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Archives for : April2017

Cow vigilante attacks are anything but spontaneous, reveals India Today sting

During the India Today investigation, Nagendra Kumar, spokesperson for the Rashtriya Gau Raksha Dal, boasted of how vigilantes were trained to execute near-fatal attacks on their potential targets.

Picture for representation only.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • 1
    Gau Rakshak members were caught on camera describing their brutal methods behind violence they unleash
  • 2
    Nagendra Kumar boasted of how vigilantes were trained to execute near-fatal attacks on their potential targets
  • 3
    Kumar claimed none of the members of his squad faced even a single police case across six states so far

Most cow vigilantes are trained to strike ferociously but without leaving physical marks on their victims in order to dodge prosecution, an India Today investigation has found.

Earlier this month, a mob of self-styled Gau Rakshaks waylaid a truck on Rajasthan’s Behror highway, dragged out 55-year-old dairy farmer Pehlu Khan and his companions and whipped them up with belts and rods, TV footage showed.

Khan died three days later mainly because of grievous internal injuries on his chest and abdomen, doctors said.

In the wake of the fatal assault in Behror, India Today’s reporters delved undercover into the dark world of the so-called cow protectors to investigate whether the rising vigilante aggression against cow traders was impulsive or premeditated.

The self-proclaimed Gau Rakshaks probed by the network’s special investigation team were not linked to the murderous assault on Khan and his co-workers. But they were caught on camera describing their brutal methods behind the violence they unleash on our streets and highways.

Nagendra Kumar, spokesperson for the Rashtriya Gau Raksha Dal in Moradabad, boasted of how vigilantes were trained to execute near-fatal attacks on their potential targets.

“When we set out, we have a single objective. We carry lathis matching our heights. If they (cattle traders) don’t spare you or resist, you got to at least break their legs so that they cannot walk for the rest of their lives. This is what our team in Aligarh mostly does,” he claimed.

His sources, said Kumar, would tip him about cow trucks. Once they intercept the vehicles, they pounce upon it with a strategy. “We inflict injuries that leave no visible bruises. They don’t realise how seriously they might have been hurt,” explained Kumar. “They should be hit hard. But there should be no bleeding.”

That’s how vigilantes are trained, added Kumar, “which means no external wounds”. “If he’s beaten up, we ensure there’s no bruise on him. But we guarantee, he’ll be unable to walk on his feet two months later. There won’t be any case if no external injury is visible.”

Kumar claimed none of the members of his squad faced even a single police case across six states so far.

Pushpendra Sharma, the state president of the Gau Rakshak Dal in Uttar Pradesh, followed the same tactic, the India Today investigation observed.

“How do you injure your target?” asked the reporter. “We inflict internal injuries. We fracture their bones, muscles, legs. We don’t hit on the head and rip it apart. If we do that, our activists will be arrested,” Sharma said in Moradabad.

On his website, the man has advertised himself as a saviour of cows. But on India Today’s tape, he admitted his gangs were highway robbers of sacred animals.

“Our activists intercepted a truck in Babrala (Sambhal district) with 20 cows in it,” he recounted. “They (the animals) were distributed among our activists. Distributed there and then.”

Next, the SIT travelled to Haryana’s Faridabad and visited Acharya Sarvamitra Arya. A senior leader of the state’s Gau Raksha Dal, Arya revealed how his men would ambush livestock lorries.

“Our boys mount a blockade and surround the trucks when they arrive. They (traders/drivers) flee from running vehicles. That’s one thing. We have got some weapons also. Sometimes shootouts also take place from both sides,” he said.

According to Arya, he has a 3,000-strong group of violent Gau Rakshaks. “None of them will return beaten. They will beat up (their targets). They don’t inflict injuries that bleed.”

OPPOSE VIOLENCE: VHP

After India Today’s sting on the Gau Rakshaks, VHP spokesman Shriraj Nair insisted their cadre had been advised to report suspected cow trafficking to police. He denied any links with the Gau Rakshaks that the India Today investigation exposed. The VHP, claimed Nair, opposed use of violence in the name of cow protection.

Nair, however, called for stricter enforcement against smuggling and slaughter of sacred animals.

In his comments, Congress spokesman Pawan Khera accused the RSS of patronising aggressive vigilantism. “This thuggery cannot happen without the patronage from the top,” Khera alleged.

“Cow protection is something we have okayed. But taking the law into (one’s own) hands is definitely not acceptable,” said BJP spokesman, Zafar Islam.

Uttar Pradesh’s animal husbandry minister SP Singh Baghel echoed the BJP’s views and said no one was allowed to break the law. The minister cited PM Narendra Modi‘s stern warning of last year to violent Gau Rakshaks.

“We understand the feelings of Gau Rakshaks,” Baghel, however, remarked as he offered his personal phone number to cow squads to report illegal transport of the animals. “The chief minister has said it before that the rule of law would prevail in Uttar Pradesh. You (Gau Rakshaks) should be aware that you also can be charged if you take the law into your own hands.”

Senior Haryana minister Anil Vij vowed zero-tolerance against law-breaking Gau Rakshaks. “We will not tolerate any hooliganism. If this sort of incidents come to our notice, we will take strong legal action,” he said. http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/cow-vigilante-gau-rakshak-attacks-india-today/1/934085.html

 

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Four recent cases in which Centre has violated Supreme Court orders on #Aadhaar

Supreme court, Summer vacation, Memorandum

The Executive v. Judiciary debate has once again re-ignited, thanks to the recent developments concerning Aadhaar. While the recent notifications by the Central Government making Aadhaar mandatory for Income Tax filing, mobile connections etc. seem to be in clear violation of the orders of the Supreme Court, they are not isolated examples.

On one hand, the leaders of the government have been vocal about democracy’s triumph, but on the other hand, their government has failed to respect the orders of the apex court.

Below are four important cases in the recent past in which the Centre has openly defied the dictate of the Supreme Court.

Aadhaar

This case definitely tops the list. The Central government has been coming out with one notification after another in clear violation of the orders passed by the Supreme Court.

The August 11, 2015 order of the Supreme Court states that obtaining Aadhaar shall not be mandatory. It states:

“1. The Union of India shall give wide publicity in the electronic and print media including radio and television networks that it is not mandatory for a citizen to obtain an Aadhaar card;

2. The production of an Aadhaar card will not be condition for obtaining any benefits otherwise due to a citizen”

The order also clarifies that Aadhaar can be “used” by the Centre for PDS and LPG distribution schemes. This interim order of August 11 was subsequently modified by another order passed on October 15. By this, the Court extended the permission to use Aadhaar for MNREGA, Employees Provident Fund, National Social Assistance Programme and Prime Minister’s Jan Dhan Yojana.

However, both the orders, though giving permission to the Centre to use Aadhaar for the exempted schemes, do not talk about permission to make it mandatory. In fact, both the orders spell out that Aadhaar is a voluntary scheme and it cannot be made mandatory until the matter is finally decided by the Supreme Court.

On January 3 and January 4 this year, the Centre issued two notifications making Aadhaar number compulsory for MNREGA and EPS. This was in clear violation of two aforementioned interim orders passed by the Supreme Court.

Immediately after the two notifications were issued, the matter was mentioned on January 5 before Chief Justice Khehar by one of the petitioners through Senior Advocate Shyam Divan. Though Divan sought an early hearing in the matter, the court brushed aside the same and declined this request for the time being.

Fresh from the confidence of non-interference by the apex court, the Centre has now moved into top gear. They have now made it mandatory to have Aadhaar to file Income Tax Returns and to apply for PAN Number.

And that is not all. The Department of Telecom has also now issued a circular to Telecom companies directing them to link all mobile numbers to Aadhaar.

Interestingly, the circular by DoT says that this has been done pursuant to an order of the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court order referred to by the DoT circular was passed by a Division Bench in a petition filed by NGO Lokniti Foundation. The said order and its interpretation are itself open to debate.

However, if the said order is interpreted to the effect that it mandates verification of mobiles subscribers then it will be in clear violation of the earlier order passed by larger Benches of the Court in the Aadhaar case. Interesting indeed.

Today, the Supreme Court again turned down the plea by Senior Advocate Shyam Divan for an urgent hearing while also remarking that the interim orders of the Court which states that Aadhaar is not mandatory but only voluntary is only with respect to social welfare schemes.

NJAC case: Memorandum of Procedure

Perhaps the most blatant show of defiance by the Centre. This one might not be very well known outside the legal fraternity since judicial appointments is still a topic of discussion confined largely to legal circles.

Hence, some background.

On, October 16, 2015, a Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court struck down the National Judicial Appointments Commission as unconstitutional. Subsequently, in what was unprecedented, the court invited suggestions for improving the Collegium system. Based on the inputs received, the court on December 16, 2015 passed an order by which it left the task of amending the Memorandum of Procedure (MoP) to the Central government.

The MoP is a document which sets out the procedure for appointment of judges to High Courts and the Supreme Court. It was first prepared pursuant to the directions of the Supreme Court in the Second Judges case.

Since it is an exercise to be carried out by the government in furtherance of a Supreme Court judgment, it is merely a step for implementation of the Court’s judgment. In other words, it is not a right that the Executive has, but merely a task left to them to enforce a judicial order. The order of December 16 itself makes this clear:

“It was at this stage of our reflection, that the learned Attorney General made an impassioned submission, not in any obstructive manner, but as a matter of faithful assistance, suggesting that we should desist from pursuing the contemplated course of action. In this behalf it was pointed out, that theformulation of the Memorandum of Procedure was an administrative responsibility which fell in the executive domain.

..we were also informed by the Attorney General, that the MoP and amendments therein, had always been prepared by the Government of India in consultation with the President of India and the Chief Justice of India. This practice, we were informed, had been consistently adopted, in consonance with the directions contained in paragraph 478 of the Second Judges case.

In order to allay any fear that may be entertained by any of the stakeholders, it was submitted that the same procedure would be adopted now, if the task was entrusted to the executive. We are in complete agreement with the suggestion of the learned Attorney General.”

However, contrary to the submissions of the Attorney General on December 16, 2015, what the Centre did and continues to do has baffled legal experts and commentators alike.

In what has literally been a tug-of-war between the two wings of the State, the MoP has gone back and forth. The disagreement between the two was pronounced during the tenure of former Chief Justice of India TS Thakur. After his retirement, conflicting reports have been published; Times of India reported that the CJI has agreed to the ‘National Security’ clause, but Indian Express subsequently reported the opposite.

Whatever be the factual position, the law as it currently stands does not entitle the Union to bargain with the CJI on the MoP.

It is due to this reason that I consider it surprising that the Supreme Court has not re-opened the NJAC case – in which it had passed the December 16 order – and hauled up the officials of the Ministry of Law and Justice.

This was precisely what the late Senior Advocate Anil B Divan said at a panel discussion organised by Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy and the Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Reforms on August 31, 2016.

Divan was very categorical in his remarks, stating that the Supreme Court should recall its order by which it had left it to the Centre to finalise the MoP. He also said that the matter should be dealt with by the Supreme Court on the judicial side given that the Centre is not co-operating with the drafting of the MoP. He said,

“It is a judicial order, recall that order.”

Despite this, the Supreme Court has refused to take up the issue on the judicial side as the back and forth over the MoP continues.

Patiala House: Bar and Police refusing to obey the Bench?

The events began on February 15 of last year when a bunch of lawyers had held the Patiala House District court to ransom. The reason was that JNU student Kanhaiya Kumar, charged with sedition, was being brought to the court for trial. A big group of lawyers gathered inside the court premises and thrashed students from JNU and journalists who had come to report the proceedings. The hearing was, therefore, postponed to February 17.

Meanwhile, social activist and JNU alum ND Jayaprakash filed a PIL in Supreme Court the very next day, i.e. February 16, seeking, amongst other things, a direction the Union Home Ministry and Delhi Police to ensure the safety and security of persons inside the Patiala House court premises during the trial of Kanhaiya Kumar.

The petition was taken up for hearing on February 17 at 10.30 am the same day when the trial in Patiala House court was slated to be taken up.

The Court then passed an order regulating the entry of people inside the Patiala house court room where the hearing was slated.

The Court in its order also stated the following:

“We are also informed that there is a possibility of a large gathering of various groups including the students and political parties at the Court when the matter is taken up. We are inclined to agree with such anticipation and we, therefore, deem it appropriate to direct the Commissioner of Police, Delhi to take such appropriate measures as he may deem fit to maintain the law and order situation in accordance with law.”

Despite the clear direction to regulate entry of people into Patiala House and to take steps to maintain law and order, lawyers once again ram amok with the police remaining mute spectators.

The Court subsequently called for a report from the Delhi Police on why it was unable to control the hooliganism despite a strict direction to that effect. The Delhi Police had its own version of the story. But the fact that there was a clear disobedience of the Supreme Court’s order by the police under the Union Home Ministry remains as clear as daylight.

Judicial Appointments case: Justices Valmiki Mehta and MR Shah

This is one case in which there were no formal judicial orders which were disobeyed by the Centre. However, each and every hearing in the PIL filed by one Anil Kabotra witnessed gripping exchanges between former Chief Justice TS Thakur and Centre’s lawyers.

On August 12 of last year, Justice Thakur was clearly upset by the fact that the transfer files of Justice Valmiki Mehta of the Delhi High Court and Justice MR Shah of the Gujarat High Court were not being cleared. He threatened to withdraw judicial work from the two judges if the transfer was not given effect.

“Recommendations for transfer of Justice M R Shah from Gujarat High Court and Justice Valmiki Mehta from Delhi High Court were sent in February and March. These have not been given effect to. If this is the approach of the Union government, then we would have no option but to withdraw judicial work from these transferred Judges”, he said.

Two months down the line, Justice Thakur stepped on the gas and warned the Centre that it will summon top bureaucrats from the Prime Minister’s Office. This development came about after Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi submitted data relating to files cleared by the Centre. Rohatgi told the court that out of the eight recommendations pertaining to the Allahabad High Court, two had been cleared.

Thakur CJ was visibly unimpressed, commenting that it appeared that the government wanted a “confrontation”. Timely intervention by the Attorney General helped the Centre hold Justice Thakur at bay.

After Justice Thakur’s retirement this January, his successor disposed of the petition noting that sufficient progress has been made. However, if newspaper reports are to be believed, Justices Mehta and Shah will continue in their respective parent High Courts, as the Centre has returned their transfer files to the collegium.

Even as the Centre continues to defy the court’s orders, it remains to be seen whether the apex court will take a stern stand on this trend.https://barandbench.com/four-recent-instances-centre-violated-supreme-court/

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Justice cry for DU Prof G N Saibaba

Image result for G N SAIBABA

New Delhi, April 20: A group of colleagues, advocates and family of G N Saibaba and six others have called for urgent attention to the deteriorating health of the former DU professor, who has been sentenced to life imprisonment by a sessions court in Gadchiroli, Maharashtra.

Delhi University Teachers’ Association president Nandita Narain borrowed English poet John Donne‘s lines “ask not for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee” as she joined a meeting today to seek justice for fellow professor G. N. Saibaba, sentenced to life for Maoist links.

Attending the meeting of the “Committee for the Defence & Release of Dr. G. N. Saibaba”, Nandita drove home the point that the Gadchiroli court order sentencing the wheelchair-bound Saibaba for life was an “ominous message that there is no space for dissent in our times”.

Saibaba, a Delhi University professor who is 90 per cent disabled, was sentenced to life along with four others by the Gadchiroli sessions court in Maharashtra on March 7. A sixth person was handed 10 years’ rigorous imprisonment.

“The judgment repeatedly points out how wrong it was for Dr. G. N. Saibaba and others to hold certain views that were in opposition to that of the state and the dominant groups. It is ironic that even while holding these six people are so dangerous that they should be incarcerated for a major part of their lives, the 827-page judgment fails to point out even a single instance of violence that these people have been conspirators in or lent logistics support to,” the committee said in a statement.

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The committee – Narain is one of its members – today released a detailed critique of the judgment. It is titled “When Prosecution’s Case Becomes the Judge’s Onus: Miscarriage of Justice on Saibaba”. An appeal has been filed and noted criminal lawyer Ram Jethmalani has agreed in principle to fight Saibaba’s case, committee chairperson G. Hargopal said.

Hargopal said “democratic values are on trial”. “Is democracy on its deathbed?” the professor of Hyderabad University asked journalists and activists who attended the meeting called to release the critique.

“People were persecuted for ideas in the medieval period and that is happening here now. This is not just a legal battle but a fight to protect democracy. We have to speak up. If this can happen to Saibaba, it can happen to any dissenting voice,” Hargopal said.

Saibaba’s colleague Sachin pointed out how despite recent protests at Delhi University for freedom of expression, the central university had been silent in Saibaba’s case. “Right from the stage of framing charges against Saibaba, there has been a conspiracy of silence in Delhi University and the university authorities were part of the effort to silence the dissenting voices in this case. We have to break this silence.”

Pankaj, a lawyer, said the Saibaba order was a classic case of a judgment going way beyond the prosecution’s argument.

Keshav Dutt Mishra, father of Hem Mishra, a student convicted along with Saibaba, said media attention and such meetings were fine but the campaign needed to be backed up with grassroots activism. “It is difficult but not impossible,” Keshav Dutt said.

Vasantha Kumari, the wife of G N Saibaba, pointed out that the 90% disabled professor was in serious need of medical attention which was being denied to him while under custody at Nagpur jail. “He had gall stones that were unattended and damaged his pancreas. The doctor advised him bed rest for 4 weeks, but was instead asked to appear in court in the next week for the case,” she said.

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Breaking the norm of child marriage an uphill task in Uttar Pradesh

A detailed baseline study conducted in seven districts of eastern Uttar Pradesh shows that underage marriages are still widely prevalent, particularly in disadvantaged communities, and this practice holds back girls from realizing their full potential

Child marriages are prevalent in many parts of India. (Photo by Naga Rick)

Child marriages are prevalent in many parts of India. (Photo by Naga Rick)

India is today a country of the young, but rigid patriarchal structures and regressive social structures in many parts of the country are making it impossible for the country’s youth to realize their full potential. The widespread practice of underage marriage is a prime example of this.

Adolescents form 22% of the total population of India. The country has around 240 million adolescents (10-19 years) according to Census 2011. We often talk of a demographic dividend because most of our citizens are young. However, this advantage quickly turns into a nightmare since 70% of adolescent girls in India are anemic; the figure for boys is 50%. More worryingly, as much as 47% of Indian girls get married before they are 18 years of age, according to a 2016 report by UNICEF. This severely damages their potential of growing into productive adults.

Gender discrimination

Adolescence represents a critical stage of transition from childhood to maturity. The physical and emotional experiences, knowledge and skills acquired during this phase have important implications during adulthood. Adolescents, however, are neither seen as adults nor as children and often bear double disadvantage due to it. Like among any other vulnerable demographic group, gender discrimination makes it even more difficult for the adolescent girls, which is clear from the above statistics.

Some of the states that are very important for driving overall growth indicators of India represent a bleak picture. Uttar Pradesh (UP), the most populous state within India, is a case in point. The state ranks first in terms of adolescent population in the country. The Census 2011 threw up several bleak statistics for this age group in UP. As per the Census 2011, around 2 million adolescent girls — which translates into 9.2% of all girls of ages 10-19 years — were married. An even more alarming figure is that around one million children, highest in India in absolute terms, were born to these adolescent girls in Uttar Pradesh and 10.1% of those babies died.

No girl as bride

Says Girls Not Brides, an international civil society organization: “Patriarchy, class, and caste influence the norms and expectations around the role of women and girls in India. In many communities, restrictive norms limit girls to the role of daughter, wife, and mother who are first seen as the property of her father and then of her husband. Controlling girls’ and women’s sexuality is an influential factor in the practice of child marriage too.”

These deductions become clearer when we engage in research in eastern UP, which generally presents a worse picture than the whole of UP. The districts bordering Nepal in eastern UP are among the worst in all human development indicators. In 2016, a situational analysis (SA) study was undertaken by an NGO called Breakthrough Trust with the help of research agency NRMC in seven districts of Eastern UP to understand the issues in depth. The study found that the school dropout rate rapidly increases with increase in age and therefore, a lesser number of children can be found in the school after the age of 14 or class 8, compared with age 10-12.

Cohorts covering standard 6, 7, 8 hence seemed most critical for direct intervention for any program that tries to target reduction in adolescent pregnancy and early marriage, as these are the formative years and there is still some chances of getting adolescents in schools.  It noted that along with physical, psychological and emotional changes that adolescents go through, social and gender norms at different levels start playing out extensively at this stage. However, it is critical to remember that 15-19 years are crucial years for the adolescents as pressure to drop out from school increases manifold (on anyone who is still attending) and so does the pressure to get married for the girls and to earn for boys.

High incidence

An analysis of the prevalence of married adolescent girls in the age groups 10-14 year and 15-19 year (Census 2011) in seven project districts shows worrying trends. While early marriages among adolescent girls of age 10-14 years in the project districts were low at 3-4%, the percentage rises significantly in the age group of 15-19 years. This age group also coincides with the onset of puberty. While Maharajganj and Siddharthnagar had the highest proportions — 24% to 23% — who were ever married, Varanasi at an average of 20% showed a higher prevalence. The remaining four districts had 14% to 18% of girls who were married.

A further analysis of the census data reveals that the prevalence of early marriage is higher amongst Scheduled Castes (SC) compared with non-SC communities. The proportion of married adolescent females of age 15-19 years amongst SC communities ranged from 19% to 33%, while the same range among non-SC communities ranged from 17% to 24%. The SC communities also fare worse alongwith other social economic development indicators such as education, employment and poverty.

Acceptance of violence

An overwhelming 46% of the adolescents said they have experienced physical and verbal abuse within the family. This acceptance of physical violence if they break norms means that bringing in change is going to be an uphill task. This applies to the practice of underage marriages as well.

Adolescent pregnancy has issues linked to how empowered a girl felt to negotiate a delay in pregnancy or marriage. It depends on a family ready to work against the norm. For now, it seems an uphill task. The good news is that organizations are focusing on this and governments are aware of the need of working with adolescents to accrue the real demographic dividend. It is a positive signal that governments and NGOs are increasingly coming together to tackle the issue of adolescents’ empowerment.http://www.villagesquare.in/2017/04/21/breaking-norm-child-marriage-uphill-task-uttar-pradesh/

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Grain Bank frees Dalits from fear of hunger in Bihar

Community managed rice banks in several areas of Patna district in Bihar have released hundreds of Dalit families from the exploitative practices of powerful landlords by ensuring food during the lean season

Women in Patna district say the grain bank has released them from exploitation by landed farmers. (Photo by Mohd Imran Khan)

Women in Patna district say the grain bank has released them from exploitation by landed farmers. (Photo by Mohd Imran Khan)

A few years ago, Parbhawati Devi, Bichiya Devi and Meena Devi were landless farm laborers, fully at the mercy of landed farmers for their survival. But things have changed since then. Today, hundreds of women in dozens of villages in Patna district of Bihar, mostly from the marginalized Mahadalit community, have turned to community farming for self-reliant livelihoods, ridding them of the fear of hunger and merciless exploitation from powerful landlords.

This remarkable turnaround has been made possible by setting up of an Anaj Bank (grain bank) by these women themselves with initial support from a local organization that encouraged and inspired them to transform their lives for better days in the true sense of the word on ground zero.

Unlike the government-supported village grain banks, which have become virtually defunct, the Anaj bank established by the women to help themselves and others is a rare success initiative by the poorest of people. The women, most of them from Mahadalit sub-castes such as Manjhi, Ravidas and Paswan in more than 65 villages in three drought-prone administrative blocks of Bikram, Pali and Naubatpur in Patna district, have directly benefited from the Anaj Bank to free them to some extent from the age-old clutches of powerful landed upper caste farmers, who force them to work as bandhua majdoor (bonded labor).

Rice on credit

The Anaj Bank provides 5 kg of rice on credit to a man or a woman, who has to return 6 kg, so the charge is only 1 kg per 5 kg. In cases of marriage, the bank provides 1 to 2 quintal of rice to the poorest of poor. The women have taken farming land on a contract that has changed their lifestyle entirely.

“The Anaj Bank has given us hope, confidence and strength to stand on our own feet because after we realized that our family will not go hungry during the season of scarcity and it provided us a facility to borrow rice to fill our stomachs,” Prabhawati, a 50-year-old resident of Muhammadpur village in Bikram, told VillageSquare.in. “It encouraged us to take land on contract to start community farming with the help of family members to grow our own grain.”

The community maintains meticulous records of the grain in the Anaj Bank. (Photo by Mohd Imran Khan)

The community maintains meticulous records of the grain in the Anaj Bank. (Photo by Mohd Imran Khan)

In Muhammadpur, there are nearly 100 households belonging to Ravidas and Paswan castes, considered untouchables by Hindus. Parbhawati, a Ravidas woman, recalled that she used to work as agricultural laborer. “Today I am doing farming in 2 acres of land with the help of my husband and other family members.”

Community farming

Bichiya, in her early 40s and a resident of Chichourha village, is proud of doing community farming on nearly 3 acres of land after she received help from the Anaj Bank. “We were fighting hunger as the daily wages were not enough to meet the needs of my family. When the Anaj Bank was set up, it helped us to get rid of hunger,” she told VillageSquare.in. “We have started community farming by taking land from rich farmers.”

Bichiya, the mother of seven children including three daughters, said before the Anaj Bank was established, she used to get rice from landed farmers on their terms and condition, locally known as deorhiya. “If I took 5 kg rice from a farmer, I had to return 7.5 kg under the deorhiya system. It was pure exploitation,” she says.

The story is similar in more than 50 households in Chichourha village, mostly belonging to the Musahars community that is derided for eating rats. Like Bichiya, Meena Devi of Sunderepur village said she still does not own land but is doing community farming in 2 acres of land thanks to the Anaj Bank. “I have taken land on annual lease from farmers and am happy that my drums are full of grain. There is no tension of hunger,” Meena, 36, told VillageSquare.in.

“The Anaj Bank has not only helped them to meet the demand of rice, a staple diet, in time of scarcity and hunger, but it also encourages and inspires these poor, landless women to start community farming for self-reliance, which as a dream till a decade ago,” says Umesh Kumar, the man behind change brought on by the Anaj Bank.

Success story

Kumar, who leads Pargati Gramin Vikas Samiti and started the Anaj Bank with support from Action Aid on 2005, said groups of women in each village have been running the Anaj Bank with their own support system. “Action Aid has stopped its support in 2013,” he told VillageSqaure.in. “Since then, groups of women in dozens of villages have been managing it successfully without any support from outside.”

For setting up the Anaj Bank, a group of women in each village was initially given Rs 5,000 cash to purchase rice and Rs 2,500 to purchase big drums for storage. “Every year during January, February, and March, people return rice that they have taken on credit as per its terms that enable us to store enough rice for giving again on credit during the lean season,” Kumar says.

More than 500 women are associated with the Anaj bank in dozens of villages. “In each village, 10 to 15 women have been doing community farming. They have taken 2-3 acres of land on lease. It is a new phenomenon in this locality.”

The Anaj Bank was set up in 65 villages — 30 in Bikram, 20 in Pali and 15 in Naubatpur. According to Kumar, no hunger deaths have been reported in these villages of Dalits after the Anaj Bank started functioning.

http://www.villagesquare.in/2017/04/17/anaj-bank-frees-dalits-fear-hunger-bihar/

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India -UP Minister Could Become First to Be Tried Under New Disability Law

Satyadev Pachauri had insulted a Class IV employee over his disability. If convicted, he faces a six month to five-year prison term.

BY   , thewire.in

UP minister Satyadev Pachauri. Credit: PTI

UP minister Satyadev Pachauri. Credit: PTI

New Delhi: A complaint against a minister in the Adityanath government in Uttar Pradesh, who had publicly ridiculed a disabled employee during a surprise visit to an office in Lucknow, could become the first to be covered by the new disability law, which came into effect on Thursday (April 20).

In his complaint to the State Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities, Lucknow, under Section 92(a) of the Rights of Persons with Disability Act 2016, Delhi-based disability rights activist Satendra Singh has said that Satyadev Pachauri, minister of khadi, village industries and MSMEs, had humiliated and insulted a Class IV employee during a surprise visit on April 19. Section 92 of clearly lays down that “whoever intentionally insults or intimidates with intent to humiliate a person with disability in any place within public view” shall be “punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than six months but which may extend to five years and with fine”.

Singh, an associate professor of physiology at the University College of Medical Sciences and Delhi’s GTB Hospital, said the incident reportedly took place at about 9:40 a.m. in the Khadi and Village Industries Board office in Lucknow. The incident, Singh said, was widely reported in the local media and was also shown on private TV news channels.

During his visit to the office, Pachauri found nearly a third of all employees missing despite it being office hours having started. He then ordered that a day’s salary be cut of all those who were missing. Thereafter, he began counting the number of staff present there.

During the count, Singh complained, the minister kept asking the employees about their post and time of arrival. When he reached a Class IV employee, who is also a person with disabilities, Pachauri reportedly asked him: “What are you?,” to which the man replied that he was a sanitation worker. Pachauri then asked him if he was a contractual employee. When the employee answered in the affirmative, the minister looked at him from top to bottom and then turning towards the chief executive officer and said: “Lulay langdon ko samvida par rakh liya hai, yeh kya kaam karega” (You have kept those suffering from disability of the limbs on contract, what work will he do).

After the minister’s comment those present in the room began laughing at the employee, Singh said. The employee was visible disturbed.

Singh said Pachauri’s statement was in violation of the new Act. Incidentally, the Narendra Modi government had coined the term ‘divyang‘ in an apparent attempt to show respect to persons with disabilities, but Pachauri’s tone and tenor shows that more than terminology it is the thinking and approach that needs to change.

“Our prime minister sees divinity in persons with disabilities and therefore he uses the word ‘divyang’. The Adityanath government, which proclaims ‘sabka saath, sabka vikas‘ has this kind of a minister who is a blot on the slogan,” Singh said. He added that since a minister is involved in such an incident he must be punished appropriately so that the right message is sent to the masses.

Singh also pointed out that the incident occurred in Lucknow in the same month when a person with disability was elected president in another country. Lenin Moreno, who is a wheelchair user, was elected president of Ecuador on April 2. “Unity and social justice were the hallmarks of the political journey of Moreno,” Singh said.

Recalling what Moreno words from 2012, Singh said, unity not as a charity but as a symbol of equality was the cornerstone of social inclusion.

https://thewire.in/126598/satyadev-pachauri-persons-with-disabilities-act-uttar-

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Illegal and arbirary arrests of Mahan Sangarsh Samiti members in Mahan, Singrauli

Mahan Sangarsh Samiti
 On april 20th at around 11:00 am,  the Essar Company officials came with around 50 police personell bringing with them JCB‘s etc and started to forcefully evict Dal Pratap Singh Gond’s family . When the women in the household protested, they ( 4 women , 3 men and an 8 month old child ) was arbitrarily and illegally detained at the Bandhaura Police station till 7 : 30 in the evening . Seetapati , the woman with the 8 month old child was not even given food and water the whole day . 
 This is the backlash of the The Public Hearing that was held in Karsualal village on the 4th and 5th of April 2017,  on the rights of the community displaced in four villages (Khairahi , Bandhaura , Karsualal and Nagwa ) .
The community members called off the dharna post the public hearing and decided to take forward their fight legally.
Meanwhile the Collector had assured us that he would hold a ” camp” there to look at each of the cases and find a solution to the issues there. He and the SDM also promised us that they would not do anything forcefully with the community and they would follow the rule of law.
Tough we had all these assurances , the company had been putting immense pressure on the community each day , bringing police with them and threatening community members .
, On april 20th at around 11:00 am,  the Essar Company officials came with around 50 police personell bringing with them JCB’s etc and started to forcefully evict Dal Pratap Singh Gond’s family . When the women in the household protested, they ( 4 women , 3 men and an 8 month old child ) was arbitrarily and illegally detained at the Bandhaura Police station till 7 : 30 in the evening . Seetapati , the woman with the 8 month old child was not even given food and water the whole day .
In the evening , 6 community members (3 women and 3 men) were taken to the SDM court and later remanded to judicial custody. Seetapati was left off after issuing multiple threats.
All this , was arbitrarily and illegally done , despite the fact that these community members have a Jabalpur HC order in their favor , clearly stating that the untill the dispute and matter is solved both sides are directed to maintain status – co . We had informed the SDM , SP and Mada Thana in charge about the court order and despite this they went ahead colluding with the Essar officials. All the community members were taken to the SDM court from the police station in the Essar Company vehicle .
As of now , the 3 men have been sent to Pachaur jail and the 3 women have been sent to the Seedhi jail .
Mahan Sangarsh Samiti will continue to fight against the gross injustice being meted out to its members and will continue to look for peaceful / legal solutions and refuse to be cowed down by such cheap tactics of the company violating rights of communities.

 

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Fact Finding Report on assault of Prof Waghmare following WhatsApp post

 

 

 

 

Date of Visit: 25th March 2017

This is a report of an eight-member fact finding team constituted by the Joint Action Committee for Social Justice, Mumbai to inquire into the assault on Prof Sunil Waghmare, head of Commerce department of KMC college in Khopoli (district Raigad, Maharashtra). The series of events related to this incident took place between 15th and 17th March, 2017.

 

Following media reports, the factfinding team visited Khopoli on 25th March, 2017 and met local activists, eyewitnesses, the complainant Prof Nagargoje, the principal of KMC college, the Investigating Officer of the case, as well as the lawyer who filed the bail application on behalf of Prof Waghmare.

On 27th March, Prof Sunil Waghmare was also met and interviewed for his version of events. Members of the fact finding team: Harshali and Suvarna (Samata Vidyarthi Aaghadi), Janani (independent), Sharad Gaikwad (Republican Panthers), Ushakiran ((Republican Panthers), Michael (Research Scholar at IIT Bombay, Paankhi Agrawal and Salim Saboowala (Committee for Protection of Democratic Rights).

THE INCIDENT ‘

The following is a description of the events as they unfolded, beginning from the time a WhatsApp message was posted, upto the time of arrest of Prof Waghmare. This has been prepared on basis of the information provided by various persons whom the fact-finding team met and interviewed, and a verification of all documents, screenshots and letters mentioned.

The KMC College Whatsapp Group was created 4 years ago and had 34 members comprising the professors and principal of the college. Khopoli Municipal Council (KMC) college of Arts, Science and Commerce is managed by the Khalapur Taluka Shikshan Prasarak Mandal (KTSPM). Prof Amol Nagargoje of the Chemistry department is the administrator of the WhatsApp group. Members have been known to share forwards and jokes on the group, and this team came across several messages posted in the past on the group containing jokes, forwards, wishes, political messages, etc. from its members, as told to us by members of the WhatsApp group.

15th March 2017 – the message is posted: On the night of 15th March 2017, when forwards relating to Shivaji Jayanti were being shared, Prof Waghmare forwarded a message that he had received on a different Whatsapp group, that he had seen from a friend’s facebook page. When the Professor was interviewed, he clarified that he had not composed the comment. This forwarded message contained the following comment: (reproduced and translated below)

“Aamhi maantoy mhanun … maanaycha tari kaay??? . . . Tumcha baap tari don vela janmala hota kaay?????”

‘Just because we are believing… should we continue to believe? . . . Was your father born twice?????’ 

The post refers to the various dates on which Shivaji’s birthday is commemorated. This message was posted at 23:41 hours on 15th March 2017, and evoked no response at the time from the members.

16th March 2017

On the next day, at 11.30am, the college Principal has met Prof Waghmare and has asked him about the comment, and asked him to apologize for the same. Prof Waghmare has clarified that this was posted only as a forward, that no offense was meant, and that he would apologize if anyone was offended. Being someone who respects Shivaji, he clarified that he had not intended any offense to him. With this, the conversation has ended. At this point, the Principal, who was met at a corridor, has said “your comment has gone outside.”

The WhatsApp chat of the day is as follows: 10.52 am, Professor Nagargoje posts a message to all 34 members stating that the message sent by Prof Waghmare is not in line with the the objectives of the group, and that the group is meant only for official communication. It may be observed here that such a warning has not been given in the past ever on the group by the admin or anybody else, to any of forwards by any of the other members, however irrelevant, as told to us by members of the WhatsApp group spoken to.

This was a first-time warning of the kind.

12.05 pm, Prof Gandal: “Nagargoje sir group delete kar”

2.29pm, Nagargoje: “Dear all prof I am resolving(sic) this group”

The above message shows that the principal is aware of the communication as well as has participated in the group upto this point. This contradicts with the principal’s statement to this team. When asked, “Are you a member of the WhatsApp group?” He did not reply in yes or no, but said that he was not active. Other members of the group, though, confirmed that he was a member.

After this, when late afternoon, Prof Waghmare opened WhatsApp to check messages again, he found that all other members had been removed. At this point, only 3 members have remained: the principal, Prof Nagargoje and Prof Waghmare himself. Thus the group was still alive and had not been deleted.This contradicts with Prof Nagargoje’s statements to media and in his FIR where he says he deleted the WhatsApp group after a comment was posted by Prof Waghmare, following a warning given by him as admin.

17th March 2017 – public thrashing by a mob on Prof Waghmare, and his arrest

On 17th March 2017, Prof Waghmare had completed his supervision duties from 8 am to 10.30am. After this, when he ran into Prof Nagargoje, he clarified with him about the post, explaining that the post should not be made into a big issue, and that he had not intended to offend anyone. Following this, he attended a meeting of the Employees Society at 11 am. This meeting has lasted for about 15-20 minutes. During the meeting, Prof Waghmare received a phone call from Mr. Dattatray Masurkar, current member and former President of the KTSPM Sanstha (or Management Committee) asking “Did you post a wrong message about Shivaji Maharaj?”. Prof Waghmare responded and kept the phone. After this conversation when the meeting ended, he goes on to the library next.

By about noon, there is commotion in the college near the Principal’s cabin.By this time the Principal had left the college. The non-teaching staff are angry, and are talking about closing down their work because they have heard that Shivaji Maharaj was insulted by Prof Waghmare. At this point, Prof Waghmare receives a call asking him to come down to the management cabin, which is located next to the Principal’s office within the campus. Mr. Surve, Vice President of the Society, is also there.

A crowd of about 20 persons is gathered in the room. Many others, about 100-300 people are gathered outside. Mr. Surve asks Prof Waghmare, “What is this comment about? What have you posted?” Prof Waghmare starts offering an explanation. However, with the anger rising, the people are not listening to his defense.

People present in this room are:

• Mr Surve,

• Mr Kishore Patil, President of the Management Committee or the Sanstha funding the college, (seen sitting in the middle in video clips),

• Mr. Ramkrishna Tawde, a member of the Sanstha

Vijay Tendulkar, a member of the Sanstha

• A few local journalists

• Members of the non-teaching staff, including 2 ladies

• A number of youths identifying themselves as ‘ShivPremis’

Someone in the crowd asks Prof Waghmare, “How can you make a comment like this? We celebrate Shivaji Maharaj through so many jayanthis. How can you insult him?” Prof Waghmare tries responding to them, tries answering again. At this point, more young men come into the room. One of them first starts slapping Prof Waghmare. More commotion breaks out. A video clip of what happens at this time is attached along with this report(link). Ramkrishna Tawde and others ask Prof Waghmare to get up from the chair and are seen (in the video clips) ordering him to sit on the floor in the corner. Injured, and with his head spinning because of the slaps, the Professor is seen sitting on the floor. He has injuries on his back, his left leg, both his ears, and an injury on his head, which remains swollen for several days after. Losing consciousness from the beatings, Prof Waghmare covers his head and finally falls flat.

Someone from the college rings up the police, which arrives in a van. Another video clip shows the half unconscious Professor being lifted off the floor by the police. Unable to walk, he falls, and is picked up again by the police and amidst loud chants of “Jai Shivaji, Jai Bhavani” by a crowd of hundreds of people he is taken into the police van. He is then pushed into the van where he falls flat again, unable to sit up. Prof Waghmare is taken to a nearby hospital, Dr Ambedkar Government Hospital, Khopoli for his treatment and then to the police station, where again, a mob is gathered. According to local activists and local media reports, the police had received memoranda from Nagarsevaks of Shiv Sena and other political outfits, seeking a complaint against Prof Waghmare. The police then summoned Prof Nagargoje, the admin of the group, to the station to lodge an FIR, since this incident was triggered through a WhatsApp post, as told to us by Prof Nagargoje. The FIR is filed under section 295 A – “Deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings or any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs.

Suspension for 6 months:

Prof Waghmare has been suspended on the same day of the incident, 17th March 2017, through an emergency meeting of the Management Committee (Khalapur Taluka Shikshan Prasarak Mandal) which was held in order to decide upon this. In the suspension order, the charges mentioned are: ‘a) misconduct, b) moral turpitude, etc. c) Miss use of social media (What’sApp)’, along with a disciplinary enquiry, for a period of six months starting 17/03/2017 to 16/09/2017.

Prof Waghmare spent the night in the police lock up at Khopoli station. The next day in his bail hearing, it was argued by defense that 295 A was not tenable. He was granted bail on the condition that his mobile phone has been given up to the police for inspection (‘recovery’).

Interview with the Principal of KMC college

Dr. Narendra Pawar has been the principal of KMC college since August 2012. According to the principal he became aware of the matter on 16th March, a day after the WhatsApp post was made, when two professors came to him complaining about Prof Waghmare’s post, that it had hurt their sentiments and that he should apologise. The principal said that he was also of the view that Prof Waghmare should not have posted the message on the WhatsApp group since it is meant only for academic purposes, such as sharing circulars, GRs, etc. It may be noted here that when asked if he was a member of the Whatsapp group, the Principal said that he was not active and didn’t know. However, interviews with other members of the group confirm that he was indeed a member, and his comments to Prof Waghmare show that he was aware of the issue.

According to the principal, on 17th, he was in college till 11.15 am, after which he left for Mumbai to attend an educational function and a meeting at Mantralaya. According to him, till the time he was in college, there was no sign of the impending disturbance or the mob.

The version of events that he shared is as follows:

• A mob of around 100 people came near his office. The mob consisted of only outsiders and no student or staff was involved in it. He said he thinks the mob consisted of members of Shiv Sena, MNS, Maratha Seva Sangh, Sambhaji Brigade. • He was informed about the mob by clerical staff, to which he instructed them to lock up all confidential papers in his cabin for the safety of documents.

• According to the principal, Prof Waghmare was not hit but was manhandled.

• Importantly, according to the principal, the CCTVs could not capture the entire course of the incident. This he said was due to sudden loss of electricity supply, and failure of the generator.

The Principal said that the management had to suspend Prof Waghmare under pressure from the mob. He also said that the proper procedures for suspension are yet to be undertaken. A committee needs to be set up by the Management which will issue a report on basis of which the decision will be taken. For removal of an SC professior, there are protocols with regard to the constitution and functioning of this committee, e.g. at least one member as to be a SC faculty and one is usually a retired judge. The Principal said that he was advising the management on how to follow all protocol in order to undertake this inquiry and to legalize the suspension.

Relationship between principal and Prof. Waghmare:

A. Principal’s version is as follows:

When asked about his past relationship with Prof Waghmare, principal said that they have ‘differences that come naturally due to age difference’. “Prof Waghmare is younger… he is more immature.” He said Prof Waghmare had several family problems, that he was poor. That his family lived in the village. He also alluded that Prof Waghmare was involved in problems with some women professors in the college, though he did not elaborate on this when asked further. He said that Prof Waghmare has some neurological problem due to which his face became distorted, but which was getting better with treatment.

At one point, he said that Prof. Waghmare would take leave and inform subsequently through WhatsApp message and not inform him in person or through a phone call. He said this was not correct, and referred to Whatsapp as ‘illegal media’ for leave-taking or such official communication. He acknowledged that Prof Waghmare was a good teacher, well qualified (UGC NET pass) and academically sound. He said that he had recommended Prof Waghmare to several international conferences. When we interjected to ask for names/locations of a few of the conferences, he quickly clarified that these conferences were in Pune, etc. – places within Maharashtra, but of international repute.

When asked about the general atmosphere of the college, he said that ‘the college celebrates jayanti (birth anniversary) of many great people such as Chhatrapati Shivaji, Dr Ambedkar and Savitribai Phule’. He particularly emphasized his role in ensuring that eminent speakers were called to speak with the students on occasion of Ambedkar Jayanti and Savitribai Phule Jayanti. When asked what he intends to do further, he replied that the incident had already taken up a lot of his time and regular college work was pending and accumulating. He said that he now aimed at maintaining peace in college as advised by college management and police. He said that he discouraged anyone in college to talk about it. Importantly, he clarified that he had no intention on pressing for charges on the incident of the beating up of his colleague outside his cabin.

B. Prof Waghmare’s version is as follows:

He joined KMC College on 6 November 2009, and is presently Head of Department Commerce as well as Professor. Born into the ‘Maang’ (SC) community, he has described his experience of casteism in complaint letters previously lodged with the management. In a written statement to the police on the incident, he has stated that the principal has often reminded him of ‘being a beneficiary of reservations’.

In this letter, he has also stated that the principal had prepared documentation in order to remove Prof Waghmare from the post of Vice Principal, which he succeeded on 10 March 2014. He alleges that the principal has also made numerous attempts to have him removed from his current post as Head of Department, Commerce. That the principal had encouraged a female colleague to lodge a fake complaint against Prof Waghmare, with the intention of using said complaint for his removal. In the letter, Prof Waghmare further states that he has been served numerous showcause notices and memoranda over the past few years by the principal, and has faced continuous harassment perpetrated by the principal.The contents of this letter, thus, set the context in which the attack of 17th March 2017 has taken place.

Interview with Prof Nagargoje, the sole complainant in FIR

He is with the department of Chemistry of this college since past five years and is a permanent faculty member. He is from the Nomadic Tribes category.

The KMC Whatsapp group was formed by him. He said that he had nothing personal against Prof Waghmare. He insisted that as admin of the whatsapp group, the police had summoned him to the station and asked him to lodge an FIR Fact against Prof Waghmare. For all further questions, he kept insisting that the questions must be directed to the Principal. When asked for his version of events, he said the following: that he didn’t know about the attack on Prof Waghmare until 3 pm on 17th . That the police had asked him to lodge FIR in his name since he was the admin of the WhatsApp group on which the controversial message was posted. That he had tried calling the principal, but his call was not taken, and that he got through to him only after the FIR was lodged.”

Interview with police

The fact-finding team visited the Khopoli police station on the evening of 25th March 2017. The Investigating Officer, Thakur, was unwilling to provide information on the case. The police insisted that no violence took place, despite the existence of various video clips showing the incident. It was also believed that the police station had received letters from various local political organizations or petitions seeking an FIR against Prof. Waghmare. However, this could not be verified by our team.

When asked about whether they had received such letters, the police denied and declined to give such information. The police insisted that we access these through filing RTIs. When asked about whether a case would be filed for the beating up of Prof Waghmare, they replied that he had given a statement in writing saying that he would not be filing any such complaint. That because of the existence of such a written statement, they would not accept any FIR from him even if he were to come at a later point attempting to lodge a complaint against his assailants.

FINDINGS

  1. Whatsapp Message was not composed by Prof Waghmare:

Prof Waghmare’s post is a forward of a post made on facebook. While it is true that he forwarded such a message which he had received, the wordings in the comment were not composed by him. In the flurry of non-academic posts that have been shared regularly on the college whatsapp group, the question is why was Prof Waghmare isolated, targeted, publicly beaten, arrested and finally suspended over a WhatsApp message? Who is responsible for circulating this message to outsider groups, and what was the intent?

2. Role of Principal:

There are many questions over the Principal’s role in the entire episode – especially on studying his relationship with Prof Waghmare over the last 8 years, his membership of the WhatsApp group in question, as well as on his failure to initiate any action on a mob which has entered the college premises and beaten up a colleague, and finally on facilitating a suspension of a professor of an SC community.

3. Tampering with evidence:

The absence of the CCTV footage exactly on the day of the attack is suspicious at the very least.

4. Role of police:

Instead of a case on the assailants of Prof Waghmare, the police have encouraged the attackers and summoned Prof Nagargoje to file a case against Prof Waghmare. By refusing to take any action against the perpetrators of the attack on Prof Waghmare, the police has failed in acting as an independent law and order machinery. Comments on the socio-political context of Khopoli: On the day of the visit, local and political activists who were met shared their views of the sociopolitical context of Khopoli-Karjat belt. According to them, the belt of Khopoli, Pen, Sudhagadh, Panvel was a stronghold of several political outfits. The groups said to be active here included the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Bajrang Dal, Shiv Sena and the Sanatan Sanstha. A few also said that many RSS leaders who oversee the Sangh’s work in Maharashtra and Goa belonged to this area. The belt has been witness to several of the recent Maratha Morchas as well.

DEMANDS

  1. The FIR against Prof Waghmare (section 295A) is malicious, has no basis and must be quashed.

  2. The suspension of Prof Waghmare is wrongful and must be immediately reversed, so that he may resume teaching. His safety must be ensured.

  3. A case under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act must be registered against the Principal, based on the statement provided by Prof Waghmare as well as previous complaints given by the SC/ST professors in the past. He must be terminated and proceedings initiated against him immediately.

  4. Independent investigation must be conducted into the violence that was unleashed on Prof Waghmare on the morning of 17/3/2017. 5. Action should be taken against the authorities who went to the place but were reduced to witnesses to the violence for failing to file a case under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act against the perpetrators of violence on Prof Waghmare. Compensation must be provided to Prof Waghmare as per the provisions of the Act.

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Furious Supreme Court to government on Aadhaar: How can you make it compulsory?

In reply, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi said the government now has an Act to use the Uniform Identification Number.

The Supreme Court had on March 27 made it clear that Aadhaar cards cannot be made mandatory by the government for extending benefits of social welfare schemes.

Aadhaar Card

HIGHLIGHTS

  • 1
    Supreme Court questions Centre‘s move to make Aadhaar mandatory.
  • 2
    Is making Aadhaar mandatory only way to stop fraud, Supreme Court asks government.
  • 3
    The apex court had ruled that Aadhaar can’t be made compulsory for getting benefits of social schemes.

The Supreme Court today came down hard on the government over the issue of making Aadhaar compulsory in complete violation of the apex court’s previous order.

“How can you make Aadhaar mandatory despite a clear order to make it optional. Is making Aadhaar by force the only way to tackle fraud?” a furious Supreme Court told the Centre while hearing a PIL against the government’s decision making Aadhaar compulsory.

The Supreme Court bench led by Justice Sikri questioned the Centre as to how Aadhar can be made compulsory and forced on people. The Centre’s argument has been that the earlier order merely applies for beneficiary schemes like LPG and food grains and the government is free to use it for other services like income tax.

GOVERNMENT’S RESPONSE

The contention here is of reading the earlier order. While the Centre is making case for a narrow reading of the order restricting it to essential services and beneficiary schemes, the petitioners have given the earlier order a broad reading. The main matter in Aadhaar is pending on the question of the right to privacy.

“We found a number of of Pan cards being used to divert funds to shell companies. To prevent this, the only option is to make Aadhaar card mandatory,” Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi told the Supreme Court bench.

WHAT SUPREME COURT RULING SAYS

The Supreme Court had on March 27 made it clear that Aadhaar cards cannot be made mandatory by the government for extending benefits of social welfare schemes.

The top court, however, said that the government cannot be barred from seeking these cards, which are issued by UIDAI, for “non-benefit” purposes like filing of IT returns and opening of accounts

“The answer is this that for giving benefits of welfare schemes, it (Aadhaar) cannot be pressed. They (government and its agencies) cannot be stopped from seeking Aadhaar for non-benefit schemes like opening of bank accounts,” a bench headed by Chief Justice J S Khehar had said.

The apex court on August 11, 2015 had said that Aadhaar cards will not be mandatory for availing benefits of government’s welfare schemes and barred the authorities from sharing personal biometric data collected for enrollment under the scheme

However, on October 15, 2015 it had lifted its earlier restriction and permitted the voluntary use of Aadhaar cards in welfare schemes that also included MGNREGA, all pension schemes and the provident fund besides ambitious flagship programmes like ‘Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojna’ of the NDA government.

(With PTI inputs)http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/aadhaar-card-supreme-court-ruling-government-uidai/1/934508.html

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