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India – 50cr mobiles with #Aadhaar KYC could be disconnected

New Delhi:

There could be a fresh KYC headache for over 50 crore mobile connections, or almost half of India’s phone population. They stare at the prospect of disconnection if SIM cards procured on the basis of Aadhaar verification are not backed up by a fresh identification.

The issue has come to the fore following the Supreme Court’s judgment on Aadhaar, where the court barred private companies from using an individual’s unique ID for authentication purposes.

The matter is now being discussed at the highest levels in the government, considering the large-scale impact it can have on citizens if phones are disconnected in vast numbers. Officials indicated that the government will give adequate time to complete fresh KYC.

On Wednesday, telecom secretary Aruna Sundararajan met mobile companies on the matter where a way out, and an alternative was discussed. The telecom department is also in discussions with the Unique Identification Authority of India over the issue.

Sundararajan told TOI that the government is mindful of the concerns in this regard and is looking to thrash a way out at the earliest.

Mobile cos await govt directions

She insisted that the government wants to make sure that “customers are not inconvenienced” during the transition. “We want to ensure that it is a smooth transition with little problems for subscribers,” she said.

A large part of the connections procured using Aadhaar would be from the stable of Reliance Jio, the newest entrant in the mobile business that began operations in September 2016 by on-boarding customers only through the biometric route. (Jio announced on Wednesday that the company had a subscriber base of over 25 crore at the end of September this year.) Apart from Jio, there would be similar subscribers (who have been given SIM cards only on the basis of Aadhaar authentication) in the fold of almost all the other phone companies—Bharti Airtel, Vodafone-Idea, and state-owned BSNL and MTNL.

Apart from these, millions of older customers are also left with only the digital Aadhaar identification since their previous pre-Aadhaar KYC paper documents may have been destroyed by telecom companies once their numbers were linked with Aadhaar. The freedom to destroy the older documents was accorded by the government in March last year since the documents were going digital by linkage with Aadhaar.

Mobile companies say they are waiting for a direction from the telecom department on the issue. “We are still not clear on the way forward. We had been asked by UIDAI to submit an ‘exit plan’ by October 15. However, a final direction on this matter will be clear only when we receive instructions from the telecom ministry,” a top official at one of the leading mobile companies said.

On the way forward, sources said that customers may now have to submit a fresh identification document as part of the KYC process. This could be a copy of the passport, driving licence, voter’s card, electricity bill, gas bill or PAN card.

The telecom department is expected to give a fresh order to the companies on the matter very soon, sources said.

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Mumbai- SNDT hostel warden shames student for outfit, strips her

SNDT hostel warden shames student for outfit, strips her

SNDT University’s hostel inmates went on a protest as word of the alleged sexual misconduct got around

HIGHLIGHTS

Over 400 inmates of the hostel sat on a dharna till evening demanding the warden’s immediate dismissal.

The protest was called off only after the university management sent the warden on ‘administrative leave’ for four days.

University authorities said that the student had herself removed her clothes to show her the infection.

The Juhu hostel campus of SNDT University erupted in fury on Sunday after the warden allegedly shamed a student over the length of her skirt and then stripped her in her room.

The alleged sexual misconduct sparked a protest—over 400 inmates of the hostel sat on a dharna till evening demanding the warden’s immediate dismissal—and prompted the police to book the purported harasser for molestation. The protest was called off only after the university management sent the warden on ‘administrative leave’ for four days.

According to one of the hostel inmates, a second-year engineering student was headed out in the afternoon when she was stopped by the warden, Rachana Zaveri, because the hem of her skirt ended above her knees. Although the 19-year-old owed nobody an explanation for her choice of outfit, she still told the warden that because of an allergic reaction on her private parts, she couldn’t wear tightfitting clothes, and that she was on her way to a doctor get the infection looked at.

SNDT hostel warden shames student for outfit, strips her

The warden, however, refused to let her go outside and allegedly dragged her into her room with two of her friends. “The warden then humiliated her and made her strip,” said one of the students who was with the victim.

She’s a habitual abuser, claim students

This allegedly wasn’t first instance of harassment on the part of the warden. Another student claimed that many inmates have been at the receiving end of Zaveri’s abuse.

“The warden has often abused, harassed us and made inappropriate comments at us. We have been complaining about her behaviour for long, but instead of taking action against her, the university would reveal the complainants’ identities to the warden.

After that Zaveri would start targeting the complainants further and threaten them with dire consequences,” alleged another student.

Girls must wear decent clothes: Registrar

University authorities said the warden had contested the student’s claims, saying that the student had herself removed her clothes to show her the infection. “The warden claimed that the student forced her to go into the room and removed her clothes, saying she was not seeing what the problem was. The warden then came out of the room,” said a faculty member.

#MeToo: Last of five-part series on sexual harassment and legal recourse: We need to think beyond deadlines

Following the protest, the university management asked the students to submit their demands in writing. “They have sought the warden’s dismissal. The letter has been forwarded to the vice-chancellor, who is in Nagpur at the moment. She will return to Mumbai on Monday. We assured the students that the situation will be handled [appropriately]. Our hostel committee will investigate the matter and take action,” said the faculty member.

She has often abused, harassed us and made inappropriate comments at us. We have been complaining for long

A hostel inmate

 

The member also said students had complained to her about the warden’s “abusive” behaviour two days ago. “They said she is abusive and that her behaviour is unacceptable. They want the warden to be removed because she is following certain rules and norms in the hostel. The issue was of students taking food from the mess to their room. Sunday’s incident aggravated the situation,” she said.

Meena Kute, registrar (additional charge), told Mirror that she has called students for a meeting on Monday to discuss their grievances. “The rector has apologised and has been sent on a fourday leave. There are boys in the hostel, so we tell women students to wear decent clothes. When girls wear short or transparent clothes, we tell them.” The students, however, have misgivings about the authorities’ assurances. “They are telling us not to escalate the matter. We fear that they would send the warden back to the hostel and harass us further,” said another student.
An officer at Santacruz police station said Zaveri has been booked under Section 354 (molestation) of the IPc. “We haven’t arrested her yet. We will look into it on Monday.”

– With inputs from Rahi Gaikwad

mumbai mirror

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Nandita Das says she will support MeToo movement despite the allegations against her father

Nandita Das has written in a Facebook post that she will keep voicing support towards the #MeToo movement even though her father, Jatin Das, has been accused of sexual harassment.

Nandita Das,MeToo movement,Jatin Das
Nandita Das has written in a Facebook post that she will continue to support the MeToo movement.(Reuters)

Actor-director Nandita Das Tuesday broke her silence over the sexual harassment allegations against her father, noted painter Jatin Das, stating that she will continue to lend support to the  #MeToo movement. A woman, who is the co-founder of a paper-making company, Tuesday came forward to claim that she was sexually harassed 14 years ago by Jatin Das, allegations which the painter dismissed as “vulgar”.

In a Facebook post, Nandita said despite the “disturbing” allegations against her father, she would continue to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the women coming forward with stories of abuse and harassment.

She also warned that women need to be “sure” about their allegations before accusing someone.

“As a strong supporter of the #MeToo movement, I want to reiterate that I will continue to add my voice to it, despite the disturbing allegations made against my father, which he has categorically denied,” she wrote on the social networking site.

“I have maintained from the very start that this is the time we all need to listen, so that women (and men) feel safe to speak up. At the same time, it is also important to be sure about allegations so as not to dilute the movement,” the actor said. Nandita said she has received support from “friends and strangers – who are concerned and are trusting my integrity”. “I do believe truth will prevail. And that is all I have to say on this matter,” she asserted. Jatin Das is the latest addition to a growing list of men who have been named as part of the #MeToo campaign that has taken the country by storm.

The woman, Nisha Bora, took to Twitter to level the allegations against the noted painter. Describing the incident, Bora, who was 28-years-old then, said Das during a dinner event asked whether she “had the time and willingness to assist him for a few days to organise his work material”, and after she gave her approval on the second day — at his Khidki village studio — he molested her.

“… He attempted to grab me. I wriggled out of his embrace, flustered. Then he did it again… I pushed him away and moved away from him.

 

“At that moment, he said ‘Come on, it would be nice’. Or something like that. What I recall was his disbelief that I was pushing back. I picked my bag… and ran home. Never to speak about it. Until now,” she said.

The Padma Bhushan awardee, however, has denied the allegations and said these days a “game” was going on to level allegations against people for the “fun” of it.

He labelled the allegations against him as “vulgar”.

“I am shocked. All kinds of things are happening these days… Some people do things and some people make allegations. I don’t know her, I have never met her, and even if I did meet somebody somewhere one doesn’t behave like this… It is vulgar,” Das told PTI.

“There is a game going on, some people are real, have done some things while some people are making allegations for the fun of it,” he added.

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India -Around 80% sexual harassment cases go unreported survey reveals #MeToo

According to the survey, 50 percent respondents said they had faced sexual harassment at workplace during regular office hours

Moneycontrol News@moneycontrolcom

While the ‘#MeToo’ movement against sexual harassment is gaining momentum on social media, a large section of women are yet to report such cases, according to an online survey.

According to a nationwide online survey on sexual harassment at workplace, conducted by LocalCircles, around 80 percent women never report harassment in India. More than 28,000 votes were polled in the survey from over 15,000 unique participants located across India.

Approximately 6,100 or 40 percent of respondents were females. The participants from tier 1 cities were 40 percent, tier 2 cities were 28 percent and tier 3 cities and rural areas were 32 percent.

According to the survey, 32 percent respondents said they, or one of their family members have experienced or observed sexual harassment at workplace.

As many as 50 percent respondents said that they faced sexual harassment at workplace during regular office hours. Around 78 percent respondents said that such cases were not reported to the human resources (HR) department.

The survey also points to another problem that people are not aware of what inappropriate behavior is.

The 2013 Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act stipulates any organisation with more than ten employees should have an independent committee to investigate allegations.

However, many organisations are not adhering to the letter of the law, or only paying lip service to it. The committees required to address these complaints and grievances are either not properly constituted or simply do not exist.

The #MeToo movement which initially started in US has gained significant momentum in India. Many women, primarily from Bollywood and media industry have come forward about sexual harassment that they faced at workplace.

The #MeToo movement took shape in India after actress Tanushree Dutta accused co-star Nana Patekar of inappropriate behaviour while shooting for a film. Since then, many individuals have been called out on social media over alleged sexual harassment.

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India – 20 Women Journalists Support Priya Ramani, To Testify Against MJ Akbar #MeToo

The journalists have urged the court to hear their testimonies against MJ Akbar, claiming that some of them suffered sexual harassment by the minister and others have been a witness to it.

20 Women Journalists Support Priya Ramani, To Testify Against MJ Akbar

19 women journalists will support Priya Ramani, who alleged sexual harassment against MJ Akbar (File)

NEW DELHI: As the #MeToo movement gains ground, 19 women journalists who have worked with ‘The Asian Age’ newspaper, came out in support of their colleague Priya Ramani who has accused union minister MJ Akbar of sexual harassment, a joint statement issued by them said.

The journalists have urged the court to hear their testimonies against MJ Akbar, claiming that some of them suffered sexual harassment by the minister and others have been a witness to it.

“Ramani is not alone in her fight. We would request the honourable court hearing the defamation case to also consider the testimonies of sexual harassment of some of us at the hands of the petitioner, as also of the other signatories who bore witness to this harassment,” the journalists said in the joint statement undersigned by them.

Meenal Baghel who worked for Asian Age (1993 to 1996), Manisha Pande (1993-1998), Tushita Patel (1993-2000), Kanika Gahlaut (1995-1998), Suparna Sharma (1993-1996), Ramola Talwar Badam (1994-1995), Hoihnu Hauzel (1999-2000), Aisha Khan (1995-1998) and Kushalrani Gulab (1993-1997) have signed the statement.

Kaniza Gazari (Asian Age 1995-1997), Malavika Banerjee (1995-1998), AT Jayanthi (1995-1996), Hamida Parkar (1996-1999), Jonali Buragohain, Meenakshi Kumar (1996-2000), Sujata Dutta Sachdeva (1999-2000), Reshmi Chakraborty (1996-98), Kiran Manral (1993-96) and Sanjari Chatterjee are the other journalists to sign the statement.

One journalist from Deccan Chronicle, Christina Francis (2005-2011), also signed the statement.

“What Akbar has demonstrated through his legal actions is his refusal to introspect, acknowledge or atone for his actions that have caused immense pain and indeed harm to many women over the years.

“He himself, in the meanwhile, continues to enjoy enormous power and privilege as minister and Member of Parliament,” the statement said.

“When Ramani spoke out against him in public, she spoke not only about her personal experience, but also lifted the lid on the culture of ‘casual misogyny, entitlement and sexual predation’ that Akbar engendered and presided over at The Asian Age,” it said.

Many journalists from multiple media platforms have come forward with their stories of harassment against the Minister of State for External Affairs under the social media campaign ‘#MeToo’ against sexual misconduct.

MJ Akbar, however, has denied the allegations and on Monday filed a private criminal defamation complaint against Ms Ramani.

Hours after returning from a trip to Africa, the union minister issued a statement trashing the charges against him, saying accusations without evidence has become a “viral fever” among some sections.

Ms Ramani on Monday asserted that she was ready to fight the defamation complaint filed against her, and expressed disappointment over the minister’s statement, saying it paid no heed to the “trauma and fear of the survivors”.

“I am ready to fight the allegations of defamation laid against me as truth and the absolute truth is my only defence,” she had said

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MJ Akbar has 97 lawyers fighting for him against one Priya Ramani #WTFnews #MeToo

Crowdfunding, legal support pours in for survivors

Mumbai: First, the 14 survivors outed MJ Akbar, the junior minister in the external affairs ministry, after years of having struggled with the suffering which they reported they were forced to undergo.  Now, they have to contend with the might of a minister who has come down like a sack of coals on a woman of grit, ironically on the birth anniversary of his namesake and one of India’s greatest emperors, Jalaluddin Mohammed Akbar.

Support is pouring in for the survivors from every quarter, online and in person, as they ready to battle the criminal defamation suit filed by the former editor. The Network of Women in Media, India, the Foundation for Media Professionals and the Brihanmumbai Union of Journalists have sent a letter of protest in solidarity with the 14 survivors to the President and Prime Minister.

But first the shocker — 97 lawyers whom Akbar has named on the ‘vakalatnama’ are the same who had fought for Tarun Tejpal, founder of Tehelka. Journalist Vinod K Jose tweeted, “How do serial sexual offenders all have the same legal defence? Tejpal had a partner of Karanjawala and Co (Sandeep Kapoor) defending him. MJ Akbar has gone to Karanjawala himself. K’wala is a friend of Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. Political might comes to destroy,” said Jose.

However, just as goddess Durga emerged from the pooling of energies of all the gods, women from all quarters have pooled in their energies and resources. The minute the petition was put out, Nidhi Razdan of NDTV expressed shock. “Just read the entire criminal defamation suit filed by MJ Akbar. He has NINETY SEVEN lawyers fighting for him! 97! Against one Priya Ramani, Well, well,” said Razdan. Senior counsel, Indira Jaising responded, saying this was just the beginning, the legal teams only get larger. “Wife and daughters and two senior women partners, included, but you have not seen it all yet, in court it will be senior lawyers, so add to the numbers,” tweeted Jaising.

The court case will surely mean huge expenses for the survivors, and an additional burden. The co-founder of the Money Life Foundation, Sucheta Dalal, suggested crowdfunding. “Hey, Priya Ramani and all the 14 who spoke up. Let’s crowd fund your defence. I am sure many top lawyers will help you fight pro bono, but we at Money Life India know there are lots of expenses involved! So think about it! Happy to support, I am sure thousands of others will too!” said Dalal.

Yet another woman was ready to donate an amount equivalent to her monthly beauty parlour expenditure to the cause of the survivors. Or, “if there is a ‘go-fund-me’ link to pay for Priya Ramani’s legal defence, hook me up. I am ready to pay the entirety of my parlour expenses for the month for her. My message to MJ Akbar, we make money and we are coming for you,” said Aishwarya. Some noted the stoic silence of the government on allowing Akbar to continue in office, and believe this is blatant politicisation of the #MeToo movement. “Not surprised by Akbar/BJP brazening it out. The most consistent thing about Modi-Shah politics is, nobody is made to go under any allegations whatsoever. Those who jumped to announce Akbar resignation should’ve googled Kuldip Singh Sengar, BJP MLA in custody for rape and murder,” said Shekhar Gupta

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NWMI- MJ Akbar must step down and submit to investigation of sexual harassment charges #MeToo

To

Hon’ble President of India,
Ram Nath Kovind
Rashtrapati Bhavan,
New Delhi

The Prime Minister of India,
Narendra Modi
Prime Minister’s Office,
New Delhi

15.10.2018

Sub: Defamation case against journalist Priya Ramani by MoS MJ Akbar 

Respected Sirs,

The Network of  Women in Media, India, along with  Foundation for Media Professionals and BrihanMumbai Union of Journalists, stands in solidarity with Priya Ramani and others who have accused former editor and current Union Minister of State MJ Akbar of sexual misconduct, and condemn what we see as a concerted effort to throttle an equal rights movement by using the threat of defamation suits to intimidate women who have gathered the courage to speak up.

We express our deep dismay at the allegations of sexual harassment, including assault, levelled by several journalists against Mr Akbar who continues to hold office in the Central Government despite these allegations.

The accounts pertain to his years as an editor with leading newspapers and newsmagazines in India, in interacting with women journalists. In several accounts, the journalists have stated that he continued to harass them while they were employed in various positions in the media houses that he headed.

In addition to Priya Ramani, the journalists include Anju Bharti, Ghazala Wahab, Harinder S. Baweja, Kadambari M. Wade, Kanika Gahlaut, Majlie de Puy Kamp, Malini Bhupta, Prerna S. Bindra, Ruth S. David, Saba Naqvi, Shuma Raha, Shutapa Paul and Suparna Sharma.

Mr Akbar has initiated legal action against Ms Ramani. We are extremely concerned that he continues to be a minister in the Union council of ministers even as he pursues whatever legal course of action he plans. You will agree this is highly unethical and improper and would cast a cloud over any investigation of his alleged misdeeds, besides undermining the independence, justice and fair play that any citizen can expect from such proceedings.

A criminal defamation charge is a clear attempt to bully, intimidate and silence those who are bringing to light systemic abuse of women by men in powerful positions. It is designed to push women back into silent compliance and will silence the voices of the many who have not yet spoken up.

We would like to point out that Section 499 of the IPC, which pertains to defamation, cites exceptions in case of “imputation of truth which public good requires to be made or published”. In the case of Mr Akbar, we strongly believe this holds true for a large section of women who may not otherwise find the voice to speak of sexual abuse.

In recent years, women have made great strides in various professional fields. In many cases, these women are the first generation from their families to have careers and hold jobs. The Constitution guarantees women the status of equal citizens and the Sexual Harassment of Women at the Workplace (Prevention and Prohibition) Act, 2013 is designed to protect women from sexual assault, thereby creating safer work spaces for them.

The past 10 days have seen an unprecedented wave of public statements by women across sectors about their experiences of sexual harassment and violence in the workplace. Many women have spoken out at great personal and professional cost. Across media, entertainment and corporate houses, those accused of sexual harassment are being asked to step down or submit to an enquiry as per law. By ignoring this defining moment, and watching silently while a government minister sues a woman who has spoken out, your government is giving a regressive message: that the fundamental right to life, safety and dignity of a sizeable section of the workforce does not matter. It’s an attempt to thwart democracy.

We demand that: 

  • MJ Akbar submit to an independent investigation.
  • The Ministry of External Affairs ask Mr Akbar to step down from office pending investigation.
  • The case against Ms Ramani be dropped by Mr Akbar.
  • All support be extended by the government to women in their struggle for justice.
  • That Ms Sushma Swaraj, Union Minister for External Affairs, take workplace harassment seriously and not encourage intimidatory tactics against women who have complained.

Network of Women in Media, India
Foundation of Media Professionals
BrihanMumbai Union of Journalists

Abhinandan Sekhri, CEO, Newslandry
Abhishek Choudhary
Alex D’souza, Mumbai
Alka Dhupkar
Ammu Joseph, Bengaluru
Amrita Dutta, Associate Editor, The Indian Express
Amrita Madhukalya
Ananya Chakraborti
Angshukanta Chakraborty
Ankita Anand
Anna Cheriac, Bengaluru
Anna MM Vetticad, Independent Journalist
Annie Thomas, Chennai
Anumeha Yadav, Delhi
Aparna Karthikeyan, Mumbai
Aradhna Wai
Archana Jha
Arti Jaiman, Community Broadcaster, Delhi
Ashlin Mathew, News Editor, National Herald
Avantika Mehta, New Delhi
Chandni Doulatramani
Chhavi Bhatia
Chitra Ahanthem, Imphal, Manipur
Chitrangda Chowdhury
DVL Padma Priya, Independent Journalist
Deepanjana Pal
Dhamini Ratnam
Dhanya Rajendran
Disha Shetty
Divya Rajagopal
Dushyant, Chief Editor, NewsCentral24X7.com
Geeta Seshu, Mumbai
Gita Aravamudan, Bengaluru
Gita Bakshi
Heena Khandelwal
Inder Jain, General Secretary, BrihanMumbai Union of Journalists
Indulekha Aravind, Bengaluru
Jairaj Singh
Jayaditya Gupta, executive editor, ESPN India
Jyoti Punwani, Mumbai
Kajal Iyer, Mumbai
Kalpana Sharma, Mumbai
Kamayani Bali Mahabal, feminist and human rights activist, Mumbai
Kavita Shanmugham, Bengaluru
Kiran Manral
Laxmi Murthy, Bengaluru
Lakshmy Venkiteswaran, Chennai
Lesley Esteves, Journalist, New Delhi
MJ Pande, Mumbai
Madhavi Rajadhyaksha, Mumbai
Madhur Singh, India Correspondent, Bloomberg Law
Mahesh Rajput, UNI, Chandigarh
Maitri Porechha
Malini Subramaniam, Hyderabad
Manisha Pande, Delhi
Megha Moorthy, Associate Managing Editor, The Asian Age
Melanie P Kumar, Independent Writer, Bengaluru
Minnie Vaid, documentary film maker and author
Manoj Mitta, independent journalist and author, Delhi
Namita Bhandare
Navya P K, Independent journalist, Kerala
Neelam Jeena
Neeta Kolhatkar, Mumbai
Neha Dara, Chandigarh
Neha Dixit, Delhi
Neha Thirani Bagri, independent journalist, Mumbai
Nikhil Ghanekar
Niloufer Venkatraman
Nimmi Chauhan, Ahmedabad
Padmaja Shaw, Hyderabad
Prabhat Sharan, Mumbai
Praveen Donthi, Delhi
Priyanka Dubey
Prerna Thakurdesai
Prema Vishwanathan
R Akhileshwari, Journalist and Academic
Radhika Ramaseshan New Delhi
Ragamalika Karthikeyan, Bangalore
Raghu Karnad
Rahul Pandita, Delhi
Rajashri Dasgupta, Kolkata
Raksha Kumar, independent journalist
Raman Kirpal
Ranjitha Gunasekaran, Chennai
Ranjona Banerji, freelance journalist, Dehradun
Rehmat Merchant, Bengaluru
Rema Nagarajan
Renu Ramanath, Kochi
Revati Laul, Independent Journalist, Delhi
Revathi Siva Kumar
Rina Mukherjee, Pune
Ritika Jain
Ritupurna Chatterjee
Rohini Mohan, independent journalist, Bengaluru
Rosamma Thomas, Pune
Roshni P Nair, The Ken
SN Sinha, President, Indian Journalists Union (IJU), New Delhi
Sabina Inderjit, Vice President, Indian Journalists Union and International Federation of Journalists
Sahaya Teresa, Chennai
Sameera Khan, Mumbai
Samrat Chakrabarti
Samrat Choudhury
Sana Shakeel
Sandhya Srinivasan, Mumbai
Sandhya Ravishankar, Independent Author and Journalist, Chennai
Sandhya Taksale, Pune
Sanyukta Dharmadhikari
Sarika Ravindran, Times of India, Mumbai
Sarika Sharma
Shone Satheesh
Sarita Santoshini
Satyen K Bordoloi, columnist and scriptwriter, Mumbai
Shamik Bag, Independent Journalist, Kolkata
Sharda Ugra
Sharmila Joshi, Mumbai
Shefali Sadhu-Banerjee, Senior Producer, features and documentaries, ABP MAJHA, Mumbai
Shobhan, Mumbai
Shobana Rupakumar, Chennai
Smita Gupta
Smita Nair
Smita Ramanathan, Bengaluru
Sukhwant Basra, Chandigarh
Sumana Mukherjee
Sumita Jaiswal, Patna
Sunanda Beecha Mehta
Swapna Majumdar, Independent Journalist
Urvashi Sarkar
Vasanthi Hariprakash, independent journalist, Bengaluru

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Why this #MeToo doesn’t make it to the headlines

Social media has highlighted sexual harassment in offices, but there’s little recourse for those who work in homes

New Delhi:

It’s been over 10 years but Nisha (name changed) still remembers the discomfort of the gaze of her employer’s ageing father as she went about doing household chores. She called him ‘dadaji’ (grandfather) but that did not deter him from trying to hold her hand. He would wander into her room, and use his age as an excuse to seek assistance from the young domestic worker.

Nisha was then in her early 20s. She now knows that was workplace sexual harassment, but the knowledge alone does not help lakhs of women like her in the unorganised sector who are unable to take action.

The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 provides for local complaints committees at the district level for workers from the unorganised sector. Domestic workers neither know of this provision nor how to reach authorities. Their biggest fear is counter allegations of theft which results in loss of livelihood.

As the #MeToo movement brings the issue of workplace safety to the fore, the rights of the lakhs of women, most of them migrants from rural India’s poverty-stricken regions who work in urban homes as domestic workers, have also come into focus.

Anita Yadav, founder of Mahila Kamgar Sangathan in Gurgaon, says most domestic workers do not talk about harassment but only report assault, rape and forced labour. The organisation, which has around 7,000 domestic workers as members, has recently started work on awareness building about sexual harassment.

Nisha, who is now part of this awareness drive with domestic workers, says she was 20 when she came to Delhi from a village in Jharkhand’s Gumla district in 2003. A placement agency got her the job. “I didn’t like the grandfather’s behaviour, but did not know it was sexual harassment,” she says. When the man began entering her room, Nisha went to his daughter-in-law. “I had the courage to complain only because I knew she did not like him,” she says.

A 2012 poll by Oxfam India found that the women most vulnerable to workplace harassment are labourers (29%), domestic workers (23%), and small-scale manufacturing unit workers (16%).

Sanjay Kumar, India director of Harvard’s Mittal Institute, says there is a need to create deterrence at the community level. “Residents’ welfare associations can start by creating committees for domestic workers to report cases. These can be linked to district authorities where the local complaints committees must be set up,” he says.

Ravi Kant, president of voluntary organisation Shakti Vahini, says enforcing the law for the unorganised sector has been dismal. “We will ask the government to create awareness through advertisements,” he says. “Regulating placement agencies is critical to defining the employer-employee relationship,” he says.

SILENT LABOUR: While domestic workers report assault and forced labour, they rarely talk about sexual harassment

TOI

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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

Dibrugarh:

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

TOI

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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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