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UP: Insufficient nutrition packages cause rift between anganwadis and community

Union of Anganwadi workers urges the state government to supply adequate nutrition and resolve the conflict

02 Mar 2022

Rural health
Representation Image


Uttar Pradesh Anganwadi Employees Union demanded timely and appropriate delivery of supplementary nutrition to anganwadi centres as per Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) scheme. The demand was reiterated following a conflict between workers and the people of Bulandshahr on February 28, 2022.

On Monday, anganwadi workers protested outside the district administration’s office to demand an FIR and arrest of the people who attacked employees distributing food in Kucheja village. Villagers tried to snatch the meagre rations, enraged by the little supply available. They accused the workers of hoarding ration meant for beneficiaries.

But the truth according to State President Veena Gupta is that many anganwadi centres received the supplementary ration supply after three months. She told SabrangIndia that the growing discontent among the people has begun ruining the relationship between anganwadi workers and society, as such incidents have increased across the state. “Anganwadi workers have to face the wrath of the local community due to lack of nutrition. The incidents of snatching by beneficiaries are becoming common due to low nutrition in many places in India,” said Gupta.

Under the ICDS scheme, beneficiaries, i.e., children in the age group of 0-6 years, pregnant women and lactating mothers receive a supplementary nutrition package as per Supreme Court orders. However, Gupta said that centres have not been receiving appropriate nutrition packages during the tenure of the Yogi Adityanath-led government. “We had to write to human rights authorities to finally avail half a kilogram of rice. Even that is very little,” she said.

Meanwhile, people are enraged that only 30 to 40 percent of the total beneficiaries receive nutrition supplies at the Anganwadi centres. As such, the union demanded that nutrition should be provided based on the number of beneficiaries.

Every district centre must also get a board to display the ration available for the determined number of beneficiaries on that day. Similarly, the government should issue a press release when it sends the ration to publicly announce how many beneficiaries will receive nutrition on that day.

Gupta said that conflicts will escalate if this is not done and the situation may go astray. For example, the angered people in Bulandhahr belonged to the Muslim community. Shortly afterwards, the incident was mistakenly dubbed as a Hindu-Muslim conflict. In reality parents were worried about feeding their children and other family dependents during an economic crisis arising from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Already, anganwadi workers, mid-day meal workers and ASHAs have reiterated time and again about insufficient help from the government in the form of honorariums, health-related gear and scheme-related ration. The union strongly condemned the attack on the anganwadi workers and urged employees to exercise restraint and beware of communal elements.

Related:

UP: No payment for MDM cooks on election duty?

UP: Anganwadi workers demand payment for election duties

All-India Anganwadi worker and helper strike on February 1

Midday Meal cooks struggling to put food on their own tables in UP

UP: Insufficient nutrition packages cause rift between anganwadis and community

Union of Anganwadi workers urges the state government to supply adequate nutrition and resolve the conflict

Rural health
Representation Image


Uttar Pradesh Anganwadi Employees Union demanded timely and appropriate delivery of supplementary nutrition to anganwadi centres as per Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) scheme. The demand was reiterated following a conflict between workers and the people of Bulandshahr on February 28, 2022.

On Monday, anganwadi workers protested outside the district administration’s office to demand an FIR and arrest of the people who attacked employees distributing food in Kucheja village. Villagers tried to snatch the meagre rations, enraged by the little supply available. They accused the workers of hoarding ration meant for beneficiaries.

But the truth according to State President Veena Gupta is that many anganwadi centres received the supplementary ration supply after three months. She told SabrangIndia that the growing discontent among the people has begun ruining the relationship between anganwadi workers and society, as such incidents have increased across the state. “Anganwadi workers have to face the wrath of the local community due to lack of nutrition. The incidents of snatching by beneficiaries are becoming common due to low nutrition in many places in India,” said Gupta.

Under the ICDS scheme, beneficiaries, i.e., children in the age group of 0-6 years, pregnant women and lactating mothers receive a supplementary nutrition package as per Supreme Court orders. However, Gupta said that centres have not been receiving appropriate nutrition packages during the tenure of the Yogi Adityanath-led government. “We had to write to human rights authorities to finally avail half a kilogram of rice. Even that is very little,” she said.

Meanwhile, people are enraged that only 30 to 40 percent of the total beneficiaries receive nutrition supplies at the Anganwadi centres. As such, the union demanded that nutrition should be provided based on the number of beneficiaries.

Every district centre must also get a board to display the ration available for the determined number of beneficiaries on that day. Similarly, the government should issue a press release when it sends the ration to publicly announce how many beneficiaries will receive nutrition on that day.

Gupta said that conflicts will escalate if this is not done and the situation may go astray. For example, the angered people in Bulandhahr belonged to the Muslim community. Shortly afterwards, the incident was mistakenly dubbed as a Hindu-Muslim conflict. In reality parents were worried about feeding their children and other family dependents during an economic crisis arising from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Already, anganwadi workers, mid-day meal workers and ASHAs have reiterated time and again about insufficient help from the government in the form of honorariums, health-related gear and scheme-related ration. The union strongly condemned the attack on the anganwadi workers and urged employees to exercise restraint and beware of communal elements.

Related:

UP: No payment for MDM cooks on election duty?

UP: Anganwadi workers demand payment for election duties

All-India Anganwadi worker and helper strike on February 1

Midday Meal cooks struggling to put food on their own tables in UP

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Thanjavur minor's suicide: Madras HC orders case transfer to CBI; rife with prejudices, hints at 'religious conversion' angle

The court while exercising its discretion in transferring the case, made several unwarranted comments about the case and the probability of forcible religious conversion in the case

01 Feb 2022

CBIImage: https://hwnews.in

The Madras High Court has directed transfer of investigation in the Thanjavur minor’s suicide case from the State police to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) while casting aspertion over the manner in which the police were proceeding. The court’s order came in response to a petition filed by the father of the deceased girl who stated that he had lost confidence in the state police’s investigation after the school was exonerated by the state’s Education Department of allegations of attempted forcible conversion and the Superintendent of Police (SP) ruled out angle of conversion in the initial phase of the investigation.

In a detailed order, the single bench of Justice GR Swaminathan looked at the facts and circumstances that led to the suicide and the developments thereafter and deemed that the investigation must be transferred to the CBI. However, while having reached this finding, the court made several observations that suggest the court’s alleged prejudice with respect to the religious conversion angle in the case.

The court has made some unwarranted and problematic observations in the order which reflect the court’s alleged prejudices, and even though the court has asked the CBI to not take the court’s observations into account, it has definitely steered public perception towards the case.

The court’s observations range from making comments about the name of the village being “Michealpatti” to make it seems that conversion angle is probable, to quoting from popular culture references to show how characters in movies defied attempts at religious conversion, to casting aspersions on the SP that she wanted to divert attention from the conversion angle in the case.

In this background it is pertinent to note that the case has caused a major political row with the involvement of a Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader who recorded the statement of the minor girl. On January 28, a petition was submitted to Thanjavur district collector by residents of Michaelpatti village stating that “unidentified persons are coming to their village and trying to create communal disharmony.” According to reports, the villagers told officials that they “are being asked to speak against the school where the class 12 student was studying.” They added that their own children have studied in the school and there is no question of forced conversions.

Background

The deceased was a Class 12 student of a school in Michealpatti and was living in the hostel. On January 9, she consumed pesticide and started vomiting and when was taken home, she had not informed anyone that she had consumed pesticide and she was given treatment for stomach pain. When she was taken to the hospital, the doctor found out the actual cause and informed the police station and then a trainee Senior Inspector recorded her statement and offences under sections 305 and 511 of IPC and Sections 75 and 82(1) of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act 2015 were registered. Her statement was also recorded by Judicial Magistrate No.I, Thanjavur. A few hours later, she passed away.  

On the next day, a video of the child alleging that the correspondent of the school spoke to her parents about conversion to Christianity was circulated in the social media. The petitioner, the father of the girl, also submitted a complaint by enclosing the said video to the Superintendent of Police, Thanjavur District. The SP then held a press conference stating that the preliminary investigation conducted by the police ruled out the conversion angle hence, the petitioner filed this petition under Section 482 of Cr.P.C. seeking transfer of investigation.

This court directed that the statements of the parents be recorded under section 164 of CrPC and after receiving the same in a sealed cover, the same was handed over to the IO. The original phone on which the video of the deceased girl was recorded was directed to be handed over to the IO.

On January 28, the petitioner submitted before the court that he had completely lost faith in the State Police since a high ranking Minister had given a public interview absolving the school authorities of the charge of conversion as also, the Education Department had conducted a departmental enquiry and gave clean chit to the school administration. This plea was opposed by the state police stating that the investigation was proceeding on the right lines.

The petitioner also alleged that the girl’s dying declaration was leaked by the police to the media to build a counter narrative, since she had not mentioned about conversion therein.

Submissions of the Police

The Additional Public Prosecutor submitted on behalf of the police that instead of handing over the video of the girl to the police, an edited version was circulated, thus generating controversy. It was also submitted that the petitioner, allegedly under the influence of certain communal organisations, did not cooperate for inquest and postmortem. Since certain communal organisations had taken over the stage, the District Superintendent of Police thought it fit to hold a press conference to dispel the misgivings. The Prosecutor just stated that all directions of the court were duly followed and all investigation was going as per procedure.

The court observed that the prosecutor faulted the conduct of the petitioner and Mr. Muthuvel who had recorded the video for not cooperating with the investigation. The court held that it would be unfair to prejudge the issue.

About the facts and circumstances of the case, the court noted that the petitioner and a few communal organisations have made an allegation that the school management attempted to convert the child to Christianity and since the move was rebuffed, the child was harassed by the hostel warden in a variety of ways as a result of which the child took the extreme step. The court also noted that the classmates who were examined stated that there was no pressure or even suggestion to them to convert to Christianity and the local residents concurred with the same. The classmates stated that the girl was staying in the hostel to escape the tortures of her step mother and had even refused to go home in holidays.

Intervention by School

The School also intervened and submitted that the child was being mistreated by her step mother and that the child helpline had received complaints and the officials had also conducted enquiry in this regard. The counsel for the school submitted that the domestic situation of the child must have been so depressing that she was pushed to committing suicide. He further submitted that the so-called dying declaration was engineered by the stepmother to implicate Sister Saghayamary who was not only taking care of the child but was also paying her school and hostel fees. Further, Muthuvel who had recorded the video is a hate monger who has cases against him for spreading communal trouble.

The court noted that in the police statement as well as in the statement before the judicial magistrate, the child had directly and in unambiguous terms accused that the hostel warden had burdened her by assigning her nonacademic chores and, unable to bear the same, she consumed the pesticide. Which is why the warden was arrested.

The court commented on the comments of the SP in the press conferences and said,

“The Superintendent of Police probably forgot the virtues of silence. To a question from a news reporter, she asserted that in the preliminary enquiry, the conversion angle was not made out. Such a statement was unwarranted because by then the private video was already in circulation and the parents of the child have given a complaint alleging that there was an attempt to convert the child to Christianity. By stating that the conversion angle stood ruled out, the Superintendent of Police had brushed aside the petitioner's complaint made in writing and backed by the video of the child. Therefore, the petitioner was justified in entertaining an impression that if the investigation continued by the District Police, it will be biased.”

Problematic references in the order

Steering away from the facts and points of law in the case, where the court was only required to decide whether the petition made a case for transfer of investigation from the State police to CBI, the court made a few references in the order which were not only unwarranted but gave the impression that the court had taken into account one side of the submissions and made up its mind.

The court quoted from the Bible as follows:

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”

“Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.”

The court then went on to quote from a movie “Serious Men” where the Principal of the school urges a parent to accept Christianity in order to get the school’s scholarship. Then the court also made a reference to a Tamil movie “Kalyana Agathigal” where a Hindu girl is asked to convert to Christianity if she wishes to marry her Christian lover.

The Court even questioned these references made by it, “One may wonder if in a judgment of a constitutional court, there should be references to popular culture. I will not stop with a rhetorical - Why Not?” The court also stated that art reflects life.

On points of law

The court then cited the Supreme Court’s judgement in Rev. Stainislaus V. State of Madhya Pradesh and Ors. (1977) 1 SCC 677 whereby the court held that the expression “propagate” used in Article 25(1) would not encompass the right to convert and there is no fundamental right to convert another person to one's own religion.

“If one reads the views expressed by some of the Christian members of the Constituent Assembly, one would note that some of them had even batted for the right to convert even minor children,” this court pointed out.

Reference to the village name

The court seemed to have drawn aspersions to the name of the village as well and made an observation that “Michealpatti could not have been the original name”! The court even went out on a limb to reach a conjecture that “there is nothing inherently improbable in the allegation that there was an attempt at conversion.” The court tried to save this comment by saying, “It could be true or false.” The court further said, “The matter called for investigation and not outright rejection. But the District Superintendent instead directing the jurisdictional police to conduct investigation chose to proclaim that the preliminary investigation has ruled out the conversion angle…Instead of ordering the investigation officer to take the additional materials to account, the S.P directed the local police to register an FIR against the person who had taken the video.”

The court noted that while the invoking of section 74 of Juvenile Justice Act was warranted, the other offences under sections 153, 504, 505(1)(b) and 505(2) of IPC was indicative that the SP “wanted to silence any discussion regarding the conversion angle.” It further said, “With her experience, the SP obviously knew that the video was authentic. The video footage circulated in the social media was truncated. The earlier and the later portions had been omitted. But that will not make the video any less authentic. The S.P virtually threatened the person who shot the video. Instead, she should have goaded the investigation to take the religious angle into account.”

Doubting credibility of the State Police

The court noted that the I.T wing of the ruling party released portions of the private video that appear to exonerate the school authorities thus casting doubts on the credibility and impartiality of the investigation made by the state police. Whether there is truth in the allegation is a matter for investigation and eventually for the Court to decide. But a counter narrative is being built as if the father and the step mother of the child are responsible for the suicide. In the social media, an allegation has been made that the CHILDLINE received complaints some two years ago that the child in question was being cruelly treated by the step mother. Such deliberate leaks dent the credibility of the investigation.

The court noted that the girl in her video statement as well as in her dying declaration made no mention of any harassment by her step mother. “The attempt of the police appears to be to derail the investigation…. It is too early in the day for the police or the politicians to jump to conclusions. But they have done so. That is why, the petitioner is apprehensive that if the investigation continues to remain in the hands of the State police, he will not get justice. His apprehension is justified,” the court observed.

The court agreed with the petitioner’s contention that the police sent summons to the girl’s maternal grandparents and instead of finding out the truth of the allegations made by the deceased victim, have been trying to bolster the counter narrative.

Order of transfer of investigation

The court said thus,

“This Court has a duty to render posthumous justice to the child. The foregoing circumstances cumulatively taken will definitely create an impression that the investigation is not proceeding on the right lines. Since a high ranking Hon'ble Minister himself has taken a stand, investigation cannot continue with the State Police.”

The court ordered thus,

“I therefore direct the Director, Central Bureau of Investigation, New Delhi to assign an officer to take over investigation from the State Police. The criminal original petition is allowed on these terms… CBI will undertake an independent investigation and shall not take into account any of the observations made in this order. Since contentions were advanced on either side, this Court had to deal with them. Nothing set out in this order shall be construed as opinion on the merits of the matter. They have been made only for the purpose of disposing of this transfer petition.”

 

The complete order may be read here:

 

Related:

Thanjavur: Villagers submit petition to DC about elements trying to create communal disharmony

MP High Court warns state against “moral policing” in interfaith marriage where wife converted willingly

Law should be made against religious conversions: Kejriwal in Punjab

Thanjavur minor's suicide: Madras HC orders case transfer to CBI; rife with prejudices, hints at 'religious conversion' angle

The court while exercising its discretion in transferring the case, made several unwarranted comments about the case and the probability of forcible religious conversion in the case

CBIImage: https://hwnews.in

The Madras High Court has directed transfer of investigation in the Thanjavur minor’s suicide case from the State police to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) while casting aspertion over the manner in which the police were proceeding. The court’s order came in response to a petition filed by the father of the deceased girl who stated that he had lost confidence in the state police’s investigation after the school was exonerated by the state’s Education Department of allegations of attempted forcible conversion and the Superintendent of Police (SP) ruled out angle of conversion in the initial phase of the investigation.

In a detailed order, the single bench of Justice GR Swaminathan looked at the facts and circumstances that led to the suicide and the developments thereafter and deemed that the investigation must be transferred to the CBI. However, while having reached this finding, the court made several observations that suggest the court’s alleged prejudice with respect to the religious conversion angle in the case.

The court has made some unwarranted and problematic observations in the order which reflect the court’s alleged prejudices, and even though the court has asked the CBI to not take the court’s observations into account, it has definitely steered public perception towards the case.

The court’s observations range from making comments about the name of the village being “Michealpatti” to make it seems that conversion angle is probable, to quoting from popular culture references to show how characters in movies defied attempts at religious conversion, to casting aspersions on the SP that she wanted to divert attention from the conversion angle in the case.

In this background it is pertinent to note that the case has caused a major political row with the involvement of a Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader who recorded the statement of the minor girl. On January 28, a petition was submitted to Thanjavur district collector by residents of Michaelpatti village stating that “unidentified persons are coming to their village and trying to create communal disharmony.” According to reports, the villagers told officials that they “are being asked to speak against the school where the class 12 student was studying.” They added that their own children have studied in the school and there is no question of forced conversions.

Background

The deceased was a Class 12 student of a school in Michealpatti and was living in the hostel. On January 9, she consumed pesticide and started vomiting and when was taken home, she had not informed anyone that she had consumed pesticide and she was given treatment for stomach pain. When she was taken to the hospital, the doctor found out the actual cause and informed the police station and then a trainee Senior Inspector recorded her statement and offences under sections 305 and 511 of IPC and Sections 75 and 82(1) of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act 2015 were registered. Her statement was also recorded by Judicial Magistrate No.I, Thanjavur. A few hours later, she passed away.  

On the next day, a video of the child alleging that the correspondent of the school spoke to her parents about conversion to Christianity was circulated in the social media. The petitioner, the father of the girl, also submitted a complaint by enclosing the said video to the Superintendent of Police, Thanjavur District. The SP then held a press conference stating that the preliminary investigation conducted by the police ruled out the conversion angle hence, the petitioner filed this petition under Section 482 of Cr.P.C. seeking transfer of investigation.

This court directed that the statements of the parents be recorded under section 164 of CrPC and after receiving the same in a sealed cover, the same was handed over to the IO. The original phone on which the video of the deceased girl was recorded was directed to be handed over to the IO.

On January 28, the petitioner submitted before the court that he had completely lost faith in the State Police since a high ranking Minister had given a public interview absolving the school authorities of the charge of conversion as also, the Education Department had conducted a departmental enquiry and gave clean chit to the school administration. This plea was opposed by the state police stating that the investigation was proceeding on the right lines.

The petitioner also alleged that the girl’s dying declaration was leaked by the police to the media to build a counter narrative, since she had not mentioned about conversion therein.

Submissions of the Police

The Additional Public Prosecutor submitted on behalf of the police that instead of handing over the video of the girl to the police, an edited version was circulated, thus generating controversy. It was also submitted that the petitioner, allegedly under the influence of certain communal organisations, did not cooperate for inquest and postmortem. Since certain communal organisations had taken over the stage, the District Superintendent of Police thought it fit to hold a press conference to dispel the misgivings. The Prosecutor just stated that all directions of the court were duly followed and all investigation was going as per procedure.

The court observed that the prosecutor faulted the conduct of the petitioner and Mr. Muthuvel who had recorded the video for not cooperating with the investigation. The court held that it would be unfair to prejudge the issue.

About the facts and circumstances of the case, the court noted that the petitioner and a few communal organisations have made an allegation that the school management attempted to convert the child to Christianity and since the move was rebuffed, the child was harassed by the hostel warden in a variety of ways as a result of which the child took the extreme step. The court also noted that the classmates who were examined stated that there was no pressure or even suggestion to them to convert to Christianity and the local residents concurred with the same. The classmates stated that the girl was staying in the hostel to escape the tortures of her step mother and had even refused to go home in holidays.

Intervention by School

The School also intervened and submitted that the child was being mistreated by her step mother and that the child helpline had received complaints and the officials had also conducted enquiry in this regard. The counsel for the school submitted that the domestic situation of the child must have been so depressing that she was pushed to committing suicide. He further submitted that the so-called dying declaration was engineered by the stepmother to implicate Sister Saghayamary who was not only taking care of the child but was also paying her school and hostel fees. Further, Muthuvel who had recorded the video is a hate monger who has cases against him for spreading communal trouble.

The court noted that in the police statement as well as in the statement before the judicial magistrate, the child had directly and in unambiguous terms accused that the hostel warden had burdened her by assigning her nonacademic chores and, unable to bear the same, she consumed the pesticide. Which is why the warden was arrested.

The court commented on the comments of the SP in the press conferences and said,

“The Superintendent of Police probably forgot the virtues of silence. To a question from a news reporter, she asserted that in the preliminary enquiry, the conversion angle was not made out. Such a statement was unwarranted because by then the private video was already in circulation and the parents of the child have given a complaint alleging that there was an attempt to convert the child to Christianity. By stating that the conversion angle stood ruled out, the Superintendent of Police had brushed aside the petitioner's complaint made in writing and backed by the video of the child. Therefore, the petitioner was justified in entertaining an impression that if the investigation continued by the District Police, it will be biased.”

Problematic references in the order

Steering away from the facts and points of law in the case, where the court was only required to decide whether the petition made a case for transfer of investigation from the State police to CBI, the court made a few references in the order which were not only unwarranted but gave the impression that the court had taken into account one side of the submissions and made up its mind.

The court quoted from the Bible as follows:

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”

“Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.”

The court then went on to quote from a movie “Serious Men” where the Principal of the school urges a parent to accept Christianity in order to get the school’s scholarship. Then the court also made a reference to a Tamil movie “Kalyana Agathigal” where a Hindu girl is asked to convert to Christianity if she wishes to marry her Christian lover.

The Court even questioned these references made by it, “One may wonder if in a judgment of a constitutional court, there should be references to popular culture. I will not stop with a rhetorical - Why Not?” The court also stated that art reflects life.

On points of law

The court then cited the Supreme Court’s judgement in Rev. Stainislaus V. State of Madhya Pradesh and Ors. (1977) 1 SCC 677 whereby the court held that the expression “propagate” used in Article 25(1) would not encompass the right to convert and there is no fundamental right to convert another person to one's own religion.

“If one reads the views expressed by some of the Christian members of the Constituent Assembly, one would note that some of them had even batted for the right to convert even minor children,” this court pointed out.

Reference to the village name

The court seemed to have drawn aspersions to the name of the village as well and made an observation that “Michealpatti could not have been the original name”! The court even went out on a limb to reach a conjecture that “there is nothing inherently improbable in the allegation that there was an attempt at conversion.” The court tried to save this comment by saying, “It could be true or false.” The court further said, “The matter called for investigation and not outright rejection. But the District Superintendent instead directing the jurisdictional police to conduct investigation chose to proclaim that the preliminary investigation has ruled out the conversion angle…Instead of ordering the investigation officer to take the additional materials to account, the S.P directed the local police to register an FIR against the person who had taken the video.”

The court noted that while the invoking of section 74 of Juvenile Justice Act was warranted, the other offences under sections 153, 504, 505(1)(b) and 505(2) of IPC was indicative that the SP “wanted to silence any discussion regarding the conversion angle.” It further said, “With her experience, the SP obviously knew that the video was authentic. The video footage circulated in the social media was truncated. The earlier and the later portions had been omitted. But that will not make the video any less authentic. The S.P virtually threatened the person who shot the video. Instead, she should have goaded the investigation to take the religious angle into account.”

Doubting credibility of the State Police

The court noted that the I.T wing of the ruling party released portions of the private video that appear to exonerate the school authorities thus casting doubts on the credibility and impartiality of the investigation made by the state police. Whether there is truth in the allegation is a matter for investigation and eventually for the Court to decide. But a counter narrative is being built as if the father and the step mother of the child are responsible for the suicide. In the social media, an allegation has been made that the CHILDLINE received complaints some two years ago that the child in question was being cruelly treated by the step mother. Such deliberate leaks dent the credibility of the investigation.

The court noted that the girl in her video statement as well as in her dying declaration made no mention of any harassment by her step mother. “The attempt of the police appears to be to derail the investigation…. It is too early in the day for the police or the politicians to jump to conclusions. But they have done so. That is why, the petitioner is apprehensive that if the investigation continues to remain in the hands of the State police, he will not get justice. His apprehension is justified,” the court observed.

The court agreed with the petitioner’s contention that the police sent summons to the girl’s maternal grandparents and instead of finding out the truth of the allegations made by the deceased victim, have been trying to bolster the counter narrative.

Order of transfer of investigation

The court said thus,

“This Court has a duty to render posthumous justice to the child. The foregoing circumstances cumulatively taken will definitely create an impression that the investigation is not proceeding on the right lines. Since a high ranking Hon'ble Minister himself has taken a stand, investigation cannot continue with the State Police.”

The court ordered thus,

“I therefore direct the Director, Central Bureau of Investigation, New Delhi to assign an officer to take over investigation from the State Police. The criminal original petition is allowed on these terms… CBI will undertake an independent investigation and shall not take into account any of the observations made in this order. Since contentions were advanced on either side, this Court had to deal with them. Nothing set out in this order shall be construed as opinion on the merits of the matter. They have been made only for the purpose of disposing of this transfer petition.”

 

The complete order may be read here:

 

Related:

Thanjavur: Villagers submit petition to DC about elements trying to create communal disharmony

MP High Court warns state against “moral policing” in interfaith marriage where wife converted willingly

Law should be made against religious conversions: Kejriwal in Punjab

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Why does the Karnataka government not want children to eat eggs at mid day meals?

The powerful Lingayat community leaders of Karnataka want the state government to serve a “pure vegetarian” school meal

16 Dec 2021

karnataka

The powerful religious leaders of the influential Lingayat community of Karnataka want the state government to serve a “pure vegetarian” school meal, for children in government schools. Most of the children however, say they want the boiled eggs they now get three times a week in seven districts of the state. These kids are the ‘lucky ones’ to even get that bit of ‘extra’ nutrition. However the egg on offer to poor under-nutritioned kids, seems to have offended religious leaders of various Hindu sects in the state. So much so that, the Karnataka government has reportedly begun to “explore” alternatives to boiled eggs in the school mid-day meal. The Karnataka government has on its hand the challenge to fix malnourishment among school children in the state.

Primary and Secondary Education Minister B C Nagesh told the media that the decision to include boiled eggs in the mid-day meal scheme was based on “surveys and reports from the Centre that indicated malnourishment persisting among children. We also had inputs from experts that egg was the best-known single source of protein. This led to its inclusion in the mid-day meal scheme to help children combat malnutrition.” However, according to a report in The Indian Express the minister has added that the government is “exploring other options to provide protein-rich food to children as an alternative to egg.” He added that eggs “were not being forced”. Children who did not want eggs “were provided boiled bananas as a substitute.”

Anjali, a 14-year-old Karnataka schoolgirl challenges ‘upper caste’ leaders

However, the choice it seems is not always with the children, as some Hindu leaders are reportedly asking the government to stop egg as an item offered in the meals altogether. It has taken a 14-year-old Karnataka schoolgirl’s speech directed at the powerful Hindu leaders opposing boiled eggs in midday meals to refuel the conversation. The video clip of Anjali, a Class VIII student of MNM Government Girls School at Gangavati in Koppal district, has now gone viral. She questions the seers on why they want to deprive poor children of the only access they have to eggs, “Don’t we pay obeisance to you after eating eggs and taking a bath? Don't we offer cash to your maths? Why are you eating with our money? You throw away that money, or give it back to us. We will eat (food).”

 

 

She says the leaders do not understand the conditions of the poor, “We go to government schools because our families are poor. We need eggs and bananas. If not, we will come to your maths and eat eggs. We will all come… Do you want that? You don’t, right?… Who are you to tell us (what to eat)? We will come and sit at your maths. We are not scared. I am not alone. Your maths won’t survive if we bring all the girls from Gangavati taluk. You won’t even have space to sit, we are so many children. What do you think of yourselves? We are not what we appear to be,” Anjali does not sugar-coat her words. She, according to news reports, is the daughter of a labourer, and school unit member of the CPM-affiliated SFI.

The Karnataka primary and secondary education department have only recently decided to introduce eggs for around 14.44 lakh students in government and government-aided schools in Bidar, Raichur, Gulbarga, Yadgir, Koppal, Bellary and Bijapur districts to tackle malnutrition. It is for students from Classes I to VIII, they will get 12 eggs, or bananas for vegetarians, every month, till the end of school year on March 30, 2022. The allowance of only 12 eggs in a month per child seems to have exposed the caste divide in the state too.  

According to news reports these districts have reported a high rate of anaemia and malnutrition. After the eggs were put in the menu, over 80 per cent of the students’ parents gave consent for it. The Telegraph reported that Anjali said if the government stopped eggs the students would stage protests “since it is our right to eat what we want,” she said. 

Those opposing eggs reportedly include Hindu religious leaders such as Sri Vishwaprasanna Theertha Swami of the Pejavar Mutt in Udupi, Channabasavananda Swami of the Lingayat Dharma Mahasabha and Sadhguru Mate Satyadevi stated the news report. They have demanded the immediate withdrawal of eggs from the midday menu.” Theertha Swami of Pejavar Mutt has reportedly claimed that the inclusion of eggs would “force-change eating habits of vegetarians” adding “the government should not include eggs as there will be kids from other communities. Schools are not places to change the lifestyle and customs of children.” Lingayat leader Channabasavananda Swami told the media there will be protests if eggs were not pulled out of the menu. “Schools will turn into military hotels [which are eateries that serve non vegetarian food] when eggs are served. There will be strong protests if this is not withdrawn immediately,” he told reporters.

Protests had scrambled the egg-in-mid-day-meals’ plan in 2015

It is not for the first time that religious groups have objected to eggs in the mid-day meals. In 2015, they had actually brought similar plans to a halt, Dr. Sylvia Karpagam, a public health doctor and researcher involved in Right to Food and Right to health campaigns in Karnataka, told SabrangIndia. Such bans/objections she says are reflective of caste based discrimination. “They started distributing eggs on December 1, apparently the attendance went up [in schools] and now that the resistance has started, there are rumours that they [government] may stop it. They have said if bananas [instead of eggs] are not adequate they can also give chikkis [peanut brittle] for children who don't eat eggs.”

Dr. Karpagam added that the ‘fear’ among the religious leaders is perhaps that the vegetarian children may be “tempted” to eat eggs if they see other children doing the same. However she says compared to 2015 [when the controversy last rose], now the demand for eggs by children is “much stronger”, as well as a lot of doctors, activists, Dalit leaders have come forward to say we want eggs. From Ahhara Namma Hakku (food is our right) a group of activists and nutrition expert, had even written an open letter to Education Minister, Government of Karnataka, asking that the state government to provide eggs for children who want to eat them, in all districts of Karnataka, as part of Mid Day Meals and not just seven, to uphold the Right to Food of every child as enshrined in the National Food Security Act 2013.

“According to the National Family Health Survey (NFHS) 5th round (2019), most children in Karnataka do not reach their ideal height and weight. Stunting (less height for age) of 35.4% and being underweight (less weight for age) of 32.9% are common in children even before they start their school life, and this is much more so in children from vulnerable communities,” stated the letter. It further said, “The aim of the Akshara Dasoha (mid-day meal scheme, MDM) in Karnataka was both educational and nutritional – to increase school enrolment and attendance, decrease dropout rates, promote good health through nutritional foods and increasing learning ability of children.” It added, “Karnataka has been the ONLY South Indian state that has not provided eggs as part of MDM, in spite of the fact that 94% students in the government and aided schools belong to communities that eat eggs.” It cited the National Family Health Survey-4 (2015-16) which concluded that at least 83% of the state’s population does not have any cultural or religious objections to consuming eggs. Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh provide eggs five times a week.

Boiled egg is a low-cost, easy to cook, culturally acceptable

The civil society groups have demanded that the government urgently take measures such as, eggs being mandatorily provided daily to the children in all the 31 districts of Karnataka. Milk or milk powder must be provided to the school-children under the Ksheera Bhagya scheme daily. “Milk should be reconstituted at the school and provided fresh to the children,” alerted the experts. They ask that “extra effort has to go to ensure that children in tribal belts, dalit children, children from OBC communities are not left out” and want school-based kitchens not centralized contracts.

Boiled egg is a low-cost, easy to cook, culturally acceptable and locally available alternative with high Protein component with biological value of 100 as compared to 60-70 for pulses (daal) and a good source of all vitamins except C, stated the experts. Crucially it is safe from adulteration. 

“The religious groups that don’t eat eggs don't send children to study in government schools,” said Dr Karpagam adding that “those vegetarians who have money also have access to “animal sourced food” such as milk and milk products, which the poor children who study in these government schools do not. The three eggs they get in school each week is the highest protein rich food they have a chance to consume. 

 

Related:

Targeting Christian community not a new phenomenon in Karnataka: PUCL report  

Carry swords to protect cows: Sadhvi Saraswati 

UP: Mid-day meal cooks not paid wages for eight months of wages

Uttar Pradesh: Dalit school children thrashed, made to sit separately in Amethi

Karnataka’s Right-Wing groups most active against Christians ahead of State Assembly meet 

Communal hate crimes are acts of violence against society at large: Karnataka report

Why does the Karnataka government not want children to eat eggs at mid day meals?

The powerful Lingayat community leaders of Karnataka want the state government to serve a “pure vegetarian” school meal

karnataka

The powerful religious leaders of the influential Lingayat community of Karnataka want the state government to serve a “pure vegetarian” school meal, for children in government schools. Most of the children however, say they want the boiled eggs they now get three times a week in seven districts of the state. These kids are the ‘lucky ones’ to even get that bit of ‘extra’ nutrition. However the egg on offer to poor under-nutritioned kids, seems to have offended religious leaders of various Hindu sects in the state. So much so that, the Karnataka government has reportedly begun to “explore” alternatives to boiled eggs in the school mid-day meal. The Karnataka government has on its hand the challenge to fix malnourishment among school children in the state.

Primary and Secondary Education Minister B C Nagesh told the media that the decision to include boiled eggs in the mid-day meal scheme was based on “surveys and reports from the Centre that indicated malnourishment persisting among children. We also had inputs from experts that egg was the best-known single source of protein. This led to its inclusion in the mid-day meal scheme to help children combat malnutrition.” However, according to a report in The Indian Express the minister has added that the government is “exploring other options to provide protein-rich food to children as an alternative to egg.” He added that eggs “were not being forced”. Children who did not want eggs “were provided boiled bananas as a substitute.”

Anjali, a 14-year-old Karnataka schoolgirl challenges ‘upper caste’ leaders

However, the choice it seems is not always with the children, as some Hindu leaders are reportedly asking the government to stop egg as an item offered in the meals altogether. It has taken a 14-year-old Karnataka schoolgirl’s speech directed at the powerful Hindu leaders opposing boiled eggs in midday meals to refuel the conversation. The video clip of Anjali, a Class VIII student of MNM Government Girls School at Gangavati in Koppal district, has now gone viral. She questions the seers on why they want to deprive poor children of the only access they have to eggs, “Don’t we pay obeisance to you after eating eggs and taking a bath? Don't we offer cash to your maths? Why are you eating with our money? You throw away that money, or give it back to us. We will eat (food).”

 

 

She says the leaders do not understand the conditions of the poor, “We go to government schools because our families are poor. We need eggs and bananas. If not, we will come to your maths and eat eggs. We will all come… Do you want that? You don’t, right?… Who are you to tell us (what to eat)? We will come and sit at your maths. We are not scared. I am not alone. Your maths won’t survive if we bring all the girls from Gangavati taluk. You won’t even have space to sit, we are so many children. What do you think of yourselves? We are not what we appear to be,” Anjali does not sugar-coat her words. She, according to news reports, is the daughter of a labourer, and school unit member of the CPM-affiliated SFI.

The Karnataka primary and secondary education department have only recently decided to introduce eggs for around 14.44 lakh students in government and government-aided schools in Bidar, Raichur, Gulbarga, Yadgir, Koppal, Bellary and Bijapur districts to tackle malnutrition. It is for students from Classes I to VIII, they will get 12 eggs, or bananas for vegetarians, every month, till the end of school year on March 30, 2022. The allowance of only 12 eggs in a month per child seems to have exposed the caste divide in the state too.  

According to news reports these districts have reported a high rate of anaemia and malnutrition. After the eggs were put in the menu, over 80 per cent of the students’ parents gave consent for it. The Telegraph reported that Anjali said if the government stopped eggs the students would stage protests “since it is our right to eat what we want,” she said. 

Those opposing eggs reportedly include Hindu religious leaders such as Sri Vishwaprasanna Theertha Swami of the Pejavar Mutt in Udupi, Channabasavananda Swami of the Lingayat Dharma Mahasabha and Sadhguru Mate Satyadevi stated the news report. They have demanded the immediate withdrawal of eggs from the midday menu.” Theertha Swami of Pejavar Mutt has reportedly claimed that the inclusion of eggs would “force-change eating habits of vegetarians” adding “the government should not include eggs as there will be kids from other communities. Schools are not places to change the lifestyle and customs of children.” Lingayat leader Channabasavananda Swami told the media there will be protests if eggs were not pulled out of the menu. “Schools will turn into military hotels [which are eateries that serve non vegetarian food] when eggs are served. There will be strong protests if this is not withdrawn immediately,” he told reporters.

Protests had scrambled the egg-in-mid-day-meals’ plan in 2015

It is not for the first time that religious groups have objected to eggs in the mid-day meals. In 2015, they had actually brought similar plans to a halt, Dr. Sylvia Karpagam, a public health doctor and researcher involved in Right to Food and Right to health campaigns in Karnataka, told SabrangIndia. Such bans/objections she says are reflective of caste based discrimination. “They started distributing eggs on December 1, apparently the attendance went up [in schools] and now that the resistance has started, there are rumours that they [government] may stop it. They have said if bananas [instead of eggs] are not adequate they can also give chikkis [peanut brittle] for children who don't eat eggs.”

Dr. Karpagam added that the ‘fear’ among the religious leaders is perhaps that the vegetarian children may be “tempted” to eat eggs if they see other children doing the same. However she says compared to 2015 [when the controversy last rose], now the demand for eggs by children is “much stronger”, as well as a lot of doctors, activists, Dalit leaders have come forward to say we want eggs. From Ahhara Namma Hakku (food is our right) a group of activists and nutrition expert, had even written an open letter to Education Minister, Government of Karnataka, asking that the state government to provide eggs for children who want to eat them, in all districts of Karnataka, as part of Mid Day Meals and not just seven, to uphold the Right to Food of every child as enshrined in the National Food Security Act 2013.

“According to the National Family Health Survey (NFHS) 5th round (2019), most children in Karnataka do not reach their ideal height and weight. Stunting (less height for age) of 35.4% and being underweight (less weight for age) of 32.9% are common in children even before they start their school life, and this is much more so in children from vulnerable communities,” stated the letter. It further said, “The aim of the Akshara Dasoha (mid-day meal scheme, MDM) in Karnataka was both educational and nutritional – to increase school enrolment and attendance, decrease dropout rates, promote good health through nutritional foods and increasing learning ability of children.” It added, “Karnataka has been the ONLY South Indian state that has not provided eggs as part of MDM, in spite of the fact that 94% students in the government and aided schools belong to communities that eat eggs.” It cited the National Family Health Survey-4 (2015-16) which concluded that at least 83% of the state’s population does not have any cultural or religious objections to consuming eggs. Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh provide eggs five times a week.

Boiled egg is a low-cost, easy to cook, culturally acceptable

The civil society groups have demanded that the government urgently take measures such as, eggs being mandatorily provided daily to the children in all the 31 districts of Karnataka. Milk or milk powder must be provided to the school-children under the Ksheera Bhagya scheme daily. “Milk should be reconstituted at the school and provided fresh to the children,” alerted the experts. They ask that “extra effort has to go to ensure that children in tribal belts, dalit children, children from OBC communities are not left out” and want school-based kitchens not centralized contracts.

Boiled egg is a low-cost, easy to cook, culturally acceptable and locally available alternative with high Protein component with biological value of 100 as compared to 60-70 for pulses (daal) and a good source of all vitamins except C, stated the experts. Crucially it is safe from adulteration. 

“The religious groups that don’t eat eggs don't send children to study in government schools,” said Dr Karpagam adding that “those vegetarians who have money also have access to “animal sourced food” such as milk and milk products, which the poor children who study in these government schools do not. The three eggs they get in school each week is the highest protein rich food they have a chance to consume. 

 

Related:

Targeting Christian community not a new phenomenon in Karnataka: PUCL report  

Carry swords to protect cows: Sadhvi Saraswati 

UP: Mid-day meal cooks not paid wages for eight months of wages

Uttar Pradesh: Dalit school children thrashed, made to sit separately in Amethi

Karnataka’s Right-Wing groups most active against Christians ahead of State Assembly meet 

Communal hate crimes are acts of violence against society at large: Karnataka report

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MP: Four babies killed in fire at government run hospital 

According to reports, the Kamla Nehru hospital in Bhopal lacked the necessary fire safety precautions despite repeated notices

10 Nov 2021

MP: Four babies killed in fire at government run hospital Image: PTI
 

Four infants were reported killed on November 8, 2021 when a fire broke out in the children’s ward of Kamla Nehru hospital, located within Bhopal’s state-run Hamidia hospital premises in Madhya Pradesh. According to reports, the fire broke out in the general and NICU wards. 

Medical Health Education Minister Vishwas Sarang told mediapersons that the incident may have started due to a short-circuit. Officials said 13 fire tenders were rushed to the hospital.

As many as 36 out of 40 babies in the ward were rescued and rushed to adjoining wards. But the four babies, who were in critical condition, breathed their last. Horrified netizens posted their rage on social media while parents mourned the passing of their children.

 

 

Among the deceased was eight-days-old Rahil whose uncle was assisting the rescue of eight other infants and a day-old baby girl whose parents had not gotten a chance to name her still.

 

 

Shortly after the incident, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan tweeted about the “unbearable pain” of Monday night and called for a high-level inquiry to look into what went wrong. He also announced Rs. 4 lakh each as compensation for family members of the victims. The Hindu reported that Chouhan ordered fire safety audits of all government and private hospitals in Madhya Pradesh the following day. Referring to the Kamla Nehru fire as “criminal negligence,” the Chief Minister said during a Cabinet meeting that it was the government’s responsibility to ensure the safety of these children. He further assured that the “guilty will not be spared.”

However, Congress MLA Arif Masood, who was present at the time of the accident said the Monday fire, claimed that this was the second incident reported in the same building. In fact, an NDTV report said that the hospital did not have the mandatory fire safety clearance despite receiving four to five notices for NOC in the last six months. Bhopal Municipal Corporation Fire Services Chief K. S. Parihar told the channel that around 500 similar medical facilities were served notices for fire safety NOC in the past six months. Parihar further said that although firefighters reached the hospital within 15 minutes of intimation, the fire safety equipment installed at the hospital was outdated and not working. This claim was supported by attendants at the paediatric intensive care unit, who tried to douse the fire. Attendant Mohit Yadav reportedly said the fire extinguishers were not working.

On November 9, the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) wrote to Chief Secretaries of all states and union territories requesting fire safety audits of all medical facilities for children. Chairperson Priyank Kanoongo asked all governments to submit a district-wise compliance report within 30 days.

Far from an overreaction, the call for such fire safety audits is long overdue for many states. Particularly in Gujarat, at least 163 hospitals do not have a valid fire NOC. On October 27, the state government filed an affidavit before the Gujarat High Court claiming “genuine difficulties” in the delays and challenges in implementing fire safety norms. The topic has become of considerable importance after the Shrey Hospital fire on August 6, 2020 that killed eight people recovering from Covid-19 in the ICU. Later in November 2020, another give Covid-19 patient died due to a hospital fire in Rajkot. In May 2021, another fire broke out in the ICU of the Bharuch Welfare Hospital killing 18 people.

Similarly, in Maharashtra, 10 people died in Ahmednagar’s district hospital fire on November 6, 2021. Before that, at least 13 Covid-19 patients died during a fire in Virar hospital’s ICU unit on April 23, 2021, and 10 people died after a fire broke out in Bhandup’s Sunrise Hospital, Dream Mall on March 26, 2021.

Then specifically addressing the Kamla Nehru tragedy in a separate letter to State Chief Secretary Iqbal Singh Bains, Kanoongo demanded details of the last fire safety audit report of the building and information about the new hospitals where children have been shifted. He further requested an inquiry team composed of a senior administrative officer not from the Health or Medical Health department, Director General of Fire Services, Civil Defence and Home Guard department, senior officials from Public Works department and a senior police officer not below the rank of Inspector General.

Related:

10 dead in a fire at Ahmednagar hospital

Fire safety PIL: Guj admin blames staff shortages, logistical issues for lacunae

13 killed in private Covid hospital fire at Virar, Mumbai

Shrey Hospital Fire: Victims’ families move court demanding CBI inquiry

MP: Four babies killed in fire at government run hospital 

According to reports, the Kamla Nehru hospital in Bhopal lacked the necessary fire safety precautions despite repeated notices

MP: Four babies killed in fire at government run hospital Image: PTI
 

Four infants were reported killed on November 8, 2021 when a fire broke out in the children’s ward of Kamla Nehru hospital, located within Bhopal’s state-run Hamidia hospital premises in Madhya Pradesh. According to reports, the fire broke out in the general and NICU wards. 

Medical Health Education Minister Vishwas Sarang told mediapersons that the incident may have started due to a short-circuit. Officials said 13 fire tenders were rushed to the hospital.

As many as 36 out of 40 babies in the ward were rescued and rushed to adjoining wards. But the four babies, who were in critical condition, breathed their last. Horrified netizens posted their rage on social media while parents mourned the passing of their children.

 

 

Among the deceased was eight-days-old Rahil whose uncle was assisting the rescue of eight other infants and a day-old baby girl whose parents had not gotten a chance to name her still.

 

 

Shortly after the incident, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan tweeted about the “unbearable pain” of Monday night and called for a high-level inquiry to look into what went wrong. He also announced Rs. 4 lakh each as compensation for family members of the victims. The Hindu reported that Chouhan ordered fire safety audits of all government and private hospitals in Madhya Pradesh the following day. Referring to the Kamla Nehru fire as “criminal negligence,” the Chief Minister said during a Cabinet meeting that it was the government’s responsibility to ensure the safety of these children. He further assured that the “guilty will not be spared.”

However, Congress MLA Arif Masood, who was present at the time of the accident said the Monday fire, claimed that this was the second incident reported in the same building. In fact, an NDTV report said that the hospital did not have the mandatory fire safety clearance despite receiving four to five notices for NOC in the last six months. Bhopal Municipal Corporation Fire Services Chief K. S. Parihar told the channel that around 500 similar medical facilities were served notices for fire safety NOC in the past six months. Parihar further said that although firefighters reached the hospital within 15 minutes of intimation, the fire safety equipment installed at the hospital was outdated and not working. This claim was supported by attendants at the paediatric intensive care unit, who tried to douse the fire. Attendant Mohit Yadav reportedly said the fire extinguishers were not working.

On November 9, the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) wrote to Chief Secretaries of all states and union territories requesting fire safety audits of all medical facilities for children. Chairperson Priyank Kanoongo asked all governments to submit a district-wise compliance report within 30 days.

Far from an overreaction, the call for such fire safety audits is long overdue for many states. Particularly in Gujarat, at least 163 hospitals do not have a valid fire NOC. On October 27, the state government filed an affidavit before the Gujarat High Court claiming “genuine difficulties” in the delays and challenges in implementing fire safety norms. The topic has become of considerable importance after the Shrey Hospital fire on August 6, 2020 that killed eight people recovering from Covid-19 in the ICU. Later in November 2020, another give Covid-19 patient died due to a hospital fire in Rajkot. In May 2021, another fire broke out in the ICU of the Bharuch Welfare Hospital killing 18 people.

Similarly, in Maharashtra, 10 people died in Ahmednagar’s district hospital fire on November 6, 2021. Before that, at least 13 Covid-19 patients died during a fire in Virar hospital’s ICU unit on April 23, 2021, and 10 people died after a fire broke out in Bhandup’s Sunrise Hospital, Dream Mall on March 26, 2021.

Then specifically addressing the Kamla Nehru tragedy in a separate letter to State Chief Secretary Iqbal Singh Bains, Kanoongo demanded details of the last fire safety audit report of the building and information about the new hospitals where children have been shifted. He further requested an inquiry team composed of a senior administrative officer not from the Health or Medical Health department, Director General of Fire Services, Civil Defence and Home Guard department, senior officials from Public Works department and a senior police officer not below the rank of Inspector General.

Related:

10 dead in a fire at Ahmednagar hospital

Fire safety PIL: Guj admin blames staff shortages, logistical issues for lacunae

13 killed in private Covid hospital fire at Virar, Mumbai

Shrey Hospital Fire: Victims’ families move court demanding CBI inquiry

Related Articles


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Rajasthan to withdraw bill that mandates child marriage registration?

The bill that states if a groom is not 21 years and the bride is not 18 years old, their parents/guardians can register the marriage was passed in September

13 Oct 2021

Ashok Gehlot

Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot has said that his government will ask the Governor, Kalraj Mishra to return the Rajasthan Compulsory Registration of Marriages (Amendment) Bill, 2021, that had sparked a lot of controversy for allegedly promoting child marriages.

He said, “The state government is working with a strong will for the complete eradication of child marriage in the state. We have a strong resolve that child marriage should not take place in the state and the government will not make any compromise in this regard.” He further tweeted that he will request the governor to return the bill for further consultation.

 

 

The amendment to the 2009 Act passed by the Rajasthan government lays down that a marriage between a groom who has not completed 21 years, and a bride who has not completed 18 years of age, could be registered by the “parents or guardians” within 30 days of the marriage.

The 2009 Act made the registration of child marriage mandatory, with the only difference being, that under the proposed amendment bill, if a girl is 18 or above the age of 18, it would be her duty to submit the memorandum of her marriage, while as of now, it is the duty of her parents to do so.

Going by the 2009 act, the parents or guardians of both parties (bride and groom) were supposed to submit the memorandum for registration if they had not completed the age of 21. The amendment bill allows the differentiation of age, where the 18-year-old (and above) bride will be allowed to register her marriage, if this becomes the new law.

Despite opposition, the bill was passed in September. Soon after, the apex child rights body, National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), had agreed to examine the new bill “to protect the interest of children”. The bill has already been challenged before the supreme court. 

This decision of this reconsideration interestingly coincides with International day of the girl child. Gehlot also tweeted on October 11, “On International Day of Girl Child, let’s renew our commitment to provide the best environment for the development of girls and increase awareness about the importance of nutritious diet, education and safe environment for them. Our effort is also to provide equal rights and opportunities to girls.”

 

 

Related:

Rajasthan: New marriage registration bill legitimises child marriage?

Child Marriages—Especially Of Girls—Rise in Urban India, Decline In Rural

No data on increase in child abuse cases due to Covid-19 lockdown: Centre

Rajasthan to withdraw bill that mandates child marriage registration?

The bill that states if a groom is not 21 years and the bride is not 18 years old, their parents/guardians can register the marriage was passed in September

Ashok Gehlot

Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot has said that his government will ask the Governor, Kalraj Mishra to return the Rajasthan Compulsory Registration of Marriages (Amendment) Bill, 2021, that had sparked a lot of controversy for allegedly promoting child marriages.

He said, “The state government is working with a strong will for the complete eradication of child marriage in the state. We have a strong resolve that child marriage should not take place in the state and the government will not make any compromise in this regard.” He further tweeted that he will request the governor to return the bill for further consultation.

 

 

The amendment to the 2009 Act passed by the Rajasthan government lays down that a marriage between a groom who has not completed 21 years, and a bride who has not completed 18 years of age, could be registered by the “parents or guardians” within 30 days of the marriage.

The 2009 Act made the registration of child marriage mandatory, with the only difference being, that under the proposed amendment bill, if a girl is 18 or above the age of 18, it would be her duty to submit the memorandum of her marriage, while as of now, it is the duty of her parents to do so.

Going by the 2009 act, the parents or guardians of both parties (bride and groom) were supposed to submit the memorandum for registration if they had not completed the age of 21. The amendment bill allows the differentiation of age, where the 18-year-old (and above) bride will be allowed to register her marriage, if this becomes the new law.

Despite opposition, the bill was passed in September. Soon after, the apex child rights body, National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), had agreed to examine the new bill “to protect the interest of children”. The bill has already been challenged before the supreme court. 

This decision of this reconsideration interestingly coincides with International day of the girl child. Gehlot also tweeted on October 11, “On International Day of Girl Child, let’s renew our commitment to provide the best environment for the development of girls and increase awareness about the importance of nutritious diet, education and safe environment for them. Our effort is also to provide equal rights and opportunities to girls.”

 

 

Related:

Rajasthan: New marriage registration bill legitimises child marriage?

Child Marriages—Especially Of Girls—Rise in Urban India, Decline In Rural

No data on increase in child abuse cases due to Covid-19 lockdown: Centre

Related Articles


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Can minor’s consent be considered in POCSO cases?

The Gujarat High Court sets aside conviction of rape under POCSO Act, as the minor girl and the convict were married and girl had borne 2 children

08 Oct 2021

posco act

The Gujarat High Court has reversed the conviction in a case of rape of a 15-year-old minor girl, taking into consideration that the minor girl admittedly ran away from home and consented to the sexual acts. The bench of Justice Paresh Upadhyay observed that “Non-interference by this Court would reduce the lady and two children without shelter of husband / father, which in no way would be in furtherance of justice.”

The appeal was filed against a judgement passed by Sessions Court Junagadh on July 15, convicting the appellant under section 376 (rape) of IPC as well as sections 4 (penetrative sexual assault), 6 (aggravated penetrative sexual assault), 8 (sexual assault) and 12 (sexual harassment) of the Protection of the Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act. He was sentenced to 10 years of rigorous imprisonment and fined Rs. 5,000. 

The counsel for the appellant submitted that he, and the victim are husband and wife, and they have borne two children, a fact undisputed by either of them. He submitted that the conviction is unsustainable and the same be quashed and set aside.

The court considered certain facts:

  • The appellant and victim are in a relationship.
  • The victim, on her own, had walked out of home with the appellant.
  • The appellant and the victim stayed together since then at the house of the appellant, as husband and wife.
  • Out of their relationship, she has given birth to two children, one on June 29, 2019 and second on January 22, 2021.
  • The victim deposed before the court that the appellant has kept physical relation with her consent.

The court seemed perturbed by the fact that despite they have two children, and victim stating that physical relations were out of her consent, he has been convicted for rape. The court pointed out that the Sessions Court was also conscious of this fact that they are living together and thus any compensation / assistance received from any of the Government(s) need to be refunded.

The court was thus inclined to set aside the conviction order. The court said, “It is under these circumstances, this Court finds that the conviction recorded by the Sessions Court needs to be set aside. Standing at the place of law enforcement agencies, in the peculiar facts of the case, this can be termed as an offence under the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, which is observed more in breach than in compliance, more particularly in the lower strata of society.”

The order may be read here:

The legal standpoint

While the high court’s order failed to mention any legal points, it is important to look at where the law, especially the POCSO Act stands. The many questions that arise after the court’s verdict to set aside the conviction include, whether an adult male can have sexual relationships with a minor if she gives her consent? In that case is a minor’s consent valid in the eyes of law? Can the law make concessions and release a person who is an offender in the eyes of the law because there happens to be a relationship between them after the offence?

The minor girl was a little over 15 years old when the incident took place. Through this order, it is unclear how the crime was uncovered and who filed the complaint. Whether, the incident complained of was with the victim’s consent.

Nevertheless, first it is to be considered whether such consent is valid in the first place. If you search for the word “consent” in the entire POCSO Act, you will find it in only two places, and neither are relevant to the offences. In fact, in section 41 of the Act it is mentioned that it will not be considered to be an offence under POCSO if a medical examination is done on the minor with the consent of the parents. This means that the law would punish any medical examination that fits in the definition of offences under the Act, if they are carried out without the consent of the parent or guardian. In this case, would it be permissible to take into consideration the consent of the minor in case of an actual sexual act? Certainly, the law does not provide for the same. It would be to err on the side of the law, if an interpretation like such is made to equate a minor’s consent in sexual activity with the consent of an adult in sexual activity.

In fact, under the Contracts Act as well, a minor’s consent is considered to be invalid. In that case would a minor’s consent in such a grave situation be considered good and valid in the eyes of the law? The answer to that must be in the negative.

If the legislature intended to take into account the minor’s consent, it would have expressly stated so in the Act. Also, if the relationship between the minor and the offender were to be taken into account to determine whether he/she is guilty of the offence, the same would have been provided.

In the absence of either of these provisions under the POCSO Act, to acquit a man who has maintained sexual relationships with a 15 year old girl (who is now a 19 year old) where the minor girl claims that the relationship was consensual amounts to setting a wrong and dangerous precedent; not only because it is in contravention to the law but also because there could be cases where minor girls are coerced to admit consent before the court of law.

Thus, this verdict of the Gujarat High Court effectively acquitting the convict without providing any legal reasoning and merely on the ground that the girl and the children borne of their relationship would be stranded, could be seen by some as seemingly bad in law.

Related:

Over 1.28 lakh cases of crime against children in 2020, yet there is eerie silence on issue 

A year on, Hathras victim’s family awaits a house, pension and employment

Two years after she was found dead, family of Mainpuri school girl awaits justice

Can minor’s consent be considered in POCSO cases?

The Gujarat High Court sets aside conviction of rape under POCSO Act, as the minor girl and the convict were married and girl had borne 2 children

posco act

The Gujarat High Court has reversed the conviction in a case of rape of a 15-year-old minor girl, taking into consideration that the minor girl admittedly ran away from home and consented to the sexual acts. The bench of Justice Paresh Upadhyay observed that “Non-interference by this Court would reduce the lady and two children without shelter of husband / father, which in no way would be in furtherance of justice.”

The appeal was filed against a judgement passed by Sessions Court Junagadh on July 15, convicting the appellant under section 376 (rape) of IPC as well as sections 4 (penetrative sexual assault), 6 (aggravated penetrative sexual assault), 8 (sexual assault) and 12 (sexual harassment) of the Protection of the Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act. He was sentenced to 10 years of rigorous imprisonment and fined Rs. 5,000. 

The counsel for the appellant submitted that he, and the victim are husband and wife, and they have borne two children, a fact undisputed by either of them. He submitted that the conviction is unsustainable and the same be quashed and set aside.

The court considered certain facts:

  • The appellant and victim are in a relationship.
  • The victim, on her own, had walked out of home with the appellant.
  • The appellant and the victim stayed together since then at the house of the appellant, as husband and wife.
  • Out of their relationship, she has given birth to two children, one on June 29, 2019 and second on January 22, 2021.
  • The victim deposed before the court that the appellant has kept physical relation with her consent.

The court seemed perturbed by the fact that despite they have two children, and victim stating that physical relations were out of her consent, he has been convicted for rape. The court pointed out that the Sessions Court was also conscious of this fact that they are living together and thus any compensation / assistance received from any of the Government(s) need to be refunded.

The court was thus inclined to set aside the conviction order. The court said, “It is under these circumstances, this Court finds that the conviction recorded by the Sessions Court needs to be set aside. Standing at the place of law enforcement agencies, in the peculiar facts of the case, this can be termed as an offence under the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, which is observed more in breach than in compliance, more particularly in the lower strata of society.”

The order may be read here:

The legal standpoint

While the high court’s order failed to mention any legal points, it is important to look at where the law, especially the POCSO Act stands. The many questions that arise after the court’s verdict to set aside the conviction include, whether an adult male can have sexual relationships with a minor if she gives her consent? In that case is a minor’s consent valid in the eyes of law? Can the law make concessions and release a person who is an offender in the eyes of the law because there happens to be a relationship between them after the offence?

The minor girl was a little over 15 years old when the incident took place. Through this order, it is unclear how the crime was uncovered and who filed the complaint. Whether, the incident complained of was with the victim’s consent.

Nevertheless, first it is to be considered whether such consent is valid in the first place. If you search for the word “consent” in the entire POCSO Act, you will find it in only two places, and neither are relevant to the offences. In fact, in section 41 of the Act it is mentioned that it will not be considered to be an offence under POCSO if a medical examination is done on the minor with the consent of the parents. This means that the law would punish any medical examination that fits in the definition of offences under the Act, if they are carried out without the consent of the parent or guardian. In this case, would it be permissible to take into consideration the consent of the minor in case of an actual sexual act? Certainly, the law does not provide for the same. It would be to err on the side of the law, if an interpretation like such is made to equate a minor’s consent in sexual activity with the consent of an adult in sexual activity.

In fact, under the Contracts Act as well, a minor’s consent is considered to be invalid. In that case would a minor’s consent in such a grave situation be considered good and valid in the eyes of the law? The answer to that must be in the negative.

If the legislature intended to take into account the minor’s consent, it would have expressly stated so in the Act. Also, if the relationship between the minor and the offender were to be taken into account to determine whether he/she is guilty of the offence, the same would have been provided.

In the absence of either of these provisions under the POCSO Act, to acquit a man who has maintained sexual relationships with a 15 year old girl (who is now a 19 year old) where the minor girl claims that the relationship was consensual amounts to setting a wrong and dangerous precedent; not only because it is in contravention to the law but also because there could be cases where minor girls are coerced to admit consent before the court of law.

Thus, this verdict of the Gujarat High Court effectively acquitting the convict without providing any legal reasoning and merely on the ground that the girl and the children borne of their relationship would be stranded, could be seen by some as seemingly bad in law.

Related:

Over 1.28 lakh cases of crime against children in 2020, yet there is eerie silence on issue 

A year on, Hathras victim’s family awaits a house, pension and employment

Two years after she was found dead, family of Mainpuri school girl awaits justice

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K’taka HC directs state gov't to come up with scholarship for children of manual scavengers

The court has given the government 30 days to come up with a uniform scheme for the same

05 Oct 2021

scholarship for children of manual scavengersImage Courtesy:thenewsminute.com

The Karnataka High Court has directed the state government to come up with a scheme to grant scholarships to children of those who died due to manual scavenging, as also providing compassionate appointment to their legal heirs under Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013, reported LiveLaw.

Section 13 of the Act provides for rehabilitation of persons identified as manual scavengers and under sub-section (1)(b) states that the children of a manual scavenger shall be entitled to scholarship as per the relevant scheme of the Central Government or the State Government or the local authorities.

Notably, this section does not concern itself with just those manual scavengers who have died, but all such persons identified as manual scavengers in the final list of manual scavengers published in pursuance of sub-section (6) of section 11 or added thereto in pursuance of sub-section (3) of section 12 of the Act.

The bench of Acting Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Sachin Shankar Magadum has directed the government to come up with a uniform scheme in this regard as there is a lot of disparity in paying scholarship.

The counsel of the petitioner, All India Central Council Of Trade Unions, informed the court that in the compliance report submitted by the state government under the head of scholarship, an amount of Rs 1,000 is mentioned while in some cases Rs. 10,000 has been given by the state. Hence there is lack of clarity whether the amount is paid monthly or yearly or as a one time measure.

To this, the court responded that if the lump sum is Rs. 1,000 then it is an eye wash and the Rs.10,000 whether it is yearly or monthly in unclear.

The court has thus directed the state government to come up with a proper uniform scheme in this regard within 30 days. It also directed the state to complete within two months the survey for identifying and rehabilitating manual scavengers.

Specific incidents

The incident in Ramanagara that took place on June 4 took lives of 3 manual scavengers and the court has directed the state government to provide the family of the deceased with employment within a period of thirty days, reported LiveLaw.

Further in respect to the incident in Kalaburgi of January, where 2 manual scavengers lost their lives, casual appointment was granted to the legal heirs of those deceased. The court however pointed out that casual appointment can come to an end at any time and that they should be given training for some alternative profession/vocation as stipulated under section 13(1)(d).

While the continuous monitoring of the court in this regard is appreciated, it is not the mandate of the law. In clear terms, the Act has assigned functions to public servants to implement the provisions under the Act. The Court is simply passing directions on those lines to ensure that the families of manual scavengers receive the reliefs that are entitled to them under the Act. Especially in terms of rehabilitation, the District Magistrate is assigned with the task to ensure rehabilitation or any such subordinate officers or the concerned Municipality

Failure to provide safety equipment

The court was informed by Senior Advocate Jayna Kothari that the state has been non-compliant wit respect to providing necessary safety equipments at the local bodies as enumerated in the Rules under the Act. Rule 3, framed under the Act, provides for obligations of the employer towards employees engaged in the cleaning of sewer or septic tank and provision of safety equipment.

At the last hearing, on August 30, the court had directed the state to file a detailed chart in respect of equipment available with the corporations in terms of the Act of 2013. However, the state failed to file the same and hence the court has granted 30-days time to file the same.

Manual scavenging deaths

During the monsoon session, the Raja Sabha was informed by the Minister of Social Justice and Employment, Virendra Kumar, that 941 deaths related to cleaning sewers and septic tanks have been recorded across 21 States and Union Territories, but there are no reports of death due to manual scavenging.

He further stated that as per the two surveys conducted by the local authorities in 2013 and 2018, as many as 58,098 persons have been identified as manual scavengers.

The story will be updated with the order

Related:

Widows of three manual scavengers get compensation and rehabilitation from Bombay HC
941 deaths while cleaning sewers, septic tanks: Centre informs Rajya Sabha
Centre claims that nobody died due to manual scavenging reported in the last 5 years!

K’taka HC directs state gov't to come up with scholarship for children of manual scavengers

The court has given the government 30 days to come up with a uniform scheme for the same

scholarship for children of manual scavengersImage Courtesy:thenewsminute.com

The Karnataka High Court has directed the state government to come up with a scheme to grant scholarships to children of those who died due to manual scavenging, as also providing compassionate appointment to their legal heirs under Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013, reported LiveLaw.

Section 13 of the Act provides for rehabilitation of persons identified as manual scavengers and under sub-section (1)(b) states that the children of a manual scavenger shall be entitled to scholarship as per the relevant scheme of the Central Government or the State Government or the local authorities.

Notably, this section does not concern itself with just those manual scavengers who have died, but all such persons identified as manual scavengers in the final list of manual scavengers published in pursuance of sub-section (6) of section 11 or added thereto in pursuance of sub-section (3) of section 12 of the Act.

The bench of Acting Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Sachin Shankar Magadum has directed the government to come up with a uniform scheme in this regard as there is a lot of disparity in paying scholarship.

The counsel of the petitioner, All India Central Council Of Trade Unions, informed the court that in the compliance report submitted by the state government under the head of scholarship, an amount of Rs 1,000 is mentioned while in some cases Rs. 10,000 has been given by the state. Hence there is lack of clarity whether the amount is paid monthly or yearly or as a one time measure.

To this, the court responded that if the lump sum is Rs. 1,000 then it is an eye wash and the Rs.10,000 whether it is yearly or monthly in unclear.

The court has thus directed the state government to come up with a proper uniform scheme in this regard within 30 days. It also directed the state to complete within two months the survey for identifying and rehabilitating manual scavengers.

Specific incidents

The incident in Ramanagara that took place on June 4 took lives of 3 manual scavengers and the court has directed the state government to provide the family of the deceased with employment within a period of thirty days, reported LiveLaw.

Further in respect to the incident in Kalaburgi of January, where 2 manual scavengers lost their lives, casual appointment was granted to the legal heirs of those deceased. The court however pointed out that casual appointment can come to an end at any time and that they should be given training for some alternative profession/vocation as stipulated under section 13(1)(d).

While the continuous monitoring of the court in this regard is appreciated, it is not the mandate of the law. In clear terms, the Act has assigned functions to public servants to implement the provisions under the Act. The Court is simply passing directions on those lines to ensure that the families of manual scavengers receive the reliefs that are entitled to them under the Act. Especially in terms of rehabilitation, the District Magistrate is assigned with the task to ensure rehabilitation or any such subordinate officers or the concerned Municipality

Failure to provide safety equipment

The court was informed by Senior Advocate Jayna Kothari that the state has been non-compliant wit respect to providing necessary safety equipments at the local bodies as enumerated in the Rules under the Act. Rule 3, framed under the Act, provides for obligations of the employer towards employees engaged in the cleaning of sewer or septic tank and provision of safety equipment.

At the last hearing, on August 30, the court had directed the state to file a detailed chart in respect of equipment available with the corporations in terms of the Act of 2013. However, the state failed to file the same and hence the court has granted 30-days time to file the same.

Manual scavenging deaths

During the monsoon session, the Raja Sabha was informed by the Minister of Social Justice and Employment, Virendra Kumar, that 941 deaths related to cleaning sewers and septic tanks have been recorded across 21 States and Union Territories, but there are no reports of death due to manual scavenging.

He further stated that as per the two surveys conducted by the local authorities in 2013 and 2018, as many as 58,098 persons have been identified as manual scavengers.

The story will be updated with the order

Related:

Widows of three manual scavengers get compensation and rehabilitation from Bombay HC
941 deaths while cleaning sewers, septic tanks: Centre informs Rajya Sabha
Centre claims that nobody died due to manual scavenging reported in the last 5 years!

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Uttar Pradesh: Dalit school children thrashed, made to sit separately in Amethi

Second case of discrimination in a week, exposes deep caste based prejudices in the state’s schools 

01 Oct 2021

Amethi

While the shock at news over the segregation of untensils used by Dalit students in a  government school of Mainpuri district of Uttar Pradesh was yet to die down another incident was reported from a government school in Amethi. Kusum Soni, Principal of primary school in Gaderi in Sangrampur area, has been accused of allegedly forming a “separate queue of Dalit children” when they are served the midday meal. According to news reports, an FIR has been registered against Kusum Soni, under sections of the SC/ST Atrocities Prevention Act. 

The case had been reported to District Magistrate (DM) Arun Kumar who ordered a probe by Basic Siksha Adhikari (BSA), and the principal was suspended, reported the Indian Express. The complaint against Soni detailed how the school was discriminating against the Dalit children and made them stand in separate queues, during the mid day meal. 

According to the IE, a student of Banpurwa Government Primary School recalled how “the headmistress would make Dalit students like her queue up separately during the mid-day meal,” adding that the Dalit children were also often “beaten up for the smallest of reasons.” The Banpurwa Government Primary School has 38 students, 23 of them belonging to Scheduled Castes, 11 OBCs and four from the general category reported IE, adding that students hailed from three neighbouring villages. It further said that Banpurwa had “an entirely SC population”; Ganderi village had a “mixed population of SCs and OBCs”; and Dubane Purwa, was “dominated by Brahmins.”

The report added that when the Dalit families' complaints about the disctimination and beatings reached Vinay Kumar, the Ganderi village’s pradhan, he filed a complaint with the local SHO against Soni, accusing her of caste discrimination. Kumar told the media that he investigated the complaints too. He said, “I went to the school along with my representative Pawan Dubey and did not find the headmistress,” he said in his complaint, adding that parents had also said their children were beaten up. According to IE, in his complaint, “Jagnarayan, a farmer, accused Soni of beating up his grandson for complaining against her to him and the pradhan. He added that Sonu’s other daughter Divyanshi too was beaten up.”

Basic Siksha Adhikari Arvind Pathak told the media that he visited the school and “talked to some guardians who alleged discrimination against their children over caste. They said the headmistress ordered Dalit students to sit in separate rows for the mid-day meal.” The headmistress has denied all allegations reported IE, “I have been working at Banpurwa Government Primary School for over four years and only now such baseless allegations have been made. This whole thing started because I was late for school one day.” 

Meanwhile, Amethi’s high profile MP, Smriti Irani is being called out for her silence on the issue. 

 

 

 

 

Related:

UP Dalit man who exposed SC discrimination in school being threatened?

Can you hear the steady drumbeat of Institutional Casteism? 

Karnataka: Dalit family fined Rs 25,000 for 'purification ritual' after toddler runs into temple 

A year on, Hathras victim’s family awaits a house, pension and employment

Over 1.28 lakh cases of crime against children in 2020, yet there is eerie silence on 

Crimes against women highest in Uttar Pradesh: NCRB 2020 report

Uttar Pradesh: Dalit school children thrashed, made to sit separately in Amethi

Second case of discrimination in a week, exposes deep caste based prejudices in the state’s schools 

Amethi

While the shock at news over the segregation of untensils used by Dalit students in a  government school of Mainpuri district of Uttar Pradesh was yet to die down another incident was reported from a government school in Amethi. Kusum Soni, Principal of primary school in Gaderi in Sangrampur area, has been accused of allegedly forming a “separate queue of Dalit children” when they are served the midday meal. According to news reports, an FIR has been registered against Kusum Soni, under sections of the SC/ST Atrocities Prevention Act. 

The case had been reported to District Magistrate (DM) Arun Kumar who ordered a probe by Basic Siksha Adhikari (BSA), and the principal was suspended, reported the Indian Express. The complaint against Soni detailed how the school was discriminating against the Dalit children and made them stand in separate queues, during the mid day meal. 

According to the IE, a student of Banpurwa Government Primary School recalled how “the headmistress would make Dalit students like her queue up separately during the mid-day meal,” adding that the Dalit children were also often “beaten up for the smallest of reasons.” The Banpurwa Government Primary School has 38 students, 23 of them belonging to Scheduled Castes, 11 OBCs and four from the general category reported IE, adding that students hailed from three neighbouring villages. It further said that Banpurwa had “an entirely SC population”; Ganderi village had a “mixed population of SCs and OBCs”; and Dubane Purwa, was “dominated by Brahmins.”

The report added that when the Dalit families' complaints about the disctimination and beatings reached Vinay Kumar, the Ganderi village’s pradhan, he filed a complaint with the local SHO against Soni, accusing her of caste discrimination. Kumar told the media that he investigated the complaints too. He said, “I went to the school along with my representative Pawan Dubey and did not find the headmistress,” he said in his complaint, adding that parents had also said their children were beaten up. According to IE, in his complaint, “Jagnarayan, a farmer, accused Soni of beating up his grandson for complaining against her to him and the pradhan. He added that Sonu’s other daughter Divyanshi too was beaten up.”

Basic Siksha Adhikari Arvind Pathak told the media that he visited the school and “talked to some guardians who alleged discrimination against their children over caste. They said the headmistress ordered Dalit students to sit in separate rows for the mid-day meal.” The headmistress has denied all allegations reported IE, “I have been working at Banpurwa Government Primary School for over four years and only now such baseless allegations have been made. This whole thing started because I was late for school one day.” 

Meanwhile, Amethi’s high profile MP, Smriti Irani is being called out for her silence on the issue. 

 

 

 

 

Related:

UP Dalit man who exposed SC discrimination in school being threatened?

Can you hear the steady drumbeat of Institutional Casteism? 

Karnataka: Dalit family fined Rs 25,000 for 'purification ritual' after toddler runs into temple 

A year on, Hathras victim’s family awaits a house, pension and employment

Over 1.28 lakh cases of crime against children in 2020, yet there is eerie silence on 

Crimes against women highest in Uttar Pradesh: NCRB 2020 report

Related Articles


Theme

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Archives

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Archives

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UP: NHRC sets up inquiry in minor boy’s death by suicide after spending 3 months in jail

The Commission has questioned whether the police and the court followed proper procedure to determine the juvenility of the young boy. Meanwhile FIR for abetment of suicide has been filed against the policemen

01 Oct 2021

minor boy’s death by suicide after spending 3 months in jail

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has instituted inquiry into death by suicide of a minor boy who was sent to district jail on charges of possession of drugs. The Commission has taken cognisance of a complaint it received that a 15-year-old boy unable to bear the torture of being sent to a jail as an adult on charges of drug possession, committed suicide when released on bail after three months in Etah, Uttar Pradesh on September 21. The father of the boy has reportedly alleged that his son was illegally arrested and tortured to extort money by the police.

The Commission has directed the SSP, Etah to have the allegations inquired by a Senior Rank Police Officer, and submit an action taken report to the Commission, within four weeks.

The NHRC has sought the following information in the report:

1. As per rule 7 of the JJ Act and section 94 (c) of the JJ Act, Date of birth is the primary proof of age; therefore, under what circumstances, the Juvenile was treated as an adult.

2. Non-consideration of the matriculation certificate as proof of the DOB is in violation of judgment in the matter of "Ashwani Kumar Saxena vs. State of MP (2012) 9 SCC 750"; therefore, under what circumstances this was ignored.

3. What protocol is being followed for assessing the age and date of birth of the accused by police?

The Supreme Court in Ashwani Kumar Saxena vs. State of MP (2012) 9 SCC 750 had highlighted the provisions of the Juvenile Justice Act which stipulates that an age determination inquiry be carried out under section 7A of the Act. This provision requires the court to obtain the matriculation or equivalent certificates and in absence of that obtain the date of birth certificate from the school first attended. “Once the court, following the above mentioned procedures, passes an order; that order shall be the conclusive proof of the age as regards such child or juvenile in conflict with law. It has been made clear in subsection (5) or Rule 12 that no further inquiry shall be conducted by the court or the Board after examining and obtaining the certificate or any other documentary proof,” the court has said.

The Commission has thus cited this case to understand whether this process was followed by the court that remanded him to custody. Interestingly, the Commission has also sought to know what protocol does the police follow to determine the age of a suspect who claims to be a minor or is visibly a minor.

There are provisions for that as well under section 12 of the Juvenile Justice Act which states that when any person, who is apparently a child and is alleged to have committed a bailable or non-bailable offence, is apprehended or detained by the police such person shall be released on bail with or without surety or placed under the supervision of a probation officer or under the care of any fit person.

Alternatively, if such a person is not released on bail due to exceptions, then the officer in charge is required to place such person in an observation home until the person (apparently a child) can be brought before a Juvenile Justice Board. Neither of these procedures seemed to have been followed by the police in this case, despite the boy or his family making claims of his juvenility.

The Commissions has also directed its Investigation Division to conduct an on the spot enquiry, analyze the case and suggest the institutional measures, which could be recommended to the government to ensure that the children are not being treated as adults for prosecution.

The Investigation Division has also been directed to look into the role played by all the concerned stakeholders in this case, including the Judge, before whom the child was produced within 24 hours of the arrest, and the role of the doctor who examined the child. This report is expected in 6 weeks.

Background

The boy was arrested by the police on March 9 and his father stated that he had ventured out to buy pizza and was arrested. The police had said that they found 500g diazepam on him and his father alleges that he was kept in lockup and beaten up by the police for 4 days while the cops demanded Rs. 2 lakh to release him.

He was then produced before the court as an adult and was remanded to custody under the Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act on March 12. He had to spend 3 months in jail before his parents managed to secure bail for him on July 25 on the grounds that the police had not filed a chargesheet.

After he returned home, his parents said he seemed changed and was not the cheerful teenager he always was. The father has filed a complaint for abetment of suicide against sub-inspectors Mohit Rana and Shiv Kumar, head constable Upendra Kumar and constable Ravish Kumar.

 

Related:

The life and murder of a Bihar Christian youth, and State impunity in India

Meerut: Hindu Jagran Manch leader booked for assault on Muslim youth

Gurugram police set up SIT, 14 days after alleged rape and murder of 13 year old girl

UP: NHRC sets up inquiry in minor boy’s death by suicide after spending 3 months in jail

The Commission has questioned whether the police and the court followed proper procedure to determine the juvenility of the young boy. Meanwhile FIR for abetment of suicide has been filed against the policemen

minor boy’s death by suicide after spending 3 months in jail

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has instituted inquiry into death by suicide of a minor boy who was sent to district jail on charges of possession of drugs. The Commission has taken cognisance of a complaint it received that a 15-year-old boy unable to bear the torture of being sent to a jail as an adult on charges of drug possession, committed suicide when released on bail after three months in Etah, Uttar Pradesh on September 21. The father of the boy has reportedly alleged that his son was illegally arrested and tortured to extort money by the police.

The Commission has directed the SSP, Etah to have the allegations inquired by a Senior Rank Police Officer, and submit an action taken report to the Commission, within four weeks.

The NHRC has sought the following information in the report:

1. As per rule 7 of the JJ Act and section 94 (c) of the JJ Act, Date of birth is the primary proof of age; therefore, under what circumstances, the Juvenile was treated as an adult.

2. Non-consideration of the matriculation certificate as proof of the DOB is in violation of judgment in the matter of "Ashwani Kumar Saxena vs. State of MP (2012) 9 SCC 750"; therefore, under what circumstances this was ignored.

3. What protocol is being followed for assessing the age and date of birth of the accused by police?

The Supreme Court in Ashwani Kumar Saxena vs. State of MP (2012) 9 SCC 750 had highlighted the provisions of the Juvenile Justice Act which stipulates that an age determination inquiry be carried out under section 7A of the Act. This provision requires the court to obtain the matriculation or equivalent certificates and in absence of that obtain the date of birth certificate from the school first attended. “Once the court, following the above mentioned procedures, passes an order; that order shall be the conclusive proof of the age as regards such child or juvenile in conflict with law. It has been made clear in subsection (5) or Rule 12 that no further inquiry shall be conducted by the court or the Board after examining and obtaining the certificate or any other documentary proof,” the court has said.

The Commission has thus cited this case to understand whether this process was followed by the court that remanded him to custody. Interestingly, the Commission has also sought to know what protocol does the police follow to determine the age of a suspect who claims to be a minor or is visibly a minor.

There are provisions for that as well under section 12 of the Juvenile Justice Act which states that when any person, who is apparently a child and is alleged to have committed a bailable or non-bailable offence, is apprehended or detained by the police such person shall be released on bail with or without surety or placed under the supervision of a probation officer or under the care of any fit person.

Alternatively, if such a person is not released on bail due to exceptions, then the officer in charge is required to place such person in an observation home until the person (apparently a child) can be brought before a Juvenile Justice Board. Neither of these procedures seemed to have been followed by the police in this case, despite the boy or his family making claims of his juvenility.

The Commissions has also directed its Investigation Division to conduct an on the spot enquiry, analyze the case and suggest the institutional measures, which could be recommended to the government to ensure that the children are not being treated as adults for prosecution.

The Investigation Division has also been directed to look into the role played by all the concerned stakeholders in this case, including the Judge, before whom the child was produced within 24 hours of the arrest, and the role of the doctor who examined the child. This report is expected in 6 weeks.

Background

The boy was arrested by the police on March 9 and his father stated that he had ventured out to buy pizza and was arrested. The police had said that they found 500g diazepam on him and his father alleges that he was kept in lockup and beaten up by the police for 4 days while the cops demanded Rs. 2 lakh to release him.

He was then produced before the court as an adult and was remanded to custody under the Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act on March 12. He had to spend 3 months in jail before his parents managed to secure bail for him on July 25 on the grounds that the police had not filed a chargesheet.

After he returned home, his parents said he seemed changed and was not the cheerful teenager he always was. The father has filed a complaint for abetment of suicide against sub-inspectors Mohit Rana and Shiv Kumar, head constable Upendra Kumar and constable Ravish Kumar.

 

Related:

The life and murder of a Bihar Christian youth, and State impunity in India

Meerut: Hindu Jagran Manch leader booked for assault on Muslim youth

Gurugram police set up SIT, 14 days after alleged rape and murder of 13 year old girl

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Over 1.28 lakh cases of crime against children in 2020, yet there is eerie silence on issue 

Horrific details of the Dalit child’s rape and murder in Delhi crematorium by priest emerge, news of another child raped in Rajasthan reported

23 Sep 2021

crime against children

Horrific details of the Dalit child’s rape and murder in a Delhi crematorium by Radhey Shyam, the priest have emerged, as has news of another child being raped in Rajasthan. However, the massive reaction, political and public, that such crimes typically evoke, are missing. 

According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB)'s Crime in India 2020 report a whopping 1.28+ lakh cases of crime against children were registered in 2020, and the number of victims was close to 1.34 lakh. According to the report, “Major crime heads under ‘Crime Against Children’ during 2020 were Kidnapping & Abduction (42.6%) and Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 (38.8%) including child rape.”

In 2021 one of the most horrific cases that made it to the news was that of the nine-year-old Dalit girl who was raped, killed and cremated, by the priest in charge of the cremation ground near the Delhi cantonment area on August 1, 2021. The case received social media attention when prominent leaders like Azad Samaj Party’s Chandra Shekhar Azad and Congress’s Rahul Gandhi condemned the incident. However, it was the locals who had begun the protest after the girl’s mother had brought Purana Nangal villagers to the cremation grounds on learning about her child’s death. The accused priest Radhey Shyam (55), and three others Kuldeep Singh (63), Laxmi Narayan (48), and Salim Ahmed (49), were arrested.

Now the police chargesheet filed in the case has brought forth horrific details of the crime, and put on record that the priest had sexualy molested the child on earlier occassions too. According to the Indian Express citing police chargesheet, “Radhey Shyam told police that on August 2, he spotted the girl, who, he claimed, used to visit the crematorium to drink water and sometimes bathe” adding that he had previously forced the child to give him massages, showed her pornographic content and had “touched her… in the past”.

On the fateful day, he once again “asked the girl for a massage,” and his associate Kuldeep “suggested that they sexually assault the child”. The two took turns to rape  the child, who according to the police then “died due to suffocation while being sexually assaulted.” It was then that the two attackers were “rattled after she stopped breathing” and then told the parents that she died of electrocution, reported IE. The crematorium priest Shyam then allegedly told her that her “daughter’s organs would be removed during the postmortem procedure” to scare here away from complaining to the police, stated the news report, adding that the accused also allegedly “offered the child’s mother Rs 20,000 and offered to cremate the body for free.” The chargesheet stated that “the accused asked Salim to return to the crematorium and, even as the mother kept saying no, Shyam asked Narayan and Salim to prepare the pyre. Shyam took Kuldeep’s help to place the body on the pyre and set it on fire.”

Nearly two months have passed since the nine-year-old girl from the Valmiki community was sexually assaulted and forcefully cremated. The ‘rage’ seems to have dissipated, despite parallels drawn with the Hathras case that shook India last year. Meanwhile, children continue to be raped, and killed.

The latest horror has been reported from Nagaur in Rajasthan, where a seven-year-old girl was raped and killed. According to a report in the Hindustan Times, the police have arrested the  20-year-old man who was last seen with the girl by some villagers. According to the report the man, who was known to the child abducted her, took her to a secluded place and raped her. The court remanded the accused to police custody on Wednesday, stated the news report. According to the police, the child was “last seen playing near her home on Monday and when they realised she was missing, the family informed the police by 9 P.M. Her body was found in nearby fields at 3 A.M.” The man accused was the one last seen with the girl, and was arrested. According to police the accused was “drunk when he was arrested” he has been "booked for kidnap, rape and murder”. Nagaur MP Hanuman Beniwal has demanded strict action against the accused.

 

 

 

Related:

Delhi: Women’s group calls upon media to cover the ire of Nangal villagers

Delhi Cantonment rape case: AIDWA demands action against police for alleged ‘silent complicity’

Nangal village gang-rape, both gendered and caste-based violence: Civil Society Organisations

And now, Hathras-like horror in Delhi!

Over 1.28 lakh cases of crime against children in 2020, yet there is eerie silence on issue 

Horrific details of the Dalit child’s rape and murder in Delhi crematorium by priest emerge, news of another child raped in Rajasthan reported

crime against children

Horrific details of the Dalit child’s rape and murder in a Delhi crematorium by Radhey Shyam, the priest have emerged, as has news of another child being raped in Rajasthan. However, the massive reaction, political and public, that such crimes typically evoke, are missing. 

According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB)'s Crime in India 2020 report a whopping 1.28+ lakh cases of crime against children were registered in 2020, and the number of victims was close to 1.34 lakh. According to the report, “Major crime heads under ‘Crime Against Children’ during 2020 were Kidnapping & Abduction (42.6%) and Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 (38.8%) including child rape.”

In 2021 one of the most horrific cases that made it to the news was that of the nine-year-old Dalit girl who was raped, killed and cremated, by the priest in charge of the cremation ground near the Delhi cantonment area on August 1, 2021. The case received social media attention when prominent leaders like Azad Samaj Party’s Chandra Shekhar Azad and Congress’s Rahul Gandhi condemned the incident. However, it was the locals who had begun the protest after the girl’s mother had brought Purana Nangal villagers to the cremation grounds on learning about her child’s death. The accused priest Radhey Shyam (55), and three others Kuldeep Singh (63), Laxmi Narayan (48), and Salim Ahmed (49), were arrested.

Now the police chargesheet filed in the case has brought forth horrific details of the crime, and put on record that the priest had sexualy molested the child on earlier occassions too. According to the Indian Express citing police chargesheet, “Radhey Shyam told police that on August 2, he spotted the girl, who, he claimed, used to visit the crematorium to drink water and sometimes bathe” adding that he had previously forced the child to give him massages, showed her pornographic content and had “touched her… in the past”.

On the fateful day, he once again “asked the girl for a massage,” and his associate Kuldeep “suggested that they sexually assault the child”. The two took turns to rape  the child, who according to the police then “died due to suffocation while being sexually assaulted.” It was then that the two attackers were “rattled after she stopped breathing” and then told the parents that she died of electrocution, reported IE. The crematorium priest Shyam then allegedly told her that her “daughter’s organs would be removed during the postmortem procedure” to scare here away from complaining to the police, stated the news report, adding that the accused also allegedly “offered the child’s mother Rs 20,000 and offered to cremate the body for free.” The chargesheet stated that “the accused asked Salim to return to the crematorium and, even as the mother kept saying no, Shyam asked Narayan and Salim to prepare the pyre. Shyam took Kuldeep’s help to place the body on the pyre and set it on fire.”

Nearly two months have passed since the nine-year-old girl from the Valmiki community was sexually assaulted and forcefully cremated. The ‘rage’ seems to have dissipated, despite parallels drawn with the Hathras case that shook India last year. Meanwhile, children continue to be raped, and killed.

The latest horror has been reported from Nagaur in Rajasthan, where a seven-year-old girl was raped and killed. According to a report in the Hindustan Times, the police have arrested the  20-year-old man who was last seen with the girl by some villagers. According to the report the man, who was known to the child abducted her, took her to a secluded place and raped her. The court remanded the accused to police custody on Wednesday, stated the news report. According to the police, the child was “last seen playing near her home on Monday and when they realised she was missing, the family informed the police by 9 P.M. Her body was found in nearby fields at 3 A.M.” The man accused was the one last seen with the girl, and was arrested. According to police the accused was “drunk when he was arrested” he has been "booked for kidnap, rape and murder”. Nagaur MP Hanuman Beniwal has demanded strict action against the accused.

 

 

 

Related:

Delhi: Women’s group calls upon media to cover the ire of Nangal villagers

Delhi Cantonment rape case: AIDWA demands action against police for alleged ‘silent complicity’

Nangal village gang-rape, both gendered and caste-based violence: Civil Society Organisations

And now, Hathras-like horror in Delhi!

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