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Archives for : September2017

Punjab – The dead too have a caste in this Bathinda village #WTFnews

Crematorium wall stands for ‘age-old tradition’

After AAP sent its MLA to the state assembly from the reserved constituency in February polls, the SAD-dominated panchayat from Kot Guru village lost interest in looking after Mazhabi Sikhs; the wall in the cremation ground was raised four months ago

Prabhjit Singh
Hindustan Times, Bathinda
People from Scheduled Caste (Dalit) community crossing a wall to enter the separate cremation ground for them in Kot Guru village as no thoroughfare has been left for them except a detour through a dumping ground.
People from Scheduled Caste (Dalit) community crossing a wall to enter the separate cremation ground for them in Kot Guru village as no thoroughfare has been left for them except a detour through a dumping ground. (Sanjeev Kumar/HT)

A wall divides the cremation ground in Kot Guru village near here into two halves, with space for the dead hailing from Dalit families on the other side.

The main entrance greets the general category people, while the wall 100m away blocks the way for Dalits who come from the other side after crossing over the village dumping ground. The wall came up after the Punjab assembly polls in February 2017, when the Dalit community in Bathinda rural assembly constituency — reserved for the Scheduled Castes — voted for the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) candidate, Rupinder Kaur Ruby, who became the MLA.

Thereafter, the panchayat dominated by the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) members became indifferent to Mazhabi Sikhs and raised the wall in the cremation ground four months ago.

The sarpanch is a woman, Gurvinder Kaur, who does not appear in public, with her husband Balkaran Singh running the show.

“Separate places for burying the corpses of the Mazhabi Sikhs, the Ramdasia Sikhs and the Jat Sikhs is an age-old tradition,” Balkaran said, when asked why was there a separate place for the cremation of Dalits.

Acknowledging the wall, Balkaran added that there was a gate in the wall that would be reinstalled now. He, however, said if the Dalits demanded, the panchayat could even move a resolution for a common cremation ground for all castes.

This, however, will remain a far cry. The Dalits, most of them poor farm labourers, are not willing to be quoted on the issue. “If the dumping ground is inundated, we hike up our pyjamas and hold the corpse on our shoulders to reach the cremation place through the waterlogged area,” said Jaskaran Singh, an activist of a farm labour union in the village.

“The news of your (HT’s) visit spread in the village and I even got a call from the BDPO (Sangat block development and panchayat officer) on this matter. I had to explain to him that separate places for cremation ground for different caste-based communities is an age-old tradition. This (the new wall) was raised to stop stray cattle from entering the cremation ground,” said Balkaran, the proxy sarpanch.

He, however, kept quiet when HT queried him that, if that was the case, then why a boundary wall had not been constructed around the entire cremation ground to keep the cattle out.

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Santanu Bhowmik killing: Nationwide protest on Oct 2 by journalists

Delhi Bureau

New Delhi, September 22: Journalists working in various media houses of Delhi today joined hands in a condolence meeting held in Press Club of India. The condolence was jointly organized by Press Club of India, North East Media Forum, Indian Woman Press Corp, Federation of Press Club of India and Press Association.

While condemning the death of Santanu Bhowmik, the journalists gathered there also took a resolution. The journalist organizations demanded the concerned state governments to take exemplary and time bound action under Indian law against those intimidating and killing journalists.

The journalists organizations also demanded a framework to ensure social security of the journalists.

The meeting has also resolved to organize peaceful protest on October 2 in defence of rights of journalist.

Senior journalists including Rajdeep Sardesai, Seema Chisti, Amit Baruah, Sanjoy Hazarika, Sangeeta Barooah, Kalyan Barooah, Nalini Singh among others were present on the occasion.

Resolution adopted at the journalist protest meeting on September 22, 2017


In view of the unceasing attacks on journalists in the form of murderous assaults, threats of physical harm, threats of violence in the social media, rampant misogyny, and retrenchment the meeting resolves the following:


  1.  The attacks on journalists is a worrying trend and unacceptable in a democracy like ours. We demand that concerned state governments take exemplary and time bound action under Indian laws against those involved in intimidating and killing journalists.
  2.  As the majority of journalists are without any social security benefits like pension or health insurance, and many of whom are sole bread earners in their families, we demand that state governments establish journalist welfare funds to meet the conditions of precarious employment, social and health security of journalists.
  3.  In view of increasing misogyny and abuse in the social media bordering on abuse, we demand that concerned governments identify and take swift action against those posting threatening messages.
  4.  In view of growing attacks on journalists and attempts to polarise journalists, we urge the journalist community to be vigilant against divisive forces and remain united in the interests of strengthening Indian democracy and the freedom of the press.
  5.  The meeting resolves to organise a peaceful dharna on October 2 in defence of the rights of journalists.


Press Club of India, Indian Women‘s Press Corps, Press Association, Federation of Press Clubs of India, President, North-East Media Forum.

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SC unhappy over lack of system to manage Nirbhaya fund for #Vaw

New Delhi, Sep 22 The Supreme Court today said an “unhappy state of affairs” prevailed on the issue of compensation to be disbursed to the victims of sexual assault under the Nirbhaya fund, as there was no clarity on how and at what stage it should be paid.

It also noted the absence of an integrated system of disbursal and management of the money allocated for compensating the victims.

The Nirbhaya Fund was announced by the Centre in 2013 after the sensational December 16, 2012 gangrape and murder case in Delhi to support initiatives of the government and the NGOs working towards protecting the dignity and ensuring the safety of women.

The apex court observed that there was a lot of confusion on the issue as three ministries – Ministry of Home Affairs, Finance Ministry and Ministry of Women and Child Development – were involved in it, but they did not know what is to be done.

A bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta said though the Centre was disbursing funds to the states under the scheme, there appeared to be no system as to how and at what stage the sexual assault victims have to be compensated.

“There seems to be no system as to how funds have to be disbursed, how victims have to be compensated and at what stage the compensation has to be paid. This is an unhappy state of affairs,” the bench said.

The court asked the Centre, senior lawyer Indira Jaising, an amicus curiae in the matter, and other concerned officials to give their suggestions as to how the system of granting compensation to such victims should work best and how they could be rehabilitated.

The bench fixed the matter for next hearing on October 4.

During the hearing, the court expressed its displeasure over the Centre’s affidavit and pointed out several instances where state-wise details of the number of such victims and the amount of compensation given to them were not given properly.

“There must be some application of mind (before filing an affidavit),” the bench said, adding, “You cannot come and file affidavit like this in a court. You are dumping this on us.”

At the outset, Jaising told the court that there was no uniformity in the disbursal of funds to the victims of sexual assault as in states like Goa, the amount was Rs 10 lakh while in some other states, it was only Rs one lakh.

She also raised objection over the Centre’s affidavit and said they have not given the state-wise details properly as to how many such victims have been paid compensation and what was the total amount disbursed.

The counsel appearing for the Centre told the bench that they would file a better affidavit giving details of the issues raised by the court as well as the amicus.

Jaising argued that the Centre was transferring Rs 200 crore under the scheme to each state which should furnish a compliance report on the amount spent and also whether the money was given to the victims or not.

However, the bench asked her to go through the rules formulated by the states and give a model set of rules which could be directed.

“We will take up the matter in October and will pass one set of directions. We will indicate that there is a lot of confusion. Three ministries are involved but they do not know what is to be done. We will pass directions,” the bench said.

Six petitions were filed in the Supreme Court between 2012 and 2013 after the gangrape case in Delhi on December 16, 2012 raising concerns over the safety and security of women.

All the petitions were tagged by the apex court and several directions have been issued from time to time in this regard.

Jaising had earlier told the apex court said that the Victim Compensation Scheme under section 357(A) of CrPC has not been notified by all the states.

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Protestors claiming to be Shiv Sena workers shut down over 500 meat shops for Navratri

Gurugram ‘Shiv Sena’ at it again, forces meat shops and street joints to shut for Navaratras

Abhimanyu Mathur| TNN | 

In March, the group’s members had entered a KFC outlet in Sector 14 and forcibly shut it down, apart from around 500 meat shops and family restaurants across town (BCCL/ Ajay Kumar Gautam)

Gurugram 'Shiv Sena' at it again, forces meat shops and street joints to shut for Navaratras

Bullying by a local outfit that calls itself the Gurgaon unit of the Shiv Sena had forced nearly 500 meat shops and eateries to shut shop or pull off non-veg from their menus during the last Navaratras, even though Gurgaon Police had promised action against them. This time, just a ‘request’ from the outfit has been enough to down shutters or change menus.

In simpler times, Navaratra in Gurgaon marked the arrival of ramlilas across the city, setting up of Durga Puja pandals, and invites for dandiya nights being sent out. Of late, however, the Navaratra also bring along a forced meat ban in several areas of the city, enforced by a self-proclaimed local unit of the Shiv Sena. Like in March, the party has again ‘requested’ all shops, restaurants, and eateries selling and serving non-vegetarian food in Gurgaon to shut their operations for these nine days as it “hurts the sensibilities of fasting Hindus.” In March, the group’s members had entered a KFC outlet in Sector 14 and forcibly shut it down, apart from around 500 meat shops and family restaurants across town, even though the Gurgaon Police had said that they would immediately take action against any coercive shutting down. The KFC outlet had reopened after a few hours, and fast food chains continued to operate as usual, but smaller shops and street food joints weren’t so lucky. Naturally, such eateries in Gurgaon have taken the threat seriously this time. Most say, they are either shutting down for the Navaratra or pulling non-veg off their menus for this duration.

Selling or serving non-veg during navaratra hurts sensibilities of fasting Hindus: Shiv Sena
Traditionally targeting meat shops in the city, the unit has only recently started including eateries in their ‘meat ban’. Ritu Raj, who claims to be Shiv Sena’s Gurgaon spokesperson, says, “Even though our main objection is against the meat shops that sell meat and display it in the open, we have also asked restaurants and eateries that serve non-veg out in the open or display it to either shut their shops or limit their activities during the Navaratra. Selling or serving non-veg during these nine days hurts the sensibilities of fasting Hindus, which is why we would insist all shops adhere to our request. This includes all kiosks and street food joints too, as they openly serve non-veg.” He added that starting Thursday, about 200 Shiv Sainiks would be ‘patrolling’ the streets and markets of the city to impose their diktat. “If not, we will do the needful ourselves,” says Ritu Raj, the threat hardly veiled.

We have no choice, don’t want any trouble: Eateries
The promise of these ‘raids’ has already put fear in the hearts of food joints across Gurgaon. Shamim, who operates a kebab and rolls joint in Old Gurgaon, says, “I plan to shut shop for the Navaratra. Sales are anyway low during these days. On top of that, I don’t want any trouble with these guys. Even last time, they had objected to me selling rolls and kebabs. I think it’s best that I avoid any such situation this time.” Others say they will continue opening their joints but with an only-veg menu for the Navaratra. An owner of a shawarma joint in Sector 14, says, “I have got a sign prepared that we don’t serve meat during Navaratra to display outside the shop. It will mean some losses but it is the safest thing to do right now.” Another joint owner from Sector 56, adds, “Earlier, I used to shut shop on Tuesdays and the first and last day of the Navaratra, as the sale is anyway low during those days. But this time, given the atmosphere, I will close it for all nine days. Aisi controversy rehti hai toh log bhi nahin aate.”

Owners of street food joints say that the main reason to switch to a vegetarian-only menu is to avoid trouble with the Shiv Sainiks as that adversely affects business. Gagan Singh, who runs a street food joint selling rolls, shawarma and other snacks, says, “I hope the police act before these guys hurt anyone. It is quite scary that you can be attacked just for doing your job. The sales dip during the Navaratra anyway, but some people do come to eat non-veg despite the fasts. If we eliminate our non-veg menu, we will incur losses. But as of now, I have decided to limit my menu to only egg, paneer, and vegetarian dishes. Any argument or incident here will drive customers away. I don’t want that.”

If they threaten us, we will have to give in to their demands: Fast food joints

Fast food joints too, are being cautious. An employee of the KFC outlet in Sector 14 says, “We are being cautious this time. Although we have faith that the administration and police won’t let a repeat of last time happen, if it comes to that, we will agree to whatever their demands are. In any case, their objection is about displaying non-veg in the open, which we don’t do. If it comes to that, we won’t put any signs or display boards outside as well.”


Meat Shops In Gurgaon


“We have served notices to every meat and chicken shop. This time we have not served notices to restaurants such as KFC and others, which serve chicken, as it is not seen openly. One will have to face consequences in case he does not follow instructions,” general secretary and spokesperson of Shiv Sena Gurgaon wing Ritu Raj said.

Had given memorandum to Gurugram admin demanding shutting down of illegal meat shops in view of Navratri-Ritu Raj (Shiv Sena spox, Gurugram)

Not just the meat shops, Shiv Sena workers also served notices to non-vegetarian food outlets, asking them to shut business till the nine-day Navratri festival is over.

Another right wing group Akhil Bharatiya Hindu Kranti Dal (ABHKD) have also threatened meat sellers not to operate for the nine days.

“We had to close two of our meat shops in Wazirabad and in DLF-5. We did so out of fear because these people can even use violence to get their way,” said Tasim, who sells chicken and biryani.

Meat Shops In Gurgaon


Another meat shop owner in Old Gurgaon said, “We respect religious sentiments but this is our livelihood. We are being asked to not earn our bread for 10 days. There has to be some other way.”

Meanwhile, the police and Gurgaon administration said they will ensure all security to meat shops.

“We are looking into the matter and no one is authorised to take law into his own hands. If the shops were forcefully shut down by the workers of Shiv Sena, we will take strict against them and are waiting for the complaint to be registered in this regard,” a senior police officer said.


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Most children not learning are in school: UNESCO Institute for Statistics report points to ‘crisis’ in Central and Southern Asia

Image result for 617 million children and adolescents not getting the minimum in reading and math

New data from the UNESCO Institute for Statistics show that 617 million children and adolescents worldwide are not achieving minimum proficiency levels in reading and mathematics. The figure signals “a learning crisis” according to the UIS, which could threaten progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The number is the equivalent of six times the population of the Philippines being unable to read or handle basic mathematics with proficiency.

“The waste of human potential signalled by the new data confirms that getting children into the classroom is only half the battle,” says Silvia Montoya, Director of the UIS. “Now we must ensure that every child in that classroom is learning the basic skills they need in reading and mathematics, as a minimum.”
Globally, six out of ten children and adolescents are not learning a minimum in reading and mathematics, according to a new UIS paper. The total – 617 million – includes more than 387 million children of primary school age and 230 million adolescents of lower secondary school age. This means that more than one-half – 56% – of all children won’t achieve minimum proficiency levels by the time they should be completing primary education. The proportion is even higher for adolescents at 61%.
The newly released paper highlights the depth of the challenges remaining in Asia-Pacific education, particularly in Central and Southern Asia, which has the second-highest rate of children and adolescents not learning worldwide.
Central and Southern Asia is home to 28% of the world’s children and adolescents of primary school age and yet accounts for 39% of children and adolescents unable to read proficiently.
Across this region, 81% of children and adolescents – 241 million young people – will not meet minimum proficiency levels in reading by the time they are of age to complete primary and lower secondary education. This number includes 152 million children of primary school age and almost 89 million adolescents of lower secondary school age. In total, almost 132 million boys of primary and lower secondary school age (84% of the male population) will not read proficiently compared to 77% for girls (108 million).
In Eastern and South-Eastern Asia, some 78 million children and adolescents will not read proficiently if current trends continue. The rates for primary and lower school ages are similar to other regions, at 29% and 34%, respectively.
Sub-Saharan Africa has the single largest number – 202 million – of children and adolescents who are not learning.
The data suggest that the new numbers are rooted in three common problems. First, lack of access, with children who are out of school having little or no chance to reach a minimum level of proficiency. Second, a failure to retain every child in school and keep them on track. And third, the issue of education quality and what is happening within the classroom itself.
Most children who are not learning are in school
Two-thirds of the children who are not learning are in school. Of the 387 million primary school-age children unable to read proficiently, 262 million are in school. There are also about 137 million adolescents of lower secondary school age who are in classrooms but unable to meet minimum proficiency levels in reading.
The Central Asia and Southern Asia region has the highest percentage (79%) of students in primary who will complete the last grade of primary education without achieving proficiency. Oceania, meanwhile, has the highest percentage (53%) of students who will drop out before reaching the last grade of primary education.

“The figures are staggering but they show the way forward,” says Ms Montoya. “We know where these children live and go to school. They are not hidden or isolated from their governments and communities – they are sitting in classrooms with their own aspirations and potential. We can reach these kids but not by simply hoping that they stay in school and grasp the basics.”

About the new data
The new data are the very first to be gathered on progress towards SDG Target 4.1, which requires primary and secondary education that lead to “relevant and effective learning outcomes”. The new indicator includes children and adolescents of primary and lower secondary school age who are in school and out.
To develop the estimates, the UIS created a new learning outcomes database that anchors the assessment results of more than 160 countries/territories between 1995 and 2015. The database uses two different benchmarks in order reflect the contexts of countries with different income levels. It uses the SACMEQ benchmark (referred to as the basic proficiency level) for reading and mathematics at the primary level. In addition, the database includes results (presented in the new paper) using the minimum proficiency level defined by the IEA for PIRLS and TIMSS, which are international assessments involving middle- and high-income countries. For the secondary level, the benchmark used by PISA were applied.

Download the paper:

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SC’s stern message: Cow vigilantes need to be brought to justice, victims must be compensated

SC says states must appoint police officers to prevent cow vigilantism by Oct 13, pay compensation for violence

Bhadra Sinha
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Focus on cow protection, especially by vigilante groups, has risen since the BJP-led government took power three years ago.

Focus on cow protection, especially by vigilante groups, has risen since the BJP-led government took power three years ago.(AP File Photo)

The Supreme Court order asking states to appoint in every district a senior police officer who will be responsible for preventing violence in the name of cow protection will have to be complied with by October 13.

States will also have to compensate victims of violence in the name of cow protection.

The court, while proposing measures to stem what it called growing violence by so-called cow protection groups, earlier this month had said the nodal officers would have to ensure that vigilantes do not become a law unto themselves. It had given states a week to comply with the order. The court had also asked states to list steps they would take to step up security on highways, where cow vigilantes have stopped vehicles carrying cattle and attacked people.

Focus on cow protection, especially by vigilante groups, has risen since the BJP-led government took power three years ago, and several states ruled by the party made laws to punish cow slaughter.

So-called cow protectors have targeted cattle and meat traders, transporters and even farmers walking their animals — violence that has killed several people, mostly in BJP-ruled states. Critics accuse the vigilantes of using cows as a pretext to target Muslims and Dalits.

The Supreme Court on Friday said states were under obligation to compensate victims of violence by cow vigilante groups.
A Bench headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra said states must frame schemes to compensate victims of crime, including those of cow vigilantism as envisaged under the Code of Criminal Procedure.
Noting that law and order had to be given primacy, it said anyone violating the law must be dealt sternly.
The top court asked states and union territories to comply with its September 6 order to appoint nodal officer to deal with cow vigilantism by October 31.
The direction came after the Bench was informed that only five states — Gujarat, Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh — have filed compliance report.
The Bench, however, declined to take up the issue of murder of Junaid on a train in Faridabad allegedly by members of a cow vigilante group, saying individual case should not be clubbed with the larger issue.
Amid rising incidents of cow vigilantism from various parts of the country, the Supreme Court had on September 6 asked states to appoint a senior police officer in every district as a nodal officer to stop violence in the name of cow protection.
“The senior police officer shall take prompt action and will ensure vigilante groups and such people are prosecuted with promptitude,” it had said.
“Steps have to be taken to stop this…. Some kind of planned action is required so that vigilantism does not grow… Efforts have to be made to stop such vigilantism. How they (states) will do it, is their business but this must stop,” the Bench had said on the last date of hearing after senior counsel Indira Jaising submitted on behalf of petitioner Tushar Gandhi that there had been 66 incidents of mob lynching and assault since July.
Tushar Gandhi, great- grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, has moved the top court seeking direction to states to check cow vigilantism. Activist Tehseen S Poonawalla too has approached the court on the issue. The nodal officers have to ensure that cow vigilantes did not become a law unto themselves, it had said.
The Bench had also asked the Centre to see what action can be taken against states that fail to check such vigilantism. While maintaining that it did not support violence in the name of cow protection, the Centre has maintained that law and order was a state subject and it did not have any role to play in it.
Cattle traders, transporters and farmers and meat traders have been at the receiving end of cow vigilante groups as many victims, including those in Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand and West Bengal, have been killed.
States were required to list the measures taken to step up security on highways, where cow vigilantes often target cattle traders.

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Chhattisgarh- Farmers stir nine “leaders” of various parties and organisations have been arrested


Peasant movement leaders have been arrested enmass across Chhattisgarh since yesterday night. The government of Chhattisgarh is scared that peasants and farmers have been raising the voice of farmers suicide, issues of compensation of crop loss, bonus and other issues. Instead of resolving the problem the government is engaged in an enmass action against the leaders of such movement. The movement includes leaders and members of all political parties except the ruling party BJP.

The police said they arrested nine “leaders” of various parties and organisations on Thursday and almost 100 associates of these leaders. Those who were detained spoke about police excess.


After the arrest of several leaders, activists and politicians — under the umbrella body Kisan Mazdoor Mahasangh — over the last two days, those that remained outside jail had planned to meet, as scheduled, at 1 pm in the Chhattisgarh capital. The protest was to be not just about farmers’ issues but also the government clampdown — Section 144 in at least 10 districts and continuous arrests.

Speaking to The Indian Express on Wednesday night, Sanket Thakur, an activist, AAP leader and member of the Mahasangh, said, “We will meet at Budha Talab at 1 pm and then go to the CM’s residence. But you know how this government is acting. They will probably arrest us by then.”

At 1 pm on Thursday, Budha Talab was deserted, save for policemen. Thakur was already in jail, picked up in the morning under Section 151 of CrPC along with others who had set out for the spot.

While some journalists reported from the spot about the “unprecedented crackdown”, policemen tracked every passing car. As one vehicle drove by, a shot went up in the air.

“Uss gaadi mein Alok Shukla hai,” shouted a man who identified himself as a member of the local intelligence unit, referring to the convenor of Chhattisgarh Bachao Andolan, which is also involved in the Sankalp Rally. The police readied a vehicle to chase him. Then a voice crackled through the walkie talkie — the car belonged to Raipur City Police, Shukla had already been arrested 2 km away.

The Mahasangh, a conglomeration of farmers’ leaders, had last month announced the farmer protest that would see a rally from Rajnandgaon district on September 19 and end in a gherao of the CM’s residence Thursday.

Their demands included fulfillment of a BJP election manifesto promise of Rs 300 per quintal of paddy bonus every year, minimum support price, free electricity and loan waiver for continuous years of drought. The organisers claimed they had spoken to the administration and a route had been agreed upon. But the government seemed to swing into action on September 18.

Sudesh Tikam, a farmer leader from Rajnandgaon, who had arranged a large protest on August 28, was arrested with eight associates. Over the next two days, Section 144 was clamped on at least 10 districts and there were more arrests. Only in Kanker district, under the banner of Sanyukt Kisan Morcha, did more than a thousand farmers successfully assemble in protest on Wednesday.

Agriculture Minister Brijmohan Agrawal told The Indian Express, “The BJP has always stood with farmers of the state. Even for this year’s drought, measures were announced. Relief measures take time, so there can be some impatience. These protests are politically motivated.”

However, sources in the BJP government admitted that the “message being given is the wrong one”. A senior leader said, “What we wanted to prevent were these messages of thousands of farmers protesting and the chance of things going wrong, like in Sikar or Mandsaur. That has been prevented, but the crackdown might leave a longstanding problem for us.”

The Vidhan Sabha will meet for a special session on Friday to approve the budget for paddy bonus for 2015-16. The Congress has announced a gherao, and the BJP has condemned the plan.

The police said they arrested nine “leaders” of various parties and organisations on Thursday and almost 100 associates of these leaders. Those who were detained spoke about police excess. AAP’s Durga Jha said she was arrested at an ATM. Others spoke of former MLA Janak Lal Thakur being arrested from his home in Dondi Lohara at 2.30 am, and the police preventing farmers from leaving their villages.

As he entered jail, Dwarika Sahu said, “We will go to every village and tell them what the BJP has done, and this will grow into a massive movement. We will not let a single BJP member enter our villages anymore.”

Today a mass dharna was planned im Raipur and it was tried to disperse the dharna by declaring section 144 at the dharna stal in Raipur. Further barricade were set in all the district headquarters and on all the road routes reaching Raipur. Further trains toward Raipur were also raised to conduct the arrest.

Those arrested includes Adivasi leader Arvind Netam, Socialist thinker Anand Mishra CMM leaders Janaklal Thakur, Ramakant Banjare; AAP leaders Dr. Sanket Thakur, Durga Jha, Uttam Jaiswal; CPI(ML) Red Star leader Tejram Vidrohi; CPI(M) leader Sanjay Parate; PUCL State President Dr. Lakhan Singh; CBA leader Alok Shukla. Apart from these nearly 200 leaders have been arrested in different districts of the state.

Chhattisgarh Nagrik Sanyukt Sangarsh Samiti (CNSSS) strongly condemn this action of the government and demands for immediate and unconditional release of all those arrested.


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Mass grave at Dera Sacha Sauda’s Sirsa headquarters has 600 skeletons #WTFnews

Ram Rahim Could Have Been Involved In Child Trafficking, His Close Aide Reveals 600 Skeletons Buried Inside Dera Headquarters

Gurmeet used to appeal to his followers to donate their kids to Dera so that good fortune will follow.
Ram Rahim Could Have Been Involved In Child Trafficking, His Close Aide Reveals 600 Skeletons Buried Inside Dera Headquarters

While rape convict Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh is serving his 20-year jail term in Rohtak‘s Sunaria jail, skeletons are tumbling out of the closet with every passing day, unveiling the dark secrets of the Dera chief. The latest one is the possibility of his involvement in child trafficking.

Lalita, a  resident of Paniput, who was a Dera follower has alleged that her child has gone missing from Dera headquarters in Sirsa since last 12 years. She has claimed that she donated her 2-month-old kid to Dera after Gurmeet Ram Rahim’s persuasion through an advertisement, reported India Today.

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Gurmeet used to appeal to his followers to donate their kids to Dera so that good fortune will follow, the report adds.

Speaking to the news channel, Lalita said,”I donated my 2-month-old kid to Dera…. 12 years have passed, I have no clue where my child is.”

While no one else has come forward with similar accusations, there is a possibility that Gurmeet could be involved in child trafficking.

A senior Dera official, during an interrogation by Special Investigation Team (SIT) has revealed that nearly 600 skeletons are buried inside the Dera headquarters in Sirsa.

Gurmeet, who is lodged in Rohtak’s Sunaria jail after having been convicted of rape, appeared via video- conferencing in the court of CBI judge Jagdeep Singh on Tuesday in connection with Dera Sacha Sauda manager Ranjit Singh murder case.

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Gurmeet has been named the main conspirator in the murder case.

Five other accused – Krishan Lal, Jasbir Singh, Sabdil Singh, Indersen and Avtar Singh – were present in the court.

Former Dera manager Ranjit Singh was shot dead in 2002.

He was murdered for his suspected role in the circulation of an anonymous letter which narrated how women were being sexually exploited by the sect head at the Dera headquarters.

On August 25, the CBI court had convicted Ram Rahim Singh, following which violence had erupted in Panchkula and Sirsa leading to the death of 41 people.

(With PTI inputs)

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‘Always The First To Cover A Story,’ Colleagues Remember Slain Tripura Journalist Santanu Bhowmik As A Fearless Reporter

“Journalism was his passion.”


Twenty-eight-year-old Santanu Bhowmik loved a good story. The young Tripura journalist would always rush to cover any breaking news, determined to get the first scoop, the exclusive details, and the live-from-ground-zero shots.

So when a clash broke out between the Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura (IPFT) and the Tripura Rajaer Upajati Ganamukti Parishad (TRUGP) on Wednesday, the television journalist was determined to be first to the spot. He needn’t have worried — most news channels refused to send their reporters, considering the situation too unstable. Bhowmik was one of the only journalists at Mandai, about 45 kilometres from Tripura’s capital Agartala, his news organisation told HuffPost India.

He recorded a part of the clash with a local stringer for their media organisation Channel Dinraat, explained their editor-in-chief Samir Dhar.

“While Santanu tried to record visuals, the mob gave him chase,” Dhar told HuffPost India over the phone from Tripura, adding that Bhowmik left the spot and sent the channel the footage he had taken. “We asked him to come back as soon as possible.”

However, after he parted ways with the stringer, he received a tip-off that the clashing groups had set a police van on fire. He rushed back to the spot and tried to take a video using his mobile phone. It was at this point when members of the mob are believed to have hit him with a stick and dragged him inside before beating him to death. He had been stabbed multiple times, the police found.

“It was basically a lynching, and he was dead on the spot,” said Dhar.

‘A Brave Reporter’

Colleagues in Tripura remember him as a fearless journalist, always eager to get the best story. “Journalism was his passion,” Bhowmik’s former colleague Tanmay Chakraborty told HuffPost India. Bhowmik’s first job was at the television channel Khabar 365 Din, which he joined in January 2013, and was soon reporting to Chakroborty, who joined a few months later.

“He would always be the first to rush to cover a story,” recalled Chakroborty. “He liked covering conflict.”


Though most of his colleagues remembered him as a quiet, polite person, on the field he was brave and committed. “He loved being part of a newsroom and was very enthusiastic,” recalled Rajib Chakraborty, who also worked with Bhowmik in Khabar 365 Din.

Chakroborty, who worked as chief anchor at the television channel, said Bhowmik “was also very good-natured and easygoing,” recalling how he would hand over handwritten scripts from the field in his sometimes hurried, illegible scrawl, asking others in the newsroom to help him edit it on Microsoft Word. “I can’t help remembering these details now that he’s gone,” said the Agartala-based senior journalist.

He described how Bhowmik was the sort of journalist who would come two hours early to work, and was always eager to work extra hard on all news stories. He also had a keen interest in national issues, and would follow news from across the country.

After working for two-and-a half years there, Bhowmik joined a local television network Channel TV 24 where he worked for about a couple of months. Earlier this year, he joined Channel Dinraat, a society-run TV channel that opened in April this year. He was earning about ₹6,000 per month.

His news beat was IPFT, a tribal party in Tripura supported by various militant outfits. Their main demand is for an autonomous state ‘Tipraland’. According to Bhowmik’s editor Dhar, the young journalist covered the party relentlessly, exposing how the Bharata Janata Party was secretly funding the organisation to disturb peace in Tripura, a claim echoed by the local Congress party chief in the state.

A Big Dream

Bhowmik also ran a small nursery school from his home, ‘Manobik Nursery’. ‘Manobik’ means humane in Bengali, and this was part of Bhowmik’s larger dream of doing social work, say his friends. He had recently sent his younger sister to study in Gangtok in Sikkim, and was proud of that.

Bhowmik ran ‘Manobik nursery’ at his home.

He is now survived by her and their mother, a government clerk, and the only earning member of the family. Bhowmik’s father had reportedly left when the children were very young.

Four people have been arrested in connection with the brutal killing of the young journalist, who died despite heavy police presence at the spot. Political parties have been quick to use the killing as way to place blame, even as the state gears up for assembly elections next year.

Journalist  (27) murdered covering political clash in . Law and order nonexistent only violence under CPI(M) rule.

Murder of Journalist in Tripura by BJP backed IPFT Goons show BJP’s frustration in Tripura & overall pattern of silencing Journalists! Shame

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) condemned the killing, noting that at least 41 journalists have been killed in India since 1992, in relation to their work.

“Authorities must thoroughly investigate the motive behind the murder of Santanu Bhowmik, who was killed while on assignment,” said Steven Butler, CPJ’s Asia Program Coordinator in Washington D.C. “Authorities must swiftly bring Bhowmik’s killers to justice, and ensure the future safety of journalists working in India.”

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An Open Letter to AUD: “The many ways a student can be violated by an institution”

 After what he claims is harassment against him because he is queer and a Dalit, this student turned to Facebook to make an appeal for his case – an ostensibly last ditch attempt 


Aroh Akunth

15202561 1276117309113187 3344554481599643730 nI am no more a student of Ambedkar University Delhi (AUD). My right to education has been obstructed. This letter lists out the reasons which have kept me from pursuing my education at AUD. It’s been two months since I first informed the authorities about the issues I have been facing with regards to my education. Neither have efforts been made to resolve my case nor have I received any kind of redressal.

A Bachelor’s second year student needs to pass at least 14 courses to be promoted to the third year; I passed 12, failed 1 and challenged the results of 3 courses. This makes it impossible for me to be promoted unless I pass in at least two of the ‘challenged’ courses. In the absence of a redressal mechanism, I approached the then dean Prof. Rachna Johri, who allowed me to attend third-year courses till my matter is resolved.

1) One of my course coordinators had refused to accept my assessments on the day of the submission because they were handwritten, which resulted in me failing the course. In the process of rejecting the submission in various formats, she also went as far as to remark and question my Dalit Queer identity multiple times on email, despite having full knowledge that I was seeking therapy to deal with homophobic and casteist elements on campus. The teacher deliberately failed me despite knowing that not grading my report, on the basis of which she took a viva and graded it, can result in me failing my year. To look into this case the present Dean of School of Undergraduate Studies, Dr. Tanuja Kothiyal instituted a 4 person internal committee comprising of two teachers at least from the department of the teacher involved (School of Human Studies) with no student representation on the committee, let alone a Dalit.

Despite me and the student body registering our discomfort and protests about it, she further suspended the democratic rights of not only me to represent my case but further debarred the elected representatives of the student body (student council) from representing my case, which her predecessor Rachna Johri had allowed. Till date, I have not received any clarification as to how the committee investigated, decided in favour of faculty involved, the same faculty who have had discrepancies in their own versions on record and have changed their stance multiple times during the investigation. The evidence of the same has already been submitted to the authorities. Not only did the committee reduce me, a human being to a piece of paper, in this case, my application, I also cannot fathom how my application which has already been answered to, becomes representative enough for the committee to decide what transpired and sufficient enough to represent me. Also, there is the fact that there is no policy which allows them to constitute such a committee and it is all left to the “discretionary powers” of the Dean. When asked for the report of the committee, I was told that I am not liable for it, further making it impossible for me to appeal and seek justice.

2) My case was further referred to SFC (Student-Faculty Committee) after a month where again no students were invited to the meeting, even if they were invited they won’t come in through means which indicate a healthy democracy, I was again asked why I didn’t approach them first. My reply to this was how a faculty and student member already knew about my case and had stated to me they can’t be of much help or declined to help. In turn, I was told I should have written to all of them. I want to admit on record I had known about SFC and standing committee route to resolve my case but since the dean’s office was looking into it personally, I thought that’s the best way to go about it for the reason that standing committee again has no policy or an investigation procedure and is headed by Dean Student Services Sanjay Sharma who was already aware of the case. It is this sorry excuse for a redressal body which is not arbitrary in nature and neither holds any judicial status, it’s a recommendatory body which recommends its decision to academic council which again has deans and vice chancellor on it, deans who have already been aware of my case and chose to do nothing about it or contributed to my harassment. How does it even become a substitute for a university court?

I didn’t even get why would the dean send back my case to the SFC after forming the previously mentioned internal committee, where, all the SFC does as AUD loves to do it is, give recommendations. Now after telling what I have been going through for the umpteenth number of time (which again I have had concerns with since it makes me relive what I have been going through again and again to no result) SFC again says it’s the prerogative of the faculty to take assessments, which means in a hypothetical situation I am left at the mercy of the harasser who also happens to be my teacher. It also goes on to display how caste-class privilege works to set the norms in our institution, I am a human, not a machine, I can’t print the paper on my own If a working system wasn’t accessible to me at that time, can the teacher even fail my course for it let alone a year? If yes, then calling me a chamar to my face and assuming that I have the means to submit the printed typed copy are behaviours stemming from the same problem. If it’s the teacher’s prerogative to accept the assignment in whatever format they desire, student welfare is a part of whose prerogative? And this blatant caste ego plays out daily in the institution named after Ambedkar. I am not even the worst receiver of it. How this institution still has manual scavenging, holds Lakshmi puja‘s, describes us as people who can’t stand up for themselves and gives no representation to the marginalized while loves to faff about caste and earn credits in our name is a conversation for another time. I was also not shocked when SFC didn’t have a follow-up of my case from what transpired in the dean’s office regarding my case. These intentional delays are justice delayed and these incompetencies have led me to question every time I address AUD as my institution because I have been made to feel not a “part enough” of it. A student-centric university without student rights is a sham. A democracy which doesn’t let you exercise your identity is not democratic.

3) The teachers who have been standing by me all this while, are not even allowed to take assessment from the same semester you allow another course to take a Partial repeat from because there your faculty didn’t assign grades for a year while I can be failed for not being able to arrange a common date with my teacher for an oral presentation, something I couldn’t have foreseen or changed. AES as a division along with its policies has not been introduced to the existing student body while it has been orienting fresher’s into it. I refuse to be held accountable by a division which I wasn’t notified in any way about and directly impacts students, (these are the possible ways to go about it, notice boards, emails, website) it being a division which came into existence a year after my admission into the university. It is the university’s prerogative to introduce the existing student body to it and what it means for the students. The highly guarded explanation of old policy new division doesn’t cut it, when AES is devising punitive measures to shame students for their economic capabilities or can even make education inaccessible to those who don’t follow its norms.

4) Since day one, I have had “reservations” about the way my case has been dealt with, firstly our university doesn’t have a redressal mechanism or an equal opportunity cell(which is mandatory for students who are disabled or come from marginalized backgrounds according to UGC) the fad that we sell to fresher’s in the name of equal opportunity cell is not in place yet. Which in itself is a testimony to not only how the structure cannot deal with non-normative cases like mine but also how I and other students like me will never fit the norm for the “ideal students” of AUD; the system or lack thereof further makes it tough for the marginalized students to seek justice. Not only have my wishes to have representation on the committee, which UGC recognizes, and my wish, since I was the complainant, not vice versa should have been respected to treat the case in an innocent until proven otherwise manner instead my case has been treated where I have been made to feel like guilty until proven otherwise. Which is not only highly problematic, it reminds me of how I always have to justify me being Queer or Dalit to fit this society’s expectations of me. I have been directed from one office to another, told that

I can’t be helped ‘categorically’, this includes SFC (Student-Faculty Committee) whose members told me they can’t help me, and it’s a personal matter. It is a not a personal matter, it’s a matter that concerns all of us. Student services is another safety valve which just saves the ugly Brahmanical homophobic face of this varsity, they remained more or less inactive until I threatened to go public with my harassment finally arranged meeting where they went back on their words to let me have representation of my choice from faculty in charges of SC/ST issues, equal opportunity and reps from student body. All this while the SUS office has known about my plight, what do they do to help me? Analyze my character, lose my applications. If not the aforementioned case the way my case has been dealt with despite knowing my condition has been disappointing at the very least, on top of it I can’t help but recognize the condescending tone from administration’s side. I have been told whether harassment has taken place or not will be decided by the committee, Now my problem is, I sit on another committee which looks into harassment, I know for a fact that if we cannot take punitive action against the defendant we sure as hell can’t tell the complainant that we decide what they have gone through.

According to UGC the committee looking into grievance needs to give a result within ten days, for CPSH its a month, In my case redressal is not even in the picture, instead I have been threatened for going “against the faculty”, told by you that students fail on technicalities in AUD by my Dean, I have been talked about in class, I feel the way the administration has dealt me with apathy and instead of finding a solution making me go round and round in circle with my future ascertain is nothing short of academic harassment, how come people who go on and on about sexual harassment not get another form of harassment? This one and a half month have weighed very heavily on me, I have contemplated giving up on education and life, and I will not be shamed for thinking that in a system which treats me as a problem instead of making itself accessible to me along with my identities finding ways to justify or eliminate my being is wrong. How does a judicial body compensate for something which cannot be recovered? Why should I be the only one who suffers at the end of it if it’s the “system’s problem”? The authorities know about this, they know I withdrew from college life the first month of my fourth semester due to the kind of homophobic and casteist elements on campus, what did they do? They know I have been questioned and humiliated on the basis of my chronic illness, what did they do about it? It’s not as much as about harassment as it’s about redressal, it’s not as much as about the problem as it’s about finding the solution. It’s not about as much as about me as it is about so many other students who will not even be able to reach the level where I am engaging with the authorities. Harassment of A Dalit student is not the same as a Savarna one, but your policies don’t even recognize that and it pains me even more since I have worked tirelessly for the past two years in AUD, for it, all the while being oblivious to the sinister mechanisms that strip students of their dignity while using them for their own purpose. The only formal conversation I receive from SUS instead is them telling me they are going back on their decision to let me attend my third year without solving the case. Is it fair to fail a student on basis other than his academics? Can any number of policies justify it?

Anybody who has ever been a student can get the sense by reading this long letter just some the many ways a student can be violated by an institution, and how the policies are clearly tilted in the favour of the faculty. I really want to fight back, but I don’t know what course to take, seeking guidance, I really want the student community to realize how the odds are stacked against us and organize for what our university is not as important as how we want our university to be, but I don’t have the means, I just have an undying will and a couple of friends and faculty who have braved me through all of this. Now my plight is in the public domain, I hope it brings hope.


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