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Archives for : April2018

Toeing Yogi’s Line, 4 Seers Want to Battle It Out With Ministers

Bengaluru: UP Chief Minister Adityanath appears to have inspired religious heads in Karnataka to take a plunge into electoral politics. Four seers — all aspiring for a nomination from the BJP – want to contest against incumbent ministers in the upcoming state assembly elections. While the saffron party has not made any commitment to these aspirants, it is the first time that people in religious robes are planning to contest elections in Karnataka in good number.

All the four seers also hail the work of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. They are: Lakshmivara Tirtha Swami (Udupi), Basavananda Swami (Dharwad), Madara Chennaiah Swami (Chitradurga) and Rajashekarananda Swami (Dakshina Kannada). One of them, Basavananda Swami of Sri Guru Basava Mahamane, is visually challenged. The Lingayat seer wants to contest in Kalaghatagi Assembly against Labour minister and mining baron Santosh Lad. He had joined BJP in 2013 and wanted to contest parliament elections from Hassan against JD(S) supremo HD Deve Gowda. But the party did not give him ticket.

Lakshmivara Tirtha Swami, belongs to Shiroor Mutt, which is one of the most revered mutts of the Ashta Mutts of Udupi. If he contests the Assembly polls, he would be the first seer from Ashta Mutts to do so. His decision, however, has not gone down well with other seers of Ashta Mutts including senior most Vishwesha Thirtha Swami. He wants to contest against fisheries minister Pramod Madhwaraj, though he acknowledges Madhwaraj’s work as a minister.

Known for his fiery and controversial speeches, Rajashekarananda Swami of Vajradehi Mutt near Mangaluru is actively involved with right-wing outfit groups such as Bajrang Dal and Vishwa Hindu Parishad. He wants to contest against forest minister and six-time MLA Ramanath Rai, who earned a bad name after stopping free midday meals to a temple-run school in Bantwal.

Madara Chennaiah Swami of Sri Shiva Sharana Madara Guru Peeta in Chitradurga district is another aspirant. A popular seer from Dalit community, he is close to both BS Yeddyurappa and KS Eshwarappa. Unlike other three seers, Madara Chennaiah Swami has not expressed his desire to contest assembly elections public. In his recent visit to state, Amit Shah had visited his mutt. He is expected contest from Holalkere (Reserved) seat in Chitradurga district, which is currently held by social welfare minister H Anjaneya. There is also a report that the BJP would field him in the 2019 parliament elections.

More Names

There are at least a couple of them who are willing to contest as an independent candidates or from the JDS ticket. Recently, Paramananda Ramarudha Swamy joined JDS hoping to get a ticket from Bilagi in Bagalkote district. Siddalinga Swamy, president of Sri Ram Sene and head of Karuneshwar Mutt, Andola is open about his plans to contest from Jewargi in Kalaburagi district. But there are not many instances where religious heads have won the elections in Karnataka. In 1983, Father Jacob Pallipurathu, who dedicated himself to social service, had won from Kalghatgi constituency against a Congress candidate”, recalls Clifford Pereira, who is actively involved in church affairs. Bernard Moras, outgoing archbishop of Bengaluru diocese says the church does not allow religious heads to contest elections.


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India – Only one doctor in most primary health centres #WTFnews

Afshan Yasmeen BENGALURU,

Only one doctor in most primary health centres

Only one doctor in most primary health centres

T.N., Maharashtra among better performing States

According to information provided by the Union Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare Anupriya Patel, in a written reply to the Rajya Sabha recently, of the total 25,650 primary health centres (PHCs) in the country, 15,700 (61.2%) function with one doctor each. As many as 1,974 (7.69%) PHCs do not have even a single doctor.

As per to the Indian Public Health Standards (IPHS) guidelines, each 24/7 PHC should have a minimum of two doctors apart from a desirable third, apart from three nurses, one lab technician and one pharmacist.

While 9,183 (35.8%) of the total number of PHCs do not have a lab technician, 4,744 (18.4%) do not have a pharmacist.

Gujarat worst
Among the big States, where the number of PHCs are more than 600, Gujarat tops the list with 100% of its 1,392 centres having one doctor each.

In Karnataka, 1,973 of the 2,359 PHCs in the State have just one doctor each. Karnataka stands fifth (in terms of PHCs with single doctor) with 83.6%, followed by Kerala with 81.7%.

In terms of percentage, Gujarat is followed by Sikkim, Himachal Pradesh and Mizoram, where PHCs functioning with one doctor each range between 84% and 87%. However, Sikkim, Himachal Pradesh and Mizoram have the least number of PHCs.

Among the better performing States are Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra, where only 14.4% of 1,362 PHCs and 23.8% of 1814 PHCs, respectively, have one doctor each.

Sylvia Karpagam, public health researcher, said it was unfortunate that over 61% of the total PHCs in the country function with one doctor each.

“The closer health facilities are to people, the more likely they are to access it and the less expensive they will be. Primary health centres are the first point of contact for patients. They are the core of preventive, promotive, curative and rehabilitative healthcare,” she said.

She alleged that the agenda of the private sector was to move healthcare further and further away from people. “A fully functional primary health centre can meet most healthcare needs, and only complicated cases need to be referred to secondary or tertiary facilities. This makes budgetary sense and healthcare sense,” she said.

Telemedicine suggested
Dr. C.N. Manjunath, Director, Sri Jayadeva Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences, Bengaluru, said that lack of safety and adequate protection for doctors, and political interference, were the chief reasons for doctors keeping away from working in rural areas. “The best way is to keep these primary health centres connected is through telemedicine,” he added.


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Uttar Pradesh’s encounters: 1,000 & counting

Omar Rashid

Parents of Jaihind Yadav, who was killed in an encounter in Azamgarh district on August 3, 2017.

Parents of Jaihind Yadav, who was killed in an encounter in Azamgarh district on August 3, 2017.
Parents of Jaihind Yadav, who was killed in an encounter in Azamgarh district on August 3, 2017. | Photo Credit: Rajeev Bhatt

49 persons have been killed, more than 370 injured in crackdown

Over a thousand encounters in a year. That’s the record in Yogi Adityanath’s Uttar Pradesh. Since March 2017, 49 persons have been killed in over 1,100 encounters, more than 370 have been injured and over 3,300 arrested across the State.

Most of the incidents have taken place in districts close to the national capital such as Meerut, Shamli, Muzaffarnagar, Baghpat, Saharanpur, Bulandshahr, Ghaziabad and Noida.

In eastern U.P.’s Azamgarh, notorious for its gangs, five suspected criminals have been shot dead. Five policemen have also died in these encounters and more than 200 have been injured.

Opposition’s criticism
The Opposition parties have not only criticised the encounters, calling them fake, but also questioned why most of the dead were Dalits, Muslims or members of Backward Classes. The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has issued notices to the State on several occasions and the SHRC is probing four cases of alleged encounters, including three in Azamgarh.

The NHRC in a statement in February, in the wake of an encounter in Noida, said: “It seems that the police personnel in U.P. are feeling free, misusing their power in the light of an undeclared endorsement given by the higher- ups. They are using their privileges to settle scores with the people.”

The chairman of the State’s Legislative Council on February 13 recommended that the government ask for a CBI probe into the cases of fake encounters in Noida and Mathura.

Legislative Council Chairman Ramesh Yadav’s recommendation followed a demand from the Samajwadi Party, which alleged that the Adityanath government was conducting “fake encounters.” However, Mr. Yadav reversed the decision following opposition from the BJP.

The issue of over 1000 encounters in the past one year since the Yogi Adityanath government assumed charge was raised in the U.P. Assembly in February, with the Samajwadi Party demanding a CBI probe into specific cases in Mathura and Noida.

A gym-instructor, Jitendra Yadav, was shot in the neck and critically injured by police in Noida in February, while he was returning from a function. His family claimed it was an attempt to execute him in a fake encounter. In another incident, an eight-year-old boy died after being shot in the head in police crossfire during an alleged encounter with criminals in Mathura in January.The police officer who shot the gym-instructor in Noida has been arrested while three policemen were suspended. Four policemen were suspended for the Mathura incident.

Differing accounts
Jaihind Yadav is one of the 49 persons killed over the past year in encounters. He was killed by police in the Mehnagar area of Azamgarh on August 4, 2017.

His father, Shiv Pujan Yadav, who suffers from a lung ailment, says that on the morning of the encounter, he had been waiting with his eldest son for a bus to Azamgarh town to visit the hospital when half-a-dozen unidentified men dressed in mufti forced his son into a black SUV and drove off. Ill and weak, Shiv Pujan returned home after a desperate attempt to find his son, hoping that he would be returned safe as Jaihind had been picked up by the police in the past too. However, a few hours later, he was informed that Jaihind had been shot dead in a daylight encounter.

From a corner of their house in Khilwa village, his weeping wife adds: “Ask around the village, he never laid a finger on anybody.”

Their son Jaihind Yadav, 27, was allegedly shot dead in a police encounter in Mehnagar area of this district. The death complicated their livelihood as Jaihind’s four siblings, including two sisters, who are still in school, cannot help in his business, as a small-time grains agent who purchases grain and stocks it for future sales.

To back his claims of a fake encounter, Shiv Pujan shows the post mortem report, according to which 27-year-old Jaihind received 22 injuries on his body, including at least 16-18 firearm exit and entrance wounds, most of the bullets wounds below his thighs close to the knees.

Wanted criminal: police
Shiv Pujan, who has approached the SHRC, says his son was not a criminal and that he had been falsely implicated by the police. in many cases in the past and also picked up by the police. “Some people had [neighbours] started getting jealous as he was doing pretty well…he was also pursuing an M.A degree,” says Shiv Pujan, who has approached the SHRC for justice.

Police, however, put forward a dramatically different version, saying Jaihind was a wanted criminal with a bounty of ₹15,000 on his head and had 13 cases against him, including of murder, looting, extortion, attempt to murder and gangster activities.

According to the police, a Special Weapons and Tactics Team (SWAT) intercepted Jaihind, who was alone on a motorbike, near a small bridge adjacent to the Ramdas Kutir temple in Deokali, after being tipped off by an informant. Ignoring several calls for him to stop, Jaihind instead opened fired at the police. “He fired six rounds,” says N.P. Singh, ASP Rural.

Under fire, the SWAT Team called the nearest police station, Mehnagar, for reinforcements and officer C.B. Dwivedi rushed with his forces. In the shootout that followed, Jaihind was killed while the SWAT team head Arvind Yadav, constable Vinay Singh and Dwivedi were injured. A 9 mm pistol was recovered from Jaihind.

However, there is no clarity from the police on the exact sequence of events at the alleged scene of the encounter in an isolated area. ASP Singh also says that before he was shot, Jaihind engaged in a long brawl in a muddy pond with the small police team which was trying to overpower him. A witness to the incident, a staff at the temple, speaking on condition of anonymity, told this reporter that she recalls seeing a brawl but is sure that Jaihind had been subsequently either tied to a nearby tree or overpowered.

Asked to explain how the police got into a physical fight with the accused and had to shoot him despite outnumbering him at close range, Mr. Singh says the police were “forced to shoot” Jaihind after he fired at the police team.

‘Shot while escaping’
In another case where family members have questioned the police version is the encounter and killing of one Channu Sonkar on January 9 in Jahanaganj.

Police say Sonkar and one Sandeep Pasi who were escaping after trying to rob a woman, met with an accident on the night of January 8 when they lost control of their motorbike in the dense fog and hit a tree. A police officer on their heels tried to take the accused to the hospital for treatment but on the way Sonkar allegedly snatched the policeman’s .38 bore service revolver and escaped. The next morning Sonkar and his partner allegedly stole a motorbike from near a church but were soon intercepted by the police at a crossing.

Finding themselves surrounded, the two accused shot at the police. Bullets hit Jahanaganj SHO Arvind Tiwari but luckily he was saved by his bullet proof jacket but constable Subhash Yadav received injuries. So did Sonkar, who later succumbed to his injuries at the hospital. However, his partner Subhash Pasi, also a wanted person, escaped. According to the police, Sonkar had 12 cases against him, including murder, loot and attempt to murder, and carried a bounty of ₹25,000.

Several loopholes
Sonkar’s family rejects this police version. “If Channu was injured in an accident, how can he snatch a revolver and run away with it? Aren’t you supposed to take him to a hospital and not shoot him instead,” asks his brother Jhabbu.

The family of Channu Sonkar, who was killed in Azamgarh.
The family of Channu Sonkar, who was killed in Azamgarh. | Photo Credit: Rajeev Bhatt

According to his family, Sonkar had as usual gone to their guava plantation some 20 km away. When his niece Poonam called him at 8 p.m. to ask about his whereabouts, the call had been answered by a police officer who told her that her uncle had met with an accident and asked the family to come to the hospital.

“It was a cold and foggy night and the hospital was 19 km away. And we didn’t think the injury was that serious. So we decided to go the next morning. But by the time we saw him the next morning, his body was already lying in the mortuary,” said Jhabbu.

On the day of the encounter, his family says Sonkar was set to appear for a hearing in a previous case of attempt to murder. According to his brother, Sonkar had only four cases pending against him. Jhabbu also claims that Sonkar was not a habitual criminal but was falsely implicated by the police.

While the family is yet to get the post mortem report, they also question how Sonkar’s partner Pasi managed to escape without a motrobike.

In self-defence
Asked about the rising toll in the encounters, ASP Singh says the police are not targeting any person but officers have been given the freedom to fire back at criminals if attacked.

“We have only boosted the morale of the police. The funda is simple: if a criminal fires at you, you fire back,” said Mr. Singh.

Mr. Singh was also allegedly injured in an encounter in Azamgarh in July last year when a suspected criminal Bheema Sagar was gunned down in a police operation. Sagar carried a reward of ₹1 lakh. His partner allegedly fled from the spot making use of the darkness.

‘Falling crime’
Despite the criticism, Chief Minister Adityanath has maintained that the crackdown will continue till crime is wiped out from the State. The BJP government in a booklet released on its first anniversary also claimed that in its first year in power instances of crimes have decreased as a result of the crackdown. The government says instaces of dacoity have come down by by 5.7 %, murder by 7.35 %, road holdups by 100 %, abduction by 13.21%, atrocities against Dalits by 16.41 % and arson by 29.73%.

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