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Showing posts from June, 2017

Modi govt proposal would "undermine" archaeological sites, monuments to become "susceptible" to damage

Counterview Desk The Union Cabinet decision to amend the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 2010, to allow centrally-funded projects to be set up in the prohibited area of the nationally-protected monuments is likely to adversely impact historical structures of national importance.

Reputation of heavenly abode of peace, love is falsified to the extent that it creates an air of prejudice about Kashmir

By Manjot Singh Kohli
I have seen roads turning, dawn breaking, mountains trimming, and opinions changing. A wanderer myself, however, I never wanted to return from this paradise! The black shade of the moon is so much blared about and condemned that its glow and charm is ignored like it never existed! Meeting people of every opinion for sure broadened my perspective of what they call hell streets, and what I call heaven lanes.
There was a time when Kashmir was the last place I wanted to travel in the world. The image was of savagery and mortality. Not that everything thing is flowery now, but for sure it’s less thorny than it is portrayed.
I had always believed it to be an exotic place that would reveal to me to horrors of humanity. But my views about Kashmir changed after my recent travel to the valley. Meeting a few people was all it took to make me see the actual picture of this blessed place. As I reached there I realized that I had carried a cocoon view of Kashmir for years. I c…

Narmada valley calls out "democratic" forces to raise voice on "injustice" against a river, a valley and its people

By Medha Patkar*
The situation at one of the oldest sites of human civilizations – the Narmada valley of Madhya Pradesh – is today worse than a battlefield where the humble, hard working farmers, fisher folk, potters and labourers are struggling day in and day out to simply survive against the onslaught of the Sardar Sarovar Dam in the Narmada river in Gujarat.
They have resisted the dam for the last 32 years which was to drown their lands. Even then, they fought to get their due rehabilitation and compensation that was denied to them. Today, they are pushed to the brink of a crisis that seems difficult to tackle.
According to Supreme Court, finalization of dam could be undertaken only after completion of all rehabilitation and compensation work among the Dam Affected People. The Supreme Court did give a deadline of 31 July.
The Governments of Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh in cohorts with the Central government have unilaterally taken the decision to close the gates of the dam well before …

Odisha tribals oppose government's "forced" plantation on forest land, "undermining" other forest dwellers' rights

By Our Representative Hundreds of tribals and forest dwellers under the banner of Campaign for Survival and Dignity (CSD) marched in Bhubaneswar to protest against the Odisha government “violating” Forest Rights Act (FRA), 2006, in the state by forcing plantation over occupied forest lands in different districts, even as refusing in large numbers individual and community rights to tribal and non-tribal forest dwellers over forest land.

Slumlords' real estate nexus, callous cops "responsible" for Mumbai gangrape of local environmental activist

By Our Representative
The Mumbai-based civil society organization, working on house rights issues, Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan (GBGBA) has said that the gang rape of an environmental activist living in a slum community in Mumbai is the direct result of her fight against illegal uprooting of mangroves in the area.

Govt of India is seeking to "undermine" Make in India, is all set to drop anti-dumping duty on soda ash

By Shaktisinh Gohil*
The BJP government, which talks big on Make in India, is seeking to adopt a policy that would ruin Indian industry and murder ‘Make in India’! The Congress-led UPA government came up with the Anti-Dumping Notification No 34/2012 on July 3, 2012 for five years in order to protect the labour-intensive household soda ash industry from China, Pakistan, European Union, Kenya, Ukraine, Iran and USA which seek to dump the commodity in India.
After the BJP-led government came to power in the Centre, the middlemen and agents seeking to lobby in favour of soda ash importers stepped up their campaign. On July 21, 2016, the BJP government declared its intention to drop the Anti-Dumping Duty notification by announcing mid-term review. Even though the situation with regard to the industry had not changed, without any valid reasons, the Government of India released its Disclosure Statement on September 14, 2016 in newspapers, giving just four days for comments.
As part of its…

"Ruined" Gujarat greenhouse farmers seek loan waiver, threaten suicide, say Modi promise destroyed them

By Our Representative
Stressed for the last several years, hundreds of enterprising Gujarat farmers who took up greenhouse projects are on warpath. Accused the state government for failing to listen to their plight, they have said, they are all “deeply in debt” and would not compromise “anything less than loan waiver”.

Top activist returns minority rights award, blames Minorities Commission, govt indifferent to lynching of Muslims

By Our Representative
Well-known human rights activist Shabnam Hashmi has returned her National Minority Rights Award, which she received from the National Commission for Minorities (NCM) in 2008, in protest the Modi government's “support” to violence against Muslims. Hashmi returned her award with a letter to TM Skaria, director, NCM.

BJP "caught" in double talk: Having supported smaller states, it now seeks way out of the commitment

By Sadhan Mukherjee*
The pent-up demands for separate statehood by people in different parts of India are now bursting forth since the Gorkhaland demand has grown in dimension and effect. Last Saturday New Delhi was the venue where some of these new statehood demand protagonists met. This means that in the coming days, the demand is going to intensify, not die down.
BJP as usual is indulging in double-talk. BJP West Bengal state President has come out with a laughable argument. He has declared that BJP was not against smaller states. But since the proposed name is Gorkhaland, it means it will be a state for Gorkhas. But since other tribes in Darjeeling hills area have no objection, who is the sate BJP chief to object to the name. Since that is not a tenable argument, the state BJP chief has adduced the economic viability argument as well.
He does not take into account the proposed state’s income from tourism and royalty from tea gardens. Take a European country, Switzerland. Tourism give…

Ask Modi to "actively" promote rights of minorities and "speak out" against violence of Hindu extremist groups

Open letter by Gerard Oonk, director, India Committee of the Netherlands, to Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi reaches the country on his first official visit on June 27:
On June 27, Prime Minister Modi of India will pay his first official visit to the Netherlands. Reasons for this visit are the 70 years diplomatic relations between India and the Netherlands and the fact that the Netherlands is one of the largest investors in India.

Silent support for violence of hindu extremists
The close Dutch relationship with India is a good reason to address the deteriorating human rights situation in India during the discussion with the Indian Prime Minister. Under Modi's hindu-nationalist government, the marginalization of minority groups such as Dalits (‘untouchables’), Christians and Muslims has increased significantly. Especially these groups, together more than a third of the Indian population, are nowadays regularly victims of extremist Hindu groups who resp…

Junaid's lynching: Politics of RSS and its political outfit BJP "directly responsible" for outburst of hatred

National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) associates Medha Patkar of Narmada Bachao Andolan! Aruna Roy of the Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan, Prafulla Samantara of the Lok Shakti Abhiyan; Binayak Sen of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties; and Sandeep Pandey of the Socialist Party, among others, have signed the following statement on lynching Junaid:
National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) is shocked and horrified by the gruesome murder of sixteen year old Junaid Khan in running train enroute to Mathura from Delhi on 22nd June. This happened in public view inside a train where ordinary people were travelling to their respective destinations. Junaid and his three brothers were returning after shopping for Eid. The attackers were calling them ‘beef eaters’ and taunted for their appearance.
The attack happened mainly due to their appearance as Muslim fellows. What is shocking is the involvement of ordinary people in this incident. We learn from newspaper reports that the C…

To "celebrate" Indo-Pak Independence together on Aug 14-15, Peace Now Campaign set to begin on July 1

By Our Representative
Organizers of the Peace Now Campaign, to be launched on July 1 to “counter” water hysteria in India and Pakistan, have asked its participants from both the countries to “come together to celebrate independence” of the both the countries – on August 14 (Pakistan) and August 15 (India), and “not on just one day i.e. 14th or 15th.”

Mystery around "missing" 52,000 acres deepens as Gujarat's bhoodan committee declares it has no land

By Rajiv Shah
Six months after the Gujarat High Court judgment sharply criticizing the state government and the Gujarat Sarvodaya Mandal (GSM), also known as Bhoodan Samiti, for failing to oversee what happened to thousands of acres of land received during the Bhoodan movement of Vinoba Bhave, a top GSM insider has declared that as of today it has “no land.”

Why is India evading ratification of UN Convention against torture, other cruel, inhuman treatments

By Fr Cedric Prakash sj*
June 26th is designated by the UN General Assembly as the ‘International Day in Support of Victims of Torture’, with a view ‘to the total eradication of torture and for the effective functioning of the ‘Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment’(UNCAT).

Of 1.82 lakh manual scavengers, Govt of India "identifies" just 7% beneficiaries, slashes budget allocation by 98%

By Our Representative
Much against the Government of India claim that it has provided onetime cash assistance 91% of the total manual scavengers it has identified across the country, 12,742, well-known data analysis site, “Fact Checker”, has said that it has done so “after not counting 93% of them.” In all, the the data, released in the Lok Sabha, show that 11,598 have been given cash assistance.

Only 300-400 Narmada dam oustee families left out, they didn't want rehabilitation package: Govt of India minister

By Our Representative
Tempers ran high in Government of India minister Thavarchand Gehlot’s chamber on Friday, when top Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) leader Medha Patkar and her team met him to oppose the decision of to close down the Narmada dam’s 30-odd gates in Gujarat, which would allegedly displace to 40,000 dam oustees in Madhya Pradesh.

Modi will stir up communal tensions to maintain popularity if economy fails: Influential UK weekly predicts

By Our Representative
Top British weekly, “The Economist” has expressed that fear that Prime Minister Narendra Modi “will try to maintain his popularity by stirring up communal tensions” in India as the economy begins to falter, recalling his role as as Gujarat chief minister, “when rioting there killed at least 1,000 people, most of them Muslims.”

Modi "must persuade" US president Donald Trump to reconsider America's negative stance on Paris Agreement

Mahesh Pandya of NGO Paryavaran Mitra, Ahmedabad, has written a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi requesting him to pursue President Donald Trump to reconsider America’s stand on Paris Agreement during his forthcoming visit to the US. Text:
Paryavaran Mitra is a Gujarat-based voluntary organization working on socio-environmental issues since 1997. Our organization is active in bringing awareness in matter of environment and climate change issues and imparting education for the same.
At the outset I wish to congratulate you and wish you a successful mission on your forthcoming tour of America. In particular I appreciate your bold decision to accept the invitation of President Donald Trump despite his severe criticism of India and China while pulling out of Climate Change commitments. The whole world has condemned the unwisely step of Mr. Trump. Your visit is seen beneficial to both the larger democracies of the world in solving many bilateral and international issues including terr…

Anti-nuclear activist complains against Republic TV, says he, his family being harassed, facing security threat

By Our Representative Top anti-nuclear activist SP Udayakumar of the People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE) has complained to the News Broadcasters Association and the Press Council of India that well-known journalist Arnab Goswami’s Republic TV has been harassing him and his family.

Joint meeting fizzles out: Can Mamata oppose if Central govt agrees to set up another state of Gorkhaland?

By Sadhan Mukherjee*
As apprehended the joint meeting called by the West Bengal government in Siliguri has on Thursday become infructuous because of its truncated nature. The main players were absent. The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) and other Hill parties and groups had already announced they would boycott it.

57 "extra-judicial" deaths in Kaziranga, Assam, in 2014-16: Blanket immunity to forest cops under AFSPA blamed

By Our Representative
Facts have come to light suggesting that there have been 57 cases of extra-judicial killings in the Kaziranga National Park (KNP), Assam, over the last three years, as against 106 over the since 1996. The recent deaths include 27 in 2014, 23 in 2015 and 7 in 2016. Ironically, not a single forest staffer has been killed in "encounters" since 1985.

Republic TV "desperate" to raise TRP, telecasting "slanderous" reports, spreading "canards" through social media

Renowned anti-nuclear and peace activist Dr. SP Udayakumar has filed a complaint with the Press Council of India against "harassment" meted out to him and his family by Republic TV, which is under attack for openly supporting Modi government. Text:
Greetings! I write to bring your kind attention to the ongoing deceit and harassment of me and my family by Mr. Arnab Ranjan Goswami and a few of his colleagues such as Shweta and Sanjeev from the Republic TV.
On April 8, 2017, one “Shweta Sharma” (I later found out that her real name was Shweta Kothari) came to my home at Nagercoil and introduced herself as a “research scholar” from the Cardiff University in the UK. She asked for my help with her dissertation research. She had been accompanied by her “local friend” Sanjeev. I gave her several books and answered her questions.
On April 9, 2017 she requested me to stop by her hotel room as she had a few more questions. There she told me that “one of her British professors” was very ke…

Make in India is "empty slogan" sans Safe in India: Every 15 seconds, a worker dies from work-related accident or disease

By Aakash A Shah and HP Mishra*
Health and safety of the employees is an important aspect of a company's smooth and successful functioning. It is a decisive factor in organizational effectiveness. It ensures an accident-free industrial environment. Companies must attach the same importance towards achieving high OH&S performance as they do to the other key objectives of their business activities.

Sardar Sarovar gate closure without resettlement is "inhuman, unjust" decision: Will SC intervene?

Statement by South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People:
On June 17, 2017, a PIB Press Release from Union Ministry of Water Resources announced, “Narmada Control Authority (NCA) has cleared the final raising of Sardar Sarovar Dam (SSD) in Gujarat by lowering of gates and impounding of water in the reservoir upto its Full Reservoir Level (FRL) of EL 138.68 mts.
The NCA which met under the Chairmanship of Dr. Amarjit Singh, Secretary (WR, RD & GR) considered all aspects of environmental and Resettlement and Rehabilitation (R&R) issues.”
The gate closure will lead to submergence and displacement of lakhs of tribals and farmers of Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra, without even proper resettlement as legally required. There is also no justification for the decision as the canal infrastructure necessary to use the additional water that the dam will store with increase in height from 121.92 mts to 138.68 mts is not even ready.
Unfortunately, this is happening under the active …

Not human rights violation, asserts CRPF on Naxal attack in April 2017 killing 25 police personnel in Sukma

By Our Representative
The Government of India’s powerful Central Reserve Police force (CRPF) – whose roles include crowd control, riot control, counter-insurgency operations, and dealing with left-wing extremism – has denied that the Naxal attack on April 24, 2017 in Chhattisgarh was a human rights violation.

18,390 Narmada dam oustees "yet to be rehabilitated", as Govt of India claims it's "satisfied" with R&R

By Our Representative
A high-level civil society delegation, which met delegation Minister of Water Resources Uma Bharati, Secretary, Ministry of Water Resources, Amarjit Singh and Joint Secretary Sanjay Kundu, has been told that the Narmada dam’s gates were closed down after "evaluating" the recommendations made of the environment and rehabilitation and resettlement (R&R) sub-group.

Caught in political cleft over Gorkhaland, Trinamool, BJP should know: Nepalese consider Darjeeling theirs

By Sadhan Mukherjee*
Both the TMC and BJP seem to be caught in a political cleft over Gorkhaland. Only a sincere dialogue among the three parties together – BJP, Trinamool and GJM -- can bring a solution to the vexed issue that has grown beyond the control of any one party.
It may still be possible to have a peaceful solution as the condolence marches with the three dead bodies of GJM activists showed. Government allowed the marches without any hindrance and GJM did not take any retaliatory means. Peace prevailed during the marches.
The proposed joint meeting on 22 June called by the Union Home Ministry in Siliguri should break some new ground towards an amicable solution as all three sides seem to realise the gravity of the situation. A pre-requisite for a decent and amicable settlement can only be a ‘give and take’. A rigid stand by any one party can break the talks.
The introduction of Bengali as a compulsory language in all schools of Darjeeling hills area up to 10th standard by the M…

Rajasthan labour activist's lynching: Swacch Bharat campaign blamed for "shaming" women defecating in open

By Our Representative
The lynching of Zafar Hussein, a political and trade union activist of Pratapgarh, Rajasthan, attached with the CPI-ML (Liberation), was the direct result of India’s ruling establishment’s approach to Swacch Bharat Abhiyan, the national cleanliness drive launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a detailed letter sent to Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje has alleged.

Submergence fears trigger protests in Madhya Pradesh, as Gujarat moves to close down Narmada dam's gates

By Our Representative
Protests have erupted in the Narmada valley in Madhya Pradesh against the inter-state body, Narmada Control Authority (NCA),which  allowed the Gujarat government to close down the Narmada dam’s 30-odd gates. This follows large-scale fear among villagers of the state's highly fertile Nimad area their houses and land, along with their means of livelihood, would be submerged.

Conservative US thinktank expert: Space to criticize govt till 2019 polls may further shrink under Modi watch

By Our Representative
In a strongly-worded opinion piece, a top American conservative thinktank expert, Sadanand Dhume, has warned that, in the run-up to the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the “space to criticize the government or the ruling BJP without fear of retaliation… may shrink even more.”

India is one of the few democracies that is not a signatory to both the Refugee Convention and the Protocol

By Fr Cedric Prakash sj*
Article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states, ‘everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution’. In keeping with the letter and spirit of this Right, more than 145 countries of the world have signed the United Nations ‘1951 Refugee Convention’ and the ‘Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees 1967’.
According to the Refugee Convention, “a ‘refugee’ is one who owing to well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country; or who, not having a nationality and being outside the country of his former habitual residence as a result of such events, is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to it”.
Unfortunately, India is one of the few democracies in the world that…

Madhya Pradesh's 2.5 lakh people of 192 villages, one town "to face submergence": Narmada dam gates closed

By Our Representative
In a sharply-worded statement, well-known anti-dam organization, Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA), has described the Gujarat government announcement to close down the Sardar Sarovar Dam’s 30-odd gates as based on “false” representation of the ground realities.

BJP's Sambit Patra calls NDTV "anti-India, anti-Hindu, anti-BJP" in Melbourne, Australia, skips Q&A session

By Our Representative
In a move that is likely to further plunge BJP, especially Sambit Patra, into controversy, the national spokesperson of the party has once again come down heavily on the NDTV, this time on foreign land. He described NDTV as “anti-India, anti-Hindu and anti-BJP” during his visit to Melbourne, Australia, on Saturday.

Kerala Police "brutally" came down and lathicharged Puthuvypeen residents, "unlawfully" detaining children

A National Alliance of People’s Movement’s (NAPM’s) letter to Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan seeking urgent intervention in the matter of police action against peaceful protestors of Puthuvypeen, Kochi:
We are writing to you in the context of the serious repression by your Government on the people of Puthuvypeen, near Kochi who have been peacefully protesting against the LPG Import Terminal Project of the Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) for the past 108 days.
Just as we were pleased to note certain positive decisions by your government on other fronts, we are constrained to note that like in any other state, people’s voices and struggles continue to be muzzled in Kerala, particularly when the justifiability of ‘development projects’, pushed against popular consent is questioned in democratic ways.
It has come to our notice that the Kerala Police, by way of lathi charge of women and men, mass arrests and even unlawful detention of children, has brutally come down on the residents …

Mining is known to cause widespread social, cultural, environmental upheaval, yet its impact on children is overlooked

A note on Gujarat-level consultation on Children in Mining Areas, District Mineral Fund (DMF), and Pandhayats (Extension in Scheduled Areas) Act (PESA):  
One Day State Level Consultation was organized by Samata with the collaboration of SETU: Centre for Social knowledge And Action, Ahmedabad, Adivasi Ekata Parishad and Mandvi Taluka Sarpanch Association with a special focus on children in mining areas, DMF and PESA on 11th June 2017 at JFM Community Hall, Mandvi, Surat district, Gujarat. A total of 133 people participated in the meeting. Sarpanches from more than 15 villages, ex- Ministers, teachers, doctors, advocates, media persons, and community leaders participated in the meeting.
The consultation was presided over by secretary-general of mines, minerals and People (mm&P) Ashok Shrimali. He introduced the theme of the consultation and why children's rights should not be neglected especially in the mining areas. Shrimali said that mining has been known to cause widespread so…