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29th "NRC-related" suicide in Assam, as Nirod Baran Das takes his life by hanging on a fan

By Our Representative
Reporting 29th case of National Register of Citizens (NRC)-driven suicide in Assam, one of India’s human rights campaign sites has said that, on October 20, tragedy struck Kharupetia town in Darrang district of Assam, when a retired school teacher and advocate Nirod Baran Das “took his life by hanging himself to a fan in his home.” The report adds, “The NRC process has so far claimed over two dozen such lives in the past four months alone.”

Letter to Modi seeks cancellation of "coercive" anti-NGO orders, amendment of "opaque" foreign funding rules

By Rajiv Shah
Around 70 civil rights organizations have come together to strategize “a collective response to the stifling of civil society space” in the wake of the recent Government of India clampdown on NGOs, telling Prime Minister Narendra Modi that government steps are “coercive” in nature, are “without reasonable cause or due process”, and seek to “cripple” the ability of NGOs to “carry on their legitimate and sanctioned work.”
Asking Modi to “urgently review” all orders placing restraints on NGOs and “revoke” orders where due process has not been followed, the letter says, this should be particularly done in the case of INSAF, Peoples’ Watch, Sabrang Trust, Greenpeace India, Ford Foundation, HIVOS and ICCO, whose activities were sought to be stifled because of “vague, subjective or flimsy” grounds, without being offered any redressal mechanism.
The letter -- likely to be released on Tuesday -- comes close on the heels of the US State Department taking a serious view of the Government of India move to target Ford Foundation and Greenpeace India, saying it could limit "necessary and critical debate" in India.
It all began last year, when an Intelligence Bureau report said Greenpeace and other NGOs were “damaging” the country's economy by campaigning against power projects, mining and genetically modified food. The government moved against Ford Foundation this year following a controversial investigation into human rights activist Teesta Setalvad-run Sabrang Trust, which has fought tens of cases of 2002 Gujarat communal riots.
Headquartered in the Netherlands, ICCO and HIVOS fund projects which “oppose” discrimination, inequality, abuse of power and unsustainable use of our planet’s resources. The Indian Social Action Forum (INSAF) is a national forum of over 700 movements and NGOs of India, while the People’s Watch has been monitoring human rights violations mainly in South India.
Asking Modi to “immediately initiate dialogue” between the NGO sector and the government to “address” NGO concerns, the letter says, the current the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) rules and regulations, under which they get foreign funds, are “opaque”, and should be amended to ensure “complete clarity and transparency on provisions and processes, as well as forums and mechanisms of redress.”
The letter expresses “deep concern” over the manner in which NGOs’ funds are being “frozen, intelligence reports are being selectively released to paint NGOs in poor light, disbursal of funds are being subjected to case-by-case clearance, and their activities are reportedly being placed on ‘watch lists’.”
“It does not behoove the government to label any and every conflicting voice on these issues as ‘anti-national’, ‘against national security’ or ‘donor driven’ and seek to create a public atmosphere that justifies ‘a crack down on NGOs.’ These very words shame any society. ‘Watch lists’ and ‘crack-downs’ belong in another age and have no place in a modern democracy”, the letter says.
The letter emphasizes, “In an increasingly globalized world, where even business interests freely collaborate across national boundaries, to label any individual or NGO that engages with international forums or any donor who supports such NGOs, as ‘anti-national’ is illogical.”
Recalling that many of the NGOs have collaborated with the government, while others have been critical of his government and also previous governments, the letter says, one may or may not agree each one’s views on issue of nuclear power, acquiring tribal and other lands, upholding Dalit rights, protecting minority rights. But, it tells Modi, “We expect that government protect our right to work and express our views.”

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India failing to dictate diplomatic preferences of Nepal, Bhutan, is unfairly blaming Beijing: Chinese daily

By Our Representative
In a sharply-worded editorial, a top Chinese media outfit, described by BBC as state-run, has said, commenting on India's foreign relations with its neighbours, that "speculation and suspicion" is "certainly not diplomacy". Published in "China Daily", the largest circulating English Monday-to-Saturday newspaper with branches across the world, the editorial notes (September 20) that "several recent events" in Nepal and Bhutan, are "gnawing worrywarts in New Delhi".
The editorial -- which comes close on the heels of a sharp critique of India's foreign policy in a state-supported Russian media outfit, Sputnik International, calling India's anti-Pak diplomacy as having "gone awry" following Prime Minister Narendra Modi's "half-baked" push for anti-terror drill down "others' throat" -- says, the " worrywarts" include "Nepalese troops taking part in a joint…

Ahmedabad, GIFT, Adani city get 1.68 lakh acre ft Narmada water; Gujarat's rural areas just 4.27 AF: Letter to CM

Counterview Desk
Well-known farmer rights leader Sagar Rabari, in an open letter to Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani, has demanded a transparent account of Narmada water, saying, while he has received a "routine reply" from him to his earlier, the data emerging from his RTI application show huge quantity of water being directed to Ahmedabad, the 10 km stretch of Sabarmati for the Ahmedabad riverfront, and nearby elite urban areas, including the Adanis' Shantigram township and GIFT City.

Gujarat BJP MLAs, youth leader "incited" attack on North Indians: Cong releases video

Counterview Desk
Senior Gujarat Congress leader Shaktisinh Gohil, currently in charge of Bihar and national spokesperson, All-India Congress Committee, has sent a legal notice to chief minister Vijay Rupani threatening criminal case and civil defamation suit for accusing him with "baseless statement" that he was responsible for attacks on north Indians in Gujarat.

17 lakh Jharkhand elderly, widows, differently abled do not receive pension: Public hearing told, aadhaar is a hurdle

By Our Representative
Hundreds of elderly, widows, single women and differently-abled persons from different districts of Jharkhand gathered near the Raj Bhavan in Ranchi for a public hearing organized by the Jharkhand Right to Food Campaign and Pension Parishad demanding the right to universal social security pensions ahead of World Elderly Day on October 1.

Ethnocide in Caribbean island filmed following award winning docufilm on Jamaica's anti-colonial Indian roots

International awards winner for Best Feature Documentary Linda Aïnouche for “Dreadlocks Story” (2014), which shows how Indians are entangled in the Jamaican society, and how Hinduism was a source of inspiration for the Rastafari movement, is all set to release her new documentary, “Marooned in the Caribbean”, which aims at documenting the awful desolating living conditions that Raizal people, the native inhabitants of San Andres Archipelago, endure.
Sons of slaves, these islanders have fallen prey to what the Colombian government calls Colombianization. “It’s a process”, according to her, “which kills the Raizal culture; it’s the killing of the Raizal soul. Colombianization subjugates Afro-descendants of San Andres to an ethnocide.”

Explorer, director and producer, Linda Aïnouche writes exclusively for Counterview: ***
Nobody escapes from blood and thunder in Colombia, and definitely not in the archipelago of San Andres, situated closer to Managua and Kingston than Bogota. The Raizal p…

India to deport Rohingya refugees, as the world moves towards prosecuting Myanmar for genocide

By Tapan Bose*
Seven Rohingya Muslims refugees who were held at a detention centre in Assam since 2012 will be handed over to Myanmar. The Supreme Court of India has refused to stop their deportation. The new Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gagoi said, "We are not inclined to interfere on the decision taken".

An elite Kutir set up by Modi far from the "madding" crowd: This Gandhi museum is formal, unapproachable

By Rajiv Shah
Have you ever heard of a Gandhi museum, sough to be projected as the “largest” on the Mahatma, yet totally inaccessible, in sharp contrast to Ahmedabad’s humble, approachable and unassuming Gandhi Ashram on the banks of Sabarmati, set up by the Mahatma during the heydays of the freedom movement? It exists about 30 kilometres away, its idea was conceived by none other than a person who has today become even more inaccessible than he ever was: Narendra Modi, India's Prime Minister.

Accused of being RSS plant, Modi man, Hyderabad Urdu varsity chancellor asks President to probe "irregularities"

Counterview Desk
Refused entry in the Maulana Azad National Urdu University (MANUU), the central university's newly appointed chancellor Firoz Bakht Ahmed, who claims to be grand nephew of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, has, in a letter to the President of India, said that MANUU vice-chancellor (V-C) Dr Aslam Parvaiz has accused him of being an RSS plant and a Modi man, whose sole aim is to "interfere in the working of the university".

Post-MJ Akbar resignation: #MeToo movement and fears of backlash

By Sheshu Babu*
For the last few days, #MeToo movement has picked up momentum and many women are coming out with horrific tales of severe harassment in their past lives. They are not afraid anymore to expose famous persons including those at ministerial levels. As a senior journalist Neeraja Chowdhury opined (“An exit, a beginning”, October 18, 2018, indianexpress.com), "The #MeToo revelations are like the eruption of a volcano which was imminent, given the journey working women have covered. It was not easy to make public what they had gone through,and take on powerful men.”

History less known: Kasturba's role as an independent woman and a freedom fighter in her own right

By Nandini Oza*
Even the most deserving of women do not find a place that equals their worth in history. Kasturba is one such woman whose contribution to India’s struggle for freedom has been exemplary, and yet, it has not received the recognition it deserves. Kastur Makhanji Kapadia was born in the year 1869, the same year and in the same town of Porbandar in Gujarat as Gandhiji. In fact she was older than Gandhiji by a few months.