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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.”

Govt of India "dismantling" eco-protection laws, dubbing those opposing development projects as "anti-national"

By V Suresh*
June 5 is celebrated globally as World Environment Day, a day to remind everyone about the fragility of the environment caused by human agency, to sensitise people about the urgency of citizen action to counter environmental degradation and to get all of to rededicate ourselves to preserving nature and wildlife, protecting environment, safeguarding natural resources and persuade and push governments globally to halt environmentally destructive, polluting and hazardous industries, development projects and uncontrolled urbanization.
The theme for this year's `World Environment Day' is "Connecting People with Nature". This year, we in India, have experienced the worst effects of climate change – we've had some of the hottest periods in the last many decades; many regions are experiencing continuous droughts; there's no predictability about rains and seasonal variations are an pressing reality we can no longer ignore. While many countries in the world are gearing themselves to counter the negative effects of climate change, many policy makers and researchers in India are denying the reality of climate change!
Across the country, many regions are suffering from unimaginable pollution of air, water and land caused by highly polluting industries. Environmental oversight and monitoring bodies like the Pollution Control Boards and other expert bodies have majorly failed citizens and nature, by persistently allowing polluters to escape liability and responsibility for running environmentally destructive, hazardous and polluting industries.
As though this were not enough, the Central Government has been steadily following a policy of dismantling all environment protection legislations on the plea that existing environment laws are proving a hindrance for international industries and capital to come to India.
What is worse, any community, group, organisation or person opposing a development project or an industry on environmental grounds is dubbed to be `anti-national', `anti-development' and an enemy of growth. The end of this logic is dubbing environmentalists and the green movement as 'eco-terrorists' carrying the real threat of persecution and prosecution.
Numerous examples exist including the coercive action against Greenpeace soon after the present central government came to power in 2014. Ironically the State, irrespective of whether it is the Central or State government, instead of implementing the Constitutional mandate in Art. 48A of the constitution that "the state shall endeavour to protect and improve the environment and to safeguard the forests and wildlife in the country", governments have been competing with each other to stress that they will not tolerate any criticism or demand for accountability of existing industry or proposed industrial project.
It is in this context that we thought we should focus this issue on the state of environmental protection in the country today. Space limitations limit us to include only a few issues from across the country. We, however, hope to be able to carry more such critical articles on the state of environment in different states, in future issues. We invite readers to contribute articles. Before signing off, the articles carried in this issue make a striking point: that citizens need to be highly vigilant if we need to safeguard and protect our ecology and wild life, our commons and resources.
For more than at any time before, all these are under tremendous attack by forces of industrialization and urbanization. While the challenges are huge, and the difficulties seemingly insurmountable, we need to derive strength and inspiration from the people of Dhinkia and its surrounding villages in Odisha who steadfastly opposed the POSCO steel project despite massive police action, which company after facing unrelenting people's struggle for 12 long years decided to drop the steel plant project.
The successful struggle of the Dongria-Kondhs against the Vedanta project in Niyamgiri and the victory of the villagers against the proposed nuclear power project in Mithi Virdi area in Gujarat are stories to inspire (Ironically, the victory of residents of Mithi Virdi has been offset by the invitation of the AP government to set up the same nuclear power plant of Westinghouse in Kovada in AP. But that represents the actual nature of environmental threat across the country). We salute all the brave people who have fought and are still fighting for environmental justice and human rights.
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*Editor, PUCL Bulletin (June 2017)

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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.