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Archives for : March2017

In a first, SC issues warrant against Calcutta HC judge C S Karnan

Justice Karnan had earlier accused the higher judiciary of having a caste-bias against him

BS Web Team/ Agencies  |  New Delhi March 10, 2017 Last Updated at 11:14 IST

auction, order, court, SC

Photo: Shutterstock
of India on Friday issued bailable warrant against Calcutta High Court’s controversial judge for the first time in the Indian judicial history.  A seven-judge bench headed by Chief Justice JS Khehar took up contempt of court case it had initiated against sitting judge.


On February 8, the had for the first time issued a contempt notice against Justice Karnan for alleged judicial indiscipline. A letter Justice Karnan wrote to the Prime Minister, law minister and the CJI, accusing several sitting and retired judges of corruption had prompted the court to take such a severe step. The order had also stripped him of his judicial and administrative duties. He was asked to immediately return the judicial files in his possession to the HC registrar general.


But, in defiance of the SC’s decision, Justice Karnan lashed out at the top court judges for issuing the notice to him. He accused them of harbouring a caste bias against him.


He accused the CJI J S Khehar-led seven-judge bench of upper-caste bias in initiating the proceedings as he belonged to the Dalit community.


In a four-page letter which he addressed to SC registrar general, a post that is now re-designated as secretary general, the judge virtually alleged the court order was an offence under the law to punish atrocities against Dalits and tribals and challenged the court to refer his case to Parliament.


“The suo motu order against me, a Dalit judge, is unethical and goes against the SC and ST (Prevention of) Atrocities Act. It is certainly a issue and a wise decision would be to refer the issue to the House of Parliament,” read his letter.


He wants the contempt case should be heard after CJI Khehar retires, since the order against him was “harsh.”
http://www.business-standard.com/article/current-affairs/in-a-first-sc-issues-warrant-against-calcutta-hc-judge-c-s-karnan-117031000237_1.html

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Bangladesh child marriage: New law will ‘reduce minimum marital age to zero’ #Vaw

Campaigners say loophole introduced by new bill could see victims forced to marry rapists 

Bangladesh has been accused of taking a “devastating step backwards” in the fight against child marriage by introducing a legal loophole that sets no age limit for wedlock.

The Child Marriage Restraint Bill keeps the legal age of marriage as 18 for women and 21 for men but introduces exceptions in “special cases” or for in the “best interests” of the adolescent.

Campaigners say the law effectively sets the marriageable age at zero but supporters of the law, which needs presidential approval before coming into effect, say courts will prevent abuse by assessing applications.

There are fears the orders could be used to force victims of sexual abuse or pregnant rape victims to marry their abusers.

The Girls Not Brides group said no examples of “special cases” had been given that would make child marriage acceptable, saying other measures such as protecting education and providing economic opportunities for girls would better serve their futures.

Campaigners said the changes to the law would effectively mean that Bangladesh has a “zero minimum age of marriage”.

“We are concerned that this new act could lead to widespread abuse, legitimise statutory rape, allow parents to force their girls to marry their rapists, and further encourage the practice of child marriage in a country with one of the highest child marriage rates in the world,” said a statement.

 

 

 

 

“The need to protect the ‘honour’ of girls who have become pregnant was widely cited by the Bangladesh government as the reason for this provision. However marriage is not the best way to protect adolescent girls and exposes them to greater harm.”

Campaigners called on the government to focus on tackling the root causes of child marriage in Bangladesh, as well as healthcare, sex education, contraception and childcare issues.

The country has the second-highest rate of child marriage in the world, with 52 per cent of Bangladeshis married by the age of 18, and 18 per cent of those by the time they turn 15, according to Unicef.

Edouard Beigbeder, the agency’s representative for Bangladesh, said underage marriage increases maternal mortality rates, birth complications, the chances of domestic violence and diminishes girls’ chance to stay in education by forcing them into a life of servitude and dependence.

“A few years ago about 66 per cent of Bangladeshis had a child marriage but this figure has gone down so there’s a reasonable decline,” he told The Independent.

“We are concerned that this law could be misused and worsen the problem that we are seeing in Bangladesh.”

Human Rights Watch (HRW) is among the other organisations objecting to the law, which it called a “devastating step backward for the fight against child marriage”.

“Nothing can change the fact that this is a destructive law,” said Heather Barr, a senior researcher on women’s rights. “But carefully drafted regulations can mitigate some of the harm to girls.”

The group said Bangladesh’s previous attempt to set 18 as an age limit for girls had been “widely ignored” and pledges to end marriage for under-15s by 2021 were coming to nothing.

HRW called for social workers to be assigned to each application and for judges to ensure girls been offered comprehensive services and advice, as well as interviewing them without relatives present to ensure they are not a victim of coercion or abuse.

The law won the backing of the Bangladeshi parliament last month but will not be finalised until Sunday, when the government will make any amendments.

Meher Afroze Chumki, the minister for women and children’s affairs, said officials would confirm the exact details of what would constitute “special provisions”.

“We will increase the jail time for anyone found violating or abusing this law and also suspend the any marriage officiator found guilty of conducting illegal child marriages,” she added, according to the Dhaka Tribune.http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/bangladesh-child-marriage-law-minimum-age-zero-reduce-baby-marital-unicef-un-a7619051.html

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Shocking: 3052 farmers committed suicide in Maharashtra in 2016

Farmer Suicide
Nagpur:
A shocking discloser, as per ABP MAJHA  TV reports,  has come to the fore regarding figure of farmer suicides in Maharashtra. The State Relief and Rehabilitation Department has disclosed that a total of 3052 farmers committed suicide between January and December 2016 resulting from the agrarian crisis.

Provisional figures released by Maharashtra’s relief and rehabilitation department show 3,052 farmers took their lives in 2016. In 2015, the state reported 3,228 farm suicides, the highest since 2001 when 3,536 farmers took their lives. According to the National Crime Records Bureau, 2,568 farmers committed suicide in Maharashtra in 2014.

Out of 3052 suicide cases, families of 1621 deceased farmers were provided with compensation of Rs 1 lakh each by the State Government. At the same time, 1167 proposals for compensation were disposed of as ineligible. An enquiry is going on in 264 proposals. Amravati Division topped the chart with 1085 farmers ending their lives due to agrarian reasons while Konkan Division reported nil.

Division-wise figures of farmers’ suicides:

  • Nagpur — 360
  • Amravati — 1085
  • Nashik — 479
  • Aurangabad — 1053
  • Pune — 75
  • Konkan — 0

 

 

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This `most wanted’ couple is both hero and villain of Robertsganj

Sonbhadra:
`Tribals Target Of Police & Land Mafia’
In Harra-Biraula village of Robertsganj assembly constituency , Shyamlal and Lalti Devi are known as the `most wanted couple’.Shayamlal, 65, is facing 21 criminal cases and has been externed from tribaland Dalit-dominated Sonbhadra district twice in the past 10 years.He was booked under the Goonda Act, while his homemaker wife, 60, is facing 16 cases and has been to jail four times. Their neighbours though vouch that the couple have not even killed a fly , but are paying the price for leading amovement in 2006 in which 62 landless tribal and Dalit forest dwellers occupied 55 hectare forest land and started cooperative farming. “We all are facing the mu sic, but this couple has been the prime target of the police, forest department and land mafia. We call them `most wanted’ because for us they are heroes, while officials consider them source of trouble,“ said Chanarman Cheri (66), a tribal, facing 10 criminal cases.

“When our ancestors wanted food, they went to the jungle to pluck fruit. When we are hungry , we come back to our homes,“ said Shyamlal, narrating how the right of forest dwellers on forests was snatched by the British and not restored even after Independence. He also complains bitterly that land rights for forest dwellers have not become an election issue.

In 1994, Shyamlal became a part of an all India movement which demanded rights of forest dwellers on `Jal, Jungle, Jameen’. When demands were not met even after a decade, the `dakhal’ campaign began in 2005. Arable land was occupied for cooperative farming in many parts of the country .Shyamlal and Lalti led it in Harra-Biraula village with the help of the All India Union of Forest Working People.

In view of popular sentiment, the UPA government passed the Forest Rights Act in 2006 which recognized land rights of forest dwellers.

“In the meantime, our harassment began. When we occupied land in 2005, only cases of encroachment were lodged against villagers. However, after enactment of FRA 2006, when the nexus of forest officials, land mafia and police saw that it was losing the battle, there was a flood of cases. A case of illegal quarrying was filed when we used mud and stones to construct kuccha houses, trespassing when our cattle strayed into the forest, tree-cutting for collecting dry wood for cooking and when we held demonstration against this harassment, FIRs accusing us of vitiating peace and instigating riots were lodged,“ claimed Shyamlal. They also instigated some villagers against me,“ claimed Shyamlal adding that he had to spend half of is earnings in fighting court cases.

He was externed for two months in 2007 and six months in 2016. During this period, he had to report to the nearest police station every week. Since he had no place to live, he spent the externment period on railway platforms. Each time, he got relief from the court. In his absence, Lalti took the command of the movement and faced the consequences.

Problems compounded as the movement did not reach the desired result. Ten years after enactment of the FRA, many are still waiting for land rights. In Sonbhadra alone, of 64,000 claims filed by forest dwellers, 55,000 were rejected on technical grounds such as residence proof.

Today , the couple is worried about their five children aged 15-25 years than themselves. Their future, they say , is uncertain because of increasing police harassment.

source- TOI

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They saved their land from Naxalism, still a `threat to the state’

SONBHADRA -Tribal women in this part of the state have defeated Naxalism but have been branded a `threat to the state’. They now say their vote would go to the candidate who will work for the implementation of the Forest Rights Act (FRA) 2006 and for withdrawal of criminal cases against them.United by mass movements, these women have be ments, these women have been fighting for the rights of tribals and forest workers on forest land and produce since 2000. Similar struggles are under way in other parts of the state, too. Together, these movements forced the central government in 2006 to enact FRA which provided tribal and forest workers the right on forest land.

After its enactment, a struggle began to get the Act implemented. Though it met with little success, it made the tribal youth gravitating towards `armed revolution’ realise that rights can be achieved democratically , thus playing in important role in defeating Naxalism in the area. After FRA, no major Naxal violence has been reported in Sonbhadra in the past 10 years.

“Since tribals constitute less than 2% of UP’s population and are scattered across the state, they are not considered as vote bank. In Sonbhadra, however, tribal and forest workers make up 60% of the population. We have joined hands with Dalits, taking the strength to 80%.Duddhi and Obra constituencies of the district have been reserved for STs. Now, our voice will be heard,“ said Sukalo Gond (55), leader of the Kaimur Kshetra Majdoor Kisan Mahila Sangharsh Samiti, an association of tribal and forest workers.

Naxals gone, but netas fear to tread their former zones
Though it is claimed that the remote areas like Sonebhadra, Chandauli and Mirzapur have completely been freed of the Naxal menace after 2009, the star campaigners of almost all political parties still avoid holding public meetings in the interiors of these districts.Before the announce ment of assembly elections in October, BJP chief Amit Shah had arrived near the district headquarters in Robertsganj in Sonebhadra.During his recent Kisan Yatra, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi also passed through Madihan assembly area in Mirzapur, where his chopper had also landed during the 2012 assembly polls.However, star campaigners of some other regional parties held their public meetings in safe zones like Robertsganj, Chakia and Chandauli of Chandauli district and urban belts of Mirzapur.

However, if Jageshwar Gond of Manbasa village in Duddhi ST reserved assembly constitutency , located along Jharkhand border, is to be believed, people in remote areas never see big politicians coming to their areas to address election meetings.“The people here are taken to Robertsganj and other townships in buses by the leaders of different political parties to take part in their rallies or public meetings during the elections,“ said Savitri Gond, a local. Records of Sonebhadra district administration also prove that there are less permission seekers for holding major political meetings in the remote zones of the district, which are full of difficult terrains.

After announcement of elections, SP chief and CM Akhilesh Yadav and BSP supremo Mayawati as well as Shah preferred to hold their public meetings at Robertsganj only . Rahul held a meeting at Duddhi market.Union home minister Rajnath Singh surely reached an interior zone in Myorpur area to hold his meeting but no bid leader moved in the rural belt of the districts.

toi

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India – Gender Inequality – Unequal Worth, Unequal Pay

This is a shocking reality even today. Why we need equal and diverse workplaces-since there is still room for doubt

Swarna Rajagopalan
  • The fans in our flat are cleaned every month. We call the young man who does odd jobs around the house and pay him Rs 50 per fan. When one month he cannot come, the woman who cleans our house every day offers to do it. We pay her Rs 100 in all. It’s fair, we think, she gets paid for being a cleaner anyway.
  • We are hiring an administrator. The final contenders are a 35-year-old man and a 40-year-old woman. We offer her the job because we cannot match his salary expectation. She does not discuss money and we offer her less than what we think we have to pay him.

Gender wage gaps begin at home. In fact, early feminist posters would state that women have to do twice the work men did to earn half as much.

What is the gender wage gap?

Simply put, it is the difference between what men and women earn. This gap arises most obviously because men and women are paid differently for the same work, all other things — training, experience, talent and delivery — being equal. That difference, in turn, goes to show how we value men and women. Especially women — who they are, what they do, what they achieve and what they need. Clearly, we value anything that men do more than anything that women do. In the sectors that employ more women — the care economy, teaching, the informal sector — they are all much worse compensated, or not paid at all. Men work in sectors that are better organized, better regulated and better paid. Last year, the Monster Salary Index revealed wage differentials in several industries, across levels. The report found that women in India earn 27 per cent less than men in most places; so if a man got Rs 100 for this article, as a woman, I should expect to get Rs 73.

Why this disparity hurts

Unequal pay for equal work is only one explanation for why women earn less. Being perpetually undervalued has consequences throughout women’s lives. Poorer childhood nutrition results in poorer health lifelong and lower productivity. Lack of access to educational opportunities lock women into low-skilled or unskilled jobs, which, by definition, pay less. Today’s economies require and prize technical skill, and a society that keeps women from acquiring more than functional literacy locks them into poverty. With poverty comes vulnerability to displacement and exploitation. In a crisis or downturn, women are the first to lose their jobs and the last to receive compensation. They rarely own assets and, lacking capital, struggle to raise money for entrepreneurship. Patrilocal marriage means they start adult life without the social capital men have that enables them to find work, raise credit or identify mentors.

In India, women make up only 28 per cent of the labour force, according to the 2016 Global Gender Gap Report. The report finds that, on an average, women work 537 minutes a day and men 442. But 66 per cent of the work women do is unpaid as opposed to 12 per cent in the case of men. Women just work fewer hours for pay than do men. The International Labour Organization report, Women at Work, estimates it will take 70 years to close the gender wage gap.

Traditional society expects that women will put household and family needs above their professional growth. Girls often make educational choices that reflect this limitation; for instance, choosing to train as schoolteachers to accommodate the schedules of their children, rather than to train as astronauts. Although large numbers of girls study the physical sciences in India, the numbers that pursue research careers in pure science or technology are still limited. Women make up only 15 per cent of those who work in the area of research and development, according to the Global Gender Gap Report.

Throughout their careers women are likely to take time off to have and raise children or care for family elders. Anticipating this, they are offered less money and less responsibility at every stage. In fact, those women who manage to transcend all these barriers encounter a glass ceiling in leadership positions. The Global Gender Gap Report finds women make up only 10 per cent of publicly traded company board memberships.

The gender wage gap should come as no surprise, then, to any of us. The Constitution of India guarantees the Right to Equality and prohibits discrimination, and the 1976 Equal Remuneration Act reinforces this without prejudice to special measures like maternity leave. But laws are rarely enough.

Bridging the gap

The journey to wage equality has two other components. First, there should be enforceable guidelines, drafted by the government and industry together, for minimum and equal wages that are then adopted across the board, as part of the drive towards equal and diverse workplaces. Monitoring and penalties for non-compliance should be decided and enforced by each industry. This would work in consonance with proactive efforts to hire and promote inclusively, offering training and mentoring as needed. Second, when gender equality becomes the social norm, the gender gap in wages will close. Tangible initiatives to drive this begin with removing structural impediments to women’s growth as individuals and citizens — access to nutrition, health and education; access to skills training, jobs and credit; and, of course, access to decision-making.

The most important obstacle to wage equality, however, lies in our attitudes. When women value themselves enough to fight for their due, and when society values all human beings equally, the gender wage gap will cease to be an issue.

Swarna Rajagopalan is a political scientist and independent scholar. She is also the founder of The Prajnya Trust in Chennai, which works towards gender equality.

http://www.readersdigest.co.in/story/unequal-worth,-unequal-pay/1/124266.html

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National Health Mission ( NHM’S) health is in doubt

NHM’s health in doubt as Ministry told to revise cost

The ministry has been asked to reduce the estimates and bring them on a par with the allocations in the 2017-18 Budget, which earmarked around Rs 27,000 crore to the NHM.

Written by Abantika Ghosh | New Delhi | P

National health missions, health ministry NHM, NHM health ministry, NHM expenditure finance committee, funds for national health mission, budget allocation NHM, health news

Photo for representational purposes.The flagship programme of the Union Ministry of Health — the National Health Mission (NHM) — is facing an uncertain future with the Expenditure Finance Committee (EPF) not clearing a proposal for the scheme’s continuation beyond March 31 and asking the ministry for a revised proposal.

 

With the EPF raising questions about the way the programme has been implemented, it may as well be the end of the road, at least in its current form, for one of the previous UPA government’s biggest success stories.

The NHM is one of several programmes set to end on March 31, 2017, when the 12th Five Year Plan comes to an end.
Incidentally, the NHM was one of the schemes shortlisted in 2015 for withdrawal of central support. Niti Aayog too had wanted the NHM to end.

Among the objections raised by the EFC are the lack of convergence in a submitted proposal, the lack of sufficient focus on preventive and promotive elements of health care and states not being allowed enough flexibility in developing their own programme implementation plans (PIPs).

The ministry has also been asked to reduce the estimates and bring them on a par with the allocations in the 2017-18 Union Budget, which earmarked around Rs 27,000 crore to the NHM.

Asking for renewal of the Mission, the Health Ministry had asked for a little over Rs 33,500 crore for next year and a little over Rs 1,37,000 crore for the next five years. After its detailed presentation to the EFC, Finance Secretary Ashok Lavasa, according to sources, had picked holes in the presentation, questioning the very basis of the proposal for continuation of NHM.

An official who attended the meeting said: “The committee felt there was a lack of convergence — which has been highlighted by the Prime Minister time and again as one of his key priorities for the government… They also felt PIPs are dictated by the ministry which is not true at all.”

While the ministry will now have to go back to the EFC with a revised proposal, the official added that there is no question of the mission being discontinued. “The biggest proof of that is the allocation for NHM in this year’s Budget. Niti Aayog has revised its stand (on discontinuation),” the official added.http://indianexpress.com/article/lifestyle/health/national-health-missions-health-in-doubt-as-ministry-told-to-revise-cost-4561071/

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Shocking- 354 women get pregnant after sterilization surgery in Odisha in a year #WTFnews

| TNN |

BHUBANESWAR: What are the chances that a woman gets pregnant after undergoing a family planning surgery? Doctors say it is very rare. However, as many as 354 women got pregnant in Odisha after going under the knife in just last one financial year (2015-16).

Total 1.14 lakh women underwent tubectomy, the surgery to prevent pregnancies, in the state in 2015-16. In case of 354 of them, the surgery failed. They became pregnant again. The government had to give them Rs 1.06 crore compensation @Rs30,000 each.

In the last three financial years (2013-14, 2014-15 and 2015-16), total 992 women out of 3.54 lakh women who underwent tubectomy faced unwanted pregnancies after the surgery, written information submitted by health minister Pradip Amat in the ongoing budget session of the assembly shows.

Doctors are baffled. “There are chances of failure. But the number seems very high,” said Dr R K Purohit, a gynaecologist. “The failure should be extremely rare, 0.01% or even less,” said Raj Kumar Ghosh, a former director of family welfare. However, the 354 failure among 1.14 lakh women works out to be 30 times more at 0.3%.

A woman, wife of a doctor in Bargarh town, who became pregnant two years after undergoing such a surgery said, “It was a rude shock for me. My gynaecologist explained me it is possible. I had no way to figure out why it happened.”

Doctors said the failure could be due to three main reasons. “In some women, the fallopian tube regenerates after being cut as part of the surgery to stop pregnancy. So, they become pregnant again, for which one can’t do anything. If surgeries are done just after delivery, regeneration chances are higher,” said a doctor.

In certain cases, the women may be already in the very early stage of pregnancy when they undergo the surgery. To avoid failure of this type, they should plan the procedure during or immediately after menstrual cycle while not having physical contact with their spouses. Thirdly, it could be due to surgeons’ errors when the surgery is not properly done.

While doctors explain women’s pregnancies post-tubectomy, men are also becoming fathers after undergoing sterilization, what is called vasectomy. In the past three years, six men became fathers after they underwent vasectomy. “The spermatic chord can also regenerate,” Dr Purohit said.

Stating that failure of sterilization surgeries is well-accepted, director family welfare Vinod Mishra said from the ongoing financial year, the compensation amount has doubled to Rs 60,000.http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/354-women-get-pregnant-after-sterilization-surgery-in-odisha-in-a-year/articleshow/57509597.cms

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Aadhaar must for Bhopal gas relief – The Illegal order #WTFnews

New Delhi, March 7: The Centre has made Aadhaar essential for the 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy compensation, undaunted by the uproar over making the IDs mandatory for school mid-day meals.

All those entitled to the Bhopal cash aid will have to provide Aadhaar or enrol for one by June 30 to continue getting the assistance, according to a notification issued by the Union ministry for chemicals and fertilisers yesterday.

The compensation is paid for “death, permanent disability, injury of utmost severity, cancer, total renal failure and temporary disability” suffered by the gas victims. The process of providing the assistance continues even 32 years after the tragedy because of a long legal battle with Union Carbide, which owned the plant from where the toxic fumes leaked in December 1984, over damages.

On the midday meal, however, there were indications the HRD ministry may extend the June 30 deadline for furnishing Aadhaar or proof of having applied for one. The ministry may take up the matter with the PMO after realising the target is unrealistic.

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According to the National University of Educational Planning and Administration (NUEPA), which collects information on enrolments, nearly 2.5 crore children have so far provided Aadhaar details. But given that nearly 10.5 crore schoolchildren in government schools have the meals, that still leaves a huge number out of the Aadhaar net.

Faced with protests, the Centre today said no child would be deprived of the meals and those without Aadhaar can use alternative IDs. The BJP circulated the statement.

Upset with the spate of orders making Aadhaar mandatory for a host of services – including scholarships and the maternity benefit scheme – women activists have started protests and described the diktats as an “effort to dilute hard-won legal entitlements”.

Curiously, Aadhaar has brought transparency and accountability activists on the same platform as those sceptical of giving every citizen a unique identity.

Aadhaar sceptic and researcher Usha Ramanathan said the government’s claim of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) – which issues Aadhaar cards – being the remedy for all corruption was negated by the fact that those who fought for the Right to Information Act were opposed to it. “The UID (unique ID) inverts the idea of transparency. It makes people transparent but the state opaque.”

“First, they said the poor would be given an identity. Then it became that you will not get your entitlement if you don’t have this number. What we are seeing today is rampant and shameless illegality by the State as the Supreme Court has clearly said Aadhaar should not be made mandatory. Even in six areas, including PDS, MNREGA, Jan Dhan and LPG where the court has allowed Aadhaar, it has said this should be voluntary,” Ramanathan said.

RTI activist Anjali Bhardwaj dubbed “fallacious” the Centre’s contention that Aadhaar would end corruption.

Another activist, Amrita Johri, pointed to an audit of 42 PDS outlets in Delhi and said Aadhaar biometrics did not work most of the time, as a result of which many were denied their monthly ration. “If biometrics do not work properly in Delhi, imagine what the situation must be like in other places where (Net) connectivity is worse,” Johri said, adding the Aadhaar rule was leading to exclusion. “When the biometrics do not work, the default setting on the records is that people did not come to the PDS shops.”

Magsaysay winner Bezwada Wilson, among the petitioners in the Supreme Court case against Aadhaar, flagged a problem faced by vulnerable groups.”Some of us, born into families involved in scavenging, may want to bury our identity but society does not allow us that. Now Aadhaar is further institutionalising it. It is an obstacle to our bid to come out of our identity.

https://www.telegraphindia.com/1170308/jsp/nation/story_139609.jsp#.WMIzfTuGM2y

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Chhattisgarh: The optics of human rights

Major human rights violations and belligerent posturing of some officials against media persons and human rights defenders have led to widespread negative publicity in India


Like any place that lives with protracted conflict, in particular the southern part which has experienced the Maoist rebellion for more than two decades, the situation has bred extreme anger, rhetoric and action. Photo: HT

Like any place that lives with protracted conflict, in particular the southern part which has experienced the Maoist rebellion for more than two decades, the situation has bred extreme anger, rhetoric and action. Photo: HT

Has Chhattisgarh turned sensitive to criticism? Or has the behaviour of some officials proved too much even for this state notorious in matters of human rights—and which led to the recent transfer of three senior police officials in Maoist battle zones?

The only explanation seems to be: image.

Like any place that lives with protracted conflict, in particular the southern part which has experienced the Maoist rebellion for more than two decades, the situation has bred extreme anger, rhetoric and action. Here the state and its agencies have long turned utterly feral, much like their Maoist enemies.

Major human rights violations and belligerent posturing of some senior officials against media persons and human rights defenders have led to widespread negative publicity in India and abroad especially over the past couple of years. Even businesses, which have largely ignored such issues—and some household names in India actually opted to establish bases in southern Chhattisgarh, in flagrant violation of common sense let alone complicity in human rights violations—have now begun to get a bit edgy. Imagine such wariness when human rights violations by businesses, both state- and privately-run, continue unabated in the coal mining and electricity generation hotspots in central Chhattisgarh.

On 3 March, the government transferred the superintendent of police of Sukma district, Indira Kalyan Elesela. As local media reported—later followed up by, among others Hindustan Times, the sister publication of Mint—Elesela had a day earlier made a controversial statement at Jagdalpur during a private function. Jagdalpur is the headquarters of Bastar district, which is to the north of Sukma.

Elesela was quoted as saying in Hindi: “Manvadhikaar karyakarta ko sadak pe kuchal dena chahiye …” Human rights activists should be run over—literally, crushed—on the roads. He also repeated a frequent accusation in Chhattisgarh, that human rights activists were “Maoist sympathizers”.

Though Elesela denied it all, his quick transfer to the state capital Raipur (and a position with the state Intelligence Bureau) spoke more eloquently. His colleague in Bastar, R.N. Dash was also transferred the same day, to be top cop in Baloda Bazar district in central Chhattisgarh.

Both Elesela and Dash are seen as protégés of former inspector general of Bastar Range S.R.P. Kalluri, who was transferred out in early February to the state capital Raipur, where he remains in assignment-limbo. Kalluri had over several years gained reputation for his ruthless tactics, “collateral damage” of non-combatants included, during several tours of duty in southern Chhattisgarh.

Allegations washed off Kalluri for years, including his being behind the revival of vigilante groups modelled on the murderous, and now technically defunct, Salwa Judum; and intimidation of several tribal folk, human rights lawyers, activists and media persons based in southern Chhattisgarh—the reason for massive negative publicity these past two years. He was finally shifted out because one such alleged intimidation went too far and too public; and also as he came uncomfortably close to the sights of the Central Bureau of Investigation for being the officer in charge during an incident in 2011 in which more than 160 homes in the tribal village of Tadmetla were burned.

Like Dash, Kalluri was present at the function in Jagdalpur where Elesela reportedly made his comments.

There is no indication that the transfers were on account of electoral equations, even though the Congress, the main opposition party in Chhattisgarh, has gained ground both in the number of seats and—perhaps more importantly—in share of votes in general elections to the assembly in 2013, over 2008. Next elections are due by November 2018. In any case elections aren’t fought on the platform of the Maoist rebellion or human rights even for the 12 seats of the 90-member assembly in areas affected by the Maoist rebellion. Here, parties focus on urbanized areas with relatively low tribal populations, not rural war zones in tribal heartlands.

Few acknowledge it, but the most violent operational phase—less violent than now, that is—the practice of maximum collateral damage and human rights violations occurred at a time when the Congress was in government in New Delhi. Salwa Judum was transparently supported by Bharatiya Janata Party’s chief minister Raman Singh when it began in 2005, under the approving watch of the Congress-led central government. Singh is now in this third term. Moreover, Mahendra Karma, a co-founder of Salwa Judum who was assassinated by Maoists in May 2013, was a key Congress legislator in Chhattisgarh.

Shifting personnel is merely a matter of optics.

Sudeep Chakravarti’s books include Clear.Hold.Build: Hard Lessons of Business and Human Rights in India, Red Sun: Travels in Naxalite Country and Highway 39: Journeys through a Fractured Land. This column, which focuses on conflict situations and the convergence of businesses and human rights, runs on Thursdays.http://www.livemint.com/Opinion/zec6c5plhfluqjtCaWFehJ/Chhattisgarh-The-optics-of-human-rights.html

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