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Archives for : July2017

Bhandarkar’s Indu Sarkar – CBFC shows double standards by bending the ‘NOC rule’

The CBFC is showing double standards by bending the ‘NOC rule’ for the film.

PRAVEEN SHEKHAR

Bollywood filmmaker Madhur Bhandarkar is known for making realistic films, which include award-winning movies like Chandni Bar and Page 3. However, his latest project, Indu Sarkar, a film on the Emergency, depicting the “reign of terror” under then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, has come under severe criticism from the Congress.

The Congress has condemned the alleged “false depiction” in Bhandarkar’s film and said the film is “fully sponsored“.

“This film is fully sponsored. The organisation and the individual who are behind the film are known to us. We totally condemn the false depictions in the film,” said Congress spokesperson Jyotiraditya Scindia.

Bhandarkar had earlier said he made Indu Sarkar as it was important to tell about the Emergency to today’s generation.

Some initial sneak peeks into the movie showcased how Neil Nitin Mukesh and Kirti Kulhari’s looks resemble that of Indira Gandhi and her son and party leader Sanjay GandhiIndu Sarkar will release on July 28.

The question that arises is whether the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) showed its double standards by bending the “NOC rule” for Indu Sarkar?

The censor board has multiple standards when dealing with films with a political theme. While makers of the Manmohan Singh bio-pic would be asked to get an NOC (no objection certificate) from the man himself, no such ruling applies on Madhur Bhandarkar.

Indu Sarkar won’t have to get an NOC from anyone in the Congress nor the Gandhi family, says censor board chairman Pahlaj Nihalani, who is delighted to see the Emergency being slammed in the film’s trailer.

Nihalani said: “I saw Madhur’s trailer, and I want to congratulate him for blowing the lid off one of the most shameful chapters of Indian politics. This was a time when the nation was put in the most embarrassing spotlight in the global arena. Many of our biggest leaders had to go to jail during the Emergency. The Indian people’s morale had hit rock-bottom.”

CBFC’s rule says no film about real incidents and situations can be passed without NOCs from the concerned people. But Nihalani has given the green signal to Bhandarkar’s film saying, “Indu Sarkar does not name anyone. There is no mention of Mrs Indira Gandhi or Sanjay Gandhi or anyone else in the trailer. You are only presuming the film is about the people you mention because of the physical resemblance.”

Nihalani’s arguments seem to be unconvincing since the trailer starts by stating that the film is set during the years of the Emergency, which was declared by Indira Gandhi in 1977. It goes on to show Indira and her son Sanjay (played by Neil Nitin Mukesh) unleashing the most arrogant tyranny on their fellow countrymen.

It was only recently that the CBFC chairman had asked the makers of the documentary film An Insignificant Man chronicling the rise of the Aam Aadmi Party to get a “no-objection certificate” (NOC) from Prime Minister Narendra Modi, former Delhi CM Sheila Dikshit and AAP chief Kejriwal himself, among others.

The censor board chief had also asked filmmakers Khusboo Ranka and Vinay Shukla to “delete all references to the BJP and Congress” from their movie. Several legal experts had then expressed doubts over the legality of requiring Indian filmmakers to get NOCs from politicians.

Nihalani asked for an NOC from the makers of An Insignificant Man because several references to the three people have been made and require their nod. But the same chairman brushes aside the requirement of an NOC for Indu Sarkar saying there is no mention of Indira Gandhi or Sanjay Gandhi in the film’s trailer.

If this is not utter duplicity then what is?

Time to time, various Indian governments have banned films that have caused them discomfort. Political interference has become the norm for the film fraternity. Making films that expose the stark realities of life has always stirred a hornet’s nest for filmmakers.

The country has a long history wherein movies based on real life incidents were banned, dragged to court or edited, thanks to the overwhelming dominance of the Indian political system.

Here are some political films that courted controversy with the censor board:

Gokul Shankar (1963)

It was banned for depicting the psychological motivations of Nathuram Godse, the assassin of Mahatma Gandhi.

Garm Hava (1973)

Directed by MS Sathyu with Balraj Sahni in the lead role, Garm Havawas held back by the CBFC for eight months as they feared the movie could instigate communal riots in the country. The movie showed the agony of a Muslim family during the Partition of India. However, the film was highly acclaimed, achieved success and won prestigious awards.

garam_062017035900.jpg

Aandhi (1975)

Aandhi was released in 1975, when then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had imposed Emergency in country.

The film starring Suchitra Sen as lead protagonist had striking similarities with Indira, from the typical saris to the get-up with a silver streak and from brisk walking style to speech delivery.

Moreover, scenes depicting the heroine smoking and drinking added fuel to the fire, resulting in a ban on the movie. However, when Indira lost the elections in 1977, the ruling Janata Party lifted the ban and even premiered the movie on Doordarshan.

Kissa Kursi Ka (1977) 

A satire on the politics of Indira Gandhi and her younger son Sanjay was not just banned during the Emergency in 1975, but its negatives were confiscated and destroyed at an auto plant in Gurgaon (which later became Maruti Udyog).

This political satire not only spoofed Sanjay but also people close to Indira’s coterie – like her private secretary RK Dhawan, her guru Dhirendra Brahmachari and Rukhsana Sultana, a close associate of Sanjay.

After Nahata submitted the film to the censor board for certification in 1975, it was sent to a revising committee and finally to the central government. The ministry of information & broadcasting headed by minister Vidya Charan Shukla (popularly called VC) slapped a show-cause notice to Nahata raising 51 objections.

As Emergency had been declared, all the prints including the film’s master print were confiscated from the CBFC office and burnt at the auto factory in the presence of Sanjay Gandhi and VC.

The rest is history, as a legal case ran for 11 months. The Shah Commission, established by the Janata Party government to inquire into the excesses committed during the Emergency, held Sanjay Gandhi guilty for burning the prints.

Both Sanjay and VC were sentenced to a month and two-year jail term, respectively. Sanjay Gandhi was denied bail. The verdict was later overturned. During Janata Party government rule, the public finally got to see the film in 1977.

Kuttrapathirikai (1993)

The Tamil drama film directed by RK Selvamani had Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination and the Sri Lankan civil war as its backdrop, due to which it was held back. The film was completed in 1993 but it was not released until 2007.

Hawayein (2003)

The film, set against the backdrop of the 1984 Sikh genocide, is banned in the Indian states of Delhi, J&K, Haryana and Punjab.

Final Solution (2004)

The documentary film was banned by the censor board for being provocative and under concerns that it may trigger communal violence. It was based on the 2002 Gujarat violence. But, it was cleared after some months.

Fanaa (2006)

fanaa-embed_062017035912.jpg

The Aamir Khan and Kajol-starrer never released in Gujarat. Directed by Kunal Kohli, the film follows the journey of the two lead protagonists, one in search of love and the other on a mission to accomplish his goal.

The film faced an unofficial ban in the state due to Aamir Khan’s stand on the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) which irked the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM), which threatened to ban the film unless Aamir issued an apology for his alleged anti-Gujarat remarks.

Parzania (2007)

Directed by Rahul Dholakia, the film starred Sarika and Naseeruddin Shah, among others, and is said to be based on the true story of a Parsi boy named Azhar Mody. Azhar disappeared after the 2002 Gulbarg Society massacre, during the communal riots in Gujarat.

The film traces the journey of the Pithawala family while trying to locate their missing son. It is said that director Rahul was inspired by a personal tragedy that struck him during the Gujarat riots and hence the film was inspired by that. However, Parzania was banned in Gujarat by the Bajrang Dal and reportedly, they instructed theatre owners not to screen it. Not a single theatre was ready to screen the movie.

Papilio Buddha (2013)

Initially banned due to its criticism of Mahatma Gandhi, it was allowed release after the anti-Gandhi speeches were muted and/or blurred.

http://www.dailyo.in/arts/madhur-bhandarkar-indu-sarkar-emergency-indira-gandhi-congress-cbfc-noc-rule/story/1/17908.html

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Bajrang Dal workers gherao Bhopal police station, ‘force’ cops to let off leader #WTFnews

Activists of the right-wing organisation laid siege to Habibganj police in the heart of the Madhya Pradesh capital from around 11pm till 1am and walked out triumphantly with their leader, Kamlesh Thakur.

Shruti Tomar
Hindustan Times, Bhopal
Bajrang Dal activists raise slogans after their leader, Kamlesh Thakur, walks out of Habibganj police station in Bhopal around 1 am on Friday.
Bajrang Dal activists raise slogans after their leader, Kamlesh Thakur, walks out of Habibganj police station in Bhopal around 1 am on Friday.(HT Photo)

Bajrang Dal activists in Bhopal allegedly forced police late Friday night to let off their leader who was taken in for questioning for allegedly abusing police personnel in an inebriated state.

Activists of the right-wing organisation laid siege to Habibganj police in the heart of the Madhya Pradesh capital from around 11pm till 1am and walked out triumphantly with their leader, Kamlesh Thakur.

Siddharth Bahuguna, superintendent of police (Bhopal South) said, “Thakur misbehaved with police officials in a drunken state. He was taken to the police station to register his statement. Keeping basic human rights in mind, we allowed him to go. When our personnel later told us he had abused them and also created ruckus, we registered a case against him.”

Police booked Thakur on charges of assaulting public servants and preventing them from discharging their duty, and verbally abusing them.

Bajrang Dal leader Kamlesh Thakur. (HT Photo)

Police said Thakur at a liquor shop in 10 Number Market late in the evening when a sub-inspector and a few constables were on patrol in the area. Thakur was creating a ruckus in an inebriated state and when the official on patrol tried to stop him, he abused them and had a scuffle with them.

The Bajrang Dal, however, accused the police of lying. Bajrang Dal state convener Devi Singh Sondhiya told HT on Saturday, “Kamlesh Thakur is our active worker. Police targeted him maliciously because he raised voice against corruption.”

Sondhiya added, “On Friday night, a sub-inspector and few constables were allegedly asking for money from some people at the liquor shop when Thakur opposed them. Police detained him. Thakur asked them to explain what his fault was, but police didn’t say anything. If he was in an intoxicated state, police should have conducted his medical examination.”

Sondhiya said police registered the FIR to save their officials. “We will not be silent on this issue. We will take this issue to the higher-ups in the government,” he added.

http://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/bajrang-dal-workers-gherao-bhopal-police-station-force-cops-to-let-off-leader/

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Indian Americans protest across America against Lynchings in India

 

Hundreds turned up to protest in Washington, DC

Government’s inaction and cruel politics of Hindutva focus of protests; protesters demand immediate action to restore the rule of law

Caravan Daily

THE ALLIANCE FOR Justice and Accountability (AJA), an umbrella coalition of progressive organizations across the United States, along with other organizations and people of conscience, held protests in three cities across the US, to express their outrage over the growing mob rule against minorities in India and the policies of the government that are emboldening such forces. Protests were held in Washington, DC, San Diego and San Jose. A fourth protest is scheduled to be held in New York City on July 23, 2017.
These protests are similar to the “Not In My Name” protests that have been held across various cities in India. Besides the AJA coalition, the protests in San Jose were jointly organized with the ‘Multifaith Voices for Peace and Justice’. The South Asia Solidarity Initiative (SASI), will be part of the protests in New York City on July 23.
The AJA in a statement said, “The last few years have seen brutal killings of mostly Muslims and Dalits in the name of cow protection, over a dozen of them only since September last year. These killings have been orchestrated by Hindu supremacist groups ideologically aligned with the BJP-led federal government and drawing inspiration from the beef ban imposed by the governments in various states. The increasing hostility towards minorities displayed by even central ministers in the form of incendiary rhetoric has only added fuel to the fire. Since 2010, 97 per cent of beef related violence has taken place after the BJP-led Hindu nationalist government came to power. Since 2015, an increasing number of Muslims have been lynched, hanged or brutalized in the most cruel manner on mere suspicion of possessing or cooking beef.”
Protest in downtown San Diego, CA near the USS Midway Museum
Protesters carried signs, such as “India – Hostage to Hindutva?” and “Beef Ban is Cultural Fascism.” They came from various communities in the diaspora and were united in their condemnation of the killings and the beef ban.
“The reign of terror unleashed by Hindu supremacist cow vigilantes is clearly targeted at browbeating the nation’s religious minorities into the status of second class citizens,” said Suhail Syed, one of the organizers of the protests in Washington, DC. “How can the government of India respond so casually to the mob lynchings of Muslims and Dalits?,” asked San Uddin, one of the organizers of the protests in New York.  “That shows the killings are not spontaneous but executed with a tacit approval of Hindu supremacists that are an integral part of the ruling party,” added Sana.
In a recent statement, Amnesty International India also expressed deep worry over the “pattern of hate crimes committed against Muslims with seeming impunity – many of them in states where the Bharatiya Janata Party is in power.”
Protests in San Jose, CA
In April 2017, a mob beat a 55-year-old Muslim man, Pehlu Khan, to death in Rajasthan after accusing him of transporting cows for slaughter. An expose by a television news station showed the attackers belonged to the BJP and its affiliates. In a recent killing that shook India, 15-year-old Junaid Khan was stabbed to death on board a train in Haryana as he was heading home from Eid shopping,
While such killings have drawn international condemnation, the suffering of millions who have lost their source of livelihood as a result of the beef ban has not received adequate attention. In a bizarre and shocking expose of the Sangh Parivar’s hypocrisy, the BJP and RSS joined hands to sell beef in Kerala, the very act for which they are enabling the lynching of Muslims.
The Alliance for Justice and Accountability in a statement said that it has pledged to work with people of all faiths to defend India from the onslaught of hate and divisiveness.
http://caravandaily.com/portal/indian-americans-express-outrage-over-mob-lynchings-in-india-through-protests-across-us/

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India Eliminated Leprosy 12 Years Ago, 79,000 New Cases In 6 Months Of 2016

 

Swagata Yadavar,

Leprosy may have left the public discourse but it is still prevalent in India: in six months from April to September 2016, 79,000 leprosy cases were detected, according to National Health Profile, 2017.

 

Leprosy is a slow progressive disease that damages the skin and the nervous system. Caused due to infection by Mycobacterium leprae, it leads to skin lesions, disfigurement and loss of sensation in limbs.

 

Uttar Pradesh had the most number of cases (13,423) but it was the union territory of Dadra and Nagar Haveli that has the highest prevalence of 7.93 per 10,000, which means nearly 8 people in 10,000 have leprosy.

 

1

 

Source: National Health Profile,2017

 

India had eliminated leprosy in 2005, with prevalence rate of less than 1 per 10,000, but it still had world’s leprosy burden in 2015. It currently has a prevalence rate of 0.81 per 10,000.

 

Bihar (1.3), Chhattisgarh (3.54), Goa (1.1), Jharkhand (1.23), West Bengal (1.13), Odisha (1.9), Chandigarh (1.25), Delhi (1.26) and Dadra Nagar Haveli (7.93) have higher than 1 case per 10,000 showing that the disease has not been eliminated from all states.

 

2

 

Source: National Health Profile,2017

 

There were 105,564 cases of leprosy under treatment while 59,356 were discharged as cured till September 2016.

 

(Yadavar is principal correspondent with IndiaSpend.)

http://www.indiaspend.com/viznomics/79000-leprosy-cases-detected-in-india-in-6-months-of-2016-2016

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Chandigarh – Tension grips over writing on wall’ Pakistani block ‘

 

Islamuddin said he had not even noticed the words on the wall until people started gathering outside his house in the morning

The house owner, Islamuddin, said he had not even noticed the words on his wall until people started gathering outside his home in the morning and questioned him about the writing. Police soon arrived to prevent any possible tension in the area.

TENSION GRIPPED Colony number 4, a slum in the Industrial Area on Saturday over a wall writing – Pakistani block – written by unknown persons on the house of a Muslim resident. Police have been deployed in the area to prevent any untoward incident.

On Saturday morning, as news about the words written on the wall spread, leaders of various local political groups reached the spot. The wall writing was also painted over with Bharat Mata ki Jai by a group of workers affiliated to some political parties, which also raised pro-India slogans in the lane.

The house owner, Islamuddin, said he had not even noticed the words on his wall until people started gathering outside his home in the morning and questioned him about the writing. Police soon arrived to prevent any possible tension in the area.

“I have been living here since 1981 and never seen such a thing. I can only call it a mischief and have told police to probe the matter because whatever has been written is a serious thing. If it happened here today, it can happen in some other place tomorrow,” said the 70-year-old Islamuddin. “My neighbours visited our house and assured me that there is nothing to worry about.”

The area where the house is located is a slum and around 2,000 Muslims live there. Islamuddin is one of the few Muslim families living in the lane. Since morning, police have been deployed in the area and offcials said they would remain even in the night. “We don’t want to take chances. Some of our men have been deployed in the area to keep vigil,” said a police official, adding, “It doesn’t appear to have been written recently on the wall.”

SHO of Industrial Area police station, Davinder Singh, said a DDR has been registered in the case and it was not yet known as to who had written the words. Local Congress leader Shashi Shankar Tiwari said he has written to the UT SSP demanding a thorough investigation into the matter.

 

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/tension-grips-slum-over-writing-on-wall-in-4752632/lite/

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Maharashtra – #OperationGauantankvad -Cow saviours, vigilantes or extortionists?

India Today team met several beef sellers and spoke to them about cow vigilantism and the revelations made by them were shocking

Image for representation

 

 

There have been several cases across the country where beef transporters or even meat transporters were lynched on suspicion of carrying beef by self-styled gau rakshaks from various right-wing factions. India Today team met several beef sellers and spoke to them about the issue and the revelations made by beef sellers were shocking.

Divyesh Singh|  Saurabh Vaktania|  Mustafa Shaikh | Posted by Sanjay Nirala

The information revealed by beef sellers and transporters pointed towards groups of these self-styled gau rakshaks, who had started making easy money threatening them, if they failed to pay a premium to get their consignment into area near Mumbai, their consignments would be destroyed and they’ll be lynched.

In broad daylight, these gau rakshaks pose as saviours of cows, but their real intentions were exposed when India Today conducted a detailed ground investigation through two sting operations at two major entry points of Mumbai.

GAU RAKSHAKS REAL INTENTIONS

The first sting operation was carried out on the outskirts of Mumbai on a very important national highway which comes from Gujarat carrying heavy transport. We are talking about Wada-Bhiwandi highway which originates from Mumbai-Ahmedabad highway near Manor and reaches interior Thane district passing through the Wada taluka. It is one of the most dreaded routes for businessmen getting beef from Gujarat.

On this very route is a very famous cow shelter named Gopala Gaushala in a village named Angaon. The Gopala Gaushala runs regular patrol on the highway and nearby areas with the help of Bajrang Dal activists and the team is called as Gashti Pathak. Members of the Gashti Pathak are feared by beef businessmen as they have built an image of being cow protectors, who destroy, damage if beef is found being transported irrespective of whether it’s cows, bulls or bullock beef.

When we approached one of the key members of the Gashti Pathak, seeking protection for the beef we were getting from Gujarat and was to be sold in Mumbai. The person called us for multiple meetings and finally what he revealed was shocking. He agreed to give protection for a decided sum and also assured that once he was in the vehicle transporting the beef, no one including police would bother to stop the vehicle.

The Gopal Gaushala has been infamous amongst beef businessmen who cater to areas of Bhiwandi which is Muslim-dominated suburb of Mumbai.

Businessmen claim that earlier when the deals were not struck with Gaushala’s Bajrang Dal activists, they would destroy the beef by throwing diesel and coal tar over it making it inedible.

BAJRANG DAL GASHTI PATHAK

The Gaushala also has a website which boasts of cow protection and activities of the Bajrang Dal Gashti Pathak (Bajrang Dal Patrolling squad). India Today reporters initially surveyed the area after meeting some beef sellers and came to know about the Gopala Gaushala and its Bajrang Dal Gashti Pathak. Accordingly the undercover reporters, initially posed as informers, met a Bajrang Dal person to provide tip-off regarding a consignment. He provided us with the number of Vasudev Patil, who is a very active gau rakshak and member of Bajrang Dal Gashti Pathak.

The reporters called Vasudev posing as beef businessmen asking for his support and protection to bring a beef consignment safely from the Bhiwandi Wada Road. When he finally met, the meeting was recorded using a spycam. The location he chose for the meeting was an isolated spot on the highway so that he couldn’t be seen by any other people. It was shocking that the same person who was referred by his fellow Bajrang Dal member from the same village for alleged seizure of a vehicle carrying beef had now started conversation on how he can assure the safe delivery of the consignment carrying beef. During conversation, he assures protection, in fact, he said he would himself sit in the vehicle and escort it safely to our destination.

Talking to India Today reporters, Vasudev, who is referred to as Vasu in his village, said, “I will get your consignment delivered safely to the said destination. You don’t have to worry as now you are in touch with me. Just let me know when the vehicle arrives, I will personally sit in the vehicle and when I am around, no Bajrang Dal activists or even police will dare to stop the vehicle.”

Vasudev had been careful about the meeting and didn’t want to be seen by other members of his village Gaushala during the meeting. He was more than keen on helping the India Today reporters who posed as beef businessmen.

During the conversation, he said, “We would patrol this stretch and now you don’t have to worry.”

Seeking details of the consignment, Vasudev asked how much beef was being brought, in what vehicle, would it be chopped and what could be it worth in the market?

He said, “I want you to be honest with me. Don’t contact anyone else now. Also, don’t mention anything about beef over the phone. Just call me whenever the consignment is going to be here. I will wait here at this very spot and then board the vehicle.”

Once the conversation was about be completed, Vasudev discussed about the money he would charge, he said, per vehicle he would need Rs 20000 for which the reporters bargain and finally the deal was fixed at Rs 15000 per vehicle.

THE SECOND STING OPERATION

The second sting operation was conducted in Navi Mumbai which is another major entry point to Mumbai.

A large amount of meat, beef is brought from areas like Pune, Ahmednagar and nearby areas to Mumbai and they have to cross Kalamboli and Panvel to reach Mumbai. This is where another active group of gau rakshaks who are associated with Shiv Sena are active.

While doing the investigations, India Today reporters found a person identified as DN Mishra who is former Shakha Pramukh of Shiv Sena in Kalamboli, Navi Mumbai. India Today reporters found it hard to believe how party who propagates Hindutva and his men were involved in such unethical work. The reporters got a call from his associate/relative Rajesh who told us he manages work for Mishra. India Today reporters started conversation with him. Mishra and Rajesh both had contested civic elections in Panvel, but lost.

Once Rajesh met the reporters, he explains that due to UP’s Yogi Adityanath cow beef is difficult to get. Shockingly, he also reveals that once he had caught one person with beef on highway. He tried to settle the issue demanding money, but the person did not accept his offer after which his group burnt down the whole vehicle for which a case is registered against him.

Rajesh then took the two India Today reporters to Mishra’s Shiv Sena office. Mishra, who was seating in his cabin, he then introduced himself the two reporters. Mishra asked about the consignment and documents for carrying the consignment.

HOW GAU RAKSHAKS LET BEEF TRANSPORTERS TO PASS THROUGH

Talking to the reporters, Rajesh said, “We will settle with the zonal DCP and also help you with the documents with help of a doctor. Bringing cow beef is risky, but you can bring it by mixing it with buffalo beef.”

When reporters ask Rajesh how will he be able to prepare documents for transportation of beef being brought from Sangamner, Rajesh says that they have been doing this for a long time and there’s nothing to worry.

Mishra assures that the consignment will pass the area and the reporters need not worry. He boasts about his connections saying, “I have been here for around eighteen years and have direct links with the Matoshree. From Uddhav Thackeray to everyone in the party knows me well, even the supremo (Referring to Bal Thackeray) know me well. We have very good rapport in this area. All senior leaders have farm houses in our area.”

Rajesh takes over the conversation, and talks to the reporters, ” This is our Shiv Sena office, we also have a office on highway. We carry out patrolling for the whole night looking for suspicious vehicles carrying beef.  Locals respect us over here. We have done a lot of work for them in the area.”

The two case studies expose the ongoing racket being run by self-styled gau rakshaks who are nothing but extorting money from meat and beef sellers in name of gau raksha.

 http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/gaurakshaks-extortionists-beef-beef-sellers-gaushalas-bajrang-dal-activists-shiv-sena/1/1002252.html

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Nepali ‘menstruation hut’ ritual claims life of teenage girl #Vaw

 

What's a 'menstruation hut?'

Story highlights

  • Teenager dies after being bitten multiple times by a snake
  • Activists in Nepal are campaigning against the continued use of menstruation huts

New Delhi (CNN)A teenage girl in Nepal has died after she was bitten by a snake while banished to a cowshed during a menstruation ritual that sees young women separated from their families and made to sleep alone.

The victim, 19-year-old Tulasi Shahi, from western Nepal’s Dailekh district, was taking part in chhaupadi, a common practice in the west of the country in which women, considered unclean during menstruation, are sequestered for the extent of their periods.
It’s a ritual that Shahi had likely endured many times before, but on Thursday night, alone on the floor of her uncle’s cowshed, the teenager was bitten by a poisonous snake. “Twice, on her head and leg,” the local district mayor Surya Bahadur Shahi told CNN.
Shahi’s family members initially attempted to treat her using home remedies, before later taking her to a local health center, which did not stock the anti-venom medicines needed.
The monsoon rains had flooded the region’s mountainous roads, making the three-hour journey to the nearest hospital all but impossible.
After seven hours of battling the venom, Shahi died Friday morning.

‘Our girls and women are dying’

Shahi is the second teenager to fall victim to chhaupadi in less than two months in Dailekh. On May 22, 14-year-old Lalsara Bika died from a severe cold-related illness contracted during her stay in isolation.
Late last year, two girls lost their lives in similar circumstances in the nearby Achham district.
“Our girls and women are dying and the state is turning a blind eye,” said prominent Nepali writer and menstrual rights activist Radha Paudel.
Chhaupadi was outlawed by Nepal’s Supreme Court in 2005. Three years later the government promulgated guidelines to eradicate it nationally, but activists say that hasn’t made a huge difference.
“What the government has put out is just a guideline. No one can report to police, no one can file a case … you cannot punish anyone for sending their girls and wives to these huts,” Paudel argued.
Activists say Nepal has laws for ending child marriage, domestic violence and other female-specific issues, but not for menstrual rights.
Dailekh’s Chief District Officer told CNN, that “after the recent loss of lives” his office would carry out internal discussions with a view to pushing recommendations at a government level.
Women in Nepal face systemic discrimination across a host of issues.

Banished

Chhaupadi dates back centuries and has its roots in Hindu taboos over menstruation.
As well as being isolated in tiny “menstruation huts” — small, ramshackle buildings with small doors and often no windows and poor sanitation and ventilation — women and girls are forbidden from touching other people, cattle, green vegetables and plants, and fruits, according to a 2011 United Nations report.
They are also not allowed to drink milk or eat milk products and their access to water taps and wells is limited.
“Some in the Far West (of Nepal) still believe that a God or Goddess may be angered if the practice is violated, which could result in a shorter life, the death of livestock or destruction of crops,” the report said.
“It is believed by some that if a woman touches fruits, they will fall before they are ripe. If she fetches water, the well will dry up.”
In some areas, the restrictions extend to girls reading, writing or touching books during menstruation out of fear of angering Saraswati, the goddess of education.

Widespread practice

A recent government survey showed that Dailekh district — with 49,000 plus households — has more than 500 menstrual huts.
But activists say the government numbers do not reflect the gravity and magnitude of the situation.
“The prevalence of Chhaupadi in Dailekh is more than what the government survey claims. People may have stopped building a separate hut but they now use some unused dark corners of the house, or cattle sheds,” Dailekh-based human rights activist Amar Sunar told CNN.
“Local political leaders even go around and claim this practice has been long abolished,” Sunar added.
Dailekh Women’s Development Officer Anita Gyawali was appointed eight months ago.
Gyawali told CNN she was surprised to see how little officials in the district care about the issue. “It is clear that in addition to the awareness and education program, strict laws are required to tackle this grave problem.”
Activists like Paudel maintain that female menstruation rights have been “heavily ignored, heavily marginalized, heavily over-looked.”
“In Nepal, we have a female President, the speaker of the House is a female, and until recently we had a female Supreme Court Chief Justice … but even top women leaders haven’t said a single word about this issue,” Poudel said. “It is beyond shameful.”
http://edition.cnn.com/2017/07/10/asia/nepal-menstruation-hut-deaths-outrage/index.html

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Gujarat HC Dismisses Essar Steel Appeal Against Bankruptcy Proceedings

The ruling paves the way for the start of bankruptcy proceedings against Essar Steel, although the company could appeal the ruling.
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Court Dismisses Essar Steel Appeal Against Bankruptcy Proceedings
MumbaiThe Gujarat High Court on Monday dismissed Essar Steel India Ltd’s appeal against a central bank order that asked creditor banks to start insolvency proceedings against the steelmaker, lawyers on the case said.

The ruling is a boost to the government, which in May tweaked banking laws to empower the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to tackle the country’s bad debt issue, allowing the RBI for the first time to direct lenders to force defaulters into insolvency courts.

The ruling paves the way for the start of bankruptcy proceedings against Essar Steel, although the company could appeal the ruling. The company did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

Essar Steel had argued that it should have been given an opportunity to present its case before the Reserve Bank of India decided to include the company among 12 defaulters that would be referred to bankruptcy court.

Essar had also argued that proceedings could result in the company’s demise when it was “almost in the stage of revival” and working to resolve its debt problems, according to court documents.

The RBI had in June asked lenders to start insolvency proceedings against 12 companies, as part of new powers it gained this year to help the country cut down on the more than $150 billion in stressed assets in the banking system.

Essar Steel owes lenders around Rs. 45,000 crore, of which Rs. 31,670 crore had become non-performing as of March 31, 2016, Mint newspaper previously reported citing court hearings.http://profit.ndtv.com/news/corporates/article-court-dismisses-essar-steel-appeal-against-bankruptcy-proceedings-1725775

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Challenges before Dalits’ Azadi Kooch and Bhim Army

The caste-annihilation movement must guard against threats from the State and from ‘within’.

ARUN FERREIRA AND VERNON GONSALVES

Eighteen months after the start of the countrywide #JusticeForRohithVemula movement and 12 months after the radical response of the Gujarati Dalit to the Una atrocity, the upsurge of anti-caste protests led by militant Dalit organisations shows no signs of abating.

Notwithstanding a cycle of protest-arrest-protest-arrest-protest, the movement is yet advancing, gathering new forces with each new wave.

Azadi Kooch and Bhim Army

The ongoing Azadi Kooch (Freedom March) in Gujarat from July 11 to July 18, 2017, commemorating the first anniversary of the public stripping and thrashing of seven Dalits by gau rakshaks of Una town, is perhaps emblematic of this process.

Led by young lawyer Jignesh Mevani of the Rashtriya Dalit Adhikar Manch (RDAM), it encompasses a wide-ranging coalition of Dalits, Muslims, Patidars and others and has been joined by activists of various shades from throughout the country, including student leader Kanhaiya Kumar of JNU. Despite cancellation of permissions and detention of all participants at the very start of the seven-day march, it determinedly soldiers on.

This has been preceded by several months of militant Dalit resistance to Thakur-led onslaughts in and around Saharanpur in western Uttar Pradesh. It was spearheaded by the Bhim Army, led by another young lawyer, Chandrashekhar Azad.

One of the high points of this resistance was a 50,000 strong gathering on May 21, 2017, at Delhi’s Jantar Mantar, one of the largest agitational mobilisations seen in the capital in recent times.

This rally, held in the shadow of an imminent offensive by the state, saw Chandrashekhar and Mevani together on stage appealing to the crowds to take ahead the movement. Two weeks later, Chandrashekhar and a yet undisclosed number of Bhim Army activists were held, amid a total clampdown, including an indefinite internet blackout.

Chandrashekhar, in anticipation, had concluded his address at Jantar Mantar by prophesising, “I want to say that if they try to kill one Chandrashekhar, there will be lakhs more to rise.”

His statement well embodies the audacity of hope that such a movement on the ascent has, and must have. This obligatory optimism must however also confront the enormity of the challenges before any movement possessed with the mission of annihilation of caste in this country.

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Threats and challenges

The threats and challenges before the contemporary anti-caste movement are broadly of two types: the first being the open attacks and repression of the dominant feudal castes and the State machinery that stands solidly behind them; the second being the surreptitious, sabotaging, interventions from “within” by those sections of the oppressed castes whose interests lie in holding back the movement’s creativity and militancy, and diverting it into acceptable channels.

State repression

It is no secret that the very State machinery that is supposed to implement constitutional provisions and laws for the abolition of caste, is itself deeply wedded to the preservation of the caste system. It is thus extremely rare for the perpetrators of upper caste violence to face action from the coercive arms of the state. Police authorities do not easily register complaints of caste atrocity. If they do, the cases are diluted and it is common to file false counter-cases against the victim.

If, on the other hand, should the oppressed dare to show some militancy in resistance, they must be ready to face all the vehement violence that the security agencies are capable of – lathi-charges, firing, implication in false cases under draconian laws, and even torture.

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Naxal-branding

These brutalities are sought to be rationalised by first branding the anti-caste organisations and their leaders as Naxalites. Once this label is stuck, it is seen as fair justification for any cruelty and the abandonment of the rule of law.

Both Jignesh and Chandrashekhar have seen this branding. Jigneshsays: “A Dalit activist is conveniently labelled a Naxalite.”

Chandrashekhar goes one step further. He told the May 21 crowds at Jantar Mantar: “If anyone speaks of justice these people call him Naxalite and terrorist.”

While denying being one, he warned his oppressors not to test the patience of the oppressed, thus implying that they would, if necessary, take such steps.

He even used the imagery of Udham Singh, the revolutionary who assassinated British governor O’Dwyer, to promise retaliatory violence on those involved in caste atrocities.

However, Chandrashekhar is now in prison with several cases clamped on him, and the cases against Jignesh too are steadily building up. This will call for answers from the anti-caste movement to the state violence that is bound to be its constant companion.

One of the answers has been Chandrashekhar’s earlier mentioned pronouncement that “lakhs more will rise” to replace him. He is thus telling the casteists and the State that attacks and repression will only inspire many more to join the movement. While not denying the historical truism in his statement, there will yet be the need for more practical and immediate solutions.

The attempts underway to rapidly ramp up the organisational structure of the movement in both Gujarat and UP is one of the answers. The solidification of genuine solidarities and the emergence and spread of similar struggles in other centres could be others.

Challenges from “within”

The other challenge, that is emerging from some members of the oppressed castes, is however more complicated. It lacks the simplicity of direct confrontation that is there in the contradiction with the violent caste oppressor and state repressor.

Over the years there has been an extremely tiny segment of Dalits who have earned places high up in the structures of the state and academia. Ruling politicians, high-ranking officers of the IAS, IPS and other services, and professors inhabiting the upper echelons of elitist academic institutions in India and abroad are typical of those who have been able to occupy seats at centres where opinions, decisions and policies are formulated.

Most of them have the natural aversion to fundamental transformation that is characteristic of people in high places. Though their caste origins compel them to pay lip service to the revolutionary mission of annihilation of caste, they have long abandoned that project. They typically seek to confine themselves to lobbying and adjustments that could strengthen their position without significantly displacing contemporary social structures and power relations.

They thus are among those who feel highly threatened by radical movements which aim to shake up and demolish the existing caste order. In the face of such upsurges they see their role as interveners, who can ensure that things do not go “out of hand”. Though extremely small in number, they, by virtue of their positions of relative power, demand and command considerable influence, within Dalit communities as well as organisations. They use that influence to control and contain the movement within limits that do not threaten the existing order of things.

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Stemming radicalisation

Such a role was played by a coterie of Dalit IAS-IPS officers during the #JusticeForRohithVemula movement. They pooled money, expressed support on social media and directly established connections with the students. Their expressed purpose however was clearly expressed as “Ambedkarisation, not radicalisation”. By thus counterposing “Ambedkar” and “radical” they were clear that they wanted to keep #JusticeForRohithVemula well away from Ambedkar’s radical mission of annihilation of caste.

A member of this group is RS Praveen Kumar, an IPS officer who, when asked about the ongoing anti-caste movement, has expressed a desire to play the role of keeping it within constitutional means. His own past however has seen involvement in numerous fake encounters of Naxalites, with scant respect for constitutional guarantees and rule of law.

One explanation of the thinking underlying this is provided by Suryakant Waghmore, a professor at top-rung institutions like Tata Institute of Social Sciences and IIT-Bombay. While analysing the Bhim Army and its “rhetoric of “hitting back”, he propounds that “use of violence undermines the Dalit cause and emancipatory politics”.

In a classic convoluted argument typical of academia, he, while arguing that the Bhim Army should refrain from violence because the law-implementing machinery will target Dalits, in the same breath proposes that the “Dalit response to atrocities is one of legal measures”. This means that he is telling the Dalit victims to go for justice to the same law-implementing machinery that targets them.

Suryakant also bases his argument of non-violence on the premise that the aim of Dalit movements is to mobilise towards civilising the oppressor (caste Hindus). The absurdity of expecting that the Thakurs of Saharanpur would be amenable to being “civilised” by its Dalits is lost on him. Any farcical prescription to embark on a mission to civilise the oppressor has nothing to offer to the Bhim Army or any other movement serious about the annihilation of caste.

As the ongoing anti-caste movement grows in strength, the impact of such arguments on it has so far been minimal. But the leadership would have to be vigilant to guard against the confusion and diversion they have the potential to cause.http://www.dailyo.in/politics/bhim-army-azadi-kooch-dalit-una-naxalites-rohith-vemula-caste-system/story/1/18414.html

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#Aadhaar enrolment a ‘harrowing experience’ for the disabled

The biometric process is often an ordeal for children with disabilities

The countdown has begun for Aryan (name changed) to step into his first job in August, but he is more frustrated than excited. The 21-year-old is required to submit his Aadhaar details to his firm, but does not have the card yet, despite having made two attempts since January. His ‘fault’? He has a physical disability that prevents him from having all his fingerprints captured by the system.

His mother was furious. “My son’s left hand is too rigid and he is not able to present his left thumb impression. The first time we went and got this done was in January, but the tracking system said his application had been rejected. We tried in a different centre in March and the staff there said an exception can be made.

But it was rejected the second time too,” she said.

Their ordeal did not end there.

They first tried calling the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) office in Bengaluru, but were offered no help.

“We then wrote to their online grievance system and even to the Prime Minister’s Office, but we were guided back to the Bengaluru office from where we had already got disappointing responses. No one is able to guide us as to what should be done, and we are running out of time,” she said.

Not an one-off case

Aryan’s may not be an one-off case. UIDAI officials said such enquiries were common. Similar cases have been reported from other parts of the country as well. In fact, owing to problems faced by parents of children with disabilities during the enrolment process, the Spastics Society of Karnataka conducted an Aadhaar camp with the UIDAI a few months ago at the centre.

“We covered around 150 children who did not have Aadhaar card. The whole idea was to provide the service at the doorstep. There are several issues when it comes to the enrolment process. Access to the centres is difficult and there are problems when it comes to the biometric process. Children with autism, for example, need time to adjust to the settings and to cooperate. For those with spasticity, it comes into play during the process,” Priya Rao, Associate Director, Spastics Society of Karnataka, said.

Hinting at the possibility of a similar camp soon, she also emphasised on the need to train personnel deployed to carry out the enrolment process in handling persons with disabilities.

Provisions available

However, officials added that there were provisions to make Aadhaar enrolment easier for persons with disabilities.

“There are two kinds of enrolment: regular and biometric exception. During the process of capturing data, a biometric exception can be made. Instead, a photo with both hands is used in such cases. There is also doorstep service available,” officials added.http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/aadhaar-enrolment-a-harrowing-experience/article19287268.ece

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