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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.”

Bugged by pollution, cementing, human activity, Modi govt may denotify Turtle Wildlife Sanctuary in Varanasi

Indian tent turtle, captured in TWS
By Our Representative
If a wildlife sanctuary is unable to preserve a particular species because of certain extraneous reasons, why not do away with it right away? This appears to be the new motto behind the BJP rulers in Uttar Pradesh, frantically wanting to implement Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ambitious inland waterway project on Ganga. The waterway is slated to pass through Varanasi, Modi’s constituency.
A proposal is reportedly pending clearance with the Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) to shut the 220 hectares (ha) Turtle Wildlife Sanctuary (TWS), situated in seven-km stretch of the Ganges between Rajghat (Malviya Bridge) to Ramnagar Fort in Varanasi district.
The proposal, according to a report in the news portal “The Wire”, comes close on the heels of a Wildlife Institute of India, study, “Assessment of Wildlife Values of the Ganga River from Bijnor to Ballia, Including Turtle Wildlife Sanctuary, Uttar Pradesh: Technical Report”, which states, “Out of 13 species of turtle reported from Ganga River, only 5 species were encountered during the field sampling…”
Assi Nala (drain) inside TWS
 Raising the alarm that there was a “very low encounter rate of turtles in TWS”, the study said, “high human disturbance leading to habitat alterations within a very small Protected Area.” It added, while “sites along the TWS in the left bank are seen to have the least suitable habitat for turtles” there is “high anthropogenic disturbances such as cemented ghats, intense ferry and boat activity, pollution, and human presence along the river.”
Pointing out that “the sand bar in the right bank of the TWS, though is an excellent habitat for turtles and breeding birds, is also under severe anthropogenic pressure”, the study stated, the sanctuary even today is “providing a refuge to the biodiversity of this riverscape, especially to the scavenging turtle species”, which are a great “help to reduce the organic load of the river in the form of unburnt/partially burnt bodies.”
The study, which is based on “a rapid ecological assessment for freshwater turtles and associated aquatic species … conducted from April to May 2018”, further said, “During the study period, despite robust sampling in the summer season using a variety of survey methods, capture rates for turtle species was low, indicating a low abundance of turtles in the TWS… attributed to poor aquatic habitat quality and high anthropogenic disturbances within the TWS.”

Construction of jetty near Ramnagar
Following the study, the state government reportedly promptly submitted a proposal to the Government of India asking for the sanctuary to be ‘denotified’ following a meeting of the State Board of Wildlife of Uttar Pradesh on August 30, 2018. Quoting exclusive documents in its possession, the report notes, the reason stated by the DFO, Kashi wildlife division, to the National Board for Wildlife is that “the sanctuary is not fulfilling its purpose”, hence it should be “denotified”.
Another letter is by chief conservator of forests SK Awasthi, dated September 5, 2018, sending an “authorization letter to Manoj Khare, DFO, Kashi wildlife division, “to submit a proposal regarding denotification of TWS in view of the decision taken in the eighth meeting of the state board of wildlife, UP, on August 30, 2018 after due consideration and diligence exercised in the matter.”
Comments environment journalist Bahar Dutt, who has authored the report, “If the Centre approves the proposal to denotify TWS, this will be the first protected area to be completely wiped off the map of India since the introduction of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.”

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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".

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.”