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Showing posts from November, 2019

Visually challenged lady seeks appointment with Gujarat CM, is 'unofficially' detained

By Pankti Jog*
It was a usual noon of November 10. I got a phone call on our Right to Information (RTI) helpline No 9924085000 from Ranjanben of Khambhat, narrating her “disgraceful” experience after she had requested for an appointment with Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani. She wanted to meet Rupani, on tour of the Khambhat area in Central Gujarat as part of his Janvikas Jumbesh (Campaign for Development).

Faith as law? Crucial 1949 episode on Ram Lalla 'missing' in Supreme Court order

By Kamal Mitra Chenoy* The Supreme Court seems to have recognised faith as a key issue in the Babri Masjid affair. But it is sloppy. There is no mention of the British Judge asked by the Hindus in 1885 to have access to the Ram Chabootra (Ram platform inside the Babri Masjid). The Judge regretted that this claim was brought to him late, and should have been resolved much earlier.

Political conspiracy to isolate Dalits amidst 'failure' of campaign to annihilate caste

By Martin Macwan*
Historically, for Dalits to be on crossroads is a new phenomenon. They have, with their own labour and sweat, gradually progressed through a most difficult journey, unique in the world, from being treated and sanctioned as ‘untouchable’ to being equal citizens. And yet, the fact is, their enemies have been more powerful than the ten-headed imaginary demons.

Gujarat refusal to observe Maulana Azad's birthday as Education Day 'discriminatory'

By Our Representative
The Gujarat government decision not to celebrate the National Education Day on !monday has gone controversial. Civil society organizations have particularly wondered whether the state government is shying away from the occasion, especially against the backdrop of "deteriorating" level of education in Gujarat.

Violent 'Ajodhya' campaign in 1840s after British captured Kabul, destroyed Jama Masjid

Counterview Desk  Irfan Ahmad, professor at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity, Göttingen, Germany, and author of “Islamism and Democracy in India” (Princeton University Press, 2009), short-listed for the 2011 International Convention of Asian Scholars Book Prize for the best study in Social Sciences, in his "initial thoughts" on the Supreme Court judgment on the Babri-Jam Janmaboomi dispute has said, while order was “lawful”, it was also “awful.”

No to status quo: Babri site now exception to 1991 religious places law on disputed sites

By Sanjeev Sirohi* 
“The court does not decide title on the basis of faith or belief but on the basis of evidence…it applies settled principles of evidence to adjudicate upon which party has established a claim to the immovable property.” -- CJI Ranjan Gogoi while reading the verdict

Would those charged for illegally demolishing Babri now manage a new Ram temple?

By Fr Cedric Prakash sj*
The long-awaited verdict on the contentious issue of the disputed land in Ayodhya was finally delivered by the Supreme Court on November 9, 2019. The judgement has come after a 70-year-old conflict filled with acrimony, divisiveness, hate and violence between sections of the Hindus and Muslims of the country. At the core of the issue was the Ram Mandir – Babri Masjid dispute: was there a temple on the place where the Masjid was built? To whom should the land be given to?

Holy dip in Sabarmati? Ahmedabad industrial units discharge wastewater despite notice

By Our Representative
In a sharp admission, the Gujarat government has said that most of the industrial units of Ahmedabad, as also the city's residential houses, discharge waste water in Sabarmati, polluting the river. Notably, the river’s 11 kilometre stretch in Ahmedabad, where the riverfront has been beautified, is sought to be projected as a model for the country as a whole.

Gujarat agate worker, who fought against bondage, died of silicosis, won compensation

By Jagdish Patel*
This is about an agate worker of Khambhat in Central Gujarat. Born in a Vankar family, Raju Parmar first visited our weekly OPD clinic in Shakarpur on March 4, 2009. Aged 45 then, he was assigned OPD No 199/03/2009. He was referred to the Cardiac Care Centre, Khambhat, to get chest X-ray free of charge. Accordingly, he got it done and submitted his report. At that time he was working in an agate crushing unit of one Kishan Bhil.

Thousands of fishes 'perish' as polluted wastewater in Gujarat 'allowed' to go to sea

By Our Representative
Prakruti Suraksha Mandal (PSM), an Ankaleshwar-based environmental NGO, has claimed that thousands of fishes have perished because Narmada Clean Tech (NCT), jointly promoted by the Gujarat government and South Gujarat entrepreneurs of industrial estates of Ankaleshwar, Jhagadia and Panoli to manage and dispose of waste water, opened a valve of its pipelines, discharging polluted water in Amlakhadi, a tributary of the Narmada River close to the Bay of Khambhat.

Bullet train acquisition: Land holding worth Rs 1.5 crore, Gujarat govt 'offer' Rs 8 lakh

By RK Misra*
Foundation stones laid by Prime Minister Narendra Modi litter India’s cities, towns and villages, but there are few projects which he has pursued with such perseverance and tenacity as the Ahmedabad-Mumbai bullet train one. However, the overwhelming state power notwithstanding, the farmers, whose lands are being acquired for the Modi government’s dream project, have no plans to give up the fight.

People's pressure? GPCB mining cancellation 'notice' to top cement unit in Gujarat

By Sagar Rabari*
Environmental Clearance (EC) was given to Ultratech Cement Co Ltd for limestone mining in villages Talli and Bambhor of Talaja taluka in Bhavnagar district of Gujarat on January 5, 2017. EC was issued ignoring, overriding and undermining opposition from local farmers to mining activity in the area. The mining in these two villages covers an area of 193.3268 hectares (ha), while the entire project is spread over an area of 1,715.1311 ha.

NHRC notice to Gujarat chief secretary following silicosis deaths in Rajkot

By Our Representative
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has asked the Gujarat chief secretary and the district magistrate, Rajkot, to respond to a complaint filed by health rights activist Jagdish Patel of the People's Training and Research Centre (PTRC), Vadodara, regarding the alleged death of Raju Prakash Parihar and two others reportedly because of silicosis, a fatal occupation disease, in Rajkot, one of Gujarat’s top cities.

Step against journalist Aatish Taseer part of Indian, global trend to 'harass' writers

By Our Representative
A New York-based free expression advocacy non-profit, PEN America, has taken strong exception to what it calls “India’s government is retaliating against journalist Aatish Taseer’s reporting critical of the country’s Prime Minister". Taseer has been told by an email from the Consulate General of India in New York that the Government of India had cancelled his Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI card) with “effective immediately.”

Cops' 'inability' to deliver justice? Model Gujarat ranks 12th among 18 major states

By Rajiv Shah
A Tata Trusts study, released in Delhi on Thursday, has ranked “model” Gujarat 12th out of 18 major states it has analysed across India to “assess” the police's capacity to deliver justice. Several of the advanced states such as Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Punjab, Haryana, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana as well as some of the so-called Bimaru states such as Odisha, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh are found to have ranked better than Gujarat.

Concern in UK over BJP supporters, Hindu charity 'interfering' in general elections

By Our Representative
Following apprehensions of “foreign interference” in Canadian elections, which took place last month, from several countries, including India, a similar a concern is now reported with regard to the next month’s United Kingdom general elections. The concern has particularly come from Labour Party candidates, who are citing campaign by “India-linked Hindu nationalist group” targeting Labour candidates.

Banned? Indian ports 'received' 38 US plastic waste containers reexported from Indonesia

By Rajiv Shah
An Indonesia-based international environmental watchdog group has dug out what it has called “a global pollution shell game”, stating how officials in Indonesia approved re-exports of “illegal” US waste shipments containing plastics mainly to India, as also to other Asian countries -- Thailand, South Korea and Vietnam -- instead of returning them to the US “as promised.”

Information Commissions: Apex Court seeks status of vacancies from Centre, 8 states

By Our Representative
The Supreme Court (SC) has directed the Government of India and eight state governments to file a status report regarding compliance with the judgment it gave on February 15, 2019 in a petition filed by senior Right to Information activist (RTI) activist Anjali Bhardwaj, Commodore (Retd) Lokesh Batra and Amrita Johri regarding vacancies in information commissions set up under the RTI Act. The next hearing is scheduled for December 16.

Post-monsoon rains, Narmada woes grip Gujarat's 8,000 salt producers of Little Rann

By Pankti Jog*
For the last two days, block officials responsible for disaster mitigation as also other officials are trying their level best to persuade the agariyas of the Rann of Kutch and coastal areas to return to their villages. Four days back, around 150 visitors to the Vaccharajpur Temple, fondly known as ‘Vacchada dada nu mandir’, got stuck in the muddy surroundings, as their vehicles could not move due to sudden rain.

Govt ultimatum to striking Telangana state transport workers a 'privatisation threat'

Counterview Desk
The National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM), a network of a large number of grassroots civil society organizations, has sought Telangana chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao's immediate intervention to "fairly resolve" the month-long strike by Telangana State Road Transport Corporation (TSRTC) employees, asking him stop any move towards privatization of TSRTC.

8 years after death, Gujarat court orders Rs 5.76 lakh compensation to silicosis victim

By Our Representative
In the first-ever claim filed for compensating the death of a silicosis patient, Rajubhai, a labour court in Anand, Central Gujarat, has ordered payment of Rs 5,76,400 under the Employees Compensation Act and fine of Rs 5,000 towards expenses.

Modi govt in a bind with respect to 'core' Naga demands: Separate constitution, flag

By Sandeep Pandey, Babloo Loitongbam, Meera Sanghamitra*
Thuingaleng Muivah, the supreme leader of the National Socialist Council of Nagalim (Isak-Muivah) [NSCN (IM)] says that Nagaland may be weaker in material sense but it is strong in politics. No wonder, the organisation which started off as an insurgent group was able to engage the Government of India in a process of dialogue for 22 long years after a ceasefire agreement in 1997, now as a parallel government of which Muivah is the Ato Kilonser or Prime Minister.

Business interests? Hindu bankers 'helped' Company Raj to flourish, colonize India

By Rajiv Shah
A new book, ‘The Anarchy: The Relentless Rise of the East India Company’, authored by well-known Scott historian William Dalrymple, has said that a major reason for the success of the East India Company (EIC), which “colonized” the country between 1600 and 1857, was the support it got from Indian financiers or moneylenders, including Jagat Seth of Calcutta, Gokul Das of Benaras and other “Hindu bankers” of Patna and Allahabad.

Modi shouldn't have gone to negotiate RCEP in Bangkok: Civil society network NAPM

By Our Representative
Civil rights network, the National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM), has welcomed the news from Bangkok that India is holding up the proposed the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), saying, it is due mainly to the "awareness created and pressure mounted by farmers' organisations, people's movements, conscientious experts and concerned citizens."

Why minorities in India need to 'rise above' narrow sectarian parochial interests

By Swami Agnivesh*
The predicament of minorities in every society has to be understood sensitively and wisely, especially by themselves. On the whole, this is not the case. Religious minorities tend to live ghettoized, in a parasitical sort of relationship with the putative mainstream. It needs to be reckoned here in passing that ‘mainstream' itself is as problematic category, often artificially constructed through a political process, more pronounced in democracy than in any other type of government.

13% vote NOTA in Latur: Voters looking for alternative, does Opposition know that?

By Anikendra Sen*
Ominous signs or is it a failure of the system? In a possible first, ‘None of The Above’ (NOTA) finished in second place in Maharashtra's Latur seat, behind Congress's Dhiraj Vilasrao Deshmukh, the younger son of former chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh, winning the seat for the first time with a massive 75.10% of the total vote share.

Ahead of Bangkok RCEP, to be or not to be that's the question India faces

Counterview Desk
In a detailed note on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), whose preparatory meeting is to take place in Bangkok on November 4 to sign off the treaty and to sort out "thorny" issues, Sanjeev Chandorkar, associate professor with the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, has said that "it would be politically naive to suggest that India should not join any international trade block."

Incarcerated for saying Catholic can't be Nazi, Rupert Mayer should be emulated in India

By Fr Cedric Prakash sj*
Not many in India (and for that matter in most parts of the world) would have heard of Rupert Mayer; whenever his name crops up, the spontaneous response invariably is “Rupert who?” In a nutshell, Rupert Mayer was a great German Jesuit, who demonstrated unflinching courage to take on Hitler and the Nazi regime, at the height of their power! Today he is a ‘blessed’ of the Catholic Church and also regarded as the Apostle of Munich.

As workers suffer, Assam tea business chain retains 60-94% of earnings in India, abroad

By Rajiv Shah
A recent paper, published by the high-profile UK-based NGO Oxfam Great Britain (GB), has revealed that supermarkets and tea brands in India retain more than half (58.2%) of the final consumer price of black processed tea sold in India, with just 7.2% remaining for workers. “For a typically sized pack of branded black tea sold in India priced at Rs 68.8 for 200g, supermarkets and tea brands would retain some Rs 40.4, while workers would collectively receive just Rs 4.95 per pack”, it says.

NSO has carried out 'unlawful' surveillance to target Amnesty staff members, HRDs

Counterview Desk
Following the exposure that Israeli spyware Pegasus, manufactured by NSO Group, has been used as a surveillance tool on smartphones used by about 1,500 human rights defenders (HRDs), journalists and activists, including in India, the top rights body, Amnesty International India, has appealed to those who have received a notification immediately to get in touch with Amnesty Tech at share@amnesty.tech for support.

Martyred on Diwali day, Maharshi Dayanand fought against 'Brahminical' caste order

By Swami Agnivesh*
On the Diwali day of 1883, Maharishi Dayanand, the undying spiritual light of the Arya Samaj, became a martyr. Those who could not put out the fire of purity and truth in him, poisoned him to death. He who endeavoured to take away the poison of superstition and obscurantism from religion, and make it luminescent with spiritual truth, was poisoned.

Court complexes in Kashmir give impression of alienation and intimidation: Report

Counterview Desk
In a new report, “Imprisoned Resistance: 5th August and Its Aftermath”, a fact-finding team consisting of senior human rights lawyers, trade unionists, activists and researchers has suggested that the people of Kashmir have come to believe that access to justice has turned into a “mere mirage” following the Government of India clampdown on October 5.

Bhagwat’s 'communal' posturing derived from minorities' caste practices: Agnivesh

By Our Representative
Taking strong exception to RSS sarshanghchalak Mohan Bhagwat, who recently said that all Indians are Hindus, well-known social activist and religious thinker Swami Agnivesh has said that his Hindutva agenda “flies in the face of the Constitution of India” and seeks to “erase cultural and religious diversity of India, unveiling “the RSS hobbyhorse of homogenization: one nation, one language, one culture.”

A Bharat Ratna, RSS ideologue Nanaji Deshmukh ‘justified’ 1984 Sikh massacre

By Shamsul Islam*
“Inssan abhee tak zinda hae, Zinda hone per sharminda hae!” (Human beings are still alive,/ They are ashamed to be alive! -- Shahid Nadeem's Urdu couplet on silence of civil society against communal violence. He received forty lashes for writing and singing these lines by Zia regime in Pakistan
In more than last three decades, on every anniversary of the 1984 massacre of Sikhs, this author has been reminding the nation how Indian State and judiciary did not bother to punish the perpetrators of this horrendous mass killing of the innocents of the second largest religious minority of our country.

Pairing not with law but with perpetrators: Pavlovian response to lynchings in India

By Vikash Narain Rai*
Lynch-law owes its name to James Lynch, the legendary Warden of Galway, Ireland, who tried, condemned and executed his own son in 1493 for defrauding and killing strangers. But, today, what kind of a person will justify the lynching for any reason whatsoever? Will perhaps resemble the proverbial ‘wrong man to meet at wrong road at night!’

As a consequence of press gag in Kashmir, vague rumours float about in Valley

By Anand K Sahay*
Aside from the communications lockdown and the jailing of leaders of the non-BJP parties, a major casualty in Kashmir has been the sanctity of the news flow on account of tight surveillance.
This has come in the way of letting the country know of the stifling of the public voice, of practically all economic activity, and of the experience of people’s interface with the security forces present in fighting gear.