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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.”

Banaskantha floods: Gujarat's rural rich used JCB machines to remove sludge, as Dalits waited to hire tractors

By Martin Macwan*
As one drove down from village Baspa, about 15 km from Sami, to Radhanpur in North Gujarat, memories of the 2001 earthquake of Gujarat came alive. One could see that once again the human disaster was greater than the natural in the wake of the floods. Banas waters had washed away one side of the national highway. At a distance, minor Narmada-linked canals had swept like paper trash.
The maldharis had taken over one side of the road with their buffaloes as self-possessed shelter. A relief truck was flinging bundles of used clothes at the local people that eagerly waited for it. A pillion rider on a motorbike managed to fetch one such bundle of clothes and shoved it in an empty travel bag.
The highway from Radhanpur to Byavar had a great deal of police presence, as there were numerous politicians visiting the area. Village Runi in Kankrej area has a Jain temple, whose property spread is spread over 20 bighas of land, surrounded by a compound wall. Part of the wall had collapsed.
Across the road, opposite the temple, is the Dalit area, with living quarters of leather workers and scavengers. Most homes have one living room, barely eight feet by eight feet, with an open extension with an overhead roof serving as veranda.
Some people had managed to empty their homes of the sludge and sand that had filled the living room up to the ceiling. The water levels had risen in this area to about 13 feet from the ground. People had taken shelter on the top floor of the village co-operative society, or over the small terraces, braving the rains and winds for about 30 hours before the army reached them with some biscuits.
In a one room house with terrace, a young Dalit had lost all his post-graduate degree certificates. Two primary school children were found drying their books on the terrace, tarred with dirt and water.
The rich in the village had access to the JCB machines, as Dalits waited to hire tractors to dump away rotten grain, beddings and other soiled material from their quarters. The government did not pay them the rent for hiring the tractors.
The scavenger families were still stuck with their quarters filled with sludge, as many of the old people were unable to clear it themselves in the absence of their young children away as migrant labor force. An old woman had the assistance of her two son-in-laws, who had come specially to help their mother-in-law to clear her one-room home, as there was no other place for her today.
An old man was sitting in one corner. He had lost his buffalo. He earned his living by playing drum and making supda, the caste-based occupations.
Each Dalit family had lost an average of 800 kg of grain that they had stored, part of the community system of storing one year of ration for the family.
At the centre of the village under a tree lay a heap of used garments dumped by relief workers, as there were no takers. Some families of the Majirana community sat in the midst of an open land around the mud homes with bamboo roofs, which had tumbled on the ground. People in the village had never ever in the history of their life met with such tragedy. They said they were battered by the main Narmada canal.
At a distance, the canal was visible, it was unable to withstand the pressure of rising water levels. As per the people, wild weed gando baval trees have deep roots which have penetrated the base of the canal, weakening its lining.
A pucca cement-brick boundary wall, which Dalits had bargain from the village panchayat around their dwellings, constructed barely six months back, had collapsed, as it did not have deep foundations required and mandated by law.
In village Khariya, where at least 22 bodies were found from beneath the sand, the road had washed away at the end of the village. Several villages could be seen at a far distance, submerged in flood waters, accessible only by boat. The police and local volunteers were guarding the queue of people, whose homes were on the other side, waiting their turn to the two boats that were meant to ferry them.
Although their homes were flooded, all that the relief teams were focusing was on relief distribution. Large stack of mattresses were locked away in a room awaiting distribution. Relief teams had their flags on vehicles. The Khastriya-Thakor Sena and RSS were more visible.
Caste distinctions and prejudices seemed intact; they had refused to be washed away with flood waters. It wasn’t uncommon for those who were distributing relief asking for the caste of those seeking it.
During an animated conversation, Dalit rights activists Narendabhai, Mohanbhai and Kalpeshbhai of the village said, one class of people who have smile on their faces is the sand mafia. The Banas had brought along with it flood water multi-million tonnes of sand, which is already finding its way even to Ahmedabad construction sites.

*Founder, Navsarjan Trust, Ahmedabad. Pix: Tathya Macwan, HC

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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.