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Archives for : Murder

What is the Cost of Freedom in India ?

 

Can you estimate the price of the freedom we enjoy today? Naturally, our thoughts drift back to the freedom fighters we have learned about in our school textbooks. Mahatma Gandhi, Subhas Chandra Bose, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Tantia Tope, Maulana Azad, Babasaheb Ambedkar, Jawaharlal Nehru… it’s a long and illustrious roster of names that age cannot fade. They live on in textbooks, contemporary media and, from time to time, propaganda.

Yet, we take our freedom for granted. Or forget, in the throes of being free, that freedom for some is not freedom for all. Freedom from colonial rule does not equal freedom from social ills, or corruption, or degradation of moral fabric. For our society, the war for freedom is an ongoing one. 

An anniversary, by definition, is a time for remembering. As we approach Free India’s 67th birthday, we remember the freedom fighters whom we most tend to forget – those everyday men and women whose lives were sacrificed so that others may be free. While we ought to take no credit away from heroes immemorial, let’s crank our memories back to the ones we have let disappear into the cracks.

Even before the Right to Information Act came into force in 2005, an early whistleblower paid the price for his honesty and courage. Indian Institute of Technology alumnus Satyendra Dubey, a project director with the National Highways Authority of India, managed the Aurangabad-Barachatti section of National Highway 1, better known as the Grand Trunk Road. The highway was part of then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s Golden Quadrilateral Corridor Project. Dubey suspended three engineers for serious financial irregularities. He also had the contractor rebuild a six-kilometer stretch of highway. Dubey also observed that the firm contracted to construct the highway was subcontracting work to low-skilled agencies. His complaints to higher-ups yielded no response. When Dubey wrote directly to the Prime Minister he was reprimanded for the “impropriety” of his act but went on to secure a promotion and used his additional responsibility to expose more corruption in the project. As he returned from a wedding on the night of November 27, 2003, Dubey was shot dead. His murder sparked off a movement pressing for a whistleblower law to root out corruption.
 
Shanmugam Manjunath, an alumnus of Indian Institute of Management, Lucknow, was a marketing manager with the Indian Oil Corporation. He had ordered the closure of two petrol pumps in Uttar Pradesh’s Lakhimpur Kheri for selling adulterated fuel for three months. Manjunath had received repeated threats. When a text message from his father went unanswered, it raised suspicion. That night Manjunath’s body, riddled with bullets, was found in the back of his car, which was being driven by a worker of the petrol pump.
 
Writing to Yahoo! India, Manjunath’s friend and classmate Akhil Krishna said, “Soon after this, the Manjunath Shanmugam Trust was formed as an international IIM alumni initiative to fight the case and, at a broader level, work to improve governance in Indian public life. Thanks to the efforts of the Trust and the lawyers fighting the case, six of the accused in the murder case have been sentenced to life imprisonment by the High Court.” Remembering his friend fondly as “a popular student, noted for his passion for music, sincerity and integrity” Krishna told us that a Mumbai filmmaker is working on a script to make a biopic on Manjunath. “The story is about how an ordinary person like any of us is capable of the extraordinary,” he said. “Manjunath’s story shall hence be immortalized, as an eternal inspiration for young India.”

Realtors with murky dealings sent goons to hack Satish Shetty to death as he set out for his morning walk on January 13, 2010. The 38-year-old RTI activist had blown the lid on major land scams around the Mumbai-Pune Expressway. Many of his associates had earlier been assaulted and threatened. Reacting to the murder Anna Hazare, pioneer of the RTI movement in Maharashtra, commented, “This audacity to commit such a heinous crime against a person who was selflessly working for social justice by highlighting corruption cannot be mustered unless the perpetrators enjoy the blessings of those who are in power.”
 
Politicians with criminal connections also killed Amit Jethwa, an environmental activist in the Gir Sanctuary area in Gujarat. Besides targeting poachers who had killed lions in the sanctuary and litigating against the killing of Chinkara gazelles by actor Salman Khan, Jethwa had been actively campaigning against illegal mining in the sanctuary. He had accused Bharatiya Janata Party MP Dinu Solanki of involvement in the activity. July 20, 2010, Jethwa was shot by assailants on a motorcycle. Wounded, the activist grabbed and tore off his attacker’s shirt, yielding a laundry tag that helped trace his killers. The MP’s nephew was arrested as the main accused in the case.
 
Datta Patil, an activist from Maharashtra’s Kolhapur district, had filed a petition in a local court against horse trading in the municipal council elections. Further, he had enquired into the assets of retired police inspectors and complained against a prominent builder for his questionable construction activities. Patil was murdered on May 22.

The list of martyrs is incomplete without mention of Lalit Kumar Mehta, a 36-year-old campaigner for the Right to Food and Right to Work in Jharkhand, and NREGA activist Kameshwar Yadav among those whose sacrifices have gone unnoticed. Inevitably, in this continuing freedom struggle we shall see many more casualties.

Since the original version of this article in appeared in 2011, just before India’s 64th Independence Day, more whistleblowers have laid down their lives for the cause of freedom. 

On August 16, 2011, RTI activist Shehla Masood was shot dead in Bhopal by hired goons while she was setting out in her car to attend a protest in support of Anna Hazare. Masood was a strident wildlife enthusiast and anti-poaching activist. She had filed about 40 RTI applications involving forest officials and politicians, and was the founder of the activist group RTI Anonymous.  

Company Secretary of Malabar Cements V Saseendran, 46, along his two young sons, was allegedly murdered in Palakkad, Kerala in February 2011 for exposing corruption and misappropriation of funds in the public sector company. Saseendran had written to the Chief Minister of Kerala alerting him to widespread corruption in the company. Saseendran was forced to retract his allegations and he resigned from his post. Shortly after vigilance proceedings were initiated against the persons named in his letter, Saseendran was found dead. An investigation ordered by the court is ongoing. 
S P Mahantesh, a 48-year-old Karnataka Administrative Service official, was an auditor who exposed irregularities in several controversial land allotment cases. He was attacked a few times and warned by mysterious callers on his cell phone. On the night of May 15, 2012, five persons attacked Mahantesh after stopping his car. He died of his injuries in hospital a few days later.

Every day, hundreds of RTI activists work tirelessly to expose the deception and dishonesty of rich, powerful and influential people and organizations. The government is accountable for providing them with a safe environment. However, that is far from the case. Whistleblowers are the freedom fighters of today and, often, they pay that price with their lives. Their small but significant actions help make our society cleaner, safer and our systems more accountable. 

On August 20, 2010, the Whistleblowers Protection Bill was introduced in Parliament and on December 11, 2011 it was passed in the Lok Sabha. The Rajya Sabha passed the Bill on February 21, 2014. A legal provision is in place to protect our freedom fighters. What will the government do to ensure that the praise heaped on them is not posthumous? 

Photo courtesy for Shanmugam Manjunath’s pictures: Akhil Krishna

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‘Asaram is alive because of my husband, my husband is dead because of him’

Written by Gopal B Kateshiya , Ujjwala Nayudu , Kamal Saiyed | Rajkot/ahmedabad/surat | June 24, 2014 12:26 am
Amrut Prajapati stages a protest against Asaram.Amrut Prajapati stages a protest against Asaram.

SUMMARY

The showdown between Asaram Bapu and his aide-turned-opponent Amrut Prajapati, who was murdered in Rajkot

A pile of bricks stands outside Hrishi Bhavan on Pedar Road, Rajkot, marking the block out of which naturopathy centre Oum Shanti Arogyadham used to function. One  wall still intact bears the mark of a bullet. It had been fired at Ayurveda doctor Amrut Prajapati on Friday, May 23. Prajapati, who died on June 10, was a former aide of Asaram Bapu and had allegedly been threatened and attacked several times since breaking ties with the guru, now jailed for alleged rape.

Prajapati was reportedly introduced to Arogyadham a year ago by Dr Jaysukh Makwana, an Ayurveda dentist then attached with the centre, and who had come in contact with him at a meeting of Ayurveda practitioners in Ahmedabad around three years ago.

That Friday, Prajapati was making the second of his twice-a-month visits. He initially used to visit every Friday, “but a month ago he said he was too busy with other work and therefore would visit only twice a month”, says Thakar Patel, trustee of Samaj Seva Kendra that had started Arogyadham around five years ago. Patel says he had just walked out of the main gate when he heard gunshots that day.

Saroj Prajapati who alleges her husband was attacked many times before he was killed. (FILE)Saroj Prajapati who alleges her husband was attacked many times before he was killed. (FILE)He says Prajapati had no more appointments that day and would have left Rajkot in the afternoon. Prajapati was unprotected, with his guard, constable Narsinh Patel, having gone for lunch.

In the morning, Arogyadham had got a call came from someone speaking in Hindi and who the police believe was the shooter. Identifying himself as “Raju Patel from Rajkot”, he had sought an appointment with Prajapati for himself and his wife. “He did not bring his wife along. Prajapati examined him. The assailant left the premises thereafter. But when Prajapati finished checking patients and emerged from his chamber, the assailant accosted him at the acrylic door, shot him and sped away on a motorbike with another man,” a police officer said.

The trust began razing the block around a week after the firing, while Prajapati was still battling for life at an Ahmedabad hospital. “We had signed an agreement with a bank two months ago to rent the block out. So, we are making adjustments to the block and shifting Arogyadham to another part of the building,” says Patel.

Police say this does not amount to destruction of evidence. “The panchanama of the scene has been made and forensic experts have measured the site. We have collected relevant material like a firearm and a few cartridges and the entire block has been photographed. If somebody changes the physical contours of the block now, it is not relevant to the case and does not constitute destruction of evidence,”  says Rajkot city police commissioner Mohan Jha.

The falling out
Prajapati had worked in Asaram’s Motera ashram for 15 years before they fell out in 2005. Since then, he had been one of the prime witnesses in a rape case against Asaram, testified against him in a number of cases, and allegedly been attacked several times.
Among the cases in which Prajapati testified, one in which he was prime witness involves the rape of a Surat-based woman whose younger sister, simultaneously, has accused Asaram’s son Narayan Sai of rape during 2002-05. Asaram is in Jodhpur jail, and Sai in Lajpore jail in Surat. Prajapati also testified against Asaram in a case relating to the death of two boys at his gurukul in 2008.

Prajapati’s wife Saroj describes how her husband fell out with Asaram. “Asaram was suffering from malaria and critical and Vaidji (Prajapati) promised to treat him. This was the only time he got access into his special chamber in the ashram,” she tells The Indian Express over phone.

“During these days, he saw him with three or four women. My husband was disgusted and told him he wanted to go and demanded his salary for the 15 years, when he worked for free. He was shown the door and the attacks began,” Saroj adds.

“Today, Asaram is alive because of my husband and my husband is dead because of him.”
Prajapati used to run a small Ayurveda clinic from a shop below his apartment on Odhav Ring Road in Ahmedabad. Saroj was his assistant. The couple had no children.

Saroj alleges that men from the ashram used to go to the clinic posing as patients and threaten him. She alleges that six of Prajapati’s clinics were vandalised between 2005 to 2007, and that he was kidnapped in 2005, beaten up and released. In 2008, after Prajapati testified in the case relating to the boys’ death, he was again beaten up, Saroj says.

At least three other witnesses in the Narayan Sai rape case have survived attacks. On February 28 this year, the husband of the alleged victim was attacked on his way to work in Surat. On March 10, Rakesh Patel, a former disciple now helping police, was stabbed while coming home from work. The third witness attacked was Dinesh Balchandani, who was riding his bike when two persons threw acid on his face.

After the murder
The Rajkot city crime branch is working on a statement reportedly given to Surat police by Balchandani’s alleged attacker Kishor Bodke that a conspiracy had been hatched to kill six persons, including Prajapati, who had spoken out against Asaram and Sai. Bodke has reportedly told police that two men, Manoj alias Mony alias Surya and Ankit, had watched Prajapati’s movements in Vadodara and Rajkot in March.

In his dying declaration, Prajapati had named six Asaram sadhaks. Five of them have filed for anticipatory bail in a Rajkot court.

Surat police have arrested five followers of Asaram and Sai for attacks on witnesses. “We have given security to seven witnesses,” Surat police commissioner Rakesh Asthaana said.

 

Read more here – http://indianexpress.com/article/india/crime/asaram-is-alive-because-of-my-husband-my-husband-is-dead-because-of-him/99/

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Asaram sexual assault case: Key witness murdered in Ahmedabad jail

Vaid Amrut Prajapati was shot at his clinic at around 1.15 pm at his Rajkot clinic on May 23.

The main witness of the Asaram sexual assault case of Surat sisters, Amrut Prajapati died on Tuesday  after  succumbing to the serious  injuries he suffered  when  he  was  shot at in Rajkot in May last week. Prajapati was brought to Ahmedabad civil hospital for treatment and shifted to Apollo hospital last week.

Vaid Amrut Prajapati, a resident of Odhav in Ahmedabad practiced Ayurveda. He was shot at his clinic at around 1.15 pm at his Rajkot clinic on May 23. He was an important aide and part of Asaram’s team as an expert on Ayurveda who parted ways after working nearly for 15 years.

Prajapati was known for raising his voice against Asaram for many years. He had actively raised his voice  during the Surat sisters rape case too spilling the beans on Asaram and Narayan Sai’s activities in the Ahmedabad and Surat ashrams with women devotees.

The family members of Prajapati cried foul and demanded action against police inaction in the case. According to the case details, an unidentified person had visited Prajapati at his clinic in Rajkot under the pretext of taking treatment. He was reportedly the last visitor who had entered his chamber when the entire clinic’s staff had left for the day. When Prajapati was about to check him,  the unidentified person shot him in his throat. The assailant then fled the spot on a motorbike with his aide.

When the police met Prajapati in hospital, he was unable to speak and had written names of six persons on a piece of paper whom he suspected to be behind the attack and gave it to the police. However, the Rajkot crime branch that jumped into action to probe the case got no leads for over 15 days.

Prajapati’s wife Saroj had made several pleas to the Rajkot and Ahmedabad Police demanding arrest of the six men who are allegedly the henchmen of Asaram. Prajapati was shifted to Ahmedabad Civil Hospital from Rajkot after his condition was serious. Last week, the doctors had recommend his family to shift him to Apollo Hospital where he was put on a ventilator.

He was declared dead in the morning. Asaram is lodged in the Jodhpur jail since his arrest in September last year for an alleged sexual assault case registered by a minor girl. In Surat too, a woman has accused Asaram of rape and illegal confinement in his ashram. He was recently chargesheeted by the police after a SIT investigation.

Prajapati was ousted from the Ahmedabad ashram in 2005 for giving evidence against the godman in a case of two children’s death under suspicious circumstances in the ashram. He had also accused Asaram of committing about 1,000 rapes in his lifetime and orchestrating attacks on him as the deceased knew about his “mischievous activities”.

Earlier, there have been attacks on witnesses in the alleged rape cases against Asaram and his son Narayan Sai. There was an acid attack in Surat on Dinesh Waghchandani. Before him, a key witness Rakesh Patel was stabbed by two men in Surat.

Read more at: http://indianexpress.com/article/cities/ahmedabad/asarams-former-aide-amrut-prajapati-dies/

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Mentally challenged woman burnt after gang rape in Tripura #Vaw #WTFnews

rapepublic1
IANS  |  Agartala 

 Last Updated at 19:04 IST

In a case of horrific brutality, a mentally challenged woman was burnt to death after being gang raped in Tripura, police said Saturday.

“Alorani Deb was gang raped by three men. They then burnt her to death in Harina village in southern Tripura Thursday night,” a police spokesman told reporters here. The village is located about 155 km from here.

The woman, 42, a mother of two, was mentally challenged.

Police arrested the three culprits, all construction workers, and a probe is on.

Various political parties, including the ruling Communist Party of India- Marxist, have demanded exemplary punishment to the culprits.

 

Read mor ehere -http://www.business-standard.com/article/news-ians/mentally-challenged-woman-burnt-after-gang-rape-in-tripura-114060700540_1.html

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No one killed Shehla Masood #RTI activist #WTFnews

TNN | Jun 6, 2014, 08.13 AM IST

BHOPAL: Who fired at Shehla Masood? The question still remains a mystery, despite Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) chargesheeting 5 people in the RTI activist’s murder case, after a key accused expressed his desire to turn a government witness during Wednesday’s hearing.

Shehla was found dead in her car outside her home in Bhopal’s Koh-e-Fiza on August 16, 2011, with a ‘single’ bullet wound on her neck.

CBI named two people, Irfan Ali and Tabish Khan as Shehla’s shooters in the chargesheet, without mentioning as to who pulled the trigger.

As per the chargesheet, Zahida Pervez hired Irfan Ali and Tabish Khan through Saquib Ali ‘Danger’ to murder Shehla.

Investigators claimed both were armed with a fine quality 315 bore country-made pistol, but only one was used to kill her.

During investigations, a pistol was seized from Tabish and ballistic experts had confirmed, it as a weapon of murder.

However, when charges were read out to the accused, they pleaded innocence.

Tabish claimed Irfan fired the shot, while Irfan said vice versa.

“They killed Shehla together. Since a single shot was fired, the question is, who fired,” said a CBI officer privy to investigations.

Meanwhile, Irfan Ali has reportedly threatened to kill Saquib ‘Danger’s son, if the latter failed to pay him Rs 4 lakh at the earliest. Subsequently Saquib threatened Zahida for the same. They even had a fight in the jail on the issue, said a police officer.

Irfan believes he was given only Rs 20,000 of the Rs 5 lakh paid by Zahida to kill Shehla.

Read more here– http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/City/Bhopal/No-one-killed-Shehla-Masood/articleshow/36126993.cms

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#India – Silence of Government on ‘Honour’ Killing Law is Killing #Vaw

Kamayani Bali Mahabal aka Kractivist honor   Pic courtesy — http://50watts.com/I-Am-a-Bird-of-the-Heavenly-Garden

The naked brutality of honour crimes against women is in contravention of the spirit of the ’United Nations Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW)’ which has been duly signed and ratified by India. The prevalence and entrenchment of the caste system and rabid patriarchal ethos in the society at large are the root cause of this social evil. The Supreme Court of India, in its observation in the case of Lata Singh versus State of Uttar Pradesh and others in 2006, termed the caste system as a curse on the nation and acknowledged that inter-caste marriages are in the national interest as they will result in destroying the caste system. Referring to ’honour’ killings the Apex Court stated: “There is nothing honourable in such killings, and in fact they are nothing but barbaric and shameful acts of murder committed by brutal, feudal minded persons who deserve harsh punishment.”

In June 2010 Supreme Court issued a notice to the Central Government and nine State governments to know about the steps taken to curb such violence. The Union Government constituted a group of nine Ministers to look into the possibility of framing a separate law to deal with the menace of ’honour’ killings under former finance minister Pranab Mukherjee in 2010. But it eluded consensus till it was disbanded quietly with the exit of Mukherjee from the cabinet to become president.After criticism from women groups, the Prime Minister revived the group in 2012, But it is being suggested that ’honour’ killing is not the outcome of the gender bias attitude of the Khap Panchayats because in most cases the family members of the girl, including women, are the perpetrators of the crime. But the fact of the matter is that the ideology of the so-called family or clan honour is derived from the gender role assigned by patriarchy. The women who do not follow the socially acceptable behaviour or preserve their chastity have to bear the brunt in the form of violence, coercion and killings to restore the family ’honour’.

And it is an open secret that Khap Panchayats are the functional forums of patriarchy in the State and surrounding areas. There are numerous examples in Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh where these medieval institutions have directly or indirectly precipitated situations leading to cold-blooded murders of young women and men defying the age-old established value system.

The debate on enactment of the law is also being trivialised on the ground that ’honour’ killing is, after all, a murder and the perpetrators of this crime can be tried under the existing provisions of the IPC. But it is not a case of simple murder.The resistance was more because of doubts that the objective could be best served by amending Section 300 of IPC to include participation in khap’s calls for “honour killings” as an additional criterion of what constitutes murder.

It is a social evil no less in enormity than sati, dowry deaths and atrocities against Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. It is difficult to quantify, but India is counted among the countries (Pakistan, Iraq, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan and Iran being others) having very high per capita incidents of ’honour’ killings in the world. We have the Commission of Sati (Prevention) Act, 1987; Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 (amended in 1983 and 1986); and Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 to deal with the social evils listed earlier. Then why not a stand-alone law to deal with ’honour’ killing which shames the civil society and silences forever the women and youth who dare to dream differently?

The Khap Panchayats and their supporters have raised dissenting voices against the enactment of a comprehensive law on ’honour’ killings. This is understandable as these extra-constitutional and mob-gathering forums have always considered themselves above the law of the land. The proposed Act for the abatement of ’honour killings’ has to be quite stringent whereby the perpetrators of the crime shall get life imprisonment  and the institutions and individuals aiding and abetting such killings shall also get deterrent punishment.

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Two charged with Sarabjit’s murder in Pakistan

The two accused had brutally attacked 49-year-old Sarabjit at the Kot Lakhpat Jail in April last year

Press Trust of India  |  <news:geo_locations>Lahore 

 Last Updated at 12:20 IST
 

Two death row prisoners have been indicted in Pakistan for the murder of Indian national Sarabjit Singh at a jail here.

An additional district and sessions judge held trial at the Central Jail in Kot Lakhpat yesterday and formally charged the two inmates -Amer Sarfraz alias Tamba and Muddassar Bashir.

During the proceedings, copies of chargesheet were handed over to both the accused. Judge Syed Anjum Raza Syed adjourned the hearing till January 20 and directed the prosecution to produce witnesses.

The two accused had brutally attacked 49-year-old Sarabjit at the Kot Lakhpat Jail in April last year. Sarabjit, who had sustained severe injuries, including a fractured skull, died on May 2.

A jail official told PTI that hearing was held in high security.

He said the Kot Lakhpat police had completed the investigations.

The police will produce witnesses – both Indian and Pakistani inmates – who have already recorded their statements before them, the official said.

Amir and Mudda earlier had confessed to the crime before a single-member judicial commission which was constituted to probe the murder.

They reportedly told investigators that they had attacked Sarabjit because he had allegedly carried out bomb attacks in Lahore.

Sarabjit was convicted for alleged involvement in a string of bomb attacks in Punjab province in 1990 that killed 14 people.

His family, however, said he was the victim of “mistaken identity” and had inadvertently strayed across the border.

His mercy petitions were rejected by the courts and former president Pervez Musharraf.

In 2008, the Pakistan People’s Party-led government had put off Sarabjit’s execution for an indefinite period.

 

Read more here — http://www.business-standard.com/article/international/two-charged-with-sarabjit-s-murder-in-pakistan-114011800210_1.html

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#India – Kolkata police ‘hijack’ rape victim’s hearse, forcibly cremate body #Vaw #WTFnews

Kolkata police ‘hijack’ rape victim’s hearse, forcibly cremate body
TNN | Jan 2, 2014, 04.01 AM IST

KOLKATA: Gang-raped twice and dumped in a government hospital for nine days with fatal burns, the 16-year-old victim had no peace even after death. Police hijacked the hearse carrying her body on Tuesday night and forcibly took it for cremation, ignoring the family’s requests to wait till Wednesday.

The girl’s father rushed to governor M K Narayanan to complain against police high-handedness and demanded action against the “tyrannical” officers.

Police were in such a hurry to cremate her before daybreak that they landed up at the house of the bereaved family – with the body – at 2.30am and threatened to break down their door unless they were given the death certificate that would allow cremation. When the girl’s father refused, police officers allegedly told him to go back to Bihar‘s Samastipur. A police team tormented the family all night.

The unexplained haste and utter disregard for family sentiments by the administration triggered widespread protests in the city. Filmmaker Aparna Sen lent weight to the outcry, saying: “I am devastated. All this should stop.” All that the family wanted was to wait for a day for their relatives to come from Bihar. But that was not to be. Around 10.30pm on Tuesday, police intercepted the hearse that was carrying the body from RG Kar Hospital to a mortuary and forcibly took it to the crematorium although they did not have the death certificate, said a relative of the victim. “Sensing something wrong, I jumped off the hearse,” he said.

The body lay at the crematorium for over three hours until, around 2pm, police decided to get the certificate from her family. The girl’s father narrated in his letter to the governor what happened next. “The superintendent of police and other officers reached our house in the dead of the night and asked us to open the door. We were scared and refused to come out before day broke. They threatened to break down the door and told us to go back to Bihar.”

While police were pressuring the family, a stranger – possibly a police plant – appeared on the scene with a poster that said “I Condemn”. He tried to pacify the crowd but failed. Then, a self-proclaimed rights activist, Rakesh Upadhyaya, raised a ruckus. “The pressure on us got worse. Protectors had turned tormentors. But I stuck to my stand and refused to come out,” the victim’s father said. By then, Left activists had started arriving at the house.

Taking a leaf out of Mamata’s book as Opposition leader, CPM’s labour arm Citu took control of the body on Wednesday, but with the sanction of the family members. Sensing the damage they had done, police backed off and allowed the body to be taken to the Citu state headquarters. CPM supporters took out a huge rally with the body on Wednesday afternoon. The girl’s father, who had gone to meet the governor, joined the rally around 3pm and agreed to the cremation only after getting an assurance of protection from Narayanan.

The victim’s brother-in-law had no regret that the body lay at the Citu HQ all day long. “CPM was with us when we were camping in the hospital for the last nine days. They helped us. If you call this politics, so be it,” he said.

Trinamool leader Mukul Roy reacted by saying: “The incident is unfortunate. The rest is an attempt by the Opposition to denigrate Trinamool and the government.” He had no comment on the police haste to cremate the body on Tuesday night.

Police could not give a clear explanation for the night-long drama. “We wanted to ensure that there is no law-and-order problem,” said joint commissioner (HQ) Rajeev Mishra. But sources close to the development said police acted under the directions of a Trinamool minister from North 24-Parganas who wanted police to prevent the incident from spilling over into January 1 when Trinamool celebrates its foundation day. “Calls to home secretary Basudeb Banerjee on the police high-handedness on Tuesday night fell on deaf ears,” said Leader of the Opposition Surjya Kanta Mishra.

NCW questions Kolkata police’s role in rape case

National Commission for Women (NCW) chairperson Mamta Sharma on Wednesday questioned the role of Kolkata Police in the gang rape leading to the death of a minor girl and said had the police been alert, they could have prevented the gang rape a second time.

“The girl was gang-raped once before going to the police station, and while returning, she was gang raped again. I don’t think the role of police is right in this case. If the police had been alert, then they could have prevented her from being raped again. The chief minister should take up this case very seriously,” said Sharma.

The NCW took suo motu cognizance case. “I am going to write a letter to the CM to answer us in a week why such crimes are happening against women, and what action has been taken in these cases,” said Sharma.

She also said the victim was traumatized, and had she been given proper guidance and medical treatment, she wouldn’t have committed suicide.

“We are thinking of sending a committee there to analyze the situation,” she added.

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#India – 55-year-old woman raped, murdered in Mumbai #Vaw

rapepublic1

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V Narayan,TNN | Jan 2, 2014,

MUMBAI: A 55-year-old woman was raped and murdered by an unidentified person late on Tuesday. The victim’s body, which bore severe head injuries, was found near the BEST bus depot in Ghatkopar (E) on Wednesday.

The Pant Nagar police initially registered a case of accidental death. Later, an FIR was registered after the post-mortem showed that the victim, a ragpicker, was raped and might have been killed to destroy evidence, the police said.

The incident came to light around 9.30am when some pavement dwellers found the body and informed the police about it. “The victim too was a pavement dweller. It is suspected that she was raped and killed at midnight on December 31,” said Suresh Nirmal, senior inspector of the Pant Nagar police station.

Nirmal said that a case under sections 302 (murder) and 376 (rape) of the IPC was registered against an unidentified person.

“The FIR was registered on receiving the post-mortem report. We have rounded up a few security guards from the locality where the body was found. However, there is no breakthrough yet,” Nirmal said.

Additional commissioner of police (east region) Quaiser Khalid said that the zonal DCP was monitoring the case.

He ruled out the possibility of a gangrape.

The cops are trying to find out whether the rapist was someone known to her. The victim had been staying at different locations in Ghatkopar for the past seven years, while her 25-year-old son, also a rag-picker, lives with his family in Mumbra.

“He occasionally visited Ghatkopar to meet his mother and used to give her money,” said a police officer.

As the city was partying the New Year night on December 31, a 55-year-old woman was raped and killed by unidentified people. The victim’s body was found with severe head injuries near a tree on the roadside near the BEST bus depot in Ghatkopar (East) on Wednesday.

The Pant Nagar police registered a case of accidental death on Wednesday but converted into an FIR in the evening after the post-mortem showed that the victim, a rag-picker, was raped and may have been killed to destroy evidence, the police said.

The incident came to light around 9.30am when others staying on the pavement found the victim’s body with head injuries. They called the police control room and narrated about the dead body found lying with injuries on head. “The victim stayed on the roadside and was not having a permanent house. It is suspected that she was raped and killed at midnight on December 31,” said Pant Nagar police senior inspector Suresh Nirmal.

Nirmal confirmed to TOI that they have registered a case under sections 302 (murder) and 376 (rape) against unidentified people. “The FIR was registered on receiving the post-mortem report. We have rounded up security guards and a few suspects from the locality where the victim’s body was found. However, there is no breakthrough yet,” he said.

Additional Commissioner of Police (East region) Quaiser Khalid said that the Zonal DCP is monitoring the case and it’s not a gang rape.

Police are trying to find out whether the rapist was someone known to her. The victim lived at different locations on the roadside in Ghatkopar for the last seven years while her 25-year-old son, who too is a rag-picker, resides with his family in Mumbra. “He occasionally visited Ghatkopar to meet his mother and use to hand over money. The victim earned by selling plastic articles and bottles that she picked from garbage bins,” said the investigators.

 

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#India – Maharashtra tops country in attacks, murder of RTI activists

Anahita Mukherji, TNN Dec 22, 2013
(Data gleaned by the Commonwealth…)

MUMBAI: The murder of a young Right to Information activist from Bhiwandi was no aberration for a state that has seen the highest number of attacks on RTI activists since the Act’s debut in 2005.

Data gleaned by the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) shows Maharashtra has seen 53 attacks on RTI activists, including nine cases of murder, over the last eight years. Gujarat comes second with 34 attacks, including 3 murders. Delhi, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka follow with over 10 reported attacks on RTI activists during the last eight years.

The data points to around 251 cases across India where people were either attacked, murdered, physically or mentally harassed or had their property damaged because of the information they sought under RTI. The data throws up 32 alleged murders and two suicides that were directly linked with RTI applications filed.

While there is no official, countrywide data on the number of people who file RTI applications, or the number of RTI activists assaulted in India, CHRI used publicly available data to gather the information. The organization has appealed to the public to send in any additional data on attacks on RTI activists that have not made it to the English media and are untraceable on the web. CHRI built on data initially collected by Nachiket Udupa of the National Campaign for People’s Right to Information.

“Available data shows that Maharashtra receives the highest number of RTI applications every year and so it is statistically possible that the number of attacks are correspondingly higher in the state,” said Venkatesh Nayak of CHRI, adding that there is no data available on the number of RTI applications filed in UP. “It’s possible that, being a largely Hindi-speaking state, attacks on RTI activists may be covered in local language papers which are not accessible over the internet,” he added.

As for the large number of assaults in Gujarat, Nayak says this challenges the establishment’s view of good governance in the state. Incidentally, the Gujarat State Information Commission has never published an annual report on its website since the RTI Act was passed.

While Maharashtra’s Chief Information Commissioner Ratnakar Gaikwad points to the enormous number of appeals under the RTI act that the state receives, virtually equivalent to the number received by India’s central information commission, he hastens to add that the number of attacks on RTI activists is unacceptable for a progressive state like Maharashtra. He wants the state police to protect RTI activists under threat in order to pre-empt an attack.

When it comes to comparing attacks in Maharashtra visa-vise states like Bihar, Gaikwad, who was once election observer for Bihar, points to the nexus between politicians, bureaucrats and the police in the state, due to which the common man in Bihar may be afraid of filing RTI applications. Those who do file RTIs in Bihar may be afraid of taking the application to its logical conclusion, which is not the case in Maharashtra, says Gaikwad.

RTI crusader Shailesh Gandhi says there is a chance that Maharashtra may be more diligent in recording attacks on RTI activists when compared with other states in the country where the law and order situation is a lot worse. He feels the high figures for Maharashtra may not necessarily be a bad thing.
Times View

The attacks on people asking questions under the RTI Act are attacks not only on these individuals but on the law itself. This law is one of the rare weapons that citizens have to expose wrongdoing, nepotism and corruption, notwithstanding its misuse. These assaults are an index of state-encouraged disregard for the rule of law. The government needs to address this problem on an emergency basis.

Read more here http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2013-12-22/india/45472737_1_rti-act-rti-applications-chri

 

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