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Showing posts from August, 2018

A dangerous phase, worse than Emergency, has begun in India: MSD writes to President of India

The Movement for Secular Democracy (MSD), a prominent civil rights network of Gujarat, condemning the arrest of various civil rights activists from across the country, have said, they were sought to be implicated under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) under the pretext of being a part of ‘conspiracy to kill the Prime Minister’. Demanding their release, it has demanded dropping of all charges against them.
“The arrested and alleged activists have no criminal background or no such record of actions which complement these charges. Even the said letter of threat over the computer is yet to be proved authentic by the administration. The only common thread among them is that they raise voice of dissent against anti people policies of the governments or do open criticism”, a letter by MSD to the President of India says.
It adds, “Already, countrywide, the attempts of the state administration to curb democratic protests under various pretexts have become very common. The rampan…

Rihai Manch organises UP-wide yatra to highlight attack on democracy, constitution

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Several civil society organizations led by Rihai Manch have begun a UP-wide yatra for upholding the values of constitution, democracy, justice, equality and brotherhood. Addressing media at the UP Press Club, Lucknow, the organizers said, this was necessitated because of continued attack on the basic values of constitution, democracy and social justice. To take place in four phases, it would end in Lucknow on September 5. Apart from major cities UP, It would pass through Sultanpur, Jaunpur, Azamgarh, Mau, Ballia, Ghazipur, Varanasi, Bhadohi, Pratapgarh and Rae Bareli, traversing about 2,000 KM.
Addressing media, civil rights leaders Arundhati Dhuru, Muhammad Shoeb, Ajay Singh, Shivamurthy, Nadeem Hasnain, Rakesh, Ahmed Abbas, and OP Sinha condemned the recent arrest of human rights and pro-democracy leaders, saying, the government wants to crush dissent in India. These voices are the foundations of democracy and the Supreme Court has supported them, they asserted.
By reaching out…

Activists protest in front of Maharashtra Sadan, New Delhi against arrests, raids

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A group of activists, intellectuals, lawyers, scientists, journalists, feminists, students, cultural groups and progressive citizens protest at Maharashtra Bhavan, New Delhi, against what they called “unlawful arrests” of five human rights activists, Sudha Bharadwaj, Varavara Rao, Vernon Gonzalves, Arun Ferreira and Gautam Navlakha. Organized by the National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), the participants condemned “the outrageous act” of Maharashtra Police, which raided the houses of Father Stan Swamy, Prof K Satyanarayana, Kranthi Tekula, KV Kumaranath, Anand Teltumbde and Susan Abraham.
Prominent participants in the protests were scientist-activist Gauhar Raza, Dr Sunilam (national convener, NAPM), Rakhi Sehgal (New Trade Union of India), Priya Pillai (Women against Sexual Violence and State Repression (WSS), Sideshwar Shukla (Centre of Trade Unions), former DGP (Uttar Pradesh) SR Darapuri, Shamshul Islam (Nishant Natya Manch), Mohit Pandey (Former President, Jawaharlal Neh…

Arrest Hindutva perpetrators of Bhima Koregaon violence, demands NCDHR

The National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights (NCDHR), India’s well-known Dalit rights network, condemning “the efforts of Maharashtra government to persecute” activists across India, has qualified the move “malafide” and “motivated” in order to “obstruct the legal and human rights work being carried out by them.”
“The current arrest and raids have taken place in the backdrop of the arrests of five human rights activists – advocate Surendra Gadling, Professor Shoma Sen, Rona Wilson, Mahesh Raut and Sudhir Dhawale – who were also arrested under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) on 6th June 2018, relying on a similar fabricated letter produced by Republic TV allegedly addressed to the same ‘Comrade Prakash’, in the same Pune case”, the statement says.
Calling them “a systematic abuse of the legal process by the Government to malign the human rights activists and advocates over the past couple of months”, the statement says, “The motivated actions against them fit neatly into the…

Raid on Stan Swamy's house a "govt attempt" to strike terror among activists

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About 75 civil rights activists, mainly from Jharkhand, have said that the recent raid on the house of Father Stan Swamy – alongside raids on several other civil rights activists across the country – is “an attempt by the government to strike terror among those who are fighting for justice for the marginalized.” Among the top signatories is development economist Prof Jean Dreze, a close associate of Nobel laureate Amartya Sen.
A well-known activist of Jharkhand, the statement says, he works “on displacement, corporate loot of resources, the condition of undertrials and PESA” and is a “vocal critic of the government’s attempts to amend land laws and the land acquisition act in Jharkhand, and a strong advocate of the Forest Rights Act, PESA and related laws. We know Stan as an exceptionally gentle, honest and public-spirited person.”
During the raid in the Bagaicha campus by the Maharashtra and Jharkhand police around 6 am on August 28, 2018, the police confiscated Stan’s mobile, laptop,…

NHRC issues notice to Maharashtra chief secretary, DGP over activists' arrest

Taking suo motu congizance of media reports on the arrest of five activists from different parts of the country, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has said that “the standard operating procedure in connection with these arrests has not been properly followed by the police authorities, which may amount to violation of their human rights.”
Accordingly, it has issued notices to the Chief Secretary and Director General of Police (DGP), Maharashtra, calling for a factual report in the matter within four weeks.
NHRC notes, the Delhi High Court has “already stayed the transit remand for civil liberties activist Gautam Navlakha, observing that police have not been able to satisfactorily explain the offence, he had been arrested for”, adding, “The decision on a transit remand for lawyer-activist Sudha Bharadwaj is also pending before the Chief Judicial Magistrate of Faridabad.”
NHRC approvingly quotes Bharadwaj as having told the court that she had nothing to do with the incident…

Top economists appeal for signing petition against arrest of activists

Two top economists Prof Arun Kumar, a foremost expert on black money, and current Malcolm Adisheshiah Chair Professor at Institute of Social Sciences, New Delhi, and Prof Kamal Nayan Kabra, who was Malcolm Adiseshiah Chair Professor (2010-17) at the institute and was previously at the Indian Institute of Public Administration, have sought more support for the petition currently being signed following the arrest of defenders of democratic rights from many cities.
"The charges seem to be concocted and that is why one fears that these arrests are only to silence voices of dissent and those who defend democratic rights. It is also a signal to others to not be critical of the government", Prof Kumar has said, adding, "I have known some of the people arrested, for a long time, and have never sensed that they in any way propagated violence of any kind."
He says, "Even if the courts release them later on due to lack of evidence, it would be undue harassment of these …

Arrest of Sudha Bharadwaj, others a fascist onslaught: Gujarat activists

Gujarat's social activists have condemned the arrest of Sudha Bharadwaj and other human rights activists, lawyers and writers, saying, BJP rulers across India should "stop conspiring against those fighting against suppression of tribals, Dalits and minorities." Those arrested include Chhattisgarh's senior human Rights activist, trade unionist and High Court advocate Sudha Bharadwaj, Gautam Navlakha, Father Stan Swamy, Arun Perreira, Varanan Gonzalves, Dalit rights activist Varvara Rao, and others.
"Bharadwaj has been fighting for the rights of the workers after she joined the organization founded by martyr Shankar Guha Niyogi in Chhattisgarh 30 years ago. She appears as advocate in the Chhattisgarh High Court and other courts to fight for the rights of the deprived sections", the statement, issued by Mujahid Nafees of Insaf on behalf of tens of Gujarat activists and scholars, said.
"The National Human Rights Commission recently sought her assistance in…

Amensty, Oxfam condemn "nationwide crackdown" on activists, advocates

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Taking strong exception to the nationwide crackdown on activists, advocates and human rights defenders, will-known civil international rights organizations, Amnesty and Oxfam, in a joint statement said the step threatens core human rights values.
Asserting that the August 28 arrests were the second of such crackdown on those who have been critical of the state, Aakar Patel, Executive Director, Amnesty International India, said, "All these people have history of working to protect the rights of some of India’s most poor and marginalized people. Their arrests raise disturbing questions about whether they are being targeted for their activism.”
“These arrests cannot become the order of the day. The government should protect people’s rights to freedom of expression, association, and peaceful assembly instead of creating an atmosphere of fear,” added Amitabh Behar, CEO, Oxfam India.  The statement follows Maharashtra police arresting Chhattisgarh-based human rights lawyer Sudha Bhara…

Serial raids, arrest of human rights defenders described attempt to create scaremongering

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Prominent civil rights activists have protested against“serial raids” across the country on the homes of activists and public intellectuals, followed by arrest of Sudha Bharadwaj, Vernon Gonsalves, Gautam Navlakha, Varavara Rao, Arun Ferreira, Kranthi Tekula and others, saying this is “nothing but an attempt by the government to strike terror among those who are fighting for justice for the marginalised.”
Calling it an “attempt by the BJP to invent a false enemy" a statement signed by Admiral L Ramdas, Lalita Ramdas, Shabnam Hashmi Shehla Rashid, Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, Jignesh Mevani, Teesta Setalvad, Swami Agnivesh, and others, says that it is nothing but scaremongering in order to polarise the 2019 elections in its favour.”
The statement says, “The government and the media houses close to the BJP have been trying to spin a false narrative of a Maoist conspiracy since June, 2018. Terms like ‘urban naxals’ are invented in order to stifle any criticism of the government. We hav…

Houses of human rights activists raided, followed by arrests in Ranchi, Pune, Mumbai, Delhi, Hyderabad

Sudha Bharadwaj, well-known human rights lawyer, in a statement has said that from 6 am onwards the Maharasthra police, coming all the way, started raiding and searching tribal rights leader Father Stan Swamy's place in Ranchi in Chhattisgarh. The cops confiscated computers, laptop, CDs, papers and books. He was also quizzed about some organisations in Maharasthtra.
This was followed by a message that Maharashtra cops simultaneously raiding human rights activists Arun Ferreira and Susan Abraham's and Vernon Gonsalvez's residences in Mumbai, Gautam Navlakha's house in Delhi, Anand Teltumbde's house in Goa. Houses of human rights defenders in Hyderabad and Delhi, including that of a journalist, were also raided.
Following the raids, Bharadwaj and five other human rights defenders -- Vernon Gonsalves, Gautam Navlakha, Varavara Rao, Arun Ferreira, Kranthi Tekula -- were arrested allegedly under pretext of investigating Bhima Koregaon incident late last year in Pune, w…

Tamil Nadu pollution control chief's transfer "untimely", meant to help Sterlite: Senior activist

Henri Tiphagne, lawyer, human rights trainer and defender, and executive director, People's Watch India, has appealed to civil society activists to to sign and send the following memorandum to the Chief Minister and Chief Secretary of Tamil Nadu urgently protesting against the transfer of Nasimuddin, IAS, from his role as chairperson, Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB), calling it an "ill-timed" move, which sends the wrong signals to the public about the sincerity of the Government in keeping Vedanta Sterlite shut.
"Nasimuddin enjoys public confidence, and is perceived to be a person of integrity and intelligence. He has been involved and informed about Sterlite's operations in Thoothukudi. His continued presence as TNPCB Chairperson would be invaluable given the imminence of the NGT-appointed enquiry Committee less than two weeks from now", says Tiphagne, adding, "The transfer is not merely ill-timed, but legally fraught."
According t…

Briefs on human-wildlife conflict in India for grassroots legal professionals released

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The Centre for Policy Research-Namati Environmental Justice Program ((CPR-Namati), a New Delhi-based advocacy group which prepares network of grassroots legal professionals who research questions regarding environment law implementation, has with support from Duleep Matthai Nature Conservation Trust prepared handouts on the legal mechanisms available in human wildlife conflict in Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Odisha and Karnataka.
These handouts entail, says a CPR-Namati note, a brief overview of the present status of human wildlife conflict, the measures taken by the Centre and states to tackle this, and compensatory mechanisms available in case of human wildlife conflict.
Available in Hindi, Gujarati, Odia and Kannada (to be released shortly), CPR-Namati has simultaneously announced the release of material on the legal framework for conservation and protection areas. This material -- providing information on the legal provisions under which these areas are formed, the spaces available for…

Patna HC order on media reporting: Editors Guild asks Chief Justice of India to intervene

The Editors Guild of India, decrying the recent growing trend of courts issuing restraint orders on media, has said it is "deeply concerned over a Patna High Court order restraining the media from reporting on the investigation into the Muzaffarpur shelter abuse case."
A verbal order issued by the division bench of Chief Justice Mukesh R Shah and Justice Dr Ravi Ranjan on August 23 said that till the investigation into the shelter case was completed, all the print and electronic media were restrained from reporting anything with respect to the case, more particularly, with respect to the investigation already undertaken and/or which was likely to take place as it could seriously hamper the investigation of the case.
The Guild noted, "The court, instead of protecting media freedom, has issued an order that has effectively curbed it." Condemning such orders, as it believes that "such restrictions on reporting on investigations into a matter of public importance …

Civil rights leaders object to "sudden" Lucknow court order on Nov 2007 blast

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Senior civil rights activists of Uttar Pradesh, including Rihai Manch chief Mohammad Shoeb, former UP IG SR Darapuri, prominent social worker Arundhati Dhuru and Magsasay award winning scholar-activist and Sandeep Pandey, and advocate Andhir Singh Suman have taken strong exception to the manner in which a Lucknow court passed its order on the two persons accused of involvement in the 11-year-old Lucknow blast case, in which serial bombs ripped in Lucknow and other major cities of UP. The blasts took place on November 23, 2007.
Addressing media at the Lucknow press club, Shoeb said that things turned particularly mysterious because the judge, without hearing the two sides, declared the two persons accused in the blast as guilty, leaving the jail court room, saying the next hearing on August 27 would be on punishment to be meted out them. Earlier, he added, another judge, who was about to give his judgment on the case, was summarily transferred. “The decision has been influenced by the…

UP SHRC directs DM to act against hate campaign to divide Dalits and Muslims following NHRC direction

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In February 2018, fake news of forced conversion of Dalits in Amroha district of Uttar Pradesh began to circulate on social media. It emerged that this was a willful campaign on misinformation, designed to pit Dalits against Muslims. Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) complained to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC). The UP State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) has now directed the District Magistrate to investigate and act on the complaint.
According to CJP, the rumours were worded in an inflammatory manner with the unambiguous objective to spark conflict between Dalits and Muslims who have hitherto coexisted in harmony.
First there were rumours that street signs were being changed as Gautam Nagar was being renamed Islam Nagar. A tweet openly alleged that 1500 Dalits lived in fear of conversion in Amroha.
Fake news about forced conversion of Dalits and the possibility of changing the name of the Gautam Nagar neighbourhood began spreading like wildfire at a time when UP wa…

Gujarat govt admits of failure to include fishing jetties in CRZ maps put up for public hearing

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The Gujarat government has admitted that it has failed to identify fishing jetties, salt pans and shrimp farms in its new Coastal Regulatory Zone maps released for public hearing for finalising the Coastal Zone Management Plan (CZMP) for each district. Following a strong representation by MSH Sheikh, environmentalist and representative of the fishing communities, district collector Ravi Kumar Arora, who is chairman of the district-level authority for preparing CZMP, "We will include them in our final maps after consultation with the authorities concerned. I can assure you as representative of the government."
Making a strong representative at the public hearing in Bharuch, Sheikh wondered, "Why have fishing villages and jetties not been the CRZ maps though there are 40 spots where boats land? Where are the spots for even one?" He asked, "Why are the maps which are printed called predaft? Why are the maps so old, when the coastline of a large number of coastal…

Rihai Manch takes exception to "two minutes" order in Lucknow jail court

Rihai Manch, a civil rights organization in Uttar Pradesh, has taken strong exception to what it has described as “two minutes” judgement on Tariq Kasmi and Mohammand Akhtar, accused of terrorist attack 11 years ago. In a statement, the Rihai Manch quotes their lawyer Mohammad Shoeb as saying that it is the same case when, in April 2018, a judge was mysteriously transferred out following completion on discussions on the case.
According to Rajiv Yadav of Rihai Manch, on August 23, the judge kept the two sides waiting for further discussions on the case for about five years, and after reaching the jail court at 4 pm, declared the two accused as guilty, adding, the next discussion on the case would be on August 27 on the type of punishment to be given to the two accused.
The case concerned terrorist attack in Lucknow court on November 23, 2007, when within a span of 25 minutes blasts also took place in other cities. Bombs were explicitly targeted to the lawyers who were working in court…

Uttarakhand HC orders on Van Gujjars "violate" Forest Rights Act: Activist

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Commenting on the Uttarakhand High Court's orders (click here and here) about eviction of Van Gujjars, which were issued on August 2 and August 16, Neema Pathak Broome of the Theme on Conservation and Livelihoods, Kalpavriksh, Pune, says the orders completely ignore Forest Rights Act (FRA). Worse, she regrets, the orders ignore even the earlier administrative process, which themselves are in violation of FRA, by the forest department towards relocation of Van Gujjars.
"The court blaming the Chief Secretary and the Forest Officials for talking about a rehabilitation policy instead of evicting the Van Gujjars. It has already decided that these are encroachers and not the people whose rights have been recognised under the FRA. The language of the Court is shocking", says Broome.
"Not only is it asking for evictions but also instructs the District Magistrates across the state to prohibit people from organising dharnas and rallies against the Court's order. Inst…

Will Dalit President break 243-yr-old tradition of appointing "upper caste" Jats, Rajputs as bodyguards?: John Dayal

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Well-known human rights activist John Dayal, who also happens to be president of the All-India Christian Council, has wondered whether President Ram Nath Kovind, a Dalit, would break the 243-year-old tradition of only appointing upper caste Jats and Rajputs as his bodyguards. Wondering why only “upper caste self-styled martial races” are being appointed, Dayal says, he wondered what the second Dalit President, now residing in Rashtrapati Bhawan, has to say of it, if he has been told” about this.
Referring to a Hindi newspaper report, Dayal says, “A recent recruitment advertisement by the government specifically bars ‘mazhabi Sikhs’, converts from the once untouchable caste groups, from the recruitment, limiting it to Jats and Rajputs. If it is just that they sought six feet tall guards for the Rashtrapathi Bhawan ceremonials, they could have said so.”
Pointing out that the next recruitment is due on September 4, Dayal asks, “Remember how the guards used to tower over President Pranab …

Narmada dam oustees gherao Badwani rehab office, demand implementation of SC order

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In a statement on behalf of 28 villages, whose 195 Narmada dam oustees have been sitting on relay fast for the last 20 days, the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) has claimed that a large number of dam affected families have still not received the compensation of Rs 60 lakh and Rs 15 lakh, ordered by the Supreme Court of India about a year ago.
Pointing out that the problem is particularly acute for women-dominated households, a memorandum submitted to the Narmada rehabilitation office in Badwani, Madhya Pradesh, said even today, large number of rehabilitation sites do not drinking water facility, and the land on which these sites have been built has not been levelled.
The 14-point charter of demands in the memorandum, handed over after the villagers gheraoed the office, even as giving village-wide details, said,there is still no separate spot where cattle could drink water in these sites, there are no drainage lines, there are no health centres, there are no street lights, and are are n…

Gujarat farmers' leaders detained when Modi "inaugurated" multiple schemes

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Even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi was in Gujarat for the whole day to inaugurate multiple schemes across the state with an eye on the 2019 general elections, several senior farmer leaders were detained for the whole day, allegedly in order to "ensure" that they do not create any disturbance in the PM’s programme.  Thus, while Bhagubhai Patel, head of the Valsad district Gujarat Khedut Samaj (GKS) was picked up from his residence, and South Gujarat GKS leader Jayesh Patel was detained in his own house, Rajkot district GKS chief Chetan Gadhiya was detained for the whole day in his office. “Each of them were released after the PM’s programmes ended in South Gujarat and Saurashtra. Worse, when Jayesh Patel, on his release, started his journey to Ahmedabad, the cops followed in all through”, said a statement issued by GKS general secretary Sagar Rabari, qualifying the detention without given any reasons on paper a “clear violation of human rights.”  He added, “The detentions …

Sections imposed on attackers of Motihari professor "laughable": Letter to Nitish

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In a letter to Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar, the Jamia Teachers’ Solidarity Association (JTSA) has said that the "brutal assault" on Sanjay Kumar Yadav, assistant professor of sociology at the Central University, Motihari, on August 17 by a gang of around 20-25 goons, which dragged from his third floor flat into the street, preceded an atmosphere of intimidation and threats of violence against him.
According to JTSA, in his complaint to the police, Sanjay Kumar has clearly named the ring leaders of the mob. It also records the incessant harassment and threats issued by Sanjay Kumar Singh, Bureau Chief, Dainik Bhaskar. These threats pertained to his opposition to the vice chancellor against whom the university teachers had been agitating, as well as his Facebook posts, one of which invited the wrath of assailants.
Calling it Jungle Raj, JTSA wonders why the perpetrators and those who threatened him, which can be ascertained from a video, have not been arrested. "…

Mob attack on Sanjay Kumar "part of trend" to target teachers for taking social, political positions

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In a strongly-worded condemnation, 178 sociologists, social scientists and concerned individuals across the world have said that the brutal mob assault on August 17, 2018, on sociologist Sanjay Kumar at Mahatma Gandhi Central University, Motihari, Bihar is part of the "particular trend of mob violence directed at dissenting voices in various university/college campuses of late has become ‘normal’."
The statement, distributed by well-known sociologist-activist Nandini Sundar, professor of sociology, Delhi School of Economics, through the People's Media Advocacy and Resource Centre (PMARC), says, "Teachers have been targeted and abused on account of their political opinions and social position. In particular, because of the nature of the social sciences where we engage with contemporary society, social scientists have come under attack."
Quoting media reports, the statement says, "Complicity of the office of the Vice-Chancellor, M G Central Uni…

Why is quake information near Narmada dam kept such a secret?: Medha Patkar

Making a statement on the 3.5-Richter scale earthquake in Maharashtra's Nandurbar district (Savarde, Shahada), which is near the Sardar Sarovar dam, prominent social activist Medha Patkar of the Narmada Bachao Andolan said, "Not only Sardar Sarovar, but 30 major dams built on Narmada river are on the main fault line. The question has already raised several times as to what damage the large reservoir of Sardar Sarovar cause in case of a bigger earthquake."
Pointing out that officials admit that that a 7-Richter scale scale earthquakes are also possible here, Patkar said, "Nothiing has been for the safety of the dam other than keeping an earthquake register." Worse, she added, "The entire information of earthquake measurements is carried out only in Gandhinagar, Gujarat, and its details are kept a secret people of the local valley. There is reason to ask, what would be the consequences of ignoring warning or, say, tsunami?"

Kandhamal Never Again programme to be held in Delhi on August 25

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The National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM) is organising a convention on August 25, 2018 at Constitution Club of India, New Delhi, in the form of interaction and dialogue between various survivors of communal carnage – from Delhi (1984) to Gujarat (2002) to Kandhamal (2008). Photo exhibitions, documentary film screenings and the launching of a people’s archive of the Kandhamal carnage would be also be held simultaneously, NAPM said.
The programme. to be called Kandhamal Never Again, has been organized on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the carnage in Kandhamal carnage, which witnessed one of the bloodiest episodes of communal violence unleashed on Christian minorities in India. Ever since Dalits and Tribals have found themselves under siege from mobs led by Hindutva fanatics, NAPM added.
"The scars it left behind, the rampant impunity, the acquittals, the colossal displacement it left in its wake, and the omnipresence of fear still haunts the survivors ten ye…

Govt of India withdraws report which showed higher rate of growth under Manmohan Singh

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In a surprise move, the Government of India has withdrawn from its website the Report of the Committee on Real Sector Statistics, published by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, Government of India. The report busted the myth that the rate of economic growth under Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been higher than the earlier two terms of the UPA government headed by Manmohan Singh.
The report was published on the ministry’s website on July 25, but became controversial after its contents began being known over the last three days. It triggered a war of words between the ruling BJP and the opposition Congress, after which the ministry issued a statement saying that this was “not an official estimate.”
The report, prepared by a government-backed panel under economist Sudipto Mundle, concluded that India grew at a record 10.8 per cent in 2010-11 when Dr Manmohan Singh was prime minister. It compared growth rates between the old series, 2004-05, and the new series ba…

India's GDP grew at higher pace under Manmohan Singh than Modi, Vajpayee: Central govt report

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A recently-released Report of the Committee on Real Sector Statistics, published by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, Government busted the myth that the rate of economic growth under Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been higher than the earlier two terms of the UPA government headed by Manmohan Singh.
The report has made available Gross Value Product (GDP) data 1993-94 onwards, calculated on the basis of the new series, implemented in January 2015, which show, according to expert calculations, that India's GDP annually grew on an average at 8.34% and 7.67% under Singh's two terms as Prime Minister, in 2004-05 to 2008-09 and 2009-10 to 2013-14, respectively.
The calculations further show that under the two phases when the BJP-led governments -- under AB Vajpayee and Modi -- the average growth rate was 5.73% per annum (1998-99 to 2003-04) and 7.34% (2014-15 to 2017-18).

The new series calculated GDP at 2011-12 prices, and till the publication of this re…

Campaign seeks BJP MLAs' support for law on Dalit-Adivasi budgetary allocation

Gujarat-based Birsa-Ambedkar Swadhikar Andolan (BASA), set up by Dalit rights activists with the active support of Congress MLA Naushadh Solanki, has begun handing over representation to BJP’s Dalit MLAs, pressing them to impress upon state BJP rulers to pass a law which ensures that the proportion of budgetary allocation and spending for Dalit and Adivasi communities in the state is equal to percentage of their population in Gujarat — 7% and 15% respectively.
While a private member’s bill on this has been introduced in the Gujarat state assembly, BASA activists went to BJP MLA Pradip Parmar’s residence with a representation asking him to see to it that it is passed unanimously. Those who took part in the campaign included large number of Dalit leaders and activists.
On August 20, said a BASA release, it proposes to hand over a similar representation to another Dalit MLA from BJP, Manishaben Vakil. Those who will participate in a rally in Vadodara ahead of the representation, apart fr…

Tribal villages in Aarey Forest, Mumbai Subarban, have no electricity 72 years after freedom

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Naushacha Pada, an old Adivasi village of Aarey Forest, as also other villages within the precincts of the Mumbai Veterinary College, Goregaon East, have no electricity even 72 years after India's Independence. Noticing this, a social activist Cassandra Nazareth, has begun an online petition, addressed to district collector, Mumbai Suburban, Sachin Kurve, says, she noticed this when she visited the village as part of a Swacch Bharat & Open Defecation Free campaign.
"Even though the village is a stone’s throw from the bustling Western Express Highway of Mumbai and in spite of there being a tar road with street lights within touching distance of the Adivasi huts, the Adivasis have no electricity", petition said, adding, This glaring injustice shook me. Visits to the many other Adivasi villages of Aarey Forest showed the same pattern."
She says, "The Government quarters were electrified, whereas the indigenous Warli tribes, living in the Aarey forest for gene…

Only 26% of houses destroyed in 2008 Kosi floods, worst in Bihar, built; World Bank loan "hasn't helped"

Even though 2,36,632 houses were completely destroyed in the Kosi flood calamity of 2008, one of the most disastrous in the history of Bihar, till today, just around 62,000 houses have been built, which is about 26% of the total. Revealing this, a meeting of the Kosi Navnirman Manch in Patna sharply criticised the state government for refusing to penalized anyone despite the report of the Judicial Commission investigating the tragedy.
Speakers said that in the name of Kosi river basis development project, the Bihar government has twice taken loan worth $200 million and $ 250 million, yet things have not changed in the basin. Even after a decade of the tragedy, those who suffered from the tragedy have not been fully compensated. Of the four-phase plan for rehabilitation, only two phases began, after which it was terminated, and the second phase was not completed.
Meanwhile, the speakers said, farmers continue to face adverse impact of the environmentally sensitive Kosi zone. They are un…

India's youth unemployment 13%, ninth highest among top 20 economies, though GDP growth highest in world

India's 13% youth are unemployed, if a recent social media monitor, Spectator Index, is any indication. This 9th highest among a group of 20 countries which has been selected as worst performers as far as youth unemployment goes.
While it is lower than South Africa (54%), Greece (42%), Spain (34%), Italy (33%), Iran (28%), France (20%), Turkey (17%), and Belgeum, it is higher than UK and Canada (both 12%), Australia, Ireland (11%), Poland (11%), Norway (9.7%), US (8.9%), Vietnam (7.3%), Netherlands (7.2%), Germany (6.2%) and Japan (3.8%).
Ironically, the poor performance of youth unemployment comes even as India experienced higher GDP growth in 2018, 7.2%, followed by Bangladesh and China 7% and 6.6% respectively. Pakistan's GDP growth this year is 5.4%, Indonesia's 5.3%, Ireland's 4.5%, Iran's 4%, and so on.
Yet another figure released simultaneously shows that the minimum wage, per hour, for 2018, is the lowest in India among 18 top world economies. Thus, it is $…

NAPM condemns "false cases" against tribal rights leader Ashok Choudhary, others

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The National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), India’s top civil rights network, led by social activist Medha Patkar, in a statement has condemned “false cases” against All India Union of Forest Working People (AIUWFP) activists and “continued incarceration” of Adivasi activists since June 8, adding, the latest in the series is an arrest warrant was issued against AIUWFP leader Ashok Choudhary.
Chaudhary has been booked under several sections, including 147, 148, 149, 307, 323, 504, 332, 333, 336, 353, 427, 120-B of Indian Penal Code 1860 and 3/5 of 7 the Criminal Law Act, 1932 and 5/26 of Indian Forests Act 1927.
Earlier, on June 8, 2018, AIUFWP activists Sukalo Gond, Kismatiya Gond and Sukhdev Gond were arrested on their way back from Lucknow. They had gone to meet state forest minister Dara Singh Chauhan and forest secretary Sanjay Singh to lodge complaints against police brutalities and the forest officials who had falsely accused them.
“They are still being held in jail, …

Not just BJP, entire political class to blame for lynchings, mobocracy: Indian Bishop

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The entire political class is to blame for the “polarisation and radicalisation” of India that has spawned mob violence, President of the All India Christian Council and Moderator of the Good Shepherd Church of India, Bishop Joseph d’Souza, has said. After dozens of lynchings in recent months, people of all religions needed to join in countering the “mobocracy”, he added in a statement.
Reacting to 31 people having been killed in the past six months across ten states, in most cases after being accused of kidnapping children in viral posts on Whatsapp and Facebook, Bishop d’Souza said, “The people involved in mob violence believe that they have their own people in power, and the police don’t act when they should act.” He added, "Dalits, Muslims, churches, and Hindu leaders had all been targeted."
“You cannot say directly that Modi and his government is involved in this, because no sane government can back this. But, you can trace it to the radicalisation of groups along very…

Rahul Gandhi's London event is on, he will interact with MPs in Parliament, TOI report misleading: Sam Pitroda

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Strongly denying a Times of India report that Indian-origin millionaire Dr Rami Ranger and Tory peer Baroness Verma have "rescinded an invitation to Congress president Rahul Gandhi during his trip to London, scheduled for August 24-25, saying the event has been cancelled, top former Government of India technocrat-NRI Sam Pitroda has termed it "misinformation campaign", adding, "The event at Parliament in London is hosted by Indian Overseas Congress (IOC) in UK and not by any local political party."
Saying that TOI report has been printed "without verification", Pitroda, who is the key organiser of the event, said in a statement, Gandhi's visit to London is on as planned, and he will have "interactions in London at Think Tank, Parliament, London School of Economics and a variety of other institutions with political leaders, businessmen, academicians, students."
"Rahul Gandhi will give a series of talks at large public events, meet p…

One decade of Kandhamal carnage to be observed on Aug 25

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Several civil rights activists attached with the National Solidarity Forum, Ram Puniyani, convener; Dhirendra Panda, coordinator; Ajaya Kumar Singh, founder member/ co-convener; KP Sasi, co-convener; and Kandhamal Survivors’ Association’s Manoj Nayak (coordinator), and Paul Pradhan (convener) have issued Call for Action appeal on completion of one decade of the Kandhamal carnage on August 25.
In a statement, they have recalled that during the "brutal invasion" on the Christian community, around 393 churches and worship places which belonged to the Adivasi Christians and Dalit Christians were destroyed, around 6,500 houses were destroyed, over 100 people were killed, over 40 women were subjected to rape, molestation and humiliation and several educational, social service and health institutions were destroyed and looted. Over 12,000 children lost their education. More than 56,000 people were forced to flee from Kandhamal.
"None of the criminals responsible for destructi…

Attack on Umar Khalid in Delhi result of violent promotion of Hindutva ideology: AIFRTE

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Condemning the attack on former JNU student leader Umar Khalid outside the Constitution Club, New Delhi, where he had gone to address a meeting on August 13, the All India Forum for Right to Education (AIFRTE) said, he was physically manhandled by an armed assailant, who grappled with him and was fortunately overpowered by two of Umar’s friends before he escaped, firing and throwing away his gun.
AIFRTE said, "The present regime at the Centre, which is constantly proclaiming itself to be the sole guardian of national security, has to be held accountable for this blatant incompetence endangering the life of a student leader who had requested state security as he had received numerous threats to his life." It wondered why was no security provided to him.
AIFRTE said, the reason for the attack on students and public intellectuals, in particular -- who are "critical of the anti-constitutional and anti-democratic Hindutva ideology and the organizations that violently prom…

Over 500 wheat flour bags handed over to Gujarat govt to "collect" money for Dalit-Adivasi scholarship

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Dalit rights activists from 500 villages of Gujarat, led by Navsarjan Trust founder Martin Macwan, organized a rally from Gandhi Ashram to the Ahmedabad district collector’s office to highlight the failure of the state government to provide scholarship to nearly 70,000 Dalit and Adivasi students over the last two years. Carried out under the banner “Vote nahi Lot” (not vote, but wheat flour), the rally handed over hundreds of wheat flour bags to the Ahmedabad district collector to be handed over to chief minister Vijay Rupani.
“We wanted to send the message that if they don’t have money to disburse Rs 2.73 crore as scholarship to 70,000 children, they could l sell these wheat flour bags to give scholarships”, Macwan said. Twelve activists handed over the wheat flour packs along with a memorandum to the district collector. The memorandum said, “It is most unfortunate that on the eve of the 72nd year of India’s Independence Day celebrations, we would have to hand over collect wheat flo…

Ahmedabad-Bhuj protest rally to be held if Majid, disappeared on July 19, isn't found: MCC

The Minority Coordination Committee (MCC), Gujarat, has warned that it would begin a wide-scale protest over the sudden disappearance of Majid Theba, 27, from his house in Bhuj on July 19 following cops entering his house, beating him up and his pregnant wife. Majid’s wife, Aashiyana Theba, who filed a FIR 26 years ago on disappearance of her husband, hasn’t heard from the police about the whereabouts of her husband.
“If Majid is not found, we will take out a rally from Ahmedabad to Bhuj”, said the Gujarat-based minority rights body, which has sought immediate intervention of the Gujarat DGP, the home minister and the chief secretary. The reason for beating up Majid and his sudden disappearance are not known.
MCC said, her family was having dinner when three policemen, including a head constable, came in asking for Majid. They started beating him. When Aashiyana tried to stop them, they thrashed her. She had to be admitted to GK General Hospital in Bhuj because of her pregnancy. On h…