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Archives for : March2017

Goa Shame: 245 tourists muredered in past 12 years

 

Relatives of foreigners whose deaths were classified as natural or accidental say some cases could be the result of foul play

Site where prayer ceremony for Danielle McLaughlin was held in Goa.
Police arrested a Goa man in connection with the murder of Irish-British woman Danielle McLaughlin. Photograph: Arvind Tengse/Barcroft Images

An Irish-British dual national whom police believe was murdered in Goa was one of more than 245 foreigners to die in four districts of the Indian state in the past 12 years, according to police records obtained by the Guardian.

A postmortem on the body of Danielle McLaughlin has revealed the 28-year-old had been sexually assaulted and strangled in the hours after leaving a party on Monday at Palolem beach, a popular spot in the south of the state.

Police say they have arrested and will charge a local man they have identified as Vikat Bhagat with her rape and murder. Bhagat, described as a local gang member, was seen with McLaughlin on CCTV footage the day before her death.

Records from the Goa police, obtained under India’s freedom of information laws, show that six other foreigners’ deaths were classified as murders in the Anjuna, Pernem, Mapusa and Canacona districts in the decade leading to August 2015.

Another 157 foreigner deaths were classified as natural or accidental, but a group of relatives of some of the tourists who died in the western Indian state say authorities have overlooked crucial clues in some cases that could point to foul play.

The statistics reveal a darker picture of the coastal paradise that more than 5 million tourists visited in 2016. There were 20 suicides in Pernem district. About 23 people drowned, while the cause of death for another 39 people is listed as “not known or pending”. Foreign men aged between 30 and 49 are most at risk of dying in the districts, the records show.

The families of at least six foreigners who died while holidaying in Goa have told the Guardian they question initial rulings that the deaths of their loved ones were natural or accidental.

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Irish-British backpacker seen shortly before she was found dead in Goa – CCTV video

One of those listed as a natural death is 22-year-old Felix Dahl, a Finnish national who was found dead in Patnem, Canacona, in January 2015. Dahl was found with skull wounds – a postmortem carried out in Goa attributed his death to an accidental fall. However, a second autopsy conducted in Finland showed “that was impossible”, his mother Manni Pirhonen said. “The doctors say his damages resulted from high impact force of some sort and falling is excluded,” she said.

A man known to have been in contact with her son is an associate of Bhagat, the man arrested in the McLaughlin case, and the pair were among a group arrested in the past for a series of burglaries in Canacona.

Sixteen days after Dahl’s death, the body of James Durkin also washed up on a beach in Canacona after he went missing for more than a month. The body of the 34-year-old from south London was badly decomposed and showed possible signs of mutilation.

His death is listed in the records as a drowning but a coroner in the UK reached an open conclusion. “Has he come to some sort of harm at the hands of a third party or has there been an accident? I just don’t know,” she said, according to news reports.

Sara Neighbour’s brother Martin was found dead on Arambol beach in February 2008 in a case that was also classified as a drowning. But Neighbour told an inquest in London her brother “looked like he had been beaten up”.

One of those listed as murdered was 15-year-old Scarlett Keeling from Devon, whose bruised body was found in the shallows of Anjuna beach in February 2008. The documents list her cause of death as “drowning in the beach sand water (murder)”. Keeling’s death was initially ruled an accidental drowning, before pressure from her mother forced a second autopsy, which revealed evidence of drugs in her system, more than 50 cuts and bruises and signs of sexual assault.

The death of Denyse Sweeney was initially ruled by police as a drug overdose, but an inquest found no illegal substances in her body and the initial investigation reportedly overlooked evidence of injuries on her body. The case has since been listed as a murder.

Speaking on behalf of the families, Pirhonen said they felt it was unlikely that so many young people were dying natural deaths in the state. “[We] suspect that murders of tourists are actually very common in Goa,” she said. “Nothing is properly investigated except maybe now [with the McLaughlin case]. This was too obviously a murder, so they could not say she fell or drowned. Anybody who’s found in the water, they say has drowned.”

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/mar/17/goa-irish-british-danielle-mclaughlin-murder-palolem/

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In India Any Social Activist Can Be Arrested, Charged And Tried – Sans Evidence – For Terrorism

 

kobadghandy

Co-Written by Dr. P.S. Sahni & Shobha Aggarwal

In 2009, the Government of India announced a new nation-wide initiative viz. “Integrated Action Plan” (IAP) for broad coordinated operations to deal with the ‘Naxalite’ problem. This plan included increased funding for special police for better containment and reduction of Naxalite influence. Kobad Ghandy’s arrest in September 2009 was a direct fall out of this IAP.

Kobad Ghandy, born in 1951, studied in Doon School; St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai and went to London to study chartered accountancy. He often wrote in newspapers and journals. Prior to his arrest he was living in Delhi since 2006. He was said to be in charge of expanding the Communist Party of India (Maoist) [CPI (Maoist)] in urban areas. He was actually arrested days before 20thSeptember, 2009 – the date touted by the police – at the Bhikaji Cama Place, New Delhi by the Intelligence Bureau. He was illegally detained, tortured and interrogated till his formal date of arrest. At that time a T.V. news channel compared him to Lashkar-e-Tayiba founder Mohammed Sayeed; while the 2008 BBC interview quoted Kobad Ghandy:

“The first step is to distribute land to the tiller … We have a clear-cut definition of development.”

Kobad Ghandy was charged under the Draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention), Act (UAPA) inter alia for the offences under Sections 20 and 38 of UAPA. The investigation was assigned to the then Additional Commissioner of Police (ACP) Special Cell of Delhi Police. The police raid – allegedly conducted at the premises of Kobad Ghandy – yielded a large number of books, CDs, DVDs, computer, CPU, pen drives, laptop and other material/articles. As per the Police Report submitted to the court the material contained codes, email ids and telephone numbers related to CPI (Maoist), a banned organization under UAPA. The Police Report further stated that the recovered electronic material related to Maoist activities/ programmes e.g. Kobad Ghandy’s disclosure that he had gone to Nepal to meet Prachanda! (Ironically the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi had met Prachanda in October, 2016 during the BRICS summit, Goa!!)

By order dated 16 July, 2012, charges as above were framed against Kobad Ghandy to which he pleaded not guilty and claimed trial. The prosecution examined in all a total of 37 witnesses including top bureaucrats, police and intelligence officers both from various states as well as Central government e.g. Deputy Superintendent of Police Intelligence; Inspector General of Police; Special Branch, Additional Superintendent Police; Secretary, Govt. of National Capital Territory of Delhi; Deputy Secretary; several Deputy Commissioners of Police. Prosecution evidence was closed on 4 November, 2015 when recording of evidence of accused was fixed for.

Ms. Rebecca John, Senior Advocate addressed arguments on behalf of Kobad Ghandy. She was assisted by Mr. Bhavook Chauhan. Rebecca John argued:

  • that recoveries shown to have been made at the instance of Kobad Ghandy were planted;
  • that CPI (Maoist) had actually been outlawed only on 22 June, 2009; none of the material alleged to have been recovered pertained to any period after 22 June, 2009;
  • that no material is produced to show that Kobad Ghandy continued to be a member of CPI (Maoist) after 22 June, 2009;
  • that heavy reliance was placed by the prosecution on digital storage devices such as CDs, DVDs, pen drives and hard drives; but none of these media/devices were sent for forensic examination to any Forensic Sciences Laboratory (FSL) to verify genuineness and authenticity of their contents;
  • that no photograph or voice sample of Kobad Ghandy was obtained and sent to any FSL to establish that the voice/video footage contained in the said media was that of Kobad Ghandy;
  • that unverified newspaper reports placed by the prosecution cannot be said to be evidence;
  • that FIRs involving Kobad Ghandy had been placed on record to prove that he was a member of CPI (Maoist); that authors of these FIRs had not been examined; that these FIRs were thus inadmissible in evidence;
  • that Section 20 of the UAPA makes punishable membership of a terrorist organization “which is involved in terrorist act”; but no evidence on record shows Kobad Ghandy had advocated any terrorist act;
  • that additional charge against Kobad Ghandy was under Section 38 of the UAPA; but this Section would not apply to Kobad Ghandy since CPI (Maoist) was not declared to be a terrorist organization when he allegedly became a member;
  • that the Sanction Order was declared to be illegal by the Court of Shri P.K. Jain through its order dated 28 March, 2012; and the second Sanction Order dated 28 March, 2012 could not cure the defect which was there in the earlier Sanction pertaining to Section 45(2) of the UAPA;
  • that there was absolutely no time given to the Sanctioning Authority to consider any material;
  • that in the absence of any valid Sanction Order, the prosecution of Kobad Ghandy for the offences under UAPA fall through;
  • that the prosecution had relied on the recovery of written material and digital storage media touting it to be incriminating evidence at that time;
  • that the prosecution failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt that Kobad Ghandy had led the police team to the premises from where incriminating evidence was recovered;
  • that the prosecution had relied on material downloaded from the internet as evidence of association and membership of Kobad Ghandy of CPI (Maoist);
  • that this material was downloaded by the prosecution and assessed from certain nine named websites which had hosted the information; servers of Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are used to host these websites on the internet;
  • that prosecution had furnished signed certificates under Section 65B of the Indian Evidence Act in support of this downloaded information;
  • that the prosecution witness had assessed the information by using his computer and then taking print outs of the same; the material was thus neither generated nor stored in the computer system used by the prosecution;
  • that as per Section 65B(2) of the Evidence Act the information in the electronic record has to be produced by the computer from which it is retrieved; only then it is deemed a document;
  • that the said electronic records relied upon by the prosecution are therefore inadmissible in evidence;
  • that the prosecution witness was not competent to sign the certificates as he had no control over these websites; therefore the said electronic records are inadmissible;
  • that emails attributed to Kobad Ghandy were assessed by the prosecution and relied upon to prove his association.

For the very same reasons (supra) that the Court had observed that the electronic records produced by prosecution was inadmissible in evidence, the print outs of the emails too could not be looked into or read in evidence. This was the Court’s observation. The emails were stored in the servers of the email service providers viz. Yahoo. The computers used by prosecution witness did not produce the emails, but provided access to these emails. Prosecution would therefore not be competent to give any certificate under Section 65B of the Evidence Act in regard to the emails stored in the servers of Yahoo.

The Court observed in its judgement:

“108. The task of the prosecution is to establish its case against an accused beyond any reasonable doubt. The same has been reiterated by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in several cases. In the case of Paramjeet Singh vs. State of Uttarakhand (2010) 10 SCC 439 it was held that the burden of proof is on the prosecution to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt and that the law does not permit the Court to punish the accused on the basis of moral conviction or suspicion alone. The more serious the offence, stricter the degree of proof required, since a higher degree of assurance is required to convict the accused. In the case of Kali Ram vs. State of Himachal Pradesh (1973) 2 SCC 808 it was held that when two views are possible, one pointing to the guilt and other to the innocence of the accused, the view favourable to the accused must be taken. When Court entertains a reasonable doubt regarding the guilt of the accused, the accused must get the benefit of that doubt. In the case of Datar Singh vs. State of Punjab (1975) 4 SCC 272 it has been held that suspicion, however grave, cannot be a satisfactory basis for convicting an accused person. When the superstructure of the prosecution has crumbled, it is impossible to not give the benefit of the doubt to the accused.

  1. In the facts and circumstances of this case, there are reasonable doubts on the version of the prosecution on charge under Sections 20 and 38 of the UAPA. The benefit of the same will have to go to the accused. …
  1. Hence in the absence of any evidence in support of these charges, Kobad Ghandy is acquitted for the charge framed for the offences under Sections 20 and 38 of the UAPA.”

This judgement was announced in the open court on the 10th of June, 2016 by Shri Reetesh Singh, Additional Sessions Judge, Patiala House Courts, New Delhi.

POST SCRIPT:

The prosecution had submitted to the court that Kobad Ghandy had disclosed that he had gone to Nepal in 2006 to meet Prachanda, the Chief of Nepal Maoists and other Maoists leaders in Nepal. This was held against Kobad Ghandy even as he was charged under UAPA. Ironically Narendra Modi, the Indian Prime Minister had met Prachanda in October, 2016 during the BRICS Summit, Goa. Does Modi know the following facts about Prachanda?:

  • That Prachanda’s Communist Party of Nepal (Maoists) declared a “peoples war” on 4 February, 1996 and started looting weapons of policemen posted in rural Nepal.
  • That the Maoists started blowing up police posts.
  • That Prachanda led the bloody civil war for ten years during which over thirteen thousand people were killed; over one thousand disappeared; and thousands were displaced. Prachanda still faces cases of his involvement in killings of people during the armed conflict.
  • That ending his twenty-five year long underground life, Prachanda made a public appearance at the then Nepal Prime Minister’s residence on 16 June, 2006. It culminated in a 2006 peace deal. Prachanda was elected Prime Minister in August 2008; and is presently the Prime Minister of Nepal in his second term.

During Modi’s meeting with Prachanda in 2016, the Chinese President Xi Jinping was also present. Does Modi know the following facts about Xi Jinping?:

  • That Xi Jinping is the General Secretary, Communist Party of China (1974-Present).
  •    That Xi Jinping has been referred to as Maoist both in ideological terms and in how he tries to control Chinese society.
  •    That Chairman Mao Tse-tung’s or Mao Zedong’s Marxist-Leninist theories, military strategies and political policies are collectively known as Maoism.

–    That critics of Mao consider him a dictator who was responsible for forty to seventy million deaths through starvation, prison labour and execution.

Modi was appointed Chief Minister of Gujarat in 2001. He was elected to the legislative assembly soon after. His administration has been considered complicit in the 2002 Gujarat riots. Several scholars have described the violence as a pogrom, while others have called it an example of state terrorism.

As far as Kobad Ghandy is concerned there is not a single act of violence committed by him, yet he continues to be in custody for over seven years and continues to fight cases under Draconian laws in several states in India even as he approaches the end of the seventh decade of his life and is in precarious health.

References:

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobad_Ghandy
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Narendra_Modi
  3. ‘Prachanda’s rise from Maoist to leader of Nepal’

(HT, 03.08.2016)

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mao_Zedong
  2. State vs. Kobad Ghandy & Anr

(Judgement dated 10.06.2016 by Additional District and Sessions Judge Shri Reetesh Singh, Patiala House, New Delhi.)

  1. ‘Why Kobad Ghandy Should Be Released On Bail’, by Dr. P.S. Sahni, Countercurrents.org, 12.04.2016

[Dr. P.S. Sahni & Shobha Aggarwal are members of PIL Watch Group and can be reached at: [email protected]]

In India Any Social Activist Can Be Arrested, Charged And Tried – Sans Evidence – For Terrorism: Kobad Ghandy’s Case

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India- This Journalist Is Going Through Hell For Exposing Illegal Beach Sand Mining #Vaw

“I started receiving calls from unknown numbers asking me if I was anti-Jallikattu.”

FACEBOOK/SANDHYA RAVISHANKAR

Sandhya Ravishankar, an independent journalist based in Chennai, has two policemen stationed outside her home to protect her from possible harm from the external world. But they can do precious little about the stream of abuse and threat she has been receiving on phone and social media in the last few weeks.

All hell has broken loose since Ravishankar published a four-part series on illegal beach sand mining along the Tamil Nadu coast in online news platform The Wire, though this is hardly the first time she has faced such adversity for her reporting.

Her attention to the problem was drawn in 2013, when the Durga Shakti Nagpal case erupted in the media. “I was a reporter with Times Now [TV channel] then,” Ravishankar told HuffPost India on the phone, “when the junior IAS officer in Uttar Pradesh was suspended.”

All hell has broken loose since Ravishankar published a four-part series on illegal beach sand mining along the Tamil Nadu coast

Although the state government claimed to have taken this action against Nagpal for allegedly ordering the destruction of a wall that was supposed to be part of a mosque, activists argued the real reason behind the crackdown on her was her intolerance of illegal mining in UP.

Around the same time, Ravishankar had a lead about a district collector in Tuticorin preparing to raid some illegal mines in the region. When she called Ashish Kumar, he confirmed the news was not only true but the raid was underway. Less than eight hours later, he had been transferred.

Ravishankar travelled through the area for a week, searching for more stories. It was during this time that she first heard of the mining baron S Vaikundarajan, owner of VV Mineral (VVM), a multi-crore business, and one of the most powerful men in the state. As Ravishankar would discover, together with his (now estranged) brother Chandresan, Vaikundarajan is alleged to have looted 13,70,409.28 metric tonnes of beach sand from Tamil Nadu.

STRINGER INDIA / REUTERS

What’s In A Grain Of Sand?

Beach sand mining is lucrative business not because it supplies raw material to the construction industry, but because precious minerals are extracted from it. Naturally found in parts of south India and Odisha, it is quarried for atomic minerals, especially thorium.

Following Ravishankar’s coverage, the late J. Jayalalithaa, then Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, banned beach sand mining on the basis of prima facie evidence in a report filed by officials of her government. Since 2010, her relations with Vaikundarajan, who is an important shareholder in Jaya TV, had soured.

There was a lull for a while, as the 2014 general election came and Ravishankar became busy with covering it.

Beach sand mining is lucrative business not because it supplies raw material to the construction industry, but because precious minerals are extracted from it

In February 2015, after Ravishankar had left her job with Times Now and started working as a freelance journalist, a public interest litigation (PIL) was filed by geologist Victor Rajamanickam in the Madras High Court, alleging that beach sand miners had removed rare atomic minerals worth ₹1 lakh crore from sites of their operation. He accused state and central government officials of conspiring with the miners to illegally export national resources, especially monazite (thorium), to countries like China and Korea.

Ravishankar picked up the PIL, of which the Madras High Court later took suo motu cognisance, and did a detailed story in the Economic Times. The very next day, legal notices were served to ET as well as to her for factual errors in her reporting, which were duly clarified in an updated version of the story.

This was, however, only the beginning of her prolonged brush with adversity.

A History Of Hate

A year after she reported the story about illegal mining in Tamil Nadu, Ravishankar, along with her husband V Prem Shankar, who was the bureau chief of ET in Chennai, and Times Internet, received a summons from a court in Tirunelveli. They were accused of defaming the mining baron, driven by personal motivations.

A quash petition was filed in the Madurai High Court, which exempted Ravishankar and her husband from appearing in the hearings of the case in person, though the case is pending hearing.

The same year, Jayalalithaa sacked 8 senior IAS officers, one of them a former chief secretary, on the suspicion of abetting irregularities in the mining sector. “A contact in the mining industry told me her decision had something to do with my report,” says Ravishankar.

Earlier, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change had sent a notice to its Chennai operation after Ravishankar’s report appeared in the ET, asking it follow up on her findings. However, an 11-member committee set up to probe the matter gave a clean chit to the miners, again citing Ravishankar’s personal enmity as the reason behind her negative coverage.

BABU BABU / REUTERS

The latest straw in the case is an ongoing hate campaign against Ravishankar since the publication of the four-part series in The Wire in January this year.

A day after the articles went online, a blog post cast aspersions on Ravishankar and her husband. Her beef with the miners, the anonymous blogger said, stemmed from VVM’s refusal to appoint Prem Shankar as the chief of News 7, a channel owned by the company.

Subsequently, other blogs cropped up, in Tamil and English, attributing arbitrary motives to Ravishankar. On cue, trolls on social media started attacking her, threatening physical and sexual violence. And then, the episode took a completely bizarre turn when one anonymous handle tweeted out Ravishankar’s phone number, calling her out as someone “anti-Jallikattu”.

The mood on the ground in Tamil Nadu about the Supreme Court ban against the traditional bull-taming sport was already volatile. Now this one tweet provided the fuel to blow it up into a conflagration.

“I started receiving calls from unknown numbers asking me if I was anti-Jallikattu,” says Ravishankar. Abuse, threats, malice started pouring in.

The entire episode took a bizarre turn when one anonymous handle tweeted out Ravishankar’s phone number, calling her out as someone “anti-Jallikattu”.

She informed the Chennai police commissioner, filed a complaint with the cyber crime cell and reported her harassment to Twitter.

The online trolling seemed to have died a natural death, though a fresh jolt recently came in the form of a legal notice from Vaikundarajan’s team, threatening a criminal defamation suit against her. Fortunately, Ravishankar found a pro bono lawyer, who sent off a response to the notice. The case is yet to be filed.

Since last Tuesday, Ravishankar has written to several forums and individuals, including the Press Council, National Commission for Women and Maneka Gandhi, detailing her experience since the time she started reporting on illegal mining in Tamil Nadu.

The harassment has found a second life, with one Niyaz Ahmed, starting another blog about her. As Ravishankar writes in her letter, a copy of which is with HuffPost India:

He has written a post and emails to all media outlets in response to an article done by Tamil magazine Vikatan in which they have interviewed the Tirunelveli Collector who is quoted as stating that VV Mineral’s building will be sealed….

In that response to the magazine, to which I have absolutely no connection, the author has alluded to me as a “pimp”, has stated falsely that I am “bargaining with Vaikundarajan for Rs 200 crores” in collusion with ​an officer and that Vaikundarajan has hired 5 detective agencies to follow me and has “incriminating video evidence” of me sitting at a coffee shop and smoking with the aforesaid officer to “collude and plot” against Vaikundarajan. The blog also states that the video will be released soon.

“The cigarette-smoking, supposed to be a sign of moral depravity, has been given special prominence,” says Ravishankar with a laugh.

As she waits for this saga to end, Ravishankar has this much to say in her letter: “If this continues, I am afraid that the freedom of journalists to write on core key issues in Tamil Nadu will face a death knell… Today this is happening to me. Tomorrow it could happen to any journalist in Tamil Nadu or elsewhere in the country.”

http://www.huffingtonpost.in/2017/03/17/this-journalist-is-going-through-hell-for-exposing-illegal-beach_a_21898816/

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After defeating Posco, farmers turn to reclaim betel leaf economy

The formal closure of Posco’s steel plant project in Odisha is seen as a victory of agrarian economy over unwanted industrialization and the betel leaf farmers of Jagatsinghpur are rejoicing, although those who lost their land face new challenges

A betel leaf vineyard in Jagatsinghpur district of Odisha. (Photo by Basudev Mahapatra)

A betel leaf vineyard in Jagatsinghpur district of Odisha. (Photo by Basudev Mahapatra)

In a unique case of victory of the agrarian economy over mineral-based industrial economy, betel leaf farming in the Jagatsinghpur district of Odisha proved to be more dependable and promising than the proposed $12 billion integrated steel plant project planned by one of the world’s largest steel producer POSCO.

The betel leaf stood firm against steel and forced the South Korean steel major out of its Odisha project. POSCO confirmed the withdrawal of its project by requesting the Odisha government to take back the land transferred in its name, according to a statement by Odisha’s Industry Minister Devi Prasad Mishra made on March 18.

POSCO had suspended its the project in July 2015 and, later, by deciding to temporarily freeze the project in 2016. Experts say POSCO had to drop the idea of investment in Odisha as the project couldn’t make any progress over the years due to strong resistance by local people. Since signing a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Odisha government for the project on June 22, 2005, POSCO faced consistent opposition from local people, many of whom were betel leaf cultivators.

Betel leaf economy

It’s important to realize the economic importance of betel leaf in order to understand the factors behind people’s fight against the gigantic project that would have attracted largest investment by a foreign company to India.

“This is not just a leaf, but the soul of our life and economy and the source of income that any industry can hardly offer to us,” said Ramesh Chandra Pashayat of Govindpur village, who had lost his betel vineyard for the POSCO project.

“After meeting all expenses and making the labor payments, I used to earn around Rs 50,000 a month from my vineyard on nearly 40 decimal of land. This apart, the cashew plants around it fetched me be Rs 30-40,000 in a season. This apart, the mango and moringa trees in the vicinity always supported our food and income,” said Sridhar Swain of the same village, while asking: “Given the fact that I don’t have any formal education, can POSCO or any other industry offer me an opportunity of this kind?”

“This is the reason why we opposed POSCO and wanted to protect our land and the dependable source of livelihood — the betel vines,” Sridhar told VillageSquare.in.

A transit camp lies abandoned after supporters of the Posco project were evicted. (Photo by Basudev Mahapatra)

A transit camp lies abandoned after supporters of the Posco project were evicted. (Photo by Basudev Mahapatra)

Stronger than steel

According to the farmers, the vineyards raised by the villagers had the potential to employ thousands of people from this locality and even from outside. The daily transaction in the betel leaf business in the area exceeded Rs 5 million.

“The cultivation of betel leaf generated significant income. Destruction through the project development promised little compared to the social, economic and cultural benefits of existing livelihoods,” notes the Routledge International Handbook of Criminology and Human Rights, based on facts collected on the ground.

As per rough estimates, a vineyard raised on an acre (100 decimal) of land usually fetches the farmer a profit over Rs 1 million every year. This means every decimal of land pays the farmer at least Rs 10,000 a year. This economics probably made the betel leaf stronger than steel and a better choice for people.

“While acquiring land for POSCO, the government offered us Rs 11,500 per decimal of land as one-time compensation money. How could a farmer sacrifice the land permanently for such a meager compensation?” questioned Bishnu Das, a betel leaf grower.

Forceful demolition

Despite strong opposition from the farmers, the government didn’t heed to their voice and demands. Going by its unilateral decision in favor of POSCO, the local administration demolished hundreds of acres of vineyards by force. “Some of the vineyard owners were forced to accept the compensation money and vacate their land while at least 32 farmers didn’t get any compensation for their vineyards,” said Nibha Samal, a farmer.

“I had spent nearly 3 lakhs of rupees to raise my vineyard on 60 decimals. The administration demolished it but didn’t pay any compensation money. The list of farmers published by the administration listed many who never had a vineyard while several of the real farmers didn’t feature in the list,” 60-year-old Shiba Bardhan told VillageSquare.in. “We have filed cases against such injustice done to us by the administration.”

“They did not only destroyed the betel vines but also cleaned the area by cutting trees around and made our green surrounding look like a desert,” said Gouri Das, a woman farmer.

An anguished Gouri Das, seen here with her son Ranjan Das, has lost her land to the now-abandoned steel project. (Photo by Basudev Mahapatra)

An anguished Gouri Das, seen here with her son Ranjan Das, has lost her land to the now-abandoned steel project. (Photo by Basudev Mahapatra)

Battle won, but challenges remain

Despite all efforts to curb the people’s movement and acquire the land, POSCO is now a lost dream for the Odisha government.  On the other hand, though the people’s movement came out victorious so far, it’s only a lose-lose situation for the people who lost their land, livelihood sources and everything for POSCO.

Their betel vines were demolished with promises that the upcoming project would provide an alternate livelihood. As the industry didn’t come, their livelihood is now completely lost.

“The compensation money they paid has been exhausted by now because we had to live without any immediate employment. The project didn’t happen. We are now reduced to daily wagers. How will we survive with a daily wage of 200 rupees?” asks an angry Gouri Das who has lost his land.

“The government forgot all its promises like an interim stipend, alternate livelihood etc. So, once farmers, we live like beggars today,” said Ramesh Das, who has not only lost his land but also has broken his hand in the conflict between people and the government over the POSCO project.

Those who extended whole-hearted support for the project and submitted their land are living a more miserable life. “The government betrayed us. We surrendered all our resources to see the industry in our area and enjoy the benefits of industrialisation. But the government couldn’t make it possible. Nor has it returned the land to us to continue our traditional economic activities like raising betel vines to make a survival,” said Tamil Pradhan, leader of people who supported the government.

The most pathetic story is of the people who sacrificed everything for POSCO and were kept by the government in a transit colony. “They were the first supporters of the project. But as POSCO decided to freeze the project, we suddenly became a burden on the government. The administration threatened to disconnect electricity and lock the houses unless we vacate the transit colony immediately and return home,” said Chandan Mohanty of Patana village, who was also the president of the POSCO Transit Colony Association.

“The administration even didn’t bother to shift us to our village safely. So, we had to negotiate with people who opposed POSCO project and came back to our village to live our own destiny,” he said with agony.

Sounds of another battle

As the plights of people keep increasing since POSCO has shown indications to withdraw its Odisha project, the discontent among people of the project area is simmering too. “Since POSCO has scrapped the Odisha project and the government has not taken any responsibility of the affected people and the land losers, the lands must be returned to people immediately,” said Tamil Pradhan who also hinted that the affected people and land losers are to hold a meeting soon to decide on the issues and to re-occupy their land.

“If the government was not sure about the intentions of POSCO, why did it take away and ruin our guaranteed sources of livelihood? Even if we get the land wherefrom we shall get money to re-raise our vineyards?” asked Jayanti Pashayat and many other farmers who have lost their land has been acquired for the POSCO project.

Even the POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti (PPSS), which opposed the steel project, has announced to start a mass repossession drive in the affected villages.

However, there is very little chance for the land losers to get back their land because, as per Odisha government’s revised policy for land acquisition notified on 7th February 2015, “Land acquired and possession taken over but not utilized within a period of five years from the date of possession shall in all cases revert back to the State and deposited in the Land Bank automatically.”

“The acts of the government are highly questionable because it destroyed the sources of people’s livelihood and couldn’t bring the industry to fulfill its promises of alternate livelihood. Putting people in such a miserable state is purely anti-people and against the very spirit of democracy. We won’t allow this to continue and, also, won’t allow the farm lands to be converted for any other use,” said Abhay Sahu, president of PPSS.

“Shortly, we are going to start another movement against the government and mobilise people to repossess their farm lands and reconstruct their vineyards for the cultivation of betel leaves,” PPSS Spokesperson Prashant Paikray stated.

The sounds of another war to reoccupy the land and revival of the betel leaf economy have started reverberating in the villages surrounding the land acquired in the name of the POSCO project.

Basudev Mahapatra is a journalist based in Bhubaneswar.

After defeating Posco, farmers turn to reclaim betel leaf economy

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People’s Alliance for Democracy and Secularism(P.A.D.S) Demands Justice for Convicted Workers of Maruti Suzuki

 

The sessions court in Gurgaon on 18 March, 2017 sentenced 13 workers of Maruti Suzuki to life imprisonment for murder. Twelve of these are the erswhtile leaders of the Maruti Suzuki Workers’ Union. Eighteen others were sentenced from three to five years for rioting and causing grievous injury. Cases against these workers were filed in July 2012 after violence in company’s Manesar plant during which one official unfortunately lost his life. On company’s complaint police arrested 148 workers and charged them with conspiracy and killing the company official.

 

The court ruling after a four-and-a-half year trial is based on flimsy evidence. The prosecution failed to establish even circumstantial evidence to show that any of those convicted caused the violence that took place, leave alone the death. The ruling also goes against the forensic evidence and post-mortem report that was placed before the court. Critically, officers of the company, who were produced before the court as prosecution witnesses denied they were present at the time of the incident. Some of them even admitted that they were acting under Maruti-Suzuki management direction.

 

117 of the arrested workers have been acquitted of all charges, though there was a common charge against all 148 workers. The acquittal of eighty percent of the accused workers shows that mass terrorisation of workers was one of the main motives of police action in this case, and that courts were wrong in denying them bail. These workers were forced to spend 31 months in prison for no fault of their own. Their fundamental right to life and liberty was attacked, yet no one is going to be punished for it.

 

The Maruti verdict is the latest in a series involving violence at plants of Pricol (Coimbatore), Graziano (Surajpur) and Regency Ceramics (Yanam) in which workers working for their unions have ended up being charged with murder. While all governments show little interest in attending to violations of existing labour regulations by employers, retribution against workers has been severe and swift. It is an indication of the class nature of justice in the country, that courts have convicted workers on trumped up charges and have gone out of their way to deny them justice. In May 2013 the Punjab and Haryana High Court had denied bail to Maruti workers with the argument that if bail is given foreign investors are not likely to invest in India out of fear of labour unrest, as if citizens’ right to justice were subservient to foreign investors’ confidence. This is a clear example of the degradation of criminal justice system and its failure to stick to first principles of justice. It should be a matter of grave concern for every Indian that while the leaders of some of the most henious pogroms in independent India have not been even touched by criminal justice systemt, workers of Maruti Suzuki have been sentenced to life imprisonment on flimsy evidence. Another development is the use of private armed guards by employers for threatening workers. According to workers of Honda scooter plant in Alwar, Rajasthan, their strike last year was broken by the management with the help of armed thugs, who had assaulted them inside the plant, and also in the city in full public view. Maruti Suzuki workers have also alleged that on the day of violence large number of hired bouncers were roaming inside the plant and threatening workers.

 

Working class movement is a great bulwark of democracy in any society. People without property were able to get voting rights and other democratic rights only after sustained campaigns by working class organizations. Working class politics tries to build solidarity among working people across regional, linguistic, religious and caste divisions. On the other hand, the right wing politics is a politics of hatred which divides people. In India Sangh parivar has been spreading hatred against minorities for decades, and indulging in violence agaisnt them. Working class struggle to get all workers together and form independent trade unions that can challenge capitalist depredations is a direct challenge to Hindutva game plan.

 

Maruti Suzuki workers have braved through sinister schemes of management, government, and police, and are standing firm in their commitment. All the workers sentenced to life imprisonment by the court were below thirty when arrested by the police. Their commitment for working people’s rights needs to be contrasted with the violence of activists of Sangh parivar against minorities, Dalits, and students and teachers of universities with full support of Modi government.   It should be cleat to every one that the future of these workers is the future of democracy in India. And now that these young men have been sentenced to life, it is the democracy in India that stands on trial.

P.A.D.S. condemns the collusion of  management, police and prosecution in the Maruti Suzuki case. It condemns the arrest of people who had gathered in front of Haryana Bhavan in Delhi on 16th March to express their outrage against the court verdict. It also condemns Haryana government for for imposing Section 144 in the Gurgaon Manesar industrial belt and trying to prenvent workers from protesting against this mockery of justice. It calls upon the higher judiciary to urgently give justice to wrongfully convicted workers. We salute the valiant struggle of Maruti Suzuki Workers’ Union. We appeal to all democratic central TUs to come forward unitedly to urgently resist this blatantly pro-management decicion which attacks the legitimate rights of the working people under the guise of cirminal convictions. We salute the workers of the Gurgaon-Manesar belt who in their thousands have been taking solidarity actions agaisnt the court verdict, and have vowed to intensify their struggle in coming days.

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God’s own country Kerala unsafe for women, 3-fold increase in rapes in 9 years #Vaw

protest-for-justice-20

The inconsolable mother’s tears may take time to dry up, but Kerala will not be able forget her wails.

“If the police had acted on my complaint, my second daughter‘s life could have been spared,” she cried, shocking the state with her claim that the police had not acted promptly.

On March 4, the sexually-assaulted body of her nine-year-old daughter was found hanging in their one-room house in Walayar in Palakkad, about two months after the body of her elder daughter (14) was found in the same manner.

The daily wager mother claimed that the younger one had known the culprits of the first, and was thus “silenced”. The second murder could have been averted had the police acted on her complaint against suspects, she said.

In a state that prides itself on being the most literate in the country, the two murders are not isolated.

Last year, the brutal murder of a law student, Jisha in Perumbavoor of Ernakulam sent a chill through the state and was even dubbed Nirbhaya II — after the gruesome gangrape and killing of a physiotherapy student on a moving bus in Delhi in December 2013.

Earlier this month, a Catholic priest was arrested in Wayanad in north Kerala for raping a 16-year-old who later gave birth to a baby. The evading Fr Robin Vadakkumchery was arrested hours before he was about to leave the country. The father of the girl was promised Rs 10 lakh to own up the crime, and five nuns and two doctors are on the run for allegedly conspiring to save the priest.

Last week, in the same district, seven minor girls of an orphanage were assaulted after being lured with sweets and mobile phones.

Last month, the south Indian film industry took to the streets after a leading actress was allegedly abducted and sexually assaulted by a criminal gang in a moving car in Kochi.

“It is time we stop being candle-lighting sympathisers and ensure that the law of the land be strengthened in such a way that nobody dares contemplating such heinous acts,” actor Mohanlal wrote on Facebook.

The rising number of sexual assaults against women and girls are a worrying point for the state so much that an angry, former defence minister and ex-CM A K Antony said Kerala cannot be called ‘God’s Own Country’ anymore.

State police data shows a three-fold increase in number of rapes in the last decade from 500 in 2007 to 1,644 in 2016.

Cases under Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act hit 2,093 in 2016 from 1,569 in 2015 and 1,002 in 2013. But what’s more shocking is the conviction rate. In the last three years only 53 accused have been convicted under POCSO.

Moly Kuruvilla, head of centre for women studies, University of Calicut, noted that after committing a crime, the accused usually came out on bail and the legal process dragged on for years. “Many victims were forced to end the case. This attitude emboldens others to commit same mistake.”

Sociologists and women activists blame poor policing, tardy judicial system, mushrooming pornographic sites, dipping family values, growing gender insensitivity and rapid marketisation for the spurt in crimes against women.

What is more alarming is that cashing in on the apathy of law-enforcement agencies, ‘moral police’ have started implementing their diktats menacingly.

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Last week, a gang of Shiv Sena activists shamed the state caning young couples who were sitting around Kochi’s best address, Marine Drive. Arrested Sena activists, who were later thrown out of the party, claimed that “indecent dressing and intimacy with opposite sex were main reasons behind soaring crime graph”.

Last month, a youth committed suicide after he was attacked by a gang of “moral activists” while sitting with his girlfriend on a beach in Kollam. Kuruvilla called for gender sensitisation in a massive way.

“It should start from every household. Patriarchal society always treats women inferior. In every household, there are many dos and don’ts for girls but not for boys.”

“From religion to cinema, women are treated badly. How to respect women, nobody imparts a lesson to boys. So it is natural for a growing-up boy to treat a girl as a sexual object and not as an equal,” she said.

Activist and child psychologist Mala Parwati, who has helped victims to come out of their trauma, said, “First we have to treat and correct the prevailing mindset of a section of men-folk. Initial lessons will be taught at home how women can be respected and cared.”

A concerned state government is mulling the launch of an online registry to name and shame sexual offenders. Since connectivity is high in the state, many activists, including Sunitha Krishnan, had advised it to maintain an online data bank containing details of offenders, a first of its sort in the country.

But legal experts have warned that it can carry only names and details of convicts, not the accused. Since legal
proceedings are tardy, many fear its efficacy now.

Mahila Congress leader Bindhu Krishna demanded that all sexual assault cases should be fast-tracked and the guilty should be given deterrent punishment. “That is the only solution to contain the menace.”

The tough-speaking health and social welfare minister, K K Shylaja said the government was committed to containing crimes against women.

“Besides strengthening enforcement agencies and watch bodies, we have to begin an awareness campaign from grassroots (every household) that women are not mere sexual objects,”
she said.

Apart from raising a women battalion and setting up more women-only police stations, the government will set up a toll free helpline (Mithra 181) to help the needy, she said.

“It is sad that in most cases victims and perpetrators are adolescents. We have to give proper sex education to make them aware of their physical changes and limitations,” she said.

“The advanced socially and culturally Kerala will have to take a tough stand. We know how to deal with the scourge that is bringing shame to the state,” said the minister.

Courtesy:-Hindustan Times

http://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/three-fold-increase-in-rapes-in-9-years-god-s-own-country-kerala-is-unsafe-for-women/story-7YfiA5Q15BqSR9KSoZmEeM.html

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When Anupam Kher wanted UP CM Yogi Adityanath ‘arrested’ and ‘thrown out’ of BJP

Anupam Kher and Yogi Adityanath (File Photo)

Bet Anupam Kher didn’t think he would be talking about the new UP CM.

BJP’s hardline Hindutva poster boy and five-time Member of Parliament (MP), Yogi Adityanath was on Sunday sworn in as the 21st chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, heading a 47-member council of ministers that includes two deputy CMs. Adityanath, who has been attacked for his inflammatory remarks against Muslims in the past, asserted that his government “will work for all sections of the society without any discrimination” and “will ensure balanced development of UP”.

One person who has criticised Yogi Adityanath in the past is Bollywood actor and Modi supporter Anupam Kher. While he was thrilled after the UP elections results and had tweeted that he could hear the ‘echoes of the slap’ (of the mandate) till Los Angeles, saying people wanted ‘development’, he was extremely reticent post the announcement of Yogi Adityanath. Perhaps because he had been highly critical of the new UP CM.

दोस्तों!!! इस थप्पड़ की गूँज तो लॉस ऐंजेलेस तक सुनाई दे रही है। अब तो चन्द लोगों को समझ आ जाना चाहिये कि देश विकास चाहता है, बकवास नहीं।:)

At the height of the intolerance debate in March 2016, Anupam Kher had launched an impassioned defence of PM Modi and hit out at BJP ‘members’ like Sadhvi Prachi and Yogi Adityanath who he claimed promoted ‘intolerance’.

He had said at the Telegraph Annual Debate: “There are some people in the party (BJP) who speak nonsense, and ill-behave, whether it is Sadhvi or Yogi…they should be put behind bars, thrown out of the party (Hain kuch log aise party mein jo bakwas karte hain, chahe wo Sadhvi hon ya Yogi ho, unko andar kar dena chahiye aur unko nikal dena chahiye),” Kher said. “But, you can’t play with the entire country and say that we have intolerance here (magar aap pure desh ke saath khilwad nahin kar sakte ki hamare desh meyn intolerance hai,” he said.

While Sadhvi Prachi isn’t even a member of the BJP, Adityanath had not taken too kindly to Kher’s remarks.

He had said back then: “Everyone knows about the character of a villain. Kher is not only a reel life villain, but also in real life. I don’t want to say anything more on his statement made in Kolkata.”

To be fair to Anupam Kher, he probably did not think PM Modi and Amit Shah would pick the firebrand leader to lead UP. As Kher often says: “Kuch bhi ho sakta hai (Anything can happen).”

Yogi takes oath, promises to work for all sections

Hours after taking oath, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on Sunday promised to promised to work for all sections of the society without any discrimination, with focus on development and job creation.

In a brief media interaction, he said his government will pursue the agenda of ‘sabka saath, sabka vikas’ and fulfil all the promises made by the party during the polls. “We will follow ‘sabka saath, sabka vikas’ agenda and will serve the state…Our government will work for all sections of the society without any discrimination. We will ensure balanced development of UP,” Adityanath said.

His comments assume significance as he is considered to be a hardline Hindutva mascot. “I want to assure people that BJP, which got votes for development and security, will show positive resuilts soon,” the Chief Minister said. “Effective measures will be taken by our government for welfare of common man and it will be devoted to welfare of people. The administration will be made sensible and answerable and emphasis will be on law and order,” he said.

Accusing the previous governments of being responsible for the sorry state of affairs in the state, Adityanath said work will be done to make development agriculture-based as it is main source of income. Women empowerment, their security and honour will also be on top of the BJP government agenda, he said.

“We will focus on skill development of youths so that they can get job opportunity while government appointments will be made corruption free and transparent. Investment will be promoted for industrial devolpment and it will be done for economic develompent,” Adityanath added.

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India – Muzaffarnagar riots accused now a Minister

Image result for Suresh Rana was made minister of state

20th March 2017, 09:30AM IST

MEERUT: Muzaffarnagar riots accused Suresh Rana was made minister of state (independent charge) in the new UP cabinet on Sunday. A second-time MLA from Thana Bhawan, Rana is also the vice-president of BJP’s UP unit. Political analysts say Rana has been ‘rewarded’ for his Hindutva image. Rana was booked for promoting enmity between classes and circulating rumours to cause fear among the public ahead of the UP elections after he said that curfew will be imposed in Kairana, Deoband and Moradabad if he wins the polls.
“By giving Rana a place in the cabinet, BJP is giving a clear message that the next elections will be held on the basis of polarisation. He has been awarded for his Hindutva image. The future of Muslims and Dalits — the most oppressed groups — is very unclear now,” said Satish Prakash, a political analyst. Rana has as many as four cases filed against him. Some charges under which he is booked include promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, committing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony and rioting.
“Rana is one of those people due to who the situation in Muzaffarnagar had worsened. It was due to them that rumours were spread in the area and people started pelting stones or leaving their homes for no reason. As if fielding the likes of him and Sangeet Som was not enough, the step of including Rana in the cabinet is very insensitive,” said Mohd Shamshaad, 52, who had to leave his village, Kutba, at the time of the riots. However, Sangeet Som — an accused in the 2013 riots — did not get a berth in the cabinet
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/elections/assembly-elections/uttar-pradesh/news/muzaffarnagar-riots-accused-now-a-mantri/articleshow/57724417.cms

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Viral Video Exposes Cultural Response to Rape in Tunisia #Vaw

TUNIS, Tunisia (WOMENSENEWS)—Rania Bel Haj, a teen actor in Tunisia, didn’t consider women’s rights high on her list of priorities until she played a teen girl who was raped and forced to marry the older man who assaulted her in a high school video.

“I wasn’t truly a feminist before I interpreted this role,” Bel Haj said.

She plays an unnamed lead character, based on a recent case in Tunisia that made headlines.

“While rehearsing for the role, I felt close to the victim,” said Bel Haj, who, at 16,  is close to same age and the same nationality as the minor in the case. The only difference, Bel Haj said, is that the other girl was “unlucky enough to be raped.”

Bel Haj imagined herself in this teen’s shoes, living out her fears and her insecurities after the awful experience. “That’s how I felt this connection with her.”

This is the same reaction many young girls in Tunisia had to the piece when they saw it on Facebook, where the three minute video went viral and garnered more than 670,000 views.

The case the play is based on first made headlines last December when courts approved the marriage of a 13-year-old girl to her 20-year-old rapist, who was a relative of hers. While having sex with someone under 15 is punishable by up to six years in prison, according to article 277 of Tunisia’s criminal code, an alleged rapist can halt his prosecution by marrying his victim.

Tunisian women and activists organized several marches confronting the government, which had promised to review the 227 law but hasn’t done so yet.

A Different Reaction

The civic education club of Lycée Pilote de l’Ariana, where Bel Haj is a student, chose another way to react to the court’s decision. Together with their teacher, they wrote a play, “Aatini aroussa ou matrodnnich aroussa” or  “Give me a doll and don’t make me a bride.” “Aroussa” in Tunisian has the double meaning of a doll and a bride.

The video focuses on a young rape victim lamenting the loss of her childhood while her abuser caresses her. “Where are my toys, mother? Your milk is still in my mouth,” says the lead character in the play. “Where is my schoolbag? Mother? I want to color with my pencils.”

Watching the character be doubly victimized, first by the abuser and then by culture, moved Eya Toumi, 14, who, like the other girls interviewed for this story, first saw the video in her Facebook feed.

“This wonderful piece shows that raped girls in Tunisia are not only the abuser’s victims,” said Toumi, a student from the trendy Ariana neighborhood in the capital city of Tunis. “They are the victims of society’s judgments and the justices, too. That’s what we see in ‘Give me a doll and don’t make me a bride’ play when the victim says: ‘Who will I complain to, mother? Who will protect me?’”

For Sarra Kamoun, 15, who watched the video immediately after reading about it in HuffPost Maghreb, the protests surrounding the case were the first step in acknowledging that Tunisian society’s attitude toward rape must change.

“I think it’s time for the Tunisian society to understand that a shotgun marriage will never be the solution for rape,” said Kamoun, who lives in a chic area near the National Engineering School of Tunis. She is a member of the “HeForShe” club in her school.

“When are we going to understand that rape is a crime? I think that is the aim of ‘Give me a doll and don’t make me a bride,’ to show that shotgun marriages are just stopgaps measures that affect the victim’s psychology,” she said.

Feelings Overlooked

Similarly, Salwa Boulaares, 16, who is passionate about psychology and sociology, said that society pays more attention to the victim’s body than her feelings.

“When you’re raped here in Tunisia, society will look at your abused body but never consider your feelings,” said Boulaares. “The most important thing [now] is virginity, then come feelings. We must look at rape differently. I think that’s the purpose of the ‘Give me a doll and don’t make me a bride’ piece. It aims to raise awareness about rape as a crime that destroys the victim psychologically.”

Yasmine Toubal, 16,  responded to the activism in the student production.

“This law allows the abuser to get away with his crime, by marrying his victim who will remain a victim, her whole life,” she said. “It’s a real threat for us, Tunisian girls, to know that in case we’re raped, our fate is in the hands of our abuser.”

It’s this call to action that resonates with Sandra Belhiba, 15, who lives in Ariana. “For me, this piece’s message is clear: we, teens, won’t remain silent on the rape issue in Tunisia. And if adults and politicians failed to deal with it, we will,” she said.http://womensenews.org/2017/03/viral-video-exposes-cultural-response-to-rape-in-tunisia/

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Akhilesh Yadav had defiled the CM’s bungalow , so for Yogi Adityanath purification ritual was held #WTFnews

अखिलेश यादव ने अशुद्ध किया CM आवास, योगी आदित्यनाथ के लिए हुआ शुद्धिकरण!

लखनऊ। उत्तर प्रदेश के नए मुख्यमंत्री और गोरक्षपीठ के पीठाधीश्वर महंत योगी आदित्यनाथ सोमवार को लखनऊ के सरकारी आवास 5 कालिदास मार्ग पर जाएंगे। लेकिन उनके यहां पहुंचने से पहले मुख्यमंत्री आवास का शुद्धिकरण किया गया। इसके लिए वैदिक आचार्य रामअनुज त्रिपाठी की अगुवाई में पांच सदस्यीय दल गोरखपुर से रविवार रात लखनऊ पहुंच गया था।

Yogi Adityanath

इस दल ने 5 कालिदास मार्ग का गोरक्षमठ की देशी गायों से निकला 11 लीटर दूध से रुद्राभिषेक और हवन-पूजन किया। योगी आदित्यनाथ की गैर मौजूदगी में पूरे मंदिर का मैनेजमेंट देखने वाले द्वारिका तिवारी ने इसकी पुष्टि की। आपको बता दें कि उनसे पहले अखिलेश यादव इस आवास में रहते थे। इस पर लोग सवाल उठा रहे हैं कि क्या अखिलेश यादव की वजह से यह आवास अशुद्ध हो गया था जिससे शुद्धिकरण की जरूरत पड़ी।

दिलचस्प बात यह है कि नए मुख्‍यमंत्री के शपथ ग्रहण समारोह के बाद मुख्यमंत्री आवास की पुरानी नेमप्लेट हटाकर नई नेमप्लेट बदल गई है, जिसमें योगी आदित्यनाथ की जगह आदित्‍यनाथ योगी, मुख्‍यमंत्री लिखा हुआ है। पूजा-पाठ आदित्यनाथ योगी के जीवन का अहम हिस्सा है। गोरखपुर के मठ में भी उनके दिन की शुरुआत पूजा-पाठ से ही होती थी। यूपी विधानसभा चुनाव के नतीजे और मुख्यमंत्री बनने के बाद योगी आदित्यनाथ का अब ठिकाना बदल चुका है। अब उन पर राज्य की जिम्मेदारी है।

ऐसे में आदित्यनाथ के करीबियों का कहना है कि अगर शुरुआत पूजा-पाठ से होगी तो कल्याण सबका होगा। गौरतलब है कि योगी आदित्यनाथ अब सिर्फ गोरखनाथ मठ के महंत ही नहीं, उत्तर प्रदेश के मुख्यमंत्री भी हैं। इसके अलावा वे गोरखपुर से भारतीय जनता पार्टी के सांसद भी हैं। यह शायद पहला मौका है, जब किसी धार्मिक स्थल का प्रमुख किसी राज्य का मुख्यमंत्री भी है।

Courtesy: National Dastak

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