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Archives for : May2018

DCGI to put clinical trials of Malpani Hospital under scanner #Goodnews

The decision comes in the wake of the drug regulator finding certain discrepancies at the clinical trial site linked to a phase two clinical trial of Glenmark’s osteoarthritis pain drug.

Viswanath Pilla
  • Glenmark

The Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) is said to be scrutinizing clinical trials done at Jaipur’s Malpani Multispecialty Hospital to verify if the hospital had breached any protocols for testing drugs on patients.

“We will take a look at all the trials,” a source at DCGI said on the condition of anonymity, referring to Malpani hospital.

The decision comes in the wake of the drug regulator finding certain discrepancies at the clinical trial site including an alleged falsification of patient enrollment data linked to a phase two clinical trial of Glenmark’sosteoarthritis pain drug (GRC 27864).

Last week DCGI issued show cause notices to Glenmark, the sponsor and Dr Rajiv Gupta, the Principal Investigator of the trial at Malpani hospital.

Glenmark was also pulled up by DCGI for inadequate monitoring of trials at the site. DCGI asked them to respond within 10 days of receipt of the notice.

Glenmark said it is in the process of responding to the DCGI’s notice and added that it has suspended that trial at the site in the interest of patients’ safety, as soon as it heard about the alleged irregularities.

The DCGI decision could have a bearing on 47 ongoing clinical trials of around 24 drug-makers conducting trials at Malpani hospital.

The list of the drug makers include Novartis, Gilead Sciences, Daiichi Sankyo, Sun PharmaCiplaCadila Healthcare among others. The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) – the government’s medical research body is also testing its drug at Malpani.

Out of 47, six clinical trials related to osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis drugs belonging to Novartis, Cipla, Glenmark, Cadila and Amneal Pharmaceuticals are administered under the supervision of Dr Rajiv Gupta who is under DCGI scanner.

Emails sent to Novartis and Cadila Healthcare were not answered. US-based Amneal could not be reached.

Cipla said the principal investigator Rajiv Gupta named in the Glenmark trial isn’t the same person who is administering their trial.

The website of Malpani Hospital has the name of only one Rajiv Gupta who is listed as the orthopedic and sport medicine specialist.

Malpani Hospital approved by the Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO) has been conducting clinical trials in Jaipur since 2010 under supervision of around 20 specialist doctors.

The 50-bed hospital founded by NK Malpani, a senior laproscopic surgeon and gastroenterologist includes a research center, trauma and emergency care facility.

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Usha Ramanathan – ‘Difficult to believe #Aadhaar was so ill thought out’

People wait for their turn at Aadhar Enrollment Centre

From the start there were serious concerns that we knew so little about the project: we were just instructed to give our personal information, to a database through a multitude of outsourced enrollers

It is a little difficult to believe that the UID project was so ill thought out. From the start there were serious concerns that we knew so little about the project: we were just instructed to give our personal information, including our fingerprints and iris scans, to a database through a multitude of outsourced enrollers.  It was said that all other IDs are full of errors, and that this project would provide a fault-free ID. It was asserted that large numbers of those experiencing poverty find themselves unable to access services from the state because they do not have an ID. Biometrics was to ensure uniqueness of each individual. The UID would not be a card, unlike other IDs, but a number attached to a biometric, making it in unimpeachable. All of this has proven untrue.

The first Strategy Overview document, in 2010, indicated the direction the project would take. `Enrolment will not be mandated’, it said, and quickly followed up that up with: `This will not, however, preclude  governments or Registrars from mandating enrolment.’ Then, the UIDAI spent a lot of time and effort wheedling different agencies, from the Reserve Bank to courts to the Ministry of Petroleum and Gas, to compel their clients to enrol and give their numbers to their data bases. Voluntary quickly gave place to mandatory. “The UID will only guarantee identity, not rights, benefits or entitlements”, the document admitted. Except, it very soon became obvious that it was not even an identity.

Why? Because, from the beginning, it was known that they did not know whether biometrics would work.  In 2010, an invitation to a biometrics consultant admitted that “there is a lack of a sound study that documents the accuracy achievable on Indian demographics (i.e., larger percentage of rural population) and in Indian environmental conditions (i.e., extremely hot and humid climates and facilities without air-conditioning). In fact we could not find any credible study assessing the achievable accuracy in any of the developing countries.” So, even without evidence that biometrics could work in India, it was decided to derive uniqueness, and achieve authentication, through biometrics.

y 2010 document titled ‘A UID Numbering Scheme’ says it simply: it is to number the whole population. The project then proceeded to get everyone’s number seeded in all manner of data bases. Then the ID dropped all pretence of being about who is a citizen, or even a resident, and openly admitted that it is about knowing the customer – the ‘C’ in the eKYC does not stand for citizen but for ‘customer’.

This project is ridden with conflict of interest. For instance, Mr Nilekani was the first Chairperson of the UIDAI. He has been advising the National Payments Corporation of India since his time with the UIDAI, and became honorary consultant after he stepped down. Mapping of the UID number with the bank account number was evangelised to the NPCI. The Airtel fiasco, where account holders did not even know that their subsidies were being deposited in an account that they did not even know they had, reflected one set of consequences.

The project has been propped up by illegalities, violation of court orders, untruths, a governmental claim that the people of this country do not have a right to privacy, and the perversion of parliamentary process. People are being made to leave their biometrics everywhere, personal information has been linked with the UID number and the data bases are leaking all over the place, authentication is failing, the UIDAI doesn’t even have the source code for the biometric data base which is actually with companies that work closely with foreign intelligence and security establishments like the CIA and Homeland Security, new forms of fraud and corruption have come in with the UID – in the PDS, in money transfers, in enrolment which resulted in 49,000 enrollers being blacklisted. There are areas of conflict of interest that beg to be investigated.

Even after the decision of the court, there will be a lot of work left to be done because of the hurried harm that the project has created in the haste to create a fait accompli.

(Usha Ramanathan works on the jurisprudence of law, poverty and rights)

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India – Supreme Court & Atrocities Act: False Alarm over False Cases


Anitya Sanket

In the recent March 20 judgement in Dr. Subhash Kashinath Mahajan Vs. The State of Maharashtra and Anr, the Supreme Court, with respect to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 also widely known as SC/ST Act, issued directions that the arrests under this Act of a public servant can only be made after approval of the respective appointing authority and in case of a non-public officer after the approval of Senior Superintendent of Police (S.S.P) and a preliminary enquiry may also be made to see if the allegations make a case. These directions incidentally come at a time when the country witnessed agitations to scrap the SC/ST Act.


Lamenting that the plight of the lowest of castes and tribes has not changed, and justice remains a distant dream for these classes, amendments to the SC/ST Act were made in 2016. Not only did the amendment address the evolving nature of crimes, for instance social boycotts, but also the accountability of police officials in registration of complaints.

The court expressed apprehensions about the ‘misuse’ of the Act for ‘extraneous purposes’. The low conviction rate appears to have convinced the judges that the Act is being used for settling personal scores in most cases. However, it must be noted that no data is cited to support this contention except for the dubious reliance on the high acquittal rate and the Final Reports (FR) resulting in ‘false’ complaints.

The police send a charge sheet to the court or closes the case as ‘False’ or ‘mistake of law’ under the FR. Prof Stabhir Khora, in assessing the impact of ‘false reports’ on dispensation of justice reports that seven states registered more than 40% cases under SC/ST Act as either ‘false’ or some other category of the FR. Meanwhile, according to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) ‘Crime in India’ report of 2016, eight states in the case of SC’s and four states in the case of ST’s, the police were reported to have registered the cases as ‘false’ in their FR’s between 15% to 51% out of the total cases reported that year, with Rajasthan, notorious for its increasing crime rates against the SC/ST’s, standing at 51.26% and 51.21% respectively.

On ‘false’ reports Professor Khora continues, “While “mistake of fact” does not invite any legal repercussions, “false” invites Sections 182 and 211 of the IPC. However, these sections are recommended in very few FRs. This could be due to the police not wanting to take on additional burden. There is a thin chance of success as the ex-complainant becomes the accused and avails of the “benefit of doubt”. Falsity has to be proved beyond reasonable doubt. Nevertheless, using the label “false” and still not invoking Sections 182 and 211 of the IPC reflects the hostile attitude of the police towards the victims under the SC/ST Act.”

On the one hand, misuse of arresting powers leading to wrongful confinement is made a case to grant anticipatory bail and on the other, the judicial powers of police to declare complaints to be ‘false’ before they reach the courts is accepted as a credible source of rampant abuse by the Supreme Court.

Section 18 of the Act states that Anticipatory Bail provision (section 438 CrPC) shall be excluded from the SC/ST Act. In the court’s view, to deny to innocent individuals anticipatory bail in wake of abuse of law, would infringe their liberty protected by Article 21 and equal treatment in all cases under Article 14. Reliance has been placed, for this, on remarks in numerous judgements and the third report by the national police commission which cite arbitrary arrests as chief source of corruption.

NCSC’s Third Annual Report which was laid in Parliament in 2012, reflecting on the Police apathy recommended inter alia that the Central Government should request the State Governments to ensure that the police officials should be sensitized about the provisions of SC/ST Act in their in-house training programme as well as to organize special training for them, and “The Central Government and the State Governments should ensure that the underlying reasons for ending up the investigation in final report as acquittal of the accused in states where maximum cases are registered under PCR And POA Act need to be studied in depth.”

Successive NCSC reports have consistently noted, “that the police often resort to preliminary investigation upon receiving complaint in writing before lodging the actual FIRs. As a result, the SC victims have to resort to seeking directions from courts for registration of FIRs u/s 156(3) of Cr.P.C.”The third national police commission report, which the court placed reliance on, recognized that on the grounds of offences being non-cognizable, the police sometimes refuse to take cognizance of ill-treatment which the weaker sections go through at the hands of higher castes citing that they have no orders from the magistrate to do the same. It recommended as a result, that section 155 of Cr.P.C be suitably amended to facilitate appropriate police response to non-cognizable offences in two categories: (i) to protect a member of the weaker sections from exploitation and injustice, or (ii) to prevent a possible breach of public peace that might result from absence of effective action on complaint of a non-cognizable offence.

Although one finds a brief mention in the judgement of these systemic barriers for the SC/ST’s in even filing a complaint, the judges nevertheless have remained silent over justice being inaccessible for vulnerable groups at each stage. At a time where growing incidents of crimes against SC/ST’s remain a national shame, the court to one’s shock has pondered over the role of the Act in further perpetuating casteism.

No one contends that the accuser should be taken on his ‘face value’, but one can’t be blind to the social realities either. Instances of Dalit families being stripped in front of police stations, a young man hacked to death for his ringtone praising Ambedkar, over eight-months pregnant woman beaten to death for defiling a Thakur’s bucket where the police conducted a preliminary inquiry and registered FIR two days after the woman died, Dalit couple killed over Rs 15, Dalit youth killed for posing a moustache–growing instances of attacks on inter-caste couples and endless such crimes have become an everyday affair. A country where Dalits are stripped of human dignity and personal liberty every day, diluting provisions of an Act that gives them some hope of crimes not going unchecked, can have disastrous effects.

A trend in higher judiciary overturning cases of conviction in matters of the SC/ST Act has been noted. It was reported that the courts rejected trial in 423 cases on the ground that investigation was conducted by an officer contrary to the Act’s provisions. (pg 38, annual report 2012-13 NCSC) Tendency to apply laws mechanically and ignoring the spirit of the Act could potentially harbor injustice. But it is evident that overwhelming cases of laws being applied mechanically work for non-SC/ST’s. For instance, in Mukesh Kumar Saini &Ors vs State (Delhi Administration) on 6 August, 2001 the court observed, “..humiliating words were uttered while Hanuman being dragged inside before the arrival of neighbours, therefore, these words cannot be said to have been uttered in the “public view”…Merely calling a person by caste would not attract the provisions of this Act. There must be specific accusation alleged against each of the accused…”

The court has directed the judicial authorities to examine the relations between the accused and the complainant, to reflect on the possibility of the case having being filed for extraneous purposes, contrary to the recent amendment that directs the court to presume under Section 6 (ii) (c ):- If the accused was acquainted with the victim or his family, the court will presume that the accused was aware of the caste or tribal identity of the victim unless proved otherwise. Would it be judicious to assume that the ones known to the complainant can be free from caste prejudice so as to not have hurled casteist insults? The reasons for the family dispute could very well be caste, which the court refrains from bothering, giving the other side, that is the examination of it being a mere family dispute more emphasis.

Ironically, to fortify the case of rampant misuse, excerpts from Dr. B.R Ambedkar’s speech from constituent assembly was cited. It may be interesting at this point to note Dr. Ambedkar’s observations and concerns on caste prejudice in jurisprudence. “…The third circumstance which adds to the helplessness of the Untouchables is the impossibility for the Untouchables to obtain any protection from the police or justice from the courts. The police are drawn from the ranks of the Caste Hindus. The magistracy is drawn from the ranks of the Caste Hindus. The police and the magistracy are the kith and kin of the caste Hindus. They share the sentiments and the prejudices of the caste Hindus against the Untouchables. If an Untouchable goes to a police officer with a complaint against the caste Hindus instead of receiving any protection he will receive plenty of abuse. Either he will be driven away without his complaint being recorded or, if it is recorded, it would be recorded quite falsely to provide a way of escape to the Touchable aggressors. If he prosecutes his offenders before a magistrate the fate of his proceedings could be foretold. He will never get Touchable witnesses because of the conspiracy of the villagers. If he brings witnesses from the Untouchables the Magistrate will not accept their testimony because they are interested and not independent witnesses or, if they are independent witnesses, the Magistrate has an easy way of acquitting the accused by simply saying that the complainant Untouchable did not strike him as a truthful witness. He can do this fearlessly because he knows full well that the higher tribunal will not reverse his findings because of the well-established rule which says that an appellate court should not disturb the finding of a Magistrate based upon the testimony of witness whose demeanor he had observed.”

Can we confidently say today, after almost seven decades of independence, Dr. Ambedkar’s concerns are unfounded even in today’s times? By giving undue attention to the monetary relief provided by the act to the victims, which in most cases is denied, and complaints being filed merely to obtain it shows limitations of imagination. As the Bombay High Court observed in its decision that penal provisions of the SC/ST Act could not be faulted merely because of possibility of abuse and by doing so, it would amount to sending the wrong message to the downtrodden and backward sections of the society.

The judiciary has been the guardian of people’s constitutional rights and owes great responsibility to make the impact of its judgements felt across the country, which it has time and again. The sections at the lowest rungs of the society entrust the judiciary with the sacred duty of defending the constitutional values in both letter and spirit, and in doing so, making justice accessible to even the weakest of all voices. The state has failed on its part to present in the court of law the reasons for high acquittal in the cases of atrocity in the recent review petition, which the NCSC since several years has endeavored to point out. Being oblivious to trampling down of weaker sections on account of caste and diluting the anticipatory provisions even when regular bail is available to the accused would be emboldening the administration in further trampling voices. In the absence of effective implementation of the Act, the state’s failure to protect the SC/ST’s will have a chilling effect in the reporting of cases.



  1. On ‘false reports’ which follow from the preliminary inquiry of the police, this article only furthers the study of Prof. Stabhir Khora, which calculates the percentage of cases registered as ‘false’. For further study on how these reports may impact the development of cases registered under the Atrocities Act and 498a, one may refer to his article referenced.
  2. Dr. B.R Ambedkar’s quotes referred to above have been from Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar, Writings & Speeches, Volume 5, Chapter 22 ‘Held at Bay’. I have had the opportunity of getting introduced to these ‘prophetic’ words of Dr. B.R Ambedkar from ‘Judicial Discourse and Caste Violence’ authored by Aditya. For reading one may refer to:



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India – It is a massacre: Dr. Kafeel Khan


Mrudula Bhavani

“Religion is something different. Religion is spirituality, religion is humanity. I believe in Allah, that is my personal choice. But I don’t hate anyone. I love all the people who believe in other religions. I respect them. Connecting this to that incident is something bad. “-Dr. Kafeel Ahmed Khan.

Dr. Kafeel Khan was sent to jail in Ajay Bisht’s (Yogi Adityanath) Uttar Pradesh government where Dalits, OBCs and Muslims are getting murdered in fake encounters, for he tried saving the lives of children who are suffering from Japanese encephalitis, while they were denied of oxygen. Dr. Kafeel calls it a massacre.

We helplessly watched him being thrown to jail. They didn’t allow him to talk much to the media, and selectively and conveniently the media also forgot him. We were not sure whether he will come out alive, but he came out alive and in some ways he survived unlike Rohith, unlike Junaid, unlike Najeeb or unlike Gauri Lankesh.

Dr. Kafeel is now on his journey to thank his supporters, those who prayed for him, those who worked hard for him, those who stood with him. He cuddled babies. And he fears, “A Najeeb can happen to me”. And ask people to go in search of him if one day he goes missing. He asks people to remember him and his struggle if he gets killed by Ajay Bisht (Yogi Adityanath). Dr. Kafeel Khan said he would continue his fight. He said he would join United Against Hate team to fight this continuing victimization and injustice.

dr. kafeel khan

“What should I say more about these things? I already said everything”, Dr. Kafeel Khan said when I approached him for an interview.He was talking at Ernakulam, at Solidarity Youth Movement‘s program ‘Kerala Welcomes Dr. Kafeel Khan’.

I didn’t want Kafeel to repeat his 8 months ordeal. But what I wanted to know was certain other things. I wanted to know about how and why the UP government is continuing this silent genocide. I wanted to know if it isn’t it based on the discriminatory policies of the government towards underprivileged sections of people.

Q. Dr. Kafeel Khan, can you tell me about the disease these children are affected with?

Dr. Kafeel Khan. This is a disease known as acute encephalitis syndrome. Encephalitis is swelling of the brain. Acute is very sudden, within fifteen days… The child has fever on the day one, on the third day the child gets high fever, on the fifth day the child will die. This is very dramatic and acute in nature. Acute encephalitis syndrome is an umbrella which includes so many other diseases. One of the dreadful diseases is Japanese encephalitis. It was first reported in Japan. In 1971 it started in Japan but it was eradicated there because it has a vaccine called Japanese encephalitis vaccine. The vaccine is also available here. But that is not the thing. The vaccine is also funded by WHO. But the ground level work, I think they are not doing it properly. Maybe they are giving one doze, instead of two dozes which is needed, or maybe they are not maintaining the quality. Because in 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016, four years continuously the number of Japanese encephalitis patients decreased, but since 2016 it is in increase. ICMR says that 40% is because of scrub typhus. Scrub typhus is a bacteria which grows on a mite, which survive on a mouse or a rat. Rodent type. Whenever it pours, whenever it rains, the rats go inside the house and the mite bites the kid, the larva of scrub typhus goes inside the body of the children and it becomes encephalitis.

Q. So, does the disease depend on the caste and class positions of the kids?

Dr. Kafeel Khan. Yes. It is a disease of the poor. It is very strange that it is a disease of the poor. Only poor people get affected. If you go through the socio-economic status of those kids who died, 99% are below the poverty line. They don’t have good sanitation, they don’t have access to safe drinking water, they don’t have education, they don’t have food because they are malnourished. I think they don’t have all these basic things: sanitation, water, food, shelter and education. That is why they are malnourished, that is why they are easily affected and that is why their immunity is decreased. So, it is a disease of the poor. If you talk about the caste, it is not like Hindus are getting killed or Muslims are getting killed, or Dalits are more affected, it is above that, their class is lower class. Muslims and Hindus are getting killed. They are of low economic status, their income is very less, their houses are not pakka houses, they are living in huts.

sym 1

Q. You call it a massacre.

Dr. Kafeel Khan. Yes, it is a massacre. That day what happened in BRD Medical college is a massacre. Just because they didn’t pay the money and the liquid oxygen was stopped, this happened. Pushpa Sales director Manish Bhandari was writing letters for the past six months, and he was writing to the District Magistrate, he was writing to the Principal, he was writing to the HoD of the Paediatrics, he was writing to the Director General of Medical Education KK Gupta, Principal Secretary Amita Jain Bhatnagar, he was writing to the Health Minister, he was writing to the Chief Minister also. But nobody took it seriously. They just forwarded it to one another. That is what they did. So, he sent a legal notice also, saying that I am going to stop supply of oxygen cylinders in 15 days. And he stopped. What is the current situation in BRD? Actually, see in Kerala there are fourteen districts and fourteen medical colleges. But in Gorakhpur there is only one medical college which caters to half of Bihar, half of Nepal, half of the Purvanchal, which includes adjoining districts. So, if you improve the infrastructure only in BRD, you can’t control the disease, you have to work on the peripheral level. I told you, encephalitis doesn’t give you so much time. It spreads very fast. When the fever starts you have to act. If you don’t act the child will go into coma. Then it is very difficult to save them. So, it is better to act early. The peripheral level health system in Uttar Pradesh, in Gorakhpur is like a white elephant. They have buildings, but they don’t have staff. They don’t have medicines, they don’t work 24 hours. We have to improve on that. After that incident government had given a lot of money, they woke up. They paid every debt off. But those kids who lost their lives are not coming back.

Q. The deaths are happening currently also?

Dr. Kafeel Khan. As far as I know, at least 250 deaths are happening every month. The number will increase in July, August, because of the rain. And we have only two months. They could not appoint a single doctor after my arrest. They could not appoint a single sister; human resource is still lacking. They are increasing the number of beds, they are giving money for infrastructure and equipment, but the peripheral level work is still lacking. They are not working up to the mark.

Q. What about the status of your case?

Dr. Kafeel Khan. The Honourable High Court has given me a clean chit, in the judgement he had beautifully written that Kafeel is not involved with the tender process of liquid oxygen, investigation officer dropped corruption charges because of lack of evidences during the investigation, and there is no evidence Uttar Pradesh government could produce against him for medical negligence. So, they removed all those charges. But still the case is going on. I have 308 charged on me, 308 means culpable homicide. I have to fight for the case. I am going to the court to quash my FIR, or clear at least my name out of it.

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Q. You started off a campaign? You started it from Karnataka where you were working. You are travelling through states?

Dr. Kafeel Khan. It is not a campaign at all. It is to spread my thankful message to everyone. No, it is not a campaign. Everywhere, from all over India they are calling me. I have never thought that I will get such support from all over India, and all over the world. So, they are calling me and it is people’s love and affection coming to me. See, when I was in Karnataka they made it up that I came for a political party. I am not affiliated to any political party and politics is not my field. My passion is kids, I feel happy to be with kids and treat them. I am not going into politics. Politics is not my field, I am meeting all the people because at least they will remember me, because I feel anybody can be Dr. Kafeel. Anybody can be Dr. Kafeel. Because, even if you do good work, you get penalised, that is a bad thing. And we have to fight for those innocent people for whom this injustice is happening. I just came to say thanks and my fight is not over. They should remember me and they should support me.

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Legendary Pak poet Faiz’s daughter Muneeza Hashmi prevented from speaking at function , ‘Deported’ From Delhi

Media Personality and activist turned back

 NEW DELHI: What does it mean when a government extends its hostility for another government to eminent persons like Muneeza Hashmi, daughter of legendary poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz, stops her from participating in a conference in Delhi, from even registering at the venue or checking into the hotel, and sends her back as if she was a criminal? How does it reflect on a democracy when its government pushes for action against a person who has always stood for democracy, rights and justice?

Muneeza Hashmi, a well known television and media personality in her own right, was listed as a speaker at the 15th Asia Media Summit being held here between May 10-12. On the eve of the conference, sources said, the government of India told the organisers of the even that she should not check into the hotel or register for the conference, And of course she did not have New Delhi’s permission to speak. She was re-booked by the organisers at another hotel, they apologised profusely, and she left for Pakistan the next morning. The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting was an organiser. TV 18 has reported that the Ministry has denied all knowledge of the incident.

Significantly both Hashmi and the Faiz Foundation kept a lid on the unsavoury incident as they did not want India-Pakistan relations to be further adversely impacted. Hashmi met Indian friends but made it clear that she was not going to speak of this, and would prefer to go back to Pakistan without a fuss. However, the story has since found its way into sections of the media and as sources said, Hashmi now realises it cannot be covered up. She has been committed to peace, harmony and cooperation between India and Pakistan is a well respected figure in both countries.

In a tweet marked to the Prime Ministers Office, India and Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj, Hashmi’s son Ali Hashmi wrote “This is your Shining India? My 72 year old mother, daughter of Faiz, denied permission to participate in conference after being officially invited. Shame.” He has given the link to a story that confirms this, and points out further that the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting that had organised the event claimed to have no knowledge of what was her virtual deportation.

In a second tweet Ali Hashmi has included a photograph of Faiz Ahmad Faiz with former Prime Minister and BJP leader Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

India and Pakistan during this period of increased hostility have cracked down on the peace lobby within both countries, with scholars, activists not being given visas. Muneeza Hashmi had a long term visa for India so came in without normal bells being rung. And so the government scrambled to get her off the list, and out of India, once her presence here was known and confirmed.

Muneeza Hashmi has always stood against military rule in her country, is a strong advocate of peace and amongst those to promote the legacy of her father Faiz Ahmad Faiz. She was the first woman in Pakistan television for a long while, and has played a role in clearing the obstacles for the promotion of women in the media to the higher levels of management. She has been steadfast in working for women empowerment in Pakistan, known for walking the talk and more.

Even now she was not willing to speak of her humiliation or make an issue of it back home in Pakistan, being of the view that this should not be allowed to come in the way of larger peace and friendship between the two countries. Incidentally she was born in Shimla. It is a matter of deep shame for the peace loving people of India that an individual who has stood for democracy and rights and peace has been treated in this shameful manner during a visit to Delhi.

The Asia Media Summit was organised by the Asia-Pacific Institute for Broadcasting Development (AIBD) and international body hosting delegates from across the globe. The Ministry of I&B was the host. As a senior Indian activist asked, “what would all the participating delegates think of the hosts?” Muneeza Hashmi has been a regular at such meetings, being a recognised media authority from Pakistan.

Muneeza Hashmi wrote a short note to a friend today stating:

“Thank you for your and other friends support. I leave it to your judgement to deal with this matter. We the Faiz Family and Faiz Foundation will continue to work for peace between our two countries. As Faiz would say لمبی ہے غم کی شام مگر شام ھی تو ہے
(lambi hai gham ki shaam magar shaam hi to hai)”

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RTI: Modi government splurges over ₹4,300 cr on publicity

According to a response to an RTI Application, in the fiscal year 2015-16, the government spent ₹510.69 crore to advertise in print media

The Modi government has so far spent a whooping ₹4,343.26 crore only for advertisements and publicity through different media and in the last fiscal they spent ₹955.46 crore

The government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has so far splurged a whooping ₹4,343.26 crore only for advertisements and publicity through different media, it has been revealed under RTI, said an activist on Monday.

Mumbai-based RTI activist Anil Galgali had sought details from the centre’s Bureau of Outreach and Communication (BOC) on all spend on advertisement and publicity in all media since the present government assumed office.

The RTI response stated that between April-December 2017 (nine-month period), the government spent ₹333.23 crore on the print medium alone, with the total figure of last fiscal (April 2017-March 2018) coming to ₹955.46 crore.

The replies provided by Financial Advisor, BOC, Tapan Sutradhar on the expenses incurred since June 2014, were a revelation on the massive spends, but owing to an all-round criticism of the government, there was a small reduction—₹307.26 crore— in 2017, said Galgali.

However, he pointed out that the total spending of last financial year is still significantly higher than the present government’s first year in office when it spent ₹953.54 crore in just nine months in office.

According to replies, from June 2014 to March 2015, the government spent ₹424.85 crore in print publicity, ₹448.97 crore on electronic media and ₹79.72 crore on outdoor publicity, totalling to ₹953.54 crore.

In the next fiscal 2015-16, the spending increased substantially for all media. These included, ₹510.69 crore on print media, ₹541.99 crore on electronic media and ₹118.43 crore on outdoor publicity, or a total of ₹1,171.11 crore.

In 2016-17, the expenditure incurred on print medium dropped (yet higher than the first year June 2014-March 2015), to ₹463.38 crore, but for the electronic medium it increased over the previous year to ₹613.78 crore, and catapulted to ₹185.99 crore on outdoor publicity, totalling to ₹1,263.15 crore.

The next year, April 2017-March 2018, there was a sharp drop in spending on electronic media over the previous year to ₹475.13 crore and a significant drop in outdoor publicity expenses to ₹147.10 crore.

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Chalchitra Abhiyaan:‘Counter Culture’ Movement For Marginalised Voices In UP

In conversation with the team

 The modern day technology has provided us with new dimensions of democracy, participation and narratives. Current ruling party never stops to toss promises of ‘Digital India’ but the people who are working with marginalized sections of the society only know what it takes to engage with a vision to empower them, to train them with the skillset to speak for themselves and enable the world to know about them. Often the media fails to reflect their true words.

The team of Chalchitra Abhiyaan represented by Abhishek Indrekar, Piyush Nagpal, Nakul Singh Sawhney, and Vishaal Kumar (over a phone call) spoke in detail about their movement (Abhiyaan).

What is Chalchitra Abhiyaan?

After the ‘massacre’ of Shamli in 2013, we started travelling in the west Uttar Pradesh. We realized that the role of mainstream media and the social media had actually been to flare up the violence. Videos, whatsapp messages were forwarded to incite the communal tension. At that time, we could not reflect the voice of the people living there. We did not have a counter narrative to speak for the people. A ground reporting was lacking. Broadly, a progressive cultural narrative was missing. Hindutva forces intervene with their conservative, regressive, sexist and patriarchal narrative. Even on television, a regressive, casteist value system is being propagated. So, from the beginning it was clear to us that we have to go slow and bring out the reporting from ground zero and not by sitting in an office in Delhi.

Another thing was to work on empowering the villagers to bring forth their voices. We started passing on the skill set. In contrast to the the objective view that we carry, the subjective view of those people could only produce a synthesis of opinions. We felt the need for this experiment and started working on it. It took almost two years to come up with a documentary and show zameeni haqiqat (ground reality) to the world. With these thoughts, Nakul decided to launch Chalchitra Abhiyaan, a cultural intervention through people’s narrative.

Flow of the intervention

The documentary, Muzaffarnagar Baaki Hain, was not a part of this abhiyaan. But, it definitely was an initial intervention. After its release in 2015, local media started rejecting it. Hindustaan, a local daily in Shamli has gone on to publish a report stating “ISIS dwara banayi gayi Muzaffarnagar Baaki Hain ke khilaaf pratirodh…..” (ISIS made documentary Muzaffarnagar Baaki Hain….). A local BJP MLA had alleged this and the newspaper just published it without any check. Then screening was next to impossible there due to the polarized political situation. A lot of people watched this documentary through pen drive, CD/DVD, cellphone transfers etc. It was viewed in informal ways even after a series of disruptions. A strong impact had been made due to this documentary.

After the bogey of ‘Hindu exodus’ in Kairana, we made the documentary, Kairana: After the Headlines, to capture the ground reality. The list (of hindu families leaving the village) was proven fake in no time. But, with mainstream media’s propagation, it had already damaged the society on religion-based polarisation at least outside if not in Kairana. The documentary was an effort to counter the propaganda of Hindu-Muslim binary and to bring the real issues such as caste discrimination to the foreground. This documentary had been able to intervene in ways to counter this narrative. It was a very small positive result to alter the ‘discourse’.

Next, we went to talk to farmers of western Uttar Pradesh on the effects of demonetisation. Rather than simply asking what has gone wrong and what was good, we decided to talk to them as they are experts. As opposed to our conventional understanding of expert knowledge, we believe that the lived experiences do matter. So, our objective was to talk to the farmers personally and take out their narrative to the forefront.

Then we intervened through a series called, Chunaavi Charcha. Usually it is shown that the polling in UP takes place on the basis of community division. But, what are the issues affecting them day to day, how these issues are important for them, we tried to capture these. So, acknowledging the communities, we interviewed a group of farmers, a group of dalit students, and a group of muslims to reveal their daily life issues. In the political commotion, often these issues vanish from the sight. Most importantly, nothing is said about the issues of women!

In Gorakhpur we made an important intervention. Much before mainstream media, who ignored Sanjay Nishad considering him unimportant, we talked to him. Those who knew him were mostly members of the Nishad community. Today, he is being described as the man who scripted the story of Adityanath’s aides defeat, who till recently was considered invincible in his own constituency.

During Azaadi Kooch, led by a youth leader of Dalit Adhikaar Manch, Jignesh Mevani, we made a documentary: Savitri Sisters.

On May 5, 2017 the protests of Bhim Army started. We covered it from the beginning. Then the interview-video of Chandrashekhar Azad Ravan went viral. The state was running a propaganda that Bhim Army is a naxalite organisation. Though they had nothing to prove it. Media was also showing the violence of Shabbirpur as Dalit-Rajput clash. However, it was a one sided attack on dalits. A mighty machinery was employed to malign Bhim Army. But, we knew their work, their social engagements, how they educate children, and their noble efforts to organise the community. So, it was important to counter it with people’s narrative and show what actually Bhim Army is. Videos were circulated not only through our page but other pages in support of Bhim Army as well. We have been able to present an undistorted picture of the movement that helped Bhim Army to be recognised on the national platform.

In the protest against the arrest of Chandrashekhar Azad ‘Ravan’, while people were on hunger strike in Shabbirpur village, Piyush and Vishaal were doing a facebook live, police had detained them and stopped from covering the protest. Women who were on the strike, stormed out of the temple and rescued us from the police. Some lied down in front of the police van. They literally demanded that police must leave Piyush and Vishaal as they are ‘their people’. It was really motivating for us. We always wanted to work in integration with local movements. This incident showed us that our intervention has indeed been successful.

Limited Resources and the approach

In the current socio-political scenario, such movements like ours are important tools for empowering the marginalised section. A vision of new India based on social justice and free from inequality, hatred, violence is our motivation. Villagers can join easily with this Abhiyaan to spread brotherhood as opposed to regressive TV shows and bollywood productions.

Ours is a concerted effort to expose the burning caste discrimination in the society. Currently we are centred in west Uttar Pradesh. But, we want to spread this movement to other parts of the country as well. We are training local people to use cameras, capture videos, make documentaries and to be able to share their voice with others. Slowly, local activists have been able to perform screenings on their own.

A lot of works are still left to be done. We want to capture the recent agrarian crisis in western UP where agriculture once used to be a very lucrative sector for the common people. We haven’t worked much on gender issues. On a lot of occasion it is not easy to communicate with village women. With Aruna, a local woman activist joining our team, we hope to fill that void.

The democratic process of participation of the people working in this movement has really been a strength. Due to our bottom-up approach, everyone in this movement is equally a part of Chalchitra Abhiyaan. We are in no hurry. We want to go through an organic build up. We get calls from different parts of the country. Our work has slowly started getting attention through Facebook, Twitter, YouTube channels and we now have a relatively stable crew.


Nakul used to work on projects and use that money for Chalchitra Abhiyaan, to pay salaries of interns etc. It is always really a harrowing but exciting experience. We didn’t have any stable place to stay. We used to edit in moving cars, sometimes in a cheap hotel or someone’s place for a night. We did not even have the infrastructure to train local people.

Now, we have started a campaign for crowdfunding through crowdnewsing ( We have our website ( and in a few months we will be starting our office in Khandrawali.

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Ask PM Modi to mind his language: Manmohan and others to President

Manmohan Singh (Reuters/File)

Manmohan Singh (Reuters/File)


  • Manmohan Singh writes to President Ram Nath Kovind
  • Asked him to advise PM Modi against using intimidating language
  • The letter refers to a speech PM Modi gave

Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, and a host of other Indian National Congress leaders, have written to President Ram Nath Kovind, asking him to advise Prime Minister Narendra Modi against using “unwarranted, threatening and intimidating” language.

The letter refers to a speech PM Modi gave while campaigning for the Karnataka assembly election. On May 6, while speaking in Karnataka’s Hubli, PM Modi had said, “Congress ke neta kaan khol ke sun lijeye, agar seemayo ko paar kaorogi, toh yeh Modi hai, lene ke dene pad jayenge (Congress leaders should listen to me with open ears, if you cross your limits, this is Modi, you will have to pay).”

The Congress leaders’ letter mentions this quote and says that the “threat held out by the prime minister to the [Congress’s] leadership deserves to be condemned. This cannot be the language of the prime minister of a constitutionally governed democratic country of 1.3 billion people.”

“Such discourse whether in public or private is unacceptable conduct. The words used are menacing and intimidating with [an] intent to insult and provoke breach of the peace,” the letter further says.

Apart from Manmohan Singh, the letter has been signed by Mallikarjun Kharge, P Chidambaram, Ambika Soni, Anand Sharma, Motilal Vora, Karan Singh, Ahmed Patel and Kamal Nath among others.

The letter begins with the oath that the prime minister takes on assuming office and then goes on to say, “In the past, all prime ministers of India have maintained immense dignity and decorum in discharge of public or private functions/actions. It is unthinkable [that the PM] would utter words which are threatening, intimidating in content and a public warning to the leaders and members” of the Congress.

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BJP leaders’ firm that bought Nagrota land owes Rs 29.31 crore to J&K Bank, account NPA

Nirmal Singh received a strong letter from the Corps Commander of the Army’s 16 Corps, Lt General Saranjeet Singh, telling him to halt construction on the plot since it was illegal and a security risk to the ammunition depot and to the personnel who lived there.

by Arun Sharma , Muzamil Jaleel | Jammu/new Delhi |

J&K BJP leaders’ land row: Omar Abdullah seeks probe into Army’s concernsNirmal Singh’s house under construction. (Express Photo by Arun Sharma)HIMGIRI Infrastructure Development Limited, the company incorporated in 2000 by senior BJP leaders in Jammu which was used to buy land next to the Army ammunition depot in Nagrota, owes Rs 29.31 crore to Jammu and Kashmir Bank. And its account was declared a non-performing asset (NPA) in December last year, records investigated by The Indian Express show.

Days later, on January 5 this year, present Deputy Chief Minister Kavinder Guptaand Assembly Speaker Nirmal Singh (he was Deputy CM then), his wife Mamta Singh and BJP Lok Sabha member Jugal Kishore, along with nearly 20 shareholders, promoters, directors and guarantors, received a notice from the bank under Section 13(2) of the Securitisation and Reconstruction of Financial Assets & Enforcement of Security Interest Act (SARFAESI), 2002.


As The Indian Express first reported on Friday, Singh’s wife and Gupta also owned land next to the Army depot. Singh received a strong letter from the Corps Commander of the Army’s 16 Corps, Lt General Saranjeet Singh, telling him to halt construction on the plot since it was illegal and a security risk to the ammunition depot and to the personnel who lived there.

The bank’s Assistant Vice-President Joginder Pal Sharma, who is shown to have served the notice, declined to comment.

Jammu and Kashmir Deputy CM Nirmal Singh resignsJammu and Kashmir former Deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Singh. (Source: File photo)According to the notice, a term loan of Rs 18.50 crore along with a cash credit facility of Rs 56.83 lakh was sanctioned to Himgiri by the bank’s Link Road, Jammu, branch in 2012, for part financing of a power project to be set up in Himachal’s Chamba district. Nirmal Singh was Power Minister and Deputy Chief Minister since 2015 till he was made Speaker in a reshuffle last month.

Himgiri, with an authorised share capital of Rs 50 lakh and paid-up capital of an equal amount, was incorporated as a private company in September 2000. It got a 3 MW hydel power project in Chamba district in 2001 when Prem Kumar Dhumal was the Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh.


Records show that in 2015, the bank sanctioned an additional term loan of Rs 6.60 crore to meet an estimated cost run and another loan of Rs 4 crore in 2016.

When contacted, Nirmal Singh admitted having received the notice from the bank. “The loan has to be repaid and I have only acted as mortgagor/guarantor for the company in which my wife was a director. She resigned as director in June 2017, but she continues to be a shareholder in the company,” he said.

The site near Nagrota depot.Kavinder Gupta, when contacted, said that he had resigned as director of the company in 2014 after winning the Assembly elections from Gandhi Nagar constituency. He admitted having received the notice and said “we are looking for a partner for finances so as to complete the remaining work” on the power project. “It (losses) can happen with anybody… What is so objectionable?… We have not done any fraud with the government,” he said.

Among others who have got a notice from the bank are Jyoti Parkash, Executive Director of Himgiri who has been an RSS pracharak in Bhaderwah, and Chairman Surinder Mohan Gupta, who is associated with the Dr Hedgewar Smarak Samiti.

The bank’s notice has asked them “to clear the entire liability of Rs 29,31,13,578 together with costs, penal interest and other charges within 60 days from the date of notice”. In case of failure, it warns them, the bank may take possession or management of their secured assets, including the right to transfer them by way of lease, assignment or sale for realising the secured assets.

The company mortgaged with the bank all its moveable (plant and machinery) as well as immoveable property, measuring 3.5338 hectares, at Protha, Sara and Rajindu areas of Chamba. Several of its directors have also mortgaged their landholdings.


Militants must appeal first: Ally BJP’s red flag on J&K 'unilateral ceasefire'Deputy CM Kavinder GuptaKavinder Gupta mortaged his 10 marlas (1 marla is 272 sq feet) in Udhampur’s Omara area and Nirmal Singh mortgaged 3 kanals (1 kanal is 20 marlas) and 14-marla land at Sunjwan, Jammu. Himgiri Chairman Surinder Mohan Gupta and Director Satish Sethi mortgaged a hall on second floor in the commercial K C Plaza Complex, Vir Marg, in Jammu, together with all constructions.

It was in 2014 that Himgiri went on to buy land next to the Nagrota Army ammunition depot.

“We got the land registered in our name in 2014,” said Jyoti Parkash. “The land was purchased by the company at the rate of Rs 12,500-Rs 15,000 per marla with an idea to invest money in property as our power project had already been delayed,” he said.

Within a year of this purchase, when the BJP formed a coalition government with Peoples Democratic Party in J&K, the state government identified land for IIT, IIM and a zoo next door.

BJP leaders’ firm that bought Nagrota land owes Rs 29.31 crore to J&K Bank, account NPA

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Pressure mounts on Sudan to pardon teen bride for killing ‘rapist’ husband #JusticeforNoura #Vaw

The United Nations and international rights groups have called on Sudan to pardon a 19-year-old girl sentenced to death after she killed her husband as he tried to rape her, saying that she is a victim of child marriage and acted in self-defence.

Noura Hussein is facing death by hanging after a Sharia court, which follows Islamic religious laws, found her guilty of premeditated murder for stabbing her husband as he raped her in April. On Thursday, the court sentenced her to death.

The UN Women, UN Population Fund and UN Office of the Special Advisor on Africa on Sunday appealed to President Omar Hassan al-Bashir’s government for clemency for Hussein.

“Reports indicate that she was forced against her will into marriage at the age of 16. She was raped by her husband while his three male relatives held her down,” said a joint statement.

“Speaking as the voices of women and girls of the world, we plead with the government of Sudan to save the life of Hussein.” Noura Hussein said her father made her contractually marry her cousin when she was 16, but she refused to accept and sought refuge with a relative for three years.

She returned to her family home on the outskirts of the capital Khartoum in April this year after her father said the marriage was canceled, but found that she had been duped and preparations for her wedding ceremony were underway.

Hussein said she refused to have sex with her husband after the ceremony, but on the sixth day, he raped her as three of his male relatives restrained her.

The following day, he attempted to rape her again and as she struggled to stop him, she stabbed him, killing him.

Campaigners said Hussein sought help from her family, but fearing reprisals from her dead husband’s relatives, her father handed her over to the police.

Hussein’s lawyers said they are preparing to appeal against the court’s decision and have until May 25 to do so.

The case has attracted international attention. Social media users on Twitter and Facebook are sharing her story under the hashtag #JusticeForNoura, and a petition on has attracted almost 300,000 signatures.

Amnesty International has started a campaign asking people to appeal to Sudan’s Minister of Justice Idris Ibrahim Jamil.

“The courts are saying Noura is guilty of premeditated murder — even though she was defending herself from being raped by a man she was forced to marry when she was just a young teenager,” said Amnesty International in a statement.

Several human rights organisations including Amnesty International, Afrika Youth Movement and Equality Now are also calling for attention to the case. In a letter to Sudan’s President Omar Hassan Ahmad al- Bashir, Equality Now writes, “criminalisation of Noura for defending herself from assault and in particular a death sentence would violate her rights under the Sudanese Constitution and international law,” pointing out that the ruling violated Articles 14 and 15 of their constitution.

The organisation also “respectfully urged” the president drop all criminal charges against Noura, to review “penal codes” on rape and to create laws to prevent sexual violence against women and children in Sudan.

Amnesty International is also calling for the ruling to be overturned, “Noura Hussein is a victim and the sentence against her is an intolerable act of cruelty … the Sudanese authorities must quash this grossly unfair sentence and ensure that Noura gets a fair re-trial that takes into account her mitigating circumstances” said Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for East Africa Seif Magango.

Sudan is one of the worst countries for women in regards to equal rights. According to the United Nations Development Programme, Sudan is ranked 165 out of 188 on the Gender Development Index (GDI) scale. The GDI is determined by gender inequalities measured by health, education and command over economic resources. Additionally, in Sudan a girl can marry as young as 10 years old.

Sudan is ranked 165 out of 188 countries on the UN’s Gender Inequality Index, which measures how women fare compared to men when it comes to access to health, education, political participation and employment opportunities.

UN Women says violence against women and girls is prevalent in Sudan. Marital rape and child marriage are not considered crimes in the predominately Muslim African nation.


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