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Archives for : March2018

Former Karnataka DGP makes Offensive remark on Nirbahay and her mother at award ceremony

It was an award function meant to honour women and their work but offensive comments made by one of the main invitees left more than a few awardees and many in the audience disgusted. Former top cop of Karnataka, ex- DGP HT Sangliana said on stage, “I see Nirbhaya’s mother, she has such a good physique. I can just imagine how beautiful Nirbhaya would have been.”
Activist Anita Cheria, who shared a detailed account of Friday’s event with Mirror, was shocked with the comment. Recalling the series of event, Cheria told Mirror through a statement, “HT Sangliana looked a little unsure as he walked towards the podium. After a few pleasantries, he asked another guest on stage for the programme, as he did not seem sure about the chief guest, Asha Devi’s name.”After checking the programme, he made the remark about Nirbhaya and her mother. Anita Cheria, who was awarded at the function, contemplated leaving soon after the comment in protest, but stayed back out of respect for Nirbhaya’s parents. In her acceptance speech, Cheria made her disapproval of Sangaliana’s comment known. “When top government officials, from the police, seemingly well -meaning, think it appropriate to comment, appreciating a woman’s good physique, we, as a society, have long way to go to change mindsets and bring any measurable lasting change in favour of women,” she said. Sangliana wasn’t present during a better part of the function as he chose to leave after handing out just one award, to another top cop, D Roopa. At least one other awardee, repulsed with Sangliana’s statement, left in disgust. Noted journalist Pushpa Achanta also walked out of the event.

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Met Nirbhaya’s mother today. She spoke how the society stigmatises rape victims rather than stigmatising the culprits. It’s for citizens to play active role in checking crimes against women. Ex MP, retd IPS Sangliana was present I received “Nirbhaya Award” on the occasion.

That wasn’t the only problematic statement by the former top cop that evening. Sangliana reportedly also said, “If you are overpowered, you should surrender, and follow up the case later. That way we can be safe, save life, prevent being killed.”

Journalist Susheela Nair, who also attended the award function, said, “We never expected a man of his position to make such a comment, especially at a place where you are present to celebrate womanhood. He had said that when you are getting raped it is better not to oppose and if you are overpowered, you should surrender and follow up case later to prevent being killed.”

“It was shocking and disgraceful”, she added.

It is still not clear if Nirbhaya’s parents could hear Sangliana’s speech clearly but in her speech, Asha Devi summed up the frustration many feel with fighting a long battle to secure justice. “We have law, police, government but justice is something that does not come easy. Nobody now is scared of the law, law is not a deterrent. We most times feel happy during these once a year celebrations, but that is only a token if it does not lead to change,” she said.

Her daughter, 23 year old physiotherapy student, was brutally gang-raped on a bus in Delhi on the night of December 16, 2012. India’s braveheart lost her life on December 29 the same year, but her trauma and the brutality of what she faced, triggered a series of protests that eventually led to amendments to laws that deal with crimes against women, including rape, stalking, among others.

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RSS thinker makes crazy claims on Jama Masjid, Taj Mahal on Live TV

An RSS thinker has become a subject of social media ridicule after he astonishingly claimed that Delhi’s Jama Masjid was in fact a Yamuna Temple. His crazy claims did not stop here. He also went on to suggest that the Taj Mahal was not built of Shah Jahan, but the historic monument was built in the 11th century by a Hindu king.

 

Desh Ratan Nigam, who’s also a lawyer by profession, was taking part in an NDTV debate show, Big Fight. His wierd claims caused huge laughter among the audience with the show’s host, Vikram Chandra, holding his head in utter disbelief. Among the other panelists was historian Irfan Habib, who too looked bewildered by the RSS thinker’s claims on the historical monuments built by the Mughal emperor.

Nigam said, “Taj Mahal is a national icon, but i still believe it was not built by Shahjahan…Taj Mahal was built in 1000 AD. It can be proved. There are symbols of Hinduism all over the place. Red Fort was built by Tomar dynasty.”

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He then claimed than Delhi Jama Masjid was originally a Yamuna Temple and he could prove it. When asked by the anchor to express his opinion on Jammu Kashmir’s Hazratbal shrine, he expressed his ignorance.

Nigam’s comments have prompted social media users to target the RSS thinker for his crazy claims.

Nigam’s claims come just days after it was reported that the Centre’s Narendra Modi government had formed a committee to rewrite India’s history. A report by Reuters had said that the central government had quietly appointed the committee of scholars about six months earlier.

The report by Reuters had said, “Minutes of the meeting, reviewed by Reuters, and interviews with committee members set out its aims: to use evidence such as archaeological finds and DNA to prove that today’s Hindus are directly descended from the land’s first inhabitants many thousands of years ago, and make the case that ancient Hindu scriptures are fact not myth.”

The committee’s chairman, KN Dikshit, had told the news agency, “I have been asked to present a report that will help the government rewrite certain aspects of ancient history.” The committee’s creator, Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma, too had confirmed in an interview that the group’s work was part of larger plans to revise India’s history.

 

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Japan’s earthquake arms opponents of the nuclear power plants in India

 

By – J Chandraprakash

The  triple disaster of earthquake- tsunami – radioactive emissions in Japan has certainly armed the anti-nuclear activists to their teeth the world over with a logic perceptible even among the common men that the nuclear energy is not so ‘green and benign’ and there is an urgent need to scrutiny merits of advocacy of those , including India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and former US President George W. Bush, who have been urging the people to help bring a ‘nuclear renaissance’.

The struggles are only getting stronger against the process of establishing Nuclear Power Plants (NPPs) not only at Jaitapur in Maharashtra but also at the all other places , including Haripur (West Bengal), Mithi Virdi ( Gujarat) , Pitti Sonapur (Orissa), Chutka (Madhya Pradesh) , Kovada (Andhra Pradesh) and Fatehabad (Haryana). In Fatehabad the project-affected farmers and their supporters have been sitting in a Dharna for more than 230 days. The anti Nuclear plant struggle committee, Haryana is planning a massive rally at Fatehabad on 28th March.

As of now there are 21 operating nuclear reactors in India, along with a host of reprocessing, fuel-fabrication, mining and other nuclear plants, all potential sources of lethal ionizing radiations.

An anti-nuclear march to the Parliament was taken out in New Delhi on March 25 following a ‘ Candle Light Vigil ‘ programme organized by the civil society on March 18 at India Gate, New Delhi to express solidarity with the people of Japan affected by triple disasters.

A spokesperson of the Anti-Nuclear Parliament March said, “This protest march is to state our stand that we oppose all forms of nuclearisation of India, including nuclear (fission) power and weaponisation plans are programmes and demand an immediate moratorium on all new projects, and a stringent review of existing plants by independent experts. We demand for sustainable alternative forms of energy. All of us are aware of the fact that more than the earthquake and tsunami it is the radiation from the nuclear plants which are likely to cause a larger damage to people’s health and well being, and is also draining resources and attention from critically needed recovery from the natural disasters. If this is the fate of a country whose technological and managerial capabilities are world renowned, where standards are generally maintained strictly to norms, what would happen in a country like India where these are routinely thrown to the winds with a ‘ chalta hai ‘ attitude? “.

Anti-nuclear power movements are also gaining momentum out of India. Germany has already announced it will decommission 40% of its nuclear plants and halt planned extensions, reversing a controversial decision to expand its nuclear programme.It is reported that Germany shut down 7 of its older 17 nuclear plants that are currently in operation. It is also reported that Governor Cuomo of New York wanting to take a second look at the Indian Point nuclear plant in New York.

With Japan’s catastrophe fueling media scrutiny and public outcry, the Jaitapur project’s financial backers are reportedly thinking about pulling out.

An online signature campaign is going on in support of a ‘petition’ addressed to the Prime Minister Manhohan Singh against the Jaitapur nuclear plant. The petition says ,” Even as nuclear disaster has ravaged Japan, the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance(UPA) government is moving ahead with plans to build the world’s largest nuclear power plant at Jaitapur , which is an earthquake hot spot. Claiming that the Jaitapur nuclear power project has been ‘rubber-stamped’ by the state authorities and the environment ministry, signatories of the petition say that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh can and should intervene to suspend the plants’ construction.

Even before the natural and man-made disaster combo could happen in Japan early this month causing loss of billions of money to its economy, there were several questions over the rationale of setting up of the world’s largest nuclear power complex on the Arabian Sea shore at Jaitapur in the earthquake-prone Konkan region of Maharashtra with a total investment of about Rs one lakh Crore to generate 9,900 MW power and people of the area were agitating with a plank that they do not want to be affected with incidents like Chernobyl or Three Mile Island.

The site for the proposed Jaitapur nuclear plant complex is just 25 meters above the sea level. The complex will house six reactors, the biggest one having a capacity of 1,650 MW, eclipsing the largest units at Japan’s Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant with a capacity of 1,315 MW. Jaitapur is 600 km away from India’s another nuclear power complex, Tarapur Atomic Power Station (TAPS) in Maharashtra.

The Prime Minister has been advocating about the efficacy of nuclear energy. Recalling that India had come a long way since the first reprocessing of the spent fuel in India in 1964 at Trombay in north-east Mumbai, he had lauded nuclear energy’s capacity to provide the ” clean, safe and economical ” energy.” India cannot afford to miss the bus to bring nuclear renaissance”, he had observed at a function at Tarapur last year.

Following the Indo-French civilian nuclear agreement in October 2008, providing for reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel from France under safeguards, the reactors and fuel for the Jaitapur will come from French energy giant, Areva. Media reports say that Areva is being sued back home for contaminating French rivers. Regulatory bodies in Finland and UK have not approved Areva’s evolutionary European pressurized reactor (EPR), six of which are to be installed at Jaitapur. As per the said agreement the French side has guaranteed a lifetime supply of spent nuclear fuel for these reactors. France is the first country from the 45-member Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) to sign such a deal with India after global restrictions on nuclear trade with India were lifted. For the nuclear power project at Jaitapur , Areva has already agreed to supply two nuclear reactors of 1,650MW capacity each at to the state-owned Nuclear Power Corporation India Limited (NPCIL) by the end of this calendar year.

The 938-hectare site at Jaitapur was chosen by the Shiv Sena-Bhartiya Janata Party alliance government in Maharashtra, in 1995. The first notices informing the farmers of the area about their land being acquired were sent in 2006.The NPCIL acquired possession of the total project area in January 2010.However; an overwhelming majority of affected farmers did not collect compensation. Madban village is closest to the proposed site, just half a kilometer away. Another village Sakhri Nate, with a population of over 5000, earns Rs 16 Crore with an annual fish catch of 10,000 tonnes.The fishermen of the village are apprehensive about their future when the plant starts.

The project director CB Jain claimed that the villagers want higher compensation and hence they are threatening others who have accepted the compensation through cheques. In the largest ‘affected’ village – Mithgavane, only 112 persons out of the total 2000 villagers have accepted compensation from the state government Even after the State’s Minister Narayan Rane, who is from the Konkan region announced an enhanced compensation of 10 lakhs rupees per acre, not many persons have come forward to accept it.

Seeking to allay “misconceptions” nursed by the villagers to be displaced by the Jaitapur Nuclear Power Project (JNPP), not only the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) Chairman Srikumar Banerjee but also Chairman & Managing Director of Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL), SK Jain have said that people of Jaitapur had nothing to fear from the JNPP.

“Everything was going on smoothly from the early 2000 to 2008, but suddenly there are protests and agitations against JNPP…. “, Mr. Jain said.

However, there are several factors that make the proposed Jaitapur energy park particularly dangerous. The gigantic nuclear development, planned for the tsunami-prone coast of Jaitapur, will rely on a brand new type of mega-reactor that has not been approved for use anywhere in the world. Scientists classify the proposed site of the Jaitapur complex as Zone 3, susceptible to “very strong” seismic activity. In 1993, Jaitapur experienced a powerful 6.5-rated quake that left nearly 9,000 people dead. If the plants are built; the next quake could be far deadlier.

Moreover, the plant would also be an environmental and social travesty. Jaitapur is home to amazingly diverse wildlife. The massive energy campus would displace over 40,000 people and destroy one of India’s greatest natural landscapes — eating away at the habitat of tigers, elephants and thousands of other species, even if no earthquake occurs. In the event of a Japan- like quake, the devastation would be mind-boggling.

With the start of the protest against setting up of the nuclear power plant at Jaitapur in January 2006, a public interest litigation was filed by, ‘Janahit Seva Samitee, Madban’ in the Bombay High Court. The high court pronounced a stay order on the process for the establishment of the project but vacated it later. A meeting of people from nearby villages were held on 23 November 2009 which was also attended by several anti nuclear movement activists from many places in in the country. A series of protest programme were carried out by local people against the nuclear power plant from December 2009 to January 2010, when the government officials visited Madban for disbursal of compensatory payments for land acquisition. The villagers not only refused to accept the cheques but also showed black flags to the officials. About one hundred people were arrested on 22 January 2010 when people protested against the land acquisition. A total of just about Rs 15 Crores are to be given as compensation for acquiring land of the villagers.

In 2010, all the Sarpanches and Gram Panchayat members of the 5 ‘affected’ villages resigned their posts after all 5 Gram Sabhas had passed unanimous resolutions opposing the project. On 22 December, Akha Teej, a public hearing was held by the Maharashtra Pollution Board which had done a survey in the area. Against the norms, only one English copy of their survey report was made available to one Panchayat.

The public hearing became controversial as the EIA report was not delivered for study to the concerned grama panchayats in advance. The 1,600-page report has been questioned by environmentalists, activists. It is being criticized for lack of clarity on safety, pollution, animal grazing, farming and displacement. The plant would discharge six million cubic meters of warm water into the sea daily. NEERI report has, however, brushed aside the impact on marine life, citing the Kalpakkam plant’s example. This is a specious comparison since the Jaitapur plant is 25 times bigger. The report is also mum on the impact of a 2,300 meter-long breakwater to be built near the sea shore. It would cause deposition of sand near the Vijaydurg creek, blocking the natural flow of water. Radioactive waste is another contentious issue. Officials of the NPCIL say that the solid waste will be stored in lead containers buried in trenches dug into the earth. People are also worried about the impact on the groundwater table and soil. The EIA report was devoid of radiological studies as NEERI simply does not have expertise over that. Such a study can be conducted only by the Atomic Energy Regulatory Body (AERB) which will be also entrusted with the task of approving the technological designs of the plant.

On August 2, 2010 when a team of the NPCIL officials reached the site for the foundation planning a group of villagers pelted stones at the officials. Over fifty protesters were later booked with charged with not only vandalism and physical assault. but also attempt to murder. A platoon of around 50 policemen was deployed at the plot and prohibitory orders under Section 144 and 141.

In December, 2010, all the 70 primary and secondary schools in the area observed a total strike by the students. The entire area boycotted all government celebrations of 26th January saying that when there was no democracy in the area why should they celebrate Republic Day. They have made an open offer to the state government to hold a referendum in the area – as was done in the area of the proposed Reliance SEZ. The government has, however, responded with arrests and externment orders.

Meanwhile, a CPI (M) team – comprising the party MP from Tripura, Khagen Das and former MP Suhashini Ali after visiting Jaitapur and meeting with the project affected people recently has released its report. The report noted that the district administration had, a week ago, disallowed retired Judges of the Supreme Court and High Court from entering the area and listening to the people. It also noted that when Maharashtra’s Chief Minister, Prithiviraj Chauhan had addressed a public meeting at the site of the proposed power plant on February 26, 2010, people participating in that wore black badges in protest against the Plant

The CPM report said that after the CM’s public meeting, altogether 250 identical notices have been served now. One of the recipients, 70 year old Pandurang Sadu Bange of Nival village had a heart attack on receipt of the notice and died. He is considered the second ‘martyr’ of the movement. The first ‘martyr’ is the young Irfan Kazi, nephew of Ibrahim Kazi. He was home for a short holiday from Dubai. On December 18, 2010 when he was returning home on his bike after dropping his children at school, a car hired by the local police, rammed into him. He was badly injured and died soon after.

After hearing the people of the area and in the light of many facts of the case, including the fact that this French technology is so far completely untested, The CPM has expressed its full support to the movement and to their three demands – 1) Cancel the Jaitapur Nuclear Project, 2) Return the lands which have been forcibly acquired and 3) Withdraw all police cases filed against the movement activists and also the ban orders and create a suitable environment for dialogue.

However, top nuclear scientists of India are reported to have assured the Prime Minister that an earthquake-tsunami striking a nuclear installation may occur only once-in-a-million-years or so.

Anti-nuclear activists, however, say that the issue here is not about when, where and how it might occur, but that the combination of radioactive-social-environmental-economic-political fall -out of such a disaster is unacceptable to people. It is argued that Fukushima happened because of the combination of earthquake-tsunami, but then the accidents at Three Mile Island (USA) and Chernobyl (Russia) did not need earthquake or tsunami. Today there is added risk of military or terrorist attack on a nuclear facility, they warn.
(End of the story)

Publication
Saturday , 26 March 2011 , Evening Times ( Banglore)

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Maharashtra – Bitter Truth about Farm Sector

By Ajit Ranade
Bitter truth about farm sector
The overall foodgrain output, which includes cereals, is down 23 per cent
While foodgrain output in Maharashtra has fallen, production of water-guzzling sugarcane, sourced by politically linked sugar factories, has gone up.

Maharashtra received 16 per cent less rainfall last year compared to its longterm average. The impact of this on agriculture is disastrous. This goes to show how unsuccessful we have been in rainproofing or drought-proofing agriculture in the state. This is done by investing in irrigation systems, small and large dams, canals and lift irrigation systems.

Some of the irrigation projects lie unfinished for 10 and 20 years. Until the “last mile” of the project is completed, the system cannot start functioning. This is part of capital expenditure of the state’s budget. Hence it is considered less priority, or inessential. So crucial last mile funds don’t get allocated, and irrigation projects languish for decades. This causes huge cost escalation, burdening the state budget. Not to forget the allegations of kickback, shoddy quality, popularly known as “irrigation scam”.

Despite commendable initiatives like ‘Jalyukt Shivar Abhiyaan’ of the Chief Minister for past four years, which primarily address drinking water problems, the crops remain thirsty and parched. This past year, Maharashtra crop output is down by 14 per cent, as was revealed by the official Economic Survey tabled in the State Assembly. Overall, agriculture output, which makes up around 12 per cent of state GDP, is down by 8.3 per cent. Naturally it has pulled down the overall GDP growth rate of the state much below last year’s.

This also calls into serious question about how the government plans to double farmers’ income in the next four years.

The growth performance of various crops is quite depressing. Overall, foodgrain output, which includes cereals, is down 23 per cent. Pulses production has fallen by 27 per cent; cotton, which was affected by pink bollworm attacks, a staggering 44 per cent; and oilseeds and vegetable production 18 and 14 per cent, respectively. But, hold your breath, sugarcane production is up by 25 per cent. This is a water-guzzling crop, which is grown on less than 5 per cent of agricultural land and which consumes 60 per cent of irrigation water. Farmers sell their cane to the sugar factory that is assigned to them. They are thus captive sellers.

The sugar cooperatives have deep and historic political linkages. It is common to see patronage networks operating through the sugar cooperative factory as the focal point. Often, these factories have enough surplus funds to support schools, colleges and hospitals. But the glaring fact is that in a year that has been disastrous for all other crops, sugarcane is king. Cane is able to rule to roost. Raising cane is the most profitable activity, it seems.

Maharashtra, which is mostly drought prone, is not the most ideal place to grow cane, as against the fertile Indo-Gangetic plains. But nearly one third of India’s sugar output comes from Maharashtra. This year, the all-India sugar production is going to be a record 29.5 million tonnes, almost 45 per cent higher than last year. Naturally, the factories are worried that the glut will cause prices to crash and hence are asking central government to raise the export quota. Exporting sugar is like exporting precious water. That is a different debate, which we will not get into right now.

Incidentally, there are technologies which can reduce water consumption in sugarcane by as much as 60 to 70 per cent, but they need to be disseminated and championed. From a cradle-tograve viewpoint — i.e. cane to sugar to bagasse to fuel point of view — sugarcane does add a lot of value to the rural economy. But clearly the way it is managed in Maharashtra needs to change. Despite a good monsoon, the dams in Solapur district ran dry last year because the region has 35 sugar factories, which finished all the water allocation. Hence sugarcane is intricately linked to the political economy of the state.

While all-India foodgrain output has been good, in Maharashtra, it has been dismal. It is a matter of great concern. No wonder there is a large, silent farmers’ march making its way to Mantralaya. The award of loan waivers in the era of banking scams can no longer be rejected, even if you don’t consider the moral or humanitarian angle. Fifty-two per cent of Maharashtra’s workforce is directly or indirectly dependent on agriculture and their incomes are low. Almost half of them are either landless or have very small land parcels. They are all waiting for a decent exit. Or better standards of living by remaining in agriculture. Can we find a way?

https://mumbaimirror.indiatimes.com/opinion/columnists/ajit-ranade/bitter-truth-about-farm-sector/articleshow/63239683.cms

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India- Aruna ShanBaug Lives on #Euthanasia

By Pinki Virani

The nurse’s case, which gave us various landmark laws, yet again impacts our lives.

Yesterday, the Supreme Court of India revalidated its landmark judgement of 2011. The judgement, which allowed passive euthanasia and which was passed by a two-judge bench, was announced on March 8, ironically International Women’s Day. Equally ironic, though, was the fact that the woman, Aruna Ramchandra Shanbaug, in whose name the public interest litigation was filed in 2009, was denied the same freedom which was being given to everyone else.

In 2014, the new government was asked in the Parliament about passive euthanasia. It quoted the Aruna Shanbaug judgement and said it was fine with it and not in a hurry to bring in a new law. However, an NGO from Delhi went to the Supreme Court and said they had a PIL pending with the court in which they had sought active euthanasia as well as living will.

The new five-judge bench of the Supreme Court has now mostly upheld the validity of the 2011 judgement. It has also allowed advance medical directive (living will) that lets a person decide in advance whether or not to be put on life support in case of terminal illness. (This has already been introduced in the Mental Health Care Act.) So now, a total of seven Supreme Court judges have stood by the passive euthanasia judgement brought by Aruna Shanbaug case.

A cautionary tale

Aruna Shanbaug came to this city, then called Bombay, fiercely determined to become a nurse. She didn’t know much English, and she had never left her tiny village in Karnataka. But she made Bombay her own. She became a nurse, a very good one at that, and met a doctor. They were to marry. The night before she was to proceed on leave for her wedding, she was brutally sodomised by a sweeper at her very own workplace – a hospital. While sodomising her, he used a dog-chain to strangle her. It cut off the blood supply to her brain and thus began her biggest tragedy – he did not kill her completely, but left her partially brain-stem dead. He took her jewellery and watch and left her in the basement of the hospital to die. She was found the next morning on all fours, exactly the way she had been sodomised. When they touched her, she toppled over. There was blood all over her body, agony in every sinew of her being. And that is how she stayed locked in, from that night in 1973, aged 24, through 2015 when she died, legally.

My mother Roshanara Mody, a teacher and a social worker, told me about Aruna as the world’s most cautionary tale on what can happen to women, and also men, when they are sexually assaulted. I went to see Aruna. I saw her, I never stopped going to see her.

When our country celebrated 50 years of Independence, it occurred to me that she was about the same age. I went to the hospital, dug out her file, found her admission card and got to know her date birth was June 1. Then I wrote an article in the Sunday Times of India. The publisher David Davidar, then with Penguin, called me up and said he wanted a whole book on Aruna’s story. I told him I was not sure about whether I’d be able to write it. What do you say about a woman who lay unseen on a bed in one corner of a hospital, in a city that had changed? All the people she knew had gone, not that it mattered to her. But, all the same, I decided to give it a go.

I traced her village in Karnataka. Then I went to the court – in Bombay — where the case was being heard. I discovered that her rapist was never tried for rape. He walked as a free man for merely stealing her earring and watch. He was tried for attempt to murder because he had not murdered her. I wrote the book and we released it by her bedside on her 50th birthday. I wrote the book in a rage because I could not believe so many injustices could be heaped on that one single, small, bird-like person that she had become.

My residential status changed from Mumbai to Delhi to Bangalore to Pune, but I always made it a point to visit her. All she needed was adult diapers. When she turned 60, something happened to me. I said this woman, who has been in this state since she was 24, is turning 60. Something is horribly wrong with us if we cannot try and set this little bird free.

I approached the Supreme Court in 2009. Every single advocate I got in touch with said no to me. They said there was no way I would win the case. They also said that I was no one to her, not related, and she didn’t even know me. But she didn’t know anybody around her. People would ask me about my locus standi.

Beginning of a long battle

Finally, I met senior advocate Shekhar Naphade, who is also from Mumbai. He was somewhat familiar with her story. He asked me to give him my book and call him after 10 days. When I called him, he wouldn’t take my calls. But I turned into a telephonic stalker. He finally took my call and, in his deep voice, said that he was taking my case and I should see him in Delhi. I took the next flight to Delhi.

He said this case can be thrown out because you are nobody to her. On the other hand, he said, if I was willing to file the case as “her next friend,” which is a constitutional guarantee if there is nobody in the country for someone, he could give it a try. Nobody had tried it before.

The Supreme Court accepted the case after hearing it for two years. I was accompanied by Mr Naphade as my lawyer and his associate Shubhangi Tuli. But the other side came with the might of the State because they were opposing it.

My contention was that there is something called Glasgow Scale, through which I wanted the court to evaluate the level of her consciousness, and if it was established that she was in a Persistent Vegetative State, then let us, according to international protocol, reduce her feed (a narrow tube was inserted via her nose into her stomach) and increase her medication and to let her go peacefully. It would take about 18 to 20 days to let her go. That’s all that I had asked for, but it was vehemently opposed.

I wasn’t allowed to talk to the media, as Mr Naphade was not fine with me doing that in an ongoing case. But, because of this, there were many other people talking unnecessary things, making it about everything except Aruna, including even religion.

In the 2011 judgement, the Supreme Court had also held that attempt to suicide should be decriminalised, which, too, has been brought via the Mental Health Care Act. In the Criminal law amendment of 2013, which was brought into effect post the Nirbhaya case, the words “before, after or even in the process of trying to sexually assault, if you put a woman in a persistent vegetative state, you will be tried for murder” have been added owing to the Aruna Shanbaug case.

So, from one Aruna Shanbaug case, the world’s worst case of sexual harassment, we have got so many laws – passive euthanasia, living will, decriminalising of suicide and a strengthened rape law. Aruna Shanbaug lives on. – As told to Sunil Baghel


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The safeguards put in place by the SC after a terminally-ill person chooses to discontinue treatment

# When the doctor, treating a terminally-ill person with no hope of recovery, would be informed about advanced directive, the medical practitioner shall ascertain the directive’s genuineness and authenticity from jurisdictional judicial magistrate before acting upon the same.

# The patient will be given a go-ahead to discontinue treatment only after the doctor treating him/her is fully convinced that the executor is terminally ill and is undergoing prolonged treatment or is surviving on life support and that the illness of the executor is incurable or there is no hope of him/her being cured.

# If the doctor is convinced that instructions given in the document need to be acted upon, he/she shall inform the executor or the patient’s guardian or close relative about the nature of illness, availability of medical care and consequences of alternative forms of treatment.

# Hospital where such patient has been admitted shall constitute a medical board consisting of the head of treating department and at least three experts from the fields of general medicine, cardiology, neurology, nephrology, psychiatry or oncology with experience in critical care and having experience of at least 20 years.

# The members of the board would visit the patient in the presence of his/her guardian or close relative and form an opinion whether to certify withdrawal or refusal of further medical treatment. This decision shall be regarded as a preliminary opinion.

# After the board certifies that advanced directive be carried out, the hospital shall forthwith inform about it to the jurisdictional collector who would then set up another medical board to look into it.

# If the medical board concurs with the initial decision of the medical board of the concerned hospital, it may endorse the certificate to carry out the instructions given in the advance directive.

# In the event the executor is incapable of taking decision or develops impaired decision making capacity, the consent of the guardian nominated by the executor in the advance directive should be obtained regarding refusal or withdrawal of medical treatment to the executor to the extent of and consistent with the clear instructions given in the advance directive.

# The chairman of the board nominated by the collector shall convey its decision to the judicial magistrate before giving effect to the decision to withdraw medical treatment to the patient.

# The magistrate shall visit the patient at the earliest and after examining all the aspects, authorise implementation of the decision of the board.

# If the medical board refuses to grant nod, it would be open to the executor of the advance directive or his family members, the doctor or hospital staff to approach the high court and the Chief Justice shall set up a division bench to decide it expeditiously after affording opportunity to the state.

# The high court will be free to constitute an independent committee consisting of three doctors from the fields of general medicine, cardiology, neurology, nephrology, psychiatry or oncology with experience in critical care and with overall standing in the medical profession of at least 20 years.

# In cases where there is no advance directive about terminally-ill patients, the doctor treating him/her may inform the hospital which, in turn, shall constitute a medical board.

https://mumbaimirror.indiatimes.com/mumbai/other/aruna-shanbaug-lives-on/articleshow/63238539.cms

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