TOI. “There were a few women personnel around. They threatened to send the survivor to a remand home for two years and lock up her brother. Eventually, we were shooed off, with a copy of a non-cognizable complaint thrown at our face,” the complaint said. When contacted, Patil said that he found it strange that an FIR was registered a day after the complaint. The report will be reviewed by the additional commissioner. According to an application submitted by the victim’s family to Patil, they were humiliated by the officers on duty at the Dindoshi police station when they went to lodge an FIR early on Saturday. “We reached the police station around 1 am on Saturday, a couple of hours after the victim had been gangraped. The officers in charge were rude to us. They asked the victim questions such as why did she go out with the accused in the first place and whether she had fun. They also asked her if she was a habitual drug user and an alcoholic,” a relative said in the application. TOI has a copy of the letter. “There were a few women personnel around. They threatened to send away the victim to a remand home for two years and lock up her brother. Eventually, we were shooed off with a copy of a non-cognizable complaint thrown in our face,” the relative added in the application. When contacted, Patil said that he found it strange that an FIR in a serious case, such as gang rape, was registered on Sunday and not immediately on Saturday. He instructed his subordinate, ACP Rajendra Kotak, to look into the matter. Kotak quizzed the officers who were in charge at the police station then__ sub-inspector DG Dasime and inspector Bharat Gaikwad. The duo stated that the victim and her family had complained of having a dispute with the men, the nature of which did not appear to be cognizable. (Times of India 6/11/13)

 

TRAFFICKING

9. Two trafficked girls rescued in Rajasthan (1)

HAZARIBAG: Two girls from Jharkhand were taken to Rajasthan so that they could be trafficked. The girls were lured with the prospect of getting employed. But they were rescued in the nick of time by Manav Taskari Virodhi Dal of Rajasthan police. A 22-year-old girl of Gangpaccho village under Barkatha police station in Hazaribag district and an 18-year-old girl from Bekobar village under Jhumri-Telaiya police station in Koderma district were allegedly taken to Bhelwari in Rajasthan. “They were sold for Rs 40,000 each when police rescued them,” said Rajesh Kumar of Rajasthan police. The local police in Bhelwari registered a case against the culprits. On Friday, the police contacted the parents of the two girls at Hazaribag and handed the girls over to them. Both Jharkhand and Rajasthan police are looking for the persons who lured the girls and their parents. The girls were lured by middlemen who approached their guardians and convinced the poor parents that their daughter would be employed as domestic helps in Rajasthan. They were also promised food and good wage. Md Wahab of Rajasthan police said, “The girls were rescued on Monday. Before that one of the parents Bhusan Pandit informed the police team in Rajasthan that one Rajkumar Modi, along with some middlemen from Barkatha approached him saying that they were looking for young girls who could work as domestic helps.” The parents, after being convinced, let their daughters accompany Modi to Rajasthan. However, Rajsathan police informed Deoli police station from where Rajkumar Modi and Manorama Modi, another person involved, were arrested. The girls told Deoli police (Rajasthan) that they were to be employed as domestic helps but instead were sold to a gang. When they raised alarm and protested police from the anti-trafficking squad came to their rescue. (Times of India 3/11/13)

 

10. In India, Karnataka stands third in human trafficking (1)

BANGALORE: Amanat (name changed) was brought to Bangalore by a man, promising her a beauty-parlour job. Once in the city, she was forced into a brothel. When cops rescued her, Amanat thought better days were near. But in less than 24 hours, the girl, who doesn’t appear to be a major, was packed off to Central Prison, Parappana Agrahara. Worse, she was named an accused in a flesh-trade racket. Karnataka is turning out to be a hotspot of human trafficking, reporting the third highest number of cases in the country during 2009-12. Home ministry data says 1,379 human trafficking cases were reported from Karnataka in the four-year period. Tamil Nadu leads the table with 2,244 cases and Andhra Pradesh snapping at its neighbour’s heels at 2,157. Human traffickers find a fitting breeding ground in the fast-growing southern metros, luring victims with huge salaries and better lifestyles. A sizeable chunk of trafficking victims, migrant labourers in particular, are often forced into sex work. Recent raids led to the rescue of over 300 bonded labourers in Bangalore. NGO and government officials say this is only the tip of the iceberg. Meena Jain, chairperson, Child Welfare Committee, said Bangalore has become a human trafficking hub over the years, and many of the victims are children. “Many rescued children brought to our care centres were made to work under inhuman conditions in factories and sweatshops across the city,” she said. Pointing to yet another angle of human trafficking, Meena cited the example of two children presently in the care of the Child Welfare Committee. “Parents of these children are Bangladeshi immigrants. Lured with jobs, they were trafficked to Bangalore from North India. The couple landed in police net because they didn’t have proper papers. The kids, sstranger to the city, are now in our care,” she said. NGOs feel there’s a need to sensitize officials on the implications of human trafficking. Vani Kantli, state programme coordinator, Bachpan Bachao Andolan, an NGO that’s part of anti-human trafficking raids across the city, said: “Many officials are indifferent when we raise this issue with them. Some argue the problem is less about trafficking and more about migrant labourers. But facts say otherwise.” South sought after: Over the years, states of southern India have become the most sought-after destinations for human traffickers in the country. Stats show these states contribute to more than half the number of human trafficking cases reported from across the country. On an average, each of the four south Indian states reports over 300 human cases every year. Only West Bengal and Bihar, among others, have 100 such cases every year. Some states report less than 10 cases annually. (Times of India 5/11/13)

 

MEDIA/ FREEDOM OF PRESS

11. Journalist claims RSS, VHP threats after article on Sardar Patel (1)

NEW DELHI: Journalist Vidya Subrahmaniam has filed a police complaint claiming that she has received at least 250 calls from unknown numbers threatening to ‘bomb’ her for an article she had written on Sardar Patel. The police have registered a case under section 506 (criminal intimidation) of IPC. Subrahmaniam said the callers were largely from Tamil Nadu and they claimed affiliation to RSS and VHP. She said, “… the background to this is an article on the RSS which appeared today (October 15) in the Tamil edition of The Hindu. The original appeared in The Hindu in English on October 8, 2013 under the title: The forgotten promise of 1949.” With Congress using the issue to slam Narendra Modi, Subrahmaniam tweeted on Thursday evening that she did receive threats but never went to Congress with them. A Delhi police team is likely to visit Tamil Nadu next week to trace the callers with the help of the local police . The call detail records and the complaints have already been shared with the Tamil Nadu Police, said a senior police officer. On October 15, some alleged right wing activists had barged into the Coimbatore office of Subrahmaniam’s newspaper and created a ruckus. They left after the editor spoke to them. (Times of India 1/11/13)

 

12. Constable held over scribe’s murder (1)

Bijapur: By arresting a police constable and his cousin, the police have finally cracked the case of the murder of Ismail Tobake, a journalist of a tabloid who was found murdered on March 21 this year. Reporter of local weekly Agni Jwale Tobake’s body was found at Horti Tanda of Indi taluk, the autopsy report suggested that he died of strangulation. Disclosing the details at a press conference here on Wednesday, Superintendent of Police Ajay Hilori said the police arrested Kallappa Belagali, a police constable attached to Adarsh Nagar police station and his cousin Raju Belagali on the charges of murder. Elaborating the sequences that led to the arrest of the culprit, Mr. Hilori said while for nearly seven months, the police was groping in the dark to solve the case, the breakthrough came in the form of a rumour. “A few days ago, M. N. Shirahatti, the Police Inspector of Indi taluk, who is native of Jamkhandi town of Bagalkot district, heard rumours during his visit to Jamkhandi town that an unidentified person was, in a drunken state, claiming that he has killed a reporter, and that nobody can do any harm to him as his brother worked for the police department. By following the source of information, the police nabbed a person by the name of Raju Belagali, who was later detained for further questioning. During the interrogation, he not only confessed to the crime, but revealed that his brother, a police constable, is the prime accused in the crime”, Mr. Hilori said. Meanwhile, Mr. Shirahatti said following the confession, the police constable was also arrested who confessed of the crime. He added the arrested police constable was earlier arrested by the Lokayukta police while accepting a bribe, and the deceased Tobake was the man who got him arrested. “Therefore, we so far, believe that the motive behind the murder was revenge. The constable Belagali, was possibly nursing a grudge against Tobake, thus avenged himself by killing him with the help of his cousin”, Mr. Shirahatti said. He did not rule out the possibility of murder because Tobake might have been blackmailing the constable and demanding money to turn hostile in court which would weaken the case against Belagali. “In the past, after filing the case, Tobake, who was the main witness, had turned hostile before the Lokayukta police. The constable perhaps wanted him to turn hostile before the court. As per our investigation, Belagali had called Tobake to offer him Rs. 2.5 lakh to turn hostile. When the deceased reached the spot, Belagali and his cousin murdered him”, Mr. Shirahatti said. Police constable Kallappa Belagali, who has been arrested on the charges of murder, used the car of a Police Sub Inspector S. Y. Maradi working in Bagalkot district, for committing the crime. Police Inspector M. N. Shirahatti, who cracked the case, said both Mr. Maradi and Belagali were classmates and friends. Mr. Maradi used to offer him his car regularly, which Belagali misused to commit the crime. (The Hindu 1/11/13)

 

13. Statutory body to regulate electronic media needed: HC (1)

LUCKNOW: The Lucknow bench of the Allahabad high court has said that the country requires a statutory forum for electronic media which people may approach to ventilate their grievance. The observation came from a division bench of Justice Devi Prasad Singh and Justice Ashok Pal Singh on a petition filed by activist Nutan Thakur against alleged ‘media trial’. The bench said that for any misconduct committed by the print media statutory forum is available in the form of Press Council of India but with regard to the electronic media no such statutory forum is available which seems to be not proper in a country which is run by rule of law and governed by the democratic polity. Hence the Union needed to provide statutory forum for electronic-media, the bench added. The court also said that electronic media immediately affected mind of the people and now it was well established that some time paid news items were published by the media which was an instance of abuse of power. Hence, it said, prima facie electronic media should also be regulated and supervised by statutory autonomous forum like the Press Council of India. The government, it added, should have provided some statutory forum to redress the grievance of the news items or other items of the electronic media. The court directed the government of India to file an affidavit bringing on record its’ stand to provide some statutory forum for electronic media. (Times of India 2/11/13)

 

14. We can’t stop media, Supreme Court tells Asaram (1)

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday once again refused to entertain a writ petition from Asaram Bapu, now lodged in a jail in Gujarat, seeking to restrain the media from reporting on the allegations of sexual assault made against him. Earlier on October 21, the court declined to restrain both print and visual media from carrying news reports about Asaram’s case. But it gave him the liberty to file a fresh petition if any adverse report about him was published or telecast. The 75-year-old self-styled godman now moved the court to stop two TV channels from broadcasting reports, saying they were projecting him as a “Dracula who drank children’s blood.” But Chief Justice P. Sathasivam told senior counsel Vikas Singh: “We cannot ask the media not to report the information they get from police or other sources. If some inmate says something or an investigation officer talks to the media, how can we stop them? The media is reporting what they say. You have other civil or criminal remedies.” The Bench, which included Justices Ranjana Desai and Ranjan Gogoi, dismissed the petition as withdrawn. (The Hindu 3/11/13)

 

DALITS/SCHEDULED CASTES

15. Dalit’s community certificate cancellation set aside (2)

CHENNAI: The Madras High Court has set aside an order cancelling the community certificate issued to a Dalit, who converted to Christianity and later re-converted to Hinduism. Holding that a Hindu not conducting puja in puja room regularly could not be a ground to declare that he was not a Hindu, a bench of Justices N Paul Vasanthakumar and K Ravichandra Baabu quashed the cancellation order. Conceding the arguments of senior advocate K Duraisamy on Thursday, the bench said that the village administrative officer (VAO)  and the revenue divisional officer (DRO)  were not correct in concluding that K Vasikaran, a dalit panchayat president, was not a Hindu, merely because there was no evidence of prayer/puja conducted in his house which had a puja room. They also reported that words from the Bible were found at the house and a Cross had been inscribed on its pillars. Vasikaran was elected president of Gerugambakkam panchayat, reserved for Dalits, in October 2011. After the poll loss, his rival candidate moved the state election commission to strip him of the post, saying he was a Christian and that his community certificate too should be cancelled. The matter was referred to the revenue authorities for filing of a report. The officials visited his home and held inquiries before submitting a report favouring cancellation of the Dalit certificate. Vasikaran said the Tiruvallur district collector had sent his notices to an addressee K Victor, which was his name when he was Christian. He had become a Hindu by undergoing a ‘shuddhi’ ceremony by the Arya Samaj in Chennai and a certificate too has been given by the organisation. Noting that his community had accepted him, he said he had polled more than 2,600 votes, which was another indication of acceptance by his community. The bench said Vasikaran had been described as a Dalit in his school certificate in 1989. The Sriperumpudur tahsildar issued a proper community certificate in 1996. But, his poll rivals had not raked up his caste status before the election, the bench pointed out. (New Indian Express 1/11/13)

 

16. Attacked by caste Hindus, Dalits knock collector’s door (2)

TIRUCHY: Dalit villagers, who were allegedly attacked by caste Hindus on Deepavali day at Anthanallur in Srirangam constituency, approached Collector Jayashree Muraleedharan on Monday seeking to initiate action against their tormentors. They appealed her to shift a PDS outlet claiming that it is located at a place dominated by members of the other community. A large number of Dalits, including those injured in the alleged attack, thronged the collectorate. Explaining the chain of events, they told the collector that a section of people from their community were waiting at a bus stop at  Mullikarumbur on Deepavali day when a group of caste Hindus approached them and picked up a quarrel. Mullikarumbur is a place dominated by caste Hindus. According to the Dalits, the caste Hindus used filthy language and addressed them by their caste name. When asked why they were targeting them, the group allegedly assaulted them.  “They came there with an intention to attack us and as planned, they rushed towards us with lethal weapons and iron rods and assaulted us,”  a victim said. The injured Dalits were rushed to the GH and were given treatment. Meanwhile, Dalit members lodged a complaint with the Somarasampettai police station, but the police allegedly refused to entertain the complaint. Meanwhile, when the caste Hindus learnt that a complaint has been lodged against them, they stopped the Dalits once again while they were waiting at the bus stop and warned them of dire consequences. In the petition to the collector, they also expressed fear that the situation may worsen if the people from their colony go to the ration outlet located in anarea dominated by caste Hindus. “People from our area, especially women, fear to go there to buy things and we appeal to open a PDS outlet so that we may live peacefully”, the petition further said. The Collector received the petition and asked police officials to look into the issue. (New Indian Express 5/11/13)

 

17. Dalits from Mullainagar allege ostracism, petition Collector (2)

TIRUCHI: A group of Dalits of Mullainagar near Somarasampettai on the outskirts of the city have urged the district administration to take action against people of other castes for allegedly ostracising them. While the Dalit Colony is located in Mullai Nagar, people from other caste live in Mullikarumbur. “We have been threatened not to come to the bus stop or reach the ration shop at Mullikarumbur, where people of other caste lived,” said the people of the village who submitted a petition to the Collector here on Monday. According to the petition, which was submitted in the name of Mallar Naadu Mallar Kazhagam, the issue, which had been brewing for the past few days, took an ugly turn on Saturday, when people from other caste attacked four Dalits irked over the presence of a few Dalits at the bus stop in the village. They fled the scene after the attack. Based on a complaint, the police have secured a few persons in connection with the incident. “Assuming that the issue had been resolved on Saturday, we resumed our daily routine, only to be threatened of dire consequences if we tried to reach the fair price shop,” said Kasturi, who was forced to return home. The people of the village, numbering a little over 150, gathered at the Collectorarte shortly after a group of Dalit women, who came from Mullai Nagar to the ration shop, was reportedly threatened against entering Mullikarumbur. (The Hindu 6/11/13)

 

HEALTH/ EPIDEMICS/NRHM

18. Infant mortality rate highest in State (3)

GUWAHATI, Nov 1 – Despite claims of reform in healthcare and social welfare by the government, Assam has one of the highest rates of infant mortality, with the State also not doing well in some other indicators. As per the 15th issue of ‘Women and Men in India 2013’ recently released by the Central Statistics Office (CSO), the total Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) in Assam in 2011 was 55. While the female IMR was 56, for male infants it was 55. However, Assam has been successful in bringing down total IMR from as high as 74 in 2001. The female IMR in the State in 2001 was 80 and the male IMR was 69. Among major States, Assam had the third highest rate of IMR, following Madhya Pradesh where it was 59 and Uttar Pradesh and Odisha with 57. It was lowest in Kerala with the State reporting an IMR of only 12. Overall, across India the total IMR was 44 in 2011, with female IMR at 46 compared to the male IMR of 43. The report also stated that prevalence of anaemia was highest in Assam in 2005-06. “Among the States, prevalence of anaemia was the highest in Assam and Jharkhand, both at 69.5 per cent, and it was the lowest in Kerala at 32.8 per cent,” the CSO publication said. It said that the Maternal Mortality Ratio was 212 during 2007-09. Among the States, it was highest in Assam (390) followed by Uttar Pradesh (359) and Rajasthan (318). The CSO report also said that the Under-Five Mortality Rate was the also high in Assam, along with some other States. (The Assam Tribune 1/11/13)

 

19. 35,000 ASHA workers to get mobile phones to promote health schemes (3)

Bangalore: It is a move that will bring a positive change to preventive healthcare, including maternal and disease-control programmes. The State government is all set to provide mobile phones to all the 35,000 Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHAs) in the State. These activists are community health workers in the World Bank-sponsored National Rural Health Mission (NRHM), which is being implemented by the Union government across the country. According to the NRHM guidelines, ASHAs are paid performance-based incentives for promoting universal immunisation, referral and escort services for Reproductive and Child Health (RCH) and other healthcare programmes. Principal Secretary to Government (Health and Family Welfare) M. Madan Gopal told The Hindu on Monday that it was for the first time in the country that ASHAs are being provided mobile phones. “The Health Ministry has agreed to provide Closed User Group (CUG) SIM cards under the NRHM. The handsets will be procured through the Karnataka Health Systems Development and Reforms Project with World Bank assistance.” Selected from the village itself and accountable to it, ASHAs are trained to work as an interface between the community and the public health system. They are the first port of call to meet the health needs of people at the village level. “It is essential to recognise the services of these activists and equip them with adequate financial support and technological tools,” Mr. Madan Gopal said. He said the decision was based on the success of the State government’s experiment with Mother and Child Tracking System (MCTS). “This is at present up to Auxiliary Nurse Midwives (ANM) level and we have found it to be quite useful in improving the efficiency of the programme,” he said. NRHM Mission Director Suresh Kunhi Mohammed explained that every ASHA is expected to be a fountainhead of community participation in public health programmes in her village. The pre-paid mobile phones will be for specific usage to promote health programmes. It will help ASHAs communicate effectively with the people as well as the health system, such as doctors, nurses and Auxiliary Nurse Midwives (ANMs), he said.The Karnataka State Samyukta ASHA Workers’ Association has welcomed the decision. Association general secretary D. Nagalakshmi said the mobile phones would be of great help for the activists as they are spending their own money to submit daily reports to the ANMs and doctors. “With several villages coming under one primary health centre (PHC), it is very important for ASHAs to find out the availability of the doctor and medicines before escorting the patient to the PHC. The mobile phone will help us to communicate better,” Ms. Nagalakshmi said. Pointing out that there were several other pending demands that were yet to be considered, she said: “ASHAs are responsible for creating awareness on health and its social determinants. They will provide information to the community on nutrition, basic sanitation and hygiene practices, healthy living and working conditions, information on existing health services and the need for timely utilisation of health and family welfare services.” (The Hindu 5/11/13)

 

20. Police to act tough against violators of tobacco use rules (3)

KOTTAYAM: The district police unit has decided to take strict action against those found guilty of violating the Cigarette and Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA), 2003. A resolution in this regard was adopted at a workshop organised for police officers by Tobacco Free Kerala, a coalition of like-minded organisations, including the Regional Cancer Centre, Malabar Cancer Centre, and Kerala Voluntary Health Services. A total of 39 police officers led by district police chief M.P. Dinesh took part. The officers were informed that tobacco use was a major cause of mortality and morbidity in India and Kerala. While around 1 million Indians died of tobacco use annually, the corresponding figure in the State was 19,000. Documentaries highlighting the hardships faced by those suffering from ailments due to tobacco use were also screened. K. Mohana Kumar, retired Deputy Superintendent of Police, explained the various sections of COTPA and the punitive measures prescribed for their violation. He said Section 4 of the Act prohibited smoking in all public places and specified that acts of violation could invite fines up to Rs.200. In addition, the Act also made it necessary to put up ‘No Smoking Area’ signs in public places in the prescribed size and format. Educational institutions, hospitals, restaurants, and cinema halls had been included in the list of public places, he said. Section 6 of the Act prohibited the sale of tobacco products to and by minors, and within the 100-yard (91.4 metres) radius of an educational institution. (The Hindu 6/11/13)

 

HIV/AIDS

21. HIV test must for pregnant women (3)

CHITTOOR: The joint director of the AP State AIDS Control Board, Jayachandra Reddy, instructed all the government hospitals Chittoor district to compulsorily conduct HIV tests to pregnant women as part of the drive to control the disease. The official inspected the ART Centre at the Chittoor Government Hospital and conducted random checks. He interacted with the staff regarding the steps to be taken regarding conducting tests to the pregnant women and the follow-up action. The District officer for the TB and AIDS control, Venkata Prasad, said that only one case of the child getting affected with HIV was reported in the district in 2011. He said that awareness is being created among the pregnant women to go for the tests. “On an average 240 pregnant women come to Chittoor hospital every month,” he said. “We informed the staff about the modules of administering the ART drugs for the HIV affected women and their condition would be thoroughly monitored till the delivery time. During the post natal period, the required medication would be administered to the mother and child, which would effectively protect the child from the HIV infection,” he said. (The Hindu 1/11/13)

 

22. Ostracised AIDS patient couple ends life in Tripura (3)

Agartala: Ostracised by their family and neighbours, an AIDS patient couple committed suicide in Tripura, officials said here Sunday. “Asit Nath, 38, and his 35-years-old wife Kakali Nath consumed toxic pesticide on Oct 24. Asit died on the same day while Kakali died Saturday night after 10 days in hospital,” Abhijit Saptarshi, north Tripura district police chief, told IANS. He said: “(We) have registered a simple UD (unnatural death) case of this incident. No criminal complaint came to us so far. If any criminal complaint is registered with us, we would act accordingly.” According to the relatives and doctors, after preliminary confirmation by doctors at Dharmagar sub-divisional hospital in north Tripura several months back, the couple was found to be afflicted by AIDS at Agartala’s integrated counselling and testing centre (ICTC) that is managed by Tripura State AIDS Control Society (TSACS). “After returning home at Goalabasti village, the couple were subjected to continuous ill-treatment, hatred and abuse by family members, relatives and neighbours,” said a neighbour of Asit. Goalabasti village is 225 km north of here. He said: “In fact both Asit and Kakali suspected each other for the infection and occasionally quarrelled… we tried to convince them that the disease might have been caused by reasons other than pre- or post-marital sexual misconduct.” According to relatives, Asit, a motor mechanic and driver, after marrying Kakali in 2008 was settled in Latumbai area on the outskirts of the Meghalaya capital Shillong. After Kakali became pregnant eight months ago, the couple started contracting diseases which could not be cured by medicines prescribed by doctors. Then they returned to their home in Goalabasti village. “I was infected from my husband after we got married in 2008, but I accepted it as my destiny and decided to live together. Though we did not have any problem in our married life but social and family humiliation turned life miserable,” Kakali was quoted by the local media as saying a few days before her suicide attempt. “We have asked our north Tripura district AIDS prevention and control center officials to study the case and reasons behind the suicide,” TSACS project director Tapan Kumar Das told IANS. He said: “Mental support and all out compassion is needed for the HIV-positive and AIDS patients.” According to an official document of the TSACS, currently Tripura has 405 confirmed AIDS patients and altogether 1,091 HIV-positives till September. Among the HIV-positives, 373 are females while among the confirmed AIDS patients 128 are females. Since 2001, in all 117 people in Tripura have died of AIDS. Of the 117 dead, 98 are males, 16 females, a male child and two female children. The TSACS is implementing many programmes to prevent the spread of HIV-positives in the northeastern state bordering Bangladesh. (Deccan Herald 3/11/13)

 

23. Rehabilitation package for the HIV-affected (3)

KOCHI: In order to remove the stigma of HIV and AIDS and to encourage those who are affected with the disease to come to the forefront, the Kochi Corporation will soon launch a special rehabilitation package. To be carried out by utilising the funds under Kerala Sustainable Urban Development Project (KSUDP), the rehabilitation package mainly intends at giving special training to the HIV-affected in a set of skills that will help them find a livelihood. Training will be offered in skills like craft making, tailoring  which will lead the way to self-employment and other skills which will motivate entrepreneurship. The civic body is planning to join hands with the Centre for Advanced Projects and Solutions (CAPS), an NGO working for AIDS awareness, for identifying the HIV-affected. “As per the available data, there are nearly 100 persons living under the Corporation limit. We will identify these persons with the help of CAPS. Since there is a tendency among the general public to sideline the HIV-affected, we will not reveal the name or other details of the persons. Even many of the beneficiaries who are included in these project did not want reveal their names. Considering their request, we will not publish their names thereby leading to a situation where they will get sidelined,” said Kochi Corporation Health Standing Committee chairman T K Ashraf. He said that initially, an amount of `6 lakh will be used from the KSUDP funds for launching the project. “We are planning to present the project before the Kochi Corporation council by November second week. Once the Council gives its nod, we will launch the project by December,” he said. The rehabilitation programme for the HIV-affected also includes an awareness programme, training in various skills, including driving, and supply of medicines to them. “We had analysed the possibilities of launching a housing scheme but later thought that it would further marginalise them. Our main aim is offer mental strength and equip them with some skills. We have already channelised funds for two of them by buying autorickshaws to help them make a living,” he said. (New Indian Express 4/11/13)

 

CORRUPTION

24. 145 corrupt officials dismissed in last 5 years: CM (5)

BHUBANESWAR: As many as 145 public servants were dismissed from service on charges of corruption of the 424 convicted by the Vigilance courts during the last five years. Addressing the Vigilance Awareness Week celebrations here on Thursday, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said the Vigilance department registered 402 criminal cases last year and launched prosecution against 705 public servants. The State Government has established 15 special Vigilance courts to expedite trial of corruption cases, he said, adding that two special courts have been set up at Bhubaneswar and Cuttack under the Special Courts Act. So far, 157 cases of corruption have been transferred to these special courts and 15 accused persons holding high public offices  convicted, he said. Besides, two courts of authorised officer have been set up in Bhubaneswar and Cuttack to try confiscation proceedings. The Chief Minister said 97 confiscation cases have been initiated of which orders of confiscation of properties have been passed in 17 cases. He awarded students who won competitions organised on the subject, ‘Promoting good governance-positive contribution of Vigilance’. Bhubaneswar MP Prasanna Patsani, Chief Secretary J K Mohapatra and senior officials were present. (New Indian Express 1/11/13)

 

25. LTC scam: CBI books Rajya Sabha member, AI official, travel agency (5)

NEW DELHI: More than two months after TOI reported irregularities in the leave travel concession (LTC) claims made by central government and public sector employees, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Friday registered its first FIR, naming Rajya Sabha member Anil Sahani of the Janata Dal (United), an Air India official and a Delhi-based travel agency. The scandal involves submission of inflated and fake flight tickets and boarding passes by government employees and some members of Parliament, and is suspected to be widespread and organized. Within hours of registering the case, CBI teams carried out coordinated raids in Delhi and Muzaffarpur in Bihar at the premises of Sahani and other accused persons. CBI sources told TOI that more FIRs would be registered by next week in the scam, which has caused the exchequer crores of rupees. (Times of India 2/11/13)

 

26. Congress opposing Lokayukta Act to perpetuate corruption, says BC Khanduri (5)

DEHRADUN: The ruling Congress’s opposition to the Lokayukta Act proves that all it wants to do is to “perpetuate corruption” in the state, former Uttarakhand Chief Minister and BJP leader BC Khanduri, said today. The Lokayukta Bill for Uttarakhand had been unanimously passed by the state Assembly while BJP had been in power with Khanduri at the helm. “By opposing the Uttarakhand Lokayukta Act, which recently received Presidential assent, the current dispensation stands exposed. “It is proof that the state government has no intention of combating corruption, only to perpetuate it. “Had it not been so, it would not oppose an act which can be an effective tool in fighting corruption,” Khanduri told reporters here. Although Khanduri noted that the state government would be within its rights to amend the law, he said it did not seem as if it was serious about it. “Had it been serious about amending the Act, it would have convened a special session of the Assembly to set the process in motion instead of just opposing it and terming its provisions unconstitutional,” he said, adding that a “corrupt” government would never favour the creation of an anti- corruption ombudsman. Slamming Bahuguna for citing “unconstitutionalities” in the Act, Khanduri said it was “anti-national” to find legal lacunae in a piece of legislation after it had been approved by the President. “The Bill was sent to the President in 2011 and it received his assent in September of this year. It must have been properly studied before being given approval. “Terming provisions of the Act ‘unconstitutional’ is an insult to the President. “It is a ploy to stall the Act so that corruption, which has assumed the proportions of an industry in the state, may grow unchecked,” he added. The Bill, passed unanimously by the state Assembly in November, 2011, was first scrutinised by the Union Home Ministry and then approved by the President, who chose not to make any changes in it, Khanduri pointed out. “How can the government talk of discrepancies in the Act despite its having gone through elaborate scrutiny by legal and constitutional experts at the disposal of the Home Ministry and the President of India,” he asked. Citing “unconstitutionalities” in the Act, Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna had recently said it had been passed by the previous BJP government in a hurry and there was room for amendments in it. (Economic Times 2/11/13)

 

27. Pinarayi dropped as accused in Rs. 374 cr scam case (5)

Thiruvananthapuram: A Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court on Tuesday dropped CPI-M secretary Pinarayi Vijayan and five others from the list of accused in the SNC-Lavalin corruption case dating to mid-1990s, when Vijayan was the power minister in Kerala cabinet. The CBI had filed chargesheets against nine accused in the Rs. 374-crore scam related to the Canada-based company in June 2009. The CPI-M leader was arraigned as the seventh accused in court. He, however, approached the CBI court with a discharge petition saying he has done no wrong. Vijayan, as the power minister, had signed the agreement in 1997 for renovating three power plants in the state with SNC Lavalin, which was later shrouded in controversy. The verdict is being seen as politically significant development as it could pave the way for Vijayan’s return to the electoral scene as the central player of the Left Democratic Front. Welcoming the decision of the CBI court, CPI-M politburo member S Ramachandran Pillai said, “Our stand that it was a politically motivated case has proved right.” (Hindustan Times 5/11/13)

 

REFUGEES/ MIGRANTS

28. Refugee Crisis: Palestinians lose more than most in Syrian exodus (13)

Lebanon: Palestinians Mahmoud and Ahmed fled Syria last month for Egypt, where they paid smugglers to bring them to Europe. Once at sea, they were robbed at knife point and herded onto an overloaded boat that sank, pitching over 100 into the sea. The brothers made it back to shore while others drowned, then to be deported in days from a volatile Egypt where anti Palestinian sentiment runs high. Now at the Lebanese camp of Ain al-Helweh, they face as Palestinians restrictions on their lives far more severe than any other refugees from Syria. A people all too familiar with refugee life, Palestinians have lost out more than most in the exodus from Syria. “They grabbed the women and children and tossed us onto the boats like they were tossing rocks or some other worthless thing,” said Mahmoud, 23, who asked that his family name not be used. “There was no way to turn back.” “They pulled knives on us and took our money and mobile phones and stripped the gold off the women.” The war has forced some 50,000 Palestinians to flee Syria, a country where they had enjoyed some of the most favorable treatment in all of the Arab world. The number is a sliver of the 700,000 registered Syrian refugees in Lebanon, but enough to strain overcrowded and volatile camps and stir memories of Lebanon’s own civil war; a conflict some see rooted in the arrival of armed Palestinian factions in the decades after Israel’s foundation in 1948.Noufa Sallem, a 55-year-old Palestinian from Syria, fled to Ain al-Helweh, Lebanon’s largest camp, about a year ago after shelling gutted her family’s four-storey home in Damascus. She and two of her sons settled in a dirt lot in a tent of plastic sheeting and wooden planks, around the corner from a neighborhood run by a faction of radical Islamists. (Indian Express 3/11/13)

 

29. Parliamentary panel visits migrant transit camp in J&K (13)

A standing committee of Parliament on rehabilitation of Jammu and Kashmir migrants today visited the Migrant Transit Camp at Vessu in Anantnag district. “A team of Departmental Related Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Department for Rehabilitation of J&K Migrants — currently on an extensive tour of the Valley — visited migrant transit camp at Vessu,” an official spokesman said. The Committee while interacting with the migrants enquired about their welfare and about various facilities being made available to them, the spokesman said. He said during the interaction, the migrants put forth various demands pertaining to the service matters and other facilities. The committee asked district administration for early redressal of the grievances of the migrants, besides ensuring adequate facilities for them. The members of the committee included Vandana Chavan, Saniuse Kujar, Satish Chander Misra, Shafiq Rehman Barq, Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar, Raman Deka, Detta Maghe, N Shekhar, Rajiv Pratap Rudy and Naveen Jindal, he said. (DNA 5/11/13)

 

30. Mizoram students oppose postal ballot for Bru refugees (13)

AIZAWL: Mizo students on Tuesday urged chief election commissioner V S Sampath to ensure that Bru voters in Tripura exercise their franchise in Mizoram and not in the relief camps where they are staying. The state assembly election is slated for November 25. Sampath arrived in Aizawl on Tuesday for a two-day visit to assess the election preparedness in the state. The Mizo Zirlai Pawl (MZP), the apex Mizo student body, opposed the ECI’s proposal to make arrangements for the Bru voters to vote at their camps in Tripura through postal ballot. The MZP demanded that the Brus should come to Mizoram and cast their votes at their respective polling stations. MZP leaders expressed the fear that there would not be free and fair polling at the Bru relief camps in Tripura as the camps were frequented i by insurgents and armed groups. An MZP delegation met Sampath here on Tuesday and submitted a letter expressing their anger over the recent special registration drive for the Brus lodged in six relief camps in North Tripura district, while such a drive was not undertaken for Mizo youths who had attained 18 years of age and whose names were not enlisted in the voters’ list. The MZP team expressed fear that there might not be proper verification of 326 new voters enrolled during the special drive. “We informed Sampath about our concern that the Brus in the relief camps who migrated from Bangladesh and Assam and residents of Tripura might be included in the voters’ list during the special drive,” MZP leaders said. MZP president Lalhmachhuana said they appealed to Sampath to enable Mizoram University students staying in hostels and relatives’ homes here to exercise their franchise on the campus as they have exams in December beginning and won’t be able to go back to their hometowns or villages to cast their votes. “The CEC agreed to look into our pleas and said that he would consult with the state chief electoral officer on the matter,” MZP leaders said, thanking Sampath for agreeing to meet them so they could air their grievances. Earlier, MZP members greeted the CEC in the traditional ‘puandum’ — a dark red-coloured shawl which traditionally signifies mourning or unhappiness — and carrying placards condemning the special registration drive for Bru refugees. The Mizo Students Union (MSU) and the Young Mizo Association (YMA) also condemned the drive and the proposal that Bru refugees outside Mizoram vote through postal ballots. The two organizations contended that the Brus are being given special consideration while the Mizos who fled their respective states and came to Mizoram as refugees from Assam’s North Cachar hills and Manipur due to ethnic flare-ups were never given such privileges and opportunities. Sampath on Tuesday held meetings with DCs and SPs of all the eight districts and discussed the poll preparedness, including security arrangements.n(Times of India 6/11/13)

 

CHILDREN/ CHILD LABOUR

31. Recognise Right to Child’s Participation: Expert (14)

Mysore:  The Right to Child’s Participation in civic issues is recognised at par with a child’s Right to Survive and Right to Education, according to the UN convention on Child Rights. It is important to listen to the viewpoints of children, as they are unbiased observers of the things around them, said Prasoon Sen, representative from UNICEF, in Mysore, on Thursday. Speaking at the inaugural function of a mock parliament for children, organised by Karnataka Child Rights Observatory (KCRO) in association with UNICEF, at Rangayana, he said, “While adults can be influenced by luring them with money or other incentives, children do not get influenced easily. They can describe a situation in an unbiased way. So, children’s views on schools and hospitals in their villages accurately depict how such facilities and government schemes are affecting people”. Vasudev Sharma, convenor of KCRO, said, elected representatives have failed to address issues pertaining to the welfare of children in the State. “Earlier, political parties did not raise any issue on children in their election manifestos. However, owing to some pressure, they have started including them from 2003,” he said. He said, children may have more amicable and simple solutions for everyday problems. Moreover, children should be encouraged to understand problems, discuss them and come up with solutions. Meera Nayak, president of Samatha Vedike, said, girl children are facing subjugation — both at homes and schools — especially in rural areas. “More or less, it is a form of slavery,” she said. Different kinds of schools are being run — for the rich and the poor — which increases discrimination among children. We can provide them equal opportunities only by giving them uniform education, she said. Pa Mallesh, Kannada activist, said encouraging private schools against government schools creates two classes and cultures of children.“Contrasts of the society are being imposed on them,” he said. A total of 51 children from different parts of the district participated. (Deccan Herald 1/11/13)

 

32. 200 child labourers freed last month: Govt to high court (14)

NEW DELHI: The Delhi government on Thursday informed the Delhi high court that in the past one month it has rescued nearly 200 children employed as labourers in the past month in various places. Appearing for the Delhi government, standing counsel Pawan Sharma filed a progress report on steps taken to abolish child labour before a bench of Chief Justice N V Ramana and Justice Manmohan, and said the chief secretary recently held a meeting with different departments to prevent employment of children. Seeking exemption from personal appearance of the chief secretary and the labour commissioner, the government lawyer said the labour department has informed that in past one month, 198 children have been rescued in the past month. On the government’s report, senior advocate H S Phoolka, counsel for petitioner NGO Bachpan Bachao Andolan, said the problem of child labour will be solved to a great extent if the most senior officer of the government holds a meeting at least once a month. The bench asked Phoolka to place on record his suggestions, saying “the bench can direct the departments concerned to put in place these suggestions which can work without the court’s interference”. It also expressed its satisfaction over the progress report and discharged the officers from their appearance during the next hearing of the plea. Earlier, refusing to withdraw its previous order summoning the officers over alleged in-action to rescue child labourers, the bench had asked the government to furnish the progress report by today. The court was hearing the NGO’s plea alleging government inaction on eradication of child labour. (Times of India 1/11/13)

 

33. Child marriage not void, but voidable: Court (14)

NEW DELHI: Stating that a sexual act between a man and his wife who is more than 15 years old does not amount to rape, a trial court has acquitted a youth of raping and kidnapping a minor. The court also termed their marriage valid saying, “child marriage contracted with a female of less than 18 years or a male of less than 21 years would not be a void marriage but a voidable one”.The court order is significant in the light of demands to amend the law related to child marriage. Human rights activists have time and again criticized the authorities for not doing enough to ban child marriage in India. The country’s law defines a child as someone younger than 18 years and the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act prescribes jail for anyone-including parents-for allowing child marriage. A survey found that every second bride in the country is a child but only around 400 people were arrested under this law in 2012. Additional sessions judge Savita Rao let off Prashant Kumar Sahani after noting that the minor had eloped and married him by choice. The court pointed out that the consent of the girl would be immaterial since she was less than 16 years old, but since she had married the accused “willingly” and was aged more than 15 years at the time of the incident, the general law would not apply in this case. Relying upon a high court judgment, the judge said, “The consent of prosecutrix (alleged victim) below the age of 16 years is immaterial, except when rape is committed by a male who is married to the girl. Section 376 IPC (rape) does not treat the rape committed by a husband on his wife above the age of 15 years as an offence”.The court also held that their marriage cannot be declared null. (Times of India 2/11/13)

 

34. Child rights panel wants RWAs to prevent abuse (14)

NEW DELHI: With cases of torture of domestic workers, particularly minors in urban middle and upper middle class families on the rise, Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights (DCPCR) has written to chief minister Sheila Dikshit, seeking intervention of Bhagidari cell to make the resident welfare associations – 3500 of them are registered under the programme – aware of laws related to child labour and trafficking. Interestingly, the Bhagidari cell has cited the model code of conduct to explain its inability to take any measures now to involve RWAs in preventing abuse of minors. Such awareness building will have to wait till the elections are over and a new government is formed. The RWAs registered with the cell are estimated to be covering a population of about 60 lakh in colonies and resettlement colonies.. DCPCR chief Arun Mathur said RWAs need to be made aware of the provisions of the anti-child labour law and Juvenile Justice Act. “Most people believe that child labour laws apply only till age 14 and domestic workers older than that can be engaged for work. But the provisions regarding child labour are clear that domestic work comes under the hazardous category and children up to 18 cannot be engaged for the same,” he said. “Also, the 2009 Delhi high court order states that if a domestic worker in the 14-18 age-group is identified, he or she must be freed from the clutches of an employer.” He added that Juvenile Justice Act is clear on the definition of a child applying up to 18 years. There are about one lakh full-time domestic workers and many more part-time helps. While domestic work has grown into a full-fledged profession, the lack of laws make these workers – mostly women and minor girls – unaccounted migrant labourers. R S Chaurasia, chairperson of NGO Bachpan Bachao Andolan, says even if 10% of Delhi’s urban middle and upper middle class households employ full-time maids, the number will be nothing short of a lakh. Rishikant from NGO Shakti Vahini, that was involved in the rescue of an 18-year-old tribal domestic help from Vasant Kunj on September 30, said, “Many children and women are being trafficked for forced labour, child labour, forced marriage, sexual exploitation and bonded labour. The employers are specifically looking for children as they are cheaper, complain less and remain silent when exploited.”‘ Rita Panicker, director of NGO Butterflies, said: “The tribal girls are most vulnerable. For them, city life is traumatic. To be placed in a middle-class home where life is so different from their village is a big change for them. We need to shame employers who abuse domestic helps.” The NGO was involved in the rescue of a minor from house of an air hostess in south Delhi recently. (Times of India 5/11/13)

 

AGRICULTURE/ FARMERS SUICIDES

35. Five more farmers commit suicide in Vidarbha (20)

Nagpur: The unfortunate trend of agrarian crisis driving distressed farmers to commit suicide continues in Vidarbha. As many as five more farmers have ended their lives in the last 48 hours on the eve of Diwali in the region. According to reports reaching here on Saturday evening, among the victims three were from the neighbouring Wardha and two were from Yavatmal — one of the worst-hit districts in the region. The deceased were identified as: Ashok Sathe of Zullar village, Bharat Ade of Parsoda (both from Yavatmal district), Ramesh Wadatkar, Yashambha village, Devidas Thakare, Sorta and Vithalrao Ladhi of Arambha (all from Wardha district). Kishore Tiwari of Vidarbha Janandolan Samiti that has been documenting the farmers’ suicide in the region since 2001 claimed that with the death of these five farmers, the toll has risen to 683 in the region since January this year. Tiwari urged the government to provide necessary help to the distressed farmers so that such tragic incidents could be prevented. Farmers in the region were forced to take the extreme step as they have no money even for the purchasing sweet and new clothes for their children on Diwali, he claimed. Vilas Raut of Wadaki village, who knew one of the victims, Ashok Sathe of Zullar village, informed that Ashok was shattered following the crop failure due to heavy rains. He had borrowed around Rs. 50,000 from the local cooperative bank. “When he realized that he would not be able to repay the loans and generate fresh funds for the next season, he ended his life by consuming poison on Friday evening. Moreover, he was also depressed as he could not borrow money for purchasing clothes for his children and family this Diwali,” Raut pointed out. Vidarbha, where more than one million acres of land has been eroded and over Rs. 20,000-crore worth crop lost, the announced relief by centre and state was a meagre Rs. 2,800-crore. Apart from bailout the crisis-ridden farmers, the amount is too less to repair damaged roads and bridges on a large scale following heavy rains in the region, Tiwari said. Ashwin Mudgal, the collector of Yavatmal district admitted that he has received the news of farmers’ suicide in his district. “I have directed my tahsildar to inquire about it and submit a report immediately,” he said. The collector, Mudgal also admitted that over 60 farmers from Yavatmal district alone, committed suicide because of agrarian crisis since June this year. (Hindustan Times 2/11/13)

 

36. Seminar on increasing attacks on farm sector (20)

HYDERABAD: The All India Agriculture Workers’ Association has alleged that the upcoming meeting of the World Agricultural Congress in the city was aimed at mortgaging the interests of the farming community and agricultural labour to multinational companies. Association president Paturi Ramaiah told reporters here on Sunday that the proposed Congress, being sponsored by MNCs, would deliberate on the methods for mechanisation of farming and reducing the number of small holdings. Such moves would harm farmers and agriculture workers and could result in suicides by those dependent on agriculture. The CPI (M)-backed association had decided to conduct seminars and a symposium on the increasing frequency of attacks on the farming sector involving experts in the sector. A national seminar will be held on November 6 in which agriculture economist Prof. Utsa Patnaik of JNU and The Hindu rural affairs editor P. Sainath will deliver the keynote address on issues facing the farm sector. The meeting will witness the participation of Tripura Minister Bhanulal Saha, trade union leader from Kerala, Govindan Master, retired IAS Kaki Madhava Rao and other experts in the field. The three-day deliberations will be preceded by a seminar on the current social, economic and political situation and its impact on the agriculture sector with CPI (M) State secretary B.V. Raghavulu delivering the keynote address. (The Hindu 4/11/13)

 

37. Unable to buy Diwali gifts, five Vidarbha farmers commit suicide (20)

Mumbai:  While the state celebrated Diwali in style, there was a pall of gloom over the families of five farmers in Vidarbha. The distressed farmers took the extreme step of ending their lives in the last 48 hours, after being unable to buy their family sweets and clothes for the festival. Among the victims, three were from Wardha and two were from Yavatmal, taking the total death toll to 683 in 2013, as of date. Officials identified the five as Ashok Sathe (Yavatmal), Bharat Ade (Yavatmal), Ramesh Wadatkar (Wardha), Devidas Thakare (Wardha) and Vithalrao Ladhi (Wardha). While one of them hanged himself, the other four consumed pesticide. According to Kishore Tiwari of the Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti, who has been recording the deaths of farmers for nearly a decade, the figures did not reflect the entire picture and merely reflected how dire the conditions are in the area. “We record deaths that come to the fore. Even the government has said that the actual deaths are much more than what the official count shows,” said Tiwari. Tiwari added that farmers in the area were depressed and the government’s lax attitude was the reason why suicides were on the rise again. Explaining the farmers’ plight, Tiwari added, “It rained very heavily this year owing to which crops failed. Taking cognisance of the issue, the CM had promised them Rs. 2,000 crore. Even Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar assured them a package of Rs. 900 crore. But the farmers haven’t seen a single penny, driving them to suicide.” Tiwari added that the financial strain had left farmers in a situation where they weren’t even able to buy sweets or new clothes for their families. Faced with utter hopelessness and desperation, these farmers took the extreme step of killing themselves. Only the government could improve their conditions, Tiwari further stated. (NDTV 5/11/13)

 

POVERTY/ HUNGER

38. Poverty: Man ends life after killing wife, child (21)

BANGALORE: Unable to bear the pain of poverty, a man killed his wife, son and then ended his life at Hoskote on Wednesday night. Shivaraj Joshi (30) from Nepal, who worked as a security guard at a local factory, killed his wife Usha (30) and son Nikhil (3). Neelam, the older daughter, who was home at the time of the incident, managed to escape by running out of the house. The incident came to light when neighbours noticed the girl standing near the house and crying inconsolably. Soolibele police rushed to the spot and found a few empty bottles of poison. The police also found a suicide note which stated that no one was responsible for their death. Neighbours told police Joshi had been unwell and hadn’t been going to work for the last couple of days. The couple had also fought on Wednesday night. “We suspect a domestic feud may have been the reason, but investigation is on to ascertain the exact reason for the extreme step,” police said. (New Indian Express 1/11/13)

 

39. Akshaya Patra to serve 50k meals in DK by 2015 (21)

MANGALORE: The Akshaya Patra Foundation aims to serve 50,000 mid-day meals every day among schoolchildren in Dakshina Kannada district by 2015. The Foundation launched their ‘Zero to Million’ programme here on Monday to celebrate having served 25 million meals to about 25,000 students of 145 government aided schools from 2005 till date. With a vision, ‘No child shall be deprived of education because of hunger’, the programme was launched in 2005 with 300 students, said Sanandana Dasa, volunteer of Akshaya Patra Foundation. The menu consists of rice, sambar, pulses, curds or buttermilk, and special rice is served on different days of the week to create a variety in the menu, Dasa said. Every day the Foundation cooks around 2,300kg of rice and 4,200 litres sambar using around 500kg dal. Around 1,200kg variety of vegetables is cooked daily and served in different schools, he said. To minimize the cost and to ensure quality, the foundation has built a centralized kitchen which has been designed by the Akshaya Patra management. The facility consists of a series of mechanized steam-heated cauldrons, custom-built to cook nutrient, staple and native food. Mechanization has minimized human handling of food to ensure high standards of hygiene and cleanliness. Steam heating has accelerated the cooking process, enabling the Foundation to prepare meals on a large scale in less than five hours, he said. In order to ensure hygiene and safety, stainless steel containers are used to pack the food and custom-built vehicles are used to transport it. Using a fleet of vehicles, food is transported to the schools within a 50 km radius. Security personnel escort each vehicle to ensure safe delivery of meals. The vehicles drop off the meals in the schools and pick up empty containers on their return trip. The mapping of the schools to the vehicles has also been done efficiently, Dasa said. The Akshaya Patra programme has been supported by state government and Central governments, with a subsidy to support about 56% of the running cost of the Akshaya Patra programme. The Central government support has been routed through the state government. The programme has also been supported by many industries, foundations, individuals and philanthropists for the balance of running costs and for setting up and maintenance of the centralized kitchen. (Times of India 5/11/13)

 

40. Questions raised over Mars mission spending; Isro defends (21)

New Delhi: A section of social activists and scientists has questioned the need for India to spend Rs. 450 crore on a Mars mission at a time when the country is faced with hunger and poverty. Global Times, an English tabloid of the state-run People’s Daily in China, queered the pitch further. “It (India) is not immune from critics at home and abroad, who wonder whether it’s worthy for a country where… one third of the population is plagued by power shortages… to spend millions of dollars…for a few Mars pictures,” the daily said on its website. However, Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) chairperson K Radhakrishnan strongly defended the spending, saying the country’s space programmes are “people-centric”.The Mars mission, which was hailed by President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as a milestone, will cost somewhere between Rs. 450-500 crore to the exchequer.Social activist Harsh Mander, former member of the Sonia Gandhi-led National Advisory Council, said: “I believe that in a country where 230 million people sleep hungry every night, where basic healthcare, clean water and sanitation facilities are not available… it (the Mars mission) reflects a remarkable indifference to the dignity of the poor.” Former Isro chairman Madhavan Nair has described the mission as ‘utter nonsense’. “National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa) has come out publicly… that there is no trace of life on Mars. There is a limit to fooling the people and fooling the nation,” he had said on Monday. Amitabha Ghosh, India-born scientist with Nasa, also made some critical remarks about the Mars mission. “It will hardly be a novel accomplishment in the world of technology. Isro need not recreate what has already been done,” he wrote in an article. (Hindustan Times 6/11/13)

 

RESERVATION

41. Forum demands reservations for Muslims (25)

AURANGABAD: State unit of the Muslim Reservation Front (MRF), comprising Muslim leaders from across party lines, on Friday staged demonstrations in front of the divisional commissionerate here to demand reservations for Muslims according to their population proportion. The agitators threatened that if their demands are not met they would resort to mass agitation across the country. MRF president Ajmal Khan citing the recommendations made by the Justice Rangnath Misra Commission and Sachchar Committee demanded that the reservation be given to Muslims in education, employment as well as legislature. Khan said, “The commission had recommended giving 10% reservation to Muslims in jobs and education sector. Though the commission was set up by the first UPA government, the recommendations are yet to be implemented. It is the need of the hour to uplift Muslims.” He also said that due to poor social and economic policies of the state, Muslims are lagging behind on various fronts. MRF general secretary Mujahed Khan said, “The committees and commissions formed by the government have found that the status of Indian Muslims is below the conditions of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. In their reports they have also mentioned that the overall percentage of Muslims in bureaucracy in India is just 2.5% whereas Muslims constitute above 14% of Indian population.” Making a representation to the Aurangabad divisional commissioner, MRF demanded that the government should implement the recommendations immediately. (Times of India 2/11/13)

 

42. Centre likely to declare quota for Jats to counter Modi’s ‘backward’ card (25)

New Delhi: As the BJP seeks to woo Other Backward Classes (OBCs) by projecting its prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi’s OBC identity, an anxious Congress has finally decided to bite the bullet on Jat reservation. Sources said the UPA government is set to declare reservation for the Jat community in central government jobs in the OBC category shortly, although there are still some “technical complications” to be resolved. Sources maintained that the Congress was “always positive” about the Jat reservation demand as was evident from the setting up of a Group of Ministers to look into the issue recently. The Congress leadership’s decision to throw its weight behind the Jat reservation demand is said to be driven by a growing realisation in the party that it cannot wish away Modi’s OBC identity which could, coupled with other factors, help the BJP wean away a chunk of OBCs from regional parties like the RJD and JD(U) in Bihar and SP in Uttar Pradesh among others. “If there is polarisation along communal lines, we don’t know whether the OBCs would stay with their respective chieftains (regional satraps) or be amenable to Modi’s overtures. While Muslim voters will be split (between Congress and regional parties), we have to think of how we can rope in some big group to supplement the party’s somewhat fractured traditional support base,” a Congress strategist told The Indian Express. While the BJP has not been very aggressive about Modi’s OBC identity so far, it has indicated that it is not averse to playing this card. This was evident from the way the BJP trained its guns at Union Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad’s “Gangu Teli” remark, saying that it was an insult not only to Modi but to the entire backward classes. The Jat community plays an important, and often decisive, role in elections in many states likes Rajasthan, UP, Haryana, Delhi and Madhya Pradesh among others. While Jats have been included in the OBC category in some states, the community has been demanding reservation in central government jobs. (Indian Express 4/11/13)

 

43. Jats threaten agitation over quota demand (25)

CHANDIGARH: With the UPA government warming up to the reservation demand of jats ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, leaders of the community from Haryana warned the Central government that they won’t accept anything less than inclusion of jats in OBC list for quota in Central government jobs and administration in educational institutions. “It has been reported in a section of the media that the Centre is mulling 5% quota for jats from the 27% meant for OBCs. We won’t accept such proposals and want inclusion in the OBC list to get the share of 27% in Central government jobs and admission in educational institutions,” said Om Prakash Mann, Haryana unit president of All India Jat Mahasabha. Mann also said there was no need to delay the announcement on the pretext of gotras. A few months ago, when the states were asked by the Centre about variants used by jats – so that members could be identified in the socio-economic caste census – Haryana and Madhya Pradesh reported that the community used not just synonyms but also ‘gotras’. Sources said Haryana and Madhya Pradesh have reported 175 and 140 ‘gotras’ of the community. But jat leaders said reservation should be given on the basis of caste and the issue should not be complicated by considering gotras for quota. “The government will have to face agitation if quota is not announced immediately after the counting of votes in five states where assembly elections are being held,” said Mann. “We would also seek help of khaps in the agitation,” said Hawa Singh Sangwan, state unit president of Akhil Bharatiya Jat Aarkashan Sangarsh Samiti. Leaders of around 80 khaps have decided to seal Delhi from all sides in the first week of February, 2014 if their demand is not met by December 23. Spokesperson of Rastriya Sarv Jat Khap Panchayat Sube Singh Samain said jats would block all roads leading to Delhi from Haryana and UP. Jats of Haryana are on warpath for quota since 2008. Haryana government in 2012 had accepted the demand for reservation in government jobs and admission in educational institutions. (Times of India 6/11/13)

 

HINDUTVA

44. RSS admits it did mull change in uniform (26)

NAGPUR: Seven years ago when TOI reported that Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) was considering giving up its trademark baggy half-pants for smart trousers, the organization had denied that it had ever thought of such a move. Now, the RSS has said the matter was debated keenly, but put on hold for want of unanimity. “We are not averse to change in the uniform. There is a section in the RSS that strongly believes that the present uniform was perceived as ungainly and that because of this reason the young generation refrained from joining the ‘shakha’, the basic unit where RSS activists meet,” said Ravindra Joshi, senior RSS functionary and joint general secretary (western region). “But since another section was opposed to the change, it was decided to keep the issue on hold and take it up at a later stage. So, may be in a couple of years, we would revive the debate and if all agree, a change could be carried out.”He said the issue was not top priority and officially the RSS does not believe that the knickers are a deterrent for the new generation. The RSS has denied suggesting to the Hindus to revisit their practice of “blindly accepting” family planning methods and to start having big family norms in the wake of “demographic shift”.Ravindra Joshi said the RSS did not make such suggestion, but its working committee meeting at Kochi had discussed the issue and expressed concern over the demographic changes. He claimed the statement of RSS joint general secretary Dattatreya Hosbale in this regard was distorted. Media reports had quoted Hosbale prescribing at least three children for every Hindu family to counter the high birth rate in minority communities. Denying Hosbale ever made such a statement, Joshi said once ex-RSS chief KS Sudarshan had advocated Hindus should have more children. But it was Sudarshan’s personal view and not that of the RSS, he said. (Times of India 1/11/13)

 

45. RSS: Oppose Communal Violence Bill

CHENNAI: Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) South India secretary S Rajendran has alleged that the Centre is attempting to table the Communal Violence and Targeted Violence(CVTV) Bill under the guise of upholding the secularism of the country, in the ensuing Parliamentary session. Briefing reporters on Akhil Bharatiya Karyakari Mandal held in Kerala, Rajendran made an appeal to all those taking a neutral stand and having national interest to condemn the Bill. “The Bill was aimed at increasing the vote bank of the ruling Congress among the minority communities in the country,” he  noted. Rajendran criticised the decision of the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests(MoEF) to create “ecologically sensitive areas” in the Western Ghats saying it would be detrimental to people living there. He also noted that the Centre was taking measures, overlooking Madhav Gadgil report. The exclusionist development of the biodiversity hotspot would adversely affect the people living there, he added. (New Indian Express 2/11/13)

 

46. VHP model for BJP yatra with victims’ urn (26)

New Delhi, Nov. 3: When the BJP launched an asthi kalash yatra in Bihar last week, it was taking a leaf out of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad’s book to try and whip up grief and anger over a tragedy. Party marchers are carrying urns containing the ashes of those killed in the October 27 blasts ahead of Narendra Modi’s rally in Patna. The public “mourning” will end on November 5 when the ashes are sprinkled over the Ganga. The earlier asthi kalash yatras in Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh had been spearheaded by the VHP, with the BJP playing a bit role from the sidelines. The current one in Bihar, however, is being organised by the BJP alone, with the VHP out of the picture. Yet every such yatra, held ostensibly to grieve for the dead, has had communal underpinnings. In October 1990, when the kar sevaks of the VHP and the Bajrang Dal first laid siege to the Babri Masjid, firing by the Uttar Pradesh police had led to an official death toll of 13. The victims included the Kothari brothers of Calcutta, who were enshrined in the Sangh parivar annals as “martyrs”. The BJP and the VHP initially claimed that “several hundred” had been killed by then chief minister Mulayam Singh Yadav’s police. Later, the VHP embarked on an asthi kalash yatra, carrying 22 urns that were dispatched to the states where the BJP had a big presence. In Uttar Pradesh, the yatra left a trail of riots that mostly claimed Muslim lives and properties, as VHP and Bajrang Dal representatives prefaced their call to mourn with inflammatory speeches. The ashes were released into the Sangam (the confluence of the Ganga and the Yamuna) at Allahabad during Makar Sankranti amid a show of “Hindu solidarity” on the banks of the two rivers. Rameshwar Chaurasia, the party MLA from Nokha in Bihar who is close to Modi, denied that the latest yatra was communally divisive.“Our workers died in the blasts. Do we not owe their families, and the cadre in general, an assurance that such tragedies will not recur?” Chaurasia said. “Had we remained indifferent, the message would have gone out that we use them as cannon fodder, literally and metaphorically. They might have stopped showing up at our public meetings. The yatra comes with the message that terrorism is a living reality in Bihar and must be fought collectively. What is so polarising about it?” Other BJP sources claimed that while green-flagging the yatra, Modi had cautioned party leaders in Bihar to take “great care” that “nothing provocative” was uttered, not even by way of a slogan. “His advice was that the Congress and the Janata Dal (United) might do their best to instigate communal tension. We must not fall prey to their machinations,” a source said. The BJP has decided to keep the yatra short. However, when Modi was embroiled in the controversy of the 2002 Gujarat killings, he had virtually surrendered before the VHP. Led by a militant leadership in Gujarat, the state VHP had drawn up an agenda to parade the ashes of the Godhra train fire victims across the country at a time violence raged against Muslims in the state. The only “concession” the VHP had made was to exclude Gujarat from its asthi kalash yatra out of “consideration” for the law-and-order situation. The VHP claimed the country “deserved” to know about the “martyrs” who had died in the “cause” of the Ram temple. The activists had gone to Ayodhya to agitate and reclaim the land on which the Babri Masjid stood, unmindful of the Supreme Court’s order to maintain status quo. Unlike the 1990-91 yatra, the 2002 clone left even the parivar faithful cold. By then, Modi had appropriated the VHP’s “Hindutva” turf. (The Telegraph 4/11/13)

 

Posted by admin at 4 November 2013

Category: Uncategorized

HUMAN RIGHTS/ RIGHTS GROUP/ NHRC

1. Domestic workers in India face horrific abuses: Human Rights Watch (1)

Roughly 40 percent of domestic workers globally are employed in Asia, and domestic workers in countries like India face “horrific abuses”, Human Rights Watch said Monday. Despite the widespread problem, Asia has been slow to enact reforms to protect domestic workers, the US-based rights body said along with the International Domestic Workers Network (IDWN) and the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC). The groups released a new report assessing progress since the 2011 adoption of the Domestic Workers Convention, a treaty entitling domestic workers to the same basic rights as other workers. “Domestic workers from India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Cambodia experience horrific abuses,” said Nisha Varia, a senior rights researcher at Human Rights Watch. “These governments should pick up the pace of reform to introduce long overdue protections for both domestic workers at home and those migrating abroad.” More than 25 countries have improved legal protections for domestic workers, with many of the strongest reforms in Latin America. The Philippines is the only Asian country to have ratified the Domestic Workers Convention. The 33-page report, “Claiming Rights: Domestic Workers’ Movements and Global Advances for Labor Reform,” was released at an Oct 26-28 meeting of labour leaders from more than 40 countries in Montevideo. As Human Rights Watch, IDWN and the ITUC have documented, many domestic workers in Asia and those migrating from Asia to the Middle East experience a wide range of abuses. These include unpaid wages, restrictions on leaving the households where they work, and excessive work hours with no rest days. Some may face psychological, physical or sexual abuse and can get trapped in situations of forced labour, including trafficking. There are an estimated 53 million domestic workers worldwide, the majority of them women and girls, and many of them migrants. Recent International Labour Organization (ILO) research found that while child labour in other sectors has declined in recent years, child domestic labour increased by nine percent between 2008 and 2012. In Asia, the region’s domestic workers, trade unions and migrants’ rights groups have focused on building awareness and political will to lay the groundwork for future ratifications. The most active dialogue is taking place in Indonesia, India and Nepal. The report notes incremental reforms in India, Singapore and Thailand. India extended a health insurance scheme to domestic workers in May 2012 and included them in a 2013 law prohibiting workplace sexual harassment. (New Indian Express 29/10/13)

 

2. PIL seeks probe into Sansrod human rights violations (1)

VADODARA: Islamic Relief Committee Gujarat ( IRCG) has filed public interest litigation (PIL) in Gujarat high court demanding an impartial investigation into the happenings in Sansrod village of Karjan taluka on October 16. Rioting had occurred in Sansrod on the day of Eid when cops raided the village and arrested four persons for slaughtering cows. Umar Vohra, secretary of ICRG has accused the police of atrocities on those arrested following the riots. Abdul Qayyum Haque, general secretary of Jamait-e-Ulema Hind, Gujarat too has submitted an affidavit in the high court in support of the PIL. The PIL has demanded an immediate inquiry into the allegations of police atrocities on the persons arrested and that all the livestock of residents of Sansrod was allegedly seized by the cops. The petitioner has also said that photographs of illegal and ruthless beating of the accused in police custody are being circulated in social media. The photographs have been attached with the PIL which says that the cops were being instigated by animal activist Jatin Vyas. “Further people from the adjacent villages were also harassed and arrested when they went to meet their relatives in the village Sansrod, to celebrate Eid ul-Adha festivities,” the PIL says. The petitioner has requested to constitute a high-powered committee of court commissioners to visit the affected areas and investigate allegations of human rights and fundamental rights violations. The petitioner has also prayed to transfer inquiry of the case to either CID or CBI. According to Jamait-e-Ulema Hind, on October 25, the high court had directed the state government to produce before the court the relevant FIRs and complaints which are filed in connection with the incident. (Times of India 30/10/13)

 

3. Allow people to visit Sharmila, NHRC tells Manipur Govt (1)

Guwahati: In a positive development towards her struggle, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on Wednesday recommended the Manipur Government to remove all the arbitrary restrictions imposed on access to Irom Sharmila. The New Delhi-based rights panel took a suo motu cognisance over the restrictions imposed on access to Sharmila on the ground that the restrictions are in breach of India’s obligations under international human rights standards and a grave violation of human rights. The NHRC also issued notice to the State Chief Secretary in this regard and asked him to report to the panel by December 6, this year on steps taken in response to the NHRC’s recommendation. Last week (October 23), two members of the Commission met Sharmila in Imphal. She was found frail but alert and did not complain of any physical ill-treatment, a statement issued by the NHRC said on Wednesday while adding that she, however, repeatedly said that she was rarely allowed visitors. (Pioneer 31/10/13)

 

LAND ACQUISITION/ SEZ

4. Bengal opposes new Land Acquisition Act (4)

KOLKATA: Alleging that the Centre did not discuss various important aspects of the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act 2013, Industries Minister Partha Chatterjee said here on Monday that the West Bengal government did not support the Act by the Centre. “We do not subscribe to the Land Acquisition Act 2013, as there are so many issues which need to be discussed at various levels, which the Centre did not do.” Mr. Chatterjee also claimed that the State government had already cleared 10,504 acres of land for setting up industrial projects. There were more than 20,000 acres of land that belonged to industries, which have now closed down. “Land is not an issue in the State. Let us not acquire land but make use of the land that is already available to us.” Claiming that Union Minister for Rural Development Jairam Ramesh only tried to “satisfy someone” by pushing it through Parliament in a hurry, Mr. Chatterjee said that Mr. Ramesh was “neither able to satisfy the common people nor the industrialists.” “The State government is also opposed to the setting up of Special Economic Zones,” he said. It was trying to convince Infosys to invest in the State. Infosys put its plan to invest in the State on hold as it wanted SEZ facility for the project. Mr. Chatterjee appealed to the members of the chambers of commerce not to move the court against the State government if it tried to take back the land belonging to closed industries and gave it to some other industrial entity. (The Hindu 29/10/13)

 

5. Tribals say not happy with govt assurance (4)

Vadodara: A day after the government assurance that demands made by tribals living in villages near the proposed Statue of Unity will be met, the protesters said that the “verbal” assurance given by Tribal Welfare Minister Ganpat Vasava was not enough to persuade them away from the issue. The protesting villagers have said that they’ll hold mass fasting on October 31 against the lack of clarity on government’s stand on acquiring land for tourism purpose, which they said was not resolved just by nullifying the Kevadia Area Development Authority (KADA). “People of affected villages will hold a hunger strike in a large number on October 31. Affected villages will also hoist ‘Jagruti’ flags in their villages and will beat ‘Jagruti Thali’ in the afternoon to prove that we are still awake on the issues on which they are fighting,” a press release stated. Social activist and Narmada dam rehabilitation champion Medha Patkar also visited Savli village in Narmada’s Tilakwada taluka on Tuesday to attend the meeting of tribals from Narmada, who were displaced due to the dam. She lashed out at the Modi government for the Statue of Unity, saying that the government should first complete work on the Narmada canal network. “Sardar Patel was the iron man, but his heart was not that of iron. Talks of collection of iron from farmers remind of talks of bringing bricks for construction of temple in Ayodhya,” she said, while addressing a gathering of more than 1,000 tribals. She said that the government’s silence over persons getting displaced due to Garudeshwar Weir was against the “constitutional and humanitarian rights” of tribals living in the region. The government had on Monday conveyed that most of the demands of the protesting tribals, including that of repelling of KADA and formation of Garudeshwar taluka, as well as “special package” to persons displaced from six villages due to Narmada dam some 52 years ago, will be met. (Indian Express 30/10/13)

 

6. 3,000 applications with MIDC for land in Chakan and Khed (4)

Pune: The apparent slowdown in the manufacturing sector has not deterred small and medium scale enterprises from seeking to set up shop in the industrial areas of Chakan and Khed. As per Ajit Relekar, regional officer of Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC), more than 3,000 companies are waiting for land to be allocated to them in the industrial areas. “Good road infrastructure, ready market and other ancillary reasons attract industries,” he said. Land is granted to the companies at a huge concessional rate and on a first-come-first-served basis. The recent decision of Bharat Forge to scrap their special economic zone (SEZ) in Khed has put a question mark over the industrial future of the area. The company had applied for SEZ and had plans to develop it as an industrial hub. The phase II of the proposed Khed SEZ, which was to be developed by MIDC and private companies, had also come under the cloud. The proposed second SEZ was to come up over 112 hectares. Dispelling doubts about the project, Relekar said MIDC had decided to go ahead with developing the land itself. At present, the land acquisition process is in its last stage, with talks about amount of compensation going on. Land for more than 20 villages in the region is to be included in the area. Speaking about the proposed development in the area, Relekar said emphasis would be put on building infrastructure. Road connectivity is a major issue with no proper approach road for the site. “Also in order to attract business in the region, six-laning of the Pune-Nashik Road has to be completed. The project is stuck near Talegaon because of land acquisition issues. Once it is cleared, we hope more investment would roll into the area.”  (Indian Express 1/11/13)

 

TRIBALS

7. Tripura tribals’ party to protest for separate state (6)

Agartala: Motivated by the centre’s decision to create Telangana, a tribal-based political party here Tuesday announced an agitation from Nov 11 to demand a separate state by upgrading the Tribal Autonomous District Council. “We would organise a 72-hours hunger strike here from Nov 11. After that our leaders and members would go to New Delhi to launch an indefinite hunger strike there Dec 10,” Budhu Debbarma, Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura’s vice-president told reporters. The Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura had organised a rally here Aug 23 and submitted a memorandum to Tripura Governor Devanand Konwar in support of their demand. Debbarma said they want the Tribal Autonomous District Council to be upgraded and a new separate state be formed out of Tripura. The tribal council, which has been playing a key role for the socio-economic development of tribals, has jurisdiction over two-thirds of Tripura’s geographical area of 10,491.69 sq km. It was set up in 1985. Tribals constitute a third of Tripura’s 3.7 million people. The Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura, which first raised the demand for a separate state several years ago, has so far failed to garner support even from within the indigenous tribal people. The ruling Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) in Tripura, the main opposition Congress and its electoral ally Indigenous Nationalist Party of Tripura – also a tribal-based party – strongly oppose their separate statehood demand. “We are now carrying out awareness and mass contact programmes among the across the state to press for the demand for a separate state. Leaders of such movements seeking a separate state from other parts of the country are supporting our demand,” a party leader said. He accused the Left Front government of creating a “lame-duck institution”, having no real powers to ensure the development of backward indigenous people. “The fundamental problems of the people have not been solved. Tribals continue to lose their lands. Even the state of Kokborok language of the indigenous tribal people is miserable,” Debbarma said. He said that the tribals were once a majority in Tripura and have been living in the state for more than 5,000 years, but their situation is now endangered. CPI-M spokesman and senior party leader Gautam Das said : “A small state like Tripura cannot be divided further. They are merely trying to regain relevance in state politics by raising such an impractical demand.” Congress leader Tapas Dey said that Tripura is one of the smallest states in India and cannot be divided further. “The socio-economic condition of tribals can be upgraded without forming a new state and if there is a political will of the rulers and tribals extends supports,” he added. (Zee News 29/10/13)

 

8. Justice deliverance slowing down in Chhattisgarh district, RTI reveals (6)

Kanker: A series of RTI queries have revealed that only 4.3 per cent of criminal trials end in convictions in south Bastar, partially dominated by the Maoists, compared to a national average of 38.5. The accused individuals – who almost entirely belong to Gond community – are arrested as naxals and spend three to six years in prison in different cases as under-trials before being acquitted by the court. Meanwhile, the Chief Minister, Raman Singh, while talking to The Hindu has said that many tribals are languishing in jails for years and ‘‘should be brought out.’’ RTI queries filed by a group of lawyers have also revealed that the deliverance of justice has increasingly slowed down over the last decade. Dantewada court, located in the hotbed of Maoist movement, registers maximum cases among district courts where tribals face trial for aiding the red rebels. Any persons arrested in far flung areas are produced in Dantewada court and hence the lawyers chose the same court to authenticate their apprehension that nearly all the accused gets acquitted after spending years in jail. ‘‘We wanted to know if nearly all the accused in naxal cases finally gets acquitted or not and the RTI replies revealed that we were right,’’ said Shishir Dixit, the lawyer who filed the queries. RTI data of cases were collected from 2005 to 2012. The queries revealed that 95.7 per cent of all sessions trials end in complete acquittal of all accused on all charges, hence the rate of conviction is 4.3 per cent. According to National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), the national average of conviction rate under Indian Penal Code (IPC) in 2012 was 38.5. Moreover, the conviction rate for crimes under Arms Act and Explosives Substances Act, is also much higher nationally i.e. 61.9 and 52.8 respectively. While the majority of the tribals are charged under Arms Act and Explosives Substances Act, along with other laws, the conviction rate here is again very low – three out of 425 cases in Arms Act, and zero out of 157 cases in Explosive Substances Act lead to conviction in the past 8 years. The analysis of the RTI data reveals many more facts regarding relationship between judiciary and the tribals, albeit only in south Bastar. For example, 190 cases were started in 2005 and half of those were disposed off that year, while in 2012, only 10 per cent of the cases, instituted in the same year, were disposed off. Further analysis of the data shows that the longest of cases in 2005 lasted for three years. But in 2012, a significant number of 15 cases were disposed off, six years after registration. ‘‘This clearly highlights how the delivery of justice is slowing down in tribal areas, rather than speeding up’’, one of the lawyers filing the RTI said. Number of cases disposed in the period, from 282 in 2005, has also fallen sharply. Data shows that 229 cases were disposed off in 2011, whereas 211 and 208 in 2010 and 2009 respectively. In 2008 only 148 cases were disposed off, while 158 in 2006. The committee set for reviewing the cases of under-trials in Chhattisgarh jails reviewed ‘‘235 cases’’ till May, this year, according to the head of the committee, Nirmala Buch. She said the committee recommended the Chhattisgarh government “not to oppose the bail pleas of 110 under-trials, of which 63 were cases of naxalites.’’ However, only a couple of dozens of accused got bail or acquittal since the recommendation was made. ‘‘Those who are arrested for small, petty crimes and in jails for years…(the allegations) should be relaxed and they ought to be brought out of jail. We have discussed the issue with the police chief and the Buch Committee is working on it,’’ Chief Minister Raman Singh told The Hindu. However, he added that a general amnesty could not be granted as proposed by some officials. “We can grant (amnesty) for all, at the same time. But definitely look into cases one by one,” he said. (The Hindu 29/10/13)

 

9. Tribals say not happy with govt assurance (6)

Vadodara: A day after the government assurance that demands made by tribals living in villages near the proposed Statue of Unity will be met, the protesters said that the “verbal” assurance given by Tribal Welfare Minister Ganpat Vasava was not enough to persuade them away from the issue. The protesting villagers have said that they’ll hold mass fasting on October 31 against the lack of clarity on government’s stand on acquiring land for tourism purpose, which they said was not resolved just by nullifying the Kevadia Area Development Authority (KADA). “People of affected villages will hold a hunger strike in a large number on October 31. Affected villages will also hoist ‘Jagruti’ flags in their villages and will beat ‘Jagruti Thali’ in the afternoon to prove that we are still awake on the issues on which they are fighting,” a press release stated. Social activist and Narmada dam rehabilitation champion Medha Patkar also visited Savli village in Narmada’s Tilakwada taluka on Tuesday to attend the meeting of tribals from Narmada, who were displaced due to the dam. She lashed out at the Modi government for the Statue of Unity, saying that the government should first complete work on the Narmada canal network. “Sardar Patel was the iron man, but his heart was not that of iron. Talks of collection of iron from farmers remind of talks of bringing bricks for construction of temple in Ayodhya,” she said, while addressing a gathering of more than 1,000 tribals. She said that the government’s silence over persons getting displaced due to Garudeshwar Weir was against the “constitutional and humanitarian rights” of tribals living in the region. The government had on Monday conveyed that most of the demands of the protesting tribals, including that of repelling of KADA and formation of Garudeshwar taluka, as well as “special package” to persons displaced from six villages due to Narmada dam some 52 years ago, will be met. (Indian Express 30/10/13)

 

10. Higher sex ratio among tribal, SC groups: census (6)

NEW DELHI: Despite having lower literacy rates than “others”, scheduled caste households have higher sex ratios, and tribals the highest of all, newly released Census data shows. While census data is not yet available by religious group, the primary data of scheduled castes and scheduled tribes was made available by the office of the Registrar General of India and Census Commissioner on Monday. The data shows that although the numbers are improving, scheduled castes, who comprise 16.6% of the population, and scheduled tribes, who make up 8.6% of the population, have lower literacy rates than the Indian average. The literacy rate for female STs is still under 50% and just 57% for SC women, while the numbers are slightly higher for men. Yet despite the common belief that education will improve attitudes to female children, the data shows that India’s least educated social groups are those with better sex ratios. The child sex ratio (girls for every 1000 boys aged 1-6) is 957 for STs and 933 for SCs as compared to 910 for “others”. In urban areas, the child sex ratio of the non-scheduled caste, non-tribal population is just over 900, meaning there are 100 less girls for every 1000 boys. Better sex ratios among tribals could reflect a combination of positive and negative factors; cultural gender parity as well as lack of access to pre-natal diagnostic technology. Dr. Abhay Bang, the award-winning doctor and social activist from Gadchiroli in Maharashtra who is a member of the central government’s new High-Level Committee on Status of Tribal Communities, says that both factors could co-exist. “It is true that there is no social bias against women in tribal communities such as there exists among the middle castes, especially landed ones. Women can ask for a divorce, and in many communities, money is paid to the girl’s family at the time of marriage,” Dr. Bang told The Hindu. Simultaneously, most tribal communities either do not know of pre-natal sex determination, or do not have access to it, Dr. Bang said. “But among more educated tribals, those who get government jobs, sex selection has begun,” he said. Similarly, the female work participation rate – the proportion of women who are in the workforce – which is considered an indicator of female empowerment, is highest among STs, followed by SCs and then “others”. In fact, the proportion of female STs in the workforce is nearly double that of women in the “other” category; 44% as against 23%…   (The Hindu 31/10/13)

 

MINORITIES: MUSLIMS, CHRISTIANS & COMMUNAL RIOTS

11. Sardel Patel had saved Muslims during 1947 riots: Tharoor (7)

NEW DELHI: Accusing Narendra Modi of using Sardar Patel’s name for his political goals, Union minister Shashi Tharoor on Thursday said Patel saved lives of thousands of Muslims during 1947 riots, a veiled comparison to 2002 Gujarat riots during Modi’s rule. “He (Patel) was a Gandhian and a tremendous devotee of the Mahatma. I am sorry to hear that some people are choosing his name as a battleground for their political objectives,” he said, attacking the BJP prime ministerial candidate. “The fact is that secularism of Sardar Patel was anchored in real genuine Gandhian compassion for all Indians, for all religions, every castes,” he said on the sidelines of an event. Asked about Modi’s alleged attempts to appropriate the legacy of Patel, Tharoor said it was a “shame” that his name should be used for disunity today as “he did more than anyone else to promote the unity of our country”.During the frenzy of riots in the national capital in 1947, Patel put hundreds of Muslims in Red Fort and he brought the Army from Pune and the then state of Madras to protect them, he said, adding that he went and prayed in Nizamuddin to send a signal to Hindu rioters. “He went to Amritsar and pleaded with angry and emotional Hindus and Sikhs there not to attack refugees who were fleeing our country to go to Pakistan … This is the kind of secularism Patel promised and practiced,” Tharoor said. Modi has been accused by critics of not doing enough to stop the 2002 riots in which over 1000 people, a large number of them Muslims, were killed. Tharoor said Patel was both a national leader and a great Congress leader. “The fact is that heroes of our nationalism for most part belong to Congress party … Patel was president of Congress part. He was very active in the organizational work of the party,” he said, adding Bhim Rao Ambdekar was one exception. (Times of India 31/10/13)

 

12. 3 killed in fresh communal violence in Muzaffarnagar (7)

Muzaffarnagar: Three persons were killed Wednesday night in fresh outbreak of communal violence in Budhana area of Muzaffarnagar district, hit by riots in September which had left over 60 dead. The three victims, identified as Afroz, 20, Meherban, 21, and Ajmal, 22, were beaten to death while another was injured in clashes between members of two communities in Muhammadpurraisingh village, District Magistrate Kaushal Raj said. The incident appeared to be the fallout of the communal tension in the region. Muhammadpurraisingh village was one of places affected by the riots last month. Efforts are on to nab the accused. Security has been tightened and senior officials are on the spot, the DM said. Sources claimed that the victims were among those staying in relief camps after the riots. (Indian Express 31/10/13)

 

13. Where are Muslim ministers? Community finds little representation in power (7)

Mumbai: The battle for the Muslim vote has now been joined by the BJP, led by Narendra Modi. However, as figures across the country show, the community finds little representation in power, irrespective of which party is ruling. Of the 28 states in the country, 13 have no Muslim ministers. That includes all the four states ruled by the BJP, where the party has no Muslim MLA either. Just 57 of the total 609 ministers across various states, or 9.35 per cent, are Muslim. As per the 2001 Census, Muslims make up 13.43 per cent of the population. Muslim-majority Jammu and Kashmir accounts for as many 18 of those 57 ministers. If J&K is taken out, the entire country has all of 39 Muslim ministers. The BJP-ruled states, be it Gujarat (with 9.06 per cent of its population Muslim), Chhattisgarh (1.97 per cent), Goa (6.84 per cent), or Madhya Pradesh (6.37 per cent), have no Muslim minister or MLA belonging to the party. Punjab, ruled by the Akali Dal-BJP combine, also does not have a Muslim minister, although the Akali Dal’s Malerkotla MLA is Muslim. Congress-ruled states do not fare any better. In Uttarakhand, which has a sizeable Muslim population — 11.92 per cent — the Congress has Muslim MLAs but none of them is a minister. Congress-ruled Himachal Pradesh again has no Muslim minister, though their population here is only 2 per cent. The party’s government in Haryana, where Muslims make up a good 5.78 per cent of the population, has only one Muslim minister. A more striking example is that of Andhra Pradesh, where 10 per cent of the population is Muslim and which had a long history of Muslim rule. Only one of its 37 Congress ministers is Muslim. (Indian Express 31/10/13)

 

14. Dalit’s community certificate cancellation set aside (7)

CHENNAI: The Madras High Court has set aside an order cancelling the community certificate issued to a Dalit, who converted to Christianity and later re-converted to Hinduism. Holding that a Hindu not conducting puja in puja room regularly could not be a ground to declare that he was not a Hindu, a bench of Justices N Paul Vasanthakumar and K Ravichandra Baabu quashed the cancellation order. Conceding the arguments of senior advocate K Duraisamy on Thursday, the bench said that the village administrative officer (VAO)  and the revenue divisional officer (DRO)  were not correct in concluding that K Vasikaran, a dalit panchayat president, was not a Hindu, merely because there was no evidence of prayer/puja conducted in his house which had a puja room. They also reported that words from the Bible were found at the house and a Cross had been inscribed on its pillars. Vasikaran was elected president of Gerugambakkam panchayat, reserved for Dalits, in October 2011. After the poll loss, his rival candidate moved the state election commission to strip him of the post, saying he was a Christian and that his community certificate too should be cancelled. The matter was referred to the revenue authorities for filing of a report. The officials visited his home and held inquiries before submitting a report favouring cancellation of the Dalit certificate. Vasikaran said the Tiruvallur district collector had sent his notices to an addressee K Victor, which was his name when he was Christian. He had become a Hindu by undergoing a ‘shuddhi’ ceremony by the Arya Samaj in Chennai and a certificate too has been given by the organisation. Noting that his community had accepted him, he said he had polled more than 2,600 votes, which was another indication of acceptance by his community. The bench said Vasikaran had been described as a Dalit in his school certificate in 1989. The Sriperumpudur tahsildar issued a proper community certificate in 1996. But, his poll rivals had not raked up his caste status before the election, the bench pointed out.(New Indian Express 1/11/13)

 

15. CM says marriage fund scheme for all minorities as KJP protests (7)

Bangalore: Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said on Thursday a new scheme to gift Rs 50,000 to women for marriage was for all minority communities, not just Muslims. The statement came amid protests by the opposition Karnataka Janata Party (KJP) of B S Yeddyurappa, which said the scheme was only for the benefit of Muslim women in homes with annual incomes below Rs 1.5 lakh. The notification for the scheme issued by the minority welfare department also clearly states that the Rs 50,000 marriage grant is exclusively for poor Muslim women. The KJP held a protest in Bangalore under the leadership of Yeddyurappa demanding that the scheme be extended to poor women from all communities. The scheme to be launched on November 1 is yet to get a proper name because of differences on whether it is meant for Muslim women or minorities in general. Minority welfare department minister Qamarul Islam has cast his vote in favour of Bidayee Bhagya but two other names — Nikaah Bhagya and Mangalya Bhagya — are also doing the rounds. It was first proposed in July in the 2013-14 state budget by Siddaramaiah “as a scheme for providing financial assistance for the marriage of girls of minorities”. The scheme is now under the minorities welfare ministry. The target of this financial year is 20,000 girls with a Rs 10-crore outlay. (Indian Express 1/11/13)

 

WOMEN

16. ‘Asia way behind in protecting domestic workers’ rights’ (8)

New Delhi: Roughly 40 per cent of domestic workers globally are employed in Asia, yet the region has been slow to enact laws to protect their rights. According to a new report by the International Domestic Workers’ Network (IDWN), the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) and Human Rights Watch, more than 25 countries have improved legal protection for domestic workers, especially in Latin America, but Asia’s record is dismal, with only the Philippines adopting such a law. Sharan Burrow, General Secretary, ITUC, said in a release that Governments that have lagged, particularly in Asia and West Asia, need to act without delay. The report, ‘Claiming Rights: Domestic Workers’ Movements and Global Advances for Labour Reform’ was launched at a recent meeting of labour leaders from over 40 countries in Montevideo (Uruguay) to establish a new International Domestic Workers Federation to help share strategies across regions. The report documented a range of abuses of domestic workers, including unpaid wages, restrictions on leaving households where they work and excessive work hours with no rest days. It noted that domestic workers from India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Cambodia experienced the most “horrific” experiences. However, it also noted incremental reforms in India, which has health cover for domestic workers as also a law prohibiting workplace sexual harassment. However, how many workers are actually aware of these schemes and laws is a moot question. According to research by the International Labour Organisation, while child labour in other sectors had declined, it had increased by 9 per cent in the domestic labour during 2008-12. (Business Line 29/10/13)

 

17. Crimes against women increasing: Supreme Court (8)

NEW DELHI: Expressing concern over the rising number of crimes against women, the Supreme Court on Wednesday said they are not safe and even subjected to molestation while travelling in buses. A bench headed by Justice G S Singhvi wondered why people in recent years have lost confidence in governments and come out on streets in protest. “Why is it happening in the last few years? Why people are losing confidence? It did not happen ten years ago. Crime against women has come to the forefront only in the last five years. They used to suffer silently and they still continue to do so except in a few cases when there have been protests and it has come out in the open,” the bench said. The bench said that the December 16 gang rape is not an isolated incident and such type of offence was committed in the past also. “Everyday girls travelling in buses are subjected to molestation. Women continue to suffer,” the bench said, adding “We remember Nirbhaya but the memories of the earlier incidents are not good and such cases happened earlier also.” It said people are coming out on streets as they are not satisfied and their rights are not protected by the government bodies. The court was hearing a PIL seeking its direction for setting up of a special team to probe an alleged incident of policemen beating up Aam Aadmi Party members protesting non-registration of an FIR in a rape case in June this year. It reserved its order and asked senior advocate Shanti Bhushan, appearing for petitioner and Delhi government counsel Siddharth Luthra to suggest names of two persons each who could be part of team to conduct the probe. The bench along with lawyers had watched in chamber the video footage of the incident recorded on behalf of Delhi Police to understand the situation on the ground. It said the recording was selective and footage of lathicharge is not there. (Times of India 30/10/13)

 

18. Sexual assault case: Guj court rejects Asaram’s bail plea (8)

Ahmedabad: A Gandhinagar court today rejected self-styled godman Asaram’s bail application in the sexual assault case lodged against him by one of the two Surat-based sisters. Sessions judge D T Soni rejected Asaram’s bail plea on the grounds that the investigation in the case lodged against him is at a “crucial juncture” and the allegations against him are of “serious nature.” Recently, the Surat police registered two complaints – one against Asaram and another against his son Narayan Sai – for rape, sexual assault, illegal confinement and other charges, as alleged by the two sisters. In her complaint, the elder of the two sisters accused Asaram of repeated sexual assault between 1997 and 2006 during the time she lived in his ashram on the outskirts of Ahmedabad city. 72-year-old Asaram was brought to the city earlier this month on a transit remand from a Jodhpur court, where he was lodged in a jail since August, in another sexual assault case. He was grilled by Special Investigation Team (SIT) set up by city police commissioner to probe the complaint against him. Last week, he was taken back to Jodhpur. His son, Narayan Sai, against whom the younger of the two sisters has registered a complaint of sexual assault, is absconding and Surat police are searching for him across the country. Meanwhile, one Jaswantika Chaudhary, a security woman stationed at Asaram’s ashram here, was granted anticipatory bail by Soni in connection with the case on the grounds that her role in the incident was minimal. She was also named as an accused in the complaint lodged against Asaram.  (Deccan Herald 30/10/13)

 

ENVIRONMENT/ CLIMATE CHANGE

19. Smoke from religious sites ‘melting Himalayan glaciers’ (9)

LONDON: Holy smoke arising from Hindu funeral pyres, Muslim cemeteries and Buddhist temples are responsible for almost a quarter of the greenhouse gases blamed for global warming on the Indian subcontinent and the melting of the Himalayan glaciers, a new study has claimed. Researchers have long suspected that the rituals of religious devotion in India, Nepal and South Asia, may be a factor in the level of brown carbon and soot which pollutes the air in the region, but until now little work has been done to quantify the size of the problem. According to researchers from US state Nevada’s Desert Research Institute and the Pandit Ravi Shankar Shukla University in Chhattisgarh, the impact is “huge” – 23 per cent of particles from human burnt fossil fuels in the atmosphere and a major source of carcinogenic volatile organic compounds, a report in the Telegraph said. Between 2011 and 2012, the researchers measured emissions from marriage ceremonies, funeral cremations, incense sticks in temples and graveyards, and found mango bark, cow dung, camphor, leaves, vermillion, and cow urine being burned. They identified fourteen “deadly” volatile organic compounds, including formaldehyde, benzene, styrene and butadiene, they told Nature magazine. They discovered that funeral pyres emitted large amounts of ‘brown carbon aerosol’ gases, regarded as the second largest contributor to global warming, which absorb sunlight and give out heat. Their dark particles settle on snow and glaciers causing them to warm and melt. Much of this pollution is overlooked because it is shrouded by human loss and religious worship and identity, but the research team has warned the scale of its environmental damage demands further study. “There are three million religious places of worship in India alone and over 10 million marriages take place every year in this country according to the 2011 census. “When these results were multiplied to fit these scales, the quantum of emissions was just baffling,” researcher Shamsh Pervez said. (Times of India 30/10/13)

 

20. India among world economies at risk of climate change impact (9)

London: India is among the “extreme risk” countries of the world where economic impacts of climate change will be most keenly felt by 2025, according to new research released today. Kolkata and Mumbai are among the cities where the economic exposure to the impacts of extreme climate related events will be highest over the next 30 years, the report found. The annual release of British risk consultancy Maplecroft’s ‘Climate Change and Environmental Risk Atlas’ reveals that 31 per cent of global economic output will be based in countries facing “high” or “extreme risks” from the impacts of climate change by the year 2025. According to the Climate Change Vulnerability Index (CCVI), which forms a central part of the Atlas, this includes 67 countries whose estimated combined output of USD 44 trillion will come under increasing threat from the physical impacts of more frequent and extreme climate-related events, such as severe storms, flooding or drought. The economic impacts of climate change will be most keenly felt by Bangladesh (1st and most at risk), Guinea-Bissau (2nd), Sierra Leone (3rd), Haiti (4th), South Sudan (5th), Nigeria (6th), DR Congo (7th), Cambodia (8th), Philippines (9th) and Ethiopia (10th), which make up the 10 most at risk countries out of the 193 rated by the CCVI. However, other important growth markets at risk include: India (20th), Pakistan (24th) and Vietnam (26th) in the “extreme risk” category, in addition to Indonesia (38th), Thailand (45th), Kenya (56th) and, most significantly, China (61st), all classified at “high risk.” By 2025, China’s GDP is estimated to treble from current levels to USD 28 trillion, while India’s is forecast to rise to USD 5 trillion – totalling nearly 23 per cent of global economic output between them, according to the report. Maplecroft has also calculated the risks to the world’s largest cities to pinpoint where the economic exposure will be highest over the next 30 years. According to the CCVI’s sub-national calculations, of the 50 cities studied, five present an ‘extreme risk’ – Dhaka in Bangladesh; Mumbai and Kolkata in India; Manila in the Philippines and Thailand’s Bangkok – while only London and Paris were classified as “low risk.”  (Economic Times 31/10/13)

 

21. Mercury-based equipment in hospitals being phased out (9)

CHENNAI: The State government has already started the work of phasing out mercury-based medical equipment from hospitals, said M.C. Sampath, State Environment Minister, here on Thursday. Speaking at the inauguration of ‘National Dissemination Workshop on Global Healthcare Waste Project’, organised by the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB), Mr. Sampath said the programme was launched in 14 hospitals, including five government hospitals. The government sanctioned Rs. 56 lakh and replaced the mercury-based blood pressure apparatus with non-mercury based ones. Non mercury-based thermometers and needle hub cutters were also provided to these hospitals. As part of the project, a free diploma course on handling hospital waste by the Indira Gandhi National Open University was conducted for doctors, nurses and officials of the Pollution Control Board, the Minister said. Speaking on the occasion, Mohan Verghese Chunkath, Additional Chief Secretary and Secretary of Environment and Forests, Tamil Nadu, said mercury was a problematical element in terms of its impact on environment. Biological contents of mercury caused many diseases. Mr. Chunkath said dioxins were extremely dangerous materials. They harmed the reproductive and hormonal system in the human body. Monitoring this hazardous material would be difficult as it required highly sophisticated equipment. D. Karthigeyan, Chairman, TNPCB, said the Global Environment Facility, an international funding body under the United Nations Development Programme, identified Tamil Nadu for funding the project ‘Demonstrating and promoting best techniques and practices for reducing health care waste to avoid environmental release of dioxins and mercury.’ The objective of the programme was to promote the use of non-mercury medical devices. The project duration was for three years, which had a funding of nearly Rs. 1.4 crore, he said. It was coming to an end and in order to disseminate information to other hospitals the workshop was being held, said the organisers. (The Hindu 1/11/13)

 

EDUCATION/ RIGHT TO EDUCATION

22. Right to education engulfed by no-detention dilemma (11)

CHENNAI: It is interesting to note that the top-level advisory body in education, the Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE), has decided to review the policy of no detention up to Class VIII, a decision taken at the instance of then HRD minister Kapil Sibal four years ago. The CABE has over 35 experts nominated by the HRD minister, and others are ex-officio members numbering well over 100. One could be sure that if Sibal were still heading the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD), CABE would not have taken this step. A study by the MHRD has stated the obvious: the commitment of students to education has declined after the no-detention policy was introduced. The committee finds that this provision has made students lackadaisical and teachers ‘non-serious’. It is easy to blame learners for their non-achievements; no one blames the deplorable conditions under which they are supposed to acquire knowledge and skills. Think of children who study in schools with absentee and unqualified teachers, leaking roofs, no electricity, not even drinking water or toilets. How could they be expected to stand on an equal footing with those who study in air-conditioned schools, with qualified teachers in the right teacher-taught ratio? From May 2009 onwards, Sibal was more interested in hogging media space than in initiating the process of reform. Two of his actions have done the greatest damage to the children of weaker sections who depend mostly on the ill-equipped and ill-staffed government schools. Without ensuring maintenance of the prescribed teacher-taught ratio, he announced the introduction of Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation (CCE). Simultaneously, the provision for no-detention became a part of the RTE Act. The CCE has become a farce in schools where teacher-taught ratios may range from 1:50 to 1:150; where schools are being run by para teachers while regular teachers visit only at their convenience. Why shouldn’t they, if the district level officers know about it, turn a blind eye for obvious reasons since no one is worried about the learning outcomes for students who automatically move to the next grade. Pedagogically, no-detention is acceptable provided the teacher is professionally equipped, committed, works in a congenial environment, is not over-burdened and is looking after only a stipulated number of learners. She should be in a position to assess individual learning needs, appreciate individual differences and committed to providing remedial inputs to each learner as per his/her requirement. The teacher is also responsible for ensuring that at no stage does the learner come under undue stress. It is futile to expect this from a teacher who is assigned duties in elections at each stage, does the cattle-head counting and is part of any sample or census survey! The consequences of the ill-conceived decisions and the bureaucratic orders to implement them should have been obvious from the start. It will not be out of place to mention here that the abolition of the Class X examination has also accentuated non-learning at the elementary stage. Children from rural areas who have to migrate to another city for Plus-II courses without passing the Class X examination face ridicule and are often shown the door. It is no problem for the children of the prestigious ‘public schools’. One must appreciate that the move to review the no-detention policy has been initiated by CABE under young minister Jitin Prasada. The scope of the committee could be extended to examine how the board exam results have jumped to touch the near-100 per cent mark. India needs an HRD minister who can dare to assure the nation that within three years, he shall ensure adequately equipped and functional elementary schools for every child and that he shall quit if he fails to do so. That could bring about a revolution in education and the seed to multiply India’s cognitive capital manifold would be sown by him. (New Indian Express 29/10/13)

 

23. CBSE hosts global education learners program (11)

New Delhi: Bringing educators from across the globe together, the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) played host to the India leg of the 9th Global Education Learners Program (GELP) today. A five-day program, GELP is a partnership of thought leaders and consultants from world-class organisations, collaborating in a global community with teams of key education leaders who are seriously committed to transforming education in practice and developing the personal skills they need to lead the changes required. Approximately 75 educators are participating from countries including, Australia, Brazil, Canada. Shashi Tharoor, Minister of State, HRD, praised GELP for its ability to be able to provide students with tools and the right skill set to become successful, intelligent, discerning individuals. He said, “GELP has brought together years of support and solutions for promotion of good education practices.”  (Indian Express 30/10/13)

 

24. School education in nine more tribal languages (11)

BHUBANESWAR: The State Government has decided to impart teaching in 19 tribal languages at the primary school level. A decision to this effect was taken at the general body meeting of the Odisha Primary Education Programme Authority (OPEPA) presided by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik. The entire exercise is meant to familiarise tribal children, who do not have knowledge in Odia, with their course, Minister of State for School and Mass Education Rabi Narayan Nanda said. Teachers from the tribal communities knowing both the languages (tribal and Odia) will be appointed for the purpose. The number of drop-out students at the primary level, which was 10 lakh in 2002, has come down to 19,000. The gender gap among the students has decreased to 0.11 per cent from 9.14 per cent in 2002. The State Government has already started teaching in 10 tribal languages in eight districts. This will now be extended to 19 tribal languages in 15 districts. Besides, a decision has been taken to introduce a remedial teaching programme named ‘Sahaja’ from next academic year for creating a minimum level of learning competency among the students. It has been decided to open 1,188 high schools and upgrade 754 primary schools as high schools. Official sources said while construction of 77 high schools has been completed, the rest will be finished in time. More than 18,000 teacher posts have been created at the high school level and steps are being taken to fill those up. Training is imparted to 45,000 teachers of Classes IX and X every year since 2010 to improve the quality of teaching. (New Indian Express 31/10/13)

 

TERRORISM

25. 5 killed in 7 serial bomb blasts, 6 explosions at Modi rally (12)

PATNA: Five people were killed in seven low intensity serial blasts in Patna of which six bombs went off in and around the venue of Narendra Modi’s mega rally at Gandhi Maidan shortly before his address before a huge gathering. A total of 83 people were also injured in the bomb explosions between 9:30 am and 12:45 pm in which timers were also used. Just a couple of hours before the six multiple explosions, a crude bomb went off in a newly constructed toilet at Platform 10 at the Patna railway station, two km from the venue BJP’s ‘Hunkar(battle cry) rally’ of the party’s prime ministerial candidate. Four people have been detained in Patna, police said, adding that one of them caught fleeing from the blast at the railway station appears to be the prime suspect. Some documents and a list of telephone numbers were recovered from the prime suspect whose identity was not revealed. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh condemned the blasts and appealed for calm. He spoke to Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and asked him to speedily probe the blasts and ensure that the perpetrators are punished. Five people died from blast injuries, according to Vimal Karak, Deputy Superintendent of Patna Medical College Hospital. Nitish said the timing of the blasts on the day of his Gujarat counterpart’s rally was “very worrying”, adding it appeared to be a “deliberate attempt” to vitiate the atmosphere in the state. Nitish said of the 83 injured who had come to Patna Medical College and Hospital, 38 were under treatment and the rest discharged. Stating that the bombs which exploded were of low intensity, DGP Abhyanand said the seven blasts took place between 9:30 am and 12:45 pm in which timers were also used. The DGP said six live bombs were also recovered and defused by the bomb disposal squad. Two unexploded bombs each were recovered from near Mahatma Gandhi’s statue, the twin towers–both close to the rally venue–and at the rail platform toilet. Five low intensity blasts occurred on the outer periphery of the Gandhi Maidan, Union Home Secretary Anil Goswami told PTI in Delhi. One bomb went off before the Eliphistine cinema hall on the western side of the rally venue, police said. (New Indian Express 27/10/13)

 

26. Patna serial blasts point to IM link, hand of new Ranchi module: Police (12)

PATNA/RANCHI: Investigations in the Patna serial blasts showed an Indian Mujahideen (IM) link with Jharkand police claiming that one of the two arrested terrorists who was believed to be the mastermind belonged to the nascent ‘Ranchi Module” of the banned terror outfit. As the probe showed that the explosions at Narendra Modi’s rally in Patna on Sunday had a resemblance to the Bodh Gaya terror attack, BJP leader Arun Jaitley claimed the Bihar DGP had received an intelligence alert on October 23 about a possible attack in Patna and wanted the state government as well as the Centre to clarify on the issue. Jaitley’s contention was countered by Ravindra Kumar, ADG, Patna, who said there was no specific intelligence input and that only general alerts were given. The death toll in the serial blasts, meanwhile, rose to six after an injured person died at the Patna Medical College and Hospital (PMCH) late last night. Currently, 37 injured persons, many of them in critical condition, are being treated in the hospital. Jharkhand ADG (law & order) S N Pradhan said the probe so far showed that Imtiaz Ansari, one of the two arrested terrorists, allegedly had contacts with Tahseen Akhtar, an alleged close aide of arrested top IM operative Yaseen Bhhatkal. The other terrorist was identified as Tausim. Pradhan said after interrogations during raids at Dhruva in Ranchi last night it had emerged that Imtiaz, his nephew Tophek, Tariq Ansari and Noman Ansari had gone to Patna on Saturday and two others had joined them on the way. The four had, however, told people of their locality that they were going to Kolkata but left for Patna on Saturday. Tariq died while allegedly handling explosives yesterday and Noman and Tophek were absconding, while Imtiaz was arrested after the blasts in Patna, Police said. The home-grown IM has links with Pakistan-based terror outfit Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT). “The Ranchi module(of IM) has been set up recently,” Pradhan said, adding the police also suspect that the same IM module might have been behind the Bodh Gaya terror attack on July 7 as explosive materials and digital timer device found in Patna blasts were identical. “A fail-safe connection has been established between the two blasts,” he added. Five people including two monks were injured in the Bodh Gaya strike. The ADG said a National Investigation Agency team had arrived here today to investigate links of the newly set up Ranchi module of IM and further investigations are on. Earlier in the day, three persons detained in Ranchi yesterday in connection with the Patna blasts were released after interrogation last night. Raids were carried out in Jharkand soon after Bihar Police tipped off their counterparts in Ranchi that some suspects in Patna blasts hailed from the state, police said adding black powder, materials used to make IEDs, pressure cooker and extremist literature were seized. (Times of India 28/10/13)

 

27. 2,160 militants, 67 civilians killed in US drone strikes so far: Pakistan (12)

ISLAMABAD: Amid debates over legality of the controversial US drone strikes, Pakistan on Wednesday said over 2,100 militants and 67 civilians have been killed in the attacks by unmanned CIA spy planes in the country’s restive tribal areas. Interior minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan told the Senate that 12,404 people have been killed in the incidents of terrorism. “2,160 militants and 67 civilians have so far been killed in drone attacks,” state-run Radio Pakistan quoted the interior minister as saying. His remarks came at a time when international rights groups have claimed that there have been high civilian casualties in American drone strikes. Amnesty International had recently said some of these attacks equals war crimes. The drones are an emotional issue in Pakistan. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had raised the issue of drone strikes with American President Barack Obama in their maiden meeting at the White House on October 23. However, US claims that drone strikes are precision attacks and have killed many top militants and terrorists. Meanwhile, talking about the terror scenario in the country, Nisar said 6,149 terrorists have been arrested by law enforcement agencies since 2002. He said capital punishment was awarded to 13,223 people since 2002 but 501 of them were hanged. The interior minister said the federal government is providing all possible assistance to the provincial governments to curb the incidents of terrorism. Nisar said that necessary amendments have been made in the anti-terrorisms act and investigation for Fair Trial Act, 2013 has been promulgated to bring the terrorists to justice. On the issue of missing persons’ Nisar said a task force on missing persons has been constituted with the task to monitor the progress in the cases of missing persons and coordinate efforts of all stakeholders working on the issue. To a supplementary question, the interior minister said there is no proposal under consideration of the government to convert the death sentences into life imprisonment. Earlier, Senate resumed its session here on Wednesday with chairman Syed Nayyar Hussain Bukhari in the chair. (Times of India 30/10/13)

 

28. Patna blasts: an informer used a toilet break to disappear (12)

Patna:  There are conflicting reports about a man who managed to escape – with apparent ease – on Wednesday from the custody of the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and the country’s top counter-terror agency. The man claimed to have crucial information about Sunday’s serial blasts in Patna. He has reportedly been found on a train in Uttar Pradesh this evening. The National Investigating Agency or NIA claims that because Mehre Alam had not been formally arrested, it’s incorrect to say that he escaped. Mehre Alam, according to the NIA, showed up in Patna and offered to help locate Haider Ali, who is allegedly a senior commander of the terror group Indian Mujahideen and is wanted for Sunday’s blasts in which six people died and 83 were injured. mehre-alam-360.jpgHe led investigators to a village where he said Haider Ali was hiding, but the search proved fruitless and on the way back, Mehre Alam, who was staying with members of the Bihar Police and the NIA at a lodge, excused himself to go to the toilet – and didn’t return. The police then began searching for him. The blasts on Sunday preceded a massive rally held in the capital by Narendra Modi, the BJP’s candidate for Prime Minister. Six people are named in the First Information Report of FIR filed in the case. Two of them have been arrested. Among them is Imtiaz Ansari, the alleged mastermind. But Tehseen Akhtar, an alleged senior commander of the Indian Mujahideen and Haider Ali, who helped orchestrate the attack, are among the suspects who have not yet been found. (NDTV 31/10/13)

 

NAXALS/ MAOISTS

29. 50 tribals desert Naxal-backed outfit in Odisha (12)

Koraput: At least 50 tribals, including seven children, deserted Naxal-backed Chasi Mulia Adivasi Sangha (CMAS) in Odisha’s Maoist-affected Koraput district, police said on Thursday. The tribals, who belong to Tala Jamguda village in Bandhugaon area, left the outfit on Wednesday, they said. “The villagers were supporting Maoists out of fear. After they realised that the rebels are using them as shields to carry out their offensives, they decided to return to the mainstream and cooperate with the administration in carrying out development work,” Koraput Superintendent of Police, Awinash Kumar said. The recent exchange of fire between police and Maoists at Champajhola village adjacent to Tala Jamguda brought villagers under police scanner forcing them to leave CMAS.        (Pioneer 25/10/13)

 

30. Two women Maoists killed in Gadchiroli (12)

The Gadchiroli police on Monday killed two women Naxals. However, they lost one of their men in an ambush on their way back in the afternoon. “The first incident occurred at around 10.30 am when a C-60 commando party was on an operation in the Gatta Jambiya area of Etapalli tehsil after gram panchayat election duty,” said Ravindra Kadam, DIG of Gadchiroli range. “Our party was in Hidur’s vicinity, close to the border of Abujmaad area, when it was fired at. Our men retaliated, in which two women were killed. We recovered their bodies, a 303 rifle, 25 shoulder bags and other material. The other Naxals fled,” Kadam added. “We lost one of our men when the party — returning with the recovered material and bodies — was fired at from a hill around 3.30 pm,” he said. The area is known for the presence of Central Committee member Bhupati and his wife Tarakka and is frequented by Naxals . “Our men don’t frequent this place as it is remote with a dense forest cover,” Kadam said. It is suspected that the Naxal group present could be Gatta local organisational squad, or North Indravati Border company. With Monday’s incident he total number of women Naxals killed in five encounters this year has gone up to 14. (Indian Express 29/10/13)

 

31. 10 Maoists surrender in Malkangiri district (12)

Malkangiri (Odisha): Ten Maoists, including a hardcore Naxalite couple, surrendered in Malkangiri district on Wednesday. They surrendered at the Malkangiri district police headquarters. The surrendered Maoists, included three women cadres. All of them were from areas considered to be Maoist strongholds like Kalimela and cut off area of Balimela reservoir. With increased area domination by the security forces involved in anti-Maoist operations, there has been continuing surrender of ultras in the district. According to the anti-naxal cell of Malkangiri district for the past three months around 65 Maoists have parted ways with the violent organisation and surrendered before police. The hardcore Maoist couple, who surrendered on Wednesday was Ramesh Madkami (25) and his wife Vijaya Hantal. As per Sub-Divisional Police Officer (SDPO), S. Subramaniam, at least 14 cases of Maoist violence were pending against Ramesh. He was an area commander of Gumma cut off dalam of the Maoist organisation. The other Maoists who surrendered were Dalima Khillo alias Karuna (21), who was involved in the Tentulipadar encounter of 2011, Nande Padiami alias Sujata (19), Deba Madkami (23), Soma Madkami (21), Dulla Madkami (21), Bhima Madkami (35), T Chittibabu (25) and Raju Hantala (29). They were also involved in incidents like exchange of fire with security forces, Improvised Explosive Device (IED) attacks, damages to mobile communication towers, extortion, arson etc. According to senior police officials the major reason behind these surrenders was that the grassroot level ultras in Malkangiri district had started to realise that they were being misused by the Maoist leaders. They had also started to find out that the leaders of the Maoist organisation were amassing much money through extortion while the grass root level cadres and their families languished in poverty. They felt in case of encounter with police the senior cadres were using them as scapegoats and shields. Killing of 13 Maoists in an exchange of fire with security forces at Silakota in the district in September has also been a reason behind increase in surrenders in Malkangiri district. The surrendered Maoists also added that they were being harassed and humiliated at the hands of Maoist leaders from outside the State. According to Malkangiri district police sources, all the surrendered Maoists would be rehabilitated as per the norms of the government for surrendering naxalites.  (The Hindu 30/10/13)

 

32. Maoist leaders moved from Midnapore jail (12)

Kolkata: The state government has moved seven prominent Maoist leaders from Midnapore correctional home to different jails in th estate following reports that they were plotting to escape from jail. The Maoists include PCAPA chief Chhatradhar Mahato, Maoists state committee members Sudip Chongdar and Kalpana Maity, Maoist sympathisers Raja Sarkhel and Parsun Chatterjee, and PCAPA leader Sukhsanti Baskey. PCAPA or Peoples Committee Against Police Atrocities is the frontal organisation of the CPI-Maoists. Additional Director General (ADG), Prison, Ranveer Kumar said: “According to our internal assessment, these seven Maoists were hatching a plot to flee from the jail. They had been staying together in the correctional home for a long time. We have decided to separate them for sometime and send them to different correctional homes today.” While Mahato was Wednesday removed to Lipore central jail, Chongdar and Baskey were sent to Dum Dum central correctional homes in the city. Mahato, Chongdar and Baskey are residents of West Midnapore. Chatterjee, a resident of Kolkata, and Maity were transferred to Purulia correctional home while Sarkhel, of Kolkata, is now in Hooghly correctional home. All seven are implicated under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. Niyati Mahato, wife of Chhatradhar Mahato, said she will file a case against the state government. “My husband was in the (Midnapore) prison for five years. This is a conspiracy by the state government, it does not want locals to meet my husband. He has been granted bail in most of the cases. But the UAPA case is being deliberately delayed,” she said.  (Indian Express 31/10/13)

 

REFUGEES/ MIGRANTS

33. UP’s Rs.90 crore for 1,800 riot-hit Muslim families (13)

Lucknow: The Uttar Pradesh government has decided to dole out Rs.90 crore as a one-time financial aid to some 1,800 riot-hit Muslim families still in refugee camps so that they start life anew. Amid claims of normalcy returning to the sugar belt of Muzaffarnagar, Shamli and Meerut, the Akhilesh Yadav government has finally admitted that these families have refused to go back to their original homes. Fearing violence if they leave the camps set up by the administration, the families have refused to budge, forcing officials to seek urgent “remedies, guidance and a way out” from the chief minister’s office. After a series of deliberations, the government has decided to dole out Rs.90 crore so that the distraught families who lost everything in the violence settle in places of their choice and start life afresh. The district administration has told the chief minister’s office that several relief camps were set up post the September riots that left around 50 dead, many injured and some 43,000 homeless. Although the three days of intense violence ended Sep 10, some 8,000 Muslims — men, women and children — are still in the camps. The financial assistance, a government spokesman told IANS, would take the shape of Rs.5 lakh to each Muslim family. “This amount will be given to all the Muslim families who were rendered homeless in Muzaffarnagar and Shamli, who despite every possible effort by the administration have not gone back to their homes,” an official said. The cheques would be given away to the victims soon and they would be expected to leave the relief camps and start life anew at a place of their choice. The district administrations had identified six villages in Muzaffarnagar district and three in Shamli where most Muslim families left their homes where they had lived for generations. Based on the reports from the district administration, the state government said those in the refugee camps can only be rehabilitated when they get financial assistance. Of those uprooted from their homes, 300 families are from village Phugana, 205 from Kutba, 58 from Kutbi, 67 from Mohammadpur Rai Singh, 265 from Kakda and 40 from Mundhbhar in Muzaffarnagar district. “The fear of the September riots runs deep in these families,” said a Muslim leader from the region. “Despite assurances, they are very afraid of going back to their home.” While many Muslim leaders see the doles from the Akhilesh Yadav government as too little too late, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has lashed out at the financial package. “Why is this dole only for Muslims? Were others not affected by the riots?” asked BJP state spokesman Manoj Mishra. District officials admit the financial aid was community specific as all the inmates in the relief camps were Muslims. Hindu families which took shelter in camps have gone back to their homes. A group of ministers formed by Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav submitted a report to the party last week painting a grim picture of the ground situation. “Things are yet to return to normalcy and more efforts are required at the government level to restore the confidence of the people affected by the violence,” the report said. The authorities set up 41 relief camps to accommodate the 43,000 people or so who fled their houses after the violence erupted in the countryside of parts of western Uttar Pradesh. (Deccan Herald 29/10/13)

 

34. 85,000 Pak Hindus to use NOTA option if demands not met (13)

JAIPUR: Nearly 85,000 Pakistani Hindus, who are now Indian citizens, will use their voting rights to exercise the NOTA (None of the Above) option as a mark of protest against political parties for not bringing any result-oriented policies for refugees. At least 40 members of Seemant Lok Sangathan, an NGO working in border districts for rehabilitation of migrant Pakistani Hindus, came to Jaipur and addressed a press conference on Wednesday to share their plight and to clear their stand in the elections. Hindu Singh Sodha, president of Seemant Lok Sangathan, said: “Since 1965, Pakistani Hindus fearing religious persecution in Pakistan have been migrating to Rajasthan. With the starting of Thar Express, nearly 100 are coming to Rajasthan every week. Though nearly 1.13 lakh have now got Indian citizenship, they are still facing all kinds of problems.” He said that the introduction of NOTA was welcomed by 85,000 Pakistani Hindus who are residing in Soorsagar, Chhotan, Barmer, Shiv, Jaisalmer, Khajuwala and Kolayat constituencies in the state. “Until a Pakistani Hindu gets Indian citizenship, he cannot purchase land, can’t get his children admitted to school etc. In 2004, when collectors were ordered to look into the citizenship issue, nearly 1,500 were given citizenship that year itself. No political party which ruled Rajasthan or Centre has ever thought of bringing a proper refugee policy,” Sodha added. He claimed that state governments of Tamil Nadu and those in the Northeast have made a refugee policy for Tamilians and Tibetans who came to India but the government of Rajasthan had not done anything concrete for them. (Times of India 31/10/13)

 

35. World urged to help Jordan end restrictions on Syria refugees (13)

Amman: Amnesty International on Thursday urged world support to help Jordan and other countries hosting Syrian refugees end border restrictions on those fleeing the conflict, saying hundreds are being turned back. In a new report, Amnesty highlights the difficulties faced by people who are trying to escape the conflict in Syria to neighbouring countries, mainly Jordan. The tiny desert kingdom hosts more than 500,000 Syrian refugees, including some 120,000 in the northern Zaatari camp near the border. “It is unacceptable that scores of people from Syria, including families with small children seeking refuge from the fighting, are being denied admission by neighbouring countries,” Philip Luther, Amnesty’s Middle East and North Africa director, said in a statement. More than 115,000 people have been killed and over 2.1 million forced to flee — mostly to Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt — since the conflict erupted after a crackdown on protests that began in March 2011 against President Bashar al-Assad. The United Nations says the total number of refugees is expected to swell to 3.5 million by the end of the year, while close to seven million people forecast to need aid inside Syria this year. Despite statements by the authorities that the border has remained open to those fleeing the conflict, the London-based organisation said its research indicates that scores are being denied access to Jordan. “This includes Palestinian refugees from Syria, people lacking identity documents and Iraqi refugees living in Syria. Unaccompanied men with no demonstrable family ties in Jordan are also turned away,” the report said. Jordan has repeatedly called for more international aid. It says the growing refugee influx has placed a huge burden on already overstretched water and power supplies as well as housing and education, while unemployed Jordanians face tough competition from Syrians for jobs. The Jordanian authorities have told Amnesty they would not return anyone to Syria, according to the report. But in August 2012 some 200 refugees were deported back to Syria after protests broke out at Zaatri over living conditions, it said, adding that information obtained by the organisation indicate that scores of other individuals have since been returned. “The influx of refugees has placed an enormous strain on countries in the region. Their resources are understandably stretched. However, this should not be used as an excuse for denying people entry or forcibly returning people to the conflict and humanitarian crisis in Syria,” said Luther. “The international community has an important role to play in offering support to countries in the region who so far are shouldering the burden of Syria’s refugees with minimal resources. Immediate action is needed to step up international humanitarian aid and resettlement programmes and avert a worsening crisis.” (Zee News 1/11/13)

 

LABOUR/ MGNREGA

36.  ‘Release Dalits of Ragimarur village from bonded labour’ (14)

Hassan: Members of pro-Dalit organisations staged a protest in Hassan on Friday to demand that Dalits who have been working as bonded labourers at Ragimarur village in Arkalgud taluk be released and provided relief to take up alternative jobs. Around 30 Dalit families in the village have been working as bonded labourers for landlords to clear loans taken years ago. The Hindu had reported their plight on August 15. Following media reports, Deputy Commissioner V. Anbukkumar visited the village and ordered for a probe into the issue. The protesters said that though the Deputy Commissioner ordered the Assistant Commissioner of Sakleshpur subdivision to file a report in 15 days, no report had been submitted so far. According to the survey conducted by Jeevika, an NGO working for the release of bonded labourers in the State, more than 900 people are working as bonded labourers in the district. Mr. Anbukkumar, who received a memorandum submitted by the protesters, instructed the District Social Welfare Officer to visit the village and workout a proposal to provide temporary relief to the bonded labourers. He also assured the protesters that the district administration would initiate measures to provide security to Dalits against atrocities, if any, in the village.  (The Hindu 26/10/13)

 

37. Unorganised workers’ body opposes 7th pay commission (14)

AURANGABAD: Opposing the central government’s recent decision of setting up seventh pay commission for central government employees, Samajwadi Jan Parishad – a body of unorganised sector workers – today said that the government should rollback the announcement. The organisation staged demonstrations in front of district collector’s office here in the city. Addressing the gathering, its leader and social activist – Subash Lomte – said that the government had obliged only 7% of the total employees in the county working under its umbrella. “But it has nothing to offer to the remaining 93%,” he said. “There several instances where unorganised workers are being paid Rs 2,500 per month despite working for more than seven to eight hours a day,” he said. He said that all the unorganised workers’ salaries should be at par with class four employees of the central government. (Times of India 29/10/13)

 

38. Rural Development Ministry to clamp down on bonded labour (14)

NEW DELHI: The Rural Development Ministry has joined hands with non-governmental organisations to combat bonded labour in 10 districts across six states of the country. The National Rural Livelihood Mission (NRLM), a mission under the Rural Development Ministry, Wednesday announced that it would join hands with NGOs and become an institutional partner of the “Bandhua 1947″ campaign to combat bonded labour. “We cannot say that we have abolished bonded labour. It may be true on paper, and we have laws on it, but we haven’t managed to finish it,” Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh told reporters here. “Under the NRLM umbrella, we will begin pilot projects in 10 districts which are considered to have a substantial population of bonded labourers. We will locate the bonded labourers there, get surveys done, rehabilitate them and create conditions for alternative livelihoods,” he said. The NRLM will fund projects in the districts of Gaya (Bihar), Bastar and Kondagaon (Chhattisgarh), Bolangir and Naupada (Orissa), Gumla (Jharkhand), Prakasam and Chittoor (Andhra Pradesh), and Kanchipuram and Vellore (Tamil Nadu). It will help locate and rehabilitate bonded labourers by including them in self-help groups and their federations, with provision of soft loans and special projects for alternative livelihoods, including skill development interventions. A point-person will be appointed at the state level for rehabilitation of bonded labourers, to monitor and ensure that goals are met and activities executed. “The state missions will be the leading partners in this engagement, and coordination with other stakeholder departments and agencies at the state level will be ensured,” Sarada Muraleedharan, chief operating officer, NRLM, said. Bonded labour — a pledge of labour in repayment of a loan or other debt, sometimes incurred even by members of the family in an earlier generation — was abolished in India through the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1976. (New Indian Express 30/10/13)

 

JUDICIARY/ LAW

39. HC opposes move to overhaul system for judges’ appointment (19)

CHENNAI : Likening it to a tsunami that would engulf and destroy the judiciary and its independence, the Madras high court has opposed the proposed amendment to the constitution to overhaul the present system of appointment of judges to high courts and the Supreme Court. In its memorandum to the parliamentary standing committee on the Amendment Bill, the 150-year-old Madras Bar Association (MBA) said the composition of the proposed Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC) has been designed to give the executive an equal say in the appointment and transfer of judges. The memorandum, signed by MBA president R Muthukumaraswamy and secretary V R Kamalanathan, said: “With unfathomable agony and pain, we are compelled to say the proposed 120th Amendment Bill, 2013, is in the nature of the British Rowlatt Act 1919 in its sweep and consequences, and would result in the denial of right to life, liberty, freedom, protection of their property, to the people of India and their cherished democracy.” R C Paul Kanagaraj, president of the Madras High Court Advocates Association (MHAA), too has expressed his dissent to the proposal and said the MHA was drafting a note to be submitted to the parliamentary committee. “True we are not completely happy with the way the present collegium system of appointment of judges has been functioning. Besides lacking in transparency, the system does not involve the Bar in the process. But replacing it with JAC, where representatives of the government will have a sound say, is not acceptable. We demand a say in the matter. As the issue requires threadbare debate, it should not be rushed through.” The proposed JAC is comprise of the the chief justice of India, two seniormost judges of the Supreme Court, union law minister and two ‘eminent persons’ appointed by a collegium of prime minister, leader of the opposition in Lok Sabha, besides six persons – three each from the judiciary and outside it. The MBA’s representation has raised six objections to the proposal — the provision to include two ‘eminent persons’ is a vague expression as it does not specify any qualification, the inclusion of union law minister is not proper as he has political interests. The other objections include the designation of the secretary of law and justice as convenor of the JAC as he might be caught between the law minister and and the CJI. The association has also pointed out that the presence of the union law minister and secretary would undermine the principle of separation of judiciary from the executive. It is also feared that judges from state and central government would make way for men with partisan attitude to enter the judiciary. The possibility of a repeat of the 1973 event when several senior judges were superceded in the apex court, cannot be ruled, said the association. (Times of India 29/10/13)

 

40. Evidence of conducting puja alone cannot define a Hindu, says HC (19)

CHENNAI: Holding that not conducting puja by a Hindu in puja room regularly cannot be a conclusive proof to declare that he is not a Hindu, the Madras high court has quashed cancellation of community certificate of a dalit panchayat president, who had reconverted from Christianity. A division bench comprising Justice N Paul Vasanthakumar and Justice K Ravichandra Baabu, concurring with the submissions of senior advocate K Duraisamy on Thursday, said the village administrative officer and the revenue divisional officer were not correct in concluding that K Vasikaran was not a Hindu, merely because his house had a puja room but there was no evidence of prayer/puja there. They also reported that words from the Bible were found at the house and a cross had been inscribed on its pillars. Vasikaran was elected president of Gerugambakkam panchayat, which is a local body reserved for dalits, in October 2011. After the poll loss, his rival candidate moved the state election commission to strip him of the post, saying he was a Christian and that his community certificate too should be cancelled. The matter was referred to the revenue authorities for filing of a report. The officials visited his home and held inquiries before submitting a report favouring cancellation of the dalit certificate. Vasikaran said the district collector had sent his notices to an addressee K Victor, which was his name when he was Christian. He had become a Hindu by undergoing a ‘shuddhi’ ceremony by the Arya Samaj at Chennai, and a certificate too has been given by the organisation. Noting that his community has accepted him, he said he had polled more than 2,600 votes, which was another indication of acceptance by his community. Concurring with him, the bench said Vasikaran had been described as a dalit in his school certificate in 1989. The Sriperumpudur tahsildar issued a proper community certificate in 1996. But, his poll rivals had not raked up his caste status before the election, the bench said. (Times of India 31/10/13)

 

41. Supreme Court tells government how it should govern bureaucrats (19)

New Delhi: In what it said is a move to shield the bureaucracy from excessive political interference and pressure from vested interests, the Supreme Court Thursday ruled that civil servants should be assured of a minimum tenure in a posting and a civil services boards (CSB) should be formed to make recommendations to governments on service issues, especially on transfers, postings and disciplinary actions. Blaming political influence for the deterioration of the standards of probity and accountability of civil servants, the court also ruled that those in government should mandatorily issue written instructions and directed bureaucrats to put in writing all orders they get from their superior and others in power. We are of the view that civil servants cannot function on the basis of verbal or oral instructions, orders, suggestions, proposals, etc., and they must also be protected against wrongful and arbitrary pressure exerted by the administrative superiors, political executive, business and other vested interests, said a bench of Justices K S Radhakrishnan and P C Ghose. Asserting that civil servants were also accountable to the people of this country like elected representatives, the court has given three months to the Central and state governments to issue necessary directions for setting up boards, fixing the minimum tenure as well as compulsorily issue written instructions. The court orders came on a PIL by 83 former civil servants, demanding a slew of reforms to ensure the bureaucracy is insulated from unwarranted political influences. The petitioners included former cabinet secretary T S R Subramanian, former Indian ambassador to the US Abid Hussain, former chief election commissioner N Gopalaswami, former election commissioner T S Krishna Murthy, former IPS officer Ved Prakash Marwah, and former CBI directors Joginder Singh and D R Kaarthikeyan. Culling out recommendations by the Hota Committee, reports of the second Administrative Reforms Commission, 2008, and the Santhanam Committee Report, the court held that CSB, with the cabinet secretary at the Center and chief secretary at the state level, and other high-ranking officers, should be set up within three months. (Indian Express 31/10/13)

 

42. Oral instructions undermine accountability: Supreme Court (19)

New Delhi: Civil servants must refrain from acting on oral instructions of political bosses, except in certain exceptional circumstances, the Supreme Court made it clear on Thursday. The judgement, on a public interest writ petition by 83 persons, comes on the heels of controversies surrounding action against Ashok Khemka, IAS officer of the Haryana cadre, over the DLF-Robert Vadra land deal, and Durga Sakhti Nagpal, U.P. cadre IAS officer, for alleged misconduct. A Bench of Justices K.S. Radhakrishnan and Pinaki Chandra Ghose referred to the recommendations of the Hota Committee (2004) and the Santhanam Committee report, which highlighted “the necessity of recording instructions and directions by public servants.” The Bench said: “We notice that much of the deterioration of the standards of probity and accountability with the civil servants is due to the political influence of persons purporting to represent those who are in authority. The Santhanam Committee on Prevention of Corruption, 1962 has recommended that there should be a system of keeping some sort of records in such situations. Rule 3(3) (iii) of the All India Service Rules specifically requires that all orders from superior officers shall ordinarily be in writing.” It added, “Where in exceptional circumstances, action has to be taken on the basis of oral directions, it is mandatory for the officer superior to confirm the same in writing. The civil servant, who has received such information, in turn, is required to seek confirmation of the directions in writing as early as possible and it is the duty of the officer superior to confirm the direction in writing.” The Bench said: “There must be some records to demonstrate how the civil servant has acted, if the decision is not his, but if he is acting on oral directions, instructions, he should record such directions in the file. If the civil servant is acting on oral directions or dictation of anybody, he will be taking a risk, because he cannot later take the stand the decision was in fact not his own. Recording of instructions, directions is, therefore, necessary for fixing responsibility and ensuring accountability in the functioning of civil servants and to uphold institutional integrity.” Pointing out that “democracy requires an informed citizenry and transparency of information,” the Bench said: “Oral and verbal instructions, if not recorded, could not be provided [to citizens]. By acting on oral directions, not recording the same, the rights guaranteed to the citizens under the RTI Act could be defeated. The practice of giving oral directions/instructions by the administrative superiors, political executive etc, would defeat the object and purpose of RTI Act and would give room for favouritism and corruption.” The Bench, therefore, directed all State Governments and Union Territories to issue in three months directions like Rule 3(3) (iii) of the All India Services (Conduct) Rules, 1968. The petitioners said weak governance manifesting in poor service delivery, excessive regulation, whimsical interventions for personal benefit, wasteful public expenditure, inadequate transparency and lack of accountability had reduced effectiveness of government policies and impinged on development.  They submitted that lack of good governance affected the quality of life and violated the guarantees provided under Article 21 (right to life and liberty) of the Constitution.  (The Hindu 1/11/13)

 

RESERVATION

43. Centre not keen on including jat ‘gotras’ in OBC list (25)

NEW DELHI: The Centre has urged Haryana to withdraw its note which said even the ‘gotras’ allied to Jat community should be considered for OBC tag, a demand that has further complicated the seemingly intractable issue and threatens to upset the Congress’s political deadline. Sources said the ministerial panel tasked with overseeing the issue of inclusion of Jats in the central OBC list has asked Haryana to take back its note lobbying for ‘gotras’. As reported by TOI, the state had said that Jat community had around 140 ‘gotras’ which should be included in the OBC list too. According to sources, when the Centre searched the said ‘gotras’ and its variants in the socio-economic caste census (SECC), it came up with over 10,000 names cutting across caste and religious lines. Going ahead with the ‘gotras’ may render the inclusion of Jats in the OBC list a non-starter besides considerably delaying a decision on the demand. The National Commission for Backward Classes has decided to extract the details of Jat households from the ongoing SECC and then conduct a further survey in Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat, UP, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh to determine if the community fulfills the criteria of backwardness. Besides Haryana, even Madhya Pradesh gave a list of 175 ‘gotras’ of Jats. “Haryana has unnecessarily complicated the issue,” a senior government official said. Sources said the group of ministers, headed by finance minister P Chidambaram and comprising Sushil Kumar Shinde, Kumari Selja and V Narayanasamy, is likely to recommend to the Union Cabinet the course of action to the adopted for determining the eligibility of Jats for the central OBC list. The urgency seems to stem as much from the approaching Lok Sabha elections as from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh personally urging that the process be expedited. The PM is learnt to have asked the ministerial panel to explore if there was any measure other than a fresh survey to decide the issue. The inclusion of Jats in the OBC list is a sensitive issue, with strong resonance among the community in north and central India but with serious reservations among non-Jat backwards who are sceptical of having to compete with socially and educationally stronger communities for quota benefits. However, UPA’s urgency may not matter much since the final decision has to be taken by the NCBC which is a statutory body and has rejected the demand of Jats in the past. (Times of India 29/10/13)

 

44. Protest against Haryana govt over education policy (25)

Chandigarh: Around 60-70 members of “2+5 Mudde Jan Andolan” on Wednesday protested against the education policies of the Haryana government at Sector 29/31 roundabout. The main contention of the protesters was deprivation of quality education to children belonging to economically weaker section (EWS). Most of the protesters were later arrested under Section 107/151 of the Code of Criminal Procedure Act. Protesters demanded the fees in all private schools in Haryana to be fixed. President of the group Satyavir Singh said, “This would EWS parents to afford the education provided in private schools for their children.” Protesters also demanded the rollback of the order passed by the Haryana government recently of lowering the EWS quota in private schools under RTE Act. Haryana government had lowered the quota from 25 to 10%. Compensation to unemployed educated youths was also one of the demands. Adequate water supply for the crops of Haryana farmers was also demanded. The organisation will go on a hunger strike for three days starting Wednesday. The organisation said they would form a party and fight against the government if they fail to fulfill their demands till November 1. (Indian Express 31/10/13)

 

45. UP decides to grant ST status to banjaras (25)

LUCKNOW: In an important development, the state cabinet on Thursday approved granting scheduled tribe status to the banjara community and decided to send approval for clearance to the Centre. The move is being seen as political since Banjaras are essentially an offshoot of the Muslim community. In Uttar Pradesh, the community comprises ostensibly cattle traders and breeders with the exception of Banjara Muslims of Rohilkhand, where the community members are landowners of worth. They are concentrated mainly in Saharanpur, Bijnor, Pilibhit, Bareilly, Aligarh, Muzaffarnagar, Etawah, Moradabad, Tanda (Rampur), Mathura, Etah and Agra districts. The Muslim Banjara or Lambadi members of this community migrated to Pakistan in 1947, and settled in Karachi and Sindh. They are also known as Rahmani, especially in Uttar Pradesh, and they often use Rahmani as their surname. The inclusion of Banjara in the ST category is a part of the SP government move to get the 17 Other Backward Classes enlisted with the Scheduled Castes. The move gains significance given the fact that Samajwadi Party fears losing its Muslim vote bank because of repeated communal clashes, especially in western UP. At the same time, the cabinet decided to include a member from the minority community in the backward caste commission. Samajwadi Party has already launched its ‘Samajik Nyay Yatra’ to showcase its commitment to include 17 OBCs into the SC list. In fact, it was only last year when the SP rode to power and the step was put on the priority list. The circular issued by chief secretary on March 28 spoke of the state government’s priorities, including inclusion of 17 OBC sub-castes within the SC category. Chief minister Akhilesh Yadav met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in Delhi on April 16 to take up the cause of the community. Apart from Banjaras, the 17 sub-castes the state government plans to include in the SC category are Kahar, Kashyap, Kewat, Nishad, Bind, Bhar, Prajapati, Rajbhar, Batham, Gaur, Tura, Majhi, Mallah, Kumhar, Dheemar and Machhua. The move marked Samajwadi Party’s strategy to consolidate the vote bank that drifted away following overwhelming dominance of Yadavs over a period of time. The sub-castes that are proposed to be included in the SC category essentially constitute the most backward castes (MBCs) within the OBCs. The SP government in 2005 had amended the UP Public Services (Reservation for Schedule Castes, Schedule Tribes and Other Backward Castes) Act, 1994, to include as many as 17 castes from the OBCs in the SC category. But since power to declare any caste as ‘scheduled’ rests with the Centre, the then UP government’s decision, taken without the Centre’s consent, did not yield any result. The Allahabad High Court later quashed the decision, leaving these castes in the lurch. The issue was raked up once again by the Mayawati government in 2008, when the Bahujan Samaj Party chief sent a proposal to the Centre recommending inclusion of 16 OBC communities in the SC category, while demanding amendment in the Constitution to pave way for an increase in the SC quota. Mayawati, while announcing this on the floor of state assembly in May 2008, stated categorically that the communities fulfill the criteria to be included in the list of SC, as their social and economic conditions happened to be pathetic. The proposal was never taken up by the Centre. The SP now intends to bring the issue back into focus in a bid to put pressure on the Centre to include these castes into the SC fold. This was one of the poll promises that SP made during assembly elections 2012. Meanwhile, the state cabinet also decided to set up amusement parks in the state in a bid to boost tourism. This will cost the state exchequer Rs 500 crore. The state cabinet also decided that the department which would construct rural roads will also be maintaining it. The cabinet, likewise, decided to establish a campus of Chandrashekhar Azad Agriculture University, Kanpur in Lakhimpur district. (Times of India 1/11/13)

 

Posted by admin at 31 October 2013

Category: Uncategorized

RIGHT TO INFORMATION

1. RTI activists encourage all to question (1)

RANCHI: Over 600 applications in eight years and success in 95% of them. This has been the achievement of journalist-turned-activist Shakti Pandey of Jharkhand RTI forum, who has been devoting his full time now to encourage people to ask questions. Pandey believes that information is the most important tool to claim right and if people start using this act properly that day is not far away when corruption could be nipped in the bud.The guest house in Jharkhand state assembly used to remain occupied all 365 days a year with most of the time relatives and supporters of MLAs comfortably staying there without being asked to pay any fee. An application seeking details of the income, which should have been generated at the rate of Rs 300 per room per day, filed with the assembly secretariat not just exposed the shabby state of affairs but the Speaker was compelled to act and streamline things. “It is not essential that an RTI application has to be followed by lodging an FIR or moving the courts because people find it difficult to sit idle when accountability has been fixed for some deed even by virtue of their own admission,” he said. Pandey, later, decided to encourage others to file applications in the correct format so that the frivolous grounds on which information was denied could be solved. “I was the first to file an RTI with Jharkhand high court seeking details about the pendency of cases and reasons. Though the courts cannot speed up the process in this matter but this application became one of the triggers for designating an official as the Public Information Officer (PIO) as has been mandated by the act,” he said. The tool is often used by NGOs and politicians for seeking information on government functioning. Individuals like Vidhu Bhushan Dubey exposed misuse of helicopters by ministers in Jharkhand whereas another individual Durga Oraon used RTI to seek details about ministers’ assets and filed a PIL with the Jharkhand high court about disproportionate assets. Another RTI activist Gurjeet found that the pace of disposal of cases has slowed down in the state because the state has one member commission. “Unless there are sufficient hands to help the information commission we cannot expect easy and fast disposal of the applications at state level,” he said. (Times of India 26/10/13)

 

2. RTI activist suicide: 10 days on, cops fail to nab accused (1)

BHOPAL: More than ten days of investigation in RTI activist Rajendra Kumar suicide case, the police have made no headway. With no arrest made, the accused are applying for anticipatory bail in court. Rajendra Kumar had left a 23-page suicide note wherein he had named 33 persons who were allegedly torturing him after he gathered information on them for securing jobs on the basis of fake caste certificates. Based on this, a case under section of abetment to suicide was registered with Jehangirabad police station. But investigations have not yielded much result. Expressing helplessness, police officials said notices were served on eight persons whose names were there in the suicide note, but no one has turned up to record their statements. The police teams went in search of Shailendra Khambra in Haryana and Ravindra in Chhattisgarh but had to return empty-handed. The two are believed to be the prime accused in the case. Besides, teams were also sent to few cities of MP, but in vain. Police officials said the deadline to appear before the police in the notice was October 23. Now, they would take action against the accused if they do not turn, police claimed. The wait for justice is getting longer for the family of Kumar. His daughter Akansha told TOI it is sad that police have not been able to locate the accused in the past 10 days. “We have even given information on whereabouts of some of the accused to police, but nothing happened.”  (Times of India 27/10/13)

 

3. Lawyer on a mission with guide to RTI (1)

CHENNAI: Three years ago when S P Nedumaran published a book in Tamil on the Right to Information Act, he wanted to provide people with an idea about the subject. Though the act came into force in October 2005, many are still unaware of it. In 2011, he translated the book into English. Titled ‘Right to Information Act: A Weapon for the Common Indian’, a revised edition with the 2012 amendments was released recently. With 30 models of applications, the three-part guide contains articles, success stories, and question and answers related to the act. “I have narrated everything related to RTI in simple language. There is no legal jargon. It helps the reader understand the act and how to use it,” said Nedumaran, who has filed more than 400 RTI applications. A practicing advocate, he travels across Tamil Nadu to conduct free workshops on RTI in villages. “I have conducted more than 40 workshops. In villages, people are not aware of the act. I teach them basics of how to prepare an RTI application with relevant questions,” he said. The book is divided into three parts. The first contains general articles on RTI and clears doubts about the act. The second deals with the methods of using the act to solve problems, and provides specimens of applications, while the third part gives the act. It was while working as a legal advisor for a non-governmental organisation that Nedumaran realised the importance of the RTI Act. “Many who came to see me from villages were not aware of the act through which any citizen can get information from the government just for 10. I explored the possibilities of reaching those people. Still, there are a lot of people who are ignorant about the act. This should be changed,” he said. Intelligence is might, according to Nedumaran. “If one uses the act cleverly, even an ordinary person can become mighty. The RTI Act is our second Independence. I will be travelling to remote areas of Tamil Nadu to create awareness.” (Times of India 29/10/13)

 

4. Rs 2.3 crore lying unused in top 100 ‘silent’ postal accounts (1)

New Delhi: Crores of rupees are lying unused in ‘silent’ or dormant accounts in post offices across the country, the department of posts has revealed in a response to a Right to Information query. Of the total 2.49 crore dormant accounts, — which have not witnessed any transaction for three consecutive financial years — the top 100 accounts have Rs 2.3 crore. Some of these accounts have seen no activity in over two decades. RTI activist SC Agrawal had sought this information from the department of posts, which initially refused to provide the information but relented after the CIC intervened. The department, however, did not reveal the identities of the account holders, providing only the information on the amount held in these dormant accounts and the date since they have remained so. According to the information, the top 100 dormant accounts have Rs 2,34,05,888.33; the richest of these accounts has a little more than Rs 10 lakh and has been dormant since 2005. The oldest of these, with a balance of Rs 1.18 lakh, has remained dormant since 1989. When an account remains dormant, the department sends a reminder to the account holder to reactivate it, failing which an annual service charge of Rs 20 is levied. If the account remains ‘dormant’ despite the reminders, the service charge continues being levied until the balance is zero, upon which the account is automatically closed. (DNA 31/10/13)

 

POLICE/ TORTURE/ CUSTODIAL DEATHS

5. Madurai man dies in police custody, family cries foul (1)

MADURAI: A 45-year-old load man from Sellur, accused of involvement in a recent robbery in the city, died under mysterious circumstances at the Vilakkuthoon police station on Friday. Police said the victim, A Srinivasan, was summoned to the station around noon. Even as he was being interrogated, he went to the bathroom in the station and hanged himself with his dhoti, police claimed. Sanjay Mathur, commissioner of police said a case under Section 176 (death under police custody) of the CrPC has been registered. “We have given a report to the magistrate regarding the incident. A judicial investigation would be conducted,” he said. But his family who accused police of torturing him had a different tale to tell. They claimed that Srinivasan was summoned to the Teppakulam police station on Wednesday and since then he was detained in illegal custody without disclosing his location. Neethirajan, the victim’s elder son along with relatives submitted a petition to the district collector alleging police torture. They urged for autopsy to be conducted by a panel of doctors and sought the entire process to be videographed. Police said they suspected the role of Srinivasan in a case in which a merchant was robbed of Rs 15 lakh on October 18 on Kamarajar Salai. An unidentified gang assaulted Y Sathyamoorthy, a wholesale flour merchant from Pankajam Colony and robbed the cash. A case was registered with the Teppakulam police station and is being investigated. “In this connection, Srinivasan was inquired by the Teppakulam police last Sunday and released the same day,” a police officer said. Police said that Srinivasan along with six more load men had been working for Sathyamoorthy. “There was a dispute over fixing wages between the load men and Sathyamoorthy for the past six months. That’s why we picked him up for investigation,” police said. But Uma, the victim’s wife said her husband was called by the Teppakulam police for investigation on Wednesday. “Since then, he did not return home. When I approached the Teppakulam police station on Thursday they did not reveal the place of investigation. We visited several police stations searching for him but did not get any positive reply from the police,” she said. “Today (Friday) police came home and said that my husband was admitted to the Government Rajaji Hospital due to stomach pain. When I reached the hospital along with my two sons and daughter I was informed that he committed suicide at the police station and his body was kept in the mortuary. He wouldn’t have committed suicide. Police did not show his body to me the whole day. I suspect he died of police torture,” she said. However, Mathur refuted the allegations. “Srinivasan was called for investigation only on Friday afternoon. During the investigation he went to the bathroom where he committed suicide by hanging with his dhoti,” he reiterated. (Times of India 26/10/13)

 

6. Vanzara’s questioning: Jail authority moves court (1)

AHMEDABAD: The superintendent of the Sabarmati Central Jail on Tuesday moved the court, expressing concern over continuous questioning of suspended IPS D G Vanzara by the CBI inside the prison. The jail authority has urged the court to ask the investigators to brief the jail administration about how long Vanzara’s questioning will last and on which days the interrogation will take place. Special CBI judge Geeta Gopi, who looks after the 2004 Ishrat Jahan fake encounter case, issued a notice to the probe agency as well as Vanzara and kept the hearing on Wednesday. After Vanzara’s remand got over in the second week of June, CBI investigators had sought permission from the court to question the accused inside the Sabarmati jail. Vanzara’s counsel, too, consented to this demand, but with a rider that a lawyer of kin of the accused would be allowed to stay in visible distance from the spot of interrogation. The trouble for the state government started after this, when Vanzara dashed off a resignation letter and expressed grievance on how the government did not support cops in order to shield former home minister Amit Shah in the alleged fake encounter cases. He even blamed chief minister Narendra Modi for not paying any heed to their problems under the influence of Shah. After Vanzara’s letter, CBI’s questioning also intensified. A special magisterial court for CBI had granted permission to investigators to question Vanzara inside the prison. (Times of India 30/10/13)

 

7. Much-needed police reforms floundering (1)

MUMBAI: If the high death rate among cops due to heart attack and suicide draws focus on their inhuman work conditions, custodial torture and killings highlight a need to make the policemen accountable for their actions. Both call for police reforms, which is floundering at the moment. Maharashtra’s police have been accused of torturing a wide-range of captives, from alleged Naxalites to alleged chain-snatchers. There’s no recourse, except the courts, because the state still does not have a Police Complaints Authority (PCA). The Supreme Court had directed all states to set up PCAs in 2006 as part of the reforms. There’s a need to train the police in professional methods of investigation so that they don’t resort to human rights violation, said Dolphy D’Souza of the citizen’s initiative Police Reforms Watch. Slamming the state for the virtual absence of reforms, he pointed out that the government has moved several resolutions aimed at reforming the police force, but they have remained on paper. Seven years after the SC directive on PCAs, only 15 states have passed Police Acts that create the authorities, found a study by the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI). Of them, only seven have authorities both at the state and district levels, while five have only state authorities. The study points at the alarming proportion of bureaucrats and police officers, retired and serving, that make up the PCAs. “This does not bode well for the growth of independent police oversight in India,” concludes CHRI, pointing out that including serving police officers in a body set up to inquire into police excesses defeats the principal of natural justice. Up to 61% of Kerala’s PCAs are made up of serving police and government officials, the highest for any police complaints body in a democracy. Overall, 24% of all PCA officials in India are serving and retired government or police officers. Only 8% constitute civil society members. Another disturbing trend in a few states involves vesting the functions of a PCA with another existing oversight body. The Delhi PCA functions out of the Delhi Public Grievance Commission. “No state has taken the initiative or shown the political will to make PCAs independent and effective. PCAs are supposed to act as a speedy redressal mechanism for victims of police excess,” said Devika Prasad, author of the CHRI report. Thane police commissioner K P Raghuvanshi endorsed the view that policemen should be held responsible for any wrong that they do. “When we say that a person is in police custody, this implies that he will be safe. Unfortunately this is not always the case,” he said, adding that often the excessive workload of policemen results in extra-constitutional methods such as torture. (Times of India 31/10/13)

 

TRAFFICKING

8. ‘Human-trafficking gang busted on Oct 19 had presence in entire Punjab’ (1)

Ludhiana: A human-trafficking gang that was busted by Ludhiana police on October 19 had its presence in all parts of Punjab, claim police officials. The Crime Investigation Agency staff of Ludhiana police had busted the gang on October 19 with the arrest of two men and as many women for allegedly kidnapping and selling a two-and-a-half-year-old boy, who was kidnapped from EWS Colony. On tip-offs by these four, police have so far arrested 16 persons, including the alleged kingpins Luxmi and Anju. Police have claimed that the accused had sold at least four children in different parts of the state to childless couples. Assistant commissioner of police (ACP) (crime) Gurbans Singh Bains said the gang had been active in all districts of Punjab, including Tarn Taran, Amritsar, Jalandhar, Patiala and Hoshiarpur. “The gang members have been saying that they played the mediator’s role in children’s adoption with the consent of their biological parents. We don’t believe them,” he said. Police are yet to arrest some others involved in the racket. “Usha, a resident of Amritsar, is among those who we are trying to track down,” he said. The ACP said the accused used to send the children to another district soon after their kidnapping to avoid detection by police and parents of the children. “We are trying to trace the children that had been kidnapped and sold by the gang,” he said. “The gang abducted children under the age of five by luring them with sweets and chocolates.” The ACP said they hoped to make more arrests and reach the bottom of the racket. (Hindustan Times 25/10/13)

 

9. Karnataka tops South India in number of missing children (1)

BANGALORE: Faced with increasing number of missing children and abductions in Karnataka, state police plan to scale up their anti-trafficking operations. According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), Karnataka recorded the highest number of missing children complaints in South India. “I don’t think every missing child is a victim of human trafficking. But there is a problem. We have formed anti-human trafficking squads across the state and in the city, it’s under the Central Crime Branch. We also have an officer in-charge of anti-human tracking operations in every police station,” said IGP and state nodal officer for human trafficking B Dayananda. According to National Crime Records Bureau statistics for 2009-12, 10 children go missing every day in Karnataka and two remain untraced. That the number of untraced girls is higher than boys only confirms the trafficking angle, experts say.  (Times of India 29/10/13)

 

10. ‘Asia failing to protect rights of domestic workers’ (1)

NEW DELHI: The torture and abuse that the Vasant Kunj domestic help was subjected to was not an exceptional case. About 40% of domestic workers globally are employed in Asia, yet the region has been slow to enact reforms, the International Domestic Workers Network (IDWN), the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) and Human Rights Watch (HRW) said on Monday. The groups have documented many domestic workers within Asia and those migrating to West Asia experience a wide range of abuses, including unpaid wages, restrictions on leaving the households where they work, and excessive work hours with no rest days. Some may face psychological, physical, or sexual abuse and can get trapped in situations of forced labour, including trafficking. “It is important that South Asians learn to treat domestic workers with respect and decency. In addition, there should be a joint effort, perhaps through SAARC, to protect the rights of migrant domestic workers, who can fall to prey to terrible abuse in another country,” said Meenakshi Ganguly, director of South Asia, HRW. According to a 2013 International Labor Organization (ILO) study, 21.5 million domestic workers — or 41% of the estimated global total — are employed in Asia. “Domestic workers from India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, and Cambodia experience horrific abuses,” said Nisha Varia, senior women’s rights researcher at HRW. “These governments should pick up the pace of reform to introduce long overdue protections for both domestic workers at home and those migrating abroad.” The groups released a new report assessing progress since the 2011 adoption of the Domestic Workers Convention that showed more than 25 countries have improved legal protections for domestic workers with many of the strongest reforms in Latin America. In Asia, the Philippines adopted comprehensive legislation protecting domestic workers in January 2013, and is the only Asian country to have ratified the Domestic Workers Convention. The most active dialogue is taking place in Indonesia, India, Nepal, Australia, and New Zealand. India has brought two important policy changes, including extending the Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (RSBY), or the health insurance scheme, to domestic workers in May 2012 and including domestic workers under a new law prohibiting sexual harassment at workplace this year. However, it does not provide protection like reasonable wages, work hours and rest time. There are an estimated 53 million domestic workers worldwide – the majority of them women and girls, and many of them migrants. Recent ILO research found that while child labour in other sectors has declined in recent years, child domestic labor increased by 9% between 2008 and 2012. (Times of India 29/10/13)

 

11. High court seeks details of human trafficking cases (1)

PATNA: The Patna high court on Tuesday asked the state government to file a fresh counter affidavit in a PIL related to human trafficking in the border areas of the state. A division bench of Justice Navin Sinha and Justice Shailesh Kumar Sinha asked the state to submit a detailed report of the cases registered with the district-level anti-human trafficking committee as informed by the counsel for the state. In the PIL filed by Apne Aap Women Worldwide Trust India and others, the court had earlier asked the state to place on record “if it has framed any policy recognising human trafficking and the need to curb the same. If any policy has not been framed, by when does the State propose to do so. If a policy has been framed and/or is proposed to be framed, what are the special features which the State proposes to take particular notice of and what materials the State has collected for the purpose of framing this policy, including particular issues identifying matters. The counter affidavit must also disclose what steps the State has taken or it proposes to take and by when it shall put in place a proper mechanism for controlling human trafficking, if not already done, including rehabilitation of the victims.” Additional advocate general Pushkar N Sahi had informed the court earlier that district-level anti-human trafficking committee has been constituted in each district. It is headed by the DM concerned. (Times of India 31/10/13)

 

MEDIA/ FREEDOM OF PRESS

12. Media should act responsibly, says Minister (1)

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Cultural Affairs Minister K C Joseph said that the government does not have any difference of opinion with the media on the issue of freedom of press but felt that it should be  exercised in a responsible manner. He said that instead of any censorship or control over the media, the media should develop a self-regulatory mechanism of its own. The Minister was speaking after inaugurating ‘Take Two’ media festival organised by the Department of Communication and Journalism, Kerala University, here on Thursday. ‘’Job opportunities are greater now in the media when compared with the days where there were only the print media. The style of journalism has changed today. Investigative journalism has given new dimensions to the world of media. However, the values in journalism had not kept apace with the growth in the media industry,’’ Joseph said. He said that the media invites people to comment on topics and if there is at least anying sensational in it, it will become the topic for the live discussions on news channels. ‘’Instead of running behind sensational stories which may increase the ratings or readership, the media should also shift its focus to the developmental issues of the society,’’ Joseph said. K Muraleedharan MLA, who presided over the function, said that most news anchors who anchor discussions  are keen at establishing their perspectives and views on an issue rather than understanding the guest or moderating their opinions. He said limelight is on those who seek attention of media through sensational statements or expressions. ‘’The prime time channel discussions are struggling hard to take up sensitive issues for discussions and sensible questions are also not common during discussions,’’ said Muraleedharan. (New Indian Express 25/10/13)

 

13. HC notice to EC, govt on AAP plea over posters (1)

New Delhi: Two volunteers of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) on Friday moved the High Court accusing the Delhi government, the Delhi Police and the Election Commission of violating their freedom of speech and expression by removing party posters and banners from their residences under the Delhi Prevention of Defacement of Property Act, 2007. “The AAP is a relatively new party, with limited resources and funds, … older parties have the resources… to rent out billboards and place prime-time advertisements on television and radio. The AAP relies on the capabilities of the aam aadmi, who can do little more than carry posters and placards, and wear hats and badges, etc,” the petition, filed by Anil Bhatia, Satyadev Solanki stated. The petition stated that police had warned the volunteers that they would be fined and police proceedings would be initiated against them if they continued to put up posters. Appearing for the petitioners, advocate Prashant Bhushan argued that removing posters forcibly was “denial of the right to freedom of speech of the citizen and the restriction should be set aside immediately…”. The bench of Chief Justice N V Ramana and Justice Manmohan issued notices to the government, Police and the Election Commission and sought their replies within two weeks. (Indian Express 26/10/13)

 

14. Parliamentary panel questions EC over web content (1)

New Delhi: A parliamentary panel on Saturday questioned the Election Commission’s jurisdiction on its latest guidelines to political parties and candidates for regulating their online and social media content during elections. The chairman of the parliamentary standing committee on law and justice, Shantaram Naik, said he has asked the commission to quote the provisions of law under which it had issued these guidelines. “I have requested the EC to inform us about the provisions of law which empower it. Some of the instructions may be desirable, but one cannot understand the logic of issuing guidelines much after the date of announcement of elections when it had enough time to do it before it,” Naik said. “Whenever the commission officials have appeared before the standing  committee, we have expressed reservations on the manner in which instructions are issued without quoting the law. In the present case also, the committee expresses its disapproval,” he said. The panel chairman said the EC has created a new law which has not been passed by Parliament and its guidelines also do not form part of its rule making powers, provided to the commission by the government. “The EC has caught the political parties and candidates by surprise without even having consulted them on this issue,” Naik said. “Such matters cannot be left to be regulated in the names of instructions,” the chairman said. The commission had on Friday issued detailed guidelines bringing the online and social media content posted by political parties and candidates under its model code of conduct. (Hindustan Times 27/10/13)

 

DALITS/SCHEDULED CASTES

15. 205 cases filed against cops in 2012 for human rights violation (1)

Chennai: There has been a sudden spurt in the number of cases registered against policemen for alleged human rights violations across the country, with 205 last year alone, according to the National Crime Records Bureau. The total number of cases registered against the men in uniform was 205 last year, much higher than data of 2011 and 2010, which stood at 72 and 37 respectively, NCRB data said. However, of the 205 cases, only 19 personnel were charge sheeted and none were convicted last year. Assam registered the maximum cases at 102, whereas Delhi registered 75 last year for violation of human rights. While Assam did not file charge sheet against any policeman, Delhi charge sheeted 12 of its personnel. However none of them were convicted in 2012. In 2011 too, Delhi registered 50 cases against its cops and charge sheeted 40 personnel. Eventually 232 policemen were convicted from various cases registered in various years. Bihar and Gujarat were the top two states to register cases against their cops in 2010 with nine and eight respectively for violating human rights, the report said. Though the two states filed charge sheets against five and two of their personnel respectively, only four Bihar personnel and none from Gujarat were convicted in 2010. The cases registered against policemen relates to disappearance of persons, illegal detention, fake encounter killings, violation against terrorists/extremists, extortion, torture, false implication, failure in taking action, indignity to women, atrocities on SC/ST and other cases. (New Indian Express 25/10/13)

 

16. ‘Release Dalits of Ragimarur village from bonded labour’ (2)

Hassan: Members of pro-Dalit organisations staged a protest in Hassan on Friday to demand that Dalits who have been working as bonded labourers at Ragimarur village in Arkalgud taluk be released and provided relief to take up alternative jobs. Around 30 Dalit families in the village have been working as bonded labourers for landlords to clear loans taken years ago. The Hindu had reported their plight on August 15. Following media reports, Deputy Commissioner V. Anbukkumar visited the village and ordered for a probe into the issue. The protesters said that though the Deputy Commissioner ordered the Assistant Commissioner of Sakleshpur subdivision to file a report in 15 days, no report had been submitted so far. According to the survey conducted by Jeevika, an NGO working for the release of bonded labourers in the State, more than 900 people are working as bonded labourers in the district. Mr. Anbukkumar, who received a memorandum submitted by the protesters, instructed the District Social Welfare Officer to visit the village and workout a proposal to provide temporary relief to the bonded labourers. He also assured the protesters that the district administration would initiate measures to provide security to Dalits against atrocities, if any, in the village.  (The Hindu 26/10/13)

 

17. Dalit atrocities: SC body gets 11,000 complaints (2)

Jalandhar: The National Commission for Schedule Castes (NCSC) has received around 11,000 complaints of atrocities on Dalits in Punjab, NCSC national vice-chairman Raj Kumar Verka said on Sunday. The commission has written to the President seeking amendments in the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 to fix the responsibility of police and deputy commissioners in dealing with such complaints, he added. Verka said majority of the complaints were against the police. “Of the total received complaints, nearly 2,000 had been redressed. Complaints against the police were mostly related to delay in registration of FIRs, non-arrest of accused and long pending inquiries,” he added. Around 17,000 complaints of atrocities on Dalits are from Haryana. (Indian Express 28/10/13)

 

18. Dalits, tribals work as marginal labourers (2)

CHENNAI: A larger proportion of dalits and tribals work as marginal labourers, which means they are employed for less than six months a year. This shows the precarious nature of the existence of these marginalised groups despite decades of government schemes seeking to address it. Census data on SCs and STs released on Monday shows the south fares better than the north when it comes to providing steady work for dalits. Only 9.9% non-dalits are engaged in marginal work compared to 12% dalits and 17% scheduled tribes, according to the data. As per the 2011 census, about 20 crore of the country’s 121 crore people are dalits, and 10.4 crore are ST. Across the country, 39.8% of the population was employed. Of this, close to 30% are in main work, which means they get employment for most of the year. For dalits and tribals, the work participation rate was 40.9% and 48.7%. Yet only 28% of dalit workers were in main work and the rest were marginal labourers. Himachal Pradesh had the highest proportion of dalits working as marginal labourers at 23%, followed by Bihar (16.5%). In Kerala and Tamil Nadu, in contrast, only 6% to 7% dalits were employed in marginal work. “The main reason for dalits in Tamil Nadu and Kerala getting employment through the year is the higher literacy rate. With proper education, many dalits in these states are employed in IT companies or in government jobs. They may be working at a lower level, but they get employment for the entire year,” said P Sampath, president of the Tamil Nadu Untouchability Eradication Front. In Kerala, due to the implementation of land reforms, many dalits are landowners and the figures are better. In all other states, this is lacking, said Sampath. Only a few dalits are in marginal work in Kerala because of the migration to Gulf countries, said social scientist M S S Pandian. “Many job seekers from Kerala have migrated to other states or to Gulf countries. In Tamil Nadu, reservation is the reason for more dalits being in main work,” said Pandian. With a higher rate of economic growth, there are more job opportunities for dalits in Tamil Nadu, he added.  (Times of India 30/10/13)

 

19. Untouchability Eradication Front leader dead (2)

MADURAI: President of Madurai unit of the Tamil Nadu Untouchability Eradication Front M. Thangaraj passed away here on Tuesday. Thangaraj (47), who had met with a road accident on Sunday, succumbed to injuries at a private hospital. He is survived by his wife Tamil Selvi, and two children. He had been associated with the front since its inception in 2009 and played a vital role in bringing to light the “untouchability wall” constructed to isolate Dalits in Uthapuram near Usilampatti in 2009. Thangaraj was very active in identifying and raking up issues pertaining to the oppression of Dalits in the southern districts. All India Forward Bloc MLA P.V. Kathiravan, front State office-bearers P. Sampath and S. Samuel, Communist Party of India (Marxist) leaders M.N.S. Venkatraman, C. Ramakrishan and B. Vikraman were among those who took part in his funeral at Nathapatti in the district. (The Hindu 31/10/13)

 

HEALTH/ EPIDEMICS/NRHM

20. SC awards Rs 6.03 cr in medical negligence case (3)

New Delhi: In the highest ever compensation ordered by an Indian court in a medical negligence case, the Supreme Court Thursday awarded Rs 6.03 crore for the wrongful death of a US-based child psychologist, who lost her life due to recklessness of Kolkata doctors while visiting India in 1998. A Bench of Justices C K Prasad and V Gopala Gowda enhanced the compensation of Rs 1.73 crore, awarded by the National Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission (NCDRC) in 2011, to Rs 6.03 crore along with a 6 per cent interest from 1999. The total amount to be paid to Anuradha’s doctor husband Kunal Saha, an AIDS researcher in Ohio, would be around Rs 11 crore after adding the interest. The court ordered the Advanced Medicare and Research Institute and three doctors to cough up the damages within eight weeks. Dr Sukumar Mukherjee and Dr Balram Halder will pay Rs 10 lakh each while Dr Baidyanath Prasad will shell out Rs 5 lakh. The court slammed Mukherjee and Halder for their disregard to the noble profession and utmost callousness while treating Anuradha. This is the highest quantum of compensation in the medico-legal history of India so far. The maximum award until now was Rs 1 crore granted to a software engineer in 2009. The verdict in one of the longest running medical negligence cases could set a benchmark and act as a trendsetter for judicial evaluation of compensation for victims of medical negligence. Taking cognizance of the spurt in medical negligence cases, the Bench said: “The doctors, hospitals, the nursing homes and other connected establishments are to be dealt with strictly if they are found to be negligent with the patients who come to them.” “We hope and trust that this decision acts as a deterrent and a reminder to those who do not take their responsibility seriously,” said the Bench while asking the government to consider enacting laws wherever there was absence of one for their effective functioning. (Indian Express 25/10/13)

 

21. Infant mortality rate down by 33% in Gujarat (3)

GANDHINAGAR: There’s good news for Gujarat on the Human Development Index (HDI) front as the state’s Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) has declined significantly. It has fallen to 38 in 2012 from 57 in 2003 – a drop of 33.3% – better than the 30% decline at the national level. IMR is defined as deaths of infants below one year of age per 1,000 live births. Though Gujarat has shown good results in the last decade, states like Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh have performed better. Bihar reduced its IMR from 62 to 43, Uttar Pradesh brought it down from 82 to 53, Madhya Pradesh from 86 to 56, Rajasthan from 79 to 49 and Andhra Pradesh from 66 to 41, during this period. The decline in IMR in Gujarat in the last three years (2009 to 2012) is substantial. The reduction in 2009-10 was four and three units in each of the next two years, according to the Sample Registration System (SRS) adopted by the Union government. Gujarat’s annual IMR decline for the last three years, at 7.5%, is among the highest in the country. The target set by the Centre was 7%, to achieve the Millennium Development Goal. Gujarat faces the challenge of continuing this good performance and achieve an IMR of 29 by 2015. The Narendra Modi-led state government is often criticized for its poor performance on social and health indicators like IMR, Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR) and anaemia prevalence rate despite its tall claims of economic growth. The state is projected to achieve major improvements on these indicators in the next five years will still not be able make the top five, as projected by the Planning Commission in 12th Five Year Plan. Gujarat’s present IMR, MMR and anaemia levels are 38, 148 and 55.3 respectively, and is projected to go down to 24, 67 and 28 respectively, by the end of the 12th Five Year Plan. While improvement in infant mortality is healthy news, Gujarat will have to do much more to improve its low standing Human Development Index. At present it is ranked 10th among major states. The state will have to work hard to get the numbers up on health, life expectancy, education and literacy so that industrial growth is not sullied by dipping social indicators. (Times of  India 27/10/13)

 

22. Panel to examine malnutrition deaths in Hyderabad-Karnatak districts (3)

BANGALORE: Alarmed at 60% infant malnutrition deaths reported in some taluks of Koppal and Raichur districts against the national average of 42%, the Karnataka government constituted an expert committee to look into it. The committee headed by Dr BS Nanda Kumar, head, department of community medicine, MS Ramaiah Medical College, Bangalore, will soon visit these districts. “I was informed about it when I was attending a conference in Jodhpur. I’ll meet health minister UT Khader on Tuesday to know the committee’s brief,” he said. According to latest health department reports, about 168 cases of malnutrition deaths were reported in Koppal district alone over the past three months. Raichur registered 122 deaths. There’ve been an average of six maternal deaths per month in these districts. Statistics provided by the Karnataka women & child development department, quoted in a report on malnutrition by the National Commission on Protection of Child in 2012, corroborate this observation. The State Human Rights Commission had expressed its concern over the increase in cases of malnutrition in the country. Hyderabad-Karnatak region, which got the deemed status under Article 371(J) of the Constitution (special grants will be released by the Centre and regional reservation in education and employment) suffers from severe poverty, under-education, child marriage and consanguineous marriages, all contributing to malnutrition. The cheap rice, free milk and egg scheme launched to tackle hunger and malnutrition among poor children in the most backward districts of Hyderabad-Karnatak region hasn’t tackled the problem. The six districts — Gulbarga, Yadgir, Raichur, Bidar, Koppal and Bellary — continue to record high rates of deaths of children less than five years, according to health officials. Most are suspected to have died from severe malnutrition. Last year, the state government started providing eggs and milk in anganwadi centres in Koppal and Raichur after many malnutrition deaths were reported there. A comprehensive action plan was also prepared to address the issues by involving anganwadi and Asha workers of rural health centres. According to Dr Niranjan Patil, child specialist, Yadgir: “Giving free milk and egg to malnourished children in anganwadi centres will not help much. There should be a focus on providing nutritional diet and proper medical care to mothers and children of poorer sections.” (Times of India 29/10/13)

 

HIV/AIDS

23. Insurance cover mooted for those living with HIV (3)

BANGALORE: Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways Oscar Fernandes favoured insurance cover for those living with HIV and AIDS patients and said he has urged insurance companies to provide life insurance to them. Addressing presspersons here on Thursday, Mr. Fernandes said he had asked insurance firms to come out with products to provide coverage to these patients. But the insurance premium would be high compared to normal products, he warned. The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) has proposed to make it mandatory for insurers to offer insurance cover for people living with HIV/AIDS. Minister for Health and Family Welfare U.T. Khader said the government has decided to open six Anti Retroviral Therapy centres at Bangalore (Jayanagar), Chickballapur, Bijapur, Chikkodi, Gulbarga and Belgaum from next month. He said Karnataka was one of the States with a relatively advanced HIV epidemic. According to the HIV Sentinel Surveillance done in 2010-11, HIV prevalence among the general population was 0.69 per cent. There was significant decline in adult HIV prevalence in the State — from 1.5 p.c. in 2003-04 to 0.69 p.c. in 2010-11. “According to estimates, 2.45 lakh people are living with HIV/AIDS in the State,” he said. (The Hindu  25/10/13)

 

24. Stressing on the importance of passing HIV/AIDS Bill (3)

BANGALORE: Speakers at the two-day Southern Regional Consultation on HIV/AIDS, organised by the Forum of Parliamentarians on the disease, in partnership with government of Karnataka, on Monday underlined the need for the Parliament to pass the HIV/AIDS Bill, envisaged for the wholesome coverage of issues related to persons living with the disease, and addressing issues of stigma, discrimination, care and protection, treatment and ensuring their rights. Elected representatives of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Odisha, Puducherry and Tamil Nadu, Speakers of some the States and Ministers participated in the inaugural function held at the Vidhana Soudha. Inaugurating the conference, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said because of intensive awareness programmes launched by the State government, the HIV prevalence rate among the general population had reduced from 1.5 per cent in 2004 to 0.69 per cent in 2011. He said because of the incentive extended to patients visiting anti-retroviral therapy (ART) centres, including travelling concession, the dropout rate had been contained. Admitting that there were challenges ahead, he said: “Our motto is to bring down the prevalence rate to 0 per cent.” Minister for Health U.T. Khader attributed the drop in prevalence rate to preparedness of the AIDS Control Programme, the much needed continuous care, support and treatment of infected patients, and new moves to identify early diagnosis. Detailing efforts of the State government in containing the disease, the Minister said it had been decided to extend free education to children of those affected and children affected by the disease. “For the first time in the country, Karnataka is giving nutritious food for affected persons and funds have been earmarked in the budget,” he explained. J.V.R. Prasad Rao, U.N. Secretary General Special Envoy for AIDS Asia and the Pacific, said the country had enormous political will to address the disease. However, reminding the audience of the resurgence of malaria and tuberculosis because of complacency, he cautioned against neglecting the disease in the euphoria of success. “Reaching the programme to the grassroots and creating awareness among every section of society can only yield results,” he added. Observing that “HIV is not a death sentence, it is a chronically manageable disease”, he said passing of the HIV Bill would solve many of the problems being faced by society. Representatives of various governments detailed programmes launched in their States to contain the menace and facilities extended to the affected. Saroja Putran, who is a model for those affected by the disease, narrated her story and underlined the need to consider ART Card as an identity proof for the affected, as get one was difficult because of social stigma. She also appealed to extend in-patient care facility, besides benefit of surgery and treatment. (The Hindu 29/10/13)

 

25. Drop-in centre for HIV patients planned in Kochi (3)

KOCHI: A drop-in centre for HIV-positive persons will be opened shortly in the city. The centre, an initiative of the Health Standing Committee of the Kochi Corporation, will function as a short-stay home for infected persons who come to the city for antiretroviral treatment. Patients who would have to stay near the hospitals for conducting tests could drop in at the centre, said S. Resana, project manager, Centre for Advances Projects and Solutions. The centre is partnering with the civic body for the project. About 100 HIV-positive persons living in the city limits have been identified. The centre would also offer livelihood solutions for the affected persons and their families, she said. The infected will be trained in income generating programmes such as tailoring, and manufacturing of paper bags and pens. The rehabilitation programme of the affected persons would be implemented in collaboration with the local Kudumbashree units, said Ms. Resana. The identified persons in the city include sex workers and people infected due to drug use. The affected will be given nutritional food to meet their dietary requirements. Their health conditions would be regularly monitored, she said. Currently, there is no such facility for the affected persons. The one that was run by the State authorities was closed down for want of funds, she said. T.K. Ashraf, chairman of the Health Standing Committee, said the civic body had earmarked Rs. 6 lakh for the project from the Poverty Social Fund of the Kerala Sustainable Urban Development Project. The authorities are in search of a building for setting up the centre. It should be set up in close proximity to the Ernakulam district hospital from where the affected persons could receive medical treatment, said Ms. Resana. (The Hindu 30/10/13)

 

26. Social stigma pushes HIV+ couple to the edge (3)

AGARTALA: An HIV positive woman, who had consumed poison with her husband, is battling for life at Dharmanagar District Hospital in North Tripura for the last one week. Her husband died on the way to the hospital. The 35-year-old woman from Huruha village in Dharmanagar has developed a multiple-organ disorder. The couple had consumed pesticide on October 24 to get rid of social humiliation. The couple was diagnosed with HIV around three years ago during a blood test when the woman was five-month pregnant. Following doctors’ advice, the woman had terminated her pregnancy immediately. The couple was allegedly ostracized by their family members, relatives and neighbours over the last three years. “I was infected from my husband after we got married in 2008, but I had accepted it as my fate and decided to live together. We didn’t have any problem in our marital life, except family members, relatives disgracing us every now and then,” she told the media in the hospital. The humiliation crossed all limits when their relatives started abusing them in public. The situation turned worse on October 23 when her in-laws decided to throw them out of the village apprehending further spread of the disease if they continued to stay in the locality. “We decided to take the extreme step and die together to save ourselves from further social and family isolation. Ever since the diagnosis, there have been a lot of medical complications, but our mental agony was far worse. Instead of any moral support, our families rejected us. It was very difficult for us to carry on,” she said. Her husband had admitted that he was the carrier, she said. With the intervention of the Tripura AIDS Control Society, the couple had joined a network of HIV positive people in the state. Despite humiliation from family members and neighbours, the couple lived a normal life following counseling sessions and assistance from the society. In fact, the man was very popular among a group of 1,600 HIV- positive people. The members had even decided that he would be made the next secretary of the group, an official of the society said. “We have asked police to take steps against the family members because what they have done is a serious crime. Our counsellors held a number of sessions with the family members and tried to convince them that the couple needed their support, instead of isolation,” a senior official of the society said. SP (North) Abhijit Saptarshi said, “We have recorded the testimony of the woman. She is recovering now.” (Times of India 31/10/13)

 

CORRUPTION

27. HC bail for fodder scam convict Jagannath Mishra (5)

Ranchi: The Jharkhand High Court today granted provisional bail to former Bihar chief minister Jagannath Mishra, convicted in a fodder scam case, even as it gave time to CBI for arguments against a plea for similar relief moved by RJD chief Lalu Prasad serving a five-year sentence in the case. Besides Mishra, who was sentenced to four years imprisonment, the Bench of Justice R R Prasad also granted bail to former legislator R K Rana, also convicted in the case, on medical grounds. Mishra was allowed to stay out till January eight for medical treatment and asked to surrender the next day. Mishra had been taken to the Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences after he fell ill after being convicted on September 30. A medical board later referred him to the AIIMS. Rana had been sentenced to five years in prison. “Defence arguments on Lalu Prasad Yadav’s bail petition have been concluded. The Bench fixed October 30 for the CBI to argue,” Prabhat Kumar, one of the counsels of Prasad said. The Bench adjourned the case to October 30 after hearing a bunch of petitions filed by fodder convicts, including Prasad. Lalu, Mishra and 43 others had on September 30 been convicted by the special CBI court of Pravas Kumar Singh in a fodder scam case pertaining to the fraudulent withdrawal of Rs 37.7 crore from Chaibasa Treasury. (Deccan Herald 25/10/13)

 

28. Satyam scam: ED files chargesheet against Ramalinga Raju (5)

HYDERABAD: Nearly four years after the Satyam scam broke out, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Monday filed its chargesheet in the trial court against 47 persons that included the company’s disgraced chairman Ramalinga Raju, his brother Rama Raju, other family members and 166 companies allegedly floated by Raju and his men. The ED’s chargesheet urged the 21st additional chief metropolitan magistrate court, the designated court for trying both the CBI and ED cases in the matter, to try the accused under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). While the CBI has filed three chargesheets in the case against 10 accused and the trial in the case is nearing completion, this is the first chargesheet to be filed by the ED and it included all the 10 accused in the CBI case as well as 37 other individuals, many of whom are relatives of Raju who acted as directors of the front companies floated by him. (Times of India 29/10/13)

 

29. 2G scam: Chacko submits JPC report to Speaker (5)

New Delhi: Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) chairman P C Chacko on Tuesday submitted his report to Speaker Meira Kumar, giving a clean chit to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh vis-a-vis the 2G spectrum scam. “The Prime Minister was misled by the Minister of Communications and Information Technology (A Raja) about the procedure decided to be followed by the Department of Telecommunications in respect of issuance of UAS licences,” the report said. “Further, the assurance given by the Minister of Communications and Information Technology in all his correspondence with the Prime Minister to maintain full transparency in following established rules and procedures of the Department stood belied,” it added. As many as 12 of the 30 members of the committee, belonging to BJP, BJD, CPM, CPI, DMK and AIADMK, appended dissent notes to the report. Chacko admitted that he had edited the dissent notes, as mandated by Rule 303(5), to ensure that no inappropriate or inaccurate expression found its way in to the document. This had been done to maintain the “credibility” of the report. The dissenting members felt P Chidambaram, who was the finance minister then, sho-uld have been asked to depose before the JPC. They were critical of the fact that even though Raja had made several offers to depose before the panel, he was not allowed to do so.  (Indian Express 30/10/13)

 

30. Medical admission scam: Bank officer duped of 25 lakh (5)

UJJAIN: In yet another incident of fraud relating to admission in private medical college in the state, a Rajasthan-based bank officer was duped of Rs 25 lakh recently. Police in Ujjain have registered a case and are investigating the matter. RD Gardi Medical College, Ujjain, a Rajasthan-based bank manager was duped of Rs 25 lakh recently. The matter is being investigated by police officials in Ujjain. Sources said Mohammad Hashim, who is posted as a manager at Arnod branch of State Bank of Bikaner and Jaipur in Rajasthan, was trying to get his daughter admitted to a medical college through internet when he received a phone call from a person who identified himself as Rakesh. The caller asked Hashim to arrange Rs 25 lakh as donation for the admission to R D Gardi Medical College, Ujjain. Hashim visited the college on October 1 to verify the claim of the caller. At the college, he was approached by a person who introduced himself as Dr Anil Jain and tricked him to submit the cash. On October 9, Hashim handed over Rs 25 lakh cash and a demand draft of Rs 3.70 lakh to ‘Dr Jain’. Three days later, Hashim, along with wife and daughter, called up the two for a receipt of the fee. Initially, both gave excuses and later switched off their cellphones. Realizing the fraud, Hashim lodged a complaint at Chimanganj police station. Additional superintendent of police (ASP), city, Gaurav Tiwari said there are no clues about the fraudsters and cyber cell has been trying to trace the callers. Similar cases of fraud were reported when Bhupendra Jangre of Garoth was duped of Rs 14 lakh in the name of admission to a college in Indore in 2011. Professor Sanjay Dua of Delhi was duped of Rs 8 lakh in October 2011 and Abdul Rauf of Anuppur of Rs 6 lakh in September 2012. The police have succeeded in arresting three culprits including two from Munger and Madhubani in Bihar over the fraud with Abdul Rauf. The kingpin Sudhir Vishnoi of Rajasthan is however still on the run. (Times of India 31/10/13)

 

CHILDREN/ CHILD LABOUR

31. 11 children rescued from commercial premises (14)

New Delhi: Eleven children including four girls working as bonded labourers in various commercial premises in Nangloi area of West Delhi have been rescued, police said on Saturday. Police have also arrested three persons Rambir, Sonu and Naveen Goyal in this connection yesterday. Six children were working as labourer in shoes factory, while four girls were rescued from a paper plate factory. One child was rescued from a sweet shop, police said. “A child labour rescue operation was conducted yesterday in Nangloi area under the supervision of SDM, Punjabi Bagh with collaboration of Labour Department and Bachpan Bachao Aandolan (NGO). “During the rescue operation 11 children from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar working as labourers were rescued from various premises,” said Deputy Commissioner of Police (West) Ranvir Singh. The children were forced to work on a nominal salary of Rs 1,500 per month, police said. The rescued children were produced before Child Welfare Committee, which sent them in the state protection. A case against the accused under Child and Labour Act and Juvenile Justice Act has been registered. (Zee News 26/10/13)

 

32. CRY opposes closure of government schools (14)

BANGALORE: Child Right and You (CRY), a non-governmental organisation, has urged the Karnataka State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (KSPCR) to reject the recommendations of the R. Govinda Committee report which suggested closure of 12,740 government schools in the State. This was one of the main recommendations in a study titled ‘Learning Blocks’ carried out by CRY. The study covered 71 districts in 13 States to understand the status of implementation of the Right to Education (RTE) Act. A dossier containing the study was submitted to the KSPCR recently. It also suggests that eggs should be introduced in school midday meals for children. Suma Ravi, Regional Director (South), CRY, said the closure of such a large number of schools might lead to child labour and child marriage. Apart from ensuring access, the study also recommends maintenance/upgrade of school infrastructure “by providing financial commitment by allocating Rs. 1,238.12 crore for upgrading 22,718 classrooms and recruitment of 14,908 teachers in the State.” “Parents across sections look for a safe school environment before sending their children. The RTE Act says schools should have all weather buildings. But our study showed that 13 per cent schools in the south were unsafe; 18 per cent primary schools did not have pakka buildings,” Ms. Ravi said. The study also quotes secondary data and points to the less number of high schools. While there are 23,370 lower primary government schools, and 22,278 higher primary government schools, there are only 4,168 government high schools. The dropout rate increases at the high school level. While it is 8.7 per cent at the Class 5 level, it increases to 33.9 per cent at the Class 8 level and to 49.4 per cent at the Class 10 level. (The Hindu 27/10/13)

 

33. Public hearing on child rights (14)

State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (SCPCR) will lend an ear to people’s woes at an open forum next month. A two-day public hearing will be held at RIMS auditorium on November 11 and 12, where the commission will take up complaints being currently registered at its office via helplines and also grievances voiced on the spot. Two day ago, SCPCR went on a massive publicity drive about the public hearing via hoardings, pamphlets and announcements in various districts of the state and also its two toll-free numbers — 18003456531 and 0651-2511200 — for people to register complaints. The move garnered spontaneous response with as many as 20 complaints registered in the past two days. According to SCPCR members, many parents from Gumla, Simdega, Khunti, Chaibasa and state capital Ranchi had called up. The nature of gripes ranged from death of a child in mysterious circumstances to ragging at the reputable Sainik School in Tilaya, child labour and eve-teasing. The number is expected to cross 200 in the next few days. “We are getting a number of complaints, all of which will be addressed at the public hearing. It will be a platform for the public, especially parents, to come forward and notify us about any violation of child rights,” said chairperson of SCPCR Rooplakshmi. It will try to settle at least 200 cases in two days. The rest will be addressed district-wise on a monthly basis. (The Telegraph 29/10/13)

 

34. Locked in for 2 days, 13-year-old maid seeks help (14)

NEW DELHI: Less than a month after the horrific tale of physical abuse of a minor domestic help became public, police on Monday rescued a 13-year-old girl from another south Delhi locality after she claimed to have been locked inside the house by her airhostess employer, who is currently away to Australia. Police said the victim managed to reach the terrace of the Sarojini Nagar apartment by slipping out from a ventilator and sought help from neighbours. Cops roped in an NGO for the rescue. The girl later told the Child Welfare Committee that she was beaten up several times with a belt, starved and locked inside the house. Neither she nor her family had been paid for the work. The girl and her employer, who works for Air India, are from Manipur, police said. The accused has been booked under sections relating to causing hurt, wrongful confinement, child labour and bonded labour. She would be arrested upon her return, said a senior cop. The victim, who said she was working for the past two years, alleged that she was forced to give her employer a massage for four hours everyday, from 11pm to 3am everyday. “I slept only for 5 hours and woke up at 8am to finish the household chores. She would be drunk at times and beat me up if I did not follow her instructions. I was too scared to complain,” the victim told the CWC. The girl, who has a slight deformity in one eye, has been sent to a shelter home in southeast Delhi and her parents are being informed. Her family lives in Senapati district of Manipur. Police found that the victim’s mother used to work for the airhostess’ family in Manipur. The girl was brought to Delhi by the airhostess’s sister, who will also be arrested for trafficking, police said. Cops said the girl’s parents were told she would be given a job, money and education. None of it was fulfilled. The victim is not literate, an officer said, adding that they had not received any proof of her age but estimate it to be 12 or 13. Police were told about the girl around 3.30pm on Monday. Her employer had left on Sunday and was supposed to return on Tuesday. The girl told police that she used a stool to get to the ventilator and escaped to the terrace. She then went to the adjacent terrace and raised an alarm. The neighbours then asked her to call the police from their telephone. Police arrived and asked an NGO, Butterflies, to counsel the girl and record her statement. “Based on the statement, we have registered a case under IPC sections 323 (causing hurt), 340 (wrongful confinement), 370 (slavery), 16 (bonded labour) and 14 (child labour) at Sarojini Nagar police station. She has also been booked under the juvenile justice Act ,” said B S Jaiswal, DCP south. “The girl was taken for a medical examination where no fresh injuries were found on her body. There were bruises on her face, arms and hands but they were old scars,” he said. On Tuesday, the girl was produced before the Child Welfare Committee, where her statement was recorded before the magistrate. “She did not give me or my family any salary. She would not let me talk to my mother even if I cried in front of her. She came home late and I had to massage her for hours. She would beat me if I said I was tired,” the girl said in her statement… (Times of India 30/10/13)

 

AGRICULTURE/ FARMERS SUICIDES

35. No compensation for farmers of Jharsuguda yet (20)

JHARSUGUDA: In the impact of Phailin that battered some parts of Jharsuguda district, paddy, banana and vegetable crops in five blocks have been damaged. Lakhanpur and Kolabira blocks were affected the most. According to agriculture office sources, paddy crop in total 1713 hectares was damaged including 500 hectares in Kolabira , 412 hectares in Jharsuguda, 301 hectares in Lakhanpur, 190 hectares in Kirimira and 300 hectares in Laikera block. Similarly, the farmers, who cultivated vegetable in 60 hectares in Lakhanpur block, have sustained heavy loss. Though officials from Agriculture, Horticulture and Revenue department have already visited the affected areas to survey the extent of damage, no compensation has been paid to the farmers so far. Deputy Director of District Agriculture department Benudhar Panda said preliminary survey on the quantum of loss has been completed and Rs4,000 per hectare will be paid for complete loss of the crop. Basudeo Bhoe, a farmers’ leader of Lakhanpur block, said this amount is very negligible as a farmer usually spends Rs  30,000 to 40,000 per hectare for cultivation of any crop. (New Indian Express 20/10/13)

 

36. Vidarbha farmers refuse pittance as compensation (20)

Nagpur: Meagre compensation amounts of Rs 80 and Rs 100 are being given though the Chief Minister had announced a Rs.2,000 crore aid package for the flood-hit regions. A farmer from Wardha district in the Vidarbha region of Maharashtra, who suffered losses of around Rs.15, 000 during the last monsoon floods, was aghast to receive a compensation amount of Rs.80. He is not the only one, according to NGO Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti (VJAS) chief Kishore Tiwari, active among the farming communities in eastern Maharashtra. “Thousands of cheques bearing compensation amounts like Rs.80, Rs.100, and Rs.150 are lying in various tehsildar offices, but the farmers are refusing to collect them,” Mr. Tiwari said in Nagpur on Wednesday. The Wardha farmer, Sotba G. Bavne had submitted claims worth around Rs.15, 000 for the losses in the floods and spent an additional Rs.95 in various official fees. “The most shocking part is that some officials came to survey his premises, they had tea and snacks in his home and even took Rs.100 promising to expedite his claims. VJAS demands that these officials be suspended and booked,” Mr. Tiwari told IANS. The meagre compensation amounts are being doled out though Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan had announced a total aid package of Rs.2,000 crore for the severely flood-hit regions of eastern Maharashtra during the monsoon fury this year. Later, union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar made an intensive tour of the region and indicated a massive special central aid, which has not yet been announced, Mr. Tiwari added. “In the meantime, the farmers are being told to collect these cheques with pittance amount. Only for opening a savings bank account to deposit them, they are required to shell out a minimum Rs. 500. How can the poor farmer afford?” he said. Mr. Tiwari said the state and central governments must immediately look into this issue before more debt-hit and flood-affected farmers commit suicide. Only in October, over a dozen farmers ended their lives. Several districts of the Vidarbha region, especially Wardha, Amravati, Yavatmal, were severely affected by deluge during this year’s monsoon in July-August. (The Hindu 23/10/13)

 

37. Two farmers end lives after crop loss in rain (20)

NALGONDA/NIZAMABAD: Two farmers, who suffered heavy losses in the incessant rains and subsequent floods, allegedly committed suicide in separate incidents in Nalgonda and Nizamabad districts on Sunday. A 48-year-old farmer identified as Bhagaiah consumed pesticide at Settipalli village in Nizamabad district. Bhagaiah owned two acres of land and had recently harvested the produce. The heavy rains damaged the produce stored in the fields. Unable to bear the loss, he committed suicide by consuming pesticide. Meanwhile, Ainamallu, a middle-aged farmer, who owned 10 acres of land, ended his life after his crop was submerged in floods at Musipatla village of Motkupally mandal in Nalgonda district. Both farmers reportedly borrowed money from private lenders to raise the crop. (Times of India 28/10/13)

 

38. Farmers given lessons on hi-tech farming (20)

KOCHI: The district Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK) has started a farmers’ field school (FFS) programme to educate them on hi-tech machines used in paddy cultivation through live demonstrations. The programme run by the centre- which is under the central marine fisheries research institute (CMFRI)-aims at encouraging youngsters to enter the field of agriculture. “We are leasing out hi-tech equipments at agricultural service centres so that farmers can make use of it. We are also organizing free demonstrations to raise awareness among them,” said Shinoj Subramanian, programme coordinator and senior scientist, KVK. The initiative began with a paddy mechanization training at Oonjappara near Kothamangalam in a three-acre field. In the session, mat nursery was prepared by laying a plastic sheet in the field and spreading thick clay on it. Germinated seeds were later laid over it and the seedlings would be ready in 17-19 days of planting. The seedlings can be easily detached from the sheet and loaded on to the machine’s tray and transplanted in the field. A session on mechanized land preparation using tractor-operated puddler, developed by Kerala Agricultural University, was also held as part of the programme. “Normally farmers use tractor cage wheel only for land preparation. If this puddler is used in combination with cage wheel in the tractor it can save 35-40% of the time required to cover a field,” said an official. The programme also gave demonstrations on mechanized transplanting and weeding using a power weeder in Kothamangalam. “Youngsters who participated in the programme have shown great interest,” said Shinoj. (Times of India 29/10/13)

 

POVERTY/ HUNGER

39. Who will bag middle class vote in Lok Sabha elections: Modi or Rahul? (21)

Lucknow: India’s voters appear to be divided into two categories — Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s forgotten poor and the middle class being wooed, corporate style, by BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi. On October 9, at Aligarh and Rampur in UP, Gandhi predicted that a government of ‘yuva, mahila aur garib’ (youth, women and poor) would come to power in 2014. Some political experts believed he had repackaged Indira Gandhi’s slogan ‘roti kapda aur makaan’ of the 1970s, which was drowned by cries of Mandal and Mandir a decade later. Others felt Congress strategists had factored the youth into Gandhi’s pro-poor outlook to counter the ‘Modi magic’, perceived to have enchanted the young electorate, besides vindicating Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s speculation that the young, and not veterans, would helm UPA-3, if formed. Most, however, agreed Gandhi’s ‘bhar pet roti khaayenge, Congress ko vaapas laayenge’ slogan — pitched emotionally with Sonia Gandhi’s outburst after not being able to vote on the food security bill — followed Modi’s bid to capitalise on the middle class disenchantment with UPA-2, thanks to price rise. But while the NRI- and corporate-backed Modi brigade has not spelt out its priorities for the middle class, the Congress has felt the need to carry Rahul Gandhi’s pro-poor initiative to the masses. The party is aware that the food security bill could help it more than the land acquisition bill for staging a comeback in UP. The Indian State Hunger Index made by the International Food Research Institute in 2009 put 17 states in the ‘alarming’ category. “It is disconcerting that not a single Indian state falls in the ‘low hunger’ or ‘moderate hunger’ category, defined by the Global Hunger Index of 2008,” the report said. Another report by Badri Narain of the Dalit Resource Centre on Mushahars — a scheduled caste community numbering 1 million in UP, often driven by poverty to eat rats — in Varanasi underscored the ignorance level among the poor. Only one woman knew about the government’s decision to provide them food grains at Rs. 2 a kg against the Rs. 16 they were paying in 2009. “The ambitious food programme could prove to be the game changer if the Congress machinery provides it to the beneficiaries fast,” he said. In the 2009 Lok Sabha elections, the Congress reaped the benefit of the loan waiver scheme to win 21 seats in UP. The support of Muslims, who were angry with the Samajwadi Party for joining hands with Babri mosque ‘demolition man’ Kalyan Singh, was a factor too. BSP leader Mayawati has foreseen the political damage the food security bill can cause to her constituency. The doubts she raised in the Rajya Sabha about the viability of the scheme were published in a bulletin and circulated in the poll-bound states. She has now sought food grains for scheduled castes and tribes and other backward castes at half the cost proposed in the bill. The SP, too, is embarking on a ‘pichra varg yatra’ to foil the Congress’ plan to woo the poor away. Gandhi’s class, it seems, has more stakeholders than Modi’s. (Hindustan Times 24/10/13)

 

40. Kudia villagers grapple with hunger and damaged Homes (21)

KUDIA (BALASORE): Around 50,000 residents in 52 villages of Bhogarai, Baliapal, Jaleswar, Basta and Sadar blocks are surrounded by water. One among these villages is Kudia in Sadar block. The approach road to the village has been washed away in the flood. People said as no one could reach them, they were forced to stay without food and shelter for four days. The village has a population of around 400, mostly tribals. They either work as daily wagers or labourers. Many of them do not have agricultural land and are also deprived of Government schemes. When flood water entered the village, some took shelter on trees and others shifted to high lands. They alleged that relief provided to them was paltry and delayed. “We received cooked food only twice after remaining hungry for four days. So far, we have not received any rice. There is no work for us to eke out a living,” said Chhanu Marandi (60), a villager. This apart, flood victims alleged that the administration is indifferent towards their plight. Instead of following the 2011 census figure, the officials, they alleged, are depriving them of relief citing that their names are not found in the list. This is the third time that the village faced flood this year. It is situated on the bank of  the Budhabalanga river. People said as the the breached embankment of the river was not repaired, the village was severely affected. (New Indian Express 25/10/13)

 

41. Parliamentarians, civil society, children come together to eliminating hunger..(21)

NEW DELHI: A unique event in Delhi on Monday supported by the United Nations in India brought together a diverse group of Parliamentarians, representatives from diplomatic missions, the private sector, civil society and children to re-affirm their commitment to ending hunger and malnutrition in India. While India is home to 18% of the worlds’ population, 25% of its people go hungry. The global “”Zero Hunger”" campaign launched by the UN Secretary-General, Ban ki Moon provides the country an opportunity to examine approaches to reducing the instance of hunger and malnutrition in the country. At a sit-down tea in the capital city, children from the “”Nine is Mine”" campaign, an advocacy movement led by children, along with experts drew attention to the five pillars of the global campaign which aims to ensure – 100% access to food, zero stunting of children, sustainable food systems, 100% increase in smallholder productivity and zero loss of food. Speaking at the event, Peter Kenmore, United Nations resident coordinator and representative of the Food and Agricultural Organisation in India said: “India’s efforts at reducing hunger including through the National Food Security Act should be applauded.” Through the innovative use of food, cartoons and performances, children from the Nine is Mine campaign expressed their vision for a hunger-free India. Talking about the link between malnutrition and hygiene in India, David Mcloughlin, deputy representative, UNICEF India said: “Almost half of all child deaths in India are due to malnutrition. Poor sanitation and hygiene worsen the situation making children more susceptible to disease resulting in stunting. Simple solutions like ensuring proper nutrition of the mother and new-born in the first 1,000 days and washing hands with soap after defecation, before preparing and eating are important steps towards creating a world with zero stunted children under two years.” Linking the concept of a holistic, nutritious meal with India’s tri-coloured national flag, Deepak, Ankur, Suraj and Pooja, children of Nine is Mine demanded for the right for the ‘white’ that represents rice, wheat and corn, the orange that represents lentils, curries, milk and protein, the green that represents vegetables and fruits, and the blue that represents safe drinking water.India has more stunted children than anywhere in the world. The country’s small-holder farmers, those owning less than two hectares of farmland, comprise 78% of the country’s farmers, but own only 33% of the total cultivated land. Further, nearly 30% of the country’s fruits and vegetables perish due to lack of cold-storage facilities.  (Times of India 29/10/13)

 

42. Misuse of Anna Bhagya scheme worries govt (21)

Bangalore: Close to four months after implementing its flagship Anna Bhagya scheme under which rice is sold at Re 1 per kg for below poverty line families, the fear of large-scale misuse of highly-subsidised foodgrain is worrying the State government. The Food and Civil Supplies department, it is learnt, has received feedback from its field officers that large quantity of rice being supplied under the scheme is sold back to the department. And it is suspected that a mafia involving the department officials, fair price shop owners, rice traders and middlemen is at work. The government, which is falling short of foodgrain requirement to implement the scheme, has been buying rice from traders through the online trading of National Commodities and Derivatives Exchange Ltd (NCDX).  The scheme requires 2.46 lakh metric tonne of rice every month, but the State’s quota from the Centre’s Public Distribution System (PDS) is only 1.73 lakh MT per month. The rest is being bought by the State from various sources, including NCDX. The Karnataka Food and Civil Supplies Corporation, which is a State government undertaking, has bought about 14,000 MT in September and 17,000 MT in October from NCDX at rates ranging from Rs 22 to Rs 24 per kg. Official sources said the mafia is diverting the Anna Bhagya rice by generating fake bills at fair price shop level. The shop owners involved in the scam are generating two bills – one the fake bill that is issued to the beneficiary and another, official one, for record. The beneficiaries in many cases are not provided with full quota of rice, but for record it is shown as full quantity. Besides, the mafia is said to be making full use of the availability of large number of bogus ration cards to divert foodgrain. The cases of misuse of Anna Bhagya rice have been received from Belgaum, Mysore, Hassan, Hubli and Tumkur, and the department has cancelled the licence of close to 100 fair price shops so far for misusing the scheme. (Deccan Herald 31/10/13)

 

HINDUTVA

43. Modi is a creation of VHP, Singhal says (26)

JAIPUR: Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader Ashok Singhal on Friday claimed that BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi is a “creation of VHP” and is best suited to unite people of all castes, creeds and religions. “All political parties (barring BJP) are not only openly committing loot, corruption, and generating black money but also dividing the society in the garb of religion, language,” Singhal told a press conference here. “Modi, who is a creation of VHP, is himself a party and we all can take his shelter. He has power and capability to unite people of all communities, castes and religions,” he told reporters. The country cannot become a ‘mahashakti’ (super power), unless people from all walks of life unite, and this can only happen under the leadership of Modi, who can unit people from Kashmir to Kanyakumari, he said. “Secularism is a theory popularized by political parties, which has divided the nation,” the VHP patron said. Referring to the recently held “sant meeting” in Delhi, Singhal said the emphasis was to make India a spiritual country and contain religion conversion. The VHP leader also reaffirmed his outfit’s commitment for building a Ram temple at Ayodhya. “Bhagwan Ram is sitting under a tent in Ayodhya,” Singhal said, adding that Ram temple will be built by passing an act in Parliament, and “Modi will do it when time comes”. When asked about the UP government’s crackdown on VHP’s ’84-Kosi’ yatra, Singhal said, “Mulayam is an enemy of Hindus, but whatever Hindus want will be done there in Ayodhya.”  (Times of India 25/10/130

 

44. RSS to Hindus: Adopt a ‘three-child’ norm to prevent ‘population imbalance’ (26)

Kochi: RSS joint general secretary Dattatreya Hosabale said on Saturday that Hindu families should adopt a three-child norm to prevent “demographic imbalance” in society. Addressing the media during the ongoing RSS national executive here, Hosabale said a “demographic shift” has been taking place due to conversion, decline in birth rate and largescale infiltration from Bangladeshis. Bigger Hindu families would prevent minorities from gaining the upper hand in terms of population in certain parts of the country, he said. Stating that family planning should not be made applicable to any particular community he said “demographic balance” is necessary for balanced development. The growth rate of children in the age group of 0-6 years was 15 per cent among Hindus and 18 per cent among Muslim , claimed Hosabale, adding that “elite Hindus” should seriously review family planning. “We do not have enough youth to join the Armed Forces due to the present one-child norm,” he said. On Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi’s comment of “toilets first, temples later”, Hosabale said both were equally important. There was no question of priority in this matter, he said. The national executive adopted resolutions on Muslim extremism and border security.  (Indian Express 27/10/13)

 

45. BJP and VHP continue to oppose Youngren (26)

ALLAHABAD: Protests against the ongoing programme of Canadian preacher Peter Youngren continued for the fifth day on Sunday with Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leaders staging a sit-in at Subhash crossing in Civil Lines. Led by former Assembly Speaker Kesri Nath Tripathi, the protestors condemned the authorities for granting permission to Youngren for holding his programme, which is giving credence to superstition and encouraging religious conversion. The speakers castigated the state government for following double standards by stopping 84 Kosi Parikrama Yatra and VHP convention at Ayodhya but granting permission to persons like Youngren whose credentials are doubtful. National co-convenor, Panchayati Raj Cell, Yogesh Shukla said that such activities should not be allowed to flourish on the soil of the city, which has no place for such persons. Playing with the sentiments of people and taking advantage of poverty and inducing them to embrace Christianity is a heinous crime. This would not be tolerated at any cost and people should give such persons a befitting reply by boycotting their programmes, he said. Slamming the authorities for lenient attitude towards Youngren, national spokesperson of BJP Siddharth Nath Singh said that the authorities should unconditionally release all BJP and VHP workers and leaders kept under detention and take appropriate action against the organisers after going through the video CDs of the programme. He said that Youngren faced similar protest during his programme at Nagpur where locals rose against his activities which were aimed at misguiding people and luring them into conversion. The same tactics were adopted by this man at Allahabad, he said. (Times of India 28/10/13)

 

46. Does BJP agree with Sardar Patel’s view on RSS: Tewari (26)

NEW DELHI: Congress leader Manish Tewari Monday said India’s first home minister Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel was opposed to the RSS, and asked whether the BJP agrees with his views. He said that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and it’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi were trying to hijack Sardar Patel’s legacy. “RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh) and BJP have been attempting to appropriate the legacy of Sardar Patel,” Tewari said. “I wanted to ask the BJP that do they endorse or agree with the views of Sardar Patel about the RSS?” he said to reporters here. “Patel refers to Communal poison spread by RSS that Golwalkar headed. Does Swayamsevak Modi agree with Patel on RSS? Whose Legacy they crave!” the nformation and broadcasting minister said in a tweet Tuesday morning. “Patel to Golwalkar: As a final result of (communal) poison, country had to suffer the sacrifice of the invaluable life of Gandhiji,” Tewari tweet read. The BJP, and especially Modi, have often accused the Congress of ignoring Patel’s legacy and promoting Nehru-Gandhi dynasty. (New Indian Express 29/10/13)

 

 

Posted by admin at 28 October 2013

Category: Uncategorized

HUMAN RIGHTS/ RIGHTS GROUP/ NHRC

1. Rights panel to look into jail violations (1)

KOZHIKODE: Taking cognizance of a report published in The New Indian Express on October 18, the State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) has said that it would investigate the possible human right violations in the jails across the state. ‘Express’ had reported that a large number of prisoners suffering from mental illness, including those under trials, were languishing either in the forensic ward of the jails or in mental health centres for years as captives and without trials. Responding to the report, SHRC member K E Gangadharan said that the matter was of grave concern. “Based on the news report, the Commission has decided to thoroughly investigate the matter and will also seek a report from the prison DGP on the matter,” he said. The commission would discuss the issue with various stakeholders including human rights activists. “What we have came to know about mentally-ill inmates is only the tip of the iceberg. The present state of these people and their living conditions is much worse. Although it is for the judiciary to take a final decision on the fate of these prisoners, there is no doubt that immediate action is needed. The Commission will take up the matter with the concerned parties,” Gangadharan added. As per the latest Prison Statistics prepared by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), 296 inmates in the jails across the state are suffering from mental illness. Of them 224 have been convicted and the rest are undertrials. As per the report, inmates with mental illness account for 4.26 per cent of the total 6,947 prisoners in the state. (New Indian Express 24/10/13)

 

2. 205 cases filed against cops in 2012 for human rights violation (1)

Chennai: There has been a sudden spurt in the number of cases registered against policemen for alleged human rights violations across the country, with 205 last year alone, according to the National Crime Records Bureau. The total number of cases registered against the men in uniform was 205 last year, much higher than data of 2011 and 2010, which stood at 72 and 37 respectively, NCRB data said. However, of the 205 cases, only 19 personnel were charge sheeted and none were convicted last year. Assam registered the maximum cases at 102, whereas Delhi registered 75 last year for violation of human rights. While Assam did not file charge sheet against any policeman, Delhi charge sheeted 12 of its personnel. However none of them were convicted in 2012. In 2011 too, Delhi registered 50 cases against its cops and charge sheeted 40 personnel. Eventually 232 policemen were convicted from various cases registered in various years. Bihar and Gujarat were the top two states to register cases against their cops in 2010 with nine and eight respectively for violating human rights, the report said. Though the two states filed charge sheets against five and two of their personnel respectively, only four Bihar personnel and none from Gujarat were convicted in 2010. The cases registered against policemen relates to disappearance of persons, illegal detention, fake encounter killings, violation against terrorists/extremists, extortion, torture, false implication, failure in taking action, indignity to women, atrocities on SC/ST and other cases (New Indian Express 25/10/13)

 

3. Retired judge appointed Uttar Pradesh human rights chief (1)

LUCKNOW: The Uttar Pradesh government has appointed late Friday retired Justice Tarun Chaterjee as the new chairman of the state Human Rights Commission, an official said. 68-year-old Chaterjee was the chief justice at the Allahabad high court in 2003 and retired as a Supreme Court judge in 2010. The name of Chaterjee was cleared by a high-powered committee comprising chief minister Akhilesh Yadav, leader of opposition in both houses Naseemuddin Siddiqui and Swamy Prasad Maurya. Justice U.K.Dhawan and Asha Tiwari have been named as members of the commission, an official release said (Times of India 26/10/13)

 

4. Bihar human rights’ panel orders Rs 2 lakh to victim of wrongful trial (1)

PATNA: Bihar Human Rights Commission (BHRC) on Friday directed the state government to pay a compensation of Rs 2 lakh to a victim of wrongful trial hailing from Bhojpur district. One Mohammad Guddu Ansari was apprehended in connection with a case lodged at Barhara police station, Bhojpur, and put on trial with other accused. “He was sentenced to undergo rigorous imprisonment for life by additional session judge (Fast track court) and lodged at central jail, Buxar, before he was acquitted by Patna high court after seven years,” said BHRC chairman S N Jha. The BHRC, after receiving a petition that Ansari was a juvenile at the time of arrest and was wrongfully tried under CrPC, directed health department officials to constitute a committee to determine Ansari’s age. “The plea about one’s juvenile status in the usual course should be taken in the magistrate’s court, but, since that had not happened, it was necessary to set up the committee,” said Jha, adding, “The committee brought on record that the age of the person in question is between 22 and 25 years, meaning that he was between 14-17 years at the time of the incident in 2005.” The Bhojpur SP, in his report in August 2011, took a stand that at no stage of investigation or trial any objection was raised about Ansari’s age, said Jha. However, the commission observed that Ansari’s trial was not only a violation of the Juvenile Justice (Care & Protection of Children) Act 2000, it was, in fact, void ab initio and he was not only entitled to compensation but the officials concerned should also be liable to disciplinary action. The BHRC chairman directed principal secretary, home, to pay a compensation of Rs 2 lakh to Ansari. “The monetary compensation can hardly give back the years of life which Ansari spent in jail; nonetheless it would give some solace to him,” said Jha, adding that compliance report was awaited in six weeks. (Times of India 27/10/13)

 

LAND ACQUISITION/ SEZ

5. NBA opposes raising height of Narmada dam (4)

New Delhi: The Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) has urged the central government to halt the mega Sardar Sarovar Project at its present height of 122 meters which will bring the requisite benefits without uprooting thousands of rural and tribal population from displacement. During their two-day agitation that concluded at Jantar Mantar here on Thursday, representatives of the displaced families led by Medha Patkar knocked at the doors of Union Ministers Harish Rawat and Jairam Ramesh to get a hearing. Their common refrain was that the UPA government should not succumb to pressure from Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi into allowing the dam to be raised to its final height, while 2.5 lakh people in 245 villages are still residing in submergence zones and there is no land to rehabilitate them. The Narmada Control Authority (NAC) under the Ministry of Water Resources oversees the compliance of the Narmada Water Disputes Tribunal award by the basin States of Gujarat, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh. Writer Arundhati Roy, activist Annie Raja and Manoranjan Mohanty were several prominent citizens who visited the dharna site at Jantar Mantar to express solidarity. “If the government is unable to rehabilitate and resettle the thousands of project affected people, then the dam should not be raised any further,” NBA leader Medha Patkar told the authorities. The dam is at a height of 122 meters and Mr. Modi wants the Centre to give permission to raise it to the full height of 138 meters. Resettlement of project affected people and environmental compliances have to be done six months ahead of raising the dam’s level in stages. Ms. Patkar said there should be a comprehensive review of the costs and benefits, environmental procedures and rehabilitation and resettlement of people.The Staus Report of the NAC) of December 2012, says that the irrigation potential created by the dam is about 5 lakh hectares, but, Ms. Patkar said “the actual irrigation is only to the tune of 1.14 lakh hectares mainly because the Modi government has been focusing attention on raising the height of the dam and gaining political benefit without completing the canal network.” “Although the project got the largest Central funding (Rs. 5,736 crore) under the Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme), less than 30 per cent of the canal network has only been laid in 30 years. Even so, the Gujarat government has decided to de-notify 4 lakh hectares from the project command area to reserve it for SEZs and other corporates. This is a major change in the master plan and for this alone, besides other non-compliances, the Centre should comprehensively review the project,” she told journalists. Struggling for more than 25 years to get proper rehabilitation as prescribed under the award, the uprooted families ask only one question: “If there is no land with the government to give us after submerging ours, why is it continuing with the mega project? We are being asked to sacrifice our lands, our homes and our lives for whose benefit?’’ Ms. Patkar demanded that the NAC should conduct an independent review of the project. (The Hindu 19/10/13)

 

6. Metro rail: Rally held against move to acquire church land (4)

HYDERABAD: Hundreds of faithful belonging to the St Thomas’ Tamil Cathedral, Secunderabad, held a ‘peace rally’ on Sunday protesting against the acquisition of church property for the Hyderabad metro rail project. They demanded realigning the rail route so that property belonging to the 160-year-old church would not be bulldozed. Nearly 2,000 square yards of the church property, including a portion of its graveyard abutting the old Gandhi Hospital premises, is being acquired for the metro rail project as part of the corridor II from JBS to Falaknuma. The Hyderabad district collector had issued a draft notification for taking over the properties a couple of weeks ago. The church committee claims the acquisition has been proposed without any technical report or expert opinion. “The acquisition hurts the sentiments of the community. The church was built with lime, mortar and mud and it will not withstand heavy construction equipment being used by the metro rail authorities while erecting piers,” the church president Samuel Thomas said. Church executive secretary Einstein Samuel said GHMC and HMR should redesign the metro rail route without touching the church land and graveyard. Former DGP Swaranjit Sen and MLA (Nominated) Christine Lazarus addressed the protestors. Incidentally, it is the second religious institution after the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), Secunderabad, to oppose acquisition of their property for the metro rail project. (Times of India 21/10/13)

 

7. Bamrauli farmers warn of stir over land acquisition (4)

Allahabad: The farmers of 14 villages around Bamrauli airport here have warned of massive protests if the government moved a proposal for land acquisition to develop the civilian terminal. They alleged that the government was “unnecessarily” focusing on fertile land even as tracts of barren land around the airport could be used. The villagers, who have come together under the banner of Doaba Vikas Kisan Sangharsh Samiti, warned they would block the national highway and disrupt rail movement if the government did not pay heed to their demands. The Bharatiya Kisan Union is also supporting their movement, they claimed. Addressing a press conference here, advocate Mahendra Singh, convenor of the Samiti, said: “The district administration has moved the proposal for land acquisition in Chandrabhanpur and Gauspur Katahula villages adjacent to the airport on September 21. There are plans to acquire nearly 2,000 bighas of land in 14 villages around it. We are opposed to this on the basis of various grounds.” “The land acquisition process set in motion with the proposal must be stopped. Either an alternative site or the barren land should be chosen for acquisition. Such a plan will affect around 25,000 people,” said Singh. (Indian Express 25/10/13)

 

8. HC stays land acquisition process for Jindal mines (4)

JAIPUR: The Rajasthan high court on Friday stayed the acquisition of 20 sq kilometre area in five villages around Bhilwara city being undertaken by the state government for Jindal Saw Ltd’s (JSL) gold and iron ore mines. The order came on a PIL and a number of other writ petitions filed by local villagers of five villages – Suras, Pur, Dhulkhera, Malola and Samodi – where 1258.05 bigha land is being sought to be acquired under the Land Acquisition Act for captive mining by JSL. “It was brought to the notice of the bench that the land is being acquired in violation of the provision contained in Land Revenue Act as also the Mines and Mineral Concession Rules. It was argued that the land belong to farmers and land holders and can be put to mining use only if the consent has been obtained from the land holders. However, the land is being forcibly acquired,” said Abhinav Sharma, counsel for the petitioner. Observing that the land cannot be acquired under the prevalent law the single judge bench of Justice R S Rathore said, “The state government is directed not to proceed with the said acquisition till further orders.” In the meantime, the Geological Survey of India (GSI) filed the final report stating that the mines do not contain gold but has 72.4% pure iron. The report also raised a serious question mark on the previous surveys conducted in the area which showed excessive availability of copper, lead and zinc in the area. “The samples examined by GSI reveal that the copper cannot be extracted economically and the maximum value of lead and zinc together in the 18 samples examined by GSI is 1.41% only. Gold cannot be extracted economically with the present state of technology,” reads the report. The report also revealed that the main mineral in the area is iron from two ore types – hematite and magnetite – and it is only the latter that is being extracted by the Jindal company while the remaining is being thrown as waste material (tailing). The Central government also filed a reply in the case stating that relaxation for allotment of mines has been granted only on the basis of the recommendations made by the state government and the GSI reports from 1969 to 1976. The state government had recommended the lease to JSL on the ground that the company has technical collaboration with JSPL which is owned by Naveen Jindal, the Congress MP from Haryana. However, the GSI inquiry team in its final report filed on Friday raised serious question on its earlier reports based on which the area was opened for calling mining blocks of lead, zinc and copper as these minerals were found in traces in the belt. The petitioners have alleged that the lease has been allotted in a clandestine manner and the same should be cancelled. To the other demand that a CBI inquiry should be ordered into case, the court directed the JSL company; secretary mines (Union government) and the state government to reply by October 30. (Times of India 26/10/13)

 

9. Posco seeks extension of SEZ approval (4)

BHUBANESWAR: After in-principle Special Economic Zone approval accorded for the multi-product project of Posco in Jagatsinghpur lapsed on Thursday last, the State government machinery here swung into action for recommending Posco’s case for extension of SEZ approval by another year. Posco India had sought extension of in-principle SEZ approval by one year citing ‘remarkable progress’ in securing land for the project. Industries department has asked Odisha Industrial Infrastructure Development Corporation (IDCO), the nodal agency for land acquisition, to give its views on the application. According to the application moved by Posco India this month, “Odisha government handed over the physical possession of 1,704 acres of land to the company. The land is not completely encroachment-free till date. The encroachment removal and compensation disbursement process is still going on in the some areas,”

“The land demarcation process is still being carried out by the concerned authorities and the leasing process is also underway. Since all these activities are still going on, the required documents for formal approval are not ready as of now. We expect that these activities would take at least 3 to 5 months of time and cannot be completed within validity of in-principle approval,” the company submitted seeking one-year extension. Posco was first approved SEZ for its project on October 26, 2006 after that six extensions on SEZ had been given to the project which could not take off due to local resistance to land acquisition. (The Hindu 28/10/13)

 

TRIBALS

10. Livelihood projects for tribals in Odisha (6)

BHUBANESWAR: The state government has plans to launch several livelihood improvement projects for particularly vulnerable tribal groups (PVTGs) in the state with financial support from International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). A delegation from the IFAD started field visits to several tribal pockets of the state from Sunday. According to sources, 13 PVTGs out of 75 tribes identified in India live in Odisha. They mostly live in 541 habitations spread over 20 blocks of 12 districts. These tribes are Birhor, Mankidia, Hill Khadia, Juang, Lodha, Paudi Bhuyan, Soura, Kutia Kondha, Dongaria Kondha, Lanjia Soura, Bonda, Didayi and Chuktia Bhunjia. “Due to lack of livelihood measures, the financial condition of these tribal groups did not improve over the years. There is a need for intervention through suitable non-farm and off-farm livelihood measures,” said a senior officer of Odisha Tribal Empowerment and Livelihood Programme (OTELP). The team will visit Juang tribal pockets in Keonjhar district, Mankidia and Birhor inhabited areas in Mayurbhanj, Paudi Bhuyan pockets in Deoghar, Kutia Kondha villages in Kandhamal and Lanjia Saura habitats in Gajapati district. “The IFAD delegates will carry out field assessments and decide feasible projects for them. There are many critical gaps in road connectivity, power and water supply to these areas. Since the PVTGs lack education and are not developed, focus will be on their overall development,” the officer said. (Times of India 22/10/13)

 

11. 16 tribal youths rescued from Bangalore (6)

MALKANGIRI: Timely action by a group of Odias saved 16 tribal youths, including eight minors, from being pushed into labour in Bangalore. They are residents of Kichpalli village under Korukonda block of Malkangiri. All the boys were sent back to their home from Bangalore on Wednesday. They were rescued by members of ‘Odisha Without Border’, an organisation of Odias living in Karnataka. Member of the organisation, Kamakhi Prasad Panda, who is also trustee of Jagannath temple in Bangalore, said the youths were rescued from the city on Tuesday.  They are Deba Podiami (30), Kamlesh Madkami (19), Rakesh Khusai(18), Rahul Khusai (15), Ganpati Pujari (30), Shankar (14), Irma Podiami (14), Ganga Madkami (18), Sana Madkami(15), Soma Padea  (20), Charma Kartan (18), Somnath (14), Durjan Padiami (25), Ramnath Kabasi (14), Soma Padiami (20) and Ranjit Padiami (18). They had been taken to  Bhadrachalam in Andhra Pradesh for construction work through a labour contractor. The youths were shifted to Bangalore in a truck two months back. “Since then, they had been living in the footpath and working for a construction agency under the direction of the contractor, who had brought them by promising high wages,” Panda said. The youths were spotted by the security guards of the temple. They later told Panda that they were being paid just Rs 100 per week and physically abused by the contractor, when they protested. (New Indian Express 24/10/13)

 

12. 50 tribals desert Naxal-backed outfit in Odisha (6)

At least 50 tribals, including seven children, deserted Naxal-backed Chasi Mulia Adivasi Sangha (CMAS) in Odisha’s Maoist-affected Koraput district, police said today. The tribals, who belong to Tala Jamguda village in Bandhugaon area, left the outfit yesterday, they said. “The villagers were supporting Maoists out of fear. After they realised that the rebels are using them as shields to carry out their offensives, they decided to return to the mainstream and cooperate with the administration in carrying out development work,” Koraput Superintendent of Police, Awinash Kumar said. “The recent exchange of fire between police and Maoists at Champajhola village adjacent to Tala Jamguda brought the villagers under police scanner forcing them to leave the CMAS. Efforts will be made ensure that the tribals lead a life without fear,” he said.  (DNA 24/10/13)

 

13. Attapady tribe get meagre part of their alienated land (6)

PALAKKAD: Kerala Chief Secretary E.K. Bharat Bushan has said that the tribal people of Attappady Hills who had alienated 10,796.16 acres of land, as per a survey by Integrated Tribal Development Project (ITDP), are now entitled for the restoration of only 530 hectares of land after passing the Tribal Land Amendment Act of 1996 that had amended the original Act of 1975. Addressing a press conference after a review meeting of officials on the vexed tribal land issue in Attappady the Chief Secretary has said here on Saturday that as per the Act brought in 1996 amending the original Kerala Scheduled Tribes (Restriction on Transfer of Lands and Restoration of Alienated Lands) Act 1975 the tribal people are entitled for restoration of land alienated after 1986 that too if the extent is more than two hectares. He said that after passing the amendment in 1996 there are only 530 hectares of tribal land in Attappady that are to be restored to the tribal people as per official records. Out of the 250 cases of restoration claims the Government had taken decision in 158 cases and restored 90 acres of land. In the remaining cases the Ottapalam Revenue Division Officer was directed to take action on a time bound manner, Mr. Bharat Bhushan said. He said that to identify the tribal land in Attappady a special survey team will be deputed soon. When asked about the return of tribal land encroached by the wind mill companies the Chief Secretary said that a Vigilance inquiry was conducted on the matter and action will be taken to evict the encroachment. The Chief Secretary has said that Court orders on the restoration of alienated tribal land will be implemented. The Ottapalam RDO was directed to take steps on the implementation of Court orders restoring alienated tribal land, he said. He said that the Government will provide land from the Kottathara Goat Farm for the Government College now functioning in a temporary building in Agali. He said that only seven tribal students are given admission in a batch of 40 students in this College. So 10 more seats will be sanctioned in each batch to provide admission to more tribal students. He said that the Government had received many complaints about the contract given to construct houses for tribal people in Attappady. The Assistant Collector was directed to examine the houses constructed and give a report to the government about the quality of construction and other related issues, the Chief Secretary said.  (The Hindu 26/10/13)

 

14. Adivasis to stage three-day protest outside Balle Range Forest Office (6)

Mysore: Adivasis will stage a protest outside the Balle Range Forest Office from October 21 to 23 demanding implementation of the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Rights) Act and to protest against atrocities on tribal people. If the government did not show commitment to ensuring that they got their rights under the Act, the Adivasis would pass resolutions in Gram Sabha meetings to determine their rights. They would ban visits to forests by ‘outsiders’, they said. Speaking to presspersons here, general secretary of the Karnataka Adivasi Rakshana Parishat, M. Krishnaiah, said that Adivasis in the State were suffering. He said that over 4,000 claims had gone from H.D. Kote taluk seeking land grants under the Forest Rights Act, but nothing had materialised so far. Applications were submitted from more than 90 hadis seeking community rights, but to no avail, Mr. Krishnaiah alleged. False cases were foisted on Adivasis collecting minor forest produce in Mysore district in the last three years. Though every Adivasi family had the right to claim four hectares of land under the Forest Rights Act, many were given grants ranging from just one gunta to five guntas, which was unfair. Mr. Krishnaiah alleged that though Rs. 4.9 crore had been granted by the Centre for the development of Adivasis, it had not reached them so far. He accused a representative of a non-governmental organisation based in Hunsur of misleading the Forest Department by stating that they were violating forest conservation norms. Organising secretary of the parishat B. Kavera, president of the parishat’s Mysore district unit Vijayakumar and president of the Budakattu Krishikara Sangha (BKS), H.D. Kote, Kenchaiah, spoke. (Times of India 27/10/13)

 

MINORITIES: MUSLIMS, CHRISTIANS & COMMUNAL RIOTS

15. Muslim group plans virtual conference for poll agenda (7)

New Delhi: A group of Muslims has planned a virtual conference to adopt a charter of demands ahead of the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. The charter, ‘All India Muslim Agenda 2014’, on developmental and other issues of India’s largest minority community will be sent to all political parties for including them in their respective manifestoes. The organisers, mostly young Muslims, plan a series of e-conferences on #AIMA2014 in Twitter and Google+ hangout to shape their agenda. While socio-economic conditions and development will be key issues, persecution in false terror cases, rights and opportunities for education to Muslim women under personal laws and reservation will also be on the agenda. “We are inviting political leaders, NGOs, bureaucrats, intellectuals and businesses and mosques across India. Special invitations have been extended to women from the community. We will also provide tabs or desktops to some participants,” said one of the organisers, social activist Shehzad Poonawalla. (Hindustan Times 21/10/13)

 

16. Situation of minority in UP very bad: National Minority Commission (7)

LUCKNOW: That it were the minority who were at the receiving end during Muzaffarnagar riots has been an open secret. Now, it is the National Minority Commission which has come to flag the Samajwadi Party of being anti-minority. The commission has claimed that the situation of minorities in UP is pathetic and deplorable amongst all. The commission chairman, Wajahat Habibullah, who met UP chief minister in Lucknow on Monday, is reported to have underlined the fact that there have been repeated instances of atrocities on the Muslims. “Insecurity has dented their psyche,” Habibullah is reported to have told the CM, while demanding strict action against those responsible for the riots in west UP. The commission had visited the riot affected areas of west UP twice and prepared a report. Habibullah handed over a copy of the report to the CM as well. He asked the CM to take up rehabilitation of those displaced during the riots on a priority basis. At the same time, the state government will have to initiate measures to imbibe a sense of security amongst the Muslims, which, significantly, happen to be a key vote base of SP. The CM is reported to have told the commission that the state government was taking measures to bring back the displaced to their villages. The number of people living in the rehabilitation camps has reduced significantly,” the CM told the commission. (Times of India 22/10/13)

 

17. Post-riots, UPA to push for communal violence bill (7)

NEW DELHI: More than a month after communal riots in Muzaffarnagar claimed over 50 lives and less than six months before the Lok Sabha poll, the Union home ministry has dusted the draft communal violence bill, hanging fire since 2005. Union home minister Sushilkumar Shinde on Monday said he was working on provisions of the Bill, some of which are being objected to by parties like the BJP as well as state governments. Stating that the MHA was moving ahead with the Prevention of Communal and Targeted Violence Bill that aims to protect minorities against targeted attacks, Shinde said he had “sought details of the bill from the concerned department”. “The work has begun on the bill,” he told reporters. The push for the bill also came from minority affairs minister K Rahman Khan, who noted that the Muzaffarnagar riots had underlined inadequacies in existing laws to deal with communal clashes. He pitched for tabling of the anti-riots Bill in the ensuing winter session, but added that “the decision has to be taken by the government.” When asked if the bill could come up in winter session, Shinde said he was not sure. The bill has been gathering dust despite being cleared by a parliamentary standing committee in end-2006. Though the parliamentary panel was able to resolve differences over a controversial provision that allowed the Centre to send forces on its own to a communally disturbed area, it could not be subsequently taken up by Parliament despite notices being given for its consideration and passage in successive sessions. Then came the intervention by Sonia Gandhi-headed National Advisory Council (NAC), which decided to re-examine the bill in 2010 and came up with a revised draft bill in 2011. The controversial provisions in this new draft ran into opposition from the ministries of home as well as law, especially the one providing for penalizing of government officials who failed to prevent or control communal violence. There was also opposition to only “minorities” being recognized as the group targeted during riots. Another controversial provision that ran foul with many state governments related to creation of a National Authority for Communal Harmony, Justice and Reparation with sweeping powers to probe occurrence or likely occurrence of communal riots and also to review effectiveness of steps taken by government officials towards prevention of communal violence. The NAC draft almost pushed the communal violence bill into cold storage. However, with the Muzaffarnagar riots renewing demands for enactment of an anti-riots bill, the Union home ministry has now revived efforts to streamline divergence of opinion over its provisions. The demand for enactment of the anti-riots bill is expected to dominate proceedings at the convention against communalism scheduled for October 30. Being organized by non-Congress and non-BJP parties, it will mount pressure on the UPA to have a strong legal framework in place to deal with riots and rehabilitate riot victims. Congress appeared in favour of the bill. Spokesman Sandeep Dikshit said the bill was “pending discussion” but underlined it was an important legislation that would have a far-reaching effect. After the Muzaffarnagar violence, CPM’s full Polit Bureau meeting had said the violence in western UP has come in the “background of the systematic efforts to raise communal tensions and provoke violence by the RSS outfits.” CPM also blamed the Uttar Pradesh administration for not being vigilant. The party said, “In this connection, the Polit Bureau wants the Prevention of Communal Violence Bill to be taken up expeditiously and adopted.” (Times of India 22/10/130

 

18. Evangelist’s event kicks off as HC rejects VHP ban plea (7)

Allahabad: The Allahabad Court Wednesday rejected the petition seeking ban on the five-day programme of evangelist Peter Youngren, which began amid protests by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and the local BJP leaders here Wednesday evening. Around 50 VHP and BJP leaders and activists were detained from near the venue — K P College Ground — a little before the programme began at 5.30 pm. The right-wing groups are up in arms against Youngren’s programme alleging it will be used for mass conversions. A Division Bench of acting Chief Justice Sheo Kumar Singh and Justice B K Srivastava rejected the PIL, filed by Akhil Bharatiya Samajik Samarasta Abhiyaan, an outfit headed by VHP’s district general secretary Pawan Srivastava. “The court rejected the petition on the ground that the VHP had approached the court too late, after all the arrangements for the programme had already been made. Also, it took into account that the district administration granted permission for the programme with certain terms and conditions,” said Girijesh Kumar Tripathi, counsel for the petitioner. Apart from alleging that the meetings will be used for mass religious conversions, which is illegal, another contention of the petitioner was that Youngren, being a foreigner, was not authorised to hold a mass meeting in the country. “Youngren is here on a conference visa. We submitted before the court that what was being held was not a conference but a massive rally,” said Tripathi. The petitioner also submitted that Youngren was claiming to have magical powers for curing maladies. “Under the Indian norms, nobody is allowed to claim magical powers for curing illnesses. But our submission was that after the Nagpur meeting, held in April, he claimed to have cured many physically challenged,” said Tripathi. The other side was represented by a battery of lawyers and the main argument was led by senior advocate Ravi Kant. He could not be reached for his version. (Indian Express 23/10/13)

 

19. Christian leaders demand more representation in jobs, committees (7)

New Delhi: Demanding greater representation in government jobs, commissions and committees ahead of the Delhi Assembly polls, the Christian community in the city presented its wish list to Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit at a meeting on Sunday. “The community is feeling frustrated and anxious at the fact that since the formation of the State, there has not been a single Christian MLA, much less a State Minister. There is no Christian representation in any of the three Municipal Corporations and at senior levels of political parties,” noted Fr. Dominic Emmanuel of the Delhi Catholic Archdiocese. Ms. Dikshit met the senior leaders and youth representatives of the Christian community at the Convent of Jesus and Mary where the community representatives also demanded better security for women, universal education, the right to food and an end to corruption. The other demands included an end to harassment of educational institutions and concessional land for schools, hostels, orphanages, old people’s homes as well as for burial grounds and places of worship. Christian leaders from all denominations present in Delhi, including Catholic Church, Church of North India, Methodist Church, Syro-Malabar Church, Syro-Malankara Church, Mar Thoma Church, Orthodox Church, Syrian Church, Baptist Church, Believers Church, Salvation Army Church, Pentecostal Church and Jesus Calls participated in the programme. The community leaders have also asked for adequate legislation for the welfare and protection of domestic workers, most of whom are tribal Christians, funds for improving the surroundings of religious places, including Jama Masjid and Gole Dak Khana Church, as has been done for the environs of the Hanuman Mandir and various gurdwaras. “The government should also look at providing travel concession passes for Christian religious persons engaged in social service and take necessary steps to end harassment of Pastors, and small independent churches, especially in outlying colonies and rural areas,” noted the Christian leaders. (The Hindu 23/10/13)

 

20. School accused of shunning Muslim kids (7)

AHMEDABAD: When Zahira Momin rushed to R H Kapadia New High School in Satellite for her child’s admission in pre-primary, she had never thought that her daughter would be denied admission simply because she is a Muslim. Momin had gone to the school in response to an advertisement about admissions placed by the school management in a local daily. In a complaint filed with the office of the district education officer’s (DEO), Momin has stated that she reached the school at noon on Wednesday and discussed the mode of admission and payment of fees with the office staff. An office-bearer, who identified herself as Sonalben, agreed to grant admission to her daughter in senior KG. She demanded admission forms and was asked to get the child’s name entered in the school register. “She wrote my daughter Kashaf’s name in the register. But when I pronounced my husband’s name and surname, she stopped and told me that ‘we do not give admission to Muslims. It is our policy’,” Momin has alleged. According to the complaint, Momin immediately left the school premises and went to the DEO’s office and filed a complaint against the school questioning its education policy. Momin, who holds a pharmacy degree and runs a medical store in Jamalpur area, has sought action against the school management for discriminating against her child on the basis of religion and denying her admission. She has raised the question whether different schools can have different policies for admitting children from different religions. She requested the DEO to take appropriate action against the management. DEO M K Rawal, who was not aware of the filing of the complaint, said, “No child can be denied admission on basis of religion, caste or community. The complaint might have been filed when I was not in office but I will look into the matter.” (Times of India 24/10/13)

 

21. Minority promoters: Church lauds govt (7)

KOCHI: The Laity Commission of Syro-Malabar Church has welcomed the Cabinet decision to send the issue of appointment of minority promoters by the Minority Welfare Department before the UDF coordination council. “We welcome the decision of the Cabinet to present the issue before the UDF coordination council,” said V C Sebastian, secretary of the Laity Commission, in a statement released on Wednesday. “The coordination council cannot but oppose the wayward activities of the minority department,” he said. Express, on October 9, had reported about discrimination in the appointment of minority promoters, denying justice to the Christian community by deviating from the natural proportion. A response to an RTI petition had revealed that the state government has appointed 760 promoters from Muslim community of the total 903 minority promoters in the 14 districts. There were only 143 from the Christianswhile they have an eligibility for 440 promoters. The Government Order, Public Administration (minority welfare) Department 5001/2012, had stated that promoters have to be appointed on the basis of ratio of population. According to the Census of 2001, 19.02 per cent of the state’s population are Christians while Muslims form 24.32 per cent of the state’s population. (New Indian Express 24/10/13)

 

22. Shakeel Ahmad says riots make ISI, BJP rejoice (7)

NEW DELHI: Drawing a parallel between BJP and Pakistan’s ISI, Congress general secretary Shakeel Ahmad on Friday said both “rejoice” whenever communal riots erupt in India as one receives funding from Islamic countries in the aftermath while the other garners votes. Ahmad also dismissed as “childish” the BJP’s criticism of Rahul Gandhi for his statement that Pakistan’s ISI is trying to lure some Muslims in riot-hit Muzaffarnagar into terrorism. “Really true ! Whenever and wherever communal trouble erupts in this country two sets of people rejoice. Pakistan’s ISI and India’s Bhajpaei,” Ahmad commented on microblogging site Twitter. Ahmad also justified Rahul’s remarks that BJP spreads the fire of communalism. “Rahulji has rightly said so. BJP benefits from communal disturbances by engineering riots. It reached the figure 182 seats in Lok Sabha from its earlier position of only two seats by doing so,” Ahmad said. (Times of India 26/10/13)

 

WOMEN

23. Fund women for polls, says NCW’s draft ‘Bill of Rights’ (8)

MUMBAI: Every woman shall have the right to refuse forced marriage, non-consensual sex within marriage or any medical treatment she doesn’t want to undergo. The state will rein in khap panchayats and other vigilante groups to prevent them from inhibiting women’s freedom. These are some of the ambitious provisions incorporated in a new ‘Bill of Rights’ being drafted by the National Commission for Women (NCW), a statutory body mandated to guide the Centre on policy matters affecting women. The draft, a copy of which is with TOI, lists a host of promises that go as far as committing that the state shall provide financial support to women candidates particularly those from Dalit, Adivasi and other marginalized communities to contest elections. It also reiterates many existing provisions like compensating women for criminal injuries or setting up sexual harassment committees in all institutions, which have long been awaiting implementation. The draft and the process of drawing it up have elicited strong protests from several womens’ groups across the country, many of whom believe new pieces of legislation are futile till existing laws are implemented effectively. A rights-based approach was incorporated comprehensively in the Justice Verma committee report and activists believe the rush to draft a new bill could be politically motivated, given the upcoming general elections. However, Charu Walikhanna, an NCW member who is spearheading the initiative, said the draft bill was an attempt to take forward the Verma committee’s work to address not only violence against women, but also issues of discrimination faced by women. She claimed the NCW plans to hold regional consultations before finalising the bill which is scheduled to be readied before the winter session in December. But womens’ groups point out that public opinion is often a farce, given that they were given a day’s notice for the first such meeting to discuss the draft. “More work needs to go into the preparation of such a document to ensure it is comprehensive in its approach. It can’t be done in a few weeks,” said Sudha Sundaraman, president of the All India Democratic Women’s Association. She believes the draft needs to draw much more from best practices of other countries. South Africa for instance, has women’s rights mandated as part of its constitutional provisions. Sadhana Arya of the Saheli Women Resource points out that the NCW has often shied away from taking a critical stand on women’s issues, questioning the hypocrisy behind drawing up such documents. “We’ve got our hands filled with three new laws that demand a lot in order to deliver. We also know from past experience that new laws and structures don’t get implemented on their own, but require intense engagement,” says Madhu Mehra, executive director of Partners for Law in Development, Delhi, citing how the new law on sexual harassment at the workplace for instance, stipulates the creation of local and district complaints committees across India, which in itself will demand intensive follow-up. “Without these mechanisms the law will remain non-functional. To talk about a Bill of Rights at such a juncture only diverts and dissipates the collective energy needed to pursue the implementation of the new laws,” she added. Mehra said it is essential to have clarity and discussion on the reasons behind drafting yet another ‘aspirational document’. Walikhanna acknowledged the dissenting voices about the draft and said they will take all points of view into consideration to work towards an integrated approach. (Times of India 23/10/13)

 

24. India gets poor 101st rank on global gender gap index (8)

New Delhi/Geneva:  Indicating a poor state of affairs on gender parity front, India was on Thursday ranked at a low 101st position on a global Gender Gap Index despite an improvement by four places since last year. The index, compiled by Geneva-based World Economic Forum (WEF), has ranked 136 countries on how well resources and opportunities are divided between men and women in four broad areas of economy, education, politics, education and health. While India has been ranked very high at 9th place globally for political empowerment, it has got second-lowest position (135th) for health and survival. Its rankings for economic participation and opportunity are also low at 124th and for educational attainment at 120th. The high rank for political empowerment is mostly because of India getting the top-most score in terms of number of years with a female head of state (President), as its political scores is not very good for factors like number of women in Parliament and women in ministerial positions. While India has moved up four positions from its 105th position in 2012, it still remains lowest-ranked among the five BRICS nations. Top-four positions on the global have been retained by Iceland, Finland, Norway and Sweden. Philippines has moved up to 5th place, while Ireland has slipped one position to sixth rank. They are followed by New Zealand, Denmark, Switzerland and Nicaragua in the top ten. Other major countries on the list include Germany at 14th, South Africa at 17th, UK at 23rd, Russia at 61st, Brazil at 62nd and China at 69th. Those ranked lowest include Pakistan at 135th and Yemen at 136th. The countries that are ranked below India also include Japan (105th), UAE (109th), Republic of Korea (111th), Bahrain (112th) and Qatar (115th). About India, WEF said that India continues to struggle to demonstrate solid progress towards gender parity.  (Indian Express 25/10/13)

 

25. CBI arrests former Rajasthan minister in sexual assault case (8)

Jaipur: Former minister Babulal Nagar was arrested by the CBI on Friday in Jaipur in connection with the alleged rape of a 35-year-old married woman. After investigating the Circuit House for seven hours, the CBI took Nagar into custody and escorted him to the SMS Hospital for medical tests. Nagar, former minister for Khadi and Rural Industries, Food and Civil Supplies and Dairy, was accused of sexually assaulting the woman at his residence in Civil Lines on September 11. The woman had registered a complaint with a local court two days later and on the orders of the court an FIR was lodged at the Sodala police station. The woman, a single parent, had alleged that Nagar had called her into his bedroom on the pretext of giving her a job and sexually assaulted her. The case was being investigated by the Criminal Investigation Department, Crime Branch but following demands from the BJP-led Opposition for a CBI inquiry, the Ashok Gehlot government handed the inquiry over to CBI on October 8. Nagar had to tender his resignation amid increasing pressure from the Opposition. The Congress announced his suspension from the party on September 30. Before appearing for the investigation on Friday morning at the Circuit House, Nagar told reporters that he had full confidence in the CBI probe and would cooperate with the investigating authority. “This is a political conspiracy and I am confident of being cleared of the charges,” he said. Nagar will be produced at a designated court on Saturday, an official statement by the CBI said. (Indian Express 26/10/13)

 

26. Crime against women increase in the district (8)

KOCHI: Every 24 hours, three women are abused in some part of the city or outskirts. According to police, the crime may vary from being as grievous as rape or molestation to minor ones like eve-teasing. In nine months, till September 2013, Ernakulam city and rural police stations have registered 663 cases of crime against women, as compared to 755 last year. In other words, every month this year at least 73 cases of crime against women were reported, as compared to 62 cases a month in 2012. While 75 rape cases reported till September, the police have registered 304 molestation cases, 18 kidnapping cases, 220 cases under domestic violence, 53 eve-teasing cases and one dowry death. The molestation, eve-teasing and kidnapping cases have increased this year. The number of kidnapping cases in the city has gone up from five last year to nine this year and its nine in the rural in 2012 and 2013. The police have also registered 19 cases of eve-teasing in the city and 34 in the rural compared to 16 and 25 respectively last year. However, cases of domestic violence have come down from 127 last year to 90 this year in the city and 130 this year in Ernakulam rural as against 216 last year. Refuting charges that police have failed to curb crimes against women, city police commissioner, K G James said, “Now women increasingly come forward to register complaints and police file charge sheets in a very short period. We have also been reviewing crime against women every month and every step was taken to address it”.Ernakulam Rural Satheesh Bino, district police chief, that crimes against women was a social issue and police were trying to take stringent action against those who commit such crimes. However, activists dismissed the police claim. “It is wrong to say that this increase is because of improved reporting of such cases. Police need to admit that there is a definite increase in crimes against woman. Even after filing cases, many women are not ready to proceed with the case mainly because of the long judicial procedure. Worse still, police often join hands with accused and weaken the case,” said Bhadra Kumari, lawyer and activist. (Times of India 28/10/12)

 

ENVIRONMENT/ CLIMATE CHANGE

27. Panel to study impact of hydel projects on Uttarakhand ecology (9)

New Delhi: Nearly four months after the Uttarakhand floods, Environment and Forests ministry has formed an expert committee to study whether the environmental degradation caused by hydro-electric projects on Alaknanda and Bhagirathi rivers led to the disaster. Other than looking into the degradation caused by functioning as well as on-going hydro-projects, the committee will also examine the impact of the proposed 24 hydropower projects on the biodiversity of the region. The ministry has given the committee a period of three months to study the impact and submit a final report by January 14, 2014, a statement on the ministry’s website said. The 17-member committee will examine the extent to which the projects were responsible for the tragedy. “The committee has been constituted in accordance with the directions issued by the Supreme Court vide its judgement dated 13.08.2013 in the case of Alaknanda Hydro Power Co. Ltd. versus Anuj Joshi and others,” the statement said. The committee will also suggest suitable environmental safeguard measures to mitigate the adverse environmental impacts in respect of ongoing projects for which Environment Clearance have been granted including tourism projects and also suggest changes in project parameters if they feel it necessary, the statement added. “The committee will also draft a Himalayan Policy for Uttarakhand keeping in mind the unique ecological, social and cultural characteristics of the state and suggest environment friendly development activities, the statement said. (Zee News 19/10/13)

 

28. 25% of children in Bangalore are exposed to environmental diseases (9)

BELGAUM: On account of huge pollution in the environment, 25 percent of children in Bangalore are exposed to environmental deceases hence healthy environment for children is need of the hour said Dr Paramesh, director, pediatric respiratory physician and environmental pediatric medical scientist, Bangalore. Dr Paramesh, during his oration lecture on the subject ‘Shape the future of life; healthy environment for children’ at the 27th south zone and 32nd Karnataka State Annual Conference of Indian Academy of Pediatrics at Dr BS Jirge Auditorium, advocated the point that children need a safe, fair and healthy world. He noted that, rapid urbanization, globalization, haphazard industrialization and population explosion have had very bad impact on children. “There is pollution of air, water, milk, food, and soil. Children in the industrialized world are exposed to harmful chemicals, pollutants, pesticides. Skin rashes, cough, sore throat, burning sensation in eyes, wheezing in young age groups in Bangalore is on the rise, opined Dr Paramesh. He also said, children living in urban areas suffer more from environmental pollution than rural children. “Today, children are over exposed to heavy schoolbags, computer, internet, cellphones. Excessive exposure to television and eating while watching TV has an adverse effect on the digestive system of children, and parents and the society need to address this issue immediately,” said Dr Paramesh. He also lamented that, 81 per cent of the Indian rural population has colour TVs, mobile phones but don’t have toilets —lack of which can be a potential risk. He also referred to certain international studies with facts and figures which have proved that soft drinks contain pesticides. He called on the policy makers of the country to take serious stock of the effect of environment on children and devise immediate policies like green cities, green schools and green fuel. He further said that the need of the hour is massive awareness. He also called on citizens to stick to the basics of ‘each one teach one’ and plant trees for a better future. (Times of India 20/10/13)

 

29. India, US spar over choice of mechanism to phase out HFC (9)

NEW DELHI: With New Delhi sticking to its stand over the controversial HFC – climate damaging refrigerant gas – issue, the ongoing meeting of parties on Montreal Protocol in Bangkok on Tuesday witnessed fireworks between India and the US over the choice of legal instrument to phase out the dangerous gas. As India continued to oppose shifting HFC issue to the Montreal Protocol, the meeting headed for a deadlock. Since the Protocol operates on consensus, opposition from India and some West Asian countries will see the stalemate to persist – at least till the time the countries agree to set up a contact group to discuss the management of HFCs. Though India maintained what it has been saying since 2009 climate conference, its recent stand — where it sent some positive signal of selectively using Montreal Protocol instruments to phase down HFCs — had raised some expectations of developed countries in the run-up to the ongoing Bangkok meet. India showed some flexibility during G-20 deliberations and later during meeting between US president Barak Obama and prime minister Manmohan Singh last month. Indian representatives told them that New Delhi would not agree to the amendment which seeks to address the HFC issue under the Montreal Protocol. India wants the issue continues to be dealt with under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and its Kyoto Protocol which make it mandatory only for developed countries to phase out the dangerous gas having global warming potential. An official here said, “The developed countries should carefully read what India had agreed for during G-20 and Obama-Singh meeting. New Delhi will not deviate from it. The country will go to the forthcoming UN climate conference in Warsaw next month with the same position over this contentious issue”.During both the G-20 and Obama-Singh meeting, India had taken a middle path. Though it had agreed to use expertise and institutions of the Montreal Protocol to phase down consumption and production of HFCs, it insisted to keep this issue very much within the UNFCCC for “accounting and reporting of emissions” – a crucial clause that works in favour of developing countries. Officials here said that the developed countries must respect Indian stand which was backed by several developing countries, including West Asian nations like Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. Indian representatives are learnt to have reiterated New Delhi’s stand arguing that the country would not be party to any change which defies the core of the UNFCCC and its Kyoto Protocol. They said that New Delhi would first like to see the outcome of the Indo-US bilateral (joint task force) over the issue. Since the US is the prime mover of an amendment for addressing HFC under the Montreal Protocol, it’s important to see what the country has to offer in terms of solutions (economically viable and safe technology) for its phase out, they argued. The stand was, however, criticized by developed countries, including Canada. Their representatives wondered why the world should wait for a US-India bilateral on HFCs before others can talk about it at multi-lateral forum. (Times of India 22/10/13)

 

30. Maharashtra Cabinet decides to implement new mining rules (9)

Mumbai: The Maharashtra Cabinet decided to implement new mining rules on Wednesday, which is aimed at ensuring “planned and scientific” exploitation of the state’s mineral wealth. At a meeting chaired by Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan here today, it was decided to issue a notification to implement the rules from tomorrow. New mining norms as per the Maharashtra Minor Minerals (Development and Regulation) Rules 2013, would ensure checks in the mining of “minor minerals” such as sand, stones, gravel and clay, which are used in construction and other sectors, an official said. Earlier, the state revenue department used to permit mining of minor minerals by private players in areas of less than five hectares.  2012, the Supreme Court had made environmental clearances mandatory for mining minor minerals, including sand from river beds, even in areas less than five hectares. The apex court ruling had clarified that sand mining on either river bank, upstream or instream, required monitoring and regulatory oversight, since these cause environmental degradation and threat to biodiversity. After this clarification, mining process completely stopped across the country, including Maharashtra. Recently, a senior minister raised the issue, pointing out that due to the Supreme Court ruling, the mining process has been completely stalled, leading to a negative impact on the construction business. (Zee News 23/10/13)

 

31. Activist to be honoured for fight against environmental pollution (9)

HYDERABAD: Council for Green Revolution (CGR) has decided to honour noted environmental activist and former OU Professor K. Purushotham Reddy with lifetime achievement award for his contribution in the fight against environmental pollution and being a role model to environmental activists. Similarly, K. Tulasi Rao, who worked in the Nallamala forests for over two decades and strove for the protection of tribal people and their culture apart from animals and natural resources, will be honoured with ‘Green Leader’ award. The awards will be presented by Union Minister for Science and Technology S. Jaipal Reddy at a function to be held at the Jubilee Hall here on October 28, K. Leela Laxma Reddy, president of Council for Green Revolution, said in a statement here. The CGR has planted 19.42 lakh saplings in seven districts of the State involving four lakh students and teachers. Several programmes have also been organised for protection of Eastern Ghats after starting Eastern Ghats Environmental Protection Forum, said forum chairman R. Dileep Reddy. (The Hindu 26/10/13)

 

EDUCATION/ RIGHT TO EDUCATION

32. No screening test for children till Std 8: HC (11)

MUMBAI: Common screening tests cannot be held for admissions till Std VIII, the Bombay high court has ruled in a landmark judgment. Hearing a petition filed by a Pune school, a division bench of Justice Abhay Oka and Justice Revati Mohite Dere said admissions granted after such tests are illegal and liable to be cancelled under the Right To Education (RTE) Act. “Plain meaning (of RTE provisions) is that while admitting a child to the school, the…authorities shall neither collect any capitation fee nor subject the child or his/her parents or guardian to any screening procedure,” said the judges. The high court order is likely to have a far-reaching impact, especially on entrance tests conducted by elite schools. The school, Jnana Prabodhini Prashala, had conducted two rounds of “intelligence tests” for granting admissions to students during the 2012-2013 academic year. The school’s argument that the ban on common screening tests were applicable only to nursery or Std I admissions was rejected by the court. “There is nothing in (the rules) to indicate that the prohibition of subjecting the students or parents to screening procedure will apply only to the nursery or Std I admissions,” said the judge pointing out that the RTE Act provides for no prohibitions to be placed while admitting students up to Std VIII. “If the admissions contemplated by RTE are narrowly construed as admissions only to the nursery or Std I, the very object of enacting (it) shall be defeated,” the court said. The judges said while the RTE provides for a random method of admissions, no methodical entrance tests are permitted. The HC also dismissed the school’s plea that for such a violation the only punishment is a fine. “Once it is found that admission procedure in contravention of (rules) is adopted, the entire admission process becomes illegal… the education officer was right in directing the school management to conduct a fresh process…,” said the court. However, the judges said since half the academic year was already over, the state education officer’s order cancelling the admissions would be given effect to only at the end of the second term. The management had claimed that a large number of students apply to the reputed school run by it. They had therefore, “adopted a very objective test for ascertaining the giftedness (sic) of the students. Such giftedness is not ascertained only on the basis of intellectual abilities but the possible development of the child for national development”. The argument failed to impress the HC. (Times of India 21/10/13)

 

33. Private schools protest as govt reimbursing only tuition fees under RTE (11)

JAIPUR: The private schools in Rajasthan are up in arms against the state education department for considering only tuition fees for reimbursement for students admitted under Right to Education Act, 2009. Currently, the education department teams are conducting inspections of private schools with regard to admissions under the Act. During the inspections, the teams had refused to consider fees charged under heads like development, sports, library, examination and caution money. It is estimated that tuition fees constitute only about 40% to 60% of the total fees charged by the schools. Vidya Bharti Society, which has 462 schools in Jaipur region spread in 12 districts, have opposed the education department stand. B L Natiya, president of society said: “The education department has refused to reimburse fees charged under different heads other than tuition fees. This is unjust. Our schools would be in big financial trouble if the department doesn’t change it stand.” Some schools pleading anonymity said department teams have also refused to consider transport charges they are providing to students admitted under RTE Act. “Generally, schools charges transportation cost separately from those who avail this service. We tried to explain this to the team but our pleas fell on the deaf ears,” said a private school principal. Some of them have decided that under the present circumstances, they are not in a position to provide free transport to students admitted under RTE. Schools also plead that tuition fees is only sufficient for giving salary for teachers. “Facilities like sports, library, activities like calling speakers, visits and campaigns require funds. Schools have no other source of income than fees, ” said Natiya. Meanwhile, government officials have justified their move saying that fees charged under different heads has nothing to do with the teaching or academics. (Times of India 22/10/13)

 

34. Innovative changes needed in higher education system: Pranab Mukherjee (11)

Shillong: Maintaining that delivery of higher education in India cannot be allowed to continue in a “routine fashion”, President Pranab Mukherjee on Tuesday said there has to be an “elevated level of urgency” among administrators and academicians to introduce innovative changes. He also regretted that no Indian university has found place in the top 200 global ranking list and said they have to be “careful” in positioning themselves among the top institutions in the world. The President emphasised on better coordination among various departments of the universities to achieve excellence and help them to be among the best in the world. “Our academic syllabus is not upto the highest standards as recognised by world universities. We are not emphasising on ranking ourselves. We have to be careful,” the President said while addressing the convocation function of the North Eastern He inaugurated an innovation club on the occasion which seeks to facilitate in-house research activities in various disciplines. Mukherjee said Indian universities have to foster greater linkages with international universities for student and teacher exchange programmes. He also stressed on improving facilities in the various departments of the universities and said though Nobel laureates like Amartya Sen, P V Chandrasekhar and Hargobind Khurana passed out from Indian universities, they won their respective Nobel prizes after going abroad. The President suggested fostering endowment culture in the campuses, saying most of the top-league universities like Harvard and Cambridge excelled over the centuries largely because of the endowment received. He said the delivery of higher education in India cannot be allowed to continue in a “routine fashion any longer”.There has to be an elevated level of urgency among administrators and academicians to introduce innovative changes in the institutions. “Core problem have to be addressed expeditiously and a culture of excellence has to be promoted by allowing adequate flexibility in different aspects of academic management,” the President said. (Indian Express 23/10/13)

 

35. CRY opposes closure of government schools (11)

BANGALORE: Child Right and You (CRY), a non-governmental organisation, has urged the Karnataka State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (KSPCR) to reject the recommendations of the R. Govinda Committee report which suggested closure of 12,740 government schools in the State. This was one of the main recommendations in a study titled ‘Learning Blocks’ carried out by CRY. The study covered 71 districts in 13 States to understand the status of implementation of the Right to Education (RTE) Act. A dossier containing the study was submitted to the KSPCR recently. It also suggests that eggs should be introduced in school midday meals for children. Suma Ravi, Regional Director (South), CRY, said the closure of such a large number of schools might lead to child labour and child marriage. Apart from ensuring access, the study also recommends maintenance/upgrade of school infrastructure “by providing financial commitment by allocating Rs. 1,238.12 crore for upgrading 22,718 classrooms and recruitment of 14,908 teachers in the State.” “Parents across sections look for a safe school environment before sending their children. The RTE Act says schools should have all weather buildings. But our study showed that 13 per cent schools in the south were unsafe; 18 per cent primary schools did not have pakka buildings,” Ms. Ravi said. The study also quotes secondary data and points to the less number of high schools. While there are 23,370 lower primary government schools, and 22,278 higher primary government schools, there are only 4,168 government high schools. The dropout rate increases at the high school level. While it is 8.7 per cent at the Class 5 level, it increases to 33.9 per cent at the Class 8 level and to 49.4 per cent at the Class 10 level. (The Hindu 28/10/13)

 

REFUGEES/ MIGRANTS

36. Stop postal ballots for Bru refugees: Mizo students to EC (13)

AIZAWL: Mizo Students’ Union (MSU) has submitted a memorandum to chief election commissioner V S Sampath and Mizoram chief electoral officer (CEO) Ashwani Kumar in protest against the proposed move to let the Bru refugees in relief camps in North Tripura vote through postal ballots in their respective camps. The MSU, in a press statement on Tuesday, said the Bru voters should cast their votes in their respective polling stations in Mizoram. “If the Election Commission goes ahead in making arrangements for the Bru voters to cast their votes outside Mizoram (in the relief camps), the MSU would make all out efforts to prevent it,” the statement said. The MSU said the ministry of home affairs and the Mizoram government had made arrangements repeatedly to facilitate the Brus lodged in the relief camps to return to Mizoram and the government and civil societies in Mizoram have also made several appeals to the Brus to return. Many Brus rejected the compassionate appeals of the people of Mizoram and refused to return due to political benefits they received in the relief camps, the MSU alleged, adding that the students’ body was going to obstruct the exercise of franchise by Bru voters outside the state if required. The MSU also alleged that Bru votes polled through postal ballots in the relief camps were rigged in the earlier elections. Joint chief electoral officer H Lalengmawia said Mizoram election officials from Friday had begun a special drive to include eligible voters in the Bru relief camps of North Tripura district. The instruction to conduct the special drive was received from the Election Commission of India and nine officials from Mamit district were sent to relief camps on October 17, Lalengmawia added. “The election department has been entertaining claims for inclusion of those who applied to be enlisted in the state voters lists,” Lalengmawia said. Officials from south Mizoram’s Lunglei district and Kolasib (on the Mizoram-Assam border) were also instructed to conduct the special drive in the relief camps from Tuesday, he said. Till now, 11,311 Bru voters from the relief camps have been enlisted in the Mizoram electoral rolls belonging to nine assembly constituencies and covering three districts – Mamit, Lunglei and Kolasib. Mizoram assembly polls are scheduled to be held on December 4. (Times of India 23/10/13)

 

37. LoC firings: Samba villagers fear for their lives, say being forced to live like refugees (13)

It has been the first time since 2002 that Suchetgarh Kulian in Samba district has faced mortar shelling by Pakistan on this large scale. (PTI) A retired BSF personnel has collected tailfins of mortar shells, fired by Pakistani troops, that have hit his house over past four days. Bhishan Singh, who stays with his family in Suchetgarh Kulian in Samba district — barely a few metres from the International Border, says the shells are evidence that it has been the worst firing from Pakistani side in the past decade. The 65-year-old says it has been the first time since 2002 that the village has faced mortar shelling of this scale. So much that his family has been forced to flee to a temporary relief camp 15 km from Samba. Singh, who served at the border outpost (BO) facing his village about 20 years ago, said, “We are quite used to the sounds of gunfire, but this time it was big. Huge mortar shells fired from Pakistan’s side landed at my doorstep. We could barely breathe. Our walls can withstand the bullets but not these mortars, they can rip our house apart.” Most of the 270 people living in Suchetgarh Kulian are farmers. “We have to cut our crops but the BSF does not allow us to go near the BOs where our farm is located. We are living like refugees in our own house, there is always a fear of being killed,” says Sardar Chand, a farmer. The 80-year-old believes that even families living on the other side of the border have been forced to flee their homes for safety, due to heavy firing by both Indian and Pakistani troops. “For the past three days we have not heard any namaaz from the other side, which means even they are suffering the same fate,” says Chand adding there is no Muslim his village. Singh’s son Surjit Kumar, a teacher at a government school in the village, says there has been a low turnout in the past one week. “This is only a primary school, we only have 21 children but even among them only six have come. Rest have been sent to safer locations by their families,” said Surjit. The local administration, however, says there has been no largescale migration. Divisional Commissioner of Samba, R K Varma said such incidents were common in the area. “Those who shifted to the town did so temporarily. There was no largescale migration.” Shan Kumari, a sarpanch of S M Pura village in Ramgarh sector said people fled to the nearby town on Sunday night. “There was heavy firing so we decided to run. We have returned but we switch off the lights when it turns dark, we cannot take any chances now,” said Kumari. (Indian Express 24/10/13)

 

38. Pakistan to bar Afghan refugees after Nato leaves (13)

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan won’t allow Afghan refugees to enter the country after the withdrawal of Nato forces from war-torn Afghanistan in 2014, a minister said. “Pakistan will not welcome fresh influx of refugees from Afghanistan and use all legal channels in collaboration with the international community to block entry of Afghans on the border,” the Dawn newspaper quoted Pakistan’s state and frontier regions minister Lt.Gen. (retired) Abdul Qadir Baloch as saying on Friday. The minister said Pakistan would utilise all options to stop Afghan refugees from crossing over the border. “In case Afghanistan is unstable, then the local residents will be left with no choice but to flee to Pakistan but even then, we won’t welcome them,” he said. (Times of India 26/10/13)

 

JUDICIARY/ LAW 

39. Submit inquiry report on a PIL alleging atrocities: HC to cops (19)

AHMEDABAD: The Gujarat High Court today asked the police to submit an inquiry report on a PIL filed by Islamic Relief Committee of Gujarat alleging atrocities on Muslims by police at Sansrod village in Karjan taluka of Vadodara district. A mob had attacked a police team raiding an illegal slaughter house on October 16 at Sansrod village. Six persons — four policemen and members of a local cow protection committee– were injured when the mob pelted stones on them and also set a police vehicle on fire. The next day, police had conducted combing operations at the village in which close to 40 persons were detained. A bench of Chief Justice Bhaskar Bhattacharya and Justice J B Pardiwala today asked police to submit a report on the inquiry conducted by police into the incident. The court posted the matter for further hearing after Diwali vacation. The petition charged police resorted to “high-handedness, violence and use of abusive language” against the villagers including women and old, which resulted in rioting. The PIL accuses police and persons with vested interests of raiding the village and undertaking combing operations, in which police arrested around 40 people from Muslim community and illegally took away livestocks kept for Eid sacrifice. The petitioner further alleged Muslim villagers, who were arrested, are being ruthlessly beaten up in police lock-up not only by police officers but also by people from outside. The PIL also prayed for directing the National Human Rights Commission or the State Human Rights Commission to probe the allegations of human rights and fundamental right violations or transfer investigation into the offences already registered to any impartial probe agency like CBI or CID. Cow slaughter and even transporting of the animal for the purpose is banned in Gujarat and the offenders are liable to face seven years in jail. (The Economig Times 25/10/13)

 

40. Judicial Appointments Commission Bill ‘hopeless’, feel top jurists (19)

CHENNAI: An “aggregate of 300 years of legal wisdom” decried in one voice the Centre’s proposal to form a Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC) for appointing judges to higher judiciary. On Saturday, The Times of India in association with Sastra University’s school of law, brought four living legends of Indian legal fraternity – Anil Divan, K Parasaran, Soli Sorabjee and Ram Jethmalani – together on one platform to discuss a topic ‘Does the Judicial commission guarantee judicial independence?’ Sastra’s dean for planning and development S Vaidhyasubramaniam set the ball rolling by pointing out that together the four senior advocates had nearly three centuries of legal practice behind them. Columnist S Gurumurthy, who moderated the round table discussion, cited Ram Jethmalani’s speech in the Rajya Sabha to describe the JAC Bill as a ‘great constitutional fraud’. Admitting that the existing collegium system of appointing judges had failed for want of transparency, Gurumurthy lamented that even media was taking the issue casually, unlike the 1973 upheaval when media, public and legal fraternity denounced supercession of reputed apex court judges. Anil Divan said the Centre was emboldened to bring the two Bills due to terrific dissatisfaction over the manner the collegium system worked. Divan, who is president of the Bar Association of India (BAI), said the forum had sent several representations against the move. The State, its agencies and the bureaucracy, who were the biggest litigants before courts, pushed the Bills taking advantage of the general dissatisfaction, he said. He wanted the U.K. and South Africa model to be followed in appointments to higher judiciary, and sought broader discussion before they are made. They issue advertisements, invite applications, hold interviews, and even permit mediapersons to be present during interviews, he said. Expressing serious doubt about the composition of the proposed JAC, Divan said through ordinary laws the parliament could alter the composition anytime, thereby making judges a minority in JAC. “It is the gravest threat to judicial independence,” he said. K Parasaran, dubbing the Bills as ‘hopeless’, said, “Without independent judiciary, the democracy is finished.” Those appointing judges and those who are appointed should be independent, he said, adding, “It is agonising and painful when a sitting chief justice of India says judiciary is not untouched by corruption.” Citing the TOI report on how a person with terror links almost became a judge, he said it was due to lack of inputs about shortlisted candidates. Soli Sorabjee, noting that it must be conceded that the collegiums system has not worked, said the Centre should not bring the Bills through in haste. A judge should first be independent of himself and his own personal philosophy, he said. He also supported a vocal and a vigilant Bar. Ram Jethmalani, who was the sole Rajya Sabha member who cast his vote against the Bill on September 5, said politicians were the lowest watermark for social acceptance and added that lawyers’ social acceptance too was downhill. Stressing on individual integrity of judges, he said judicial independence did not merely mean independence from the executive. Judges must be independent of their own character, greed for money and power, Jethmalani said, adding, “the proposed Bill is a fraud.” Noting that India is not merely a democratic but a democratic republic, he said the power is not vested with those who represent the majority, but vested with every individual citizen. (Times of India 26/10/13)

 

41. ‘Retrospective amendments to tax laws not good’ (19)

BANGALORE: Parthasarathi Shome, Advisor to Finance Minster, said on Friday that the issue of retrospective amendment of tax laws is a serious issue. “Even if there is a need to amend them with retrospective effect, we should, at least, not impose penalties, interest and other punitive measures.” Addressing a two-day conference on international taxation, organised by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India, Dr. Shome said, “Retrospective amendments should only apply in the case of egregious tax avoidance structures” adopted by corporate entities. “Generally, ‘retrospectivity’ is not a good idea,” Dr. Shome said. Investors, he said, cannot be forced to comply with laws that they did not anticipate when they made their investments, Dr. Shome said. Referring to the growing concern about tax avoidance by multinational companies — whether in the home base or elsewhere around the world, Dr. Shome said that multinationals, in the guise of escaping double taxation, resort to base erosion and profit shifting (BEPS), which cause losses to governments across the world. He pointed out that the G-20, which recently met at St. Petersburg, resolved to plug the loopholes that cause revenue losses to countries across the world. “India must participate in the BEPS project to prevent the abuse of tax treaties,” he said. (The Hindu 27/10/13)

 

42. Rap on medical neglect, nudge for legal bulwark (19)

The Supreme Court last week passed a landmark award in Indian medical negligence, determining Rs 5.96 crore as compensation to be paid by Kolkata’s AMRI Hospitals and doctors for the negligent death of Anuradha Saha in 1998. The verdict is the culmination of a long and valiant fight carried out by the victim’s husband, under the banner of People for Better Treatment to initiate “a movement to eradicate medical negligence and to promote corruption-free healthcare in India”. This was the record compensation ordered by courts in India in cases of medical negligence, compared to the US, where multi-million dollar medical negligence claims are de rigueur. The court hoped the verdict would have a deterrent effect on increasing complaints about malpractices in India’s booming medical industry. Apart from its demonstrative effect, the verdict underlines the absence of an appropriate framework to check medical malpractices that have increased as a result of privatisation and commercialisation of the health sector in India. As the court observed, doctors and medical establishments must be dealt with strictly for negligence in giving treatment to patients. It asked the government to enact laws for effective functioning of private hospitals and nursing homes. Indeed, the entire medical fraternity cannot be branded as lacking in integrity or competence. It is also true that doctors too make mistakes. However, it cannot be overlooked that commercialisation and privatisation has led to an alarming rise in cases when doctors depart from their Hippocratic oath to make a fast buck. As buyers of medical service, patients have every right to raise their voice against negligence. The SC verdict is a warning to black sheep in the fraternity to desist from medical malpractices and a nudge to the government to evolve an effective legal mechanism to discourage it. (New Indian Express 28/10/13)

 

RESERVATION

43. Quota to Jats in central jobs proposal fast-tracked (25)

New Delhi: Ahead of the Lok Sabha elections early next year, the government has decided to fast-track its proposal to provide reservation to Jats in central jobs in the category of other backward classes (OBCs). Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who had set up a group of ministers (GoM) headed by finance minister P Chidambaram in August to look into the matter, has now asked the GoM to expedite its recommendations, HT has learnt. He wrote to the GoM last week, reminding it of the urgency of coming up with “legally sustainable recommendations” on the Jat job quota issue soon. The GoM — made up of home minister Sushilkumar Shinde, social justice and empowerment minister Kumari Selja and minister of state for personnel V Narayansamy apart from Chidambaram — is, on its part, waiting for a report on the socio-economic conditions of Jats in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Haryana. This study, conducted by the Indian Council for Social Science Research on the request of the National Commission for Backward Castes, was earlier expected to be completed by January 2014 but has now been expedited. The Congress leadership is under pressure from its ally, the Rashtriya Lok Dal led by civil aviation minister Ajit Singh, who has been pushing for the quota as he claims it would mean big electoral gains for the UPA in western UP, Haryana, Rajasthan and even Delhi. Currently, Jats are designated as OBCs in some states like Delhi, Rajasthan and UP. They get the benefit of reservation in jobs in these states and have been demanding for many decades that this facility be extended to central government jobs. The Congress government in Haryana is also in favour of the move and with the model code of conduct having come into force in Delhi, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, the next concrete announcement is expected in January. The blueprint is to provide quota for Jats within the existing 27% limit for OBCs and the government hopes to meet its own deadline of coming up with the proposal before the general elections. (Hindustantimes 20/10/13)

 

44. Transgenders demand 3 percent reservation in government jobs (25)

Chennai: Tension prevailed at the Marina after a heated argument broke out between police and a few transgenders who marched in and began shouting slogans on Monday morning. The transgenders staged a protest, putting forth various demands to the government including 3 per cent reservation and issue of voter ID cards and ration cards. A group of transgenders gathered in front of Kannagi Statue and began to protest, when senior police officials and police personnel surrounded the agitators and questioned them. When police officials informed them that they needed to get permission to stage a protest, the transgenders said they had no choice but to resort to such means to be heard. “We are educated. But we don’t know why employers see our gender and not our educational qualifications. We have approached authorities but nobody is bothered about us,” they argued. They were later allowed to speak to media persons as police officials instructed them to approach the concerned authorities and seek permission to organise such events in a public place in the future. The transgenders put forth a 10-point charter of demands that included 3 per cent reservation for government jobs; allowing them to register in employment exchanges, concession on fees for those studying in colleges and financial assistance. “Through an RTI, I found that we don’t have a provision to appear for competitive exams like TNPSC and UPSC. We want third gender category in all applications issued by the government,” said Swapna, a transgender from Madurai. They also demanded that the government frame laws that give them the right to marry people from other genders and adopt children and book those who harassed members of their community. “I worked as a physiotherapist for about seven years. Though many encouraged me, some patients asked me if I was into sex work. The stigma is still there,” said Selvi. “We don’t even have voter IDs or a ration cards that prove that we are Indian citizens,” intervened Banu, who had earlier worked as a bus conductor. The transgenders would continue their protest before the office of Tamil Nadu Public Service Commission on Tuesday and begin a hunger strike at Valluvar Kottam on Wednesday. (New Indian Express 22/10/13)

 

45. Reservation data fudged in government schools (25)

Ahmedabad: The state education and social justice departments have detected several cases of alleged fudging of data relating to appointments of primary teachers in the reserved categories, in government schools. The errors mainly concerned listing castes not “reserved” at the time of appointments as “reserved”, leading to an inflated candidate list under the category. The errors also included showing merit-based appointments as “reserved” to speed up promotions. In one of the cases, a teacher from the Prajapati caste, which is now categorised under OBC, figured in the reserved category in the roster even though his appointment took place before July 25, 1994, the date when Prajapatis were included in the reserved category. As a result of this “error”, appointments under reserved categories were inflated, leaving lesser requirement as per the reservation policy. The other category of cases was that the percentage and appointments made under the reserved category was calculated on sanctioned posts, when it was supposed to be done on filled posts. In this case, if there was a difference between the two, projection of requirement for reservation would go down for future appointments. These discrepancies were detected during the roster register camps organised recently for primary teachers at six different locations across the state, after complaints started coming in this regard. For the first time ever, the two departments conducted the camp, collecting related records from District Education Officers and District Primary Education Officers. “Mistakes that are usually termed as human errors in roster records, be it any department. But it is certainly difficult to check and term these under two different categories of human or intentional which is why these errors continue in roster registers,” said deputy director in the social justice department HG Bhabhor. In the notices issued to all district education committee chairmen, DEOs and DPEOs, the education department referred to a large number of statistical errors and other mistakes that many a times is overlooked as “human errors”. (Indian Express 25/10/13)

 

46. National Commission for Scheduled Tribes for special drive to meet job quota.. (25)

National Commission for Scheduled Tribes has expressed concern over “much less than prescribed” presence of Scheduled Tribes in jobs and recommended a time-bound action plan and special drive by the government to meet the constitutional quota of 7.5% for them. In its sixth report, the Commission said the presence of STs is grossly inadequate in group A and B categories of posts and even in Group D, it is not satisfactory. “The Commission expresses its concern…. DoPT should take up the matter with all the central ministries/departments, particularly those which are cadre controlling authorities, for appointment to various posts and oblige them to fill up the backlog vacancies,” it said. The report was submitted by the Commission’s Chairman Rameshwar Oraon and its member B L Meena to President Pranab Mukherjee on October 25. It also expressed its disappointment over low representation of STs in banks, saying it fails to understand their poor presence even in clerk and sub-staff cadres and asked the Ministry of Finance to take special measures to make up for the shortfall. The Commission observed that the presence of STs is negligible among the senior teaching positions like professor and reader in universities like JNU, BHU, Jamia Millia Islamia, Vishwabharti University and AMU. Most of them “are not having a single ST professor” despite 7.5% reservation for the community. “We reiterate our recommendation contained in earlier reports that the Ministry of Human Resource Development and UGC should issue strict instructions to all the central universities to ensure that 7.5% reservation is provided to ST in posts of professor and reader,” it said. The Commission has also pushed for the implementation of its earlier recommendation that suitable amendments in law should be made to make ST quota applicable in universities granted minorities status as ST students lack quality education. (DNA 28/10/13)

 

Posted by admin at 24 October 2013

Category: Uncategorized

RIGHT TO INFORMATION

1. Kochi: RTI activists sore over court verdict (1)

The recent Supreme Court ruling that cooperative societies need not provide information under the Right to Information Act is a real setback to the right to information movement and the government should soon file a review petition, RTI activists have said. According to them, the Right to Information Act ensured transparency in the functioning of public bodies such as cooperative societies and their accountability. The Supreme Court judgment went against these principles, they alleged. In fact, the apex court verdict came on appeals filed by various cooperative societies against a Kerala High Court full court judgment. The High Court, while upholding a directive by the Cooperative Society Registrar to appoint information officers in all the cooperative societies, had held that co-operative societies registered under the Kerala Cooperative Societies Act are “public authorities” within the meaning of Section 2(h) of the RTI Act. However, the Supreme Court found that cooperatives societies which had not been substantially financed by the government could not be termed as a public authority, and therefore, the societies are not liable to provide information under the RTI Act. The Supreme Court Bench headed by Justice K.S. Radhakrishnan held that schemes of the State government provided generally for the betterment and welfare of the cooperative sector, and assistance from NABARD could not be termed as substantial finance by the State government to bring the societies within the fold of “public authority. The bench also pointed out that the government did not also have a substantial control over the societies. The control by the government was merely supervisory or regulatory. Powers exercised by the Registrar, cooperative societies and others under the Act “are only regulatory or supervisory in nature”. D.B.Binu, an RTI activist said that the Act which enabled the citizen to secure access to information under the control of public authorities would promote transparency and accountability in the working of every public authority. Mr. Binu said that as rightly pointed out by the High Court, applicability of the Act to societies would achieve complete transparency in the affairs of the societies and prevent mismanagement of public funds. Aby George, another RTI activist, said that the Supreme Court verdict was against the sprit of the RTI Act. The government should soon file a review petition in the Supreme Court. According to RTI activists, a cooperative society is constituted with members’ funds, mainly as subscription towards share capital and even deposits from the public are accepted by the societies engaged in banking business. Absolute transparency about the affairs of the societies was the fundamental requirement for societies to run in compliance with the statutory provisions, they said. (The Hindu 18/10/13)

 

2. ‘With RTI, government employees are now public servants’ (1)

If you want to test the effectiveness of a transparency law on good governance, Sweden might be the best place to look. The country was the first to enact a freedom of information law, and now has one of the most transparent administrations in the world, said activist Bhaskar Prabhu, who conducted a series of workshops on India’s landmark Right to Information (RTI) Act, organized by the Times of India on Friday. The origins of the RTI Act in India do not lie in the country’s bureaucracy or political classes, but in a people’s movement in Rajasthan, where a daily wage labourer asked for records of his salary, said Prabhu, who took his audience through the slideshow on the importance of RTI, as well as the nitty-gritty of using the transparency legislation. Can all information on governments be accessed through the RTI Act? Are there exceptions to the rule? What sort of information does RTI provide access to? And how can the information be accessed? These are some of the questions that Prabhu tackled in his workshop, which aimed at fostering participatory democracy. “For those who are below the poverty line, no fee is charged for the information,” said Prabhu, who spoke of how people who could not read or write could access information on the basis of oral requests, too. He also pointed to a clause in the law that makes it mandatory for public bodies to disclose information about themselves on the internet, including their budgets and the facilities they provide to citizens. The workshop aimed at helping citizens understand the manner in which information could be sought, and the most effective way of making use of the Act. In addition to recent information, RTI can also be used to access 20-year-old government files, said Prabhu. “Thanks to the Right to Information Act, government employees are no longer government servants but public servants,” said Prabhu. “The workshop has given us a basic knowledge of the Right to Information Act. I now know how to go about understanding the Act. I did not attend the workshop because I have a personal problem but because I had heard a lot about the RTI Act and wanted to learn more about the law,” said Vivek Saraf, one of the participants at the workshop. Many of the participants expected to solve their personal problems through the RTI Act, in the hope that access to information would help them fight the battles in their backyard. Some spoke of neighbours stealing their water pipes while others wanted to know how they could hold their housing societies accountable for not conducting annual general meetings for decades. Among the participants was a retired public sector official, who had earlier been involved in replying to RTI queries. He is now inspired to file some of his own.  (Times of India 19/10/13

 

3. No information on online RTI application: Army (1)

New Delhi: Army has refused to provide responses on RTI applications received through recently introduced government website that enables citizens to file them online, saying it is a security threat. “We will provide information on RTI application only after receiving signed copy of the application…We have taken up issue with the DoPT,” Army Central Public Information Officer Col Prashant Saxena said. Saxena was replying to a query on an RTI application seeking details on controversial Technical Services Division through the recently introduced government portal — rtionline.gov.in. The RTI applicant had sought details from the Defence Ministry, which had transferred the application to the Army. Saxena refused to supply information till a signed copy is received along with personal ID of the applicant which negates the website’s purpose of a hassle free processing of application, reducing paper work and increasing efficiency. The government website rtionline.Gov.In allows citizens to file their RTI applications online. Since the payments are made by the applicant through Internet banking, credit card and debit card, it has a database of the person making a request. This also helps in checking the genuineness of the applicant and avoid impersonation. The web site also allows RTI applicant to have password secured account where they can see replies and also get them on their email accounts so that no third person receives the information. The Army, however, does not agree with this system saying it is a security issue as any one can make an email-id and seek information. It wants applicant to attach a personal ID card as well as signed copy of the application. Anyone can make an email id and seek information. We need a signed copy of the RTI application so that persons identity can be established. It is a requirement under law, Saxena said when asked why Army needs a signed copy through postal mail when government in a considered decision has allowed citizens to file RTI applications through website. When asked how would Army confirm the genuineness of a person who signs an RTI application as anybody can purchase a postal order and send it, Saxena had no answers. The Army had recently denied information on killing of soldiers on LoC, a record which is already in public domain through statements made by Defence Ministry in Parliament. (Zee News 22/10/13)

 

4. RTI activist had to pay with his life for unearthing racket (1)

JAIPUR: It’s a typical tale of the dishonest and criminal sarpanch murdering an honest, hardworking and poor villager for standing up against his corrupt ways. At least, that is what has been the findings of a team from the Suchna Ka Adhikar Manch that went to the Jaisla village in Phalodi to investigating the murder of RTI activists Sambhu Ram Bishnoi. Thirty two year old Sambhu Singh Bishnoi was murdered on October 7 by the sarpanch of Jaisla Soda Ram Bishnoi and his men. Sambhu Ram’s death is the first death of a RTI activists in the state. According to the report of the fact finding team, Sambhu Ram was from a BPL family and used to eek out a living by working in the fields during the rains and as a labourers at other times. He is survived by four minor children and a wife. His seven sisters and four brothers live in two other houses in the village. Over the past three years Sambhu Ram along with his friends Budharam, Parsaram and Punaram had exposed the corrupt practices of the sarpanch in the village with documents got under the RTI Act. These included work done in the village under MGNREGA and Swajal Dhara Yojna. He had dug out corruption worth lakhs and informed the anti-corruption bureau, cases for which are currently pending. Sambhu had also found out that Sodaram had filed a false affidavit during the sarpanch elections and the case is currently at the high court,” the report says. Angered at this, Sodaram, who has 13 cases included those under Sections 302 and 307 of the IPC pending against him, used to threaten him on and off but in vain. On that fateful evening Sambhuram was on his way home after having got his Aadhar card made when he was kidnapped and taken to a deserted house about 200 yards from the panchayat bhavan. There he was beaten with sticks and rods till he was dead,” the report adds. On hearing Sambhuram’s screams when Punaram and Jagdish rushed towards the house from the panchayat bhavan and witnessed Sodaram and his family members beating him and then fleeing. The Manch has demanded a compensation for Sambhuram’s family and free education for his children. They have also asked for a job for his widow and the immediate arrest of the culprits. Other demands include the arrest of the culprits of two other RTI activists Manglaram and Ghuraram who were too attacked, special protection for RTI activists and the disposal of cases filed in such attacks in three months time. (Times of India 23/10/13)

 

POLICE/CUSTODIAL DEATH/ ARMY/AFSPA

5. Violation of human rights by police alleged (1)

IZIANAGARAM: Ms. Malleswari told correspondents on Wednesday that the police arrested her son Anudeep along with four others when he was carrying “ghatam” (holy water in an earthen pot) at Kanyakaparameswari temple to Sri Pydithalli Ammavaru temple here on Tuesday night. She found him locked-up at I-Town police station on Wednesday morning. “My son’s marriage is due on November 9.Who will marry him now.” Police reportedly told Ms. Malleswari that they registered a case, based on video footage of electronic media, against Anudeep for indulging in arson and attack on Minister Botcha Satyanarayana’s properties. “It was a mob fury. But police singled out my son because I am a supporter of Telugu Desam Party.” She also blamed the media for providing clues to the police and arrests of innocent. Her statement substantiated the argument of P. Ashok Gajapathi Raju, MLA, who had recently visited I and II Town police stations and heard woes of the arrested. More than 15 youths were huddled in small prison cells. He described the police excesses as a violation of human rights. He pointed out the incident at Jonnagudi, a slum, where some people came out of their huts during curfew period for fresh air. The police fired teargas shells to disperse them. The shell fell in front of a hut. The smoke that engulfed the slum affected a six-month-old baby. The baby was admitted to the government hospital for treatment. Curfew is unheard of by people in this town. Hence, people have no knowledge about it. Further, over 60 per cent of people are daily wage earners. They eke out living by doing odd jobs and live in single room dingy huts or tiled houses in narrow lanes. They are forced to come out for potable water or to call on nature or for fresh air. The unexpected curfew without any letup for four days had turned their lives miserable. Now, with the night curfew in force from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. and Section 144 CrPC in the mornings, people are unable to come out with families to offer vows (mrokkulu) prior to the famous annual Sirimanotsavam of the village goddess, Sri Pydithalli Ammavaru, scheduled on October 22. Tholellu is on October 21. A week before the utsav, Puliveshalu, karra saamu, koya dance, among other folk art forms that are a common sight are missing. (The Hindu 17/10/13)

 

6. Abetment to suicide case: 3 cops get 5-year jail (1)

AMBALA: The district court on Saturday sentenced four persons, including three policemen, among them two ASIs of Haryana police, to five-year imprisonment in an abetment to suicide case. The court of additional sessions judge Amarjit Singh pronounced the judgment. Hailing from Bihar, Rajesh Pandey had committed suicide by consuming some poisonous substance in August 2007, leaving behind a suicide note wherein he alleged that policemen registered a false case against him. His body was found in bushes near the civil hospital and a suicide note was recovered from the spot. ASIs Om Pal, Ganga Bishan, and head constable Jitender Rana was held guilty by the court in the matter who court sentenced imprisonment today. Apart from the policemen, a Dinesh, resident of Boh(Ambala) has also been sentenced the 5-year imprisonment by the court. According to the case history, Dinesh had a quarrel with Rajesh Pandey after which he threatened the latter to implicate him in a false case, claiming that head constable Jitender Rana was his relative. As per the FIR, Dinesh provoked Jitender to book Rajesh in a false case. Unable to bear the torture, Rajesh committed suicide and named Jitneder Rana and Dinesh in the suicide note. During investigation it was found that the inquiry in the false case was completed by the two ASIs, who were also included as accused in the case. (Times of India 20/10/13)

 

7. Human rights activists seek review of Ordinance on police reforms (1)

CHENNAI: Launching a campaign against the Ordinance on police reforms, human rights activists representing various organisations, advocates and members of civil society on Sunday called for a public debate on the issue and urged Chief Minister Jayalalithaa to refer the Ordinance to a select committee. At a round table discussion here on Tamil Nadu Police Ordinance, 2013, speakers representing the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, Human Rights Foundation, People’s Watch and Campaign for Custodial Justice, Abolition of Torture and others said the Ordinance dated September 11, 2013 would in no way further the cause of reform as it was introduced only to fulfil the State’s obligations to comply with the Supreme Court order. They said a new police law to govern future policing was significant. But, considering the fact that the functioning of police had a direct impact on the protection of fundamental rights and freedom of people, it was imperative that such a law be passed after wide public consultation. When the Ordinance is introduced in the Assembly as a Bill, it should be referred for review. Pointing out that the State government showed no hurry to introduce the much needed police reform in the last seven years (since the Apex Court’s directives), the forum sought to know the urgency or special circumstances which merited the passing of the reforms in the form of an Ordinance. The power to make an Ordinance was a rare and unique authority under Constitution essentially to meet urgent situations. Henri Tiphagne of People’s Watch said the composition of the State Security Commission should be suitably amended to meet all the requirements of the court’s directive. The present composition of the Commission comprised the Minister in-charge of the Home Department (the Chief Minister), Leader of the Opposition, Chief Secretary, Home Secretary, Director-General of Police and the Chairpersons of the Tamil Nadu Public Service Commissione, Tamil Nadu Women’s Commission, Tamil Nadu Minorities’ Commission and State Human Rights Commission. This model of composition was not in accordance with any of the three models of composition suggested by the court. Laying emphasis on in-depth changes in the Ordinance, Mr. Henri urged the Chief Minister to refer the mater to a committee of experts for revamp through wider consultations and public debate. “We have decided to send a representation to Ms. Jayalalithaa in this regard. An all-party demonstration in all district headquarters has been planned to demand the review of Police Ordinance, 2013. A campaign in the social media is also being launched,” he said. Ossie Fernandes, Director of Human Rights Advocacy and Research Foundation, said the Ordinance lacked vision and needed to be redrafted keeping in mind the spirit and objectivity of the court’s directives. Former Chennai Police Commissioner G. Nanchil Kumaran also spoke.  (The Hindu 21/10/13)

 

8. Now file complaints against police (1)

BANGALORE: If you were cribbing that there is no one to bell the police cat, there is hope finally. Victims of police brutality can now lodge a complaint for any grievances like misconduct, arrest or detention without due process of law, custodial death and abuse of power to the newly formed Karnataka Police Complaints Authority (KPCA). “We have received 13 complaints from victims of police brutality. We have started verifying the authenticity of such complaints before proceeding,” said Justice MP Chinnappa, former judge of the high court, who is chairperson of KPCA. The other members are IGP (grievances and human rights) Alok Kumar, retired IAS officer Abhay Prakash and IPS officer Malini Krishnamurthy. “We are in the process of identifying a member from the civil society,” Justice Chinappa said. Any citizen can file a complaint with KPCA by post or at its office (room No 36/37) in Vikasa Soudha. KPCA will come out with its email ID. The Supreme Court in 2006 had directed all states to establish KPCA in all states. But the Karnataka government acted on it three years later by appointing RJ Babu, retired judge of the high court, as its chairperson on September 7, 2009. But the KPCA did not become functional because of legal and technical reasons. To remove such hurdles, the government in June 2012 issued an ordinance amending the Karnataka Police Act, thus incorporating the provision for constitution of the KPCA, and in August 2012, the ordinance was replaced with an act, Section 20 (C) of which deals with detailed provision for setting up of PCA and DPCAs. “Our job is not only to inquire into complaints of serious misconduct against police personnel received from a victim but also those by the state and national human rights commission. If the officers are found to be guilty we will communicate the findings to the police commissioner or the district superintendent of police with a recommendation to register an FIR and initiate departmental action,” Justice Chinnappa said. No cops here please: I hope the new authority will be result-oriented to gain the confidence of common man. But I don’t understand why two police officers are part of the committee. It should be free of officers in khakhi if it is to provide justice to common man., said Maj-Gen (Retd) K R Prasad, Janagraha. (Times of India 22/10/13)

 

MEDIA/ FREEDOM OF PRESS

9. MP scribe dies after consuming poison, Cong seeks CBI probe (1)

Bhopal: Opposition Congress in Madhya Pradesh today demanded a CBI probe into the death of a local journalist who committed suicide after allegedly being threatened by certain officials against whom he had filed a PIL in the High Court for forging caste certificates. “The Congress demands CBI probe into the suicide of Rajendra Kumar as he had taken the extreme step before the room of the State Chief Secretary yesterday,” the state unit Congress vice president Rameshwar Neekhra told reporters. 39-year-old Kumar, who used to run a weekly newspaper, had consumed poison yesterday while demanding action against alleged corruption in the state government. Kumar was admitted to Hamidia hospital where he died late night, police said. Neekhra said that Kumar came to know through RTI that nearly 300 officials who did not belong to the SC category had used fake certificates to get jobs, and was receiving death threats from them. Kumar who had filed a PIL in the high court on the issue was being pressurised to withdraw it, he said. “Since the entire state is being run from Mantralaya and Kumar taking the extreme step in front of the CS’ office, it’s a matter of concern as it is associated with the security of the Secretariat and reflects poorly on government’s sensitivity,” Neekhra added. He demanded that the Election Commission should also take cognisance of the matter since state is bound by Model Code of Conduct and also initiate steps to terminate services of the employees Kumar mentioned in his plea. The Leader of Opposition in MP Assembly, Ajay Singh has charged the state government of being insensitive towards such issues. In a statement, Ajay said the manner in which Kumar died exposed the BJP government in the state and demanded action against those found guilty. He also demanded that one member of Kumar’s family be given a government job. (Zee News 16/10/13)

 

10. Asaram Bapu wants media to be restrained, SC says no (1)

NEW DELHI: Arrested spiritual leader Asaram Bapu on Monday requested the Supreme Court to order the electronic media to tone down their coverage of alleged sexual assault cases against him, saying the TV channels’ “media trial” had already convicted him even as the police is yet to file a charge-sheet. Senior advocate Vikas Singh, appearing for Asaram Bapu, referred to the apex court’s judgment cautioning the media against holding trial through irresponsible reporting and requested a bench of Chief Justice P Sathasivam and Justice Ranjan Gogoi to protect his client’s right to be presumed innocent till a court scrutinized the charges and came to a conclusion after holding trial. Singh said Asaram had 400 ‘ashrams’ all over the country with more than 7 crore followers and the TV channels were blatantly breaching the ‘laxman rekha’ laid down by the apex court to project him as guilty of the alleged offences even when the police had not come across enough evidence to file a charge-sheet. The bench said, “For the present, we are not inclined to restrain the media. We will observe it for some more time and we will give you permission to approach the court again if the situation persists. We hope and trust media will follow the Supreme Court’s guidelines.” On September 12 last year, the apex court had abstained from laying down guidelines on coverage of criminal trials but had evolved a new constitutional doctrine empowering the higher judiciary to direct print and electronic media to defer reporting of trial court hearings for a short period if an accused proved that earlier news reports had harmed his right to fair trial or interfered with administration of justice. Though a five-judge constitution bench said it evolved the Doctrine of Postponement to balance the right of an accused to be presumed innocent till completion of trial with the media’s right to freedom of expression, it linked the doctrine to many complex caveats, making it very difficult for an aggrieved accused to convince a high court or the Supreme Court to order postponement of reporting of trial proceedings. The five-judge bench had said constitutional courts, high courts and the Supreme Court, should not direct postponement of reporting without first exploring alternative measures like change of venue of trial or postponement of trial proceedings to secure fair trial. The apex court had said constitutional courts could temporarily prohibit statements in the media if they had the potential to prejudice or obstruct or interfere with the administration of justice in a given case pending in the Supreme Court or a high court or even in the lower courts. (Times of India 22/10/13)

 

11. Journalist group condemns press freedom violations (1)

Denver: A group representing journalists from across the Americas is condemning violations of press freedoms in both Latin America and the United States. The Inter American Press Association on Tuesday cited the killings of 14 journalists as well as government acquisition of media outlets in Latin America, the secret seizure of Associated Press phone records, a new censorship law in Ecuador and advertising restrictions in Argentina as among the worst of the offenses. Members passed resolutions against them on the final day of their annual meeting in Denver. The group urged the US Congress to pass to legislation establishing a “robust” shield law that protects journalists from being forced to divulge their sources, a law that would prevent journalists from being jailed for refusing to do so. (Zee News 23/10/13)

 

DALITS/SCHEDULED CASTES

12. It’s a sin to be dalit in Haryana: Union minister Kumari Selja (2)

AMBALA: Dissidence in Haryana Congress came to the fore again on Thursday after Union minister Kumari Selja slammed the Bhupinder Singh Hooda-led government over the death of a dalit youth in police custody. “Is it a sin to be a dalit in Haryana? If dalits are not safe and the government does nothing to protect them, it is clear that it’s a sin to be a dalit in the state,” Selja said after visiting the family members of a youth who was mysteriously run over by a train while in police custody. “In recent years several incidents of atrocities on dalits were reported in Haryana. But the Hooda government made no serious efforts to protect them,” said the four-time MP and seniormost leader from the state in the Central government. The minister visited the house of a dalit youth – Ram Kumar – in Majri in Ambala city. The youth was found dead on the railway tracks on October 15, a day after he was picked up by police along with another youth. Ram Kumar’s friend, Vikram, was also allegedly tortured by police but managed to escape from custody. The handcuffed youth hid in the fields and later claimed he saw cops pushing his friend in front of a train. He is yet to record his statement before a magistrate. Selja said police included provisions under the SC/ST Act in the FIR on the youth’s death only after her intervention. Two assistant sub-inspectors and a head constable were arrested on Wednesday for their alleged involvement in the custodial death of the youth. Only a few days ago, Selja had accused a section of the state party leadership of trying to intimidate her. Her comments came after an unidentified youth flung a rock through the window of a train she had flagged off from her constituency, Ambala. Ambala City MLA, Vinod Sharma, attended the youth’s funeral on Thursday and announced a compensation of Rs 5 lakh for the victim’s family. (Times of India 18/10/13)

 

13. Dalits suffer social boycott in Maharashtra village (2)

Buldhana (Maharashtra): Suman Tayde, a resident of Yerkad village in Buldhana district of Maharashtra, is growing anxious as her 14-month-old granddaughter Dipti has not had any milk since October 12. It is not that the village has run out of supplies. Dalits of the village have been facing a social boycott and have not been allowed to buy anything from shops. They have even been denied access to the flour mill. On Monday last, Suman went to Balaji Kunte, a caste Hindu, and requested him to spare some milk for Dipti. Balaji Kunte’s wife told her, “If we give you milk, our caste people would punish us with social boycott.” “We are living on rice. Now they [caste Hindus] are threatening us that the road leading to our locality would be blocked,” says Tulsabai Telgote, Suman’s neighbour. “Afraid, our girls have not stepped out of the house since October 12.” The recent tensions in Yerkad can be traced to the January 26 incident when some caste Hindus did not allow B.R. Ambedkar’s photo to be put up alongside photos of other leaders during the Republic Day ceremony. “We were silent then but on the day of Maha Shivratri in May this year, they [caste Hindus] uprooted a Panchashil [the Buddhist flag] and replaced it with a saffron flag,” claims Jagdish Bhandare. Since the Maha Shivratri incident, no Dalit labourer has been allowed to work in caste Hindus’ farms, claim members of the community. On October 12, tensions escalated after a dispute led to caste Hindus allegedly attacking Dalits. The Dalits claim the caste Hindus resorted to verbal abuse of Dalit women, stoned the Ambedkar statue and filed “false complaints of theft” leading to the arrest of 15 Dalits. Uttam Wankhede said that on October 12 when Dalit women were offering prayers near the Ambedkar statue to the Bodhivruksha tree before leaving for Nagpur to attend the Dhammachakra Pravartan Din ceremony at Deeksha Bhoomi [celebrations of Dalits converting to Buddhism on October 14, 1956, under the leadership of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar]. Some caste Hindus came and passed on vulgar remarks relating to their worship of Dr. Ambedkar, she alleged. “Suddenly, they attacked us. Within five minutes, the village sarpanch, Amol Sathe, came with other caste Hindus and started beating us,” claimed Meera Wankhede, who received severe injuries on her hand. Police reached the spot within 10 minutes but according to the Dalits of Yerkad, they lathicharged Dalits instead of trying to stop the caste Hindus. “Police even arrested 15 Dalit men on false charges of stealing a goddess’ ornaments from a temple near the Ambedkar statue. They did not register our complaints,” alleged Jagdish Bhandare. “After the Maha Shivratri incident, no autorickshaw would agree to take us to our school. We had to walk for more than three km to our school in Undri village,” said Shivani, a standard eight student. “Some of them [caste Hindus] wrote abusive words about us and Baba Saheb on the road leading to our school.” However, caste Hindus and the police denied all these allegations. Inspector Santosh Tale said there was no “boycott” of Dalits . “There was a small incident and some political elements are trying to take advantage of the situation. We have arrested 15 people from the Dalit locality and 10 people from the caste Hindu locality for rioting over the October 12 incident,” Mr. Tale told The Hindu . Buldhana district’s Superintendent of Police Shamrao Dihgavkar said the situation in the village was peaceful after a “small incident”. “Ours is a peaceful village. It was a small incident but some political elements are trying to disrupt the peace here,” said Mangesh Sathe, brother of sarpanch Amol Sathe, a caste Hindu. Mr. Amol Sathe, who represents the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), was on Monday arrested under the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes Prevention of Atrocities Act, 1989. He has since been released but prohibited from entering the village, said the SP. Some Dalits have voiced their anxiety in continuing to stay in the village. “Give us an alternative piece of land and we will shift out of this place. Otherwise, someday, they [caste Hindus] will kill some of us,” Sindhu Tayade, a Dalit woman who was injured during the October 12 attack, told the deputy collector who came to take stock of the situation. (The Hindu 20/10/13)

 

14. ‘Nothing wrong in dalits conversion’ (2)

GANDHINAGAR: Nothing objectionable has been found till now by administration in the probe into the incident pertaining to a large number of people, mainly dalits, embracing Buddhism on October 13 in Dungarpur village on the outskirts of Junagadh city. Sources said the local administration that had initiated a probe into the event has complete videography of the event. “It has come to light that the people had gathered at the spot to listen to the preaching of Buddhism. It is their democratic right to do so. The local administration is probing the matter but nothing wrong has emerged till now,” an official in the state secretariat said. Officials said a dalit embracing Buddhism continues to get the social benefits that are meant for Scheduled Castes. A considerably large number of people had embraced Buddhism in the presence of monks at the event called ‘Chalo Buddh Ki Ore’, that was reportedly organized by Buddha Diksha Mahotsav Samiti. Officials maintained that the state government is doing its best to tackle caste-based discrimination. “We have a record of charge sheeting in 98 per cent of cases of atrocities that are investigated. We have vigilance committees at taluka and district levels that keep an eye on instances of caste based discrimination. In addition to social welfare officers, we have also appointed vigilance officers to tackle the practice of caste-based discrimination,” an official said. He further said the state government pays Rs 100 per day apart from transportation cost of victims and witnesses who come for hearings in cases of atrocity. “A victim can also hire a private lawyer to fight his case with a fee up to Rs 50,000, which is paid by the government,” the official added. (Times of India 22/10/13)

 

15. Caste Hindu abuses Dalit women, held (2)

THOOTHUKUDI: A caste Hindu man was arrested for allegedly abusing two dalit women and calling them by their caste name in a derogatory manner, at Vallanadu near here on Monday. Police said that Mariselvam, a dalit resident of Seidhunganallur, was running a hotel on highway at Vallanadu with the help of his wife Rajeshwari (36). On Monday, Rajeshwari and Lakshmi, a worker at the hotel, went out to attend to the call of nature when Mari, Murugan and Esakki, all caste Hindus, allegedly tried to molest them. When the women retaliated, the trio verbally abused them by calling their caste name. Soon a heated argument ensued, in the course of which Mari allegedly slapped Rajeshwari injuring her. Later, Rajeshwari lodged a complaint with Murappanadu Police station. Thoothukudi Rural DSP, Narayanan filed a case under section 294(b), 323, 506 (ii) of the IPC and section 4 of the Tamil Nadu Prevention of Harassment of Women Act and arrested Mari. (new Indian Express 23/10/13)

 

16.  ‘H.P. temples still bar Dalits’ (2)

SHIMLA: Noted Himachal writer S.R. Harnot has sought an FIR to be registered against the managing committee of famous Markendeya Temple in Bilaspur for practising discrimination against the Scheduled Castes and Dalits. He said in a statement that the temple management displayed boards, banning the entry of Dalits into the temple. Markandeya is also a small village, about 20 km from Bilaspur town and has an auspicious spring of water attracting pilgrims of Char Dham. A festival is celebrated here annually on Baisakhi with a great pomp and splendour. The Markandeya temple is dedicated to Sage Markandeya who had lived and worshipped here. Mr. Harnot who has authored many books and articles against the prevalence of caste practices in the backward hill State, regretted the temple management was openly restricting the entry of lower castes in any religious shrine of the State. Calling it an offence against the downtrodden, he said the objectionable sign boards were earlier removed by the management on his intervention about two years ago. But the similar boards were under display again and the district administration was keeping quiet and maintaining a silence. The National Commission for Scheduled Castes recently received complaints of “no entry” in about 35 temples and religious shrines in Himachal Pradesh. (The Hindu 24/10/13)

 

HIV/AIDS

17. Bill to give fair treatment to HIV-affected hits roadblock (3)

New Delhi: Almost 12 years after the government first announced its plan to bring in a law to check discrimination against people suffering from HIV/AIDS, the proposed law, which is still in the works, has hit yet another roadblock. For a law that seeks to establish a humane, legal regime to support prevention, treatment and care to HIV/AIDS patients as well as preventing discrimination against anyone suffering from the same, the Union Health Ministry is opposed to any punishment clause in the proposed HIV and AIDS (Prevention and Control) Bill, 2013 to punish any employer or individual who discriminates against anybody suffering from the disease. However, the Union Law Ministry is refusing to buy the Health Ministry’s logic that any punishment clause for offences under Section 3 in Chapter II, which deals with prohibition of certain act (against those infected with HIV/AIDS), would turn the proposed law “draconian”.Sources told The Indian Express that during discussions on the subject, senior officials of the Union Ministry of Law and Justice made it clear to functionaries of the Union Health Ministry that without any penal clause that prescribes punishment for offences under the law, the purpose of enacting the law would be “completely defeated”.However, the Health Ministry officials have, so far, refused to budge, insisting that a punishment clause is not acceptable. Having failed to convince the Health Ministry, the Law Ministry has now put its objections on paper and asked the Health Ministry to let the Cabinet take a decision on the matter when it takes up the Bill for clearance. “We have held many meetings with the Health Ministry officials. But they are adamant. Our viewpoint is that unless punishment is prescribed for an offence under the proposed law, the entire purpose of the law would be defeated. (Indian Express 17/10/13)

 

18. Cycle rally to spread awareness on HIV (3)

Bokaro: The rapid increase in the number HIV positive pregnant women Jharkhand has become a matter of concern for the Governemnt. This deadly disease (AIDS) is also spreading its wings in the tribal villages of the State now, reveals a recent survey. In a bid to spread awareness about this deadly disease, a cycle rally would be organised on December 20 in Dhanbad and Bokaro districts, said SN Prasad president of an NGO namely Orange. There has been unprecedented growth in AIDS cases in Bokaro district including its outskirts since after the formation of Jharkhand. In the last few months, 22 new HIV positive patients were identified in the district including at Chas block Intergraded Council Testing Centre (ICTC), Bokaro Genaral Hospital, BTPS, CTPS and IEL hospitals, who were reffered to RIMS (Rajendra Institute of Medical Science) Ranchi, informed the hospital sources. These new HIV positive cases came into the limelight after the random blood samples were collected from more than 1,000 patients visiting at the centre, hospital sources said adding AIDS has already claimed seven lives till date.  Prasad said the maximum cases those who tested positive are of floating population of truck drivers, para-military troops, taxi drivers who occasionally visit their homes and practice unsafe sex despite being aware of the consequences. “Among these, 90 percent of HIV positive cases are due to only and only unsafe sex practice. He added that among those tested HIV positive hardly 30-35 percent are women as mostly men transmit the disease to their wives”, he added.  (Pioneer 18/10/13)

19. 25 villages bracketed as ‘most sensitive’ for HIV by NACO (3)

ALLAHABAD: A cluster of 25 villages spread across Meja, Soraon, Karchana, Handia and Phulpur blocks of the district have been identified and bracketed as ‘most sensitive’ for HIV transmission by the National Aids Control Programme (NACO). District health officials have been asked to check the status of migrants living in these villages as they are among the prime carriers of HIV in the district and organize composite health camps. District Aids Prevention and Control Unit (DAPCU) officials claim that Allahabad is among 28 districts in the state identified for composite health camps by the NACO and has the largest number of migrant labourers. The composite health check up camps would be held in these villages between Tuesday and November 14. The composite health check up would have five specific components, including normal check up and medication; HIV/Aids and sexually transmitted diseases consultation and related counseling/testing and treatment; anti-natal check up of all pregnant women; promotion of condoms-cum-exhibition; and, folk group programmes for awareness. Terming migrants as the most susceptible to and responsible for the spread of the fatal disease, nodal officer of DAPCU Dr OP Shahi said “under the directives of NACO and UPACS, efforts are afoot to identify such patients for medication and counselling.” He further said that villages prone to high risk have been placed under the scanner and a series of awareness and educational camps were being undertaken to check the menace. DAPCU has already prepared a list of migrants in these villages and ASHA workers and ANMs have been asked to encourage such migrants to attend the camp,” he added. The first composite health camp would be held at Meja on Tuesday. It would be followed by camps in Phulpur, Soraon, Karchana and Handia on October 23, November 12, November 13 and November 14 respectively. Dr Shahi said “the department will undertake an intensive drive to apprise migrant labourers of the health camp where they would be offered counselling, testing and treatment facilities.” He further said that a study on migration pattern and prevalence of HIV was already underway and added “officials are also mapping high-risk groups like female sex workers, intravenous drug users and men having sex with men (MSM) so that concrete measures could be initiated to restrict the spread of the virus.” The three categories of migrants responsible for the spread of disease are workers at brick kilns, stone cutting, mining, silica mining centres and service clusters (who migrate from one state to another for livelihood). (Times of India 22/10/13)

 

20. Breastmilk protein that may protect babies from HIV identified (3)

A new research has identified a substance present in breast milk that neutralizes HIV and may protect babies from acquiring HIV from their infected mothers. Researchers at Duke Medicine have for the first time identified the protein, called Tenascin-C or TNC, which had previously been recognized as playing a role in wound healing, but had not been known to have antimicrobial properties. The researchers describe how the TNC protein in breast milk binds to and neutralizes the HIV virus, potentially protecting exposed infants who might otherwise become infected from repeated exposures to the virus. “Even though we have antiretroviral drugs that can work to prevent mother-to-child transmission, not every pregnant woman is being tested for HIV, and less than 60 percent are receiving the prevention drugs, particularly in countries with few resources. So there is still a need for alternative strategies to prevent mother-to-child transmission, which is why this work is important,” senior author Sallie Permar, assistant professor of pediatrics, immunology and molecular genetics and microbiology at Duke said. Permar and colleagues focused on breast milk, which has long been recognized as having some protective quality that inhibits mother-to-child transmission despite multiple daily exposures over months and even years of nursing. The Duke team screened mature milk samples from uninfected women for neutralizing activity against a panel of HIV strains, confirming that all of the detectable HIV-neutralization activity was contained in the high molecular weight portion. Using a multi-step protein separation process, the researchers narrowed the detectable HIV-neutralization activity to a single protein, and identified it as TNC. Permar said that TNC is a component of the extracellular matrix that is integral to how tissues hold themselves together. This is a protein involved during wound healing, playing a role in tissue repair. It is also known to be important in fetal development, but its reason for being a component of breast milk or its antiviral properties had never been described. Permar said TNC would also appear to be inherently safe, since it is a naturally occurring component of breast milk, and it may avoid the problem of HIV resistance to antiretroviral regimens that complicate maternal/infant applications. The study is published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. (Deccan Chronicle 23/10/13)

 

CORRUPTION

21. Take cognisance of verifiable corruption allegation: Government (5)

New Delhi: The Centre directed all central government departments to take cognisance of corruption complaints containing verifiable allegation on Friday. “If a complaint contains verifiable allegations, the administrative ministry or department may take cognisance of such complaint with the approval of the competent authority to be designated by the ministry or department as per their distribution of work,” the Ministry of Personnel said in a missive. In such cases, the complaint will be first sent to the complainant for owning or disowning, as the case may be. If no response is received from the complainant within 15 days of sending the complaint, a reminder will be sent. “After waiting for 15 days after sending the reminder, if still nothing is heard, the said complaint may be filed as pseudonymous by the ministry or department,” it said. The Ministry, which acts as nodal department to ensure transparency measures, also issued guidelines on handling of anonymous complaints of corruption by central government departments. No action is required to be taken on anonymous complaints, irrespective of the nature of allegations and such complaints need to be simply filed, the official order said. “Complaints containing vague allegations could also be filed without verification of identity of the complainant,” it added. The move is part of putting in place a mechanism for handling of corruption complaints under the Public Interest Disclosure Protection of Informers’ Resolution (PIDPI)- 2004 , a mechanism for handling complaints where identity of the complainant is kept secret and the complainant is provided protection. Both the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) and central government departments get a huge number of anonymous and pseudonyms corruption complaints, which at most of the times contain vague contents. The PIDPI resolution encourages a whistleblower to expose act of corruption while ensuring his security. All central government ministries have already been directed to designate a nodal officer to look into complaints of corruption received from whistleblowers under PIDPI resolution. (Indian Express 18/10/13)

 

22. Water, not corruption, top poll issue in Delhi: Kejriwal’s party survey (5)

New Delhi: Corruption and women’s safety — two topics that have always topped the Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP) agenda — do not figure among the main five issues for voters of the national capital, the party has found in a latest survey. All along, even before it came into existence, corruption and women’s safety have been priority issues for AAP. Delhiites came out in large numbers during the nationwide campaign of India Against Corruption — out of which AAP was born — through 2011 and most of 2012. In December 2012 and January 2013, even more people hit the streets to protest the December 16 gang rape incident. AAP was key part of the protests. The AAP survey, made public on Friday, found that drinking water emerged as the top issue with 28% respondents voting for it. Cleanliness at 18% came second while bad roads scored the third place with 11%, it said. Safety of women figured at the sixth position with just 4% Delhiites worrying about it while a mere 3% people said corruption was an issue. Yogendra Yadav, AAP leader and known psephologist, along with Cicero Associates, a Delhi-based consultancy firm, carried out the survey between September 5 and October 5. The survey had 34,425 respondents from across 70 assembly constituencies. The AAP has been banking heavily on its anti-corruption agitation, calling this election as a fight between honest and corrupt people. It promised a strong Janlokpal within 15 days if voted to power. “These issues have emerged in response to our question ‘what are the local issues?’ … We had not given them any options to rate,” Yadav said. The AAP chief said: “If the people feel roads are bad, it is a major issue for them. The very fact that our vote share is increasing indicates people are looking at us with hope that we will get rid of their problems.”    The survey claimed that AAP had cut into Congress strongholds of Muslim and Dalit votes. As many as 32% Dalits are supporting AAP, more than any other party while the Muslim vote share for AAP is 26%.For a party that recently formed a Sikh cell, this community’s support stood at 27%, less than Congress’ 28% and BJP’s 36%.The party claimed that it had received 33% support from upper caste and OBC voters each. The upper castes, including baniyas (traders), are traditionally considered BJP supporters. Experts, however, downplayed both the BJP and AAP surveys. Biswajeet Das, sociologist, Jamia Millia Islamia said: “These opinion polls and surveys have no credibility. The parties want to show whatever suits them. This is only opinion build-up exercise.” Ravi Ranjan, fellow, Developing Countries Research Centre, Delhi University, agreed: “These surveys don’t address the crisis of representation. The parties that release such data are not able to understand the essence of democracy.” (Hindutan Times 19/10/13)

 

23. Saradha scam worth Rs 2,460cr; owner in control of deposits:Report (5)

New  Delhi: The alleged chit fund scam in West Bengal involving the Saradha Group revolves around a total sum of Rs 2,460 crore with 80 per cent of the depositors’ monies still remaining unpaid, a latest investigation report has revealed. The report also states that the arrested Saradha chairman Sudipta Sen was in “total control” of all deposits made by his group companies, which are under the scanner for having perpetrated the alleged fraud. Four companies of the Saradha Group, the report said, used to mobilise money through three schemes — ‘fixed  deposit’, ‘recurring deposit’ and ‘monthly income deposit’ — which lured innocent depositors with promises of either “landed property or a foreign tour” as incentive returns. A joint investigation report of West Bengal police and Enforcement Directorate (ED), in possession of PTI, stated that, “the summary report (of the group) for the years 2008-12 revealed that the four companies of Saradha Group had mobilised an amount of Rs 2,459.59 crore through issuance of their policies. “The investors were paid an amount of Rs 476.57 crore. “As of April 16, 2013, the principal amount to be paid to the investors stood at Rs 1,983.02 crore,” the report added. The statistics, prepared by the probe agencies after analysing the companies’ business sheets and recording the statements of investors, show that 80 per cent of the depositors’ money was still held up. Sleuths found that the four Saradha Group companies, namely, Saradha Realty India Ltd, Saradha Tours and Travels Pvt Ltd, Saradha Housing Pvt Ltd and Saradha Garden Resort and Hotels Pvt Ltd were in the business of mobilising money from gullible investors. “Investors were also given the option of encashing their investment after the specified period along with very high returns,” the report said. A total of 560 complaints have so far been filed with West Bengal police by duped investors, the report stated. Describing the working of the scam, which broke early this year, the classified report stated that the “investigation so far carried out revealed that Sen had floated various companies, through numerous branch offices in West Bengal as also in Odisha, Assam, Jharkhand and other states to mobilise deposits from the public”. (Pioneer 20/10/13)

 

24. Irrigation scam: BJP leaders make submissions before panel (5)

Mumbai: Maharashtra BJP leaders, including state unit president Devendra Fadnavis, presented a cartload of proof while making a presentation before the Madhav Chitale panel on Monday, about alleged financial irregularities in multi-crore irrigation projects. Mr. Fadnavis and Leader of Opposition in the Legislative Council Vinod Tawde met Madhav Chitale at his office in Aurangabad and handed over 14,000 pages of “evidence” brought to the venue in four bags on a bullock cart. “We demand that the Madhav Chitale committee should examine the evidence and let the truth come out. The proof submitted by us is enough. We have also sought 15 days’ time to submit more proof. The scam runs into thousands of crores. Not only officials, but ministers are also responsible,” Mr. Fadnavis said. Incidentally, the BJP had accused Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader and Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar of being linked to the alleged multi-crore irrigation scam. The BJP leaders had written to Mr. Chitale asking for a date to allow the opposition to depose before it, with documents related to alleged irrigation scam. Mr. Fadnavis said he pointed out critical issues related to cost escalation and alleged ad hoc decisions to clear irrigation projects guided by political compulsions rather than ground realities. “Our chief concern is to seek action against those responsible for wrongdoing in the irrigation sector. It is a battle we have been fighting for the last few years,” he said. Following advice from Advocate General Darius Khambata and pressure from the opposition, Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan recently gave directions to the Chitale panel to allow opposition leaders and individuals to make submissions on irrigation projects. However, Mr. Chavan refused to make any constitutional amendments in the structure of the four-member panel, which is expected to give its report in December. Earlier, the advocate general had promised the Bombay High Court to allow the Chitale panel to allow submissions on irrigation documents. Mr. Fadnavis had written to Mr. Chitale and Governor K. Sankaranarayanan, asking them to allow deposition by opposition leaders and individuals. (The Hindu 22/10/13)

 

25. Fourth arrest in Cricket Club of India membership scam (5)

MUMBAI: The EOW on Tuesday arrested Sandeep Jain, a member of the Cricket Club of India (CCI), in an alleged fake membership scam. Jain, who has been accused of forgery, breach of trust and cheating, is the fourth accused arrested in the case. He will be produced in court on Wednesday. Earlier, the police had arrested businessmen Ketan Thacker and Nimai Agrawal, and CCI’s IT officer Khalid Kazi. “Jain took Rs 4 lakh from 11 businessmen under the pretext of providing them membership,” said Rajwardhan Sinha, additional commissioner of police (EOW). According to the FIR, an internal inquiry by the club found that 11 people had allegedly colluded with the staff and acquired memberships by pasting their personal details on the documents of deceased members.  (Times of India 23/10/13)

 

TERRORISM

26. Three convicted for association with terror outfit KCP (12)

New Delhi: Three members of a Manipur-based banned terror outfit have been held guilty by a Delhi court for their association with the terrorist organisation and raising funds for its activities. Additional Sessions Judge Daya Prakash convicted the three terrorists of Kangleipak Communist Party (KCP) and sentenced them to nearly four years and nine months in jail, the period already undergone by them behind bars. The court convicted Manipur residents Chongtham Manglemajao Singh, Nagriyambam Ratan Singh and Naorem Amumacha Singh under the Unlawful Activities(Prevention) Act (UAPA) for the offences of raising funds for terrorist act, conspiracy, harbouring and being members of terrorist gang or organisation after they pleaded guilty in the case. The fourth accused Chongtham Ibomacha Singh was earlier discharged by the court in 2011. The offences for which the three accused were convicted entails a maximum punishment of life imprisonment. “I have considered the prayer of all the convicts as well as submissions made by the prosecutor. Keeping in view the economic status of all the three convicts, pleading of guilt by convicts and they are in judicial custody since January 17, 2009, my inference is that convicts deserves leniency. “Therefore, let convicts Chongtham Manglemajao Singh, Nagriyambam Ratan Singh and Naorem Amumacha Singh be sentenced for the period already undergone by them in the present case for the offences under Sections 17/18/19/20 of UAPA and set at liberty, if not required in any case,” the judge said. The four accused, including the one who was discharged earlier, were arrested by the Special Cell of Delhi Police on January 17, 2009 on an information that terrorists of KCP will assemble at a house in Govind Puri here. According to the prosecution, the raiding team of the police had reached the spot in the morning and the door was opened by accused Chongtham. (Zee News 17/10/13)

 

27. 722 suspects rejoined terror groups after acquittal in Pak (12)

Islamabad: A majority of the nearly 2,000 suspected terrorists freed by Pakistani courts since 2007 have either joined terror groups or are involved in anti-state activities, a media report said today. Of the 1,964 suspected terrorists released by the courts, 722 have rejoined terrorist groups while 1,197 are actively involved in anti-state activities, the Dawn reported. At least 12 of such acquitted terrorists have been killed – four of them in US drone attacks in the restive tribal areas and eight during the operations conducted by security forces, the paper reported quoting an official document. Though the wording of the document is vague, it appears to suggest that those being monitored are still involved in militant activities, the report said. Thirty-three of those acquitted have been re-apprehended and are currently confined to jails and internment centres under the ‘Action in Aid in Civil Power Regulations 2011′, it said. Defence analyst Air-Vice Marshall (retired) Shahzad Chaudhry said intelligence agencies do keep a check on the suspects who were release in some high-profile cases. They are monitored to make sure that after acquittal the suspects would not be involved in terrorist activities again. Sometimes when the released suspect gets involved in an anti-state activity the agencies try to apprehend and detain him in an internment centre, he said. Since there is no legal cover for the detention after acquittal, sometimes the suspect is classified as a missing person, the report said. This is not the first document that has highlighted the trend showing those acquitted returning to the activities they were suspected of at the first place. According to a security agency report submitted to the Federal Review Board (a judicial body formed by the Supreme Court to examine the detention cases of suspects), the men accused of plotting attacks on former president Pervez Musharraf, the Danish Embassy, Surgeon-General Mushtaq Baig and a military bus in Rawalpindi had re-joined the terrorist outfits after their acquittal. It has repeatedly been reported that the weak prosecution and half-baked evidence led to the acquittal of hundreds of suspects, allegedly involved in terrorist activities. If the suspects are detained over some suspicions, they are set free at the High Court level as most of the time intelligence agencies and police fail to produce credible evidence, the report said. (Deccan Herald 19/10/13)

 

28. Indian Mujahideen aiming to grow like al Qaeda: Yasin Bhatkal (12)

New Delhi: Indian Mujahideen is on an expansion spree! That is what captured IM terrorist Yasin Bhatkal – one of India’s most wanted men – has revealed to security agencies, reported a daily on Monday. Bhatkal has reportedly disclosed that the IM is aiming to expand like the al Qaeda, the world’s dreaded terror group, and maintains close contact with Pakistan-based Tehreek-e-Taliban. The IM’s main aim, as per Bhatkal, is to usher in Sharia in India. The terrorist also revealed the IM maintains contacts with Pakistan’s intelligence agency ISI, but has refrained from becoming its puppet unlike the Lashkar-e-Toiba. He also claimed that several IM recruits fought NATO forces in Afghanistan and were killed there.  (Zee News 21/10/13)

 

29. Five militants surrender in Manipur (12)

Imphal: Five militants of banned People’s Revolutionary Party of Kangleipak-Progressive (PREPAK-P) have surrendered before police in Manipur. The militants identified as Santosh Bahadur (27), Sorokhaibam Ibomcha (38), Khundrakpam Ajay (24), Takhelambam Umajit (21) and Athoi Maring (24) crossed the international border on Saturday and laid down arms comprising five AK 47 rifles, 15 magazines and 375 rounds of ammunition before police commandos at the border town of Moreh, about 125 km from Imphal, the police said. The militants came to the border town from their camp at Nunglet in Upper Myanmar after developing contact with an ’intermediary’, the police said. They would be rehabilitated, the police said. Over 300 insurgents of different outfits have surrendered to law-enforcing agencies in Manipur this year. The militants have been handed over to Imphal West district police station for necessary action, the police said. (The Hindu 22/10/13)

 

NAXALS/ MAOISTS

30. Three police jawans killed in Gadchiroli naxal attack (12)

GADCHIROLI: Three police commandos were killed in a landmine blast triggered by Maoists in a forest area on the Maharashtra-Chhattisgarh border in the wee hours today. Acting on a tip-off, the anti-Naxal commando force jawans were conducting a combing operation in the Bada Zariya forest area in Dhanora taluka when the Naxals triggered a landmine blast. Three jawans of C-60 Commando Force were killed in the blast, police said, adding further details were awaited. There was also an exchange of fire after the blast, locals said. Senior police officials have rushed to the spot and the bodies are being brought to Gadchiroli, police said. This is a major attack by Maoists in the last few months after police eliminated more than 23 ultras in different operations this year.  (Times of India 18/10/13)

 

31. Naxals kill villager in AP (12)

HYDERABAD: A group of suspected Maoists allegedly shot dead a 25-year-old villager, branding him as a police informer in Khammam district of Andhra Pradesh in the wee hours, police said. Madakam Kosalu was dragged out of his house in Gollaguupa village of Bhadrachalam rural mandal between 1am and 2am by around seven ultras. They pumped three bullets into Kosalu’s chest before fleeing from the spot, a police officer told PTI, adding, that the villager died on the spot. A hunt has been launched to nab the culprits and Chintoor police are carrying out further investigations. (New Indian Ezxpress 21/10/13)

 

32. Gadchiroli villagers suffer after Naxal attack on primary school (12)

Bada Jhaliya (Gadchiroli): Until Wednesday, six-year-old Rashmi Gota, a student of Standard one of the Zila Parishad school here, would go to school regularly. But now, she is worried for her school that was damaged in a blast that killed three policemen late on Wednesday night. The school provided primary education to 16 kids here. All of them are now worried because they will have to walk three km every day to a school in Gyarapatti village. Also, it is still unclear whether the school there will admit them in the middle of the year. The blast not only stopped the education of the children, but also made them victims of police atrocities. Angered over the death of their colleagues, policemen thrashed almost every one of them, claimed villager Sherkebai Dhurve. “They did not even spare women and kids,” said Jankai Achala, a young girl of the village. Now, the threat of criminal cases being lodged against the villagers for “helping” Naxals looms large. Almost every one from the village is called to the Gyarapatti police station for interrogation every day, a villager said. The Gadchiroli police have arrested five villagers for the attack and interrogation of many is on. “The school is situated right in the middle of the village. Naxals could not have planted explosives without taking villagers into confidence,” said a policeman. According to Police Sub Inspector Harshraj Adaspure of the Gyarapatti police station, someone first opened fire from a house before the blast. “The firing was a signal to trigger the blast. It was triggered by someone who was standing behind the school,” Mr. Adaspure told The Hindu. Naxals had planted “Ammonium Nitrate four months ago” beneath the school building, according to some police sources. This was triggered with the help of a remote control from the distance of “at least 100 meters” when 41 police jawans of a Special Action Group of Maharashtra police were staying in the school building on Wednesday. According to villagers, the police team came in the afternoon on Wednesday and stayed in the school building until late night. Police teams often stayed in the school building whenever they visited the village, claimed villagers. However, Gadchiroli Superintendent of Police (SP) Mohmmad Suvez Haque refused to accept or deny that there was a procedural lapse on the part of the police team. “School building was the only government building in that village. So the jawans decided to stay there. About lapses, only a detailed investigation of the incident will make things clear,” he told The Hindu. The SP also denied that there were any atrocities on the villagers. “The DIG and I spoke to the villagers on Thursday but they did not complain about police atrocities. But I have asked the Sub Divisional Police Officer to inquire into it. Our policy is clear. Atrocities against tribal people, even by our men, will not be tolerated and strict action will be taken against anyone found guilty,” he said. But District Collector of Gadchiroli Ranjeet Kumar expressed his displeasure over the police teams staying in the school building. “I will raise this issue with the police and we will try our best to reopen that school as soon as possible.” According to the police sources, a relative of Tipagarh Naxal Dalam Commander Dinakar Gota is a resident of the village and thus it is frequented by Naxals. Even the SP said that there were strong inputs regularly about Naxal presence in the Bada Jhaliya area. Naxal supporters or not, people of Bada Jhaliya appear to be at the receiving end. “We have death on either side,” rues Gelet Gota of who could evade police interrogation as he was away from the village when the blast took place.  (The Hindu 22/10/13)

 

33. 12,000 civilians, 3000 policemen killed by Naxals in three decades (12)

New Delhi: Nearly 12,000 civilians and 3,000 security personnel were killed by Naxals in the last three decades, according to the Home Ministry. The Ministry statistics said 4,638 Naxals were killed by security forces during the period. Altogether 11,742 civilians and 2,947 security personnel were killed by the Naxals in different parts of the country since 1980. The highest number of civilian casualty was reported in 2010 when the Naxals killed 720 people — mostly in nine Naxal-affected states–Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Odisha, Bihar, West Bengal, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. The highest number of casualty among security forces was reported in 2009 when the Maoists killed 317 policemen. The highest — 296 — Naxals were eliminated in 1998. In 1980, Naxals killed 84 civilians while 17 of the rebels were also killed that year. There was no loss of life among security personnel in 1980. In 2012, Naxals killed 300 civilians and 114 security personnel. A total of 52 Naxals were killed in encounters with security forces. In 2013, till September 30, a total of 198 civilians and 88 security personnel were killed by Naxals while 52 members of the ultra Left group were eliminated by security forces. (Zee New 23/10/13)

 

LABOUR/ MGNREGA

34. Cheap migrant labour contributes to GDP: Report (14)

The Unesco report ‘Social Inclusion of Internal Migrants in India’, released by rural development minister Jairam Ramesh on Thursday estimated that about 30% of migrants are youth aged 15-29 years and another 15 million are children. The intensity of migration is likely to increase in future in response to economic crises, political instability and global environment change, it warned. Internal migrants, especially short-term seasonal/circular migrants who move back and forth between source and destination locations, constitute a floating population, which is put at anywhere between 15 million and 100 million by different estimates. These migrants often lose social protection benefits as most benefits are linked to the place of residence, pointed out the report. According to the report, internal migrants faced discrimination as ‘outsiders’, which excluded them from access to legal rights, public services and social protection programmes accorded to residents. This is despite the migrants providing cheap labour and typically doing the most dirty, dangerous and degrading jobs that locals do not want to do. Far from being a burden on society, migrants’ cheap labour provides a subsidy and contributes to the national GDP, stated the report. Moreover, remittances from migrants lead to increased expenditure on health and education helping human capital formation. According to NSSO 2007-08, women constitute 80% of total internal migrants. “There isn’t enough data on women migrant labour because of the assumption that most women migrate because of marriage. This assumption blocks further analysis of the women migrants engaged in paid labour and an understanding of how their vulnerabilities are being compounded by contemporary economic practices and not just because of historical or cultural baggage. This leads to the “invisibilization” and undermining of women in policies too,” said Indu Agnihotri of the Centre for Women’s Development Studies. Jairam Ramesh, who provided the estimates of remittances, pointed out that migrants constitute a significant share of a state’s gross domestic product, about 10% in the case of Bihar and 3-4% in the case of Uttar Pradesh. “Portability of legal entitlements could make a huge difference to the lives of internal migrants. The UID number could be the single most important intervention which could ensure portability of legal entitlements as well as financial inclusion. Legal entitlements should not be location specific, only individual or household specific and UID number could make this possible,” said Ramesh. Financial inclusion, he said, was important also because barely 30% of the remittances currently flow through formal channels, the remaining 70% being dependent on informal channels. Rakesh Ranjan, advisor, Housing and Urban Affairs in the Planning Commission identified housing or shelter as the most urgent problem faced by migrants and added that cities needed to be prepared to ensure that there were no hurdles to the movement of labour. (Times of India 18/10/13)

 

35. Govt to rehabilitate bonded labourers: Jairam Ramesh (14)

New Delhi: Concerned over the prevalence of bonded labour in the country, the government on Friday decided to initiate massive programmes to rehabilitate and provide alternative livelihood for people living in conditions of modern-day slavery. Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh said that initially 10 critically vulnerable districts have been taken up to rehabilitate bonded labourers through the Centre’s ambitious National Rural Livelihood Mission (NRLM). The ten districts are Gaya in Bihar, Bastar and Kondagaon in Chattisgarh, Prakasam and Chittur in Andhra Pradesh, Kanchipuram and Vellore in Tamil Nadu, Bolangir and Bargarh in Odisha and Gumla in Jharkhand. “We are going to take up these ten districts. We will locate the bonded labourers there, get surveys done, rehabilitate them and create conditions for alternative livelihood,” Ramesh said. The main instruments on the ground to locate and rehabilitate the bonded labourers will be womens self-help groups operating under NRLM, he said. “Under NRLM umbrella through women self-help groups, we will initiate this projects in 10 districts which are considered to have a substantial population of bonded labourers,” he said. According to plan, the Minister said these groups will join hands with several NGOs on the ground and NRLM will become an institutional partner of the “Bandhua 1947 campaign” to combat bonded labour. Bandhua 1947 is a national-level campaign in India aimed at mobilising people to advocate with their governments to protect millions currently vulnerable to bonded labour and fight for their rights. Shantanu Dutta, convenor, Bandhua 1947, termed as “a game changer” the Ministry’s decision. “With partnerships and movements initiated by the government such as this one, solutions to fully eradicate bonded labour are no longer an impossibility,” Dutta said. According to the first Global Slavery Index published by an Australia-based group yesterday, about 14 million Indians are living in conditions of modern-day slavery. (Zee News 19/10/13)

 

36. 30 lakh women work as domestic help in urban India (14)

CHENNAI: The domestic workers sector is said to have grown by 222 per cent since 1999-2000 and is the largest sector of female employment in urban India, involving around 3 million women, according to a UNESCO report titled ‘Social Inclusion of Internal Migrants in India’. Stressing on the need to promote safe migration for women migrant workers who constitute a vulnerable group, the report said lack of education, experience and skills leaves them vulnerable to exploitation. The report stated that The National Commission for Enterprises in the Unorganised Sector has estimated that out of four million domestic workers, 92 per cent were women, girls and children, and 20 per cent were under 14 years. The report said these figures were an  underestimation and that the number of domestic workers in the country could be much higher. The report also hit out at the Union government for the delay in clearing the draft bill ‘Domestic Workers Welfare and Social Security Act 2010’. “The National Commission for Women (NCW) has drafted the bill to address issues pertaining to registration of domestic workers, provision of legal protection and minimum wages and other forms of exploitation of women and children, and regulation of placement agencies. However, this proposed legislation is yet to be passed. The UNESCO report also stated that female migrants are less represented in regular jobs and more likely to be self-employed. Quoting government reports, it said, nearly 60 per cent of female migrants in rural areas were self-employed and 37 per cent were casual workers, whereas in urban areas, 43.7 per cent of women migrants were self-employed and 37 per cent were engaged in regular jobs. (New Indian Express 21/10/13)

 

37. Centre to extend flexibility under MGNREGA to Odisha (14)

BHUBANESWAR: Accepting most of the demands made by Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik for cyclone victims, the Centre today said it would extend similar flexibility under MGNREGA as given to calamity-ravaged Uttarakhand in July this year. “I am more than pleased to extend the same flexibility that we have given to Uttarakhand in July 2013 to Odisha which has gone through a severe calamity in the past few weeks,” Union Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh has said in a written reply to Patnaik. Ramesh’s assurance was given in a reply a few hours after the Chief Minister sent two letters to the Union Minister seeking several assistances including additional three lakh houses under Indira Awas Yojana (IAY) and an additional Rs 500 crore as labour budget under MGNREGA for 2013-14, official sources said. The Minister said that two specific requests made by Patnaik for use of machinery under MGNREGA and a special grant of Rs 35 crore for repair of IT infrastructure are being considered. “I will revert to you shortly,” Ramesh said. On the demand for raising the labour budget over and above Rs 1515.7 crore for 2013-14, the Union Minister said that he had been personally requesting the state government officials to come for a review of the labour budget. Stating that barring Jharkhand, no other state including Odisha has come forward for a review of the labour budget in spite of his open offer, Ramesh said “I wish to state once again that the state government can come any time for a review of the labour budget and what is considered reasonable will be agreed to. “We can consider flexibility in pre-conditions for fund release but the important thing is for the state to come for a review of the labour budget,” he said. Earlier on the day, Patnaik in two separate letters had demanded among other things allotment of at least three lakh additional houses under IAY and a package of Rs 500 crore labour budget under MGNREGA, the sources said.  (The Economic Times 24/10/13)

 

CHILDREN/ CHILD LABOUR

38. Child labour: UP tops the list of states (14)

VARANASI: The International Day for the Eradication of Poverty is observed on October 17 every year since 1993 after the United Nations General Assembly chose this day to promote awareness about the need to eradicate poverty in all countries. Eradication of extreme poverty and hunger is also one of the development goals of the UN. Though reduction in the number of people living below poverty line has been witnessed in last couple of years, poverty still exists one of the worst forms of it can be seen as child labour, bonded labour and people living in urban slums. “Uttar Pradesh, which tops the list of child labour, has the highest number, 20% of India’s child labourers,” said Rajni Kant, the state convener of Campaign against Child Labour (CACL) and president of Human Welfare Association (HWA). According to CACL report, out of 1,26,66,377 child labourers in the country, UP alone has 19,27,997 child labourers. As per the records of assistant labour commissioner office over 1,750 child labourers had been identified by the department since December 1996. Slums and the condition of people living there is also one of the indicators of poverty. According to records, Varanasi has 227 slums, including 210 in the municipal limit of Varanasi Municipal Corporation and total population of these slums is about 4,53,222, which constitutes about 37.69% of the total population of the city. The report prepared under Jawaharlal Nehru Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) suggests that the average income of a slum household is Rs 100-150 per day with average household size of eight members. A report of the working group (of Planning Commission) on urban poverty and slums suggests that urban poverty in India was large and widespread. In 2004-05, 80.8 million people, out of an estimated urban population of 309.5 million persons, were below the poverty line as their consumption per month was found to be less than Rs 538.60. These numbers constitute a significant proportion of the world’s total urban poor estimated at 291.4 million. Over the past three decades (1973-2004), the number of the urban poor has raised by 34.4% and the share of the urban poor in the total from 18.7% in 1973 to 26.8% in 2004-05. In comparison the numbers of the rural poor have registered a 15.5% decline over this period. Moreover, about 40-45 million people are on the verge of poverty which indicates an increase in number of urban poor. At national level, according to Planning Commission’s report, ‘Poverty Estimates for 2011-12′, the percentage of persons below the poverty line in 2011-12 was found to be 25.7% in rural areas, 13.7% in urban areas and 21.9% for the country. The respective ratios for the rural and urban areas were 41.8% and 25.7% and 37.2% for the country as a whole in 2004-05. It was 50.1% in rural areas, 31.8% in urban areas and 45.3% for the country as a whole in 1993-94. In 2011-12, India had 270 million persons below the Tendulkar Poverty Line as compared to 407 million in 2004-05, that is a reduction of 137 million persons over a period of 7 years. The Planning Commission has periodically estimated poverty lines and poverty ratios for which large sample surveys on household consumer expenditure have been conducted by the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) of the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation. These surveys are normally conducted on quinquennial basis. The last quinquennial survey in this series was conducted in 2009-10 (NSS 66th round). However, since 2009-10 was not a normal year because of a severe drought, the NSSO repeated the large scale survey in 2011-12 (NSS 68th round). (Times of India 18/10./13)

 

39. It’s time to end human bondage in the country (14)

India seems to have acquired the dubious distinction of being the leader of many demeaning trends, be it child labour, underage marriages and now we learn slavery. Although the practice had been abolished long ago, a new study shows that an estimated 29.8 million people live in slavery around the world. And nearly half this number is in India. Fourteen million Indians, the highest number in the world, live in conditions of slavery. This includes those trapped in debt, in forced marriages and those who have been trafficked,  according to the Global Slavery Index 2013 compiled by the Walk Free Foundation, a human rights organisation based in Australia. However, India can take cold comfort in the fact that it ranks fourth in terms of the prevalence of slavery as a proportion of the population. Mauritania, Haiti and Pakistan are ranked above India in the 162-nation survey. From inter-generational bonded labour to the worst forms of child labour, from commercial sexual exploitation to forced marriage, almost all forms of slavery are prevalent in India. While many remain trapped in debt bondage in their own villages, others are trafficked for commercial sexual exploitation, begging and domestic servitude. The recent assault of a 15-year-old maid in the upscale Vasant Kunj area in Delhi was just the tip of the modern-day domestic slavery iceberg. Every year, thousands of women and children are trafficked from states like Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and West Bengal primarily for sexual exploitation and also for domestic work. Despite a 2006 ban on child labour, children can still be found working in brick kilns, cracker factories and coal mines which are among the many hazardous industries with appalling working conditions.  Bride-buying, though a non-labour form of slavery, is practised in Haryana and Punjab where the sex ratio is highly skewed. There should be strict implementation of existing laws that will ensure that people who perpetuate modern-day slavery are severely punished. If India aspires to be a global power, its claims to such a status cannot be taken seriously if many of its own people continue to live in conditions of medieval drudgery. (Hindustan Times 22/10/13)

 

40. More children go missing in Darjeeling every year: Report (14)

Kolkata: A State Crime Records Bureau-backed report has termed West Bengal the source point for child trafficking within the country, with Darjeeling topping the list of eight districts in state with most number of missing children. The report for the last three years, published by Child In Need Institute, says Darjeeling has shown the steepest rise in number of children missing in the state, with 924 cases recorded in 2012, a staggering jump from 430 reported in 2010. Even the National Crime Records Bureau has revealed that more than 19,000 children were missing in West Bengal during 2012. More than half of the missing children were girls, says the CINI report which sourced its data from the District Crime Records Bureau. “These figures are just tip of the iceberg as countless number of cases go unreported,” the CINI report read. Rajib K Haldar, additional director of CINI, said due to the geographical location of Darjeeling, children are more vulnerable to cross-border trafficking via Nepal. “Cross-border districts are used as transit points by the traffickers with children, mostly from remote villages, becoming the target,” he said. With majority coming from poor background, the missing children were trafficked for various reasons – to work as labourers in factories, farms or homes; for commercial sexual exploitation; or for marriage or forced beggary. As West Bengal shares porous borders with Nepal and Bangladesh, it serves as a transit point for maximum cross-border trafficking. The study finds poverty and lack of education as among the key factors. Early marriage is another reason. “Marriage is used as a significant ploy in trafficking children. Often, young girls are duped into romantic associations,” it said. Shockingly, FIRs were lodged only in 4 per cent of such cases in Darjeeling, the report says, even though the Supreme Court, earlier this year, has made it mandatory for police stations across the country to compulsorily register missing complaints of any minor and appoint a special police officer to handle complaints of juveniles.  (Indian Express 23/10/13)

 

41. National Commission for Protection of Child Rights bats for safe playgrounds for kids (14)

NEW DELHI: Child rights commission has gone to an unusual extent to fulfill its mandate in protecting child rights. The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) has asked states to ensure that future housing projects are planned keeping in mind the need for safe playing spaces for children. At a time when most urban growth is unplanned and cheek-by-jowl, the NCPCR has made a set of 10-point guidelines for playgrounds including the presence of pediatrician and first-aid facilities, boundary walls and security guards besides being at a location that is unlikely to disturb other residents. The Commission has also suggested that if the housing colony does not have a playground, a neighbouring park or green space should be designated for children. There should be free ingress and egress of children without any discrimination and the play ground should be open on all reasonable times, the guidelines say while adding that play areas should accommodate different types of play including gross motor through physical activities such as sliding, climbing, reaching, and crossing and quiet play. States have also been asked to ensure that there is provision for barrier free playing for children with special needs.  (Times of India 24/10/13)

 

HINDUTVA

42. Ahead of VHP’s ‘Sankalp Diwas’ rally, 350 activists arrested (26)

Lucknow: The Uttar Pradesh police on Thursday arrested around 340 people, including former BJP MLA Lalu Singh, and put 42 others under house arrest on the eve of the VHP’s ‘Sankalp Diwas’ rally in Ayodhya, which has been banned by the state government. Talking to reporters here, IG (law and order) R K Vishwakarma said 340 people have been arrested, 42 have been placed under house arrest and 39 people have been charged with CrPC Section 107/16. Those arrested included VHP spokesman and former BJP MLA Lalu Singh, he said, adding there was no information regarding the arrest or house arrest of senior VHP leader Ashok Singhal. To prevent VHP activists from attending the rally, three-tier barriers have been put up on Saryu bridge, Faizabad district and Ayodhya, he said, adding as many as 2,000 jawans of RAF, police and PAC have been deployed in the area. As a precautionary measure, the local administration has set up a temporary jail at the Police Line, the IG added. VHP has given a call to observe ‘Sankalp Diwas’ in Ram Sewak Puram in Ayodhya to take a resolve for launching an agitation for rebuilding the Ram temple in Ayodhya. In Allahabad, more than 50 VHP supporters were arrested while they were leaving for Ayodhya to take part in the “Sankalp Diwas” rally. “A total of 52 people have been arrested from near the Allahabad railway station where they had assembled to board an Ayodhya-bound train,” a police spokesman said. Meanwhile, in a statement issued from New Delhi, VHP international patron Ashok Singhal denounced the state’s decision to ban the rally and accused the Samajwadi Party government of “victimizing devotees of Lord Ram under pressure from a UP cabinet minister”. (Indian Express 18/10/13)

 

43. Pro-Hindutva outfits to hold convention in Hubli (26)

HUBLI: The city will play host to a State-level convention of pro-Hindutva organisations. The event aims to bring together various outfits on a single platform. National president of the Sri Ram Sene Pramod Muthalik told presspersons here on Saturday that the State-level convention would be held here from November 8 to 10. The convention will deliberate on various pro-Hindutva issues and also chalk out plans for taking the ideology further. It would be based on similar conventions held in the last two years at Goa by organisations like Hindu Janajagruti Samiti, Sri Ram Sene, Sanathan Samsthe and others. The convention will be held at Vasavi Mahal behind the new KSRTC Bus Station here and inaugurated by Banjara seer Sevalal Swami. With the 2014 polls just around the corner, the appeasement of Muslim voters has intensified, Mr. Muthalik alleged. The State launched the ‘Shadi Bhagya’ scheme to release Rs. 50,000 each for the marriages of young Muslim women. “It has also launched another scheme to give Rs. 2 lakh for Muslim youths to purchase vehicles and take up self-employment in the tourism sector,” he charged. A rehabilitation camp for the youth would be held by the Hindu Janajagruti Samiti in Bagalkot, from November 12 to 18, according to Mr. Muthalik. (The Hindu 21/10/13)

 

44. Evangelist’s event kicks off as HC rejects VHP ban plea (26)

Allahabad: The Allahabad Court Wednesday rejected the petition seeking ban on the five-day programme of evangelist Peter Youngren, which began amid protests by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and the local BJP leaders here Wednesday evening. Around 50 VHP and BJP leaders and activists were detained from near the venue — K P College Ground — a little before the programme began at 5.30 pm. The right-wing groups are up in arms against Youngren’s programme alleging it will be used for mass conversions. A Division Bench of acting Chief Justice Sheo Kumar Singh and Justice B K Srivastava rejected the PIL, filed by Akhil Bharatiya Samajik Samarasta Abhiyaan, an outfit headed by VHP’s district general secretary Pawan Srivastava. “The court rejected the petition on the ground that the VHP had approached the court too late, after all the arrangements for the programme had already been made. Also, it took into account that the district administration granted permission for the programme with certain terms and conditions,” said Girijesh Kumar Tripathi, counsel for the petitioner. Apart from alleging that the meetings will be used for mass religious conversions, which is illegal, another contention of the petitioner was that Youngren, being a foreigner, was not authorised to hold a mass meeting in the country. “Youngren is here on a conference visa. We submitted before the court that what was being held was not a conference but a massive rally,” said Tripathi. The petitioner also submitted that Youngren was claiming to have magical powers for curing maladies. “Under the Indian norms, nobody is allowed to claim magical powers for curing illnesses. But our submission was that after the Nagpur meeting, held in April, he claimed to have cured many physically challenged,” said Tripathi. The other side was represented by a battery of lawyers and the main argument was led by senior advocate Ravi Kant. He could not be reached for his version. (Indian Express 23/10/13)