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Sachin Pilot grounded by Congress

Divested of top political posts in Rajasthan, will Pilot join the BJP, or launch his own political party?

14 Jul 2020

Image Courtesy:rajasthanpost.com

Shifting sands of Rajasthan politics, have paused, perhaps temporarily, as Sachin Pilot, now former Deputy Chief Minister of the state has been shown the exit door by his political bosses. Pilot, who openly rebelled against the Congress party , has also been sacked from his post as the head of the Congress in the state.

The move obviously must not have been a surprise to Pilot as he had rejected the last minute offers of reconciliation from the party. Of course the first thing he did, like most political rebels before him,  was to take to social media and change his bio. It now reads “MLA from Tonk| Former Minister of IT, Telecom & Corporate affairs,GoI |Commissioned officer Territorial Army.”

He also posted a dramatic one liner that translates as “the truth can be troubled/ disturbed, not defeated.”

 

While the sacking saved him the trouble of sending a resignation, the Congress also wasted no time in appointing Govind Singh Dotasra as the Rajasthan Congress chief. The announcement was made, with a change of tone to authoritarian from yesterday’s empathic one, as spokesperson Randeen Singh Surjewala announced: “I regret that Sachin Pilot and some of his associates have been swayed by BJP’s plot and are now conspiring to topple the Congress government elected by eight crore Rajasthanis. It is unacceptable.”

 

As is protocol, Rajasthan Chief minister Ashok Gehlot went to the state  Raj Bhavan to meet the Governor and seek that Pilot and  Ramesh Meena and Vishvendra Singh, the two other ministers who the party sacked, be dropped from his cabinet. According to news reports, in its second meeting in two days, the Congress legislature party, also passed a resolution seeking action against the rebel leaders to send a “strong message” across its rank and file.

The Congress is no longer pretending to be polite,  and has accused Pilot of “colluding” with the Bharatiya Janata party, to “ destabilise the Ashok Gehlot led Congress government in the state.” Surjewala even said that the ‘rebel’ MLAs were hosted in a five star hotel in Gurgaon, Haryana, which is a BJP governed state. Surjewala said Pilot did not heed all the invites extended to come and resolve the issues and hence the decision to remove him, and the two ministers who supported him from their posts. Their behaviour was “unacceptable” to the party.

It doesn't seem that Pilot will have any choice but to leave the party. Though it is not yet known if he will join the Bharatiya Janata Party like his good friend Jyotiraditya Scindia did in Madhya Pradesh under almost similar circumstances. The other option is for Pilot to launch his own party. In any case the road ahead for the political and heir to the legacy of Rajesh Pilot is a tough one. Though he does have others in the extended family who may offer counsel if asked. His father in law Farooq Abdullah, and brother in law Omar Abdullah are both senior politicians and have always been known to express their political opinions loud and clear.

It was not a surprise that Pilot and his supporting ministers were sacked  a day after the CLP resolution demanded strict disciplinary proceedings against “any office bearers or CLP members who work to weaken the party and its government.”  few must have expected a miracle that Pilot would be calmed down after speaking to party leaders he is said to be close to, such Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, in the last two days. 

Surjewala also reminded everyone that Pilot had been groomed and supported by when he was a young politician just starting out. “He was made a minister at the centre in his 30s, a state unit chief and then the Deputy CM when he was just 40. This meant he enjoyed the affections of both top leaders Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi. But Sachin Pilot and his supporters have preferred to fall into the trap laid by the BJP,” said Surjewala.

Of course Pilot’s  close friends in the Congress such as Jitin Prasada are understandably upset at the developments. “Sachin Pilot is not just a colleague but my friend. No one can take away the fact that all these years he has worked with dedication for the party. Sincerely hope the situation can still be salvaged. Sad it has come to this…,” he posted 

 

Now, Rajasthan education minister Govind Dotasra has his work cut out for him as the new state Congress president. But it is  Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot who seems to have the last word here so far. He is quoted as saying: “there is nothing in the hands of Sachin Pilot. He is playing into the hands of BJP which is making all the arrangements.”

 

However, there is already talk that a number of other ‘youth’ leaders from Rajasthan may follow Pilot if he chooses to leave Congress tomorrow. And while his future in the Congress seems to be grounded forever, Sachin Pilot will now have to take one of the most crucial decisions of his life. His next decision, will then decide the course of his future in Indian politics. Will he join the BJP? Or will he launch his own political party? It is perhaps a matter of a few hours for the choice to become public.

 

Sachin Pilot grounded by Congress

Divested of top political posts in Rajasthan, will Pilot join the BJP, or launch his own political party?

Image Courtesy:rajasthanpost.com

Shifting sands of Rajasthan politics, have paused, perhaps temporarily, as Sachin Pilot, now former Deputy Chief Minister of the state has been shown the exit door by his political bosses. Pilot, who openly rebelled against the Congress party , has also been sacked from his post as the head of the Congress in the state.

The move obviously must not have been a surprise to Pilot as he had rejected the last minute offers of reconciliation from the party. Of course the first thing he did, like most political rebels before him,  was to take to social media and change his bio. It now reads “MLA from Tonk| Former Minister of IT, Telecom & Corporate affairs,GoI |Commissioned officer Territorial Army.”

He also posted a dramatic one liner that translates as “the truth can be troubled/ disturbed, not defeated.”

 

While the sacking saved him the trouble of sending a resignation, the Congress also wasted no time in appointing Govind Singh Dotasra as the Rajasthan Congress chief. The announcement was made, with a change of tone to authoritarian from yesterday’s empathic one, as spokesperson Randeen Singh Surjewala announced: “I regret that Sachin Pilot and some of his associates have been swayed by BJP’s plot and are now conspiring to topple the Congress government elected by eight crore Rajasthanis. It is unacceptable.”

 

As is protocol, Rajasthan Chief minister Ashok Gehlot went to the state  Raj Bhavan to meet the Governor and seek that Pilot and  Ramesh Meena and Vishvendra Singh, the two other ministers who the party sacked, be dropped from his cabinet. According to news reports, in its second meeting in two days, the Congress legislature party, also passed a resolution seeking action against the rebel leaders to send a “strong message” across its rank and file.

The Congress is no longer pretending to be polite,  and has accused Pilot of “colluding” with the Bharatiya Janata party, to “ destabilise the Ashok Gehlot led Congress government in the state.” Surjewala even said that the ‘rebel’ MLAs were hosted in a five star hotel in Gurgaon, Haryana, which is a BJP governed state. Surjewala said Pilot did not heed all the invites extended to come and resolve the issues and hence the decision to remove him, and the two ministers who supported him from their posts. Their behaviour was “unacceptable” to the party.

It doesn't seem that Pilot will have any choice but to leave the party. Though it is not yet known if he will join the Bharatiya Janata Party like his good friend Jyotiraditya Scindia did in Madhya Pradesh under almost similar circumstances. The other option is for Pilot to launch his own party. In any case the road ahead for the political and heir to the legacy of Rajesh Pilot is a tough one. Though he does have others in the extended family who may offer counsel if asked. His father in law Farooq Abdullah, and brother in law Omar Abdullah are both senior politicians and have always been known to express their political opinions loud and clear.

It was not a surprise that Pilot and his supporting ministers were sacked  a day after the CLP resolution demanded strict disciplinary proceedings against “any office bearers or CLP members who work to weaken the party and its government.”  few must have expected a miracle that Pilot would be calmed down after speaking to party leaders he is said to be close to, such Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, in the last two days. 

Surjewala also reminded everyone that Pilot had been groomed and supported by when he was a young politician just starting out. “He was made a minister at the centre in his 30s, a state unit chief and then the Deputy CM when he was just 40. This meant he enjoyed the affections of both top leaders Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi. But Sachin Pilot and his supporters have preferred to fall into the trap laid by the BJP,” said Surjewala.

Of course Pilot’s  close friends in the Congress such as Jitin Prasada are understandably upset at the developments. “Sachin Pilot is not just a colleague but my friend. No one can take away the fact that all these years he has worked with dedication for the party. Sincerely hope the situation can still be salvaged. Sad it has come to this…,” he posted 

 

Now, Rajasthan education minister Govind Dotasra has his work cut out for him as the new state Congress president. But it is  Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot who seems to have the last word here so far. He is quoted as saying: “there is nothing in the hands of Sachin Pilot. He is playing into the hands of BJP which is making all the arrangements.”

 

However, there is already talk that a number of other ‘youth’ leaders from Rajasthan may follow Pilot if he chooses to leave Congress tomorrow. And while his future in the Congress seems to be grounded forever, Sachin Pilot will now have to take one of the most crucial decisions of his life. His next decision, will then decide the course of his future in Indian politics. Will he join the BJP? Or will he launch his own political party? It is perhaps a matter of a few hours for the choice to become public.

 

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PUCL lauds Rajasthan CM for announcing that no manual scavengers will enter sewers

On July 6, 2020, Ashok Gehlot had asked district authorities to make sure that all sewer cleaning work be done by machines

14 Jul 2020

Image Courtesy:indiatoday.in

The People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) has lauded the Rajasthan Government’s decision where it announced that no sanitary worker will enter into sewerage or septic tanks for manual cleaning and that all such work would henceforth be carried out by machines.

On July 6, 2020, the Rajasthan government appreciated the work of sanitation workers in the curbing of the coronavirus infection in the state and asked district magistrates and municipal authorities to ensure that no sanitation worker enters septic pits for cleaning. In the video conference conducted with public representatives of urban bodies and sanitation bodies Gehlot had said, “This work should be done entirely by machines. It should be ensured that nobody loses their life due to entering into a septic tank.”

PUCL said that the state government’s decision was very commendable and a great victory of the safai karamchari movement. It added, “Of these, we consider the safai karamchari movement run by Prakash Kardale (Hadale) in Rajasthan and the movement run by Bezwada Wilson run at the national level, the Safai Karamchari Andolan, a great success.”

It has also urged the state government authorities to take urgent action on Gehlot’s words by purchasing essential equipment for the same, lest it become just another declaration on a piece of paper.

It must be noted that a 2014 Supreme Court judgement in the matter, prohibits anyone from working in sewers or septic tanks. If it has to be done in case of an emergency, it can only be allowed with the use of adequate safety gear like facemasks, goggles, gloves, safety belt, etc. The Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013 also prohibits the manual cleaning of sewers without protective equipment, the violation of which is punishable by imprisonment and fine or both.

As per data made available on the National Safai Karamchari Commission website, from 1993 to July 5 2019, around 38 people have lost their lives from working with sewers in the state. In a 2018 survey by the Central government, as many as 7,381 people registered themselves as manual scavengers, but only 2,590 (35%) were identified by the state, The Wire reported. Even this more than a three-fold rise, from 338 workers in 2013. It was also reported that of all those sanitation workers who lost their lives cleaning sewers between 1993 and 2019, families of only eight workers received the full compensation of Rs. 10 lakh each as set by the Supreme Court.

On July 8, 2020, two days after the government announced the decision, The Times of India reported Conveyor of NGO Safai Karamchari Andolan Prakash Hadale as saying, “These declarations have been made many times in the past but nothing has been done on ground level. Though manual scavenging is illegal as per law the practice is still prevalent in the state. The Safai Karamchari Commission which is supposed to monitor such activities, is defunct since assembly elections. Many private bodies are employing sanitation workers to go down in manholes for cleaning but the government has no control over them.”

Hence, while the decision is appreciative, what remains to be seen if it will still be implemented on ground, especially during this trying time.

Related:

Sanitation & Justice: Classify Sanitation Workers as Health Workers
Death by excreta: The cursed lives of India's manual scavengers
Stop killing us in sewers and septic tanks: Bezwada Wilson

PUCL lauds Rajasthan CM for announcing that no manual scavengers will enter sewers

On July 6, 2020, Ashok Gehlot had asked district authorities to make sure that all sewer cleaning work be done by machines

Image Courtesy:indiatoday.in

The People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) has lauded the Rajasthan Government’s decision where it announced that no sanitary worker will enter into sewerage or septic tanks for manual cleaning and that all such work would henceforth be carried out by machines.

On July 6, 2020, the Rajasthan government appreciated the work of sanitation workers in the curbing of the coronavirus infection in the state and asked district magistrates and municipal authorities to ensure that no sanitation worker enters septic pits for cleaning. In the video conference conducted with public representatives of urban bodies and sanitation bodies Gehlot had said, “This work should be done entirely by machines. It should be ensured that nobody loses their life due to entering into a septic tank.”

PUCL said that the state government’s decision was very commendable and a great victory of the safai karamchari movement. It added, “Of these, we consider the safai karamchari movement run by Prakash Kardale (Hadale) in Rajasthan and the movement run by Bezwada Wilson run at the national level, the Safai Karamchari Andolan, a great success.”

It has also urged the state government authorities to take urgent action on Gehlot’s words by purchasing essential equipment for the same, lest it become just another declaration on a piece of paper.

It must be noted that a 2014 Supreme Court judgement in the matter, prohibits anyone from working in sewers or septic tanks. If it has to be done in case of an emergency, it can only be allowed with the use of adequate safety gear like facemasks, goggles, gloves, safety belt, etc. The Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013 also prohibits the manual cleaning of sewers without protective equipment, the violation of which is punishable by imprisonment and fine or both.

As per data made available on the National Safai Karamchari Commission website, from 1993 to July 5 2019, around 38 people have lost their lives from working with sewers in the state. In a 2018 survey by the Central government, as many as 7,381 people registered themselves as manual scavengers, but only 2,590 (35%) were identified by the state, The Wire reported. Even this more than a three-fold rise, from 338 workers in 2013. It was also reported that of all those sanitation workers who lost their lives cleaning sewers between 1993 and 2019, families of only eight workers received the full compensation of Rs. 10 lakh each as set by the Supreme Court.

On July 8, 2020, two days after the government announced the decision, The Times of India reported Conveyor of NGO Safai Karamchari Andolan Prakash Hadale as saying, “These declarations have been made many times in the past but nothing has been done on ground level. Though manual scavenging is illegal as per law the practice is still prevalent in the state. The Safai Karamchari Commission which is supposed to monitor such activities, is defunct since assembly elections. Many private bodies are employing sanitation workers to go down in manholes for cleaning but the government has no control over them.”

Hence, while the decision is appreciative, what remains to be seen if it will still be implemented on ground, especially during this trying time.

Related:

Sanitation & Justice: Classify Sanitation Workers as Health Workers
Death by excreta: The cursed lives of India's manual scavengers
Stop killing us in sewers and septic tanks: Bezwada Wilson

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Medical fraternity rallies to #FreeDrKafeel as he languishes in jail during the pandemic

The medicos have said that the UP government is being vindictive towards Khan and using him as a scapegoat to hide its shortcomings

14 Jul 2020

Image Courtesy:indiatoday.in

As the call to #FreeDrKafeel grows louder, the Progressive Medicos and Scientists Forum (PMSF) has joined the cause in asking that Dr. Kafeel Khan be immediately released from prison. A statement issued by Dr. Harjit Singh Bhatti, National President of the PMSF read that the Uttar Pradesh government has been vindictive towards Khan.

 

It must be noted that Dr. Khan was suspended by the UP government in the case of the BRD Medical College in Gorakhpur, where the lack of oxygen supply had taken the lives of more than 60 children. Dr. Khan was falsely accused in the case and forced to spend nine months in prison for alleged medical negligence. He was later given a clean-chit in the matter and acquitted in the case after a government-appointed inquiry.

However, he was arrested in December 2019 for his allegedly inflammatory statements during an anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) at the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) and has been languishing in jail ever since, after being booked under the stringent National Security Act (NSA).

The PMSF said that Dr. Kafeel Khan was known for his humanitarian work by organizing free health camps and providing his services free of cost to all needy patients. Many times, he also put his own life in danger to help others.

Even from prison, Khan had written a letter to PM Modi on March 19, offering help to fight the coronavirus infection, using the 20 years of experience he had in the medical field. In this letter, he had also provided a roadmap to fight the virus advising the government to “Increase the testing strength (1 in each district), isolation wards (1000 in each districts), opening of new ICUs, extensive training of the doctors/paramedics, support groups including AYUSH and private sectors, curb the rumors, avoid unscientific views and mobilize all resources as soon as possible."

However, nobody paid heed to his request. Even though the Supreme Court ordered that prisons be decongested to curb the spread of coronavirus there, Dr. Khan, in another letter described the horrid conditions he and other inmates had to survive in, even during this time. “In a jail made for 534 inmates, there are 1,600 people kept with one barrack holding at least 100-125 of us. There are just 4-6 toilets,” Dr. Kafeel Khan wrote unveiling the torturous conditions inmates are subjected to even at the time of a pandemic.

In light of this and his continuous incarceration under stringent charges, the PMSF has asked the medical fraternity to join the movement to save Dr. Kafeel Khan and democracy. Many from the medical fraternity have now uploaded videos in support of Dr. Khan, urging the authorities to release him.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The call for his release has now gathered momentum as the hypocrisy of the government has come to light. On the one hand the government is hailing doctors for their work as frontline workers during the pandemic, but on the other is still being out on a witch hunt against doctors who expose the ills of the government.

It isn’t just Dr. Khan who has been harassed. In Visakhapatnam, a doctor was dragged and beaten by the police mercilessly, The Wire reported. This was the same doctor who had complained about the lack of PPE equipment and had been suspended in April, though the police claim that the two incidents weren’t related. State repression and police brutality in India has grown in the last few years. The perpetrators within the system continue to exploit with impunity while those cleared even by the law continue to languish behind bars.

Related:

Kafeel Khan describes prison to be ‘a living hell’ in letter from jail
Dr. Kafeel Khan arrested in Mumbai for remarks at anti-CAA rally in AMU
Dr Kafeel Khan still behind bars, wife Shabista appeals for release

Medical fraternity rallies to #FreeDrKafeel as he languishes in jail during the pandemic

The medicos have said that the UP government is being vindictive towards Khan and using him as a scapegoat to hide its shortcomings

Image Courtesy:indiatoday.in

As the call to #FreeDrKafeel grows louder, the Progressive Medicos and Scientists Forum (PMSF) has joined the cause in asking that Dr. Kafeel Khan be immediately released from prison. A statement issued by Dr. Harjit Singh Bhatti, National President of the PMSF read that the Uttar Pradesh government has been vindictive towards Khan.

 

It must be noted that Dr. Khan was suspended by the UP government in the case of the BRD Medical College in Gorakhpur, where the lack of oxygen supply had taken the lives of more than 60 children. Dr. Khan was falsely accused in the case and forced to spend nine months in prison for alleged medical negligence. He was later given a clean-chit in the matter and acquitted in the case after a government-appointed inquiry.

However, he was arrested in December 2019 for his allegedly inflammatory statements during an anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) at the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) and has been languishing in jail ever since, after being booked under the stringent National Security Act (NSA).

The PMSF said that Dr. Kafeel Khan was known for his humanitarian work by organizing free health camps and providing his services free of cost to all needy patients. Many times, he also put his own life in danger to help others.

Even from prison, Khan had written a letter to PM Modi on March 19, offering help to fight the coronavirus infection, using the 20 years of experience he had in the medical field. In this letter, he had also provided a roadmap to fight the virus advising the government to “Increase the testing strength (1 in each district), isolation wards (1000 in each districts), opening of new ICUs, extensive training of the doctors/paramedics, support groups including AYUSH and private sectors, curb the rumors, avoid unscientific views and mobilize all resources as soon as possible."

However, nobody paid heed to his request. Even though the Supreme Court ordered that prisons be decongested to curb the spread of coronavirus there, Dr. Khan, in another letter described the horrid conditions he and other inmates had to survive in, even during this time. “In a jail made for 534 inmates, there are 1,600 people kept with one barrack holding at least 100-125 of us. There are just 4-6 toilets,” Dr. Kafeel Khan wrote unveiling the torturous conditions inmates are subjected to even at the time of a pandemic.

In light of this and his continuous incarceration under stringent charges, the PMSF has asked the medical fraternity to join the movement to save Dr. Kafeel Khan and democracy. Many from the medical fraternity have now uploaded videos in support of Dr. Khan, urging the authorities to release him.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The call for his release has now gathered momentum as the hypocrisy of the government has come to light. On the one hand the government is hailing doctors for their work as frontline workers during the pandemic, but on the other is still being out on a witch hunt against doctors who expose the ills of the government.

It isn’t just Dr. Khan who has been harassed. In Visakhapatnam, a doctor was dragged and beaten by the police mercilessly, The Wire reported. This was the same doctor who had complained about the lack of PPE equipment and had been suspended in April, though the police claim that the two incidents weren’t related. State repression and police brutality in India has grown in the last few years. The perpetrators within the system continue to exploit with impunity while those cleared even by the law continue to languish behind bars.

Related:

Kafeel Khan describes prison to be ‘a living hell’ in letter from jail
Dr. Kafeel Khan arrested in Mumbai for remarks at anti-CAA rally in AMU
Dr Kafeel Khan still behind bars, wife Shabista appeals for release

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Varavara Rao is in hospital today, but the risk to his life is not over: Family

Rao’s s bail hearing is due on July 17, his family fears that police may get Rao certified ‘stable/normal’ and present this report to HC

14 Jul 2020

Varavara Roa

Noted Poet and activist Varavara Rao (79) was urgently shifted to JJ Hospital from Taloja Jail on Monday afternoon as his condition began worsening. However his family is still worried about the fact that the police may pressurise the hospital to discharge him once he stabilises and send him to jail. Rao, according to the hospital, is stable and is undergoing tests at the moment. According to his family Rao had been incoherent and too weak to even sustain a phone call the last time they spoke. This had alarmed them to the extent that they urgently called a video press conference on Sunday and appealed once again that he be rushed to a proper hospital and given urgent medical care he needed. 

The family states that they were not even informed that Rao had been shifted to JJ hospital and only came to know from a senior leader who had been appealing to Maharashtra government to intervene before Rao’s health took a turn for the worse.

According to his nephew, N Venugopal, Rao has been put through various medical tests since Monday evening till past midnight. Even then the hospital has said that Rao was  “brought in for evaluation only” the family still does not know if the ailing senior citizen will be admitted but feel that as some of the medical test reports may take a couple of days, he may have to stay in hospital,” The family only has information  from friends and well wishers. “However, none of this information was official. Though it was mandatory to inform family about these developments, neither the government nor jail, police, hospital authorities did not provide any official information to the family.” stated Venugopal. 

The family is apprehensive that Rao may once again be given basic treatment and then sent back to jail soon. They recall that he had been admitted at the same hospital on May 28 evening but was hurriedly discharged on June 1 and sent back to jail with a ‘comment’ that “his health is steady and all vitals normal”. However, Rao’s family has maintained that he was not normal when he was discharged from hospital last time. “While Sodium normal range was 134-145, he attained only 133 and potassium normal range was 3.5 to 5.0, he attained only 3.55, according to the hospital’s own Discharge Summary,” they said.

They are afraid that this rushed discharge may be repeated this time. “On June 2 it was proved that all this – admission in hospital, getting a normal report, getting him discharged – was part of conspiracy by police. June 2 was the date of hearing on his bail application on health grounds in NIA Special Sessions Court and police argued against his bail showing this hospital “normal” report. The judge accepted that and refused bail on June 26,” said the family.

The  family appealed Rao’s bail rejection to the High Court and after four adjournments, the arguments will be heard on  Friday, July 17. The family is apprehensive that the police may secure “another “normal” report from the hospital to show it in the court on July 17 to argue against bail”. 

“That means still VV is not out of danger. This hospitalisation is not a complete relief. Again we have to bring pressure to retain him in hospital till he is completely recovered and not to discharge him hurriedly like last time. Indeed, we have to increase our pressure to grant him bail and allow the family to provide better medical care to him,” stated Venugopal in his statement on social media. The family shared this note too:
 

The  National Investigation Agency (NIA), which is investigating the Elgar Parishad case, had opposed the bail plea. That was done on the basis that VV  Rao had been charged under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, (UAPA), which does not have provision to grant him temporary bail. However the NIA had submitted that the jail authorities be directed to ensure that Rao was given medical attention, whenever required, stated news reports.

Keeping in view Rao’s fragile health and advanced age that puts him, and others still in jail, at great risk wh

ich is increased due to the Covid-19 pandemic, scores of activists and concerned citizens had been appealing to the authorities to grant bail. 

Even  Congress MP Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury wrote an urgent letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi appealing that Rao be released. He wrote, "In this country, a person of 81 years of age has been languishing in jail for years without knowing his offence, now he has been mentally disoriented, having no medical assistance, his name is poet Varavara Rao… Please release him from his incarceration, release him from jail, in this age he cannot be a threat to one of the strongest countries in the world, India."

“You may please intervene into this matter and save his life, otherwise, our future generations will not forgive us,” he requested PM Modi.

According to a report in the Hindu, Sanjay Surase  superintendent of JJ Hospital has said that: “Patient Pendayala Varavara Rao, 81yr/Male is admitted under neurology. Case of giddiness and is under evaluation and investigations. His general condition is fair and vitals are stable.” Sunil Ramanand, Additional Director General Prisons added that and said Rao has been admitted to JJ Hospital to conduct some tests and doctors will decide whether he needs to be admitted for any treatment.”

On Sunday afternoon, Rao’s wife  P Hemalatha, and daughters  P Sahaja, P Anala, P Pavana, their daughters members had in an online meeting said that the poet once known for his powerful writing and speeches was “ incoherent and disoriented”.

They were alarmed to hear his voice and realised  how much his health has deteriorated when they spoke to him on Saturday, July 11. Rao seemed to be “delirious and hallucinating” as he spoke about the “funeral of his father and mother” events that took place over 70, and  40 years ago. He could not understand or reply properly when they asked him about his own health. 

SabrangIndia attended the Rao family’s press conference on Sunday and heard their shock and despair when they recalled his delirium. “He kept talking about his nana’s and his amma’s (father and mother) deaths and funerals, they have passed aways decades ago,” his wife said Rao sounded “weak and muffled”.

 “As an eloquent and articulate public speaker and writer in Telugu for over five decades, a Telugu teacher for four decades and known for his meticulous memory, this fumbling, incoherence and loss of memory were in themselves strange and frightening,” said his family during the video conference. According to his wife, Rao’s co-accused Veron Gonsalves, said  Rao was not even able to walk, go to the toilet, or even brush his teeth on his own. “We were also told that he is always hallucinating that we, family members, were waiting at the jail gate to receive him as he was getting released.”

Even getting him this urgent medical attention has been a result of  sustained appeal, campaigns and follow up by noted intellectuals, and civil rights activists, including historian Romila Thapar, 

human rights activist and journalist Teesta Setalvad, activist and environmentalist Medha Patkar and others. They have made multiple appeals on social media, spoken atonline seminars, and written petitions to authorities to act. 

“In the past 24 hours, thousands of citizens, activists, academics, and political leaders have been drawing attention to the grave medical condition of Poet Vara Vara Rao.” 

 

 

medha

Historian Romila Thappar, economist Prabhat Patnaik, and Devaki Jain, sociologist Satish Deshpande and human rights activist Maja Daruwala, signed a petition appealing to the Maharashtra government and NIA to ensure that the Telugu poet and writer P. Varavara Rao, gets immediate medical care. “To knowingly risk the life of a person in state custody by refusing proper medical treatment would amount to “encounter”, they stated. 

“Mr. Rao poses no flight risk and has voluntarily submitted to all investigations for the past 22 months. There is no reason in law or conscience to hold him in circumstances that increase risk to his fragile health,” they said in a statement. The petitioners said, there was a need to assure the nation that the Indian State respects the rule of law and the Constitution, by ensuring proper treatment for Mr. Rao.

Others such as noted human rights activist and journalist Teesta Setalvad, sustained a social media campaign for hours since the news of Rao’s failing first came to light this weekend, “

“Civilised nations have civilised govts have civilised societies. Release Poet Varavara Rao Now!” #FreeVaravaraRao

 

teesta

The Human Rights Forum, also issued  a statement on Monday, and  appealed to the authorities concerned to ensure that well-known Rao be given appropriate and expert medical treatment immediately.  Given the ongoing COVID-19 threat and Mr. Rao’s co-morbidities, it is imperative that the court, the government of Maharashtra and the Central government intervene and ensure that there is no further peril to his fragile health condition, the HRF stated and requested that his family be allowed to stay with him till needed. The Indian Association of Peoples Lawyers too has launched a campaign titled ‘Don’t Kill Varavara Rao in Jail!’ to secure medical support for the incarcerated poet and writer from Telangana. “We want to remind the government that it has no right to deny the right to life of any person, much less an under-trial prisoner,” the statement signed by 10 advocates representing various organisations such as All India Lawyers Union, Bezawada Bar Association, Indian Association of Lawyers, Bar Council of Telangana, besides the poet’s family members.



Related: 

Don’t Kill Varavara Rao in Jail!

Bhima Koregaon case: Gautam Navlakha denied default bail; NIA granted 10 days 

Civil Society members request Maha CM to shift Bhima Koregaon activists out of jail

 

Varavara Rao is in hospital today, but the risk to his life is not over: Family

Rao’s s bail hearing is due on July 17, his family fears that police may get Rao certified ‘stable/normal’ and present this report to HC

Varavara Roa

Noted Poet and activist Varavara Rao (79) was urgently shifted to JJ Hospital from Taloja Jail on Monday afternoon as his condition began worsening. However his family is still worried about the fact that the police may pressurise the hospital to discharge him once he stabilises and send him to jail. Rao, according to the hospital, is stable and is undergoing tests at the moment. According to his family Rao had been incoherent and too weak to even sustain a phone call the last time they spoke. This had alarmed them to the extent that they urgently called a video press conference on Sunday and appealed once again that he be rushed to a proper hospital and given urgent medical care he needed. 

The family states that they were not even informed that Rao had been shifted to JJ hospital and only came to know from a senior leader who had been appealing to Maharashtra government to intervene before Rao’s health took a turn for the worse.

According to his nephew, N Venugopal, Rao has been put through various medical tests since Monday evening till past midnight. Even then the hospital has said that Rao was  “brought in for evaluation only” the family still does not know if the ailing senior citizen will be admitted but feel that as some of the medical test reports may take a couple of days, he may have to stay in hospital,” The family only has information  from friends and well wishers. “However, none of this information was official. Though it was mandatory to inform family about these developments, neither the government nor jail, police, hospital authorities did not provide any official information to the family.” stated Venugopal. 

The family is apprehensive that Rao may once again be given basic treatment and then sent back to jail soon. They recall that he had been admitted at the same hospital on May 28 evening but was hurriedly discharged on June 1 and sent back to jail with a ‘comment’ that “his health is steady and all vitals normal”. However, Rao’s family has maintained that he was not normal when he was discharged from hospital last time. “While Sodium normal range was 134-145, he attained only 133 and potassium normal range was 3.5 to 5.0, he attained only 3.55, according to the hospital’s own Discharge Summary,” they said.

They are afraid that this rushed discharge may be repeated this time. “On June 2 it was proved that all this – admission in hospital, getting a normal report, getting him discharged – was part of conspiracy by police. June 2 was the date of hearing on his bail application on health grounds in NIA Special Sessions Court and police argued against his bail showing this hospital “normal” report. The judge accepted that and refused bail on June 26,” said the family.

The  family appealed Rao’s bail rejection to the High Court and after four adjournments, the arguments will be heard on  Friday, July 17. The family is apprehensive that the police may secure “another “normal” report from the hospital to show it in the court on July 17 to argue against bail”. 

“That means still VV is not out of danger. This hospitalisation is not a complete relief. Again we have to bring pressure to retain him in hospital till he is completely recovered and not to discharge him hurriedly like last time. Indeed, we have to increase our pressure to grant him bail and allow the family to provide better medical care to him,” stated Venugopal in his statement on social media. The family shared this note too:
 

The  National Investigation Agency (NIA), which is investigating the Elgar Parishad case, had opposed the bail plea. That was done on the basis that VV  Rao had been charged under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, (UAPA), which does not have provision to grant him temporary bail. However the NIA had submitted that the jail authorities be directed to ensure that Rao was given medical attention, whenever required, stated news reports.

Keeping in view Rao’s fragile health and advanced age that puts him, and others still in jail, at great risk wh

ich is increased due to the Covid-19 pandemic, scores of activists and concerned citizens had been appealing to the authorities to grant bail. 

Even  Congress MP Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury wrote an urgent letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi appealing that Rao be released. He wrote, "In this country, a person of 81 years of age has been languishing in jail for years without knowing his offence, now he has been mentally disoriented, having no medical assistance, his name is poet Varavara Rao… Please release him from his incarceration, release him from jail, in this age he cannot be a threat to one of the strongest countries in the world, India."

“You may please intervene into this matter and save his life, otherwise, our future generations will not forgive us,” he requested PM Modi.

According to a report in the Hindu, Sanjay Surase  superintendent of JJ Hospital has said that: “Patient Pendayala Varavara Rao, 81yr/Male is admitted under neurology. Case of giddiness and is under evaluation and investigations. His general condition is fair and vitals are stable.” Sunil Ramanand, Additional Director General Prisons added that and said Rao has been admitted to JJ Hospital to conduct some tests and doctors will decide whether he needs to be admitted for any treatment.”

On Sunday afternoon, Rao’s wife  P Hemalatha, and daughters  P Sahaja, P Anala, P Pavana, their daughters members had in an online meeting said that the poet once known for his powerful writing and speeches was “ incoherent and disoriented”.

They were alarmed to hear his voice and realised  how much his health has deteriorated when they spoke to him on Saturday, July 11. Rao seemed to be “delirious and hallucinating” as he spoke about the “funeral of his father and mother” events that took place over 70, and  40 years ago. He could not understand or reply properly when they asked him about his own health. 

SabrangIndia attended the Rao family’s press conference on Sunday and heard their shock and despair when they recalled his delirium. “He kept talking about his nana’s and his amma’s (father and mother) deaths and funerals, they have passed aways decades ago,” his wife said Rao sounded “weak and muffled”.

 “As an eloquent and articulate public speaker and writer in Telugu for over five decades, a Telugu teacher for four decades and known for his meticulous memory, this fumbling, incoherence and loss of memory were in themselves strange and frightening,” said his family during the video conference. According to his wife, Rao’s co-accused Veron Gonsalves, said  Rao was not even able to walk, go to the toilet, or even brush his teeth on his own. “We were also told that he is always hallucinating that we, family members, were waiting at the jail gate to receive him as he was getting released.”

Even getting him this urgent medical attention has been a result of  sustained appeal, campaigns and follow up by noted intellectuals, and civil rights activists, including historian Romila Thapar, 

human rights activist and journalist Teesta Setalvad, activist and environmentalist Medha Patkar and others. They have made multiple appeals on social media, spoken atonline seminars, and written petitions to authorities to act. 

“In the past 24 hours, thousands of citizens, activists, academics, and political leaders have been drawing attention to the grave medical condition of Poet Vara Vara Rao.” 

 

 

medha

Historian Romila Thappar, economist Prabhat Patnaik, and Devaki Jain, sociologist Satish Deshpande and human rights activist Maja Daruwala, signed a petition appealing to the Maharashtra government and NIA to ensure that the Telugu poet and writer P. Varavara Rao, gets immediate medical care. “To knowingly risk the life of a person in state custody by refusing proper medical treatment would amount to “encounter”, they stated. 

“Mr. Rao poses no flight risk and has voluntarily submitted to all investigations for the past 22 months. There is no reason in law or conscience to hold him in circumstances that increase risk to his fragile health,” they said in a statement. The petitioners said, there was a need to assure the nation that the Indian State respects the rule of law and the Constitution, by ensuring proper treatment for Mr. Rao.

Others such as noted human rights activist and journalist Teesta Setalvad, sustained a social media campaign for hours since the news of Rao’s failing first came to light this weekend, “

“Civilised nations have civilised govts have civilised societies. Release Poet Varavara Rao Now!” #FreeVaravaraRao

 

teesta

The Human Rights Forum, also issued  a statement on Monday, and  appealed to the authorities concerned to ensure that well-known Rao be given appropriate and expert medical treatment immediately.  Given the ongoing COVID-19 threat and Mr. Rao’s co-morbidities, it is imperative that the court, the government of Maharashtra and the Central government intervene and ensure that there is no further peril to his fragile health condition, the HRF stated and requested that his family be allowed to stay with him till needed. The Indian Association of Peoples Lawyers too has launched a campaign titled ‘Don’t Kill Varavara Rao in Jail!’ to secure medical support for the incarcerated poet and writer from Telangana. “We want to remind the government that it has no right to deny the right to life of any person, much less an under-trial prisoner,” the statement signed by 10 advocates representing various organisations such as All India Lawyers Union, Bezawada Bar Association, Indian Association of Lawyers, Bar Council of Telangana, besides the poet’s family members.



Related: 

Don’t Kill Varavara Rao in Jail!

Bhima Koregaon case: Gautam Navlakha denied default bail; NIA granted 10 days 

Civil Society members request Maha CM to shift Bhima Koregaon activists out of jail

 

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Forest officials allegedly harass, intimidate Adivasis in Chitrakoot 

Public officials are allegedly not only forcefully evicting Adivasis from forest land, but also digging up their farm land, cutting off their access to the land, thus affecting their livelihood 

14 Jul 2020

Adivasi
Representation Image        Courtesy: Paul Salopek


Forest officials in the Manikpur area of Chitrakoot district in Uttar Pradesh are allegedly engaging in multiple illegal methods of keeping Adivasis away from forest lands. Such incidents have unfortunately become rather common in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand where several instances of officials allegedly resorting to brutality and threats to intimidate Adivasis have recently come to light. This is also significant because the harassment and intimidation come in wake of Adivasis filing community claims to forest land in line with their rights enshrined in the Forest Rights Act 2006. 

Chitrakoot district has vast tracts of forest land that are not only home to, but also a source of livelihood for Adivasis, other forest dwelling communities and forest workers. Most of these people hail from economically weak backgrounds and depend on forest produce and forest land to sustain themselves and earn a decent living.

Instances of intimidation, harassment and abuse have been reported from Adivasis in villages like Unchdih, Gopipur, Ranipur, Nagar and Kihuniya. They are allegedly being prevented by forest officials from tilling their lands. When they object to these acts and stake their claim, they are allegedly threatened with the prospect of false cases and arrest. In Unchdih, the officials have dug up holes in Adivasi farms and have planted saplings there instead. In Gopipur, land belonging to Gram Panchayat has also been dug up. Further, in other villages such as Ranipur, Kihuniya the adivasis are being evicted from their homes and are not being allowed to cultivate land.

These unwarranted acts of forceful evictions of such vulnerable sections of society are condemnable and also amount to infringement of the basic fundamental right of right to life under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution as well as violative of provisions of The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006. Further they also go against the Supreme Court order of February 2019 staying evictions of all forest dwellers from their lands in Wildlife First vs. Union of India in IA No. 35782/2019.

Despite legal provisions and court decisions being in favour of the Adivasis or forest dwellers, public officials have been defying them and are acting in complete disregard of even humanitarian concerns when the country is reeling under the Covid-19 pandemic. To bring these incidents to the cognizance of UP government, All Indian Union of Forest Working People (AIUFWP), a partner organisation with Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP), has written a letter dated July 8, to the Chief Minister, Ministers of Social Welfare as well as Forests, Chief Secretaries of Social Welfare and Forest Departments as well as the Deputy Collector of Chitrakoot District. AIUFWP has been working for the welfare of such forest dwelling communities by ensuring their voices are heard by the government and assisting them in staking claim to their rights which have been recognised under the Forest Rights Act, 2006.

The growing incidents of harassment of adivasis has become a matter of concern. Several instances have come to light where members of forest dwelling communities have been allegedly threatened, attacked, assaulted and abused by forest officials, often in alleged complicity with the police. 

An incident of land grabbing took place in late June in Lilasi village Muirpur of Sonbhadra district, UP where a businessman allegedly illegally usurped forest land and started construction of a house and a shop on that land. When Adivasi villagers reached the spot to talk to him, his hired goons allegedly issued death threats to Adivasis and chased them away.

Some of these incidents that go beyond humanitarian standards have been brought to the notice of the National human Rights Commission (NHRC) by CJP and AIUFWP. 

In one incident, forest officials in Uttar Pradesh allegedly attacked and even molested Adivasi women belonging to the Tharu tribe, in the Dudhwa Tiger Reserve in broad daylight, while in another incident Van Gujjars of Rajaji National Park, Dehradun were beaten up, their shelters were destroyed. They were arrested on trumped up charges and were allegedly even tortured in custody. A woman member of the community was also allegedly subjected to gendered violence in custody. Such escalated incidents of injustice against India's indigenous people are on the rise and need urgent attention of concerned authorities.

The letter may be read here.

Related:

UP Adivasis oppose land grab attempt, get death threats
CJP moves NHRC against police and forest officials in Dehradun for assaulting tribals
Adivasi women attacked in UP, CJP-AIUFWP move NHRC
Assault on Tharu women prompts FIR but forest officials flex muscles in UP
Van Gujjar Mustafa Chopra and grandsons secure bail

Forest officials allegedly harass, intimidate Adivasis in Chitrakoot 

Public officials are allegedly not only forcefully evicting Adivasis from forest land, but also digging up their farm land, cutting off their access to the land, thus affecting their livelihood 

Adivasi
Representation Image        Courtesy: Paul Salopek


Forest officials in the Manikpur area of Chitrakoot district in Uttar Pradesh are allegedly engaging in multiple illegal methods of keeping Adivasis away from forest lands. Such incidents have unfortunately become rather common in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand where several instances of officials allegedly resorting to brutality and threats to intimidate Adivasis have recently come to light. This is also significant because the harassment and intimidation come in wake of Adivasis filing community claims to forest land in line with their rights enshrined in the Forest Rights Act 2006. 

Chitrakoot district has vast tracts of forest land that are not only home to, but also a source of livelihood for Adivasis, other forest dwelling communities and forest workers. Most of these people hail from economically weak backgrounds and depend on forest produce and forest land to sustain themselves and earn a decent living.

Instances of intimidation, harassment and abuse have been reported from Adivasis in villages like Unchdih, Gopipur, Ranipur, Nagar and Kihuniya. They are allegedly being prevented by forest officials from tilling their lands. When they object to these acts and stake their claim, they are allegedly threatened with the prospect of false cases and arrest. In Unchdih, the officials have dug up holes in Adivasi farms and have planted saplings there instead. In Gopipur, land belonging to Gram Panchayat has also been dug up. Further, in other villages such as Ranipur, Kihuniya the adivasis are being evicted from their homes and are not being allowed to cultivate land.

These unwarranted acts of forceful evictions of such vulnerable sections of society are condemnable and also amount to infringement of the basic fundamental right of right to life under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution as well as violative of provisions of The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006. Further they also go against the Supreme Court order of February 2019 staying evictions of all forest dwellers from their lands in Wildlife First vs. Union of India in IA No. 35782/2019.

Despite legal provisions and court decisions being in favour of the Adivasis or forest dwellers, public officials have been defying them and are acting in complete disregard of even humanitarian concerns when the country is reeling under the Covid-19 pandemic. To bring these incidents to the cognizance of UP government, All Indian Union of Forest Working People (AIUFWP), a partner organisation with Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP), has written a letter dated July 8, to the Chief Minister, Ministers of Social Welfare as well as Forests, Chief Secretaries of Social Welfare and Forest Departments as well as the Deputy Collector of Chitrakoot District. AIUFWP has been working for the welfare of such forest dwelling communities by ensuring their voices are heard by the government and assisting them in staking claim to their rights which have been recognised under the Forest Rights Act, 2006.

The growing incidents of harassment of adivasis has become a matter of concern. Several instances have come to light where members of forest dwelling communities have been allegedly threatened, attacked, assaulted and abused by forest officials, often in alleged complicity with the police. 

An incident of land grabbing took place in late June in Lilasi village Muirpur of Sonbhadra district, UP where a businessman allegedly illegally usurped forest land and started construction of a house and a shop on that land. When Adivasi villagers reached the spot to talk to him, his hired goons allegedly issued death threats to Adivasis and chased them away.

Some of these incidents that go beyond humanitarian standards have been brought to the notice of the National human Rights Commission (NHRC) by CJP and AIUFWP. 

In one incident, forest officials in Uttar Pradesh allegedly attacked and even molested Adivasi women belonging to the Tharu tribe, in the Dudhwa Tiger Reserve in broad daylight, while in another incident Van Gujjars of Rajaji National Park, Dehradun were beaten up, their shelters were destroyed. They were arrested on trumped up charges and were allegedly even tortured in custody. A woman member of the community was also allegedly subjected to gendered violence in custody. Such escalated incidents of injustice against India's indigenous people are on the rise and need urgent attention of concerned authorities.

The letter may be read here.

Related:

UP Adivasis oppose land grab attempt, get death threats
CJP moves NHRC against police and forest officials in Dehradun for assaulting tribals
Adivasi women attacked in UP, CJP-AIUFWP move NHRC
Assault on Tharu women prompts FIR but forest officials flex muscles in UP
Van Gujjar Mustafa Chopra and grandsons secure bail

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Indian Names: Pride and Prejudice

India’s renaming of streets, cultural sites and cities, shows the country’s reluctance to reconcile its complicated history with its nationalist present.

14 Jul 2020

road renaming

In a hurried cab ride from Peddar Road to Bhaudaji Lad Museum in Byculla, albeit before the lockdown, I asked the taxi driver to take me via N.M. Joshi road as I plotted the journey on google maps. He turns around, bewildered and asks, “What’s that?” Equally confused I provided a landmark, to which he responded, “You mean Delisle Road?” Shaking his head in disapproval at my ignorance at Bombay’s street names, he speeds on. Streets across the city have old and new names, from Falkland road being renamed PB Marg despite its role in Manto’s Bombay Stories, to Lamington Road, renowned for its electronics, being renamed to Dr A Nair road, with locals usually knowing the former name, not the latter.

Mumbai, India’s financial hub, a bustling megapolis of 20 million people is best known for its traffic, Bollywood, and businesses. To the average Mumbaikar, or Bombaywallah, depending on your taste, it is better known for its complicated street names, which confuse families that have been there for generations and newly arriving migrants. Under the Shiv Sena, a regional Hindu nationalist party, the city of Bombay was renamed to Mumbai in 1996. Mumbai was the original name of the city some 1000 years ago, before it became a trading hub.

While the move against colonial rule is justified as a way to overcome the horrors the country faced under the British Raj, in recent years, this renaming trend has moved past British rule. The ruling Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP), has renamed sites and cities built by the Mughals, a Muslim dynasty that ruled India between the 16th and 18th centuries. Recently in Delhi, Aurangzeb Road, was renamed Dr APJ Abdul Kalam Marg, after a Muslim President of India, since Aurangzeb is considered anti-Hindu, while Dr Kalam is considered what some on the right call a “good Muslim," as if Muslims have to prove their loyalty to the nation. The city of Allahabad was renamed Prayagraj, its original Sanskrit name, five-hundred years later. A local BJP politician remarked that the renaming of Allahabad was a way to “rectify the mistake made by Akbar,” arguing that the Mughal ruler eroded the city’s ancient traditions, while ignoring the contributions Akbar made to the country. 

The typical justification for this anti-Muslim stance is that the Mughals were invaders who destroyed the glory of Hindu civilisation, while disregarding the centuries-long influence the dynasty had in shaping Indian culture. The secular and unifying foundations of Indian nationalism devised India’s founding fathers during and after the freedom struggle, are disregarded by the current government in favour of a Hindu nationalist vision of the country.

These small steps, in conjunction with more concerning actions such as the abolition of Jammu and Kashmir’s autonomy, the passage of the discriminatory Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), and recent Delhi riots, seek to marginalise Muslims and undermine their contributions to the country, has prejudiced a country against 182 million people. Criticisms of the government result in online abuse from the BJP’s troll army, as faced by Rana Ayub, and sadly, in more extreme cases, the murder of Gauri Lankesh. Charges are filed against those who express their dissent against the government. The renaming efforts to the BJP now, and the Shiv Sena 23 years ago, are justified as a matter of national pride. Instead, they have prejudiced the nation against the millions of religious and ethnic groups that contribute to the country’s uniqueness. 

Contact Vibhav Mariwala at vibhavmariwala ‘at’ gmail.com

 

 

Indian Names: Pride and Prejudice

India’s renaming of streets, cultural sites and cities, shows the country’s reluctance to reconcile its complicated history with its nationalist present.

road renaming

In a hurried cab ride from Peddar Road to Bhaudaji Lad Museum in Byculla, albeit before the lockdown, I asked the taxi driver to take me via N.M. Joshi road as I plotted the journey on google maps. He turns around, bewildered and asks, “What’s that?” Equally confused I provided a landmark, to which he responded, “You mean Delisle Road?” Shaking his head in disapproval at my ignorance at Bombay’s street names, he speeds on. Streets across the city have old and new names, from Falkland road being renamed PB Marg despite its role in Manto’s Bombay Stories, to Lamington Road, renowned for its electronics, being renamed to Dr A Nair road, with locals usually knowing the former name, not the latter.

Mumbai, India’s financial hub, a bustling megapolis of 20 million people is best known for its traffic, Bollywood, and businesses. To the average Mumbaikar, or Bombaywallah, depending on your taste, it is better known for its complicated street names, which confuse families that have been there for generations and newly arriving migrants. Under the Shiv Sena, a regional Hindu nationalist party, the city of Bombay was renamed to Mumbai in 1996. Mumbai was the original name of the city some 1000 years ago, before it became a trading hub.

While the move against colonial rule is justified as a way to overcome the horrors the country faced under the British Raj, in recent years, this renaming trend has moved past British rule. The ruling Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP), has renamed sites and cities built by the Mughals, a Muslim dynasty that ruled India between the 16th and 18th centuries. Recently in Delhi, Aurangzeb Road, was renamed Dr APJ Abdul Kalam Marg, after a Muslim President of India, since Aurangzeb is considered anti-Hindu, while Dr Kalam is considered what some on the right call a “good Muslim," as if Muslims have to prove their loyalty to the nation. The city of Allahabad was renamed Prayagraj, its original Sanskrit name, five-hundred years later. A local BJP politician remarked that the renaming of Allahabad was a way to “rectify the mistake made by Akbar,” arguing that the Mughal ruler eroded the city’s ancient traditions, while ignoring the contributions Akbar made to the country. 

The typical justification for this anti-Muslim stance is that the Mughals were invaders who destroyed the glory of Hindu civilisation, while disregarding the centuries-long influence the dynasty had in shaping Indian culture. The secular and unifying foundations of Indian nationalism devised India’s founding fathers during and after the freedom struggle, are disregarded by the current government in favour of a Hindu nationalist vision of the country.

These small steps, in conjunction with more concerning actions such as the abolition of Jammu and Kashmir’s autonomy, the passage of the discriminatory Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), and recent Delhi riots, seek to marginalise Muslims and undermine their contributions to the country, has prejudiced a country against 182 million people. Criticisms of the government result in online abuse from the BJP’s troll army, as faced by Rana Ayub, and sadly, in more extreme cases, the murder of Gauri Lankesh. Charges are filed against those who express their dissent against the government. The renaming efforts to the BJP now, and the Shiv Sena 23 years ago, are justified as a matter of national pride. Instead, they have prejudiced the nation against the millions of religious and ethnic groups that contribute to the country’s uniqueness. 

Contact Vibhav Mariwala at vibhavmariwala ‘at’ gmail.com

 

 

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Perpetrators must be neutralised soon: BJP Gen Secy on Waseem Bari’s murder

Political battle in J&K revived as Ram Madhav takes a dig at regional parties, and adds that legislative Assembly will be formed after delimitation

13 Jul 2020

Image Courtesy:thelegitimatenews.com

“Waseem Bari and his entire family have been very good workers of our party, and the way he was killed by terrorists has hurt us a lot. We came here to condole, and give  immediate help to the family [of Waseem Bari]. All the leaders and workers of Bharatiya Janata Party stand with the party workers here in this tough situation. We hope no one else has to make such a sacrifice. Those who have done this [killings] should be tracked neutralised soon, is our appeal,”  BJP general secretary, Ram Madhav who is also in charge of Jammu and Kashmir did not mince words when he visited Kashmir on Sunday. 

 

A week after Bharatiya Janata Party leader Sheikh Waseem Bari, his father and brother were gunned down in a militant attack, in Bandipore District near their home in Kashmir, Ram Madhav was the first senior leader of the party, along with Union Minister Jitendra Singh to visit the bereaved family.

The 27-year-old politician had 10 cops, including eight security commandos guarding him when he was gunned down outside his shop and home near the Bandipore Police Station. His father and brother were also killed in the same attack. Bari was the District President of the party. Hours later, around 10 policemen assigned to his security detail were arrested for their alleged negligence in protecting the leader, and his family. Speaking about the security for local politicians, Madhav said, “Whatever security measures are required, it is being done by authorities… Security arrangement was also made for our martyr Waseem Bari, but there was some mistake because of which tragedy took place. Authorities will definitely take action. Not only our workers, administration is making preparations to provide required security to all political workers.”

 

These killings, of a local political leader in the Kashmir Valley, were a month after the Congress Party’s sarpanch Ajay Pandita was gunned down on June 8, 2020. Both incidents shook the UT’s political establishment across party lines.  

 

Ram Madhav’s strong statement on Sunday is also an indication of the renewal of the political battle in the Union Territory. Madhav has also said that the Legislative Assembly will be formed only after the delimitation exercise is complete in the Union Territory. While this is the first big political announcement since the abolition of article 370  and the creation of the UT, Madhav also gave talking points to the other party workers and took a no hold barred dig at the regional parties National Conference (NC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), saying they were just “scared and making excuses. These people are scared. They do not want to take part in the political process that is ongoing. Will they start political activities only when elections are announced? There were panchayat elections, mandal elections, so why did they not take part in those?”

 

Madhav asserted that now, when there was a martyrdom, was the time for regional parties to come forth. “Those who are saying there is no political process in the Valley, are the ones responsible for it”, he said the BJP is doing its best but wants local parties to come forward too. According to a report in the Indian Express Madhav also spoke to the media in Srinagar and said ''…this time priority is to first fight COVID-19 now, then delimitation exercise will take place and then for UT, legislative Assembly will be formed. At an appropriate time, the government of India will decide about other matters as well.” 

These political statements can be read as a response to the comments made by veteran leader Farooq Abdullah who had recently said that his focus may now be on seeking a reversal of the decision scrapping Article 370 and 35A of the Indian Constitution. He had called the domicile law “unconstitutional” and said it was “not acceptable” to him. "When we are saying that we are united against everything that they have done, which is illegal, unconstitutional, how do you think am I going to accept what is unconstitutional," had been quoted in news reports.

Meanwhile, a strict lockdown has been imposed in Srinagar as there has been a surge in Covid-19 cases in the Valley.

 

A move that was criticised by Mehbooba Mufti’s party PDP,  via her social media handle, “Last week, J&K admin threw open parks in Kashmir & decided to go ahead with Amarnath Yatra despite a spate of COVID cases. Which is why today’s directive to reimpose lockdown is baffling & emblematic of their rudderless approach”

 

 

Related: 

Sheikh Waseem Bari shot dead despite 10 cops being assigned to guard him! 
We are united against everything that they have done: Farooq Abdullah 
Joe Biden bats for restoration of rights in Kashmir

Perpetrators must be neutralised soon: BJP Gen Secy on Waseem Bari’s murder

Political battle in J&K revived as Ram Madhav takes a dig at regional parties, and adds that legislative Assembly will be formed after delimitation

Image Courtesy:thelegitimatenews.com

“Waseem Bari and his entire family have been very good workers of our party, and the way he was killed by terrorists has hurt us a lot. We came here to condole, and give  immediate help to the family [of Waseem Bari]. All the leaders and workers of Bharatiya Janata Party stand with the party workers here in this tough situation. We hope no one else has to make such a sacrifice. Those who have done this [killings] should be tracked neutralised soon, is our appeal,”  BJP general secretary, Ram Madhav who is also in charge of Jammu and Kashmir did not mince words when he visited Kashmir on Sunday. 

 

A week after Bharatiya Janata Party leader Sheikh Waseem Bari, his father and brother were gunned down in a militant attack, in Bandipore District near their home in Kashmir, Ram Madhav was the first senior leader of the party, along with Union Minister Jitendra Singh to visit the bereaved family.

The 27-year-old politician had 10 cops, including eight security commandos guarding him when he was gunned down outside his shop and home near the Bandipore Police Station. His father and brother were also killed in the same attack. Bari was the District President of the party. Hours later, around 10 policemen assigned to his security detail were arrested for their alleged negligence in protecting the leader, and his family. Speaking about the security for local politicians, Madhav said, “Whatever security measures are required, it is being done by authorities… Security arrangement was also made for our martyr Waseem Bari, but there was some mistake because of which tragedy took place. Authorities will definitely take action. Not only our workers, administration is making preparations to provide required security to all political workers.”

 

These killings, of a local political leader in the Kashmir Valley, were a month after the Congress Party’s sarpanch Ajay Pandita was gunned down on June 8, 2020. Both incidents shook the UT’s political establishment across party lines.  

 

Ram Madhav’s strong statement on Sunday is also an indication of the renewal of the political battle in the Union Territory. Madhav has also said that the Legislative Assembly will be formed only after the delimitation exercise is complete in the Union Territory. While this is the first big political announcement since the abolition of article 370  and the creation of the UT, Madhav also gave talking points to the other party workers and took a no hold barred dig at the regional parties National Conference (NC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), saying they were just “scared and making excuses. These people are scared. They do not want to take part in the political process that is ongoing. Will they start political activities only when elections are announced? There were panchayat elections, mandal elections, so why did they not take part in those?”

 

Madhav asserted that now, when there was a martyrdom, was the time for regional parties to come forth. “Those who are saying there is no political process in the Valley, are the ones responsible for it”, he said the BJP is doing its best but wants local parties to come forward too. According to a report in the Indian Express Madhav also spoke to the media in Srinagar and said ''…this time priority is to first fight COVID-19 now, then delimitation exercise will take place and then for UT, legislative Assembly will be formed. At an appropriate time, the government of India will decide about other matters as well.” 

These political statements can be read as a response to the comments made by veteran leader Farooq Abdullah who had recently said that his focus may now be on seeking a reversal of the decision scrapping Article 370 and 35A of the Indian Constitution. He had called the domicile law “unconstitutional” and said it was “not acceptable” to him. "When we are saying that we are united against everything that they have done, which is illegal, unconstitutional, how do you think am I going to accept what is unconstitutional," had been quoted in news reports.

Meanwhile, a strict lockdown has been imposed in Srinagar as there has been a surge in Covid-19 cases in the Valley.

 

A move that was criticised by Mehbooba Mufti’s party PDP,  via her social media handle, “Last week, J&K admin threw open parks in Kashmir & decided to go ahead with Amarnath Yatra despite a spate of COVID cases. Which is why today’s directive to reimpose lockdown is baffling & emblematic of their rudderless approach”

 

 

Related: 

Sheikh Waseem Bari shot dead despite 10 cops being assigned to guard him! 
We are united against everything that they have done: Farooq Abdullah 
Joe Biden bats for restoration of rights in Kashmir

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Union Govt fines Press Trust of India Rs 84 crore for ‘breaches’ in office building

This is the second big action against PTI, since it interviewed the Chinese Ambassador to India, Sun Weidong

13 Jul 2020

Image Courtesy:swarajyamag.com

The Union Government has slapped India's premier news agency, the Press Trust of India with a fine of over Rs 84 crore as a ‘penalty’ for alleged ‘breaches’ at its office building on Parliament Street in New Delhi. 

https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/Q87PDVEu3vkhuHQP_OFvur3xwBsLRl1oIvEwqg6_wuVQE7EZY8abKXYEs2yea7Ets-yblCWKFeb4XaJEJlqQ3Ii_D_kCBtnDKI0sMcFdPpOYbcl-pW3R5CrV5petfMaXdUiZeu0i


This is the second big action that the government has taken against PTI, just weeks after Prasar Bharati, the  national broadcaster threatened to cancel its substantial subscription to the agency’s news feed. That happened right after  PTI interviewed the Chinese Ambassador to India, Sun Weidong, sections of which were quoted by the embassy website. The Prasar Bharati News Service (PBNS) wrote to PTI threatening to withdraw its subscription as the interview caused a sensation with the ambassador's answers being interpreted as putting the onus on India for the clash in Galwan Valley on June 15, where 20 Indian soldiers were killed brutally.  This PTI interview was also put up on the embassy’s website.

Prasar Bharti, however, seemed to have taken umbrage to that interview and had even termed it ‘anti national’. Last week,  the Land and Development Office, which comes under the Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs sent a notice to PTI, asking it to pay the over Rs 84 crore penalty by August 7, after which there will be an additional charge of 10 percent interest on the total dues. 

Journalist Anisha Dutta flagged the notice online and called it a “Fresh attack on PTI.” 

 

The notice adds that the news agency must give an undertaking on non-judicial stamp paper stating that it will pay the difference of “misuse/damage charges” if the land rates are revised with retrospective effect from April 1, 2016, and will also remove the “breaches” by July 14, or get them regularised by paying charges. 

According to details shared by journalist Siddharth Zarabi: “Notice also seeks undertaking from @PTI_News that: •it will pay difference if land rates revised w.e.f Apr, 2016. •remove breaches by 14 July/get them regularised. •10% penalty if current demand not paid. •Additional penalty likely post verification of 'violations.' (2/3)

 

According to a report in The Print, an official from the ministry said that “PTI had not paid the ground rent since 1984, and that the agency 'misused the land-allotment terms by converting the basement into an office.” 


Related:

What was so ‘anti national’ about interviewing China’s ambassador to India?

Union Govt fines Press Trust of India Rs 84 crore for ‘breaches’ in office building

This is the second big action against PTI, since it interviewed the Chinese Ambassador to India, Sun Weidong

Image Courtesy:swarajyamag.com

The Union Government has slapped India's premier news agency, the Press Trust of India with a fine of over Rs 84 crore as a ‘penalty’ for alleged ‘breaches’ at its office building on Parliament Street in New Delhi. 

https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/Q87PDVEu3vkhuHQP_OFvur3xwBsLRl1oIvEwqg6_wuVQE7EZY8abKXYEs2yea7Ets-yblCWKFeb4XaJEJlqQ3Ii_D_kCBtnDKI0sMcFdPpOYbcl-pW3R5CrV5petfMaXdUiZeu0i


This is the second big action that the government has taken against PTI, just weeks after Prasar Bharati, the  national broadcaster threatened to cancel its substantial subscription to the agency’s news feed. That happened right after  PTI interviewed the Chinese Ambassador to India, Sun Weidong, sections of which were quoted by the embassy website. The Prasar Bharati News Service (PBNS) wrote to PTI threatening to withdraw its subscription as the interview caused a sensation with the ambassador's answers being interpreted as putting the onus on India for the clash in Galwan Valley on June 15, where 20 Indian soldiers were killed brutally.  This PTI interview was also put up on the embassy’s website.

Prasar Bharti, however, seemed to have taken umbrage to that interview and had even termed it ‘anti national’. Last week,  the Land and Development Office, which comes under the Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs sent a notice to PTI, asking it to pay the over Rs 84 crore penalty by August 7, after which there will be an additional charge of 10 percent interest on the total dues. 

Journalist Anisha Dutta flagged the notice online and called it a “Fresh attack on PTI.” 

 

The notice adds that the news agency must give an undertaking on non-judicial stamp paper stating that it will pay the difference of “misuse/damage charges” if the land rates are revised with retrospective effect from April 1, 2016, and will also remove the “breaches” by July 14, or get them regularised by paying charges. 

According to details shared by journalist Siddharth Zarabi: “Notice also seeks undertaking from @PTI_News that: •it will pay difference if land rates revised w.e.f Apr, 2016. •remove breaches by 14 July/get them regularised. •10% penalty if current demand not paid. •Additional penalty likely post verification of 'violations.' (2/3)

 

According to a report in The Print, an official from the ministry said that “PTI had not paid the ground rent since 1984, and that the agency 'misused the land-allotment terms by converting the basement into an office.” 


Related:

What was so ‘anti national’ about interviewing China’s ambassador to India?

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Bhima Koregaon case: Gautam Navlakha denied default bail; NIA granted 10 days custody

The NIA sought extension of time of 180 days to file chargesheet, which was granted by the special court

13 Jul 2020

gautam navlakha

Gautam Navlakha, accused in the Elgar parishad case has been denied default bail by a special Court in Bombay. Navlakha had surrendered to the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in April this year and was lodged in Tihar jail from where he was transferred to Taloja jail in Mumbai, during the lockdown. He is facing serious charges under the draconian Unlawful practices prevention Act (UAPA) along with other social activists for being allegedly involved in inciting caste based violence at Elgar Parishad in Pune.

Navlakha’s counsel Advocate Ragini Ahuja argued stating that as per section 167 of the CrPC, the investigating agency, NIA, had failed to complete its investigation and file a chargesheet within the stipulated period of 90 days and hence Navlakha was entitled to default bail. The Assistant Solicitor General, Anil Singh, appearing for NIA argued that the application for default bail was not maintainable and sought extension of time for filing chargesheet to 180 days. The Judge D.E. Kothalikar accepted NIA’s plea and granted the time of 180 days for filing chargesheet thus effectively dismissing Navlakha’s bail plea which means he will have to continue to remain in NIA’s custody in Taloja jail. Further, the NIA has been granted Navlakha’s custody for 10 days for the purpose of questioning him in the Bhima Koregaon case.  After he was transferred from Delhi to Mumbai he has been kept in a quarantine facility in Taloja where the conditions, per his own account to his partner Sahaba Hussain, are deplorable. NIA also sought extension of time for 180 days to file chargesheet in this case, for another accused, Anand Teltumbde and the same has also been granted by the special court.

The special court at Mumbai has repeatedly denied bail to all accused in this Elgar parishad case whereby the case is that the accused are a part of a maoist movement and they were involved in inciting caste based violence that took place during the Elgar parishad held on December 31, 2017 to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Bhima Koregaon Battle. The other accused in the case, Vernon Gonsalves, Varavara Rao, Surendra Gadling, Anand Teltumbde, Mahesh Raut, Rona Wilson, Arun Ferreira and Sudhir Dhawale are lodged at Taloja while Sudha Bharadwaj and Shoma Sen are lodged in Byculla jail. None of the accused in the case have managed to secure bail till date.

His bail proceedings were pending before the Delhi High Court when he was removed from the court’s jurisdiction by bringing about a quick transfer from Delhi to Mumbai. The Delhi high court had termed this transfer of Navlakha from Delhi to Mumbai as “hasty”. The Delhi High Court had in fact sought the details of the proceedings of the production warrant issued by the Special Court in Mumbai. The same was challenged before the Supreme Court and the apex court stayed the proceedings before the Delhi High court stating that Navlakha’s remedies lie in Bombay. The apex court also expunged the Delhi high court remarks against the NIA calling the whole transfer procedure hasty and whimsical.

On July 12, family members of Varavara Rao, a renowned Telugu revolutionary poet, aged 79, in a video meeting spoke about this deteriorating physical and mental health as he remains lodged in Taloja jail. His co-prisoners, including Vernon Gonsalves also informed his family members during a routine telephone call that he was delirious and unable to perform daily tasks, thus in dire need of urgent medical care.

While these social activists are languishing in jail, the accused in another FIR, Milind Ekbote has been roaming free on bail since 2018. He, along with Sambhaji Bhide was accused of instigating and orchestrating the violence at Bhima Koregaon, while the case against Bhide was withdrawn for lack of evidence, Ekbote who is the president of Samasta Hindu Aghadi was arrested for a brief period. He, in fact enjoys relaxed bail conditions as he is allowed to speak to media and attend public rallies since January 2019. Ekbote has been a former BJP corporator in Pune, while Bhide who is also known as Bhide Guruji as per the Quint's report, has close connections to PM Narendra Modi himself. 


Related:

Don’t Kill Varavara Rao in Jail!

Mahesh Raut, Bhima Koregaon-11’s youngest activist spends another birthday in prison

SC stays Gautam Navlakha’s bail proceedings at Delhi HC; NIA says HC acted without jurisdiction

 

Bhima Koregaon case: Gautam Navlakha denied default bail; NIA granted 10 days custody

The NIA sought extension of time of 180 days to file chargesheet, which was granted by the special court

gautam navlakha

Gautam Navlakha, accused in the Elgar parishad case has been denied default bail by a special Court in Bombay. Navlakha had surrendered to the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in April this year and was lodged in Tihar jail from where he was transferred to Taloja jail in Mumbai, during the lockdown. He is facing serious charges under the draconian Unlawful practices prevention Act (UAPA) along with other social activists for being allegedly involved in inciting caste based violence at Elgar Parishad in Pune.

Navlakha’s counsel Advocate Ragini Ahuja argued stating that as per section 167 of the CrPC, the investigating agency, NIA, had failed to complete its investigation and file a chargesheet within the stipulated period of 90 days and hence Navlakha was entitled to default bail. The Assistant Solicitor General, Anil Singh, appearing for NIA argued that the application for default bail was not maintainable and sought extension of time for filing chargesheet to 180 days. The Judge D.E. Kothalikar accepted NIA’s plea and granted the time of 180 days for filing chargesheet thus effectively dismissing Navlakha’s bail plea which means he will have to continue to remain in NIA’s custody in Taloja jail. Further, the NIA has been granted Navlakha’s custody for 10 days for the purpose of questioning him in the Bhima Koregaon case.  After he was transferred from Delhi to Mumbai he has been kept in a quarantine facility in Taloja where the conditions, per his own account to his partner Sahaba Hussain, are deplorable. NIA also sought extension of time for 180 days to file chargesheet in this case, for another accused, Anand Teltumbde and the same has also been granted by the special court.

The special court at Mumbai has repeatedly denied bail to all accused in this Elgar parishad case whereby the case is that the accused are a part of a maoist movement and they were involved in inciting caste based violence that took place during the Elgar parishad held on December 31, 2017 to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Bhima Koregaon Battle. The other accused in the case, Vernon Gonsalves, Varavara Rao, Surendra Gadling, Anand Teltumbde, Mahesh Raut, Rona Wilson, Arun Ferreira and Sudhir Dhawale are lodged at Taloja while Sudha Bharadwaj and Shoma Sen are lodged in Byculla jail. None of the accused in the case have managed to secure bail till date.

His bail proceedings were pending before the Delhi High Court when he was removed from the court’s jurisdiction by bringing about a quick transfer from Delhi to Mumbai. The Delhi high court had termed this transfer of Navlakha from Delhi to Mumbai as “hasty”. The Delhi High Court had in fact sought the details of the proceedings of the production warrant issued by the Special Court in Mumbai. The same was challenged before the Supreme Court and the apex court stayed the proceedings before the Delhi High court stating that Navlakha’s remedies lie in Bombay. The apex court also expunged the Delhi high court remarks against the NIA calling the whole transfer procedure hasty and whimsical.

On July 12, family members of Varavara Rao, a renowned Telugu revolutionary poet, aged 79, in a video meeting spoke about this deteriorating physical and mental health as he remains lodged in Taloja jail. His co-prisoners, including Vernon Gonsalves also informed his family members during a routine telephone call that he was delirious and unable to perform daily tasks, thus in dire need of urgent medical care.

While these social activists are languishing in jail, the accused in another FIR, Milind Ekbote has been roaming free on bail since 2018. He, along with Sambhaji Bhide was accused of instigating and orchestrating the violence at Bhima Koregaon, while the case against Bhide was withdrawn for lack of evidence, Ekbote who is the president of Samasta Hindu Aghadi was arrested for a brief period. He, in fact enjoys relaxed bail conditions as he is allowed to speak to media and attend public rallies since January 2019. Ekbote has been a former BJP corporator in Pune, while Bhide who is also known as Bhide Guruji as per the Quint's report, has close connections to PM Narendra Modi himself. 


Related:

Don’t Kill Varavara Rao in Jail!

Mahesh Raut, Bhima Koregaon-11’s youngest activist spends another birthday in prison

SC stays Gautam Navlakha’s bail proceedings at Delhi HC; NIA says HC acted without jurisdiction

 

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CJP soldiers on in Assam despite cyclones, floods

From securing release of people from detention camps, to their economic rehabilitation to providing food and essentials to lockdown-affected people, CJP's work continued despite extreme weather conditions

13 Jul 2020

Assam

As if the nationwide lockdown in wake of the outbreak of the Coronavirus wasn’t placing enough strain on the lives and livelihoods of people hailing from impoverished backgrounds in Assam, cyclone Amphan, floods and heavy rains have continued to wreak havoc in the region. However, undeterred by any of this, CJP has surged forth in its relief efforts and has ensured that our service to our fellow Indians in Assam continues without a hitch.

CJP’s Assam state team that had been originally working to secure the release of eligible inmates of detention camps on conditional bail, discovered that the families of many of these inmates were living in abject poverty, on the brink of starvation. That’s when we started providing impoverished families food grains, vegetables, oil and other essential supplies.

But this was just the beginning. As cyclone Amphan wreaked havoc in Eastern India between May 16 and 21, Assam witnessed torrential rain that left many areas inundated under several feet of water. Rivers overflowed and flooding caused widespread damage to lives, livelihoods and property of people who had very limited resources to begin with. It takes a long time for flood water to subside in the low-lying riverine region, as a result of which losses kept mounting even weeks after the heavy showers first hit.

Our community volunteers and volunteer motivators reported many heartbreaking stories of loss. “People have suffered a lot due to continuous rain and flood water in the village of Bolbola Khagarabari under Agia police station, in Goalpara district. People not only lost their homes, but also livestock such as hens, buffalos, cows, goats, ducks, etc. that drowned in the floods,” reported Zesmin Sultana. “Apart from this, vegetable and paddy crops have also been destroyed in the flood. Due to flood water, people have left their houses and have been forced to live out in the open, by the roadside for three to four days. There has been continuous flooding since May 24,” she added.

On May 30, Rashminara Begum reported, “People have suffered huge losses due to continuous rain and flood water in the village of Lakhipur Kusha Pakhri under Lakhipur police station, of Goalpara district. Due to inundation, the standing paddy crop has been destroyed.”

Here are a few images of the inundation in Goalpara:

 

But undeterred by this CJP not only continued to work to get people out of detention camps, but also kept in touch with families of newly released detainees to assess their rehabilitation needs and also to provide food and essential supplies whenever required.

On June 29, four people; Banesha Khatun, Banamali Darm Rajendra Das and Binod Das were released from the Tezpur detention camp due to CJP’s efforts.

As scarcity and starvation had cast a pall of gloom over the holy month of Ramzan, CJP decided to at least ensure that no one was hungry or miserable on Eid. “In an attempt to bring about some relief and possibly even joy during Eid, the CJP Team distributed 5 kgs rice, 500 gm pulses, 500 ml mustard oil, 1 kg potatoes, 1 kg onions, 250 gms garlic, a bar of soap and 100 ml of coconut oil each to 200 families in Morigaon district. This includes families of the four people who were recently released from detention camps. We also gave new clothes to all members of each family,” reported Faruk Ahmed who presided over the program.

CJP in association with Bijni Prayas-Oikyatan also distributed over 900 food packets in 53 villages on the occasion of Eid. For two days, the CJP vehicle covered a distance of over 250 kilometers!

On June 5, we delivered food to the family of 67-year-old Samsul Ali. The ailing, frail old man had been released on February 28 along with his brother Abdul Rashid from the Goalpara detention camp. While earlier, he would often repeat his own name over and over out of trauma, even after being released, this time when we met him, he appeared to be in better health. Nanda Ghose, Volunteer Motivator for Lower Assam reported, “We are glad to see that Samsul Ali is gradually becoming stronger mentally. He just smiled today and said, ‘Allah will bless you all for the work you are doing.’” Ghosh visited the detainee’s home with CJP Assam state team advisor Zamser Ali and other team members.

The CJP team also visited a few other detainees and Ghosh reported, “We went to the house of Bongshi Rajbongshi in Barpatgar village under Panbari police station in Chirang District to discuss and observe his newly made grocery shop. Bongshi Rajbongshi expressed gratitude to CJP for everything.”

CJP TEAM MEETS BONGSHI RAJBONGSHI

“After that we went to Kishwar Barman’s house in Thaisubari village that comes under the jurisdiction of the Panbari police station in Chirang district. This is a very remote and heavily forested region near the Indo-Bhutan border. We inquired about Barman’s physical and mental health and also tried to gauge his economic challenges. Barman appeared to feel less anxious after counselling from CJP,” said Ghosh.

CJP TEAM VISITED THE HOUSE OF KISWAR BARMAN IN A HEAVILY FORESTED REGION NEAR THE INDO-BHUTAN BORDER

On June 7, Chirang District Volunteer Motivator Abul Kalam Azad reported, “A few days ago when we visited the family of Hari Mohan Barman in Dhupguri village under Sidli Police Station. He was released on May 13 and is in ill health. His wife was unable to work at their tea shop because of the lockdown. Therefore today, we delivered 10 kgs rice, 2 kgs potato, 1 litre mustard oil, 1 kg pulses, 1 packet salt, 200 gm turmeric to them.”

 

CJP Team meets Lalit Thakur

On June 19, Assam State Team Advisor Zamser Ali, Lower Assam Motivator Volunteer Nanda Ghosh, VM Abul Kalam Azad and prominent teacher Ruhul Amin Mandal visited to the house of Harimohan Barman of Dhupguri village under Sidli police station of Chirang district, Purnima Biswas of Juilga village and Lalit Thakur of Garubhasha village. “They were all released from detention camp recently. They are naturally mentally and physically weak due to the disaster that befell them, which is why it is important to go meet them to gauge the mental, physical and financial condition of the victims. We also encourage them through motivational conversations and try to boost their morale. They were also informed about their rehabilitation and they were very happy to hear that,” reported Chirang DVM Abul Kalam Azad.

On June 27, Majid ul Islam, DVM Barpeta reported further suffering on account of a fresh bout of heavy rainfall. “The heavy rainfall was bad enough. Now the release of water from Bhutan’s Kurishu River Dam has also caused the Beki river to overflow. As a result, floodwaters inundated many parts of Assam’s Barpeta district overnight.” He added, “Yesterday, I visited the affected families of Shutirpathar, Kharballi and Shawnpur in Barpeta district. Victims have taken refuge on government platforms or elevated places. I went to four such platforms to take stock of the situation. About 40 families have taken shelter on one platform. Among them are the old and the ailing as well as small children. These people have no food to eat, no clean drinking water and no toilets.”

Here are some of the heart-rending images captured by our team:

 

But floods also threaten the most precious commodity in Assam… identity documents. On June 29, Volunteer Motivator Joinal Abdin reported, “Due to flood in Kirakara, Dhalpur village under Chipajhar police station of Darang district, the villagers contacted me and left in my care the NRC document file of 14 families.” He added, “Thousands of bighas of farmers’ fields were submerged in the flood. Lockdown on the one hand and floods on the other, the people are now worried about how to feed their families.”

During this period, the CJP Team did not stop its efforts to get eligible people released from detention camps and while Rahman Ali was released from Goalpara detention camp on June 2 and reunited with his daughters, Harbala Khatun walked free on June 23 from the Kokrajhar detention camp, becoming the 32 person to be released due to CJP’s efforts.

Related:

CJP Impact: Four people released from Tezpur Detention Camp

CJP helps reunite detention camp inmate with his daughters in Assam

CJP Impact: Mother of five becomes 32nd inmate to be released from Assam Detention Camp

The arduous task of securing bail for inmates of Assam’s Detention Camps: CJP

CJP soldiers on in Assam despite cyclones, floods

From securing release of people from detention camps, to their economic rehabilitation to providing food and essentials to lockdown-affected people, CJP's work continued despite extreme weather conditions

Assam

As if the nationwide lockdown in wake of the outbreak of the Coronavirus wasn’t placing enough strain on the lives and livelihoods of people hailing from impoverished backgrounds in Assam, cyclone Amphan, floods and heavy rains have continued to wreak havoc in the region. However, undeterred by any of this, CJP has surged forth in its relief efforts and has ensured that our service to our fellow Indians in Assam continues without a hitch.

CJP’s Assam state team that had been originally working to secure the release of eligible inmates of detention camps on conditional bail, discovered that the families of many of these inmates were living in abject poverty, on the brink of starvation. That’s when we started providing impoverished families food grains, vegetables, oil and other essential supplies.

But this was just the beginning. As cyclone Amphan wreaked havoc in Eastern India between May 16 and 21, Assam witnessed torrential rain that left many areas inundated under several feet of water. Rivers overflowed and flooding caused widespread damage to lives, livelihoods and property of people who had very limited resources to begin with. It takes a long time for flood water to subside in the low-lying riverine region, as a result of which losses kept mounting even weeks after the heavy showers first hit.

Our community volunteers and volunteer motivators reported many heartbreaking stories of loss. “People have suffered a lot due to continuous rain and flood water in the village of Bolbola Khagarabari under Agia police station, in Goalpara district. People not only lost their homes, but also livestock such as hens, buffalos, cows, goats, ducks, etc. that drowned in the floods,” reported Zesmin Sultana. “Apart from this, vegetable and paddy crops have also been destroyed in the flood. Due to flood water, people have left their houses and have been forced to live out in the open, by the roadside for three to four days. There has been continuous flooding since May 24,” she added.

On May 30, Rashminara Begum reported, “People have suffered huge losses due to continuous rain and flood water in the village of Lakhipur Kusha Pakhri under Lakhipur police station, of Goalpara district. Due to inundation, the standing paddy crop has been destroyed.”

Here are a few images of the inundation in Goalpara:

 

But undeterred by this CJP not only continued to work to get people out of detention camps, but also kept in touch with families of newly released detainees to assess their rehabilitation needs and also to provide food and essential supplies whenever required.

On June 29, four people; Banesha Khatun, Banamali Darm Rajendra Das and Binod Das were released from the Tezpur detention camp due to CJP’s efforts.

As scarcity and starvation had cast a pall of gloom over the holy month of Ramzan, CJP decided to at least ensure that no one was hungry or miserable on Eid. “In an attempt to bring about some relief and possibly even joy during Eid, the CJP Team distributed 5 kgs rice, 500 gm pulses, 500 ml mustard oil, 1 kg potatoes, 1 kg onions, 250 gms garlic, a bar of soap and 100 ml of coconut oil each to 200 families in Morigaon district. This includes families of the four people who were recently released from detention camps. We also gave new clothes to all members of each family,” reported Faruk Ahmed who presided over the program.

CJP in association with Bijni Prayas-Oikyatan also distributed over 900 food packets in 53 villages on the occasion of Eid. For two days, the CJP vehicle covered a distance of over 250 kilometers!

On June 5, we delivered food to the family of 67-year-old Samsul Ali. The ailing, frail old man had been released on February 28 along with his brother Abdul Rashid from the Goalpara detention camp. While earlier, he would often repeat his own name over and over out of trauma, even after being released, this time when we met him, he appeared to be in better health. Nanda Ghose, Volunteer Motivator for Lower Assam reported, “We are glad to see that Samsul Ali is gradually becoming stronger mentally. He just smiled today and said, ‘Allah will bless you all for the work you are doing.’” Ghosh visited the detainee’s home with CJP Assam state team advisor Zamser Ali and other team members.

The CJP team also visited a few other detainees and Ghosh reported, “We went to the house of Bongshi Rajbongshi in Barpatgar village under Panbari police station in Chirang District to discuss and observe his newly made grocery shop. Bongshi Rajbongshi expressed gratitude to CJP for everything.”

CJP TEAM MEETS BONGSHI RAJBONGSHI

“After that we went to Kishwar Barman’s house in Thaisubari village that comes under the jurisdiction of the Panbari police station in Chirang district. This is a very remote and heavily forested region near the Indo-Bhutan border. We inquired about Barman’s physical and mental health and also tried to gauge his economic challenges. Barman appeared to feel less anxious after counselling from CJP,” said Ghosh.

CJP TEAM VISITED THE HOUSE OF KISWAR BARMAN IN A HEAVILY FORESTED REGION NEAR THE INDO-BHUTAN BORDER

On June 7, Chirang District Volunteer Motivator Abul Kalam Azad reported, “A few days ago when we visited the family of Hari Mohan Barman in Dhupguri village under Sidli Police Station. He was released on May 13 and is in ill health. His wife was unable to work at their tea shop because of the lockdown. Therefore today, we delivered 10 kgs rice, 2 kgs potato, 1 litre mustard oil, 1 kg pulses, 1 packet salt, 200 gm turmeric to them.”

 

CJP Team meets Lalit Thakur

On June 19, Assam State Team Advisor Zamser Ali, Lower Assam Motivator Volunteer Nanda Ghosh, VM Abul Kalam Azad and prominent teacher Ruhul Amin Mandal visited to the house of Harimohan Barman of Dhupguri village under Sidli police station of Chirang district, Purnima Biswas of Juilga village and Lalit Thakur of Garubhasha village. “They were all released from detention camp recently. They are naturally mentally and physically weak due to the disaster that befell them, which is why it is important to go meet them to gauge the mental, physical and financial condition of the victims. We also encourage them through motivational conversations and try to boost their morale. They were also informed about their rehabilitation and they were very happy to hear that,” reported Chirang DVM Abul Kalam Azad.

On June 27, Majid ul Islam, DVM Barpeta reported further suffering on account of a fresh bout of heavy rainfall. “The heavy rainfall was bad enough. Now the release of water from Bhutan’s Kurishu River Dam has also caused the Beki river to overflow. As a result, floodwaters inundated many parts of Assam’s Barpeta district overnight.” He added, “Yesterday, I visited the affected families of Shutirpathar, Kharballi and Shawnpur in Barpeta district. Victims have taken refuge on government platforms or elevated places. I went to four such platforms to take stock of the situation. About 40 families have taken shelter on one platform. Among them are the old and the ailing as well as small children. These people have no food to eat, no clean drinking water and no toilets.”

Here are some of the heart-rending images captured by our team:

 

But floods also threaten the most precious commodity in Assam… identity documents. On June 29, Volunteer Motivator Joinal Abdin reported, “Due to flood in Kirakara, Dhalpur village under Chipajhar police station of Darang district, the villagers contacted me and left in my care the NRC document file of 14 families.” He added, “Thousands of bighas of farmers’ fields were submerged in the flood. Lockdown on the one hand and floods on the other, the people are now worried about how to feed their families.”

During this period, the CJP Team did not stop its efforts to get eligible people released from detention camps and while Rahman Ali was released from Goalpara detention camp on June 2 and reunited with his daughters, Harbala Khatun walked free on June 23 from the Kokrajhar detention camp, becoming the 32 person to be released due to CJP’s efforts.

Related:

CJP Impact: Four people released from Tezpur Detention Camp

CJP helps reunite detention camp inmate with his daughters in Assam

CJP Impact: Mother of five becomes 32nd inmate to be released from Assam Detention Camp

The arduous task of securing bail for inmates of Assam’s Detention Camps: CJP

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