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Guard EVMs, role of Election Commission not neutral: Concerned citizens appeal

A group of concerned citizens have in an appeal said they are "deeply perturbed" with reports coming in from various parts of the country of electronic voting machines (EVMs) and even a voter-verified paper audit trail (VVPAT) being transported in unauthorized trucks and private vehicles, allegedly to exchange EVMs from strong rooms and replace them with alternate EVMs.
Pointing out that there are also videos of EVMs being stored in unauthorized storage houses and shops, the appeal says, "While the Election Commission (EC) has denied over years that EVMs can be tampered, many of us have been raising the issue of EVM tampering from Gujarat 2002 election onwards."
Signed by academicians, litterateurs, trade union leaders, social activists and film makers, the appeal says, "We are concerned that voters’ verdict sealed inside the EVM machines is sought to be tampered. We strongly believe that the responsibility of ensuring that the Voters’ Verdict is not changed…

Demand for 50% EVM verification with VVPATs: Missed call campaign set to cross 1 lakh mark

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In May first week, several political activists got together and launched a missed call campaign (on the phone No 9667655855) in support of the demand that the 2019 Lok Sabha elections must be declared only after verification of 50 percent electronic voting machine (EVM) data with Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) receipts.
During the counting for the Lok Sabha polls on May 23, as per the Supreme Court guidelines, only two percent EVM data will be verified with VVPAT slips. As of May 21, morning (10.30 am) a whopping 83,994 persons gave a missed call supporting the demand of 50 percent EVM verification with VVPAT. "We expect the numbers to cross 1 lakh by May 23, when the counting takes place", said one of the organizers of the campaign.
At the same time, senior political activist and environmentalist Mahesh Pandya had simultaneously launched a petition through change.org with the same demand of 50 percent EVM verification in each Assembly Constituency with VVPAT. …

Vidyasagar statue vandalization culmination of hate culture: Gujarat memorandum

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About 45 Gujarat activists have, in a memorandum to the President of India on the vandalisation of the statue of Iswarchandra Vidyasagar last week in West Bengal, have said that the incident is "the culmination of the culture and politics of hatred that has unleashed in our country." The memorandu, however, refrains from naming any political party. "Words fail to condemn the vandalisation of the bust of Iswarchandra Vidyasagar, one of the pioneers of Indian social reform movement, during the election campaign of Loksabha poll at Kolkata", the memorandum reads, adding, "Starting from Vivekananda, Gandhiji, Tagore and many were inspired by Vidyasagar. Devaluating the greatness of renaissance and freedom struggle will push us to the dark age of feudal society."
Continues the memorandum, "A culture of talibisation has usurped in the country. Statues of Gandhiji, Ambedkar, Periyar, and Lenin have been vandalized in recent past. Vandalism of statues is no…

No minority community midday meal scheme cook-cum-helper in Gujarat: Govt of India

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A Government of India fact-sheet, released late last year on the midday meal scheme across India, has been brought to light to show that Gujarat is one of the two major states with zero minority community cook-cum-helpers. The other state is Chhattisgarh. In the country as a whole, out of a total of 25,12,111 cook-cum-helpers, 6.14% or 1,54,438 are from minority communities.
Out of 96,329 cook-cum-helpers in Gujarat, 10,887 or 11.3% are from scheduled castes (SCs), 22,542 or 22.4% are from scheduled to tribes (STs), 43,705 or 45.37% from other backward classes (OBCs), and 19,195 or 19.92% are from the general category. SC population of Gujarat is less than 7%, while there are 14% STs in Gujarat.
A Right to Information (RTI) plea filed by a senior minority rights activist failed to get any information on this score from the Gajarat government. Mujahid Nafees of the Minority Coordination Committee told CV News that the official concerned sought to provide the same information that i…

Withdraw FIR, "fake" charges against Bihar TU leaders in Araria: NAPM

The National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), a top human rights network, has taken strong exception to FIR and "fake" charges registered by the Araria (Bihar) District Police against activists Kamayani Swami, Ranjit Paswan and 150 un-named persons of the Jan Jagran Shakti Sangathan (JJSS) for sitting in "peaceful satyagraha" against bureaucratic delays and corruption in Nagar Parishad Araria.
In a statement, NAPM said, On the May 7, 2019 around 200 members of JJSS, a local union of workers and marginal farmers, and residents of Baijnathpur in Araria District, Bihar, gathered in front of the office of the executive officer of Araria Nagar Parishad. Using the satyagraha method as a means of non-violent protest, people were demanding release of money in “Sabke liye Awaas” , “Swachh Bharat” and “Lohia Swachh Bihar Mission”schemes and social security pension scheme.
A representative body of JJSS even met the officials, and later executive officer Dinanath Singh …

As Narmada goes dry, environmentalist asks: Where's Gujarat govt's water policy?

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Senior Ahmedabad-based environmentalist Mahesh Pandya has sharply criticised the Gujarat government for failing to come up with water policy despite "grim" situation across the state. Pandya, who heads Paryavaran Mitra, told a seminar jointly called by the Gujarat Institute for Civil Engineers and Architects and Public Cause and Environment that the water level in the Sardar Sarovar dam is 119 metres, yet Narmada downstream is dry.
"Sea waters are intruding into Narmada, salinity has gripped the villages along two sides of of the river, yet chief minister Vijay Rupani is dreaming of water tourism for 12 kilometres downstream of the dam, by filling up 32 metres water", Pandya said, adding, "Plans to have a barrage at Bhadbhut at the mouth of Narmada allegedly to stop salinity ingress invading the river are being toyed since 2012, yet nothing has happened."
Pointing out that the plan to bring to life dead rivers too has gone awry, Pandya said, industrial u…

High Court seeks explanation: Delhi govt attitude towards food security "lackadaisical"

A Delhi High Court bench comprising Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice Anup Bhambhani has sought to know from the Delhi state government if any action has been taken to put in place the statutory grievance redress framework under the National Food Security Act (NFSA).
It was hearing a contempt petition filed by the civil rights organization, Delhi Rozi Roti Adhikar Abhiyan (DRRAA) against the state government for its "failure" to comply with the order of the court dated September 1, 2017.
The bench directed the representative of the food department to file a detailed affidavit along with relevant documents on steps taken since the order of September 1, 2017 and where the file was currently pending.
Expressing its dissatisfaction with the reply filed by the state government to the contempt petition, the bench observed the government attitude was lackadaisical, as the rules for grievance redress and accountability have still not been promulgated more than five years aft…

Central, Gujarat govts told to clarify: Why hide facts on pollution in Narmada Dam, canals?

In a letter to Gujarat and Central government authorities, top environmentalist Rohit Prajapati has wondered why is it such a big secret that it is refusing to share information on reasons behind the presence of sulphide and decrease in dissolved oxygen (DO) in the Sardar Sarovar Dam and its canals.
Referring to water samples taken in February 2019 by his team of the Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti (PSS) activists, Prajapati said, though he had declared the pollution level, and informed about it to officials concerned on February 12, 2019, he has still not received any reply.
The letter, sent, among others, to the chairman, Narmada Control Authority, Gujarat chief secretary, and the Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Ltd (SSNNL) chairman, says that the state government declared that the concerned authorities were seeking the help of the Oceanography Department, which has the equipment and expertise to collect samples from the base of reservoirs, wondering what has happened thereafter. Suggestin…

Youth in Bhopal say they want to vote Modi, as they "haven't heard" the secular narrative

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Senior human rights activist Shabnam Hashmi, known for her anti-Modi slant, has regretted that youth in Bhopal have not heard the "other narrative" on why BJP shouldn't in these elections. Talking with a group outside a sweet shop, when she asked whom do they want to win, the immediate "reply was Modi".
"I spoke to them for 15 minutes. I got their attention within 2-3 minutes. They listened. I could see on their faces they had never heard another narrative", Hashmi said in a recent Facebook post. Bhopal is witnessing a keen battle between Malegaon terror accused Sadhvi Pragya Thakur from BJP and veteran Congress stalwart Digvijay Singh.
Hashmi, who is known to have campaigned against BJP, especially Modi, ever since the 2002 Gujarat riots, admitted, "I have maintained since 2002 secularism has not failed. Our reach has failed. We are too small a numger to counter RSS propaganda."
Recalling that her organization, Anhad "held camps fro…

Reinstate, make permanent 150 suspended sanitation workers: Online petition

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Sanitation workers, students and teachers of the Delhi University have in a petition to the vice chancellor taken strong exception to the recent overnight termination of over 150 Safai Karamcharis from their jobs, pointing out that the "cruel irony of laying off" this happened on May 1.
Asking aware citizens to sign the online petition, the plea to the vice chancellor says, the termination followed the expiry of the tender of the contractor Sulabh International which had hired workers on a contractual basis. This includes 35 workers who had filed a case in the labour court for non-payment of fair wages, ESI and PF.
The petition says, the terminated workers had been employed in Delhi University for the last 3 to 15 years and have been systematically exploited and harassed by the contractor and the university under your watch. It claims, women workers have been harassed by bouncers of Sulabh International openly with complete impunity provided by the university.
Accusing th…