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Showing posts from November, 2018

Discriminatory to take back cases against Patidar quota agitators: Dalit rights body

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The Gyati Nirmulan Samiti (GMS), a grassroots Dalit rights organization of Gujarat, has strongly protested against the manner in which the state government has been allegedly seeking to take back cases against those belonging to non-Dalit and non-Adivasi individuals.  Asserting that this is being done on a mass scale, GMS said, this is "discriminatory", and is being done to please the dominant caste people. "No cases registered against Dalits and Adivasis are being taken back", said GMS convener Sanjay Parmar in a letter submitted to KA Punj, who heads an inquiry commission the state government set up under the chairmanship of retired High Court judge KA Punj said, "This is being done purely for political reasons."  The letter has also been signed by GMS co-convener Rajesh Solanki, a Dalit rights advocate.
In a reported bid to placate the Patidar community, the Gujarat government last year announced setting up of the commission of inquiry headed under Pu…

Minority rights organization asks Ahmedabad municipal commissioner to clarify stance on name change politics

Gujarat's civil rights organization, Minority Coordination Committee (MCC), has asked the Ahmedabad municipal commissioner to clarify his stance on the "politics" currently being played around changing the name of the city from Ahmedabad to Karnavati. In a letter to the municipal commissioner, MCC convener Mujahid Nafees said, "It is well known, and documents prove it, that the city was founded by Sultan Ahmed Shah in 1411, and that he did not capture any town to do name it Ahmedabad."
"Yet", Nafees said, "Efforts are being made to deliberately undermine the peace, security and brotherhood existing in the city. Statements are being made in media about the need to change the name, and rumours are being spread through social media about it." He added, "You must be knowing that UNESCO gave heritage status to Ahmedabad's composite culture. You would be solely responsible if this status is eroded."

Eminent South Asians ask B'desh PM to release photographer-activist Shahidul Alam

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Arundhati Roy, Aparna Sen, Vikram Seth, Romila Thapar, Amitav Ghosh, Shabhana Azmi, Buddhadeb Dasgupta, Nandita Das, Mohammad Hanif, Anish Kapoor among other eminent persons from across South Asia have come together to write a letter to Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wazed demanding the immediate release of acclaimed photographer and cultural activist Shahidul Alam on the 100th day of his detention.
The letter states: “As well-wishers of Bangladesh and supporters of its 166 million citizens’ struggle for dignity, social justice and prosperity, we are distressed by the continued imprisonment of photographer and cultural activist Shahidul Alam.”
Alam was forcefully taken from his home on 5th August and has been held at Dhaka Central Jail for the last 100 days. He is accused of ‘hurting the image of the nation’ while reporting on protests by young students demanding road safety. He has been denied bail 5 times.
The letter notes: “Shahidul Alam is a Bangladeshi citizen, but the res…

Maharashtra housing minister gives oral assurance to shift rehabilitated residents from "toxic hell" Mahul

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Maharashtra housing minister Prakash Mehta has agreed to shift the the protesting Mahul residents temporarily to Kurla HDIL, a site that was proposed by members of the Mahul Prakalpgrast Sangharsh Samiti and Ghar bachao Ghar Banao Andolan (GBGBA). Mehta assured the people that the proposal to shift people to Kurla HDIL will be discussed with chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, and a final decision would be taken within four days.
The minister gave these assurances at a meeting with representatives of Mahul residents, led by well known social activist Medha Patkar, following their 16 days' protest. All of them Tansa pipeline displaced persons, they were "rehabilitated" last year in Mumbai’s highly polluted Mahul region, being considered the city's "toxic hell".
However, GBGBA, in a statement, regrets, the minister has only given an oral assurance and there is nothing in writing, adding, resistance would continue till the government provides concrete decisi…

Changing Ahmedabad's name to Karnavati would "efface" Islamic influence and memory

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An online petition, addressed to Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani, his deputy Nitin Patel and other elected representatives of the legislative assembly of the state of Gujarat has been floated to "assert an opinion" against Patel's statement of November 7, 2018 that the name of Ahmedabad city be renamed as Karnavati. The government is willing to change the name if it gets past the legal hurdles and receives required support, Patel has been quoted as saying.
Pointing out that the city of Ahmedabad was "founded by the King Ahmed Shah in 1411", the petition agreesthat there were two the earlier settlements in and around the area -- known as Karnavati (after the name of King Karnadev) and Ashawal (after the name of Bhil leader Asha), the petition says, "What is objected is the attempt to erase the name of a Muslim ruler from the name of the city and reidentify it after a Hindu ruler."
Giving reasons why the name of Ahmedabad should be left untouched and…

Rihai Manch to launch campaign against name change politics of UP govt

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Rihai Manch, an Uttar Pradesh civil rights organization, has decided to launch a state-wide campaign against change of names of major towns, currently being undertaken by the Yogi Adityanath government. Pointing out that the state government, instead of concentrating on solving burning issues of the state, is getting involved in changing names of Faizabad, Allahabad and cities, Rihai Manch in a statement said, the politics of changing names, coupled with plans to build big idols, "is nothing but misuse of public money."
"Basic problems facing the economy and society -- unemployment, education and healthcare -- could be met from the expenditure incurred in changing names. But the mental bankruptcy of the government is such that it is misusing people's wealth. This is being done when government is doing next to nothing people from UP and Bihari living in Gujarat and Maharashtra are being beaten and forced to flee these states", the statement, issued following a…

78th murder of RTI activist: M'shtra CM asked to make public all info sought by Junawane

The National Campaign for Peoples’ Right to Information (NCPRI), in a statement, has asked the Maharashtra chief minister to ensure that all the information sought by Rohit Ashok Junawane, murdered by nine armed assailants near his residence in Aundh, Pune, is "put in the public domain and widely publicized," adding, this would "act as a deterrent against such attacks in the future."
Attacked on November 1, 2018 for "seeking information to expose corruption and wrongdoing", NCPRI said in the letter, copy of which has been sent to the State Chief Information Commissioner of Maharashtra "for necessary action", Junawane's killing "marks the 78th murder of an RTI user who has been silenced for seeking to show truth to power."
It added, "The government has failed to implement the Whistle Blowers Protection Act passed by Parliament in 2014 despite the increasing number of attacks and murders of RTI users. Maharashtra has seen the…

Declared foreigner, Dalit Hindu lies handcuffed in Assam civil hospital, "battling" for life

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In a disturbing revelation, Ratan Chandra Biswas, a Dalit Hindu, declared a "foreigner" by the National Register of Citizens, is lying handcuffed in Assam’s Goalpara Civil Hospital. Bringing this to light, a human rights site, Sabrang India, reports, he has been found “battling for his life, emaciated and shivering”, pointing out, “His condition is a bitter testimony to the ghastly conditions in Assam 's six detention camps, where over 2,000 persons are estimated to be have been incarcerated.”
Biswas is son of Ananda Chandra Biswas, received a “doubtful foreigners” notice about two years and eight months back. A resident of Gerukabari Village under Manikpur Police Station of Bongaigaon district, he panicked. After receiving the new status, he tried communicating to a local Police Station through a 'middle man'. He paid Rs 500 for the favour. There was no help or clarity forthcoming. Three months later he was arrested and sent to the Goalpara Detention Camp.
At…

As 30 million hectares India's cultivable land goes saline, activists demand ecological, income security for farmers

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About 13 per cent of India’s 159.7 million hectares cultivable land has gone saline over the last three decades, mainly due to the use of ecologically “unsustainable” agricultural practices promoted by India’s Central and state governments and adopted by farmers. Revealing this, Kirankumar Vissa of the Rytha Swarajya Vedika, working in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, told CV News on the sidelines of the fourth Kisan Swaraj Sammelan, which ended on Sunday at Gujarat Vidyapeeth, yet another problem India’s agriculturists are against because of the climate change is desertification.
“In Anandpur district of Andhra Pradesh and Mehboobnagar district of Telengana, where we are working, we already witness a huge fertility soil loss because of salinity and desertification”, Vissa, who is national co-convener of the ASHA-Kisan Swaraj Alliance, said, insisting on the need to adopt ecologically sensitive policies as a way out of this grave situation. “A large number of alternatives have been work…

Demand for SC status to Dalit Christians, subsidy to pilgrims to Jerusalem

Federation of Telugu Churches (FTC), the apex body of bishops and Church heads of major Christian denominations in Telugu states, has appealed to political parties to bring pressure on the Central Government to extend scheduled caste (SC) status to Dalit Christians by deleting “the unconstitutional and discriminatory Para 3 of Constitution (Presidential) Order 19 of 1950.”
In a series of demands, put forward ahead of the 2019 polls and signed by Christian interests.” Fr Dr Anthoniraj Thumma and B Danam IAS (Retd), executive secretaries, FTC has insisted that the Prevention of Communal Violence Act and Prevention of Minorities Atrocities Act (in line with the “Prevention of SC ST Atrocities Act) be enacted in the State and Centre in order to “prevent the continuing attacks on the Christians and atrocities on the pastors.”
Seeking strengthening of the Telangana State Christian (Minority) Finance Corporation and allocation of at least 25% of the funds and schemes under the minority we…

Kisan sammelan ends, decides to "adopt" sustainable agriculture

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The 4th biennial Kisan Swaraj Sammelan ended on Sunday in Ahmedabad, resolving to re-build Indian agriculture in a sustainable and equitable fashion. Participated by more than 1,000 delegates from across India, including women farmers, those who participated included farmers, scientists, academics, researchers, innovators, media representatives, NGO personnel, farm union leaders, activists and senior bureaucrats.
Adopting a “comprehensive alternative plan” for environmental sustainability in order to address issues such as climate change, nutrition security and food safety, a statement adopted at the meet decided to adopt initiatives like universalization of natural farming in Andhra Pradesh and large scale millets mission in the state of Odisha.
Eminent political analyst Yogendra Yadav, speaking at the three day meet, emphasised on the need for a “holistic and comprehensive” policy for the emancipation of farmers, saying, farmers’ movements will be successful only if they can make f…

Kashmir students apprised of human rights issues, told to join hands with "common cause"

Human rights defenders Syed Mujtaba, advocate, who interacted with students at the Kashmir Law College, Nowshera, said that they could play a vital role in a protection and promotion of human rights. The interaction, which took place on November 3, was aimed at providing the students first hand information of institutional mechanism for the protection of human rights, even as apprising them with the situation on ground.
Mujtaba sensitized students about various academic and practical issues related to human rights like right to life, right to equality, dignity , liberty and life, right to health , right to education, right to freedom of expression and rights of other vulnerable sections of the society, which formed the central theme of the interaction.
Attending the session, Suhail Mehraj, Youth Assembly member, United Nations, focused on the importance of education as foundation for a progressive and knowledge based society, which should be viewed in the human rights perspective.

"Rampant" land acquisition for polluted industries in Caddalore, Tamil Nadu

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The National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM)-sponsored Samvidhan Bachao Andolan, on reaching Tamil Nadu, found that in Cuddalore district, chemical industries have adversely affected about 50 villages. The yatra participants, who included senior social activists Prafulla Samantara, Sandeep Pandey, Gabriele Dietrich, Arundhati Dhuru, Ashish Ranjan, and Meera Sanghamitra, were told that land acquisition for industries is carried out by SIPCOT (State Industries Promotion Corporation of Tamilnadu Ltd).
A major chunk of land is being acquired in the name of SIMA (South Indian Millers Association), which has acquired about 250 acres of land. However, their requirement is more than 400 acres. Local leaders said, Caddalore is already under severe pollution and it is also ranked 3rd in the Comprehensive Environment Pollution Index (CEPI), which is a study done for understanding the extent of pollution by Central Pollution Control Board. The other two top polluted industrial estates are…

UP tribal woman human rights defender Sokalo released on bail

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After almost five months in jail, Adivasi human rights defender and forest worker Sokalo Gond has been finally released on bail.Despite being granted bail on October 4, technical and procedural issues kept Sokalo behind bars until November 1. The Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) and the All India Union of Forest Working People (AIUFWP), which are backing Sokalo, called it a "major victory."
Sokalo's release follows the earlier releases of Kismatiya and Sukhdev Gond in September. "All three forest workers and human rights defenders were illegally incarcerated under false charges, in what is the State's way of punishing those who are active in their fight for the proper implementation of the Forest Rights Act (2006)", said a CJP statement.

Case filed with NHRC on Kashmiri student's sudden disappearance in Delhi

Human rights defenders, advocate Syed Mujtaba and Mirza Jahanzeb Beg, have filed a case with the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) regarding the disappearance of a Kashmiri student from Sharda University, New Delhi. Ehtisham Bilal, an 18-year-old boy went missing on October 28. He was reportedly beaten up some local students on October 4. He is a student of radiology.
Briefing media, the activists said that the number of Kashmir students being attacked and harassed in Indian colleges and universities is rising at an alarming pace. There have been various cases of students disappearing from universities and colleges, and it is not known whether they are alive or dead.
They said, media has created a dangerous image of Kashmir in India, which leads to hate crimes against the Kashmiri students in Indian universities. Also, rising intolerance, culture of mob lynching, religious fanaticism, pseudo-nationalism and Islamophobia have escalated the situation.
The activists continued, th…

Total bandh in most of Gujarat's tribal towns, as Modi Inaugurated Sardar statue

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There was complete bandh in large number tribal areas of Gujarat on October 31, even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi was dedicating the world's tallest 182 metre statue of Sardar Patel, called Statue of Unity, to the nation. Bandh was observed in all major tribal towns around of the spot where the statue stands, 3.2 downstream of the Narmada dam.
According to reports bandh was observed in Saputara, Dharampur, Kaprada, Chikhli, Anaval, Vansda, Rankuva, Uchchal, Dolvan, Madhi, Mandvi, Netrang, Sagbara and many other places.
The bandh took place even as 100 people across the Adivasi areas were detained by police. Those detained included a large team is at Jitnagar Police Quarters in Narmada district, including ex-CM Sureshchandra Mehta, ex-minister Pravinsinh Jadeja, Adivasi Ekta Parishad leaders, and representatives of People's Union for Civil Liberties.
The urrounding areas of the Statue of Unity saw major protests against the "neglect" of the Adivasi area at the …

16 PAC cops convicted for "targeted killing" of Muslims in 1987: Demand for apology from Rahul Gandhi

In what has been described as a "landmark verdict", 16 PAC cops have been convicted by Delhi High Court for Hashimpura of targeted killings of Muslims 31 years ago. The Delhi High Court has overturned the acquittal of the Trial Court. The High Court has convicted the 16 surviving PAC personnel under Section 302 IPC for life imprisonment holding that this was a case of targeted killings of the minority community.
Rebecca Mammen John represented the victims, while Vrinda Grover appeared for the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) in the highly-discussed case. The Delhi High Court judgment in Hashimpura PAC massacre case said, "We have proceeded to reverse the judgment of the trial court as the evidence is of a clinching nature. This is a case of targeted killing of members of the minority community by state forces. The GD entry and statement of accused recorded on April 16, 2018 prove their presence beyond reasonable doubt."
Grover, however, regretted, "The …