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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.”

Union home ministry withdraws "draconian" Gujarat anti-terror bill: May resubmit on getting state clarification

By RK Misra*
The controversial Gujarat Control of Terrorism and Organised Crime(GCTOC)Bill 2015, passed by the Gujarat Vidhan Sabha but twice rejected by the previous government, has been returned by President Pranab Mukherjee as well. The Union Home Ministry has withdrawn the Bill and will re-submit it after working on the provisions that require Presidential clarity.
Official sources said in Delhi on Thursday, that the President had sent back the Bill because he has sought more input related to certain provisions of the Bill. The Union Home Ministry will provide it "after taking the same from the Gujarat government", a Ministry spokesperson said on Thursday. The Ministry has already communicated to the President that it was withdrawing the Bill which was sent to him in September 2015, and will send back a reworked one.
The Gujarat Control of Organised Crime (GUJCOC)Act was twice rejected by President’s of the Indian Union. It was tabled on the last day of the budget session in the Gujarat Assembly on March 31,2015 in a new form, called the Gujarat Control of Terrorism and Organised Crime (GCTOC) Bill, 2015, and passed overriding the protests of the Congress opposition.
Gujarat's minister of state for home Rajnikant Patel strongly built a case for GCTOC on the ground that Gujarat shares a border with Pakistan which sponsors terrorism and such a piece of legislation is required for the safety and security of the people of the state.
"Criminal coteries are known to make common cause with terrorist elements and the two together pose a threat which needs to be curbed forthwith and therefore the need to arm the state with a stringent law like the one brought forward by the state government”, he had said on the floor of the House.
The Anandiben Patel government had taken the stand that "Maharashtra has it’s Maharashtra Control of organized Crime Act (MCOCA), as does Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, but BJP-ruled states like Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan were being denied Presidential Assent”.
The Congress opposition as well as NGOs had opposed the legislation. Gujarat Jan Andolan (GJA), an umbrella grouping of NGOs and several human rights groups petitioned the President to reject the Bill once again and warned of a statewide agitation.
Rajesh Mankad of Jan Sangharsh Manch termed the Bill as a ‘black law’ while DN Rath of the Movement for Secular Democracy (MSD) said that farmers' agitating against land acquisition may well become the first victims of this atrocious Bill, if it becomes a law. Ikram Mirza pointed to the tainted record of the Gujarat police with it’s string of fake encounters and the existing laws had the tenacity to deal with all manner of crime and criminals provided it was used properly.
The Congress opposition both in the state and the centre as well as the JD(U) and the CPM are already on record urging President Pranab Mukherjee against giving his assent to the Gujarat Anti-terror law.
The legislation has a chequred history. The GUJCOC Bill first came up post-2002 because the weapon of choice, Prevention of Terroism Act (POTA) stood repealed. It was, however, returned by President APJ Abdul Kalam, who had objected to clause 14 pertaining to interception of communication and ordered it removed.
In 2008 the Bill was again passed by the State Assembly after removing the clause but retaining the clause for confessions before police as admissible evidence.In 2008 President Pratibha Patil returned the Bill.In 2009,Modi again passed the Bill ignoring the suggestions made by the President and sent it back.
The 2015 Bill passed by the State Assembly arms the police with unbridled powers to tap personal phones without permission and detain people without let or hindrance.
The Bill which has provision for death penalty and fine of Rs 10 lakh empowers phone intercepts and it’s admissibility as evidence in courts.Same applies to confessions extracted by the police.Most importantly, it upturns the law to put the onus of proving ones innocence on the accused.
"The Special Courts shall presume,unless the contrary is proved,that the accused has committed such offence”, the Bill states. The Statement of Objects and Reasons says, "It was considered necessary to enact a special law with stringent provisions, including the power to intercept wire, electronic or oral communication."
It adds, "Person in custody under this Act cannot be released on bail unless the public prosecutor has been given an opportunity to oppose it. And a special court is satisfied there are reasonable grounds to believe accused is not guilty and will not commit any offence while on bail”.
Shaktisinh Gohil, former leader of the Congress Opposition said that GUJCOC was first rejected by the President at a time when the BJP was in power at the Centre. 
Shankersinh Vaghela, the present leader of the Opposition said, "It is not for the benefit of the people but for those who are in power”. However the government seeks to defend the clause that provides for 180 days time for filing of a chargesheet under the Act, as necessary because sensitive cases require enhanced investigation time.
GUJCOC was sought to be brought in by the Modi government in Gujarat as the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) enacted by the NDA government in 2002 was repealed by the UPA government immediately after coming to power in 2004. POTA itself had replaced an earlier anti-terrorism law , Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act infamous as TADA which was allowed to lapse by the PV Narasimha Rao government in 1995.
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*Senior Gandhinagar-based journalist. Blog: http://wordsmithsandnewsplumbers.blogspot.in/

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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.

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

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

By Rajiv Shah
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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".

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

By Nandini Oza*
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Post-MJ Akbar resignation: #MeToo movement and fears of backlash

By Sheshu Babu*
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