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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.”

Opposition to Modi's "pet" dam proposed in Uttarakhand gains momentum amidst "fake" environmental public hearing

By Our Representative
As the Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) on the for River Valley Projects, under the Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC), deliberated on the proposed Pancheshwar project in Uttarakhand as the world's second highest dam on Tuesday, a group dissenting protestors outside insisted, they too should be heard.
Talking with media persons, Vimal Bhai of Matu Jan Sangathan, which has been in the forefront in the campaign against the dam, said, "We are here to ask how the committee will take a decision in 45 minutes about a project on which Rs 40,000 crore are going to be spent, and which is going to determine the fate of 50,000 people in two countries -- India and Nepal."
"Several affected communities, environmental groups, and people's organizations have sent in written objections voicing serious concerns over the the 5040 MW Pancheshwar multipurpose project", said Vimal Bhai.
The EAC at its meeting is said to have discussed on how quickly to provide environment clearance for the project.
The scoping clearance for the dam, in the pipeline for decades ,was granted in October 2016. While the EAC in May 2017 seemed to raise some environmental issues, even set up a joint Indo-Nepal mechanism for Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), it reversed its decision, apparently under political pressure, on the ground that it would "unnecessarily" delay the project.
"Since then it has become clear that the MoEFCC, the state administration, and the project proponents are in a rush to push the project", said Vimal Bhai.
Added Shankar Kharayat of the Mahakali ki Awaaz, another people's organization opposed to the project, "The project-affected villages in this part of Uttarakhand lack proper road connectivity and are suffer from landslides during monsoon. Yet, they held a public hearing for the project in August, in monsoon, when it was difficult for the affected people to reach the public hearing venue."
Said Kharayat, "There was lack of availability of complete information about the project, including relevant documents (EIA report in Hindi, executive summary in Hindi and Social Impact Assessment Report in Hindi), as well as lack of clarity about the objective of the public consultation process."
Informed sources estimated, 31,000 families would be adversely impacted by the project that would also submerge 11,600 hectares (ha) of land in 134 villages on the Uttarakhand side alone. Additionally, three districts of Nepal are going to be impacted.
Already, hundreds of people have protested against the earlier three public consultations that were organized in closed premises in Champawat, Pithoragarh, and Almora district headquarters. Very few people could make their submissions, and yet the written submissions alone go well into 650 plus pages.
"People made oral testimonies, which did not come on record even", said Himanshu Thakkar of the South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People (SANDRP), who has in his submission critiqued the "shoddy" EIA study done by Government of India consultants, WAPCOS.
The Pancheshwar dam on Mahakali river is a pet project of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has been singing its paeans at various fora at a time when the hydropower sector is in a massive slump. As many as 13 projects are being considered for a bailout package of Rs 26,000 crore due to their financial unviability, especially in the Himalayan region.
It is being undertaken despite the massive Kedarnath tragedy four years ago, which led experts to point towards the fragile ecology and geology of the Himalayas, which has been tampered with by large-scale construction and development activities.

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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.

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…

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.

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".

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.

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.”