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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.”

Hold 2019 Lok Sabha polls with ballot paper, gap between EVM and democracy has grown wide: Congress

Manish Tiwari
By Our Representative
In a surprise move, the Congress has demanded that the 2019 Lok Sabha elections should be held with ballot paper, and not Electronic Voting Machine (EVM). Addressing a civil society-sponsored meeting in Delhi, party spokesperson Manish Tiwari said, "EVM machines are destroying the trust between the voter and the democratic system. Democracy is too precious to be left to the machines."
Tiwari added, "To ensure the democratic nature of the country, the 2019 election should be done through the ballot system”, adding, “Today it is no more the question of going back to ballot paper in elections, but it’s a must that 2019 elections be conducted through the ballot papers."
Tiwari said this even as leaders of several leaders of CPI-M, CPI, and CPI-ML, Nationalist Congress Party, Rashtriya Janata Dal, Aam Aadmi Party, Samajwadi Party, and Janata Dal-Secular participated in a discussion at the Constitution Club of India on analysing increasing lack of trust across India in EVMs. The meeting was organized by the National Alliance of People's Movements, Delhi Solidarity Group, Anhad, Peace and Sabka Bharat.
Supporting Tiwari, CPI-ML's Kavita Krishan said, “The electoral process should be so simple that anyone and everyone is able to vote and is also aware of the entire process of elections. The process of voting should be simplified to the bare minimum. In a democracy, every vote should be accounted for and there should be no talks of average numbers and/or rounding off of votes.”
Gauhar Raza
Ankit Lal of the Aam Aadmi Party said, "EVMs are produced by companies like ECIL and BEL. These companies are incapable of maintaining the machines on their own, therein lies the problem because they have to hire external technicians, train them and outsource the task of maintaining the machines to them."
A few political leaders insisted that the Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) system should be used properly. Nilotpal Basu of CPI-M said the need is to use the VVPAT by making it "as transparent as possible, keeping in mind the satisfaction of the voter", while Janata Dal-Secular's Danish Ali said his party will not contest the Karnataka Assembly elections later this year if "VVPAT are not counted 100%."
CPI's Amarjeet Kaur said, "Unless every single voter is confident about their vote and its destination in the counting process, democracy will have failed", adding, "To ensure the same, we have to go back to the ballot system. To make sure that the country doesn’t veer towards fascism, people have to be convinced that the electoral process is full proof and that their voices matter."
Senior civil society activists backed political leaders. Nikhil Dey of the Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan said, "Political parties should have raised commotion about electoral reforms in 2014 itself", regretting, "Bo one did, and in that moment, they failed their duty to change the system for the better. That faith has to be rebuilt and enabled, the ballot system is the most appropriate."
Another social activist Gauhar Raza, a scientist by profession, who is also a leading Urdu poet and a documentary filmmaker, insisted that it is "important to continue the debate in India because if EVMs are not tamper proof, and Indian democracy is in danger, as vote becomes valueless in the process." He added, "It is the responsibility of all political parties, civil bodies and the public to carry it forward and turn it into a movement to demand the return of the ballot system."
Kavita Krishan
"The tampering of EVM machines is an attack on our right to choose and our right to vote. The EC has stated 6 technical ways which prevent it from being tampered with, but there is no machine in this world that is impenetrable. That is the driving factor in the universal rejection of EVM machines”, he points out.
Suggesting that the Election Commission is losing its credibility as it continues to deny that EVM machines can be tampered with, Dr Sunilam regretted, it made no outright moves to penalise those who manipulated the system. Among the countless number of technicians they hire locally, what is the guarantee that they are free form being politically manipulated?, they asked.
The meeting heard reports from S Srinath from Karnataka and Yogesh Malik from Gujarat, who presented detailed accounts of the tampering and also of voting fraud and their efforts to complain to the Election Commission and judiciary and seek justice. But they added, unfortunately in the name of the sanctity of the election process, they couldn’t make any headway.

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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.