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Showing posts from August, 2018

Pretending these aren't ‘dark times’, situation isn't serious will mean encouraging fascists, fundamentalists

By Fr Cedric Prakash sj*
August 28, 2018 will easily go down as one of the most infamous days in the country’s history. In a pre-dawn swoop, the Pune police raided the homes of several human rights activists across the country; these included Vernon Gonsalves in Mumbai, Arun Ferreira in Thane; Gautam Navlakha in Delhi; Sudha Bharadwaj in Faridabad; Jesuit Fr. Stan Swamy in Ranchi; Varavara Rao and his family members, Kranti Tekula and Naseem in Hyderabad; Anand Teltumbde in Goa.

'Targeting Modi' a repeat of Gujarat in early 21st century, narrative changed from 'Jihadi' to 'Urban Naxal': NSI

Counterview Desk
The New Socialist Initiative (NSI), which calls itself "collective committed to regeneration of revolutionary socialist politics" and is spread in several states, has said that the recent arrests of human rights defenders and public intellectuals is the “BJP's McCarthy moment”, reminding people that it is similar to the type of witch-hunt happened in the US regime in late 1940s and early 1950s against writers, scholars and activists “alleging Left leanings”.

A dangerous phase, worse than Emergency, has begun in India: MSD writes to President of India

By Our Representative
The Movement for Secular Democracy (MSD), a prominent civil rights network of Gujarat, condemning the arrest of various civil rights activists from across the country, have said, they were sought to be implicated under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) under the pretext of being a part of ‘conspiracy to kill the Prime Minister’. Demanding their release, it has demanded dropping of all charges against them.
“The arrested and alleged activists have no criminal background or no such record of actions which complement these charges. Even the said letter of threat over the computer is yet to be proved authentic by the administration. The only common thread among them is that they raise voice of dissent against anti people policies of the governments or do open criticism”, a letter by MSD to the President of India says.
It adds, “Already, countrywide, the attempts of the state administration to curb democratic protests under various pretexts have become …

Rihai Manch organises UP-wide yatra to highlight attack on democracy, constitution

By Our Representative
Several civil society organizations led by Rihai Manch have begun a UP-wide yatra for upholding the values of constitution, democracy, justice, equality and brotherhood. Addressing media at the UP Press Club, Lucknow, the organizers said, this was necessitated because of continued attack on the basic values of constitution, democracy and social justice. To take place in four phases, it would end in Lucknow on September 5. Apart from major cities UP, It would pass through Sultanpur, Jaunpur, Azamgarh, Mau, Ballia, Ghazipur, Varanasi, Bhadohi, Pratapgarh and Rae Bareli, traversing about 2,000 KM.
Addressing media, civil rights leaders Arundhati Dhuru, Muhammad Shoeb, Ajay Singh, Shivamurthy, Nadeem Hasnain, Rakesh, Ahmed Abbas, and OP Sinha condemned the recent arrest of human rights and pro-democracy leaders, saying, the government wants to crush dissent in India. These voices are the foundations of democracy and the Supreme Court has supported them, they asse…

A leaf from history: Rajpipla State defeated Aurangzeb in 1705, its rulers were precursor to Narmada dam

By Dr Hari Desai*
The Rajpipla State of Gujarat is better known, even abroad, for its gay Prince, Manvendrasinh Raghubirsinhji Sahib. But there are other reasons, too, why the history of the Princely State of the Gohil dynasty should be made known. There are several records, which show Rajpipla as an area of resistance to the Sultans, Mughals, Marathas, and the Gaekwad of Baroda. The records suggest, the king of Rajpipla was always able to regain his independence, and maintain a relative autonomy from regional and sub-continental powers.

Activists protest in front of Maharashtra Sadan, New Delhi against arrests, raids

By Our Representative
A group of activists, intellectuals, lawyers, scientists, journalists, feminists, students, cultural groups and progressive citizens protest at Maharashtra Bhavan, New Delhi, against what they called “unlawful arrests” of five human rights activists, Sudha Bharadwaj, Varavara Rao, Vernon Gonzalves, Arun Ferreira and Gautam Navlakha. Organized by the National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), the participants condemned “the outrageous act” of Maharashtra Police, which raided the houses of Father Stan Swamy, Prof K Satyanarayana, Kranthi Tekula, KV Kumaranath, Anand Teltumbde and Susan Abraham.
Prominent participants in the protests were scientist-activist Gauhar Raza, Dr Sunilam (national convener, NAPM), Rakhi Sehgal (New Trade Union of India), Priya Pillai (Women against Sexual Violence and State Repression (WSS), Sideshwar Shukla (Centre of Trade Unions), former DGP (Uttar Pradesh) SR Darapuri, Shamshul Islam (Nishant Natya Manch), Mohit Pandey (Former Pre…

Activists' arrest in "Mussolini’s footsteps", in reaction to Dalit groups publicly declaring BJP govt New Peshwai

By Battini Rao*
Pune police under the BJP government in Maharashtra arrested five well-known left leaning intellectuals and activists under UAPA on 28thAugust. Eighty years old Varvara Rao is a famous Telegu poet. Sudha Bhardwaj is general secretary of People’s Union for Civil Liberties, and a leader of Chhatisgarh Mukti Morcha. Gautam Navlakha is a journalist and has been associated with the “Economic and Political Weekly” and People’s Union for Democratic Rights. Arun Ferreira and Vernon Gonsalves are lawyers.

Arrest Hindutva perpetrators of Bhima Koregaon violence, demands NCDHR

By Our Representative
The National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights (NCDHR), India’s well-known Dalit rights network, condemning “the efforts of Maharashtra government to persecute” activists across India, has qualified the move “malafide” and “motivated” in order to “obstruct the legal and human rights work being carried out by them.”
“The current arrest and raids have taken place in the backdrop of the arrests of five human rights activists – advocate Surendra Gadling, Professor Shoma Sen, Rona Wilson, Mahesh Raut and Sudhir Dhawale – who were also arrested under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) on 6th June 2018, relying on a similar fabricated letter produced by Republic TV allegedly addressed to the same ‘Comrade Prakash’, in the same Pune case”, the statement says.
Calling them “a systematic abuse of the legal process by the Government to malign the human rights activists and advocates over the past couple of months”, the statement says, “The motivated actions against t…

Raid on Stan Swamy's house a "govt attempt" to strike terror among activists

By Our Representative
About 75 civil rights activists, mainly from Jharkhand, have said that the recent raid on the house of Father Stan Swamy – alongside raids on several other civil rights activists across the country – is “an attempt by the government to strike terror among those who are fighting for justice for the marginalized.” Among the top signatories is development economist Prof Jean Dreze, a close associate of Nobel laureate Amartya Sen.
A well-known activist of Jharkhand, the statement says, he works “on displacement, corporate loot of resources, the condition of undertrials and PESA” and is a “vocal critic of the government’s attempts to amend land laws and the land acquisition act in Jharkhand, and a strong advocate of the Forest Rights Act, PESA and related laws. We know Stan as an exceptionally gentle, honest and public-spirited person.”
During the raid in the Bagaicha campus by the Maharashtra and Jharkhand police around 6 am on August 28, 2018, the police confiscated…

NHRC issues notice to Maharashtra chief secretary, DGP over activists' arrest

By Our Representative
Taking suo motu congizance of media reports on the arrest of five activists from different parts of the country, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has said that “the standard operating procedure in connection with these arrests has not been properly followed by the police authorities, which may amount to violation of their human rights.”
Accordingly, it has issued notices to the Chief Secretary and Director General of Police (DGP), Maharashtra, calling for a factual report in the matter within four weeks.
NHRC notes, the Delhi High Court has “already stayed the transit remand for civil liberties activist Gautam Navlakha, observing that police have not been able to satisfactorily explain the offence, he had been arrested for”, adding, “The decision on a transit remand for lawyer-activist Sudha Bharadwaj is also pending before the Chief Judicial Magistrate of Faridabad.”
NHRC approvingly quotes Bharadwaj as having told the court that she had nothing to…

Activists' arrest across India is an "attempt" to create prejudice against those working for the poor

Counterview Desk
Former National Advisory Council member under the UPA government, Aruna Roy (ex-IAS), and senior activists Nikhil Dey, Shankar Singh of the Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS), have said that the activists arrested across India, following raids, should be immediately released, calling the BJP rulers' move as nothing but “motivated hounding of human rights defenders”.

Arrests, raids on activists diversionary tactic to hide "terror activities" of Sanatan Sanstha, Hindu Janjagruti: WSS

Counterview Desk
Women Against Sexual Violence and State Repression (WSS), condemning the arrest of Sudha Bharadwaj, Vernon Gonsalves, Arun Ferreira, Gautam Navlakha and Varavara Rao, has called it a "targeted attack on democratic rights activists", calling them "blatantly retributive actions of Maharashtra Police", even as demanding their "immediate and unconditional release." The statement has been signed by WSS conveners Ajita, Nisha, Rinchin and Shalini. 

Top economists appeal for signing petition against arrest of activists

By Our Representative
Two top economists Prof Arun Kumar, a foremost expert on black money, and current Malcolm Adisheshiah Chair Professor at Institute of Social Sciences, New Delhi, and Prof Kamal Nayan Kabra, who was Malcolm Adiseshiah Chair Professor (2010-17) at the institute and was previously at the Indian Institute of Public Administration, have sought more support for the petition currently being signed following the arrest of defenders of democratic rights from many cities.
"The charges seem to be concocted and that is why one fears that these arrests are only to silence voices of dissent and those who defend democratic rights. It is also a signal to others to not be critical of the government", Prof Kumar has said, adding, "I have known some of the people arrested, for a long time, and have never sensed that they in any way propagated violence of any kind."
He says, "Even if the courts release them later on due to lack of evidence, it would be undue…

Arrest of Sudha Bharadwaj, others a fascist onslaught: Gujarat activists

By Our Representative
Gujarat's social activists have condemned the arrest of Sudha Bharadwaj and other human rights activists, lawyers and writers, saying, BJP rulers across India should "stop conspiring against those fighting against suppression of tribals, Dalits and minorities." Those arrested include Chhattisgarh's senior human Rights activist, trade unionist and High Court advocate Sudha Bharadwaj, Gautam Navlakha, Father Stan Swamy, Arun Perreira, Varanan Gonzalves, Dalit rights activist Varvara Rao, and others.
"Bharadwaj has been fighting for the rights of the workers after she joined the organization founded by martyr Shankar Guha Niyogi in Chhattisgarh 30 years ago. She appears as advocate in the Chhattisgarh High Court and other courts to fight for the rights of the deprived sections", the statement, issued by Mujahid Nafees of Insaf on behalf of tens of Gujarat activists and scholars, said.
"The National Human Rights Commission recently s…

Police acted against me as though I was a dreaded terrorist or a criminal: Top scholar Prof Anand Teltumbde

Counterview Desk
Dr Anand Teltumbde, senior professor and chair, Big Data Analytics, Goa Institute of Management, Goa, is one of the top Indian intellectuals, whose house was raided on August 28 for his alleged involvement in Maoist activities. He has issued a statement on police action against him, pointing towards how draconian laws like Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) are being used to terrorize people into silence by targeting select intellectuals and activists.

Where did 4.28 MAF Narmada water disappear after Dec 2017 assembly polls? Farmers' leader writes to CM

Counterview Desk
Sagar Rabari, general secretary, Gujarat Khedut Samaj (GKS), has in an open letter to chief minister Vijay Rupani, sought what he calls "transparent account of Narmada water", flowing from the Sardar Sarovar dam into the main canal, suggesting how it may have been misused for political ends during the December 2017 Gujarat state assembly elections.

Amensty, Oxfam condemn "nationwide crackdown" on activists, advocates

By Our Representative
Taking strong exception to the nationwide crackdown on activists, advocates and human rights defenders, will-known civil international rights organizations, Amnesty and Oxfam, in a joint statement said the step threatens core human rights values.
Asserting that the August 28 arrests were the second of such crackdown on those who have been critical of the state, Aakar Patel, Executive Director, Amnesty International India, said, "All these people have history of working to protect the rights of some of India’s most poor and marginalized people. Their arrests raise disturbing questions about whether they are being targeted for their activism.”
“These arrests cannot become the order of the day. The government should protect people’s rights to freedom of expression, association, and peaceful assembly instead of creating an atmosphere of fear,” added Amitabh Behar, CEO, Oxfam India.  The statement follows Maharashtra police arresting Chhattisgarh-based human righ…

Detained "without charges", Allahabad HC orders police to produce adivasi women rights activists by Sept 7

By Our Representative
In a major breakthrough, the Allahabad High Court has directed the superintendent of police (SP), Sonbhadra district, to produce adivasi human rights defenders, Sukalo and Kismatiya Gond, detained for more than two months now, in the court on September 7.

Raids, arrest of India's top activists, writers: Will political parties, international rights bodies speak up?

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*
The morning news on August 28, of raids and arrest of five activists from different parts of the country by the Pune police, was a chilling reminder that talks of political dissent and human rights are a crime, and those who are lynching people in the public, threatening people that they would be sent to Pakistan, or openly threatening writers and journalists, are roaming about free and are being awarded by the political leadership of the ruling party, even following them on social media.

Serial raids, arrest of human rights defenders described attempt to create scaremongering

By Our Representative
Prominent civil rights activists have protested against“serial raids” across the country on the homes of activists and public intellectuals, followed by arrest of Sudha Bharadwaj, Vernon Gonsalves, Gautam Navlakha, Varavara Rao, Arun Ferreira, Kranthi Tekula and others, saying this is “nothing but an attempt by the government to strike terror among those who are fighting for justice for the marginalised.”
Calling it an “attempt by the BJP to invent a false enemy" a statement signed by Admiral L Ramdas, Lalita Ramdas, Shabnam Hashmi Shehla Rashid, Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, Jignesh Mevani, Teesta Setalvad, Swami Agnivesh, and others, says that it is nothing but scaremongering in order to polarise the 2019 elections in its favour.”
The statement says, “The government and the media houses close to the BJP have been trying to spin a false narrative of a Maoist conspiracy since June, 2018. Terms like ‘urban naxals’ are invented in order to stifle any criticism of th…

"Ineligible" funding of Sardar Statue in Gujarat: CAG tells Central PSUs, it's not a heritage CSR activity

By Our Representative
The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India, in its recent report on Central Public Sector Enterprises (CPSE), has qualified public sector undertakings’ (PSUs') funding the 182-metre world’s highest Sardar Statue, currently being constructed in the Narmada river downstream of the Sardar Sarovar dam as an “ineligible” corporate social responsibility (CSR) activity.

Houses of human rights activists raided, followed by arrests in Ranchi, Pune, Mumbai, Delhi, Hyderabad

By Our Representative
Sudha Bharadwaj, well-known human rights lawyer, in a statement has said that from 6 am onwards the Maharasthra police, coming all the way, started raiding and searching tribal rights leader Father Stan Swamy's place in Ranchi in Chhattisgarh. The cops confiscated computers, laptop, CDs, papers and books. He was also quizzed about some organisations in Maharasthtra.
This was followed by a message that Maharashtra cops simultaneously raiding human rights activists Arun Ferreira and Susan Abraham's and Vernon Gonsalvez's residences in Mumbai, Gautam Navlakha's house in Delhi, Anand Teltumbde's house in Goa. Houses of human rights defenders in Hyderabad and Delhi, including that of a journalist, were also raided.
Following the raids, Bharadwaj and five other human rights defenders -- Vernon Gonsalves, Gautam Navlakha, Varavara Rao, Arun Ferreira, Kranthi Tekula -- were arrested allegedly under pretext of investigating Bhima Koregaon incident late…

Tamil Nadu pollution control chief's transfer "untimely", meant to help Sterlite: Senior activist

By Our Representative
Henri Tiphagne, lawyer, human rights trainer and defender, and executive director, People's Watch India, has appealed to civil society activists to to sign and send the following memorandum to the Chief Minister and Chief Secretary of Tamil Nadu urgently protesting against the transfer of Nasimuddin, IAS, from his role as chairperson, Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB), calling it an "ill-timed" move, which sends the wrong signals to the public about the sincerity of the Government in keeping Vedanta Sterlite shut.
"Nasimuddin enjoys public confidence, and is perceived to be a person of integrity and intelligence. He has been involved and informed about Sterlite's operations in Thoothukudi. His continued presence as TNPCB Chairperson would be invaluable given the imminence of the NGT-appointed enquiry Committee less than two weeks from now", says Tiphagne, adding, "The transfer is not merely ill-timed, but legally fraugh…

Kuldip Nayar's last message: Fight hasn't ended, there are issues "more serious" than Emergency

By Sanjay Parikh*
On June 26, 2018, human rights organizations had assembled at the Gandhi Peace Foundation, Delhi, to remember the dark days of Emergency. This was an annual affair and Kuldip Nayar was a regular speaker in these meetings. This time, too, he came and spoke. But his speech was different; it came from his heart and was quite moving.

Briefs on human-wildlife conflict in India for grassroots legal professionals released

By Our Representative
The Centre for Policy Research-Namati Environmental Justice Program ((CPR-Namati), a New Delhi-based advocacy group which prepares network of grassroots legal professionals who research questions regarding environment law implementation, has with support from Duleep Matthai Nature Conservation Trust prepared handouts on the legal mechanisms available in human wildlife conflict in Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Odisha and Karnataka.
These handouts entail, says a CPR-Namati note, a brief overview of the present status of human wildlife conflict, the measures taken by the Centre and states to tackle this, and compensatory mechanisms available in case of human wildlife conflict.
Available in Hindi, Gujarati, Odia and Kannada (to be released shortly), CPR-Namati has simultaneously announced the release of material on the legal framework for conservation and protection areas. This material -- providing information on the legal provisions under which these areas are formed, t…

Constituting 88% of total trips, public transport in Kolkata, Mumbai has led to lower vehicular pollution: Study

Counterview Desk
A new study of urban vehicular  pollution has said that Kolkata and Mumbai “emit least among six megacities due to high usage of public transport and walking”. According to the study “Kolkata ranks sixth among all the 14 cities, but it wins among the six megacities”, and does better than Pune and Ahmedabad, because “the average distance travelled by different modes in Kolkata is lowest among all megacities.”

Pope Francis "seeks" pardon for abuses committed in institutions run by religious members of Church

By Fr Cedric Prakash sj*
The World Meeting of Families, which began on August 21 in Dublin, Ireland, concluded on  the evening of August 26 with a Eucharist presided over by Pope Francis. The meeting had for its theme, ‘The Gospel of the Family: Joy for the World’, underlying the importance of the family in our world today.

Saint-engineer stakes his life to save Ganga before an “insensitive” government and society

By Sandeep Pandey*
Matre Sadan, on the bank of river Ganga, is no ordinary Ashram in Haridwar, and Swami Gyan Swaroop Sanand, fasting since June 22, 2018, demanding a law for conservation of Ganga, is no ordinary sadhu. Earlier Swami Shivanand, head priest of the Ashram, his disciples Nigmanand, Dayanand, Yajnanand and Purnanand have observed long fasts to prevent illegal mining in Ganga in Haridwar.

Patna HC order on media reporting: Editors Guild asks Chief Justice of India to intervene

By Our Representative
The Editors Guild of India, decrying the recent growing trend of courts issuing restraint orders on media, has said it is "deeply concerned over a Patna High Court order restraining the media from reporting on the investigation into the Muzaffarpur shelter abuse case."
A verbal order issued by the division bench of Chief Justice Mukesh R Shah and Justice Dr Ravi Ranjan on August 23 said that till the investigation into the shelter case was completed, all the print and electronic media were restrained from reporting anything with respect to the case, more particularly, with respect to the investigation already undertaken and/or which was likely to take place as it could seriously hamper the investigation of the case.
The Guild noted, "The court, instead of protecting media freedom, has issued an order that has effectively curbed it." Condemning such orders, as it believes that "such restrictions on reporting on investigations into a matter…

Vajpayee cultivated liberal ethos, triggered peace with Pakistan, yet failed to step out of hardline Hindutva

By Adv Masood Peshimam*
It was late Prime Minister IK Gujral who had the charm of Urdu poetry. He had a lot of fondness for couplets of Ghalib, Mir, Iqbal, Majrooh and others poets. He could recite Urdu couplets during his talk with ease. Urdu literature, liberal and cosmopolitan, particularly Urdu poetry, had impacted his personality. Urdu literature, which was promoted by the progressive movement in pre- and post-Independence era, was left leaning.

Civil rights leaders object to "sudden" Lucknow court order on Nov 2007 blast

By Our Representative
Senior civil rights activists of Uttar Pradesh, including Rihai Manch chief Mohammad Shoeb, former UP IG SR Darapuri, prominent social worker Arundhati Dhuru and Magsasay award winning scholar-activist and Sandeep Pandey, and advocate Andhir Singh Suman have taken strong exception to the manner in which a Lucknow court passed its order on the two persons accused of involvement in the 11-year-old Lucknow blast case, in which serial bombs ripped in Lucknow and other major cities of UP. The blasts took place on November 23, 2007.
Addressing media at the Lucknow press club, Shoeb said that things turned particularly mysterious because the judge, without hearing the two sides, declared the two persons accused in the blast as guilty, leaving the jail court room, saying the next hearing on August 27 would be on punishment to be meted out them. Earlier, he added, another judge, who was about to give his judgment on the case, was summarily transferred. “The decision has b…

Centre's decades-old Flood Plain Zoning directive ignored: Gujarat, other states may face Kerala-type devastation

By BN Navalawala*
Incessant rainfall and heavy flooding have caused devastation in large parts of Kerala which now faces the ravages of the worst monsoon floods in 94 years, with 373 dead and more than 1.2 million in relief camps after 2,378 millimetre (mm) of rain over 81 days between June 1 and August 20, 2018 – 42% above normal or three times more than the Indian average for that period, according to data from the India Meteorological Department(IMD).

India's trade union density lower than Brazil, South Africa; there is tendency to victimize unionized workers: ILO

By Rajiv Shah
In what might sound as music to India's corporate honchos and their political supporters, the International Labour Organization (ILO) has calculated that the trade union (TU) density in India among wage workers, both casual and regular/salaried, has fallen since 1993–94, by 3 percentage points to 13.4 per cent. Worse, the top Union Nations (UN) body, headquartered in Geneva, has further notes, the “density among regular/salaried workers has fallen precipitously since 1993–94, by 17.7 percentage points to 28.8 per cent.”

UP SHRC directs DM to act against hate campaign to divide Dalits and Muslims following NHRC direction

By Our Representative
In February 2018, fake news of forced conversion of Dalits in Amroha district of Uttar Pradesh began to circulate on social media. It emerged that this was a willful campaign on misinformation, designed to pit Dalits against Muslims. Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) complained to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC). The UP State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) has now directed the District Magistrate to investigate and act on the complaint.
According to CJP, the rumours were worded in an inflammatory manner with the unambiguous objective to spark conflict between Dalits and Muslims who have hitherto coexisted in harmony.
First there were rumours that street signs were being changed as Gautam Nagar was being renamed Islam Nagar. A tweet openly alleged that 1500 Dalits lived in fear of conversion in Amroha.
Fake news about forced conversion of Dalits and the possibility of changing the name of the Gautam Nagar neighbourhood began spreading like wildfire…

Gujarat govt admits of failure to include fishing jetties in CRZ maps put up for public hearing

By Our Representative
The Gujarat government has admitted that it has failed to identify fishing jetties, salt pans and shrimp farms in its new Coastal Regulatory Zone maps released for public hearing for finalising the Coastal Zone Management Plan (CZMP) for each district. Following a strong representation by MSH Sheikh, environmentalist and representative of the fishing communities, district collector Ravi Kumar Arora, who is chairman of the district-level authority for preparing CZMP, "We will include them in our final maps after consultation with the authorities concerned. I can assure you as representative of the government."
Making a strong representative at the public hearing in Bharuch, Sheikh wondered, "Why have fishing villages and jetties not been the CRZ maps though there are 40 spots where boats land? Where are the spots for even one?" He asked, "Why are the maps which are printed called predaft? Why are the maps so old, when the coastline of a la…

Rihai Manch takes exception to "two minutes" order in Lucknow jail court

By Our Representative
Rihai Manch, a civil rights organization in Uttar Pradesh, has taken strong exception to what it has described as “two minutes” judgement on Tariq Kasmi and Mohammand Akhtar, accused of terrorist attack 11 years ago. In a statement, the Rihai Manch quotes their lawyer Mohammad Shoeb as saying that it is the same case when, in April 2018, a judge was mysteriously transferred out following completion on discussions on the case.
According to Rajiv Yadav of Rihai Manch, on August 23, the judge kept the two sides waiting for further discussions on the case for about five years, and after reaching the jail court at 4 pm, declared the two accused as guilty, adding, the next discussion on the case would be on August 27 on the type of punishment to be given to the two accused.
The case concerned terrorist attack in Lucknow court on November 23, 2007, when within a span of 25 minutes blasts also took place in other cities. Bombs were explicitly targeted to the lawyers who …

Amendment to anti-atrocity Bill comes as, at ground level, impact of BJP-NDA has seriously affected Dalits

By Ram Puniyani*
Recently anti-Dalit atrocity laws were first diluted inserting the clause of anticipatory bail. Following this there were serious protests all over. In these protests, the anti Dalit nature of present ruling dispensation, BJP led NDA was highlighted. Under the pressure of the protests, the government had to bring in a bill to restore its previous provisions.

Uttarakhand HC orders on Van Gujjars "violate" Forest Rights Act: Activist

By Our Representative
Commenting on the Uttarakhand High Court's orders (click here and here) about eviction of Van Gujjars, which were issued on August 2 and August 16, Neema Pathak Broome of the Theme on Conservation and Livelihoods, Kalpavriksh, Pune, says the orders completely ignore Forest Rights Act (FRA). Worse, she regrets, the orders ignore even the earlier administrative process, which themselves are in violation of FRA, by the forest department towards relocation of Van Gujjars.
"The court blaming the Chief Secretary and the Forest Officials for talking about a rehabilitation policy instead of evicting the Van Gujjars. It has already decided that these are encroachers and not the people whose rights have been recognised under the FRA. The language of the Court is shocking", says Broome.
"Not only is it asking for evictions but also instructs the District Magistrates across the state to prohibit people from organising dharnas and rallies against the Co…

Rahul Gandhi's message to Modi from Hamburg: You can't fight hate with hate, it would return with more force

By Buddhdev Pandya in London
President of the Indian National Congress Rahul Gandhi, addressing delegates from over 25 countries at the Bucerius Summer School in Hamburg, Germany, on Wednesday, August 22, spoke of Gandhian values, saying, if we respond to violence with violence it just can't produce solution; it would eventually come back. This was his generic message to world leaders, as well to those in the position of strenght in different capacities. He said, it is most important to 'listen to the people' if we are to tackle challenges of the 21st century.

Will Dalit President break 243-yr-old tradition of appointing "upper caste" Jats, Rajputs as bodyguards?: John Dayal

By Our Representative
Well-known human rights activist John Dayal, who also happens to be president of the All-India Christian Council, has wondered whether President Ram Nath Kovind, a Dalit, would break the 243-year-old tradition of only appointing upper caste Jats and Rajputs as his bodyguards. Wondering why only “upper caste self-styled martial races” are being appointed, Dayal says, he wondered what the second Dalit President, now residing in Rashtrapati Bhawan, has to say of it, if he has been told” about this.
Referring to a Hindi newspaper report, Dayal says, “A recent recruitment advertisement by the government specifically bars ‘mazhabi Sikhs’, converts from the once untouchable caste groups, from the recruitment, limiting it to Jats and Rajputs. If it is just that they sought six feet tall guards for the Rashtrapathi Bhawan ceremonials, they could have said so.”
Pointing out that the next recruitment is due on September 4, Dayal asks, “Remember how the guards used to tower …

Kerala gets only 25 paisa for each rupee it earns for Centre: Why are BJP rulers "playing politics" over funds?

By Sheshu Babu*
Floods are a common occurrence in India, as imbalance in climate every year causes lot of variation in rainfall geographically. But the floods in Kerala have not only caused havoc on unprecedented scale, but also politics has taken the upper hand over humanitarian aid to the victims.

Narmada dam oustees gherao Badwani rehab office, demand implementation of SC order

By Our Representative
In a statement on behalf of 28 villages, whose 195 Narmada dam oustees have been sitting on relay fast for the last 20 days, the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) has claimed that a large number of dam affected families have still not received the compensation of Rs 60 lakh and Rs 15 lakh, ordered by the Supreme Court of India about a year ago.
Pointing out that the problem is particularly acute for women-dominated households, a memorandum submitted to the Narmada rehabilitation office in Badwani, Madhya Pradesh, said even today, large number of rehabilitation sites do not drinking water facility, and the land on which these sites have been built has not been levelled.
The 14-point charter of demands in the memorandum, handed over after the villagers gheraoed the office, even as giving village-wide details, said,there is still no separate spot where cattle could drink water in these sites, there are no drainage lines, there are no health centres, there are no street …

Why can't you grant amount equivalent to Sardar Statue for Kerala flood rehab? Medha Patkar asks Modi

Counterview Desk
In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Kerala floods following her visit to the affected areas, top social activist Medha Patkar has wondered as to why is there shirking of responsibility on the part of his government and hesitation to declare it as a national disaster.

Kerala floods: Need for policy shift on damming rivers, coping illegal or legalised occupation of floodplains

Counterview Desk
A team of senior social activists, including Medha Patkar, leader of the Narmada Bachao Andolan and convener, National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), CR Neelakandan, Vilayodi Venugopal, Kusumam Joseph, Vijayaraghavan Cheliya, Arul Das (NAPM, Tamil Nadu), and Inamul Hasan of the Khudai Khidmatgar, following its visit to Kerala, has said that while a shift from relief to the rehabilitation phase is a challenge following worst-ever floods, there is need to work out concrete policy shift.

Gujarat farmers' leaders detained when Modi "inaugurated" multiple schemes

By Our Representative
Even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi was in Gujarat for the whole day to inaugurate multiple schemes across the state with an eye on the 2019 general elections, several senior farmer leaders were detained for the whole day, allegedly in order to "ensure" that they do not create any disturbance in the PM’s programme.  Thus, while Bhagubhai Patel, head of the Valsad district Gujarat Khedut Samaj (GKS) was picked up from his residence, and South Gujarat GKS leader Jayesh Patel was detained in his own house, Rajkot district GKS chief Chetan Gadhiya was detained for the whole day in his office. “Each of them were released after the PM’s programmes ended in South Gujarat and Saurashtra. Worse, when Jayesh Patel, on his release, started his journey to Ahmedabad, the cops followed in all through”, said a statement issued by GKS general secretary Sagar Rabari, qualifying the detention without given any reasons on paper a “clear violation of human rights.”  He ad…

Sections imposed on attackers of Motihari professor "laughable": Letter to Nitish

By Our Representative
In a letter to Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar, the Jamia Teachers’ Solidarity Association (JTSA) has said that the "brutal assault" on Sanjay Kumar Yadav, assistant professor of sociology at the Central University, Motihari, on August 17 by a gang of around 20-25 goons, which dragged from his third floor flat into the street, preceded an atmosphere of intimidation and threats of violence against him.
According to JTSA, in his complaint to the police, Sanjay Kumar has clearly named the ring leaders of the mob. It also records the incessant harassment and threats issued by Sanjay Kumar Singh, Bureau Chief, Dainik Bhaskar. These threats pertained to his opposition to the vice chancellor against whom the university teachers had been agitating, as well as his Facebook posts, one of which invited the wrath of assailants.
Calling it Jungle Raj, JTSA wonders why the perpetrators and those who threatened him, which can be ascertained from a video, have not …

Aadhaar's image makeover? Govt of India "refusing to divulge" info on amount being spent by UIDAI

By Reetika Khera*
Why is the Unique Identity Authority of India (UIDAI) refusing to divulge its advertising expenses? Two attempts were made recently to obtain information from UIDAI on advertising expenditure.
1. Right to Information (RTI) query
On November 15, 2017, the following RTI request was filed with UIDAI:

Protests rock India, Bangladesh, oversees following arrest of top photographer-activist Dr Shahiful Alam, students

By Nava Thakuria*
Bangladesh is a land of (read mostly negative) happenings. As the populous country is approaching the next general (national) elections by the end of this year, we can expect more public chaos, protest demonstrations, media outburst followed by government crackdowns and international outcries.

Mob attack on Sanjay Kumar "part of trend" to target teachers for taking social, political positions

By Our Representative
In a strongly-worded condemnation, 178 sociologists, social scientists and concerned individuals across the world have said that the brutal mob assault on August 17, 2018, on sociologist Sanjay Kumar at Mahatma Gandhi Central University, Motihari, Bihar is part of the "particular trend of mob violence directed at dissenting voices in various university/college campuses of late has become ‘normal’."
The statement, distributed by well-known sociologist-activist Nandini Sundar, professor of sociology, Delhi School of Economics, through the People's Media Advocacy and Resource Centre (PMARC), says, "Teachers have been targeted and abused on account of their political opinions and social position. In particular, because of the nature of the social sciences where we engage with contemporary society, social scientists have come under attack."
Quoting media reports, the statement says, "Complicity of the office of the Vice-Chancell…

Indian nation should forget supremacy of Vedas, Puranas: Savarkar quoted by Dabholkar, victim of "Hindu terror"

By Rajiv Shah
What Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, the BJP's Hindutva icon, said about religious books should completely shake those who think that scriptures are a gospel truth and shouldn't be criticized, and there is nothing beyond them. Quoted by Narendra Dabholkar, a Pune-based rationalist who was shot dead allegedly by a Hindu fanatic on August 20, 2013, Savarkar had said, “The Vedas, the Avesta, the Bible and the Koran are but man-made tomes and should be studied accordingly...”