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Archives for : October2018

Assam- 2 Ex-Maj Gen, 2 Colonels get life term for fake encounter after 24 years #AFSPA

4 Soldiers Also Guilty In 1994 Assam Killing

Guwahati/New Delhi:

Twenty-four years after a fake encounter in which five leaders of All Assam Students Union were killed by the Army, a summary general court martial has sentenced a former Major General, two Colonels and four soldiers to life imprisonment.

The judgment, pronounced by the court martial held at the 2 Infantry Mountain Division at Dinjan in Dibrugarh district of Assam on Saturday, will have to be confirmed by “higher competent authorities” like the Eastern Army Command in Kolkata and the Army headquarters in New Delhi. “This can take two to three months,” a source said.

Sources said the seven held guilty are Major General A K Lal, Colonels Thomas Mathew and R S Sibiren, and junior commissioned officers (JCOs) and non-commissioned officers (NCOs) Dilip Singh, Jagdeo Singh, Albindar Singh and Shivendar Singh. They can file appeals against the verdict in the armed forces tribunal and the Supreme Court.

Lal, incidentally, was removed as commander of the strategically located 3 Infantry Division in Leh in September 2007 after a woman officer accused him of “misconduct” and “misbehaviour” on the pretext of teaching her yoga. He was dismissed from service in December 2010 after a court martial, but the armed forces tribunal later restored his retirement benefits.

Gen: Will deal sternly with all cases of wrongdoings

The new court martial verdict revolves around the extra-judicial killing of AASU activists Prabin Sonowal, Pradip Dutta, Debajit Biswas, Akhil Sonowal and Bhaben Moran after a unit of the Punjab Regiment had picked them up along with four others from different places in Tinsukia between February 17 and 19 in 1994.

The Army had detained the nine at the Dholla Army Camp after the general manager of Assam Frontier Tea Limited at Talap Tea Estate, Rameswar Singh, was killed by Ulfa militants. Five of them were later killed in the infamous Dangari fake encounter case on February 23. The then AASU vicepresident and now BJP leader in the state, Jagadish Bhuyan, had fought for justice singlehandedly in the Guwahati high court, which led to a CBI probe in the case. Chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal was AASU president at that time.

Though the CBI had also lodged a case against accused soldiers after recording statements of the survivors and other witnesses, the Army had obtained permission from the court to try them under military law.

“The seven men have been dismissed from service and sentenced to life imprisonment. For 24 years, I have never once lost faith in Indian democracy, Indian judiciary and the Indian Army. The Army has given exemplary punishment to its own officers and men on finding them guilty and this has amplified the glory of the Army,” Bhuyan said.

The landmark judgment comes at a time when almost 750 Army officers and soldiers have filed petitions in the SC against any move to dilute the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), which gives military personnel special rights and immunity to operate in ‘disturbed areas’ like J&K and the Northeast.

Army chief General Bipin Rawat, on his part, has said the force will stand firmly with all its soldiers who operate and conduct bonafide counter-insurgency operations in Kashmir and the northeast but will deal sternly with cases of wrongdoing, aberrations and moral turpitude. The Army argues the AFSPA is an “enabling Act” that provides “operational flexibility and protection” to military personnel operating in “extremely hostile environments” against terrorists and other inimical forces.

‘They took my husband, killed innocent men in cold blood’

Kin Of Men Killed In Assam Fake Encounter Get Justice 24 Yrs On


The wait was 24 years long. But when an Army court martial sentenced seven Army personnel to life imprisonment for a fake encounter in which five All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) leaders were killed, it gave their families a sense of closure.

The harrowing memories, however, won’t go away. “It was 10.30am on February 17, 1994. Four armed soldiers and a civilian came to our house. They took my husband away. I never saw him again,” recalls Lileswari Moran, widow of Bhaben Moran, one of the five AASU leaders killed by the Army. Lileswari was 28 at the time.

Bhaben was “taken” by soldiers of Dhola-based 18 Punjab Regiment with four others – Prabin Sonowal, Pradip Dutta, Debajit Biswas and Akhil Sonowal – all from the Dangari area at Doomdooma in Tinsukia district and then killed at Dibru-Saikhowa National Park.

His widow, Lileswari, now 52, has found some solace in the verdict. “Families of the others killed in the fake encounter also feel vindicated. But I personally think the guilty deserve death by hanging,” Lileswari says. She adds, “They killed innocent men in cold blood … My husband was an innocent man. We were struggling to make ends meet and the Army personnel just took him away, labelled him an Ulfa terrorist and shot him dead.”

For AASU, too, it was a battle won at long last. After the verdict, AASU members, led by organising secretary Dipankar Sonowal and family members, held a shradhanjali programme for the five AASU leaders at the Pancha Swahid Memorial situated at Dangari. The memorial was set up in memory of the five youths who were later declared ‘swahids’ (martyrs) by AASU. “We are happy that the guilty personnel have been awarded life sentence. We have been fighting for this for 24 years,” AASU leader Dipankar Sonowal says.

The long wait has not been easy on the families of the victims. “After my husband died, I had to take over all responsibilities. My in-laws were old, I had five young children but did not have a job,” Lileswari says.

Memorial for All Assam Students’ Union leaders who were killed


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‘Not Hindu’: Scientist booted out from US garba #WTFnews


A renowned astrophysicist from Vadodara who is now settled in US has alleged that he, along with his three friends, was thrown out from a garba venue in Atlanta on Friday by the organisers because their surnames “didn’t appear to be Hindu”.

Karan Jani (29), who in 2016 had made it to the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) team in US that discovered the gravitational waves, took to Twitter and Facebook to allege that he was thrown out of the venue by the organisers at Sri Shakti Mandir. Jani, who said he had been doing garba at this venue for the last six years and had never faced any such problem, said he spoke to the organisers in Gujarati, but they refused to budge.

He narrated his account along with a video on social media and wrote: “Year 2018 & Shakti Mandir in Atlanta, USA denied me and my friends entry from playing garba because: ‘You don’t look Hindu and last name in your IDs don’t sound Hindu’.”

Talking to TOI on phone from Atlanta, Jani said that when one of his friends gave the volunteers at the temple his ID proof, they said he won’t be allowed because his surname ended with ‘wala’ and it didn’t seem to be a Hindu sur name.

Jani tweeted that one of the volunteers pulled one of his friends out of the queue. She is a Konkani who had come to the garba for the first time. He posted on Twitter that the volunteer told her, “We don’t come to your events, you are not allowed to ours.” Jani said when she told the volunteer that her last name was Murdeshwar and that she was a Kannada-Marathi, the volunteer said: “What is Kannada? You are Ismaili.”

Jani said he had never faced such discrimination “even from the Americans during my 12 years of stay here”.

“They behaved very rudely with my two female friends. Imagine, they illtreated women during a festival dedicated to worshipping a Goddess. I had tears in my eyes,” he said. An email sent to Shri Shakti Mandir remained unanswered till the time of going to press.

Jani said he received a call from the temple’s management later and added that the chairman apologised saying the temple doesn’t believe in such discrimination. “He said it was miscommunication on the part of the volunteers. But the treatment meted out to us was embarrassing,” Jani said.

Jani said the organisers told him he didn’t ‘look Hindu’ and his last name on his ID card didn’t ‘sound Hindu’

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SC to Consider Reinstatement of Judge Who Quit Alleging Sexual Harassment #MeToo Judiciary

The district judge had resigned in 2014 after allegedly being harassed by the senior judge. The inquiry panel was set up in 2015 after 58 members of the Rajya Sabha, gave a notice to move a motion to impeach the HC judge.

New Delhi: As the #MeToo movement grows in India, the Supreme Court on Friday agreed to examine a plea of reinstatement of a woman judicial officer, who quit in 2014 alleging sexual harassment by a high court judge in Madhya Pradesh.

A bench headed by Justice AK Sikri admitted the petition by the former district and sessions judge and issued a notice to the MP High Court.

“The notices will be returnable in six weeks. We will hear it after we get a response,” said the bench, as the woman’s lawyer Indira Jaising pressed for urgency.

The petition has cited the report submitted by an inquiry panel constituted by the Rajya Sabha.

The inquiry panel was set up in 2015 after 58 members of the Rajya Sabha, gave a notice to move a motion to impeach the HC judge.

The report by the committee, comprising Supreme Court judge Justice R Banumathi, Justice (since retired) Manjula Chellur and senior advocate K K Venugopal, was tabled in the Rajya Sabha in December last.

The report concluded that the allegations of sexual harassment could not be “proved beyond reasonable doubt”. The panel has, however, added that the decision to transfer the woman judge “mid-session” was “not justified”.

“Under these circumstances, the complainant probably had no option than to submit her resignation since her elder daughter was pursuing Board XII exam. In these circumstances, we find that the transfer of the complainant to Sidhi has become unbearable for her to continue in service, resulting in her resignation,” the report has maintained.

Relying upon the findings on her transfer, the petition has now sought her job back

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India – 11 Film Directors pledge to not work with sex offenders #MeToo fallout

Women Filmmakers Join #MeToo Movement


Sunday brought a decisive move in India’s #MeToo movement in the entertainment industry. Eleven prominent women filmmakers issued a joint statement announcing they would never work with any proven sexual offender.

The signatories include Zoya Akhtar, Nandita Das, Konkona Sen Sharma, Meghna Gulzar, Gauri Shinde, Kiran Rao, Reema Kagti, Alankrita Shrivastava, Nitya Mehra, Ruchi Narain and Shonali Bose. “As women and filmmakers, we come together to support the #MeToolndia movement. We are in complete solidarity with the women who have come forward with honest accounts of harassment and assault. Our respect and admiration to them as their courage has started a revolution of welcome change,” the statement read.

“We are here to spread awareness to help create a safe and equal atmosphere for all in the workplace. We have also taken a stand to not work with proven offenders. We urge all our peers in the industry to do the some,” they said.

In a parallel account, writer-director Tahira Kashyap, wife of actor Ayushmann Khurrana, posted her personal account of childhood abuse saying that sometimes “relatives can be the real creeps.” “Often the closest people, especially the relatives in your life

(those whom everyone trusts), are the real creeps. I know how it feels to be violated and stifled for years altogether and how the memories make one shudder,” Kashyap tweeted. She found solace 20 years later, after confiding in her parents and her husband.

She said, “Please do not feel ashamed to expose the transgressor and most of all we haven’t brought it upon ourselves as women, teenagers, adolescents. And in my case, being a child. I urge you to not stay silent.”

She had a word of appreciation for men who are encouraging women to speak up. “Not all men think this way. When I see men giving a big push to this movement, I know the battle isn’t lost,” Kashyap wrote.

Meanwhile, Versova police started a probe into the complaint application that they received on Saturday night from actor-model Kate Sharma alleging molestation by producer-director Subhash Ghai. “No FIR has been registered. Based on the probe report, further action will be decided,” said senior inspector Ravindra Badgujar. Sharma alleged that Ghai threatened to not launch her in his picture if she left his house that day.

Ghai tweeted in response: “I am a great supporter of the #MeToo movement and women empowerment but I hope that those taking undue advantage of the movement do not end up diluting it for their own short time fame. I feel grief if some one trying to harm my reputation. Anyway my lawyers will take care of the matter.”

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