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Archives for : March2017

Why is government so desperate about #Aadhaar that it’ll let children go hungry?

Government is treating people like Big Data.

ANGSHUKANTA CHAKRABORTY

If the Supreme Court of India is anything to go by  – and it is the highest jurisprudential body in the country – the unique identity (UID), or Aadhaar, is not mandatory. At most, it’s a voluntary identification proof for a host of public services. However, the one place where routine flouting of this extremely pertinent top court order is taking place at an ever accelerated pace is the government of India.

From booking train tickets on the Indian Railways online, to accessing mid-day meal schemes, to disabled persons getting scholarships, or women rehabilitated from sexual trafficking, a host of public, or government-affiliated services would now require the Aadhaar as the mandatory proof of identity. In contravention of strict orders from the Supreme Court of India.

Aadhaar and public welfare

This Scroll.in report lists 11 such schemes – namely, National Action Plan for Skill Training of Persons with Disabilities, Central Sector Scholarship Schemes, Saakshar Bharat (adult literacy), Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, National Health Mission, National Career Services, Support to Training and Employment Programme (women-centric entrepreneurial assistance), Ujjawala Scheme under the Protection and Empowerment of Women Scheme, Swadhar Greh Scheme, Support to NGOs for Adult Education.

Moreover, the deadline for obtaining Aadhaar is woefully close, barely one to three months, and in some cases, on the same date of the announcement, February 27, 2017, such as those from the ministry of labour and employment pertaining to the National Career Services schemes.

In a country which has the highest number of malnourished children in the world, denying hungry kids the most important (and often the only) meal of the day because they do not have a particular identity card is not only shameful, it’s inhumane, and a recipe for humanitarian disaster.

midbd_030617034733.jpg
When a government prefers sending a hungry child back over proof of identity, it’s time to seriously doubt its intentions.

Instead of prioritising children’s health, ensuring that they get nutrition benefits, improving the quality of the meals and implementing safeguards and rules for high quality food, the government is hell bent on taking away the meagre morsel that the children could get under the mid-day meal scheme as part of free schooling under Right to Education.

Similarly, those who need skill training, guaranteed employment, help with rehabilitation after forced sexual or child labour, disaster and many other chronic problems, routinely come from the poorest backgrounds and are highly dependent of state largesse for sustenance.

Instead of bolstering the shaky public welfare system, fixing leakages and ensuring better and prompt delivery, the government is now creating hurdles to block access, going against the Supreme Court judgement.

In Jharkhand, for example, compulsory biometric authentication, Jean Dreze observes, is already denying people their basic rations. However, in Gujarat, theft of food rations is happening despite Aadhaar, and is therefore evidence how biometrics is not a fool-proof method of eliminating “de-duplication”.

Many security breaches

Moreover, there have been way too many glitches in the system and the billion-plus Aadhaar database, with the supposed unique identity number and biometric verification of over 100 crore Indians, has been accessed, illegally of course and in breach of the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act 2016, by private companies. Reports of salesmen selling Reliance Jio SIM cards having Aadhaar data of potential customers they were trying to woo have already surfaced.

In addition, Axis Bank Limited, Suvidha Infoserve and eMudhra have been accused of performing multiple Aadhaar transactions using stored biometrics, in contravention of the Aadhaar Act. This means that private companies not only access Aadhaar database, they have it stored in their servers which they use to authenticate identities of customers illegally.

aadharbd_030617034906.jpg
Why is Aadhaar becoming the end in itself, from its initial inception as the means to an end?

Moreover, Aadhaar has been issued to illegal immigrants, to non-existent persons, to dead persons, duplicated several times, used for religious profiling, commercially exploited by companies for selling their products.

Yet, there’s no mechanism by which the citizen whose identity has been compromised can redress the issue, register a complaint, or even lodge an FIR. Security breach in Aadhaar is tilted woefully against the citizen whose privacy stands dearly compromised and prone to misuse.

So is the government forcing Aadhaar – a biometric identity and database with huge, huge loopholes and security/prvacy issues – on citizens by linking it with basic welfare, banking and public services? Yes. Is this illegal? Yes. Absolutely.

Surveillance and control

Why then, we must ask, is Aadhaar becoming the end in itself, from its initial inception as the means to an end? The biggest Aadhaar enthusiasts, particularly Nandan Nilekani, the former chairman of the Unique Identity Authority of India, saw Aadhaar as the portal to a technological utopia, and biometric identity as the means to have in India something like the American social security number.

However, the push towards making Aadhaar mandatory by linking it with public welfare schemes and the public distribution system, is in violation of basic human rights. As data shows, in over 99 per cent of cases, Aadhaar wasn’t the first and primary proof of identity that was given. In order to obtain Aadhaar, another redoubtable proof of identity was already required.

Therefore, the government push to make Aadhaar mandatory is less about establishing identity and more about having a staggering database that links biometric identity to almost each and every public and private facility, making surveillance and control by the government, and the private companies that can access Aadhaar, increasingly seamless.

This is exactly what the Aadhaar skeptics feared from the beginning. A unique identity-driven database of over 100 crore people that has been seamlessly linked with all the government facilities – including banking, schooling, healthcare, education, skill training, employment, as well as commercial experiences such as shopping, eating out, travel, accommodation, etc., means that each and every activity of an individual is now trackable, making the citizen extremely vulnerable to government control, and indeed government wrath.

As this report shows, the Aadhaar database is more intrusive than the US surveillance system. It was none other than Edward Snowden, the opposer-in-chief of the US-led mass surveillance, whose NSA files revealed the extent of Aadhaar intrusion. It’s almost boundless, with iris scan, finger prints, and if Arun Jaitley is to be believed, soon even the DNA details, connected to “biometric identity” of over a billion people.

Why would I need my DNA to withdraw money – my own, hard-earned money – from the bank? Wouldn’t it leave me terribly, terribly susceptible to both online frauds and government wrath, in case I voice my opinion on something that is not in keeping with the ideas that sit happily with the regime?

Resistance and government coercion

While the UPA government brought in Aadhaar, the NDA government, despite Narendra Modi-led BJP staunchly opposing it during the Lok Sabha election campaign, has not only made a volte-face, it is resorting to ever draconian measures to push Aadhaar down our collective throats.

Combined with domonetisation and the cashless push, the emphasis on Aadhaar as a one-stop citizen database has enormous implications when it is in the hands of a regime that is so overtly xenophobic, militaristic and vindictive.

While Aadhaar-related security breaches leave the individual wide open to commercial exploitation and identity fraud, they put the dissenting citizen at the mercy of a government which has biometric identity as the one-stop information catalogue. Can you imagine what a particularly malevolent regime would wield on individuals who criticise it, or expose fraudulence, discrimination, policy-level incompetence, corruption at the highest level?

Exactly as the government becomes ever more demanding of transparency from its citizens, it’s turning into an opaque black hole, with very little real information and too much noise, political distractions, and other means of keeping the citizenry looking away from Parliament and the ministries, as it passes more draconian legislations.

Moreover, while the civil resistance to Aadhaar is slowly building up, and while issues like right to privacy are gaining ground, the government is accelerating the pace at which it wants to complete its task of compiling the largest ever biometric database in the world.

When a government prefers sending a hungry child back over her proof of identity, it’s time to seriously doubt its intentions.

http://www.dailyo.in/politics/modi-sarkar-forcing-aadhaar-mid-day-meal/story/1/16004.html

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Wheel-chair-bound DU Professor GN Saibaba sentenced to life for Maoist links #WTFnews

Life sentence to Professor Saibaba under UAPA

The wheelchair-bound academic was arrested in May 2014. He and five others were convicted under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act.

The court  found JNU student Hem Mishra and four others guilty of waging war against the country and supporting the ideology of the banned organisation, CPI (Maoist).

Delhi University professor GN Saibaba

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Saibaba was picked up from his house in Delhi in 2013.
  • This after 3 were nabbed and incriminating papers on a banned outfit were seized.
  • Saibaba is a wheel-chair-bound teacher with 90 per cent physical disability.

Delhi University professor GN Saibaba has been given life sentence by a court in Maharashtra’s Gadchiroli for his links with the Maoists. The court has also found JNU student Hem Mishra and four others guilty of waging war against the country and supporting the ideology of the banned organisation, CPI (Maoist). Judge Suryakant Shinde sentenced Saibaba, Mishra and three others to life while sixth person Vijay Tirke was sentenced to 10 years rigorous imprisonment.

Saibaba was picked up from his house in Delhi in 2013 after Mishra and two others were caught with some incriminating letters and a memory card which contained, according to police, incriminating documents about the banned organisation.

 

The search at Saibaba’s house yielded more of the same materials after which he was put in jail with others.

He later managed to get bail on health grounds. Saibaba, a wheel-chair-bound teacher with 90 per cent physical disability, was first arrested by Maharashtra Police in May 2014, on charges of having links with Maoists.

 

THE BACKGROUND

The prosecutions story was that Hem Mishra, Mahesh Tirki and Pandu Narote had gone inside the jungles and met wanted accused Narmada Akka, a top Maoist commander in the Gadchiroli area and from her they collected Rs 5 lakh that was to be delivered to Saibaba in Delhi to spread the Maoist ideology in the urban setting.

Public prosecutor Prashant Satgianathan had brought in 23 witnesses and 41 articles including about 3 TB of data contained in hard disks recovered from Saibaba’s residence.

According to Satgianathan in 2012 there was a conference of Revolutionary Democratic Front (a front organisation of the Maoists which is banned in Odisha and Andhra Pradesh) in which Saibaba had participated. “Saibaba was the deputy joint secretary and there is a speech of him in which he said, “Naxalism is the only way and denounces the democratic government setup. All these videos were played out in the court,” the public prosecutor.

According to prosecution, Saibaba had been in touch with Maoists from various countries like Nepal and Sri Lanka.

http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/du-professor-saibaba-maoist-links-cpi-maoist-gadchiroli-maharashtra-police/1/898705.html

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UP- A broken man, the invisible women and the identity trap

Purvanchal diary:

Prashant Jha
Hindustan Times
Purvanchal

In Azamgarh, Lalchand narrates how his dreams were destroyed by members of the dominant Bhumihar caste in collusion with the local police. (Prashant Jha/HT Photo)

I have been on the road for three weeks in Uttar Pradesh and must have met hundreds of people. But, the most difficult conversation of my travel happened on the afternoon of February 28 in a thatched roof hut-cum-tea stall close to Azamgarh’s Latghat bazaar.

A broken man

An old man was sitting on a bed as we began discussing the state election. The picture was not clear, said the man, who looked to be in his early 70s.

I asked him what he thought of Akhilesh? “Look at the roads in Purvanchal. If he has done anything, it is for his area, not for us.”

What about jobs? “Yes, he created jobs — but only for his people, 60% of them have gone to Yadavs.”

Lal Chand said he wanted Mayawati back. “She knows how to run a government. When she is CM, police report for duty at 8am sharp. Now they start work at noon. She tackles goondai (lawlessness).”

One of the unfortunate realities of reporting from UP is that political views are often shaped by caste. And as much as I wanted to take his words on merit, I could not help ask his caste. “Chamar, but I am not saying this because of my biraadri.”

I asked him about his family. Chand said he had three sons, all of them bekar (unemployed). “They are bekar because I could not educate them. I did not have money for their uniform or fees.”

One of them works in a shop in a nearby bazaar, another is a driver and the third lives with Chand but is planning to go to Panipat in Haryana to work in a factory.

In these parts of India, like in others, employment still means a government job, a steady income.

Chand had no money because he had tried to set up a factory way back in 1984.

“But Bhumihars did not like that a Dalit was daring to do it. Meri maryada badh jaati (my status would have risen). They got the local police and goons to loot my property. I got stuck in a case, I lost my land and since then, all I have seen is garibi (poverty).”

His words came out in bits and pieces and I could not capture the exact sequence of events. But there was little doubt that his effort to improve his lot and break out of the caste mould devastated his life.

Tears flew freely as Lal Chand pleaded that the media should do something. I could only watch in silence.

Did he try to reach out to politicians? “I was a Congressi. Hemvati (Nandan) Bahuguna knew me, I had welcomed him here, but after that, I didn’t know anyone,” he said of the late UP chief minister.

Bahuguna was the chief minister from 1973 to 1975.

The local political dynamics had evolved, he said. Earlier it used to be only about Bhumihars but now Yadavs could take them on. But Dalits were still not in a position to assert themselves.

Chand’s story is that of the persistent structural violence in society, the enormous disadvantage a rural Dalit begins his life with, which passes down the generations. While there is some room for mobility for the younger lot, but the enduring feature is the loyalty the Dalits have for Mayawati.

The invisible women

A gaping hole in political coverage of UP — and I hold myself equally if not more guilty — is the voice of women voters.

We just don’t make enough effort to reach out to them, understand their aspirations and reflect their views. But, it is not an easy task. They are not there in public squares or bazaars where political discourse is set, and access to homes, especially for men, is very limited. That, however, is still no excuse for the skewed reportage.

At Kaurigram in Gorakhpur, I approached two women selling fruits on the street. One of them smiled when I asked her about the elections. “You tell me! Who should I vote for?” she said in Bhojpuri.

It took some talking from my part to convince Pushpa that I was not from a political party and she could share her thoughts with me. “How does it matter to us who wins? The poor will remain poor. They are all the same,” was her reply.

Her elderly companion nodded in unison. “It is the same,” she said as she pointed to her son’s shop right behind her fruit stall.

At the Jaanu Sound Shop, a young man was trying to sort out a tangle of wires. He said he had worked in Saudi Arabia. “But after four years, I quit. It was a life of slavery. I decided I wanted to be home. My mother was sick recently and I had to spend three lakh rupees in a private Gorakhpur hospital. But at least I was here for her. What is the point of living when one has to live so far?”

I brought the conversation back to the assembly election. “Ya Modi sarkar ya Mulayam sarkar (it will either be a Modi or a Mulayam government),” was his prediction.

It was strange to hear Mulayam Singh Yadav’s name, given the political marginalisation of the Samajwadi Party patriarch.

Did he mean his son and chief minister Akhilesh? “They are the same for us. Akhilesh should win. He has brought development. In his next term, he will bring work to Purvanchal. He deserves one more chance.”

I asked him his name — Omar Taureb. His mother’s was Hasina Khatun.

Omar Taureb, with his mother Hasina Khatun, is back from Saudi Arabia. He supports SP. (Prashant Jha/HT Photo)

This kind of support and enthusiasm for Akhilesh is most visible among Muslim voters — whether it extends to other constituencies is the big challenge the SP faces.

But more importantly, I realised I failed, yet again. I had set out to hear women but had once again easily let a man take over the conversation.

The identity trap

There is no doubt that caste identity is a key determinant of political choices in UP. But the fact that caste is seen as the sole factor guiding electoral choices has trapped voters and prevents them from taking a different route.

In Jhansi, I met a Dalit who said one of the reasons he would vote Mayawati was because no one would believe him if he voted for anyone else.

In Gorakhpur, a Brahmin said it was his majboori (compulsion) to vote for the BJP. What was the compulsion? “We will not be counted anywhere else. If SP wins, even if I vote for it, they will never believe I am with them.”

I am not sure how representative this is but having heard it so many times now, this does appear like an electoral trend peculiar to India.

Like the idea of a wasted vote (vote not cast in favour of the candidate perceived to be winning is seen as “wasted” by many), the idea that you must vote a particular party because no one will believe you otherwise is how voters end up limiting themselves.

This is also a double-edged sword for political parties. It gives them a loyal caste group as a vote bank but restricts their ability to widen their base.

It is also perhaps a moment for us in media to introspect. For, we do as much to reinforce the perception that a certain caste group is with a particular party, reducing the space for individual choices.http://www.hindustantimes.com/assembly-elections/purvanchal-diary-a-broken-man-the-invisible-women-and-the-identity-trap/story-9D9nmkZoltv8hLwxY6v3DJ.html

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Bhangar – Mass atrocities by Police and goons uncovered including murder and sexual violence

WSS Team Urges Government to Initiate Dialogue and Take Action Against Atrocities in Bhangar Immediately

  • Team Finds Undue Police Repression in Response to Legitimate Demands
  • Mass atrocities by Police and goons uncovered – including murder, sexual violence, and destruction of shops and homes
  • Demands Withdrawal of false FIRs and an End to Maligning of the Movement
  • Says That After Singur and Nandigram, this was not expected of the Mamta Government

 

WSS (Women against Sexual Violence and State Repression) is a nationwide platform of various women’s organizations and individuals, whose member Sharmishtha Chowdhury is currently in jail for supporting the peasant movement against a power grid in the villages of Bhangar.  Over the past three days, a 12 member team of WSS has visited the affected villagers and concerned officials to understand the origins and the impetus behind the movement, and the response of the civil society and government functionaries to it.

Inquiries by the WSS team have revealed that since 2013, the peasant families of Bhangar have been repeatedly seeking basic information about the power grid and transmission line project that deeply impacts their lives and livelihoods, but have received no information or have been deliberately misinformed at every step.  They have tried to meet every statutory, legislative and constitutional authority in the area to register their concerns, but no one agreed to meet with them, and when they have demanded talks and dialogue with the administration to resolve their concerns, they have instead faced police encampments, arrests and bullets.

Such an irresponsible and insensitive response from the government, has only heightened the tensions in the area and increased  apprehensions about the project. This is the sole reason behind the situation today, where the villagers have lost all trust in the government and its intentions towards their well-being, and entire families, including women and children are resisting it despite the enormous hardship and violence they are continuously facing. This was definitely not expected of the current government that came to power on the back of people’s mass movements against large projects, and had thus won the confidence of the very people who are now so vehemently protesting.

Acquisition of Land Irregular, Illegal and Arbitrary

The Bhangar movement started around 2013, when around 13 acres of land were sought to be acquired by the government in the village Khamarait. The WSS team learned that the acquisition happened in a completely arbitrary and illegal manner, and that all processes of acquisition were handled by one person, Arabul Islam of the ruling party. He not only arbitrarily decided how much compensation was to be handed out to whom, but also took a cut from all these compensations. While a case against this forcible acquisition is still pending before the High Court, and 11 people have not yet taken the compensation, the construction of the grid proceeded at full place and was completed within one year. The Award has still not been shown to the villagers.

Not only was the acquisition procedures completely opaque to the villagers, they were even kept in the dark about the purpose of the acquisition – first it was meant for government flats, then for a power sub-station and only after the structure was half-completed, did the villagers learn from a board in front of the construction site that it was actually for a power grid.  And it was not until the last quarter of 2016, when giant transmission towers arrived in their village on the beds of the monstrous trucks did they realize that this project will impact the farms and lands outside of the 13-acre plot as well.

Escalating Violence  

When the villagers of Bhangar started asking questions about the impact of these High Voltage Transmission Lines on their lives, livelihoods, health and environment, the government dispatched police to the village on 3 Nov 2016, who beat up people including many women and terrorized them by arresting 6 people, and occupied the village for 18 days.  Since then, the police have been regularly harassing the local populations to the extent that several families have left their houses and are living with their relatives out of fear of the police.

The situation further worsened on 16 January 2017, when the police entered the villages, beat up people and arrested villagers.  The next morning, the police assaulted people going to work, destroyed homes, picked up more people, ransacked shops, attacked the women who had come to assist the shopkeeper, including the  elderly Mayur Jan Bibi whose hand was fractured in three places  Those arrested were badly beaten up and  the hand and finger of one juvenile Zahir Husain, was broken and remained untreated for 6 days. Manwara Bibi was sexually assaulted and her disabled husband was beaten up

In response, the villagers protested and blockaded the roads, demanding the authorities should conduct a dialogue with the people, release the detained villagers, and withdraw the police encampments from the area.  Eventually, after an extended stand-off, the DM and the SP sent separate messages through the SDO and the DSP agreeing to a meeting within two days, promising not to oppose the bail of arrested persons and remove the police.  The organizers used the microphones in the masjid to inform the agitated villagers of this, and requested them to safeguard the safety of the retreating police. But even as the crowd of villagers parted to let the police vehicles go back, the police randomly fired bullets in all directions, killing two villagers, Alamgir and Mofizul Khan, and injuring  Akbar.  The villagers recounted to the team how, after Alarmgir  fell after being hit with a bullet, the police kicked him repeatedly , and shot him at close quarters in cold-blooded murder.  Maufizul Khan was killed when  he was walking home from work. Akbar was shot in the back.

The WSS team witnessed first-hand the continuing violence that the affected villagers have to live with every day, when they were caught in Khamarait on 4 March.  While the team was still in the village, a raucous and a loud rally organized by TMC members tried to terrorize the people by going pastthe village, bursting bombs, firing bullets in the air and throwing stones. One young boy, Saiful Molla, was badly injured when a brick hit him on his head.

Police Response Lethargic and Incompetent

The WSS team also visited PS Kashipur in order to hear the police version of this violence, however, the ASP and DSP present at the thanarefused to discuss these incidents.  It is notable that till date no one has been held responsible for the murders of two young men, and the numerous complaints of physical violence by the villagers against the police have gone completely unheeded.  Moreover, instead of initiating dialogue as promised on  17th January, on the 25th  the police arrested Sharmishta Chaudhary, Pradip Singh Thakur and a young villager, on very flimsy grounds as shown by the FIR.– . Later charges under UAPA were slapped on the accused though they are neither members of banned organiations and nor were they shown to be indulging in any terrorist activity.

Unanswered Questions and Concerns

The government has yet to answer basic questions of the villagers as to what are the health impacts of the heightened Electromagnetic Field that permeates the dwellings, the constant loud high frequency humming that emanates from the wires, the static charge build up near the towers that can light a bulb without a power source.  How do these impact the fertility of their soil, the long term health of the residents, their cattle and their fisheries? More importantly, the towers are being placed without the consent of the land owners, and the one time compensation for their use of land and the right to access is being compensated in a highly opaque and arbitrary manner, at a fraction of the economic hit being forced upon the villagers.

These are valid and genuine concerns and any government accountable to its citizens would rush to allay their fears and enter into dialogue about the costs and benefits of such a project.  The fact that the government is rushing police battalions into the area, instead of trying to win over the confidence of the people by addressing their concerns highlights its complete contempt towards local populations.

 DEMANDS

The WSS demands that the authorities de-escalate the situation by holding immediate and unconditional talks with the protesting villagers and their leaders, and undertake confidence building measures to gain back the trust of the villages. This is in the best interests of a functioning and healthy democracy. The FIRs under which people have been imprisoned include dozens of other names, including those of many WSS members (Nisha Bishwas, Swapna Bannerjee, Anuradha Talwar, Krishna Bandopadhyay),  and 500-1500 others who are unnamed, which has given the police a virtual license to arrest and harass a large number of villagers.  Confidence building measures should include the quashing of such vindictive FIRs.  Immediate action must be taken against police personnel and goons involved in the violence.  Attempts to paint the legitimate and peaceful protest as unconstitutional or “terrorist” must stop.

 

Members of the WSS team –

  1. Madhuri Krishnaswamy (M.P.)
  2. Shalini Gera (Chhatisgarh)
  3. Promila (Odisha)
  4. Swapna Bannerjee (West Bengal)
  5. Urmila (MP)
  6. Fatima Bibi (West Bengal)
  7. Sanchita Mukherji (West Bengal)
  8. Indrani Sen (West Bengal)
  9. Shashwati Ghosh (West Bengal)
  10. Sukanti (Odisha)
  11. Deepa (Chhatisgarh)
  12. Rajkali (M.P)

For more information – Please contact Madhuri Krishnaswamy at Phone – 917973640 or Shalini Gera at 9993378384, email – [email protected]

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India – Tribal anger on the rise over Jharkhand tenancy act amendments

Photo by Arun Sharma/Hindustan Times via Getty Images
File photo of Jharkhand CM Raghubar Das

Opposition to the Raghubar Das government’s amendments to two tenancy acts in Jharkhand is heating up; former MP Salkhan Murmu has asked all 28 tribal MLAs to resign from the Jharkhand assembly

After reportedly getting an intelligence report that a majority of tribal officials have held several secret meetings over the last three months to oppose the Jharkhand government’s amendments to the Chotanagpur and Santhal Pargana tenancy acts, BJP think tanks are said to have advised Chief Minister Raghubar Das to take initiatives to win over tribals before it’s too late.

These officials, including 18 deputy collectors and 6 IAS and 3 IPS officers residing in Jharkhand, are also said to be in touch with Jharkhand Mukti Morcha, Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (Prajatantrik), Congress and All Jharkhand Students Union leaders including former chief ministers Hemant Soren and Babulal Marandi, Sukhdeo Bhagat and former tribal MP Salkhan Murmu.

Talking to this reporter, an IPS officer who does not want to be named said that discontentment is brewing in the entire tribal community over the amendments and all tribal officers are in support of the tribal community.

The talk is that new strategies are being chalked up for restarting tribal mass movements on the lines of those for the formation of Jharkhand state, against the Raghubar Das government. The aim is to either force him to take back the tenancy acts amendments, or be ready to face non-cooperation.

Two separate amendments to the Chotanagpur Tenancy Act and Santhal Pargana Tenancy Act were passed by voice vote in the Jharkhand assembly in November 2016, even as Opposition MLAs climbed on desks, hurled shoes and tore copies of the bill amid scenes of sheer bedlam.

Talking exclusively to this reporter, JVM (P) chief Babulal Marandi said that Das was trying to misguide tribals by claiming that the amendments were in their favour and would help in development of Jharkhand. “Let me explain. Earlier also, the government has acquired thousands of acres of land for HEC, Ranchi, Bokaro steel plant, BCCL, CCL, ECCL, Sindi unit besides for construction of dams like Chandil, Swarnarekha, Maithon, Tillayia dam. Even after formation of Jharkhand in 2000, more than 2,000 acres of land were acquired by railways for laying new tracks. After land acquisition, thousands of displaced are still protesting at Dhanbad, Bokaro, Jamshedpur and other places for money, jobs and compensation. These amendments are just to help chosen business and corporate houses, which is being opposed by almost all tribal leaders including a top BJP tribal leader. Raghubar Das will have to pay heavy price for this decision,” alleged Marandi.

The talk is that new strategies are being chalked up for restarting tribal mass movements on the lines of those for the formation of Jharkhand state, against the Raghubar Das government. The aim is to either force him to take back the tenancy acts amendments, or be ready to face non-cooperation.

Talking to this reporter, Salkhan Murmu declared that he has asked all 28 tribal MLAs—irrespective of party affiliation—to tender their resignations to create pressure on the Chief Minister, or start an agitation till the government collapses. “No government can run without cooperation of the tribal MLAs and if these MLAs do not oppose the amendment, tribals will brand them as anti-tribal and stop them from entering tribal villages, which will finish even their bleak chances of getting reelected. “My slogan is ‘Sarkar Girao-Jharkhand Bachao’ which is being supported even by all tribal officers who are standing on one plank on this issue”, claimed a confident Murmu.

JMM senior leader Hemant Soren said that his party was opposing the amendments since the day these were passed. He would not deny that several tribal officers are also in touch with him on this issue. “Raghubar Das will have to pay a heavy price for this blunder as majority of tribals now are ready for mass movement on this issue,” quipped Soren.

AJSU supremo Sudesh Mahto held the same opinion, opposing the tenancy act amendments saying that his party, despite being part of the NDA alliance government, has been opposing this move of Raghubar Das, which he also branded as “anti tribal”. On being asked whether he will also support tribal mass movement on this issue, he quipped “Yes, why not’.

When contacted, Jharkhand welfare minister Louis Marandi brushed aside the claim that a majority of the tribal population was opposing the amendment, saying that tribals were misguided by a few tribal leaders who till date have done nothing for tribals of Jharkhand. “Tribals are no fools and will not fall in traps of greedy tribal leaders” stated the BJP tribal minister.

BJP state president and MP Laxman Gilua also defended the amendments, claiming that in the long run, the amendments would help in development of Jharkhand and even the tribals would profit. “Opposition leaders are misguiding the tribals on this issue and are just creating confusion but they will ultimately fail,” stated Gilua/ http://www.nationalheraldindia.com/news/2017/03/05/tribal-anger-on-the-rise-over-jharkhand-tenancy-act-amendments-opposition-to-raghubar-das-government

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Maneka Gandhi -‘Early curfew in hostels necessary to protect girls from ‘hormonal outburst’: #WTFnews

Having advocated the importance of gender equality in the country, Union Minister Maneka Gandhi, through her latest remark has ignited fresh controversies.

Maneka Gandhi said that if students are interested to go and study in the library, two nights should be given to boys and two nights for girls. (Reuters)

Having advocated the importance of gender equality in the country, Union Minister Maneka Gandhi, through her latest remark has ignited fresh controversies. In a major shock to most of her college going admirers, the Minister for Women & Child Development today stated that an early curfew for college girls living in hostels should be a necessary step taken for their own safety. Speaking at NDTV, Maneka Gandhi cited that usually people are hormonally challenged at the age of 16 or 17 and further said that to protect one from a hormonal outburst certain limitations must be there, only for the safety of the students.

At an interview on the International Women’s Day, to the NDTV, Maneka Gandhi further claimed that the issues related to women safety in colleges can’t be solved with just two guards with ‘dandas’ (sticks). She said that the matter should be addressed with specific limitations. Gandhi said that if students are interested to go and study in the library, two nights should be given to boys and two nights for girls.

However, the minister said that certain limitations should also be implied on boys too. She said that even boys should not be allowed to wander around the campus after 6 pm. Speaking at the 60th session of the Commission on the status of women, Maneka Gandhi asserted that the central government is committed to ensure equal rights for women and to eliminate discrimination within genders. Further addressing the commission, Gandhi said that the government had taken steps towards spreading awareness to fight social prejudices and stereotypes.

Last year in March, speaking at the 60th session of the Commission on the status of women, Ms Gandhi, who is the minister of women and child welfare, had said the Government of India “remains fully committed to advancing the goal of gender equality and empowerment of women, and to eliminating all forms of discrimination against women”.

It was also at her initiative that the government had redrawn the national policy on women. Steps have been taken towards “awareness generation and starting sensitisation programmes to fight social prejudices and stereotypes,” she had said at the time.

Moral policing by the state had become a matter of debate after two policemen in Kerala were caught harassing a couple at a public park in Thiruvananthapuram last month. As the young man involved had live-streamed the event on Facebook, the state police faced a barrage of criticism from the social media.http://www.ndtv.com/india-news/why-hostels-need-early-curfew-hormonal-outbursts-says-maneka-gandhi-1666742

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Babri Masjid Demolition Case: Won’t Accept Dropping Of Charges Against LK Advani On Technical Grounds- SC

All India | Reported by A Vaidyanathan, Edited by Deepshikha Ghosh | Updated: March 06, 2017 19:43 IST
Babri Masjid Demolition Case: Won't Accept Dropping Of Charges Against LK Advani On Technical Grounds, Says Top Court

NEW DELHI:
HIGHLIGHTS
LK Advani was cleared of conspiracy charges by lower court in Babri case
CBI has challenged High Court order confirming lower court decision
Supreme Court may announce order on March 22
Senior BJP leader LK Advani and other BJP leaders may face trial in the decades-old Babri mosque demolition case, the Supreme Court indicated today. The court is expected to reveal on March 22 whether or not conspiracy charges will be revived against Mr Advani, 89, and other leaders like Murli Manohar Joshi and Union Minister Uma Bharti. The charge was dropped by lower courts.

Mr Advani, Mr Joshi and a dozen others including Vinay Katiyar and Kalyan Singh – the Governor of Rajasthan – were released by a court in Raebareli from conspiracy charges in the razing of the 16th century Babri mosque in Ayodhya in December 1992 by Hindu activists who believed it was built on the birthplace of Lord Ram.

The main case against the activists – who called themselves Karsevaks – is pending in the Lucknow trial court.

The CBI has challenged the Allahabad High Court order in May 2010 confirming the lower court’s decision to drop conspiracy charges against the BJP veterans.

“We will not accept the discharge of Advani and others on technical grounds. We will allow you (CBI) to file a supplementary chargesheet against 13 persons by including the conspiracy charges. We will ask the trial court to conduct a joint trial,” the court told CBI.
Strongly opposing this, Mr Advani’s lawyer had told the court that if conspiracy charges are added, then 183 witnesses who had testified in a lower court would have to be called again.

Of the two cases in the Babri demolition, one is against Mr Advani and the other BJP leaders who were on the dais at a raised platform called “Ram Katha Kunj” around 200 metres from the mosque site, where many provocative speeches were allegedly made.

The other case is against lakhs of unknown karsevaks who were in and around the disputed structure and are accused of pulling down the three domes in an act that changed the face of Indian politics and caused a deep rift between two communities.

Mr Advani and Mr Joshi, who emerged as the BJP’s most prominent faces along with former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee at the height of the temple-mosque dispute, have retreated into the wings after being assigned a mentorship role in 2014.

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