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Archives for : Karnataka

Karnataka State launches Health Adalat

It will address health issues at the grassroots

HEALTHJSA
Karnataka became the first State in the country to launch a Health Adalat on Tuesday to address health issues at the grassroots and ensure all health facilities extended by the government reached all sections of society.

Health and Family Welfare Minister U.T. Khader, who launched the adalat here, heard people on the problems they encountered in obtaining facilities in government hospitals and also availing themselves of benefits under other programmes.

Mr. Khader said that the State government thought of launching the adalat following complaints voiced in the media by the public about the lack of facilities in government hospitals.

The move was also aimed at narrowing the gap between the Health Department and the elected representatives who function as a bridge between the government and the people. “The adalat will also provide an opportunity to health officials to introspect on the implementation of government programmes,” he added.

Mr. Khader said that several programmes, including the school health programme under which doctors should regularly visit schools to assess the health status of all children, are not known to the people. Under the programme, if schoolchildren require medical care, they should be referred to a government hospital and provided free treatment. Every school should have a health card for every one of their students.

Chincholi MLA Umesh Jadav and elected representatives from the Gulbarga Zilla Panchayat, including Leader of Opposition Sanjeev Yakapur, complained that none of the government programmes have been given any publicity and that they were not aware of school health programme. Taking exception to the functioning of the Health and Family Welfare Department, Mr. Khader pulled up the officials in-charge of the school health programme and directed the department to hold a workshop for elected representatives and provide them with details of all government programmes.

When representatives of different organisations and the people complained about the shortage of doctors and lack of treatment facilities in health centres and hospitals, the Minister said that the Health and Family Welfare Department should organise taluk-level health camps to extend the benefits of the Vajpayee Arogyashree programme to the needy.

http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/tp-karnataka/karnataka-launches-health-adalat/article6374691.ece

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Karnataka – You could be in jail under the Goonda Act , even before committing crime #WTFnews

We the goondas

We the goondas
You need not commit these ‘offences’. The govt has to just believe you are about to commit them
You can now be arrested in Karnataka even before you commit an offence under the IT Act. You could be in jail under the Goonda Act even if not guilty under the Indian Copyright Act. If govt thinks you are planning to send a ‘lascivious’ photo to a WhatsApp group, or forwarding a copyrighted song, you can be arrestedHave a smartphone? Run for cover. Bizarre as this might sound, the cops are going to come after you if you so much as forward a song to a friend. Forget actually doing it, any plans to do so could land you in serious trouble too. You could be labelled a ‘goonda’ in the eyes of the State and find yourself behind bars.

In a completely unfathomable move, Karnataka has brought most offences under the Information Technology Act, 2000, and Indian Copyright Act, 1957, under the ambit of the Goonda Act. Until now, people with a history of offences like bootlegging, drug offences and immoral trafficking could be taken into preventive custody. But the government, in its enthusiasm, while adding acid attackers and sexual predators to the law, has also added ‘digital offenders’. While it was thought to be against audio and video pirates, Bangalore Mirror has found it could be directed at all those who frequent FB, Twitter and the online world, posting casual comments and reactions to events unfolding around them.

So if you are planning a digital ‘offence’ — which could be an innocuous opinion like the young girls’ in Mumbai after the bandh declared on Bal Thackeray’s death — that could attract the provisions of the Information Technology Act. You can even be taken into preventive custody like a ‘goonda’. Even those given exceptions under the Indian Copyright Act can find themselves in jail for a year without being presented before a magistrate. Technically, if you are even planning to forward ‘lascivious’ memes and images to a WhatsApp group or forwarding a song or ‘copyrighted’ PDF book, you can be punished under the Goondas Act.

The law-makers clearly did not dwell much on the implications while bringing the majority of the populace within the ambit of this law. On July 28, the Karnataka Legislature passed (it took barely a minute from tabling to voice vote), ‘The Karnataka Prevention of Dangerous Activities of Bootleggers, Drug-offenders, Gamblers, Goondas, Immoral Traffic Offenders, Slum-grabbers and Video or Audio Pirates, (Amendment) Bill, 2014’. The amendment adds, “Acid attackers, Depradator of Environment, Digital Offenders, Money Launderers and Sexual Predators”, to the title. In common parlance, this law is known as the ‘Goonda Act’.

The move has come as a shock to the legal community which has slammed it, terming it an attempt by the state to usurp central powers. The government had earlier included ‘piracy’ under the Goonda Act. But it was applicable only to those pirating film DVDs. Now, this will include books, film songs, music, software or anything big corporates and multinationals claim they have copyright on.

Sunil Abraham, executive director, Centre for Internet and Society, is left in no doubt that the new law is “a terrible thing”. “It is a sad development. It is not just bringing the provisions of the IT Act, but also the Copyright Act, that will hurt the common man,” he said.

‘Digital Offenders’ means “any person who knowingly or deliberately violates, for commercial purposes, any copyright law in relation to any book, music, film, software, artistic or scientific work and also includes any person who illegally enters through the identity of another user and illegally uses any computer or digital network for pecuniary gain for himself or any other person or commits any of the offences specified under sections 67, 68, 69, 70, 71, 72, 73, 74 and 75 of the Information Technology Act, 2000.”

Section 67 of the IT Act will be the most dangerous for the common man with a smartphone in hand now. The section, “Publishing of information which is obscene in electronic form,” includes “any material which is lascivious or appeal to the prurient interest.” This could have a very broad interpretation.

Advocate Nagendra Naik says, “The Goonda Act provides for preventive arrest. In the Information Technology Act and The Copyright Act, you have to commit the offence to be arrested. But here, you can be taken into preventive custody even before you commit the said offences. In normal arrests, you can straightaway apply for bail. But under the Goonda Act, you cannot. There is a long process of review and you will be in custody at least till then. The third impact is, you can have a history sheet started against you by the police. Technically, your slips on WhatsApp will attract the Goonda Act against you.”

Supreme Court advocate KV Dhananjay said the Goonda Act is a draconian piece of legislation and it necessarily mocks at the institution of courts and lawyers. “After the passage of the various amendments to the Goonda Act, Karnataka now looks like a mini North Korea where police mood swings will decide whether the ordinary citizen has any right at all,” he said.

Advocate Shyam Sundar, says, “What if your smartphone has a list of repeated material sent out over days or weeks. Most people do not even know if their phones are affected by viruses which could be sending out such material. Another example is of Facebook. There are so many FB pages with pornographic content. If someone who has subscribed to such a page sends you a friend request and you accept it, that content will surface on your page. It will have a history of repetition. The amendment clearly opens up huge problems for the common people. There is no doubt of the law being grossly misused and the amendment to include provisions of the IT Act has been done without application of mind. What is lascivious appeal in the first place? A porn star has been made a film star in India. Is this not lust? Are there enough filters in place to secure your smartphone from online abuse?”

The new law will in all probability create more corruption than anything else, say experts. Dhananjay says, “Until last week, police postings in Bangalore and other bigger cities were selling for tens of lakhs. Thanks to these amendments, some postings that enforce the Goonda Act will now sell for a couple of crores. The public will not feel safe due to this draconian legislation. Those who enforce the Goonda Act, however, will become richer through corruption, thanks to the fear created by these new amendments.”

One year in jail for the innocent too

Sunil Abraham gives two examples by which the amended Goonda Act will become a ruthless piece of legislation. “If I publish an image of a naked body as part of a scientific article about the human body, is it obscene or not? It will not be obscene and, if I am arrested under the IT Act, I will be produced before the magistrate within 24 hours and can explain it to him. But now, I will be arrested under the Goonda Act and need not be produced before a magistrate for 90 days. It can be extended to one year. So for one year, I will be in jail even if I have not committed any wrong. Another example pertains to bringing offences under the Copyright Act under the Goonda Act. In the Copyright Act, there is an exception for reporting, research, educational and people with disability. A visually impaired person, for example, can, without paying royalty, convert a book into another format like Braille or audio and share it with another visually impaired person on a non-profit basis. But if he is arrested under Goonda Act, he will be in jail for one year, even before he does it.”

HAVE THEY READ STATUTE?

Supreme Court advocate KV Dhananjay says, “The definition of a ‘digital offender’ is simply laughable. I do not think that whoever asked the state government to include ‘digital offence’ under the Goonda Act has carefully read the Constitution of India. Under the Constitution, both copyright and telecommunications are exclusive central subjects. This means that states simply cannot make any law on these subjects.” Dhananjay gives the example of payment of income tax. “You know already that only the central government can demand and collect your income taxes. Can any state government say that it will create a new law to punish its resident who defaults in payment of income tax? You would simply laugh at any such law. This new definition of ‘digital offender’ is no less amusing. Offences under the Information Technology Act, 2000, are exclusively punishable by the central government only. State governments have no power to say that an Act shall become an offence when it does not even have the power to regulate such an Act.”

CRIMINAL LAW EXPERTS SAY

Senior designate advocate, MT Nanaiah: “This law will be too harsh. There are MLAs who do not know the meaning of cyber crime. We (advocates) will be kept busy at the cost of innocent people because of this step. It provides for arresting anyone who would allegedly be planning to do something. Finding him guilty or otherwise comes later. What happens if your phone is lost or somebody sends something from your phone without your knowledge? For the first few years, innocents will go to jail. Then the courts will probably intervene and call for modifying what is at best a bad law. A similar situation arose with Section 498(A) of IPC and Sections 3 and 4 of Dowry Prohibition Act. It was misused to such an extent that courts had to step in.”
Senior designate advocate and former State Public Prosecutor HS Chandramouli : “Even social legislations have been misused. And, in this case, most people are illiterate about what cyber crime is. It is mostly teenagers and college students who will feel the heat. These are the people who mostly forward material considered obscene. It is necessary to educate people through discussions, workshops in the bar associations, law college and with experts. The amendment has been passed in the Legislature without discussion, which is a tragedy. At least now, before it is gazetted, people should be warned about what is being brought into the Goonda Act. I do not know how fair adding ‘digital offenders’ in the Goonda Act will be to the public, but the chances of misuse are more. There are no riders or prosecution for misuse. And how many policemen know about cyber crimes? During the infamous ‘kidney’ case (where people were cheated and their kidneys removed) many policemen did not know the difference between kidneys and testicles.”

ONE YEAR IN JAIL WITHOUT CHANCE OF BAIL FOR…

1. Forwarding a song from your phone
2. Forwarding an e-book from your email
3. A nude photo which the govt thinks is obscene

4. Any software that a company says it owns
5. A movie which a company says it has copyright on

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Karnataka – Encroachments on 2.04 lakh acres of forest land #WTFnews

SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT

The areas include reserved and protected forest land

Around 2,04,442.16 acres of forest land in the State has been encroached upon, said Minister for Forests B. Ramanath Rai.

Replying to Janata Dal (Secular) member K.M. Shivalinge Gowda during Question Hour in the Assembly, the Minister said these encroachments, involving 1,10,626 cases, includes the reserved and protected forest lands. The extent of forest encroachments had been sourced from the report of a committee of experts.

The statistics furnished by the Minister regarding the circle and division-wise break-up of encroachments show that Shimoga circle accounts for highest encroachment of 81,501 acres, followed by Chikmagalur (30,641 acres) and Canara (28,345 acres). Bangalore forest circle, which comprises the districts of Bangalore Urban, Rural, Kolar, Chickballapur and Ramanagaram, accounts for encroachments of 15,046 acres. Within Shimoga circle, Sagar accounts for highest encroachments of 44,300 acres. Similarly, Koppa in Chikmagalur circle has encroachments on forest land of 22,640 acres.

Mr. Rai said the State has 29,688.37 sq km of reserved forests, 3,50.07 sq km of protected forests and 10,024.91 acres of unclassified forest land.

 

Read more here – http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/encroachments-on-204-lakh-acres-of-forest-land-in-karnataka/

 

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Karnataka Govt Quietly Scraps Green Panel #WTFnews

By Express News Service

BANGALORE: Industrial, infrastructure, mining and biotech projects can now be approved without any review of their environmental impact, activists fear, as the Karnataka government has scrapped the State Environmental Clearance Committee (SCEE).

In a February order, the Department of Forest, Ecology and Environment (DFEE) decided to discontinue the SECC, according to a report leaked by the Environmental Support Group (ESG).

“We consider the decision … legally infirm and illogical,” declared the ESG, which had assisted the Environment Management and Policy Research Institute (EMPRI) in a state-sponsored evaluation of the SECC.

The SECC was first constituted in 1985 as a mechanism to issue environmental clearances to new projects with an investment of below Rs 100 crore but above Rs. 5 crore.

It was also to clear projects in the red category (in the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board’s ranking) with an investment of more than Rs 5 crore and located inside industrial areas.  “We are confident … this regressive decision of the government can be reversed if the wide public and elected representatives so desire. We have therefore decided suo moto to make public the complete report,” said a statement by activists Abhayraj Naik, Bhargavi S Rao and Leo F Saldanha.

The report can be accessed on website www.esgindia.org

It was in March last year that the DFEE asked the EMPRI to conduct an evaluation of the SECC. The EMPRI roped in ESG and developed a framework to assess and analyse its working, reviewing 447 clearances accorded between 2002 and 2012 to dams, industries, mining projects, infrastructure projects, biotech firms, and radiation processing units. Field visits were made to assess the extent of compliance.

The team arrived at a method to grade the quality of environmental clearances (EC) accorded by the SECC based on a set of ten universally accepted criteria. The total points each EC got were computed and graded into A (9-10 conditions addressed), B (7-8 addressed), C (5-6 addressed), D (3-4 addressed) and E (less than two).

Shockingly, 334 of the 447 clearances made were given D for “weak provision of information with gaps and weaknesses,” while 49 got E, “with major gaps.” The remaining 50 were given C for adequate compliance. Not a single project was graded A or B.

No Records

The study team faced significant challenges during field visits as it had no prior information on the project, its location, impact, and compliance.

Despite repeated attempts, Forest Minister B Ramanath Rai was unavailable for comment.

‘Hush it Up’

According to the ESG statement, a meeting of the EMPRI Board on April 2, chaired by DFEE Principal Secretary M Madan Gopal, decided that “only a limited number of copies of the report may be printed and used for academic purposes”.

The board decided not to conduct workshops or publish the report on the EMPRI website.

This was done on the advice of Ramachandra, Secretary (Environment and Ecology), the ESG alleges.

Alarming Findings

Based on a review of environmental clearances for 447 projects, the report lists the following concerns:

■  No review of compliance.

■  No site-specific or rational criteria employed to accord clearances.

■  Lack of independent assessment of project impact.

■  Lack of rigorous review of project proponent claims.

■  Project expansion without prior consent.

■  Radioactive facilities cleared.

 

Read mor eher-  http://www.newindianexpress.com/states/karnataka/State-Govt-Quietly-Scraps-Green-Panel/2014/06/11/article2274485.ece

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Scholarships: Aadhaar Not Required in Karnataka #Goodnews #UID

200 px

200 px (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By Express News Service – BANGALORE

Last Updated: 21st February 2014 10:33 AM

The government on Thursday announced that it had withdrawn two criteria, including possession of Aadhaar cards, it had imposed on students to avail of scholarships following Opposition protests in the Assembly.

The government had recently issued a circular listing the eligibility for scholarships, and this included possession of Aadhaar cards and non-participation in strikes and protests.

BJP, JD(S) and BSR Congress members had strongly opposed the two conditions on the grounds that it would affect the higher education prospects of students from backward communities. They staged a dharna in the well of the House. “The conditions imposed are draconian, anti-democratic and tramples on the right of students to protest any injustice to them,” the members said.

Read more here– http://www.newindianexpress.com/states/karnataka/Scholarships-Aadhaar-Not-Required/2014/02/21/article2068966.ece#.UwftdPldUpp

 

  • #999; padding: 2px; display: block; border-radius: 2px; text-decoration: none;" href="http://www.kractivist.org/india-casting-a-backward-glance-after-a-court-order-the-uid-project-aadhaar-mustread/" target="_blank"> #India – Casting a backward glance after a court order: the #UID project #Aadhaar #mustread
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Mining probe may singe media houses

With the Karnataka government setting up an SIT to probe illegal mining, some media houses may feel the heat. Imran Khan reports

2014-02-22 , Issue 8 Volume 11

Ravaged earth Illegal mining in Bellary had huge ecological and political costsRavaged earth Illegal mining in Bellary had huge ecological and political costs, Photo: Shailendra Pandey

Former Lokayukta Santosh Hedge’s probe into the multi-crore  scam in the iron ore-rich Bellary district of  had led to the downfall of the infamous Bellary brothers — Gali Janardhana Reddy,  and Somashekara Reddy — who were ministers in the then BJP-led state government. Hegde’s final report, filed in July 2011, extensively documented the nexus of politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen who colluded to defraud the state exchequer of mining revenues.

However, among the beneficiaries of the  were several individuals who did not hold any public office, and whose role, therefore, was outside the ambit of the Lokayukta probe. Now, acting on directions from the Lokayukta court, the Congress government led by Chief Minister Siddaramaiah has set up a Special Investigation Team () under the Lokayukta to probe those who had managed to evade the clutches of the law.

The  probe will target those who figured in an initial report on  prepared by UV Singh, who was an investigating officer in Lokayukta Hegde’s team. Shockingly, Singh’s report, which forms part of Hegde’s final report, also names some persons associated with media organisations among the beneficiaries of .

Based on the documents seized by Income Tax officials during a raid in 2010 on the offices of Madhushree Enterprises, a firm owned by Madhukumar Varma, a close associate of Janardhana Reddy, Singh’s report shows that a hawala racket was being operated to channel money to some people associated with media organisations. While the seized documents do not clearly specify the purpose for which the money was being paid, the report states that since the money was being received from a firm involved in , it’s quite possible that it was being used for nefarious activities.

The seized documents have been included in the Lokayukta report as part of chapter 28 of Book 14 under the heading “Collapse of Administrative and Governance System”. Among those who are alleged to have received money from Madhushree Enterprises is a firm owned by Rajya Sabha MP Rajeev Chandrasekhar called Jupiter Aviation. Incidentally, Chandrasekhar also owns the Asianet media network, which runs Suvarna, a Kannada television news channel, and Kannada Prabha, a daily newspaper. An entry made on 9 August 2010 under the heading “amount given” shows that 12 lakh was given to the company, but there is no indication as to the purpose.

Similarly, Singh’s report shows that Deccan Aviation, which was set up by Captain GR Gopinath, considered a pioneer in the low-cost airline sector in India, had received Rs 25 lakh from the Reddy brothers.

The list of alleged beneficiaries from the  also includes two Bengaluru-based newspapers — Deccan Chronicle and Bangalore Mirror. While Deccan Chronicle is alleged to have received Rs 25 lakh, the Times Group-owned Bangalore Mirror allegedly received Rs 5 lakh. According to Singh’s report, in neither case has the purpose for which the money was handed over been specified.

While Jupiter Aviation and Deccan Aviation have claimed the money was for hiring choppers, Deccan Chronicle and Bangalore Mirror said it was payment for ads.

Probably, the most shocking revelation in Singh’s report is the mention of two initials — V Bhat and RB — that could refer to two stalwarts of Kannada journalism, who work in the print and electronic media. According to the seized documents, Rs 75 lakh was given to V Bhat and Rs 10 lakh to RB. Singh’s report also mentions Rs 5 lakh paid to “press club (Harish)”.

Documents recovered from Madhukumar Varma’s laptop also mention journalists being given money for a “son’s marriage” and for buying cameras. Singh noted that most of the money transactions were carried out through hawala channels. Though the amounts mentioned are not big, Singh argues that this could only be the proverbial tip of an iceberg. As a hawala network was involved, it would take a thorough investigation to establish the total amount of money that changed hands.

[email protected]

 

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#India – Children of Tibetan refugees can now vote #goodnews

Written by Shalini Nair | Mumbai | February 11, 2014 2:31 am
  

The Election Commission (EC) has ordered all states to include children of Tibetan refugees in the electoral list. This is for the first time in 55 years that voting rights will be conferred on Tibetans in exile in the country.

According to the orders dated February 7, children of Tibetan refugees born in India between the cut-off date of 1950 and 1987, as mentioned in the Citizenship Act 1955, can no longer be denied enrollment in voters’ list. The move on part of the EC comes in the wake of an August 2013 Karnataka High Court order which paved the way for granting Indian citizenship to Tibetan refugees.

There are about 1.20 lakh Tibetan refugees currently living across the country with their largest settlement being in Bylakuppe in Karnataka. The Tibetan parliament-in-exile is based in Dharamshala elected by a 90,000-strong voter base spread across 53 settlements in India, Nepal and Bhutan.

The EC’s move evoked mixed reactions from the community with several pro-Tibet activists terming this as a relief for Tibetan refugees who are currently deemed “stateless”. Karma Yeshi, a member of Tibetan parliament-in-exile, said, “Our aim is not to settle in India, but to eventually go back to Tibet. However, we cannot stop people from asserting their citizenship rights.”

Read more here – http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-others/children-of-tibetan-refugees-can-now-vote/

 

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NHRC notice to Karnataka DG Prisons on non-release of prisoners

SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT, The Hindu

 

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has issued notices, returnable in 15 days, to the Director General of Prisons of Karnataka and the Gulbarga Central Jail Superintendent, seeking reports on the allegations of non-release of six prisoners even after completion of their sentence of 14 years.

The Commission was acting on a complaint that the inmates were not released from the Gulbarga Jail.

The prisoners are: Gurmeet Singh, Lakhwinder Singh, Shamsher Singh, Lal Singh, Wariam Singh and Gurdeep Singh Khaira. They were serving sentence for murder charges.

 

Read more here- http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/nhrc-notice-to-karnataka-dg-prisons-on-nonrelease-of-prisoners/

 

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#India -‘Tribunal order staying development on Karnataka grasslands ignored’ #WTFnews

Author(s):
Issue Date:
2013-10-1

Environment ministry asked to filed response on Amrit Mahal Kaval allotments by end of this month or pay penalty

The National Green Tribunal (South Zone) in Chennai has directed the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) to file its response to applications challenging the diversion of about 4,000 hectares of Amrit Mahal Kavals grassland in Challakare taluk of Karnataka’s Chitradurga district for various projects [2].  The directions were given on September 27 after petitioners in the case complained that development works on the grasslands have not been halted in spite of status quo ordered by the tribunal.

The court was considering interim applications filed by the petitioners—Bengaluru-based non-profit Environment Support Group (ESG) and Leo F Saldanha of ESG. The ministry has been asked to file its response by October 30.  The Tribunal has warned MoEF that if it fails to comply with the order, it will have to pay Rs 1 lakh fine in each of the two pending applications. The tribunal had asked the ministry to file a response on the land diversion in March this year. The tribunal observed that the failure on the part of the MoEF to file its response, even seven months after being directed to do so, was an indication of careless attitude of the officials of the ministry.

“The ministry is the first respondent in the case and its response is a must for taking a decision in this case,” observed the bench comprising of Justice M Chockalingam and expert member  R Nagendran.

The tribunal had issued an order on August 21 this year to maintain status quo on all project activities proposed in the Amrit Mahal Kaval grassland [3].  In their interim applications, the petitioners pointed out that this order has not been complied with and that the public and private organizations that got land  were moving ahead with project works,  violating various laws protecting  environment, wildlife, forests and people’s rights.

MoEF had written to the Karnataka forest secretary in June 2013, directing him to file a detailed report in response to the specific cases of law violations as made out in the February 2013 representation of ESG; the main violation being illegal diversion of forestland to non-forest purposes.  “But both the ministry and the Karnataka government suppressed this fact before the tribunal, and also the fact finding committee constituted by the tribunal,” said Leo Saldanha’s counsel in submissions made before the tribunal.


 

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#India – Theatre Person and author arrested for writing a book #FOE #WTFnews

‘I Did Not Expect To Be Arrested For Writing A Book’

The Karnataka Police, bowing to pressure from right-wing Hindutva organisations, arrested theatre person, artist and writer Yogesh Master from his residence on 29 August for allegedly controversial remarks against Hindu diety Ganapati in his novel ‘Dhundi’. The police booked the writer under Section 295 A ( Deliberate intent to outrage religious feelings) of the Indian Penal Code. Out on bail, during the discussion of his book on 5 September, Yogesh Master said that his book was a work of fiction and his remarks in the novel were not intended to hurt anybody’s religious feelings, but were based on research on the concept and origins of Ganesha as depicted in mythology.
Imran Khan
IMRAN KHAN
September 5, 2013 Print FriendlyPrint & EmailComment

Yogesh Master
Yogesh Master Photo: Imran Khan
How do you view the controversy surrounding your book?

I never anticipated such a controversy regarding my writing. I have been a writer since 1984, when my first book was published. I lead a very quiet life. My small theatre group (Rajamarga) is my world. However, Dhundhi somehow dragged me into chaos. Now I am learning to develop patience and presence of mind. I’m still absorbing all that is happening around Dhundhi and me.

What is your response to the allegations that you insulted the Hindu deity Ganapati in your novel?

I completely deny such allegations. Ganapati is a tribal hero in my novel. He represents Aranyakas (aboriginals or tribesmen) and the fight against the so-called civilised society which exploited them. Ganapati’s rebelliousness is an unexplored aspect of his personality. My book is a work of fiction based on research on mythological stories and the concept of Ganapati’s origin.

Did you expect that you would be arrested?

It was completely unexpected. Even the controversy surrounding the book was not expected. I just waited to see what would happen next.

Are you shocked that you were arrested under the Congress government led by Siddaramaiah?

I am not politically biased. But still, I cannot understand this move of the Congress government which is secular. Besides, Mr. Siddaramaiah, the Chief Minister, has a socialist background.

What is your novel Dhundhi about?

Dhundhi is the one of several names of Ganapati. In Kashi, there is a temple dedicated to Dhundhi. In India and many other parts of the world, people consider myths precious and avoid examining their roots. They fear that such scrutiny may shake their beliefs and spoil the sanctity of their religion or ethics. Myths are not merely stories: they contain sensitive truths and abstract thoughts. We need to examine myths in order to know the roots of our culture. In Dhundhi, I tried to throw light on the myths and facts about Ganapati. I attempted to find a connection between mythology and factual research. The emphasis of the book is not religious, but cultural and social. I was inspired by the writings of Debiprasad Chattopadhyaya on Ganapati in his book Lokayata. From being a troublemaker, Ganapati became the custodian of goodwill and success. The story of this transformation is the saga of Dhundhi, a rebellious tribesman.

Did you expect Dhundhi to court controversy before its publication?

Never. I anticipated some intellectual debates though, but that too after some time – after people read the book.

What is the current status of your legal case?

I was summoned for a hearing on 28 September. Since it is my very first experience of this kind, I am dependent on my lawyer and other well-wishers.

Are you working on another novel?

Yes, I am working on Premanagara, a love story set in 1784 against the backdrop of Tipu Sultan’s reign. It will be published soon.

Are there plans to get Dhundhi translated to other languages?

Yes, Dhundhi is being translated into English. The translation is almost done. Other languages? No idea, let me see.

source- tehelka.com

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